Blog

December Updates

When you are a small business with many enterprises and few employees there are a lot of things that you want to do, but the time it takes to learn something new had always been unobtainable. Hiring people to make a website or do content management was 50:50 and often made more work for me.

What happens when you hit a brick wall physically and mentally? You have a lot of time on your hands to focus on healing and to learn new things. Only learning is different now. 

I scrubbed the website last spring and put up the blog to share the healing journey with friends. I didn’t think a lot of people would read it. I wanted to explore how I wanted to do things. What was I going to do now? 

I have a few pages to publish and will be adding information about:

  • Community Market – Devine Vine is closed and I have this awesome space at 10 Rocky Hill Rd in Hadley to share. If you are a farmer, creative, NGO, and want vending space… keep a look out for the Community Market page.
  • Farm Shop – I have a lot of extra farm and food processing and selling supplies that I just don’t need. You can purchase on-line and pick it up at the shop.
  • eNewsletter and Paid Content – I am changing this over from MailChimp to ConvertKit. I have to admit, that is a super intuitive and dynamic app. I’ll explain the paid stuff in the next blog post.
 

Book Review – What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo

When you first get the diagnosis that you have cPTSD you wonder what to do with that knowledge. As you look on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, whatever social media platform, you are bombarded by lists of symptoms and lists of therapy programs. You are told you are difficult, complex, basically all the things you know and don’t tell everyone. You are left with the idea that it is a life sentence. It is hard to find a book that not only shows you how you got there, but then what the journey is like as you try to find answers and heal. That is exactly what this book does.

I got this as an audio book. I listened to it 4-times in the first two weeks I had it. With cognitive issues, it took a while to retain all of it. I also needed to hear it a few times to remind me that I was not alone in finding this journey and that it will get better. The bonus was her sharing her therapy with her therapist, Jacob Ham. I have shared this book with a number of people since. It is interesting to listen to everyone’s take on this, but the one thing that we all agreed is that sharing the google doc of therapy sessions to then group comment with your therapist is HUGE.

It is 7+ hours to listen to, but it is super helpful that Stephanie is a journalist and is used to her own voice. It goes quick and it is well researched. It takes a lot to be vulnerable and to share trauma, especially when it involves failures of people who were supposed to be there to protect us and do not.

I think you will enjoy it.

Two Steps Back to Take One Step Forward

foot prints in gray sand

I had a difficult August. I think in my mind, I thought that once I started to take the meds for Q-fever that things were going to keep getting better. When I had setbacks (July 4th and then during that super-hot spell last month), my infectious disease Dr and I thought it was more of a reaction to heat. When it happened again during moderate weather and for longer, anxiety took over.

It is hard when you have medical issues not to be negative. I wrote, deleted and wrote, posted and deleted a few posts here because I was all over emotionally, mostly in a negative spiral because there were no patterns, it was out of my control, and I did not have hope that this was getting better. We all go there. It doesn’t help anything. How did I get out?

I could not write [well]. I isolated myself again. Therapy was not super helpful because I went back to this winter where my brain was in overwhelm and I quite literally could not think. Every task took a long time to do. I had to write a lot of notes. I forgot to return calls or texts again.

I was also super aware of the thin line between a trauma dump and sharing my healing journey. The point of this blog was to share, help someone with ideas or to find a common journey, have that space to share my life’s work. I needed time to find tools to help me navigate the physical and mental set back. I needed time to organize how to share everything in a way that is helpful for me and for anyone that stumbles onto this blog.

Here are a few of things I learned:

  • Setbacks happen and it *is* out of your control.
  • Note in a daily journal the who, what, where, when, and if you know why of this set-back. Detail the physical reactions first. Then the “inside voice” narratives that you are telling yourself.
  • I have this “Daily Reminders” list of things I can do to help when I am in certain brain spaces (Overthink–> Write, Confused/Anxious–> Walk, etc). The thing is that when I am in this fatigue state, those activities are not available to me. I am trying other things as a plan B.
  • You may have daily “self-care” routines that every app and Dr variety recommends you do, but when you are in an Overwhelm brainspace, self-care or anything fluffy or extra-work regarding your “self” is not going to happen. Have a AM and a PM To-Do list of the bare minimum daily needs that have to happen. Things like “brush teeth, brush hair, change underwear, drink glass of water, eat something resembling food…” Be realistic about it.
  • Have a “I am feeling a little better but am not quite there” daily list of things to do. Make it so you have to cross it off, not write it in. Be ok when it is not 100% of the list, just try to add one more thing a day.
  • If you push being ok too soon, it will either take longer to be ok again or you will go back to square one. You don’t want that any more than you want to be in this state of fatigue.

I am by nature someone who wants to keep bulling ahead. I am not sure if that is why I made it as long as I did in as much pain as I was in or as much overwhelm as I was in, but it almost killed me physically and mentally so don’t do that. You also need to work with health care varieties in this journey.

I would love to hear how people manage their physical and mental setbacks.

Mindful Doodling

I feel like a kid showing mom her artwork. Nope, a 50-odd year-old woman showing her mindful doodling! Here is the thing. Sometimes, when I am triggered, overwhelmed or have cognitive fog, I have a hard time with words. It is super hard to write let alone communicate. Like many, I get irritated when I cannot communicate. The act of writing when I am like this is brutal and I learned one-month into my daily journaling activity that having a creative thing to do meant that I kept up with the “daily” part of the bargain if I could not communicate with words.

As I said before, my daughter and I used to try to do these 30-day challenges together. One of us would usually stop and then both of us would. While learning how to try to help with my cognitive functioning issues and to help find ways to manage my cPTSD, I stumbled upon journalling and sketchbook/creative activities/doodling as a super helpful tool. Ok. What is mindful doodling?

A daily sketchbook is just like keeping a daily journal. It is for you, it is about exploring whatever comes to mind, it is not intended to be perfect, and it is not necessarily intended to show anyone. Some people create for 20-30 minutes and then write for 20-30 minutes. Some just draw. It is super unique to you and how you want to express yourself.

A few things seem to be pretty consistent.

  • Use whatever materials that you have to start. You don’t have to go out and buy anything fancy.
  • Ink is a great way to start. I started to include watercolour later, but coloured pencil, charcoal, pencils, etc are fine too. With ink, it allows you to keep going and not put a lot of thought into erasing or fixing what you did. Fixing isn’t the point, doing is.
  • When I did not know what to do, I would make shapes (boxes or circles above) and start with lines. For variation, use different directions or spacing. You can also look at Pinterest or search “sketch patterns” and you can always print a couple samples for inspiration.
  • I put a timer on for 20-minutes. This allows me to focus on what I am doing and not the time.
  • It can be brutal to keep up with the “daily” part of this in the beginning. Be forgiving. It takes me about 6-8 days to fall into the routine and start to be ok with making “mistakes” and just going for it. Also be forgiving about not doing it for a day. Just start it again the next day.
  • If you have not been doing art for a long time, this doodling brings you back to the fundamentals you did in middle school art and you will appreciate those lessons. With time, you will get more pen control, remember how to use supplies and media again and will improve with time. There are also loads of social media accounts devoted to showing you how to do things. Sometimes watching them is relaxing. Ha!
  • I find that I am more likely to do this daily if I do it first thing in the morning with my first cup of tea. Later in the day, you may have plans, be tired, distracted, or just have this task weighing on your mind and it no-longer seems fun. I would half-ass it and then be annoyed with what I did or be super disappointed with myself when I didn’t do it. Doing it first thing makes it fun.
  • Writing is optional. I prefer to keep that in another journal. Most of that is about my health journey, but you can do this however you want.
  • Keep it loose. Loose watercolour, abstract designs and shapes, ink drawing of something in front of you, a cartoon that talks about what is frustrating, ink drawings of all of the zoonosis that can kill or maim humans… whatever, but do NOT fret about details or being perfect. It may inspire a piece of art later, but this is about exploring whatever is in your mind at the moment.

I hope this helps someone. Honestly, those straight lines were a mad challenge in the beginning of this journey. I would literally have a headache, blurred vision or get nauseous. As I reached new benchmarks in my healing, I found that it was easier, and I also have better pen control. Be careful with yourself, go slow, and breathe while you do this!

Long Term Antibiotics

fermented foods
Stock Photo of Fermented Foods

Thanks to chronic Q-Fever, I have to take Doxycycline for 2+ years. Also, Hydrochloroquine. Fun. I have alarms I set to let me know not to have dairy within 2-hours of taking these meds because absorption of doxycycline in the stomach and small intestine is reduced significantly if you do. Sweet. Cheese and cultured dairy products are primary food groups for me, but I have been trying to respect this.

Since I have been on these pills and not farming, I have lost muscle mass and have also gained a lot of I don’t know what this is. Water weight? I am also getting headaches again and just in general, I feel off. I am trying to do my PT daily and walking longer and more consistently, but it is not the same as hauling 5-gal pails of water, moving miles of temporary fence or bales of hay.

Infectious disease Dr. reminded me that many over the counter probiotics have dairy in them. I knew that. I reassured her I was familiar with fermented foods and what is and is not effective in pill form. I started out being rather good about my kvass, kombucha and kefir intake and I admit, my digestion was better. Something changed and I slowly stopped or was erratic.

Narrator voice: Don’t stop silly.

I have been pretty dysregulated mentally this week for various reasons and while trying to find something for a colleague of mine, I stumbled across my Sandor Katz bible on fermented foods. A healthy digestive system is like having healthy soil. You can’t expect to grow yourself if you aren’t eating well or right. I knew that when she first gave me those meds. I need to take care of my microbiome or I am not going to heal.

I went back into my store of neglected fermented foods and took an inventory of what I have, tossed out ones that started talking to me or looked like psychotrophs were a potential issue. I then noted the growing season and what we have for local veg so I can make some natural pickles and krauts. I texted a couple people for a kombucha scoby and kefir grains (sorry kefir that spoke of their displeasure that I neglected them).

To add to this blog, I will add a fermented foods category so that you can also explore what we have available locally or how to make them yourself. Microbiome stuff is actually rather interesting and may also be helpful and I can try to explain some of this. Cheesemaking was a very mindful activity and probably saved my life during a toxic marriage. Making fermented foods may help someone else on their journey, so I am glad to share my knowledge.