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A Whole 30 Days

There are journeys in life that take us to places we’ve never been without ever leaving home. For the past two years, my life has been in transition. The decision to sell my final business was an emotional roller coaster filled with anxiety, depression, sadness and an overwhelming sense of loss. I knew that it was the final-final of business ownership and I worried constantly about how clients would receive the news. I lost sleep… and then there were the nights when I didn’t sleep at all. My anxiety levels were off the charts! Every night I would drive home from the office dreaming of the cocktail (did I mention cocktails?) I could create to relieve the stress followed by a refrigerator raid for whatever would soothe my anxieties.

When you grow up in an Italian family, you buy into the myth of Food Solves Everything. “Here honey, eat something. You’ll feel better.” And so I did. And so I have for more years than I care to admit.

And then, this wonderful thing happened. I actually sold my business and a newfound freedom found its way into my life. But it took a few months to recover from the years of stressful living. About that time, I witnessed the dedication and commitment of a young friend who used a period of one year to get healthy and lose 175 pounds. And I heard about this book called The Whole30 which claimed to be a “30-day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom.” (Watch for these words again in a paragraph below.)  So I put 2 + 2 together and thought, “If Kris can commit to 365 days, I can do it for 30!” Not to mention that I was intrigued by the concept of food freedom. I had no idea what that even meant. Until I bought the book and set the date for Day One.

I admit, that first week I thought I had lost my mind. Give up sugar (3-4 teaspoons, mind you) and half & half in my coffee? No more of my adored cheese purchased from the local specialty shop? No bagels and cream cheese for breakfast? And most of all… no wine?? “But I’m Italian,” my inner child screamed! “How can I cook without having a glass of wine nearby?” Right about then, my friend Sheri advised me that I could make a pseudo cocktail of lemonade Kombucha and pomegranate juice and that was that. Pour it in a wine glass over ice, add a lime wedge and Voila! For visual support, I copied the before and after photos of Kris and put them on my phone as a symbol of commitment and created a countdown chart on my refrigerator to strike out the day number as a nightly ritual.

At the beginning of Week Two, I was really getting into it. The book talks about these predictable periods when certain things happen based on the body’s withdrawal from sugar, dairy, grains and alcohol. Things were happening inside… and I was suddenly feeling this boundless energy and creativity. I discovered how much I loved cooking with foods I never would have thought to combine in the past. And I even found that kale (the bad boy of vegetables) wasn’t so bad at all if it was prepared properly. I started posting photos of my creations on Instagram and Facebook and the reactions boosted my dedication even more. My nightly kitchen cleanup (and there is a lot of that) became like a meditation… actually more of a reflection and appreciation for all that I was learning about food.

Sometime toward the end of Week Two, I noticed that my skin and my digestive system were also changing. The phrase “you are what you eat” began to make sense. My mental clarity sharpened and I found myself feeling periods of pure joy for all that I was doing. I was sleeping soundly and dreaming again. We’re talking amazing dreams here, too. I stopped focusing on what I couldn’t eat and started enjoying all that I was able to have. I called Diane, a local woman who had moved to the coast but was also in the midst of her 30 days, and we chatted about life, love and the pursuit of Whole30 “approved” food. And I learned to relax… I mean, really relax.

By Week Three, full-fat coconut milk, clarified butter and avocados became my best friends. I learned that I could make a sweet and flavorful snack by stuffing Marcona almonds in fresh Medjool dates and rolling them in unsweetened coconut. And I played with all kinds of spices and made dishes I had never before attempted. Can you say leftovers for lunch?

And did I mention an abundance of energy?

At the beginning of Week Four, I experienced a slump… a period of discouragement actually. The high of the first three weeks was beginning to wane and the finish line seemed so far away. Really? Cook another exotic chicken dish? Make more of that cauliflower rice? It wasn’t that I was craving my old food habits; it was more the acceptance that this had become my new relationship with food. Maybe this was the “Food Freedom” that I was so unclear about in the book’s title. Here was the reality check: I felt better eating healthy food but was I ready to embrace “Total Health?” A sobering thought after a lifetime of erratic eating patterns and not-so-great food choices. This was my journey’s fork in the road. Go forward or go back. So I made myself a cup of tea, walked over to the refrigerator, crossed off Day #23 on my chart, and went to bed.

By the end of Week Four, there were still two more days before reaching the finish line. My enthusiasm for getting healthy had been renewed and my thoughts shifted to Life After 30. Then suddenly it was Day 31… time to weigh in. There’s a reason the book suggests that you stay off the scale during the 30 days. There’s a process here that has very little to do with weight loss (though the missing 13 pounds this morning was a great surprise). It’s been about paying attention to the new creative world I’ve entered into since I chose to retire. It’s about taking precious time to decide how I want to feel because now I can make healthier choices without the anxieties and stresses of the past.

Tonight I had dinner with friends. One had wine; the other beer. I had water.

Xerophobia

Xerophobia

  1. fear of dryness.

Yes… that’s what is happening here at Millie’s Farm during this California drought. But plans are being made to keep the flora & fauna alive if the situation worsens.

Tomorrow, with the help of my friend Al, the rainwater collection system goes into place (let’s hope we get some in March) and I’m rebelling against the drought and assembling Ollas to ensure that we’ll have Summer veggies.

Photos coming soon!

 

Bye Bye 2012

The last day of the year is like the last chapter of a book. We read it all the way through and then make some determination of whether we liked it or not.

I think I would choose to give this year a poor review. Foot surgery in January, two injuries during the Summer, and The Girls choosing this Winter to stop laying eggs. And then there were the events in the world beyond the Farm… events that left all of us saddened by the actions of a few.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give 2012 about a 4. The redeeming element? Thriving beehives with delicious honey and a delightful addition of a second Corgi to the household.

Wishing you all a spectacular 2013… the new year holds promise!

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Holiday Greetings

Merry Christmas from Millie, the Birds, and the Bees!

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The Lost Summer

It’s been a most insightful year here on the Farm.  Foot surgery in January, a fractured patella in June, a cracked skull in August and the ugliest black eye you’ve ever seen… life was really put to the test to say the least.  Living in a rural environment and having the opportunity to experience all four seasons, I can certainly attest to the fact that Summer is the most anticipated season for outdoor fun as well as those once-a-year maintenance projects.

Sadly, there was no kayaking this summer, no barn painting, no gardening… just a season of recovery and observation of the world around me. It was a struggle to get to a couple of concerts sporting a wheelchair, although it did allow me great seating. And I did manage to take a few rides in the electric carts at Safeway & Lowe’s just to give my sister a photo op!

Now that the year is just about over, I’m feeling pretty confident that the trips & falls are behind me (although I fear I might be jinxing my luck whenever I mention that) and I’m ready to make up for lost time.

My costume for the Bad Taste Party just about sums it up!

My costume for the Bad Taste Party just about sums it up!

Love it when kids come to the farm… especially these two!

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It’s the Buzz

April is truly the most wonderful month of the year here in the Foothills! Wildflowers everywhere, calves and colts running through the fields, life renewed.

Today I must have pulled every weed in the garden just to listen to the buzz of my bees as they discovered the lavender in the warm midday sun.  I sometimes think about all the years I was so frightened of these creatures and now I stand in awe as I watch them work and work as they have done for centuries. There is order to the colony and I feel blessed that I have been given the land and the opportunity to assist them with their plight.

For more insight into the world of beekeeping, be sure to watch Vanishing of the Bees. You, too, will be amazed.