To the Brim

Someone once told me that she never liked to say she was busy--it sounded too unhappy. Instead, she took the appreciative angle, saying "My life is full!"

That's how it is here, and mostly I am very, very happy.

EDITING. When I last updated this blog, I wrote that I was launching an editing business. It's been even more sucessful than I hoped, right from the start. In the last year, I've edited 6 books, 10 dissertations, 9 full journal issues, 20 journal articles, a website, and numerous proposals, grant and job applications, and other shorter documents. Most of my clients are in academia, but I also have been working with independent authors, non-profits, and corporate clients. I edit on average about 20 hours a week, but some weeks are really crunched because of the weeks I reserve for vacation or travel. Last fall, I also became managing editor of a new medical anthropology journal that will be launched next November. This is an exciting project, and I'm very much enjoying putting both my organizational and my writing skills to use.

GARDENING. At the same time, I've been working on our gardens and our larger permaculture plan. In the spring, we planted a number of new plants: currant, gooseberry, jostaberry, goumi, hardy kiwi, Chinese yam, goji berry, sea berry, paw paw trees, sea kale, asparagus, Turkish rocket, sorrel, strawberries, rhubarb... And we are currently looking at catalogs to figure out what's next.

Last year brought a fabulous fruit harvest, as it did for many people in our region--10 quarts of blueberries, 40 quarts of raspberries, and 40 quarts of peaches. We also had a few apples and pears, but need to work on nourishing those trees. From our annual vegetables, we preserved 12 quarts of diced tomatoes, 12 quarts of tomato sauce, 12 quarts of eggplant curry, 12 pints of salsa verde, and 12 half-pints of Aunt Mary's Chili Sauce (Anne's family recipe). We harvested lots of sweet potatoes, hot peppers, and kale, as well as about 20 winter squash that grew out of our compost pile! I harvested and tinctured a few medicinal herbs, including echinacea and Solomon's seal, and dried culinary herbs. And finished off the season by planting a couple beds of garlic.

Now we are looking at seed catalogs, getting ready to clean the basement and set up our little seed-starting area, and planning our compost, straw, and mineral orders. At the end of every November, I'm ready to be done, and then just about this time of year I start longing to work outside again. I like the quieter months of December and January, but am so grateful already for the longer days (still light at 5 pm!) and occasionally warmer temps (40 degrees!).

HEALING. I've also been working hard on my health. I have written here about discovering I have a common autoimmune disease, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis--where your body attacks your thyroid. In conventional medicine, many doctors don't think there is anything to be done about Hashimoto's, but they are wrong. I've made dietary changes and now take two prescriptions--Armour Thyroid and low-dose Naltrexone--and my Hashimoto's is much more under control.

My body is still attacking my thyroid, but much less so, and I'm continuing to learn how to improve my health, balance my hormones, and retrain my metabolism. If you have fatigue, weight gain, cold hands and feet, sore joints, or hair loss, these are signs that something's not right with your thyroid. Check out Stop the Thyroid Madness for one resource, and contact me if you want more.

Some of the changes I've made include: going gluten free (gluten is an autoimmune trigger); eating pastured meat and wild-caught fish, and organic vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits; cooking with healthy saturated fats, including coconut oil, ghee, and lard from pastured pigs; and minimizing all grains, legumes, and sugar. Some people call this style of eating "paleo" or "primal" or a "whole foods diet." Whatever you call it, it's been an important change in my life.

And with the help of the HCG protocol (a low-dose hormone program that burns fat), I've lost a lot of weight. I have hesitated so long to write about this, as I still feel (undeserved) shame for ever being so heavy. I did not know that my thyroid didn't work properly, or that I couldn't metabolize food like most people. I had tried nearly every weight loss regimen--from Weight Watchers to the blood type diet, from Curves to trainers at expensive NYC gyms--and I could never really lose weight. In fact, these efforts mostly just messed up my metabolism even more. I now understand that this has something to do with a problem in my leptin signaling (leptin is the principal fat-regulating hormone, and was only discovered in the 1990s!), which causes my body to think that it needs to conserve all the calories I eat. I've got to admit to feeling more than a little angry for all the lost years that I blamed myself. But that's another story. Anyway, I learned about the HCG protocol from my wellness clinic, and have now lost more than 50 lbs. It's been an amazing change, and I'm so grateful to finally have found something to help me get back in the vicinity of my ideal weight. If you want to know more about it, feel free to ask.