Dom and I have have talked about living in tents for about 10 years. In the beginning, the topic would arise after I would get out of three week hospital stay because of pneumonia brought on by mold. Our whole marriage (we’ll be married for 15 years this month) I’ve been ill. All our moves from one house to another had to do with mold until we left the east coast and moved to New Mexico 10 years ago.
The conversations would go something like this:
Dom: That’s IT! I’ve had enough of this crap…water damaged buildings, unbelievable slumlords who don’t take care of their rentals! We’re getting rid of everything and moving into a tent if we can’t find suitable housing.
Me: Okay, I’ll research where we can move to.
Then time would go by, I would recover from pneumonia and we would resume our life as usual.
Over the years, it became more apparent that tent living was something that would help our lives. I don’t think anyone really thought we were serious about it.
When the opportunity to purchase three bell tents came along, we knew it was really going to happen.
I’m so excited!
We have been busy over this past month deciding what will come with us, what we’re going to sell, and what we’re going to give away. Bell tents don’t exactly offer the side walls to accommodate dressers or taller furniture.
This coming week we’ll be putting our third bell tent up and bringing down more of the things we’ll be keeping. Dom is feeling a little overwhelmed since we finally made the decision on a moving date. Okay, overwhelmed might be an understatement…it’s more of a freakout.
I wanted to put the tents in place so we could start spending our weekends there and then we can accomplish more this coming month. Right now, we’re going at a snail’s pace with only one day a week to get stuff done.
This week we’ll be:
Putting the remaining bell tent up
Installing more t-posts in the horse pasture (they’re still in a small holding area and not happy about it)
Repairing small holes and tears in two of the tents
Repairing a major rip in the third tent
What we need to purchase either new or used or donated:
more welded wire fencing for our camp area
building material for our outdoor kitchen
Lots of 2×4’s
PVC for the market garden covered beds
Lumber for the market garden greenhouse and post harvest washing station
Dom cleared and graded the area of the first bell tent. There was only a slight slope. The second area needed a LOT of grading. He nailed it!
The tents only take about 30 minutes to put up, and he was able to do it alone.
They’re roomy and provide enough space for our bed and some furniture.
We haven’t cleaned the interior of the tents yet. After I repair some of the little slits and holes in different areas, we’ll clean it. On the walls in the above photo, you can see what looks like stains. They aren’t. Those are areas that have dirt, dust and HAIR. Yes, it’s gross to see other people’s hair in my bedroom. Haha
That crazy look on Dom’s face was captured as he was looking at the nasty hair and dirt on the interior of the tent and mud on the floor pan. He stands at 6’2 and the peak of the tent goes to 10 feet.
We’re excited and enjoying the process. Usually moving to a new place is extremely difficult due to my health, but this time around my health is recovering and I can actually help with the move, clearing land, digging (not my favorite), chop down trees with an ax…I do enjoy wielding an ax. It must be my distant viking DNA being activated.
I also started a Patreon channel for anyone that would like to learn more about what we’re doing. I will only be posting free content on our website, and then there will also be paid content available on Patreon.
The types of things we’ll be sharing on Patreon are:
Recipes and meals (we are predominately raw primal, eating raw cheese, raw meat and organs (yes, you read that correctly), fresh fruits and vegetables, lacto-fermented veggies, cured meats, etc. We do still eat some cooked food, but it’s mostly raw at this point.
Tutorials on how we market garden and farm
Natural building techniques
Making our own mattresses from organic material and local sheep wool flake. It’s coming to us from a local farm unprocessed, so I’ll be going through the process of cleaning the wool, sewing the mattresses, and creating our non-toxic beds. (I’m so excited about that!)
Maybe some personal rants. 😉
Doing laundry by hand because we are choosing not to use a washing machine
So what do you receive if you become a patron? COFFEE! Become a patron and get coffee delivered right to your door. If you are already purchasing coffee, how about getting some fantastic fresh roasted coffee from us instead? Think about it…it’s killing two birds with one stone. You are helping us to get to our goals and as a thank you, you’ll get fresh roasted coffee delivered to your door.
It has been a challenging detail orientated six weeks! All of the little tasks that needed to be done were accomplished and it wouldn’t be fun without some hiccups thrown in for good measure.
On February 1, Sara and the horses were supposed to be moved down to our land, but her trailer tire had dry rot, so we needed to wait until she got a new one. After the tire was put on, then came the fun stuff like being bogged down in the deep mud! Both her trailer and the truck pulling it got sucked down into the mud and wouldn’t let go. Luckily there was a neighbor down the street with a truck powerful enough to pull the truck AND the trailer out of the mud.
After that, the move itself went very smoothly.
You can’t tell from the photo, but this mud depression was about 7 inches deep and held onto the tires for dear life.
One of Sara’s friends, Robert, invested his day taking the trailer down, then going back home to hook up his horse trailer. He brought his dogs and they were there to make sure everything was done properly. Good job guys!
Two of the boys went into the trailer willingly. Josey, however, needed a little reassurance before entering the trailer.
Josey was NOT amused! But he went with the program and walked in.
The boys are not super thrilled with their new temporary paddock. They’re bored and trying their best to stay occupied.
They’ve been busy bending fencing to get at the grasses on the other side, pushing fences near tree lines to strip bark, and being, well, horses.
He tried to eat the camera in this photo. His nose kind of looks like a badass alien bunny face, right?!
Saint got Sara’s electric and water hooked up for her, and then he and Dom trenched the waterlines. Now she just needs the phone company to hook up her line! We’ll be utilizing a different type of septic for her trailer…actually for all of us. I’m pretty excited about it. Because we’re in a riparian area with the river on the north side of the property and another stream on the south side, I wanted something that I knew wouldn’t leach into the groundwater or put a big septic system in. She could tap into the existing septic, but we’re going to go with an alternative method, utilizing a Solviva design that uses a flush toilet and lots of worms. I’ll write a blog post about it as we get closer to installing the system.
For now, Sara has a composting toilet.
Simmi and her friend Angel headed for an adventure filled with fantastical games, stories of creatures that are hybrids, and getting wet. They pushed through the cold and wandered about a 1/4 mile from our place. They lost track of all time and space in their adventure. They gave us a bit of a scare, but then it became a good teaching moment for Simmi. She needs to understand that we live in a wild place where coyotes, wolves, and bears often come. She needs to become aware of her surroundings and always be within an earshot (and visual field) or she’s gone too far.
We got the old pasture posts and electric tape taken down. Dom has a pretty big workload this week, and the horses will need to wait at least another week until we can get the posts put up in the pasture. We’ll get there though!
In the backyard where we are currently living, is a little greenhouse. It is no longer being used so we’ll be starting our seeds in there! Toulousse and I will be rummaging through our seed vaults. Is that exciting, or what?!
For the next month we’ll be:
Finishing getting the horses settled and moving them to their pasture.
Cutting down some smaller sucker trees that popped up where we’ll be putting our post-harvest washing station, outdoor kitchen and dining room, and free standing bathroom.
Cutting some of the limbs off of an old willow tree that could end up falling just like the cottonwood tree. We’ll save a good portion of the trunk and we’re going to build a treehouse for Simmi later in the year. For now, the limbs have to be cleared to make way for our camp.
Finish making the raised garden beds in the market garden.
Clear our camp area
Get veggies started in the greenhouse
Design the chicken coop and chicken compost run
So many great things to accomplish this month. We’re also organizing and getting rid of things we don’t need or want. This will be such an exciting few months. We wish we could be there now, but it’s just not possible to make that transition without planning and doing everything the right way. Sure, we could quickly get our tents up and try to work around all the huge headaches attached to not planning properly, but who wants that kind of drama in their life? Not us! We have the ability to do things in a methodical way and I need to be super conscious that Dom doesn’t get burned out in the process. I care far too much about his emotional and physical wellbeing to try to push our move. It’s not necessary.
In the meantime, we’re exhausted but thrilled at how everything is coming together.
“A home is a kingdom of its own in the midst of the world, a stronghold amid life’s storms and stresses, a refuge, even a sanctuary.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic celebration, even if by celebration I mean that you couldn’t keep your eyes open past 10 and blissfully slept your way into the new year.
The day after Christmas we took a road trip to buy three Stout Overland 5000 Bell Tents. We purchased them from a man who owns a glamping business at the Grand Canyon. Brand new, these tents cost between $1,200- $1,700 each. They are four seasons and each tent has a stove jack for a woodburning stove.
On the right is a photo of what bell tents look like when they’re all decked out. Each of the tents is 16 feet in diameter and the center pole height is about 10 feet, which is great for Dom since he’s so tall.
Our original plan was to create a series of hybrid tent cabins to live in, but after we finally added the cost of each tent with canvas, lumber, and other materials we would need, the cost was around $850 per tent to create. That was WAYYYY out of budget for us.
As I was looking through craigslist for tents, I came across an ad for three bell tents. The price was hard to pass up, so Dom and I decided to purchase them. The look is very different than what I had drawn out on paper for our tent cabins since I wasn’t thinking of creating round tent structures, but it will work just fine.
The bell tents take only about 30 minutes for a person to put up, which is FAR less time than it would have been for us to build the foundation and frame and then sew the canvas for the top.
By choosing these tents, we have saved ourselves a lot of money as well as time. You can’t go wrong with that great combination.
The man we purchased the tents from also threw in two more tents for free to use as spare parts for our tents, but he said that if I’m creative enough and can mend the other two tents, we’d have five. I’ll be examining the two extra tents to see if they can be salvaged. If so, we will use them to create one of them as our kitchen, and the second as our living room/dining room. It will be a house of 5 tents.
Our coffee company will also have its own tent and it will be the only tent with full power for use of my computer, Agnus, and some of the electronics and lighting I use when I’m working. This tent will also have a work area for Simmi to create her jewelry, art, and school work.
Dom and I will have our own tent, and Simmi will have her own.
We’re pretty excited about how everything is coming along. Next week we will start the process of mending any small holes or tears in the tents, prepare the location for the tents, and start going through our things to see what we don’t want to take with us.
As we think of everything that needs to happen before we can move down there, we’re estimating that we won’t be living down there full time for at least two months. It all depends on how quickly we can get certain things accomplished.
We have electric and well water, but we still need to get a phone guy out there to put in our line.
I love how things are evolving. I also really love that we don’t have a mortgage or looming debt hanging over us! Dom and I had a discussion about forest fires which happens frequently in Gila where we are. We love that if we needed to evacuate the area, we could empty the tents, and take them in the car with us. It would only take an hour or so to get them all collapsed and put into the car. That is a HUGE weight off of our minds because when you live in an area that is prone to fires, losing a house can be devastating! If we lost our belongings we would still have tents to live in. How cool is that?!
The land is currently covered in snow, and we’re supposed to get more snow through next week. It’s the perfect time to go over each tent to make sure they don’t have any little holes, rips or tears. I do need to reinforce some areas, but until I get each tent out and all the areas marked that need repairs, I won’t know what I need to complete each repair. It might be a patch kit, or I might need to get a used duty sewing machine. The sewing machine I have has a hard time sewing the binding on a quilt, so I wouldn’t even attempt to make repairs using it.
I’ve never worked with a round space before, so it was a little difficult for me to conceptualize how everything would fit into each tent. I wanted to have everything to scale on paper so I knew what would fit, what would still need to be made, and what we need to get rid of or store away for when we build our house.
In a room that is square or rectangle, it’s easy to draw furniture and walkways into a room but when you’re dealing with a circle and the ceiling starts out very low and works its way up to a 10-foot height, things get a little tricky. So I created the size of the tent to scale on paper, and then each piece of furniture was cut out to scale as well. That way I could manipulate where each piece would go and it would show me just how much room we had to walk around.
When I worked on Simmi’s tent, she didn’t quite understand how her bed and shelves were to scale, so I found an ephemera cutout that I use in my art to be Simmi and placed her on the bed. That seemed to work for her and then she saw just how big her tent was.
In Simmi’s tent, she will have her bed, two small nightstands, and a series of 5 or 6 two-tier shelves. These will hold all her prized possessions and clothing. She wanted a larger table and two chairs for her and her friend to do activities like arts or crafts. We will most likely get a small portable propane heater for her tent, but we are still unsure. I am uneasy about having a woodstove in her tent. She is old enough to have one, but if we did allow it, it would need quite a bit of “mama reinforcement” otherwise I’ll be up all night wondering if a stuffed animal got too close to it, or she put her clothing a little too close to the stove.
I go through at least a hundred scenarios in my mind of what could possibly happen when an 11 year old has a woodstove in her room. A propane heater is more appropriate. Where we live right now there is a propane heater in her room, but she doesn’t go near it. We only used it a few times last winter, and since then got another heating source for her room.
I could be completely overreacting to the heating situation. I just know she’s fascinated by fire, and when we have the woodstove going (which is nearly 24/7) in the main part of the house, she’s always hovering around it, sitting by it, and enamored with the glow of the flames. She can’t help herself. What kid can, right?!
There will be no electric in her tent, just a few battery operated lanterns for light. We’ve played with the idea of putting an electric heater in her tent, but I really don’t want any electric in either of the tents where we sleep.
The tent in the photo to the left I’m still messing around with. This tent is more of an idea since we don’t know what shape the extra tent given to us is like. We would need to build a new dining table (ours is way too wide) but our chairs can all be used.
I have other drawings, but I’ll post them at a later time.
There have been family concerns as we’ve started to discuss our master plan. Dom and I seem to be the family pioneers, doing things that aren’t typically done by our extended families. We don’t know anyone in either of our families that has ever lived in tents while building a house. It seems so….primitive.
But there aren’t many families that set out with the goal of not having a mortgage either. Or a non-electric house. Or limited types of technology because of my sensitivity to different types of motors in both sound and electric magnetic sensitivity.
But here we are! On quite the adventure. On Facebook, youtube, and Instagram I have found many families who have lived in tents during the years of building their farm and home, and those who have chosen to live in RVs. Anything to avoid paying rent and utilities in one place, while trying to build a home or infrastructure in another.
I often think those who are carrying more than one mortgage or paying rent AND a mortgage must be so stressed out. Or maybe they found a better way.
For us, this is the best way. It’s healthy and freeing to reconnect to the natural world. I believe we as a people are far too disconnected from the “real world.” Nature is the real world. The changing seasons with its ebb and flow of fleeting light in winter and extended shine in summer all play into the health and well being of us as humans. We are so disconnected from the sun, spending most of our days inside at work or in our homes. If we go out, it’s only briefly. We have come to fear the elements.
Living in fear is a poor use of our time and energy. We have this gift of life, and yet we hide away in dark homes or in closed up buildings all day at work. We are no better than animals in the zoo who have lost our true habitat.
We must not fear the unknown. We don’t have all the answers, but it’s okay not to know. We do not walk into this life natively, believing that nothing will ever harm us, or that we will never be inconvenienced. It’s going to happen.
Will there be bears and mountain lions? Yes. Are we aware that they browse our property? Yes, and I’ve found bear scat on one of our walks. It happens to be exactly where we’ll be putting our tents. But wildlife has always been a part of the real world. The world we are entering. Learning to live with them and keep ourselves protected is important. I can tell you this much though, it isn’t like braving the wild real world of Alaska where grizzlies roam.
Being afraid of the real world should be a personal indication that you are disconnected. Reconnection is the cure.
Anyway, I digress!
Here are some photos from Christmas 2018- New Year 2019:
Christmas eve was filled with excitement and wonder. We think Simmi is secretly an elf (Like Buddy the Elf) because as soon as the weather turns cold in early fall, she starts singing Christmas songs and it doesn’t stop until after we put the decorations away. This is also a struggle since she would keep Christmas decor up all year if she could.
Even though the electricity from the lights bothers me, I deal with it because I’ve always loved white lights at Christmas. Simmi would have been upset if we didn’t have lights around the window too.
Christmas night Sara joined us for dinner. She always has something stylish to wear, from well-appointed unique hats to the lavishly gorgeous embellished suede and lamb fur coat. And lets not forget the badass boots that go above the knee. I know you can’t see those in the photo, but she’s sporting them! Sara will be moving onto the land sometime in 2019 with her three gorgeous horses.
This is Josey (Joseph) and Leaf.
This is Galeno the great. I gave him the last part of his name because he’s a fatty and likes to keep eating. Haha.
My girl in her silliness wanted me to take a photo of her new hair style. She was pretty pleased with herself!
A very sweet friend of ours, Wendy, gave Simmi water colors, paint brushes and lots of creative things for Simmi to do. Simmi was plotting for at least three days which one of Wendy’s gifts she would open first. Wendy did not disappoint! Thank you Wendy for all the love you put into make Simmi’s Christmas magical.
The first thing she painted was a horse. Of course!
Christmas night was filled with great conversation, awesome food, and lots of laughter.
By the end of the evening, I think we completely wore Sara out. Haha
New Year’s Eve was fabulous. We definitely drank a little too much wine that night! We also hydrated too with plenty of water. What? You don’t drink ice water out of a large wine glass? 😉
New Year’s day we woke up to a foot of snow!
Not a soul to be found on the roads!
From the weight of the snow, Sara’s hayport collapsed. After we had some coffee and breakfast, we headed down to her place to get everything dug out.
We had some help from a neighbor getting the tarps out.
Sara one of the best humans I’ve ever had the privilege of getting to know. She’s a horsewoman and an extremely gifted writer. I’m creating a space on our blog for her to write.
New Year’s day breakfast. Ya can’t beat homemade flatbread, brie, grapes, and meat.
It’s amazing to me that at this time last year I could barely breathe walking from part of a room to another, I had to shave my head because my hair was falling out so much that it was everywhere. It’s disturbing to see hair all over the place! Moving back to our home state of New Mexico was an act of desperation much like when we first arrived in New Mexico ten years earlier. We learned our lesson that this is our home forever. My mold allergies are so bad that our home state is the only one with the ability to help me recover.
And I am recovering, slowly but surely.
It has been nearly four years since we were raising animals and farming. Now that we have our land, we are moving full speed ahead, biting off more than we can chew, and I’m sure we’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way. I don’t fear making mistakes at all. I never have. It’s how I grow and it keeps me flexible when I want to stay rigid.
Jumping back into farming is something I am so very excited about. Proper planning, however, is key to being successful and profitable. We started the tradition of writing out our goals when we started homesteading in Los Lunas. It feels good to get back into the practice of writing our goals again. In every place that we were at from Vermont to West Virginia, we had grand plans for establishing a garden and keeping small animals, but I would get so sick from each house we lived in that we would need to move.
We moved a total of 10 times since leaving New Mexico four years ago. In 2019 we will make another move onto our land.
2018 was a great year. Our coffee roasting company, Buffalo Mountain, has thrived and made 10 times the amount made in 2017. We can’t yet take an income from it, but I believe by the end of 2019 we will be profitable enough to start paying ourselves. Buffalo Mountain pays for all its own supplies, operating expenses, internet and phone, and electric bill. We will be building the new roastery on the land and it will have an art studio, commercial kitchen, and a farm store attached.
We moved here to Reserve in February, and with the amazing support of our friend Jennifer, who allowed us to rent her little adobe this year, it helped us to get established in Catron County.
Simmi made a new friend named Angel and they have become great friends. It’s the first time she has had a real friend to play with…ever. it’s a pretty big deal!
Simmi has made great progress in her school work. She was evaluated by a dyslexia specialist when we lived in Vermont and we were told that she has profound dyslexia. This is not a bad thing, it just means that she processes information when reading or doing math differently than other children. Children with dyslexia have many strengths. I am also dyslexic, but mine is not as advanced as her’s is. So I work at her pace which is very slow, with lots of days in between for her to process what she has learned. If I do school work with her every day, she goes into overload and won’t stop rubbing her eyes because it’s like there are letters or numbers missing from what she’s reading. She believed that she was dumb and not smart because she couldn’t read like her friend Angel. It was very frustrating for her, but recently she has come to accept that she learns differently than other kids and that it’s okay to do things at a slower pace. I think she’s doing fantastic!
Dom has been working hard this year as a cook at the restaurant next door to us and also taking on side projects and maintenance work. He’s still emotionally recovering from this last move. The emotional stress of my illness over the last three years has really taken a toll on him. While I no longer have to worry about toxic mold exposure, I am still suffering with electro-hypersensitivity. My inability to deal with wifi and electricity, in general, has gotten worse since September of this year. My only solace is being down on our land where there are no frequencies at all, and if neighbors do have wifi in their houses, they are far enough away from our property to not affect me.
We made many new dear friends this year, and some of those friends became family to us.
We have our own land to call home and an emerging farm that is co-owned by Dom, me, Toulousse & Saint, and Sara. Sara will be moving to the property sometime in 2019. Toulousse and Saint are already there. I’ll be adding them to this website in the new year.
We gained a new son-in-law, Kyle, when our daughter Shoshannah was married in June of this year. Kyle is one of those rare, gentle and beautiful souls that captured my daughter’s heart and wouldn’t let go. I feel so blessed that they found such a great love in one another.
As we bring 2018 to a close, it’s time to look forward to the goals for 2019. While our list is extensive and so grand that we may not be able to fit it all into a year, it doesn’t have to fit neatly into a one year span. Let’s look at these goals as part of a Five Year Plan.
Firelight Farm’s Goals for 2019
Establish the market garden: Build the greenhouse, stake and build the grow beds, add row covers, install irrigation
Build a chicken coop and compost run
Line the duck pond and put up fence for the duck run
Build topbar beehives
Build a freestanding full bathroom: This will have a worm composting flush toilet (Solviva design), sink, shower and bathtub, and a washing machine. The bathroom will be located between the market garden and the French potager garden.
Build the produce washing and workstation, and animal evisceration (for meat processing) area next to the bathroom: This is the heart of any market garden or garden in general. It’s where fruits and vegetables are processed for the market either on farm or at the farmer’s market.
Build a tool shed between both gardens
Build our hybrid canvas tents: We will be building four 12’x12′ tent cabins. One is for Dom and I, the second tent is for Simone, the third one is for guests who come to visit us, and the fourth is for furniture and boxes as well as storing our kitchen supplies and food in. There will be a large covered area where we will have our kitchen and dining room table. The free standing bathroom will not be located too far from our camp.
Build a canvas tent cabin 12’x12′ for our coffee company, which will be located near where we will be building the roastery.
Establish the French potager garden
Plant fruit trees
Build a tropical greenhouse: This is for our personal use because we want fresh avocados, citrus, figs, and other tropical fruits that won’t grow in our hardiness zone.
Build the coffee roastery: This roastery will be built from logs that our neighbors have sitting up at their property. It was as if it has been there for the last ten years waiting for us to arrive. Haha, at least that’s the way I’d like to think of it! There’s enough lumber for our business complex which will be the roastery, a commercial kitchen for making cold brew and lactofermented vegetables, and the farm store.
Begin improving the pasture for the horses
Clear and remove rocks from the front of the property along the river for the future flower farm: This area is about 30’x200′ feet by my best guesstimation. 😉
Build a horse barn for Sara’s three gorgeous horses that will be coming to their new home
Build Sara a house. Sara is like a mama to Toulousse and I. We adore her and feel so blessed that she’s a part of our family.
Purchase ducklings and goslings
Build a rabbitry and worm beds underneath
Purchase meat rabbits
Build a quail aviary
Build a scaled up black soldier fly shed: Black soldier flies are one of my all time favorite creatures. The larva are highly nutritious for poultry and the adult black soldier fly is an elegant creature, living for only about a week. Adults do not have a working mouth and do not carry vector-borne diseases. I could gush on and on about these little creatures.
Build the farm’s outdoor kitchen and covered dining area: This will be for Farm to Table events
Purchase EZ Up Tents and things needed for the Silver City Farmer’s Market
Purchase or acquire a donated a Suburban or farm truck: We desperately need a large working vehicle that can haul a trailer and for Dom to continue working. Right now we only have one vehicle.
Establish a few commercial accounts for our organic fruits and vegetables and animal products
Build chicken tractors for meat birds. (See photo of chicken tractors below)
Purchase meat chickens and turkeys
Is your head spinning yet? Mine popped off just writing it all down! There’s more, but I think I’ll stop there. When I build the page for our Farmstead Milestones, I’ll add the above list with the rest of our goals, because the list keeps growing. It’ll never stop growing as long as I have breath in me.
I hope you all have an amazing New Year!
2019 is the year of great expectations and will be filled with strength, courage, wisdom, laughter, friendship, financial abundance, and lots of love!
The last couple of Saturdays we finally spent a lot more time down at our land. Dom cleared more weeds and put up our tent. This tent will serve as our bathroom and supply tent for things we want to keep out of the elements. Inside is a composting toilet, bathroom supplies, baby wipes, and other things we don’t want to lug down every week as we work.
Our friends lent us two more tents so that we have a place for Simmi to play and do her school work during the week when we’re down there working.
We brought down our propane camp stove, our on-demand water, and when we get hold of a small sink, we’ll add that as well. When you have a child with multiple life-threatening food allergies, it’s imperative that running hot water is always available. We can’t wash dishes in a little tub filled with water that gets nasty and filthy. We need a continuous stream of hot soapy water to wash dishes. Having a working camp kitchen is essential to us getting anything meaningful done while we are building.
Our workstation is set up near the well and spigot, so we’ll be able to not only cook food and wash dishes while we are here, but we’ll also be able to prepare the garden beds.
We also set up a fire pit and smoke wall. Bushcrafters call them fire reflectors, but ours isn’t to bring heat near the tent. It’s simply a way to attract the smoke away from the tent. I like how our smoke wall came out and Dom had a blast playing with the small branches to weave them all in. There weren’t any real straight branches to create the wall, so he just got creative.
I love the final product.
At a lot of hardware stores, they sell campfire grills so we’ll probably invest in one of those in the next week since we love cooking over an open fire.
I’ll also be creating a new page that will list either free, repurposed or purchased materials and the running totals of how much we are spending each week.
I will be calling the page Farmstead Milestones (or something like that). I know that others will be curious about the expenses. I’ll say right off the bat we are not interested in getting huge loans, and so this whole process of building the infrastructure and outbuildings comes with the very slow and tiny steps towards our goals. It could take YEARS for us to finally get to build our actual house, but since we decided to stay debt free, bootstrapping it is our only viable option.
Instead of always relying on purchasing materials, we have lots of wood, stones, clay, sand, grasses, and leaves to choose from. I like that nature has a hand in sculpting our experiences here.
I want to walk along (as I already have) and spy a massively curved branch that is both rugged and elegant, and say to myself, “THAT! would be beautiful in the living room holding up the ceiling!”
My heart isn’t in dimensional lumber. It is in the sexy curves of trees that grow gnarly and waiting for the chance to be noticed. It’s the relationship we have to the land. That’s where my heart is and I want everything we build to reflect that.
This is the area on the other side of the fence where our canvas tent structures and outdoor kitchen and bathroom will be located. The tents will be semi-permanent in the pasture, but when removed the only thing that will remain is covered area and permanent bathroom. It will be a great place to sit and observe (and enjoy) the larger animals.
Simmi helping with the process of stomping the area flat.
This is such a great shot of where the potager garden will go.
Dom was in a state of deep contentment as he dug the firepit AND listened to Simmi sing while banging rocks into the pit’s edge.
Dom is removing some posts where the market garden greenhouse will stand.
Putting up the second tent.
This second tent is for Simmi to play in when she brings her friend down on Saturdays. When we are here during the week to work, it’s for her to do her school work in.
If it were late spring or early summer we would be camping out every day! But these tents aren’t warm enough to sustain us in the bitter cold.
Simmi and her friend Angel are reading Diary of a Whimpy Kid.
He’s eye candy to my soul.
The first three grow beds have been strung. The footprint of this area is 15’x60′. Over the top of these beds will be a high wind and snow load greenhouse. Before we create the middle grow bed, we need to install 4’x4’s. The greenhouse won’t be installed until sometime in January. Our hope is to have the market garden strung and created while we’re waiting on fencing for the potager garden area. We can’t start that process because the four large adorable pit bulls that have full access to the area would get busy pulling out all our stakes and dig holes everywhere. Silly dogs!
This is one of the big slobbery babies that live here.
This is very close to the same type of greenhouse we’ll be installing. It will not be heated at all. It’s mainly a season extender for high-value crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, etc.
All the way at the end of the rows there is a shadowy area. It will shade less than a 1/4 of the greenhouse. That area will be used to start seed in the spring.
We brought down our heavy duty propane camp stove, propane hot water on demand, and turkey fryer. We have never used the turkey fryer to cook a turkey. Instead, we use it boil hot water to process poultry.
I love how everything is coming together. Over the next few weeks, we’ll have more materials to work with. We need some T-posts and poultry fencing to start a composting chicken run, and this week I’ll be designing the chicken coop. Currently, there are about 10-15 chickens roaming around with the four dogs, so we want to get them into their own space and working for their food. A composting run will allow them to eat lots of yummy scraps and weed seeds, keep them safe from predation, and begin the process of moving them from regular dry feed to lacto-fermented feed. The chicken composting run divides the two gardens right down the center. On the left of the chicken run is the market garden, and on the right side of the run is the potager garden.
As we work the land, previous plans and ideas give way to more practical plans. If we don’t spend time down there, we can see where the winds come from, when the trees cast shadows throughout the day, which areas contain more moisture than others, and what is the prime garden real estate. HA! It wasn’t until we put up the second tent that we realized that the rich sandy loam that is beneath the second tent is prime real estate and shouldn’t be used to house animals. Instead it should be used to feed people AND animals.
Living two lives isn’t easy. We live in a house with four walls, but our lives, our souls, our very beings scream to be on our land. Managing two lives isn’t easy when our time is divided between our work and commitments, and the commitments we made to ourselves more than 10 years ago when we decided that we wanted to live an agrarian life.
The excitement grows each day, and sometimes I feel that I can’t contain myself. Dom and I go back and forth about how to approach moving onto the land. Do we build our camp first? What about establishing the farm infrastructure? There are so many important decisions to make, that we barely know how to rate them on a list of things most important. They are all important!
For now, we have decided to move forward establishing the gardens. Our main garden which will be a semi-formal very structured French Potager garden will be the focus over the next few weeks while still gathering resources to build our camp.
I’ve always wanted to have a French Potager garden, and I’ve had a lot of fun designing ours. They feel otherworldly and completely magical. There is something poetic about how everything is arranged for beauty and function. The picture on the right is an example of a potager garden.
We’ve estimated that our garden area is about 50’x50′ but until Dom gets in there and gets an accurate measurement, I can’t get too specific with my plans. I estimate that the garden will ultimately be a 40’x40′ area. This area is the true focal point on the farm. It will marry two other areas together. On the west side of the garden will be an outdoor kitchen and covered gathering place. On the east side of the garden is where we plan to set up camp and build a chicken coop, rabbitry, duck pond, and a tropical greenhouse. To the east of that section will be a large market garden and high tunnel for high-value crops like tomatoes, peppers, basil, etc.
To the east of the market garden is pastured area for the horses, meat birds like chicken and turkey, and eventually sheep and goats.
Where was I? Oh yes, the French potager…I just have a general idea of what the overall design will be. In this area, there are a few challenges. One is the side of the mountain that blocks some light on the south side until about mid-morning. The second challenge is how cold air descends into the garden area.
In the photo on the left is Dom clearing the weeds in the area we’ll be building our camp, the animal structures, and the tropical greenhouse. See the mountainside in the distance? That is at the edge of where potager garden will be going.
To address these two issues, we’ll set up espaliered apple trees that require more chill hours and plant more cold hardy perennials in the area that will get hit with the coldest temperatures.
I’m also setting up our garden with far more cold hardy annuals and perennials. We are in growing zone 6 to 6A, however, our perennials will all have a hardiness to growing zone 3-4. The reason I’ve chosen this approach is that we are at the beginning of a Grand Solar Minimum. Agriculture will suffer greatly because of this natural cycle of cold coming to us. It will mean erratic fluctuations in temperature, excessive rain and snow, and much longer cold seasons. Fall will continue to grow shorter, with snowfall and bone-chilling cold becoming the norm. Growing seasons will be shortened. Farmers will find it difficult to plant in spring because of snow or frozen ground. Once they can plant, they will then deal with compression events that bring excessive rain. Rain in areas of wheat production will bring fungus and molds.
Thriving during the grand solar minimum is of the utmost importance for us. Food prices are steadily rising, and it may become difficult to get the foods we are all accustomed to. Also, have you tasted what is being passed off as fresh fruits and vegetables? They are tasteless, and, even organic food is becoming lackluster.
Our farm is not being cultivated to feed the world, but we will have a farm store for the products we choose to sell.
All these things weigh heavily on my mind and heart.
We can’t wait to be on the land full time. Right now it feels like we’re going at a snail’s pace, but planning is the most important part of this adventure we’re on.
Wait until you see the rest of the land! I’ve only shared the side where our farm will be. Then there are the other 10 acres to the west of the farm. It is where we will eventually build our home. We’re not in a rush to build because the farm infrastructure is far more important. We will be living in canvas tents for the next year and we may make the tropical greenhouse our temporary home if we get tired of tent living. In the meantime, we will continue to live these two lives.
Aren’t potager gardens beautiful? I love the whimsical aspect to them, as well as how they mix flowers and herbs and fruit trees.
The wattle edging is swoon worthy!
There are so many beautiful versatile ways to set up a potager.
I want to build something like this for where we gather. It would be wider, but this bliss to me. Where this would go is at the edge of the badass grapevines that need new vertical space to thrive on.
At the entrance to different areas, I would love to have inviting entryways that beg you to come and stay for a while.
“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. ”Kahlil Gibran
Today was a sad day for us. A towering cottonwood tree that is on our property crashed to the ground. My heart broke a little. Okay, a lot. I cried. When we were deciding where to put the greenhouse, one concern of ours was building too close to the cottonwood tree. We knew that it would need to be trimmed, but we had no idea that with all the rain we’ve had over the last few days caused the tree branches to become too heavy. All the large branches came down.
I was supposed to go down there today to clear the area where we’ll be building the first structure, but with all the rain we’ve been having, I canceled. It was a good thing too, because Simmi would have been playing in that area and who knows what might have happened if it never rained today.
I’ll be heading down tomorrow to take as many cuttings of the tree as I can, and I’ll try to root them to plant next spring. It might be too late to try and root them now, but it’s worth a shot. I know that in the spring the tree will send out new suckers and new growth from where it broke, and if my cuttings don’t root this year, I’ll use next year’s growth to start new trees.
It was such a beautiful tree. It’s commanding presence will be deeply missed.
It was such a beautiful tree.
For perspective, this is Saint standing next to part of the tree. He’s over 6 feet tall.
Cutting and clearing the tree is going to be a huge undertaking!
In January 2018 I had these beautiful thriving orchids that we needed to transport from West Virginia to New Mexico. It was cold, and we knew that there was a good possibility that I might lose one or all of them. Our road trip was long and it was freezing in the car where they were packed up. I worried about them the whole trip.
After a few weeks of watching them slowly wither, the leaves becoming the color of asparagus when it’s cooked too much, I thought I would lose them all. The only thing left was their root system. No leaves, the crown on each orchid…dead.
Yet, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t throw them in the garbage. There were two small orchids that died, crown and roots, but three of my others still had juicy roots. I put them in a water culture and would fertilize them once a week. After a few months, the first one got it’s first leaf back. Then the second one, and finally the third.
Never give up hope on you orchids! They can survive.
I’m hoping next year to put them in a good orchid growing medium again. For now, I’m just going to continue to baby them.
They’re still in their leafing phase, but I’m hopeful they will send up their first flower spikes after rising from the dead.
I need good names for these three little flower warriors! They’re underdogs and badass orchids.
Maybe a good Viking name for each of them would be appropriate.
I prune off a little more dead material each month. As you can see in the photos the original dead crown is still present, but I just pick at it ever so delicately.
We have a mini-collection of repurposed materials, and this coming week we’ll be adding to that collection if everything goes as planned. I always need to hold onto plans loosely since free or inexpensive materials tend to go very quickly. I’m a member of Freecycle and at any given time a product being given away might be claimed by someone who lives closer than I do, or can go and swoop it up quicker than I can even get in my car!
Freecycle, the free section on Craigslist, and even Facebook Marketplace has been instrumental in collecting needed materials.
Back when we first moved to New Mexico in 2008, we came with only the clothes on our backs. We needed beds, furniture, cooking supplies, clothing, rugs and more. Everything we needed was found on Freecycle or Craigslist. We rebuilt our lives utilizing those two resources. I still have some of the things acquired on Freecycle or from Thrift Shops because their sentimental value far outweighs their real value.
Part of the structure we’re building contains a lean-to greenhouse that will go the full length of the structure on the south side. Our original plan was to frame it out and use greenhouse plastic, but we might actually be acquiring large windows for it! This was such an exciting find. If my plans fall through for picking up these windows, we’ll just use greenhouse plastic.
The reason for the lean-to greenhouse is to house our kitchen and bathroom. Because of my mold allergies, it never fails that a leak of some sort can develop when there’s indoor plumbing. Building a kitchen and bathroom outside the actual structure, yet still a part of it will help keep the structure free of all water damage unless that damage comes from a roof leak.
We have three heavy duty metal and glass doors we brought with us from West Virginia. Dom collected them from an old job site. Two will be used on the east and western sides of the greenhouse, and the third one will be located where the coffee roastery will be built on the eastern side of the structure.
We also have an old short water heater, which we’re thinking will be used to create a rocket stove mass water heater. Geoff Lawton has a video on how it works if you’d like to watch!
“We are starving for spiritual nourishment. We are starving for a life that is personal, connected, and meaningful. By choice, that is where we will direct our energy. When we do so,community will arise anew because this spiritual nourishment can only come to us as a gift, as part of a web of gifts in which we participate as giver and receiver. Whether or not it rides the vehicle of something bought, it is irreducibly personal and unique.” ~Charles Eisenstein
I have this deep calling that gnaws at my soul regularly. Each day that I am not moving towards my calling brings pain to my spirit. I have a dream that will be realized. I am called to the agrarian life. I am also called to bless others with my gifts freely and abundantly, and to lavish on those within my inner circle of friends and family, my unconditional love.
Who are those in my inner circle? It is those people who are aligned with my values and have a heart like mine. That doesn’t mean they are exactly like me in any way. They have a heart song that I recognize and embrace because we are spiritual kin. It is like deep calling to deep.
There are those who sing a song that sounds similar to my heart song, but by the end of the song it’s evident that the melody might sound similar, but the words are all wrong. They think they’re singing the same song, but you see, the song takes months to sing and they just haven’t invested the time to sing it the way their hearts needed to. Sounds cryptic, right?
Each of us has a heart song. Those who do not betray their own hearts or reject their own souls will find comfort in others who do the same. That is the heart song. We recognize it instantly. It is a song that you sing to others with your actions, your time, your intentions. Those who betray their own hearts and compromise their integrity recoil at the sound of a true heart song. Those who have denied their own beautiful song will be suspicious, cruel, withholding, cold, distant, all while still claiming to have a song just like mine. Their words and actions betray them. My love is anathema to them as they choke on their own betrayal and inability to break free from their overabundant pride. I have been witness to this throughout my whole life. It’s a part of the human condition.
My heart is soft, so it doesn’t break easily. I keep it soft because others are too hard on themselves. My softness is a part of my song. But being soft doesn’t mean being weak. Weakness is a habit developed by those who have lost their way and compromised their integrity. Being soft allows me to fully recognize my desire to love radically. To give abundantly. To forgive freely. To follow my wild heart and search for home.
I’ve searched for home my whole life. No matter where I have lived, I’ve always made a home for myself. My husband is my home. My children are my home. Seeking deep connections with others who have a heart like mine brings me home. But my desire to set roots and be home has brought me to a new place. A place where I hear other heart songs sung unabashedly wild and free.
We started a new chapter in our lives recently. We currently live in a very small place and out of necessity we started searching for a new place to live. Even though there are only three of us currently living in this small space we call home, we also have grown children who, when they come to visit have no place to sleep when they stay over. Add to that the fact that I operate our coffee roasting business from this same space AND having the little storefront here cuts into personal space even more. Along with running a business comes balancing my time during the day homeschooling Simone. Some days she’s on the computer working with an online program, and the rest of the time she’s sprawled out at my work table completing the lessons of the day while I’m working on a customer’s order. Our space is very limited for what we need.
I’m also a hardcore introvert with a great need to recharge myself away from the presence of other people. That includes my own family. Introverts draw their energy from solitude and time alone.
Our current living space is not honoring my needs. I keep trying to make it better, and Dom will take Simmi out of the house so I can be alone and recover, but it doesn’t always work out the way we want.
In the process of looking for a larger place to live, we found a gorgeous piece of land we decided to invest in.
It is sacred to us.
There is great peace there.
It is a place where my wild and innocent young daughter can run free. A place where her feral heart can grow strong and soft.
With the investment we’ve made in the land comes the investment we’ve made with friends who have become our family in that very place. They are home to us. Our friendship was forged in our ability to be vulnerable to one another. We strengthened our friendship by hearing one another’s heart songs, and then we became family.
We’re home at last.
Over the next few months, we’ll be building our first home on almost fifteen beautiful acres. Located about 30 minutes south of where we currently live, this place of beauty stuns me everywhere I look.
There are unforgiving steep slopes, pastures, rocky paths and river beds. Rising up from the deep earth are sycamores and cottonwoods, willows and oak trees, evergreens and shrubs. Grasses and weeds reveal the splendor of a fertile and untouched land.
There are quiet places to recharge the soul, and gathering places to engage our hearts.
Time stands still here.
I’ve started planning our gardens, ordering seed, and designing our first house. It will not be our final house, but instead, it will be the business hub that we move into.
In past posts, I’ve mentioned that we want to build a house that doesn’t have any electricity and that includes conventional or alternative. The space we’re designing and living in first will have electricity in it. It’s the place where our businesses will thrive. My non-electric house will not be built until we have observed the land and find the best place suited for it. We do have an area that we adore, however, we need to live there full time and go through the seasons to know for sure where to build.
The business hub will be located in an area that is near the pasture. It will have our offices, art studio, fabric studio, a roastery, outdoor kitchen, as well as a become a Farm to Table venue. It all starts with that space.
It will (hopefully) be a bit larger than the space we’re currently in, but ultimately it will allow me to cultivate the land and get animals established prior to building our final home.
We’ll be living in our current house until we’re able to move into the new space. Unfortunately, we don’t have a good timetable for when that would be. We want to do it efficiently and inexpensively, utilizing the timber nearby as well as other free or almost free repurposed materials. I will be blogging about everything we’re doing on the land, but it won’t just be me blogging!
I’ll be adding new features to this blog, including new writers and artisans in our community. In future posts, I’ll share who they are and how amazing they are because there is just too much to say in one blog post. 😉
In the meantime, here are some photos of our new land…
This area we’re considering as the location for the business hub/temporary home. It is located near an open pasture to the left and two paddocks on the right. One of the paddocks will be used for small and medium sized animals, and the other for our garden. Each paddock is about 50’x50′.
The view from the first paddock looking north.
Simmi running past the second paddock.
A view north-west.
The western side of the property.
Beauty surrounds us.
Simmi’s favorite tree.
An opposing gigantic cottonwood tree stands guard at the entrance to the pasture.
The grapevines have decided to be hardcore and skip cultivation. They’re total badasses.
The pasture awaits larger animals and meat birds in chicken tractors.
This is one of the paddocks that will be turned into an intensive French potager garden.
There is so much to love about this place. It is a dream realized and a hope fulfilled.
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”Steve Jobs
Becoming a mitochondriac has been a process for me. For a number of years I have been making subtle changes to my life. Nothing happened overnight. Instead, the changes that I’ve made have stood the test of time. It’s not easy to change. Whenever I’ve changed a part of my life, there were unintended consequences but if I stuck with that change it made a huge difference in my life over the years.
My quest for wellness has been a 25 year journey. My children have never known their mother as being healthy and strong, or vibrant and active. I’ve been ill for 25 years now. Let that sink in for a moment. Two and a half decades of being sick. Lymes disease, peripheral neuropathy, fibromyalgia, SLE, biotoxin illness, severe mold allergies, extensive hospital stays being in intensive care with my life hanging by a thread because of pneumonia sometimes twice a year, alopecia, miscarriages and complete infertility, morbid obesity, and the final blow in the latest of diagnoses…Celiac disease.
I’m not well. And it shows. With the exception of going raw for more than a year and finally being in remission, that was the only window of time when I was vibrant, strong, and healthy. Two years in 25.
My quest all these years was to find a way to NOT be on any medication. For someone with an arsenal of ill health under her belt, I’m not on any medication. If I’m diagnosed with something, I have a knee jerk reaction and right away start researching how to get rid of a particular autoimmune disorder. The Celiac diagnosis was particularly difficult for me to handle. I already knew that I had a sensitivity to gluten, but I had no idea that my neurological problems were actually tied to gluten. High blood pressure is also another unintended consequence of eating gluten for me. I’m a fat Celiac. Most Celiacs are frail and thin. However, regardless of whether a celiac is fat or thin, we aren’t getting the nutrients we need from food. I haven’t had any gluten since I was diagnosed in 2014.
Tweaking my diet has been an ongoing challenge. I’ve made lasting changes to how I eat. You would think that someone who eats as healthy as I do, would just drop the weight quickly.
Morbid obesity is a mitochondrial disease. Old school thinking is “calories in, calories out.” If you eat 1200 calories a day, exercise, drink water and stay away from junk food, you’ll lose weight. Here’s a fun little story…
Back after my son was born, we were living in NJ. At the time we were vegetarians. I’ve always provided my family with nutritious food. No junk food. I started going to a doctor in NJ who was famous for his practice of fasting and reversing disease. Back then I was considered morbidly obese, and he said that if I just followed his plan and exercised, the weight was guaranteed to come off. I stuck with the diet, ran three miles a day, and didn’t lose even one pound over the span of a few months. He thought I was lying about exercise and what I was eating. He accused me of binge eating and being lazy. And then he fired me as a patient.
My doctor said he could not waste his time with me if I wasn’t serious about my health.
But I was. I have always been very health conscious. It makes no sense, right?
Here’s what Dr. Jack Kruse has to say about obesity and mitochondria:
The truth is, obesity is a quantum disease that dramatically alters quantum signaling that occurs on the inner mitochondrial membrane. The change leads to a dramatic change in current on the inner mitochondrial membrane due to changes in subatomic distance in proteins of cytochromes that alter vibrational resonance. This makes us very energy inefficient. The changes in protein conformation diminish energy transfers by altering bond lengths in Angstroms. When energy transfers are diminished, people have to eat more to offset the change in the Angstrom distances in the cytochrome complexes found on the inner mitochondrial membrane. The conformational changes lead to protein folding errors in the proteins that couple oxidative phosphorylation to the correct metabolic and environmental signals is lost or becomes very inefficient. The folding errors increase the subatomic lengths of bonds in the chemistry of molecules.
One thing scientists are correct about: obesity is not a disease of carbohydrates, excess protein or an excess of dietary fat or excess insulin. It is a metabolic process to limit collateral damage from a loss of energy transfer in the cell. It is tied to not being able to correctly tell time any day of any season of the year.
Obesity is tied to an inability of the brain to process the proper amount of photons and electrons in the body in all places it matters, specifically in the hypothalamus essentially throwing off energy balance between our semiconductors, our inner mitochondrial membrane, and our leptin receptor. The obese never get the correct signal from their metabolism or the environment, to tell what the energy balance status really is in their fat cells. Because they can not decipher this message correctly, and they are losing photons and electrons to the environment because of a lack of proper quantum tunneling and quantum time; they have the sense and perception that they must eat more to improve the current of flow over their altered inner mitochondrial membrane that now leaks like a sieve because of the altered chemical bond lengths. This is also why obesity is linked to all diseases of aging. Obesity and diabetes are two circles of a Venn diagram in this enigma. That much is crystal clear. Where they intersect is the key to solving the puzzle. To solve it takes systems thinking not reductive science by itself. At their core of this intersection is where mitochondrial inefficiency issues live.
As I stated in Part One of my Secret Life series, it takes a LONG ASS TIME to digest what Jack has to say. It’s so worth it though!
Currently, I’m correcting my circadian biology. Dom and I have been working on correcting it for nearly two years now. It’s not easy. Why? Because it means changing how I do life each day. This is why it is taking me so long to get my shit together. To sleep at night in complete darkness? I would go through phases where we would start to practice it, but then I’d get some sort of autoimmune flare up which always keeps me up at night. Tossing and turning in bed? That’s torture to me. So the vicious cycle of putting the tv on at night starts. Which ruins my circadian biology.
One way I’ve hacked that problem is to wear my blue blockers every night. It takes about an hour for my brain to finally calm down and I get very tired when they are on. Another thing we do is not have any artificial light on after dark. We use candles.
Getting my body to start healing is the most important thing I can do for myself. As long as I’m obese, I know I have a mitochondrial problem. Other people may not have a problem with obesity. Their issues might stem from migraines or other other disease processes where you need medication. High blood pressure is a mitochondrial problem. I used to have extremely high blood pressure. It would feel like my head was going to pop off. The medication I was on was very strong. After I stopped eating gluten, my doctor was able to get me off the blood pressure meds because my blood pressure regulated properly. However, there is one other thing that causes my blood pressure to spike now…EMFs. If I’m in a city or place with lots of WiFi and cell towers, my head will start to feel like it’s going to pop off. It’s scary sometimes. So I avoid going to cities as much as I can.
When my circadian biology is working properly, my hormones will also start to normalize. I’ve spoken to many women who can’t sleep at night, are restless, have problems with their monthly cycle, and are either depleted in progesterone or are estrogen dominant.
Our modern lifestyles are the perfect storm for infertility and hormonal problems.
Natural Fertility Info explains melatonin and fertility this way:
Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, a small endocrine gland located between the two hemispheres of the brain. In relation to fertility, melatonin is also produced by the follicles (eggs) within an ovary, the mass of cells that surround the follicles, and in the immature follicle itself.
Melatonin has been found to be a powerful free radical scavenger exerting strong antioxidant effects, important for supporting cellular health and protecting an immature egg from oxidative stress, especially at the time of ovulation. One small study of 115 women at the Yamaguchi University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan showed melatonin may increase egg quality by reducing the level of one oxidizing agent called 8-OHdG in the ovum, which is a natural product of DNA oxidation.
Another study in the Journal of Ovarian Research states that, “It has been believed that melatonin regulates ovarian function by the regulation of gonadotropin release in the hypothalamus-pituitary gland axis via its specific receptors… Higher concentrations of melatonin have been found in human preovulatory follicular fluid compared to serum, and there is growing evidence of the direct effects of melatonin on ovarian function especially oocyte maturation and embryo development.”
Melatonin also helps control body temperature, the timing and release of female reproductive hormones and possibly egg quality. In fact, melatonin has been found to control the onset of puberty in females, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and even when a woman stops menstruating and enters menopause.
Preliminary evidence suggests that melatonin may help strengthen the immune system as well.
During pregnancy, melatonin in the blood passes through the placenta not only supporting its function and health, but also aiding in the creation of the fetal suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN, where a human’s central circadian regulatory system in located. Because of its antioxidant effects, Melatonin may also protect the developing fetus from oxidative stress.
In conclusion, recent research of the role of a healthy circadian rhythm and cyclical production of melatonin is proving to be critical for optimal female reproductive hormone function, menstrual cycle timing, ovarian function (including follicle function- both health and quality), as well as placental function.
One can influence her circadian rhythms and melatonin production simply by waking when it becomes light outside and sleeping when it is dark. While we understand that many of us are not able to sleep the entire time it is dark outside, you can create a routine that allows you to slow and enjoy calm as darkness sets in and avoid bright artificial lights (from televisions, computer screens, hand-held devices, cell phones, etc.) at least one hour before bedtime at night (No TV in bed!).
Learning a new way to live life each day isn’t easy, and yet it’s so simple! I’m still just a Black Swan hatchling. I’m a mitochondriac who is striving to get my mitochondria healthy again. I am getting there, slowly but surely.
Since I started to religiously keep the lights off at night, go out and sun gaze in the morning and throughout the day, drink great water and begin to eat foods that are deuterium depleted (no longer eating foods that are high in deuterium) I’ve dropped one dress size. Go figure! This is something that is working for me. For every pound that I lose, I have gained a more robust mitochondrial function.
It’s a great trade-off.
Dom and I have discussions every day about the kind of center we want to open. It would be a place to jumpstart your circadian biology. This would the place you come and unplug from EVERYTHING. Leave your cell phones and wireless devices at home. It’s a digital detox. It’s actually becoming a trend in many coffee shops and cafes around the country. Cafes are opting no to provide any kind of WiFi or even places to plug in devices, because we as a society have forgotten how to really talk with one another. Our center would be free of all electrical devices. You’ll ground, drink great water, eat food from our garden, and our animals will not be grain fed, but instead pastured so that the meat will be deuterium depleted.
We need a place where artificial light doesn’t exist. Our place wouldn’t have any at all. Just Firelight. Under our dark clear skies at 5700 feet in elevation and not a cell tower in any direction. I want to create this. I want people to get excited about being able to unplug. To know that they aren’t alone in this.
We need land with water rights donated or purchased and away from any other neighbors or town and away from major roads. We need to build the infrastructure.
If a project like this resonates with you, drop me an email at email@example.com
Caution and a raised eyebrow can be found after saying the word mitochondriac. It almost sounds like the word hypochondriac, right? But I promise they are very different from one another. Most of us know what a hypochondriac is. Often hypochondriacs are preoccupied with thoughts of impending doom, look up symptoms they may be experiencing and believe they have something wrong with them. In some of my research, hypochondria has been explained as a mental illness.
A mitochondriac, however, is someone who is pretty obsessed with their mitochondria, how it functions, and how to protect it. They are fascinated by their second set of genetics and have discovered that their mitochondria, which is passed on from mother to child, is actually the workhorse of the body. We’ve been taught that our DNA is everything, and when things start to go wrong with our bodies, it must be because of a genetic abnormality. However, our mitochondria are at the root of our health or ill-health.
I’m not going to get into what the mitochondria do, or don’t do. I want to touch a little on why I’m a mitochondriac and how that has affected my life to this point.
I consider myself a black swan mitochondriac, but I am at the hatchling phase…a cygnet if you will. My mentor is none other than the amazingly controversial and mindblowing practicing neurosurgeon Dr. Jack Kruse. Although I have never met him, someday (December 2018 😉 ) I hope to share a bottle of wine with him one evening on the beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and talk about how much he has changed my life. He shattered my old perceptions of what health was and like a bull in a china shop leveled my beliefs to the ground.
I told Dom that someday soon I’ll have a t-shirt made that has a photo of Jack and that states, “God’s Gift to the World.” Because that’s what Jack is.
This is what Black Swan Theory is to Jack:
The black swan theory of events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise to a paradigm of belief, has a major effect on those who realize it, and is often inappropriately rationalized by the paradigm after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The term is based on an ancient saying which presumed black swans did not exist, but the saying was rewritten after black swans were discovered in the wild. The implication is, absence of evidence is not absence of effect or reality or truth. Just because evidence is not present right here, right now, does not mean the possibility cannot exist or is not true. What nature allows, will certainly happen. It is the basis of the Kruse Thereom of living systems. This is why the wise among us build arks for the black swans among us. As they gain wisdom in unison, they begin to flock together. Then, the ark of wisdom, buried deep within the threads of nature can protect them from the poor thinking and the beliefs of paradigms built on half truths.
I’ve been following Jack’s work as it has evolved over the last several years. Most of what he has said went right over my head. It would take me HOURS to read just one of his blog posts. I needed a decoder ring to understand most of what he said until finally, I just relaxed and said, “fuck it, it is what it is and someday I’ll get it.” There was always a practical takehome from his blogs, and so I’d glean as much as I could and put it to practice.
A few years prior to knowing that I had electrohypersensitivity, he kept writing about non-native EMFs, blue light, circadian biology, the time clock in our eye and our skin, and the damage man-made devices do to us, but I didn’t understand.
But it went in. Like a silent time bomb set to explode. BOOM! One day it all made sense, and the work began. It isn’t easy becoming a mitochondriac. In fact, it’s freaking hard as hell. Want to know why? Because it’s so simple you won’t believe it! I couldn’t believe that the blue light that was coming from the artificial light like compact fluorescent bulbs, halogen, and worst of all LED bulbs, TVs, wireless device screens, and even the damn regular blue light that plagues most devices has the MOST profound effect on our circadian biology and mitochondria.
It wasn’t easy because it meant that I would need to change how I used light. I needed to purchase incandescent bulbs which don’t harm the same way that the new light bulbs do. Funny thing is that I have never liked having lights on at night. I would much rather have firelight. Candles or oil lamps always seem to calm me down at night. Yet, when I would go to bed, there was some sort of light on in the bedroom, such as the TV, and in the hall another light. I have on several occasions gotten a concussion from walking around in the dark. I’m extremely accident prone as well as being a sleepwalker, and if there is anything in my way, I’ll fall.
I had to learn how to keep the lights off. That is still difficult for me at night. My fear of more head trauma makes it difficult for me to see the value of keeping things pitch black at night. But I continue to work at it.
Being a mitochondriac also means I get to wear funny looking glasses when I’m exposed to artificial blue light at night, like my computer screen. Dom calls them my douchy glasses because I look like a douchwaffle in them. The photo on the right I took of myself in March as my hair was finally starting to come back in after falling out due to mold exposure.
So, my douchwaffle glasses serve a very important purpose. I put these glasses on at night a few hours prior to going to bed. They’re very trippy and it takes a little time to get used to them. They block out all the blue, green from artificial light and electronic devices, and encourage my body to release melatonin. During the day, I have a set of blue blockers that aren’t as aggressive as my TrueDark glasses but will block about 50% of the blue light from my vision.
We also have Iris software installed on our computer which helps to filter out blue light. You’ll see in the right sidebar an ad for Iris. It is my affiliate link. I don’t think I’ve ever had an affiliate link before, but this product I use, and I would encourage you to get it for your computer or wireless devices.
Light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves. These waves emit energy, and range in length and strength. The shorter the wavelength; the higher the energy. The length of the waves is measured in nanometers (nm), with 1 nanometer equaling 1 billionth of a meter. Every wavelength is represented by a different colour, and is grouped into the following categories: gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet (UV) rays, visible light, infrared light, and radio waves. Together these wavelengths make up the electromagnetic spectrum.
However the human eye is sensitive to only one part of this spectrum: visible light. Visible light is that part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is seen as colours: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Blue light has a very short wavelength, and so produces a higher amount of energy. Studies suggest that, over time, exposure to the blue end of the light spectrum could cause serious long-term damage to your eyes.
Blue light is highest in the morning, and it is always balanced with the other colors in the spectrum. As a mitochondriac, it is important for me to get up first thing in the morning and greet the sun. Dom and I go out every morning and look towards the direction of the sun.
What this does is it shuts off melatonin and lets my body know it’s daytime. It also does another very special thing…it creates MORE melatonin and stores it later to be used by my body at night.
Guess how much it costs? ZERO DOLLARS. Guess how difficult it is to do? Hard AF.
We don’t go outside anymore as a people. Who gets up first thing in the morning, takes off their shoes to make sure you are grounded, and takes in the morning sun?
When I’m outside, I don’t use anything on my eyes, like sunglasses. My eyes are always naked and searching near the sun. I know that in those morning moments as we either watch the sun rise, or are getting morning sun, we are giving our bodies a great start to the day.
As a farmer, it’s easy to be outside first thing in the morning. However, I still don’t have land to farm, so instead, we just go out and greet the morning.
Light also affects our skin. We have receptors in our skin that affect our circadian biology. Artificial light at night is a problem, so we cover up our skin when we’re in the presence of artificial light. Dom started wearing his orange glasses to work and he keeps his body covered as much as possible when he’s working indoors under fluorescent or LED lighting. It has had a dramatic effect on his energy levels, even though he’s exposed to very high WiFi signals. He’s also affected by EMFs, just not as severely as I am.
It takes time to change how I live. How do you live without a cell phone? How do you live without WiFi? How do you live without electricity?
That is the next evolution of my experience. I live without the cell phone and I chose to live in a place that is so scarcely populated that telecommunications would find it difficult to justify putting in a cell tower beyond the half-working one they have going in our main town.
I live 8 miles south of a cell tower. There is one cell tower near Datil which is about an hour north from me, and another very small tower in Glenwood, which is an hour south of me. There are no plans on getting more towers installed.
I chose to live here purposely because of that reason.
We are also at 33 degrees north latitude at an elevation of 5700 feet above sea level. This is important for another reason as a mitochondriac…
We want to make Vitamin D year round. At our latitude and elevation it is possible for us to make Vitamin D all year, and because we are not inundated with nnEMFs from cell towers and the wifi from neighboring buildings is low enough not to affect us, we can now make Vitamin D. As it turns out, if you are bathing in nnEMFs, you won’t be able to make Vitamin D. Even if you were at the equator. It’s not going to happen. Those great devices that we all love to use (remember I’m a technology whore) can sap our bodies of Vitamin D. You can take all the supplements you want, but if you aren’t changing your light environment and find a less densely populated place to live, you’ll continue to suffer as I did for so long.
My life changed dramatically in the last two years. At first, they were subtle changes, like being able to actually sleep at night. How many of you have autoimmune problems? Pick any autoimmune problem, and I bet you have an issue sleeping at night.
My sleep improved. It continues to improve, and as I fix my light problem, guess what else is improving? My hormones. Even though I’m almost 50, my hormones are not too terrible. I have a monthly cycle that wasn’t always perfect. Once we moved to the east coast and my exposure to molds increased, so did my issues with my hormones. Everything got messed up to the point that I thought I was finally entering perimenopause. My cycle was off sometimes by MONTHS, and it was erratic at best. This was a problem I never had before. When we lived in Vermont, we started implementing changes like using candles or oil lamps at night, as well as using a grounding sheet, which caused a dramatic shift in my hormones.
After moving to another house in Vermont, we hardwired our computer, got rid of wifi, changed our smart meter to a regular analog meter, got a wired phone instead of wireless DECT phone, shut our power off at night, and purchased our first blue blocker glasses.
All those things helped to get my hormones under control. We slept better at night, and Simone improved emotionally as well as educationally.
It has taken over two years to get to where we are. It was baby steps that got us here.
My diet has changed over the last two months as well. I have been on and off keto for the last 7 years, but because of inflammation in my body, I chose to go mostly raw.
I have been slowly transitioning to a raw food diet, but it isn’t a raw vegan diet. 17 years ago I was trained as a raw food practitioner and chef. Originally when I became a raw vegan, I put my autoimmune condition in remission.
Now that we have locked down our light problems, I’m taking that next step in implementing a raw food diet with intermittent fasting.
My diet consists of one meal a day that has about 5 oz of a raw protein of some sort, a raw yolk, fruit, greens, olive oil, rice vinegar, spices, and an avocado. It’s basically the same thing every day around 10am.
I eat either raw beef or raw oysters or both with each meal. On other days I will switch out the raw meat for two cans of sardines.
It’s basic, very filling, and doesn’t require me to think of food after 11 am every day.
I know it doesn’t sound very appetizing eating raw beef, but believe it or not, it’s freaking delicious. I couldn’t have imagined eating raw meat even just three months ago, but I am enjoying it.
The reason I’ve chosen to eat only one robust meal a day is for mitochondrial biogenesis. You can do a little research about how intermittent fasting affects mitochondrial function. It’s fascinating.
So where does a black swan cygnet mitochondriac go from here?
As I continue to heal my body, my desire to farm becomes stronger. I am blessed to live in a county that has some of the darkest sky in the world. Without light pollution or nnEMFs around, I would LOVE to start a center for mitochondrial healing where people can come to get their bodies jumpstarted.
The change happens so quickly, and even though I’m nowhere near finished with my own personal health journey, I feel this is such a powerful experience.
Having a place where people can completely unplug, will not be exposed to nnEMFs, can ground, eat great organic food, and kickstart their mitochondriac journey is so exciting to me!
Dom and I have been looking for the perfect location, and we’ll be looking for investors who want to help create a new center. It’s all in the hatchling stage of planning, but it’s something Dom and I are very passionate about.
For the sake of time and the fact that this has been a super long post, I’ll stop there.
Dom and I are both sprawlers. Actually, Simmi is a sprawler as well. Dom has his bottles of mead and beers fermenting, along with lacto fermented veggies and pickles, Simmi leaves a trail of belongings everywhere and doesn’t like to throw anything away, and I have jars of things rooting or being nurtured on the counter.
I chose the north side of the house where our kitchen is because it gets some moderate light and won’t be too hard on my little water babies soaking up water and love.
I started my water baby collection back in March when my orchids were suffering. Our climate doesn’t offer any moisture in the air, and can be quite a challenge to keep injured orchids from dying.
On the right are my orchids last June, just coming to the end of their flowering. The blooms last through the winter and after the flowering stops, they go into leaf growth. I obsessed for weeks prior to relocating to New Mexico about how my six orchids would make it across the country in the dead of winter with no heat. Three survived the trip and three died.
In an effort to save my remaining orchids, I started the process of trying to save them in February, but it seemed hopeless.
I know it sounds ridiculous to be so attached to these little beings, but they mean the world to me.
After I wasn’t getting many results pampering them and seeing that my remaining three orchids were declining still, I chose to put them in a water culture, which is just a fancy way of saying that I keep them in a jar with a third of the jar filled with water. One of them is so pathetic that I keep her in a full water culture.
It’s working. Finally.
One of my orchids finally grew two new leaves. I’m waiting for the other two to start to sprout. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m optimistic and I refuse to give up on them.
So, in no particular order, here’s a look at what’s on my counter:
The new leaf growth on one of my orchids.
The second orchid hasn’t sprouted new leaves yet, but I’m hopeful. She’s in a full water culture.
This is what she looks like in the water.
The third orchid. She’s juicy and ready to leaf. I’m hoping this month it will happen.
A clipping from one of my random house plants.
Rooting Rosemary. These were from clippings I got at the grocery store.
I love to see the roots of new plants that never had a chance to make it.
I LOVE this tree so much that I took clippings home to root them and plant them by our house. This is White Poplar. Back about 15 years ago when it was a medical mystery why I was sick beyond having Lupus, my doctor arranged for me to get allergy tested to see if mold could be tied to my recurring intensive care stays at the hospital. It turned out that I was indeed allergic to not only many different types of mold, but to poplar, willow, birch, (12 trees in all) different grasses, horses, guinea pigs, cats, and dust mites. I thought I was just allergic to the pollen with those trees until I went into anaphylaxis after drinking real birch beer. I finally identified the clippings as White Poplar and I wanted to know what the medicinal and food properties were. It turns out that poplar contains salicylate which is another compound I’m highly allergic to. It’s also in birch.
Now I know why I’m allergic to those particular trees. It’s the salicylates in the trees. I’ve gone into anaphylaxis with aspirin and ibuprofin. It’s not pretty! So, while I won’t be using any of the trees I’m allergic to for medicinal purposes, I will still be planting them. How can I not? They are so beautiful.
The pretty buds ready to send out roots.
Oh green onions how I love you! Did you know you can keep green onions on the counter in water and they will continue to grow for you? You can even clip down to a few inches above the roots and it will grow back for you. Next time you have slimy green onions that slipped to the back on the fridge, remember you can always put them in water. Don’t worry if some of the green leaves die or change color, because it is always setting out new green growth. The water needs to be changed every day or they will die from a lack of oxygen.
See the new growth? The old growth can be clipped with a scissor and used. Just discard any small portion of the green onion that is yellow or brown.
This lovely collection is Dom’s different brews. He has some natural beers and mead. All his brews are wildcrafted and pack a wallop if you drink too much! He did a first racking of the meads the other day, and it was pretty strong.
Dom’s kombucha. Behind one of them is a coffee kombucha he’s working on.
Transfering mead to a new container. Oh, and in the background you can see I also keep romaine lettuce in a jar of water. Only the base of the romaine touches the water. I don’t recommend keeping it in water if you won’t be eating it quickly. The water needs to be changed daily, AND if you don’t like to eat lettuce everyday, it will continue to grow. I once left romaine in fresh water for a week and it was not edible because the inner leaves turned bitter. If you’ll be eating it within a day or two of putting it in the water, it will taste fine.
So that’s what was on my counter. Next week the rosemary will be potted and put outside. I do have rosemary already growing out there, so I take more cuttings and root them as well.
“I want to do things so wild with you that I don’t know how to say them” Anais Nin
2018 has proven to be a profound year for me and we’re only halfway through the year. Our lives have forever been in flux due to my autoimmune disorders and severe environmental allergies to mold, but this year is of particular note. It was the year I ridiculously fell deeper in love with Dominic. I didn’t think it possible to love someone this deeply, and it scared me so much that I didn’t even know how to tell him.
I often think back to when we first met in 2002 and how as colleagues we enjoyed working together. It was a blessing to work with such a talented chef and healer. I would have never known back then that he would be the greatest love of my life. He has always been someone who encouraged and listened to me as if I were the only one that existed on the planet. The support he offers strengthens me daily, giving me the confidence to keep moving forward.
His unwavering compassion in the face of my ill health is everything to me. He loves me as I am, all of me. To be loved this way is a treasure. A gift that doesn’t seem to have an end to it. My life would be very different if he never invaded my soul.
I’m unsure how it happened, this new deeper love I have for him, but it rocked my world. You know how when you first fall in love, there is this infatuation and desire that can’t seem to be extinguished? It’s thrilling and exciting to look into your lover’s eyes and feel your heart race a little more as he/she smiles warmly at you. Well, I was disarmed this year and knocked over with this new wave of feelings.
In trying to express myself, I would start to shake, and then cry. I couldn’t get it out in a way that would make sense. I was a wreck.
Generally, when two people are in love, it’s kind of mutual…don’t you think?
I had to think about why I felt so emotional about falling in love deeper, and it hit me. Fear crept into me for the first time ever. I began to wonder if it could be possible for me to be more in love than he was. What happens then? Can one person be more in love than another? What does that look like? Self-preservation is a strong and devious advesary to deep lasting love and friendship, and I felt like I had some sort of self-preservation creeping up in my heart.
Self-preservation says to its selfish desires, “Don’t love too deeply or you’ll be vulnerable and exposed.” or “Only love as much as you are loved.” Self-preservation is something that Dominic and I don’t practice. Neither of us has ever felt the need to defend ourselves from one another or be on guard. And yet, here I was with self-preservation rearing its ugly head.
I put to death my self-preservation because it only leads to self-pity, selfishness, false motives, the need to be ‘right’, and the desire to further my own agenda.
Instead, I choose to fully accept this new deeper love I feel and lavish it all on him every day.
I thought this last move to New Mexico was going to break us emotionally. The traumatic events of leaving Maine three years ago broke us emotionally and stripped us of the ability to make sound decisions. We endured it together. Over the last three years, we have had to move a total of nine times. Most of the time it was because of my severe mold allergy or being electrohypersensitive. It didn’t break him, and it didn’t break me. This last move did the opposite; I fell in love all over again. He and I were exhausted, I had to recover physically from biotoxin illness, my lungs were not working right (they are still recovering slowly). We were (and still are) financially underwater. And yet, here I am stupid in love.
Beyond my own feelings of deep love and admiration for him, I feel he exemplifies what it means to be a father. He is always there for our children if they need to talk. He cares for his stepchildren as though he was their father from the day they were born. He stepped into the role of a father embracing my children as his own. They are his children even though they are not biologically his. When Simone was born, he didn’t emotionally distance himself from our other children but instead felt an even deeper bond to all of them.
He is their protector if and when they need him. He never pushes them or forces his beliefs on them. Instead, he gracefully loves them right where they are. His warmth, care, joy, love, laughter, positive outlook on life, generosity, and gentleness have had an impact on our children and I believe have even impacted how they choose companions for themselves.
I trust him fully. Admire him breathlessly. He is king of my world.
Something has happened to my rich inner silence. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m nearing 50 years old or if I’m just changing but I used to have a very deep sense of silence in me. For a very long time, there was no inner dialogue. I never thought of myself as stupid if I made a wrong choice, I didn’t wonder why people would make the choices they do…I just didn’t think that way. I had a silent mind in terms of speaking to myself. In times of abject vulnerability I have been known to say things about myself that were less than kind but for the most part, I don’t carry the burden of self-hate. In my early life as a pre-teen and young adult, I did have a LOT to say inwardly about my outward appearance, which lead to an eating disorder. But that was a very long time ago. I silenced that voice that said I wasn’t worthy if I wasn’t “thin.”
There were grunts and groans in my soul, but none that expressed itself in a way that made sense. Until now. My mind has grown chatty. I have an opinion about everything, even if I don’t express it. My brain is on fire now with loads of inner dialogue. And yet, I’m surprised by it; thrilled to finally hear my own inner thoughts. How did this happen? What caused me to break from that joyful deep silence I enjoyed for so long?
I have never been one to NOT have an opinion. If you ask me a question, I’ll give you an answer. Dialogue with others I can do. It’s this interesting inner dialogue that has me intrigued. Nonetheless, I embrace this emerging new sense of self.
I often hear other people’s inner dialogue when they say things like, “I’m an idiot because I don’t know how to talk to others,” or “I look so ugly in that photo,” or “If I could do life over again…” fill in the blank.
How many of you have a sharp critical inner dialogue? It’s that voice that tells you-you’re not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, daring enough, and on and on. Those voices are cutting and designed to keep you in the dark about your true worth.
My dirty secret is that I don’t have a critical inner dialogue. I don’t second guess who I am, how I live, how I love, or even my own being.
I can state the obvious without attaching worth to it. Do you know how to do that? Take for instance the featured photo of my gorgeous daughter Shoshannah and me. The photo was taken on June 8th at her wedding. My son Noah was commenting to his girlfriend, “Mom doesn’t like to have her photo taken.” I had to think about that for a moment and I started to wonder why. I didn’t wonder why he said it, because it was true, I don’t like to have my picture taken…but why? I thought about that question from the time the first photo was taken until I got home last night from Maryland.
My inner dialogue got jump started. And I finally knew the answer! The obvious answer (which is wrong) would be that I don’t like the way I look. That’s not true. I actually love everything about my body and the way I look. It’s me. It’s who I am in the flesh. The real answer is that photos of me have never reflected who I am inwardly…but how can they? The whole thing almost feels like a weird riddle. So I don’t enjoy seeing photos of myself. It’s like that old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Photographs feel like a betrayal to me. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s why I don’t like them. I never have, even as a child. I never liked having to stand and smile, or sit and gum it up for the camera. It feels weird and makes me feel out of place and completely uncomfortable. It’s a good solid reason why I don’t have loads of selfies. I don’t find enjoyment or pleasure in seeing photos of myself, but I do know that those who love me, want to see me in a photo. I much prefer to be behind the camera capturing moment to moment life as it happens. However, I will say that even if I’m behind the camera, I HATE posed photos.
Where was I? Oh, yes, being fat…
The beauty standards of the modern age would have you believe that because I’m fat, I must hate myself or devalue my own sense of self-worth. Even when I say out loud “I’m fat” or “I’m a big girl” or “Where’s the fat lady store, I need to get a dress for the wedding” I’m met with shock as though saying I’m fat was a bad thing. My worth is not tied to my outward appearance. Being fat is a symptom of having a mitochondrial illness. It is nothing more than a sign that something is seriously wrong with my body and I’m doing everything I can to figure that out.
I came to a place of body acceptance about four years ago. I didn’t always accept my body although I loved myself fully. I hated that it betrayed me at every twist and turn. Ever since I contracted Lyme’s Disease in 1993, my body has never been the same. I’ve spent half my life dealing with the ravages of autoimmune disorders, environmental sickness, mitochondrial problems, and the only thing anyone could see is what? My fat?
I’m fat. There, I said it. Now you say it and let’s clear the air, because it’s no secret nor is there anything to be ashamed of, unless, your personal worth is tied to how you look on the outside.
I’m also kind, exceptionally generous, wise, understanding, warm, intelligent, amazingly loving (even if you don’t deserve it), worthy, joyful, interesting, fully engaging, a good friend, very resourceful, a businesswoman, a mother, a wife, a lover, a healer, and one who doesn’t take this life for granted.
I. am. worthy.
What does your inner dialogue say about you? We hear people’s thoughts all the time. I often hear people who have lost massive amounts of weight shame their own bodies when they were big. They shame their former body betraying themselves with harsh words and criticism as though it’s all different now that they are thin. Not true. The devaluation and loathing of our physical form doesn’t allow us to accept ourselves as we are. We desperately want others to accept us as we are, and yet, we shame ourselves at every turn, betraying our own beings. And for what? The loss of a few pounds?
My inner dialogue inwardly stirred and started to rumble when my son’s girlfriend Aizlin sent me photos of me at the wedding.
What was stirring? Deep compassion and understanding for where I am in healing my body and feeling like my ankles were going to pop off in those shoes. Yes, that last part was a joke, but so very true. My body doesn’t handle environmental stresses very well and it always retaliates by exploding on me. Being gentle with myself is of the utmost importance if I am to heal.
I am not well, but I am getting better. Everyday day I get a little stronger. My heart feels like it will burst with each new day because I know I am one step closer to reaching my goal of complete healing.
Often people at my age look at photos of themselves or their peers and think, “You look so OLD!” and with that begins the journey of trying to look like they are 25 years old again. I don’t want to be 25. In 20 years I want to look back at myself in appreciation of where I was at that time in my life and how much I loved myself. I love myself enough to try new things even if they might seem crazy to others, all in an effort to stay off of all medications and steroids. I refuse to bow down to the illnesses that ravage my body. Instead, I boldly try to make my life better. Isn’t it amazing how we will go to the ends of the earth for our loved ones…walk through fire if need be, but when it comes to our own person, we won’t even act kindly towards ourselves?
Love and acceptance of our outer selves help to soothe the restless soul. A restless soul is one that longs for us to be fully present. It longs for us to say beautiful things about our own being. Our souls have immeasurable worth if only our conscious and unconscious minds would acknowledge it.
Our society has a lot to say about outward beauty. But outward beauty cannot instill a true sense of worth. It can only invoke desire and/or inspiration, and neither of those things feeds our souls or make us whole.
Let us strive each day to love ourselves more deeply. To silence the word “perfection” or “perfect” from our vocabulary because there is no such thing as perfection. Perfection implies that one can do no better, that they could never be more. We can always improve, strive to be the best version of ourselves we can be. That doesn’t make us perfect, but it does make our souls sing.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I just turned 51 years old, and as I enter the next chapter of my life, I’m so pleased to be able to share it with all of you. I am a lifelong artist, writer, vocalist, crazy organic farmer, and own and operate Buffalo Mountain Coffee Roasting Company.