Giving Myself Permission to Write Again

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”
― Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

One of the things that I love about having a blog is that I make promises out loud. That makes me more apt to follow through. It gives me the impression that people are listening and paying attention. 😉 One of my public resolutions for 2018 was that I would commit to a weekly blog post. As I get my blogging stamina back, I have given myself the permission to stray from posting recipes and to simply start writing again.

My dear friend Jane contacted me and said that she would love to read some of my poetry on my blog. My path crossed with Jane years ago as a HEN member (Holocaust Education Network). We spent time together in New York City, Poland, and Israel. During those travels our HEN group wrote, shared stories, and documented our journey with thousands of photos. Jane encouraged me to go back to some of my old journals and blog some of the pieces that I had written along with my corresponding photography. I had to confess that I had thrown out many of my old journals because they were painful reminders of my previous life. It made sense at the time. I wanted to move forward. But in reality, I’ve been holding my breath.

Jane reaching out to me meant more than I can possibly explain. It was the gentle nudge that I needed. I explained to my friend that I have had a block over the past few years and that I had not written much poetry. I attributed this reluctance to write as my heart was still in stages of healing. It sounds ridiculous to type that out – because what can be more healing than poetry? Jane told me, “It’s good to be a butterfly or a grain of wheat. Sometimes we need to break in order to release our better selves.” I needed to hear that. It looks like I have some poetry to write.

In order to understand my journey, I am going to share this piece. It is difficult for me to read and I was not sure if I was going to post it here. I decided that it is part of my story. A part that I kept from many by my carefully manicured social media posts. I try to keep things positive.Yet, that is the beauty of poetry. It allows us to process even the most complicated experiences.

I think that I am ready to start writing again. Thank you, Jane. ❤

_________________________

Going Back to the Sand Box

Come home on steps of grit and palm to wait
for clocks to start.  The Tigris bullets our nest
with pearls and I pretend to live.

In love
you reach.  I flinch. Your finger on phantom
trigger.

Christ you are a killer.  You murder
my sleep.  I wonder what dreams you coil
into concertina shrouds.

You lacerate Inanna,
smoke her bones like hash or lentils.   Our bed
is filled with sand.

_____________________

It is haunting for me to read this poem that I wrote in 2007.  I was taking a poetry workshop for my Master’s degree at a local university. It was a confessional piece and writing about my struggling marriage felt raw and uncomfortable. Years later, after everything that happened; when I relive these words my stomach sways. I still feel the pulse of trauma, anxiety, and dread. The signs were there, but I was in too deep. At times it felt like we were both drowning and maybe that is why I held on tight. I held on and he sunk deeper and deeper. Like sand running through my fingers, there was nothing that I could do to stop it from happening. It was full speed and slow motion all at the same time. Paralyzing. Quick Sand.

Three years have passed, and I am still not able to write about “it.” I say the word it – giving the event a persona– a personal pronoun. It felt like it had a tangible shape and form.  It was foreboding post-it notes littering the house. It was cryptic text messages. It was a love note scrawled on a brown paper liquor bag. It was a loaded shotgun. It was a knife. It was a bottomless wound.

A friend posted a quote on Facebook. It said, “When you can tell your story and it doesn’t make you cry, you know you have healed.” Obviously, I am not there yet. As I type these words, tears spring from a well that should be dry. I want to be there. I want to let go. I want to forgive. But who do I have to forgive first? Him? Myself? The enabled or the enabler?

I can say that as time goes by my breathing becomes less labored. I found a man who as a law enforcement officer understands the relationship between trauma and PTSD – along with having your heart and dreams crushed. For the first time in over a decade – I feel safe. As corny as it sounds, we are saving each other. We believe that our paths were destined to cross. Meant to be. We have so much in common. Everything is connected — there are no coincidences. Synchronicity.

Nothing is ever perfect, but I no longer hear the war drum thrumming. I never bolt up in bed — fearful. I never feel vacant and alone. I feel alive.

At night our room is quiet. Peaceful. I feel content knowing that the kids are tucked in downstairs. I hear the dogs stir — and that feels comforting too. Most nights I sleep until morning. But if I do awaken, I am not frozen with fear, but do so with a thankful heart.

Early this morning, I stared out of the skylight and was mesmerized by star glitter. I imagined the shape of the trees outside because I have memorized them. In my mind’s eye I counted the five dogs, the chickens, the turkey, the duck, and the cat, and realized that nothing was missing. I am here. He is here. They are here. We are here. 

Often at night, we take turns reaching out for each other. A simple act. Maybe deep down we are both still afraid. Haunted by absence. Reflex. His hand on the small of my back. My lips on the nape of his neck. I am soothed by his breathing. Steady. Strong. Safe.

Only a few grains of sand remain.

I am rewriting my story. We are writing our story.

That is all that I can say right now. These words will have to be enough. ❤

Chicken Coop and Remi at Dusk

The original structure of our home is over 120 years old and was built from logs from our property.

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Top Ten Recipes of All Time (Five Year Blogiversary)

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Soren Kierkegaard

It was a short, three days, back to work after a relaxing winter holiday. Today is day #6 of the January Productivity Challenge and I am staying true to my goals. Our house is slowly getting reorganized and I am dedicated to a weekly blog post. I have missed writing and reaching out and making connections with others over healthy living. It feels good to fulfill my promise to myself (even though this is only the first week). Trust me, I savor every comment left here – and on Facebook and Instagram. It is rewarding to learn that others enjoy my recipes, my photographs, and my musings. I too find the support that receive in return is priceless. To my faithful readers, thank you for being part of my journey for the past five years. To those new to my blog, welcome – I hope you enjoying browsing my posts and find something that is helpful to you. ❤

I shared my intentions for 2018 with my students this week and I had them too create their own SMART goals. I suggested that they start by making a goal for the month of January and that in February we would access and plan accordingly. They were able to create a personal, family, academic, extra-curricular, or “Act of Kindness” goal. I modeled many examples of goals with them and we discussed how setting small, realistic, and measurable goals can help us achieve success and how, ultimately, this taste of success can snowball into larger accomplishments throughout the course of lives.

We discussed how even a simple health goal (like sleeping for 8 hours a night) can help us become better humans. It can lead us to be better academically and can help us have stronger relationships and interactions with others. We talked about how everything is connected and that we become better stewards of our lives when we are taking care of ourselves and planning ahead.

In my own goal setting I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to happen with my weekly blog posts. While I love creating recipes, a new recipe a week does not fit with my lifestyle right now. I am am a busy teacher, wife, and step mother. However, I am determined to share more. More photos, more musings, more aspects of my daily life, and (as a friend requested) maybe poetry and some of my creative writing.

For this blog post I decided to do some research and analyze my site statistics. Today I am going to share with you the top ten recipes from Produce with Amy in the past five years. With the exception of one green smoothie recipe, the most popular posts have been salads. It was not surprising, because I get more questions and feedback on Mason jar salads than any other recipes. I pride myself in taking the “boring” out of salads. Even my husband John has turned into a “salad person” and frequently asks for a salad with dinner, for a snack, or in a jar for work.

Here they are, starting with the most popular first (LINK TO POST UNDER PHOTO):

#1 Glowing Green Mason Jar Salads with Avocado Vinaigrette Dressing

 

The end of the school year is racing at me. I find that prepping my lunches and dinners makes healthy eating a snap. If you find yourself in a pinch at mealtime you cannot go wrong with salads in a jar.

#2 Mason Jar Salads: Fresh, Visually Appealing, and Versatile (Classic Salad Bar in a Jar & Waldorf Inspired Slaw)

#3 Paradise in a Jar Salad with Blueberry Lemon Dressing

#4 Harvest Rainbow Mason Jar Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

#5 Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads with Greek Vinaigrette

Sweet and Savory ingredients make these Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salads with Pumpkin Vinaigrette Dressing a seasonal hit!

#6 Apple-a-Day Mason Jar Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette
#7 Israeli Feast ~ Mason Jar Salad (with Tabouli, Hummus, and Olives)

#8 Garden Fiesta Mason Jar Salad

Summer on a plate!

#9 Watermelon and Cucumber Splash Green Smoothie (With or Without the Greens)

#10 Confetti Salad in a Jar with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

If you have questions about any of my recipes, please do not hesitate to ask. I love hearing from others that are also on the quest for a healthier lifestyle.

Thank you for helping me celebrate Produce with Amy’s five year milestone.  I am hopeful that 2018 will be full of inspiration that will inspire a plethora of new recipes and posts. Happy New Year and may yours be full of creative and healthy productivity! ❤

 

5 year Blogiversary Productivity Challenge

Happy New Year! Today marks Produce with Amy’s FIVE YEAR anniversary. In that time I’ve shared over 120 healthy recipes and have made connections across the globe. My life had made many twists and turns (both traumatic and triumphant) throughout these five years and I look forward to what the future holds.

I anticipate that 2018 will bring on a writing streak, because I miss blogging. As an English teacher I daily tell my students that our stories matter and I want to be a role model for their words. Recording the world helps us understand how everything is connected and that our path, intentions, and deeds are relevant and important.

If you are so inclined, please like my
Facebook page and subscribe to my blog here too.

To be honest, I have had a difficult year. I hit what felt like a huge roadblock when I was diagnosed with Hashimotos disease (thyroid). I have been on meds for going on five months now and feel like I am getting some of my energy and stamina back. I really want to kick things back into gear and get moving on projects. I am a full time high school/middle school teacher, am a step mom to two energetic kids, and my husband and I own a farm. Therefore, I have been feeling overwhelmed by things that need to be “caught up” at home. This summer we are taking on a HUGE project and adding an addition on to our home. It would help immensely if I could get our household organized and get back into writing, creating recipes, and being overall creative. Does this sound familiar at all to you?

Do you have a project that you have been meaning to work on? Do you have a linen closet that needs straightening? A wardrobe that needs to be organized or items donated that no longer fit? A guest room that looks more like a junk room? How about a pantry, cabinets, or drawers that need some attention? Well, I have a challenge for you!

Five years ago I launched “Produce with Amy” to serve many purposes. Ultimately, I wanted to share my healthy recipes with the world, but I also wanted to keep myself accountable to eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. I knew that this would serve my health well and that a diet rich in nutrients would propel me to be more productive. Guess what? It worked.

For the month of January 2018, I challenge all of us to be PRODUCTIVE. If you want to participate all that you have to do is pick a number of minutes each day to work on a project. It may be as little as 10 minutes or as long as 60. Set a timer and get to work and when the timer goes off you are done for the day. I guarantee you will be pleased with the results after 31 days. I know that this challenge will help inspire me to do some household chores after a long and exhausting day at work. I also hope it will help me carve out some time to write a weekly blog post.

Today I started off this challenge with a HUGE project. I am organizing my clothes closet and makeup table. I’m putting my spring/summer clothes and shoes in totes (it’s never too late) and going through all my fall/winter clothes and selecting outfits for the next several weeks. I did some New Years shopping yesterday and bought some beautiful new wardrobe pieces and I want to maximize my mix-and-match options. I LOVE clothes and I want to simplify my morning routine (sleep is very valuable to me) and feel great when I go to work each morning. Tomorrow I will commit to 20 minutes of another project and hopefully my productivity will snowball from there.

If you let me know you are interested I can post a daily thread on my Facebook page and to stay more accountable we can post what we accomplished in our daily time-frame. If it is a large project (like a guest room) you may want to take before and after photos to help celebrate your victory.

I hope that you join me in celebrating Produce with Amy’s Five Year Anniversary with a burst of productivity. Please share this post with others who may be interested in joining us.
 Happy New Year! May it be healthy, productive, and full of insight and direction.

These signs are in my classroom. I think we can all benefit from embracing the positive. ❤

Spaghetti Squash Soup with Tomatoes

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver

As the wind howls and snow falls outside I contemplate this beautiful scene. We had an incredible growing season in our new hoop house and I cannot wait to see what 2018 brings for the Waldo Farm.

As 2017 takes its final bow, I imagine that I am not alone as I reflect on the past year. Experience has taught me to not have regrets, but to believe that everything happens for a purpose (even if we are too close at the time to realize that gifts come in multiple wrappings and disguises).

I believe that we are our worst critics and that we must focus on the positives in our lives and not wish time away waiting for the things that we long for. We must focus on the now, while planning for the future. Even small changes can impact our tomorrow and help us achieve our dreams. 

What if we decide, as we reflect on the past year, to not beat ourselves up for all the broken promises we made (to ourselves or others), and we focus on the strides we made to live a full life? What if at the same time we made small and manageable resolutions and intentions to plan, grow, and set goals? Imagine entering 2018 with a mindset that allows us to move forward with wisdom and courage.
My goals for the New Year, as every year, are to focus on my health. After being diagnosed with Hashimotos disease this fall I have had to take many deep breaths and learn new things about my body. I profoundly believe that taking care of ourselves allows us to better take care of others. Since we have to eat every day, the way we nourish our bodies seems to be a natural start. While my taste buds naturally gravitate to fruit and vegetables – I can easily be lured into treats and indulgences that are heavily processed (especially over the holidays). Therefore, I have to make time to prepare wholesome food in my own kitchen.

While you will find a wide array of salad recipes on my blog, in the winter months I enjoy accompanying my greens with a steaming bowl of soup. Broth based soups help fill you up at mealtime and even make a satisfying and guilt-free snack. I love filling my stockpot, or crock-pot, with vegetables and have found that sliced cabbage or spiralized squash make a wonderful substitute for rice or pasta.

In the soup recipe that I am sharing with you today, I use spaghetti squash to bulk up the bowl.  This was a recipe that I shared back in 2013 and it is one that I keep going back to. This year this soup is extra special to me because I was able to can tomatoes from our hoop house and had a bounty of spaghetti squash. Of the benefits of growing squash in the summer is that when kept in a cool place it will last for months. Plus, I have noticed that local supermarkets offer a wide variety of squash throughout fall and winter. Some people are intimidated by the task of preparing squash, but they actually are not labor intensive.

Is there anything more lovely than garden tomatoes?

SPAGHETTI SQUASH AND TOMATO SOUP

  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock
  • 28 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • Quart of tomatoes (large can)
  • 1/2 large chopped onion
  • 3 ribs of celery chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped (I use 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red)
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • Large cooked spaghetti squash (Approximately 10 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon each of oregano, rosemary, and basil

To prepare the squash simply pierce with a knife, or fork, and place into a shallow baking pan that is filled with water. (I bake the squash whole and use about an inch of water).

Bake for approximately 60 minutes at 375 degrees (the time depends on the size of your squash).

Let cool and cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and use a fork to shred the squash. It will naturally pull apart in strands that will resemble pasta.

To prepare the soup, sauté the onion, garlic, celery, pepper, and carrot in the olive oil until soft and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Makes 15 cups.

You could cut the recipe in 1/2 and it would still make a generous pot of soup. I like to make extra to freeze. You could add beans for protein and add any other vegetables such as zucchini and mushrooms. It is delicious, filling, and the addition of tomato sauce makes it taste similar to spaghetti.

When my friend Jackie made this soup she added a dollop of cottage cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan and said it tasted like lasagna. Add some croutons or a slice of garlic bread and you have a satisfying meal that will keep your healthy resolutions in check.

Whatever your goals are for 2018, make sure that they are achievable and realistic. Setting small goals helps us achieve success that will snowball and we can confidently make the next steps to finding our balance. Let us make sure to make time for our health in the coming weeks, month, and year. Trust me, we are worth it!

I was also able to can tomatoes and salsa from our tomatoes.



Unconditional: A Father’s Love

“The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature.” 
― Antoine François Prévost d’Exiles  

John and Lukas at the Lakeview Arena in Marquette, Michigan.

I call this series of photos from Christmas day 2017, “Unconditional Love.”

We have had subzero temperatures in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but that has not stopped my husband John from building an ice rink in our backyard for Lukas. While Lukas has ice time twice a week at the Lakeview Arena in Marquette, Michigan – what little boy doesn’t dream of having his own backyard rink?

The ice rink is on the side of the apple orchard. Next year we will find a more permanent location. We have plenty of room on our farm.


I watched him, like countless time before, from the warmth of our home. He didn’t know I was watching. The light this early evening was brilliant and the air was crystal cold. Most people would be inside, but not him. The chickens needed water and the ice rink needed another layer from the garden hose. 

A labor of love. Love of his children, nature, and animals. An artist, not taming the wildness of Michigan, but helping to transform it into something even more beautiful.

Our life is not perfect. We have moments – we have trials and tribulations. Sometimes our present is dictated by past mistakes we have made. Yet, the future is ours to weave out of the wilderness of our hearts. Fresh open spaces. Raw and real.

It is moments like this that I try to capture. When I tell the kids to come to the window and watch with me. Moments like this that I pray that Avalon and Lukas remember. The things that their dad does out of unconditional love in even bitter conditions. His hope that their life is rich – and honest – and simple – and full of wild, beauty.

A life carved out of ice, sunshine, rocks, green spaces, branches, wagging tails, flocks of birds, and love. 

Sometimes we make mistakes and have to say “I’m Sorry.” Sometimes we have to push past the pain and try again.

Unconditionally. We are proud to call this resourceful, Renaissance man ours. Thank you for the legacy you are crafting.

You can see his breath in this photo. Cold!

Our German Shepherd Meesha is John’s loyal helper.

There’s always time for a game of fetch.

John’s Christmas present from Avalon, Lukas, and I. He loves it!

I ordered the watch from Eli Adams Jewelers. It’s gorgeous and their customer service was excellent.

Lukas ❤

 

Ollie has been keeping close to the house, but he loves to roll around in the snow. He’s an old dude, but is the most loyal buddy!

Remi watching the kids tear into their Christmas gifts.

John modeling his hockey gear with Dad.

Seasonal Simplicity – Squash

We do not have to look at the calendar to be reminded that the winter holiday season is upon us. Christmas displays started popping up in stores right along with jack-o- lanterns, while television commercials repeat a dizzying array of gift ideas. Not to mention that we all have that one friend on social media who has their Christmas shopping finished at the end of September. Unfortunately, I am not that friend. Though every year I want to be.

Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” As my husband and I try to become more self-sufficient in our food production, I have embraced the idea of rustic elegance when it comes to meals. Not only does it suit the farm-to-table lifestyle, but it can be an efficient way to cook.

I welcome food prep that can carry over into a variety of meals. Cooking in bulk can
serve a busy schedule well – especially during the hustle and the bustle of the holidays. For example, a large pan of roasted Brussels sprouts can be a healthy holiday side dish and the leftovers can hearty up a breakfast quiche, add flavor to a spinach salad, or be an unexpected addition to a pasta dish (and with the time you save you can wrap up those last minute gifts).

One of the foods that has come a long way from the bad rap that many of us gave it as kids, is squash. Not only does it grow easily in a garden, but it will keep a long time (several months) when stored in a cool place. If you do not have a green thumb, you can find a wide array of squash in the supermarket.

While I am known to use spaghetti squash as a healthy alternative to pasta, I enjoy preparing butternut and acorn squash. Both can be served whole (or more accurately halved) and they can be stuffed with a variety of ingredients (think rice, quinoa, or farro. Nuts, dried fruit, and even sausage). The squash can also be cubed and roasted, or even mashed. Since it can be prepared ahead of time, you can warm it up or serve cold as a salad. As long as you have the oven turned on, you might as well prepare a few extra squash and puree the leftovers with broth (and cream if you’re feeling indulgent) for soup (I also like to add apples to butternut squash soup).

Since both butternut and acorn squash are quite hard and difficult to cut, I prepare them whole: Pierce Butternut Squash and place in a baking dish (add a couple of cups of water to bottom of the dish)

Roast squash for 30-45 minutes at 400 degrees.

Peel squash and remove seeds. If you want to cube the squash and roast it, you could prepare using the above technique for a shorter amount of time until it is soft enough to cut easily. Once you have the squash cut, drizzle with olive oil and spices and roast until slightly caramelized and soft.

I recommend serving squash on a large serving platter. For a real rustic feel, do not peel but “scoop” the squash to serve.

A great accompaniment to squash is roasted cranberries, walnuts, and a homemade
Pumpkin Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette also makes a fantastic dressing for a green salad and it will keep over a month in the refrigerator.

Roasted Cranberries:


If you have never roasted cranberries before, you are missing out. Not only will your house smell amazing, but the sweet-tart flavor is astounding. Plus, you control how much sugar you want to use. You might want to make a triple batch (or more). Roasted cranberries are delightful as a topping for oatmeal (hot or refrigerator oats) and they make great appetizers (serve on toasted French bread or crackers with brie or goat cheese).

The sweet tart flavor of cranberries is incredible in refrigerator oatmeal.

*Bag(s) of cranberries (fresh or frozen)
*Juice and zest of one orange
*1 teaspoon of rosemary (more to taste)
* 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (more to taste)
* ¼ cup of honey (to taste. You can also use maple syrup or brown sugar)

 Roast for 20-25 minutes at 375-400 degrees
 Serve warm or cold (as they cool they will thicken)

Pumpkin Vinaigrette:
(make sure you check out the recipe Apple-a- Day Mason Jar Salad that
incorporates this dressing)

* 1/2 cup of vinegar (I use raw apple cider vinegar. You may want to vary the amount of
vinegar based on how tart you like your dressing. I recommend adding a little bit at a time
and tasting the dressing as you go)
* 3/4 cup of pumpkin
* 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
* 1/4 cup of water (the dressing tends to be thick so I thin it out with water. You could add
extra vinegar.)
* 1 large clove of garlic
* 1 lemon ~ juice and zest
* 3 green onions (you can use a Tablespoon of regular onion)
* 1 inch of fresh ginger root
* 1 Tablespoon of pure maple syrup (you could also use honey)
* 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
* Salt and pepper to taste

Blend dressing until smooth. The combination of sweet, savory, tart, and spicy ingredients make it a pleasing combination.

This holiday season I hope you find many moments to make memories with your friends and family. If you are responsible for preparing a feast, remember that many foods can be made in bulk to serve many recipes and save precious time. Keeping our menus simple and rustic, does not mean that we have to sacrifice taste. Nature provides us with complex flavors and textures. One of the best gifts that you can give loved ones this year is a meal cooked with fresh and wholesome ingredients. From The Waldo family to yours – may your table be filled with holiday blessings!

Why We Should Listen To Our Bodies (My Thyroid Journey)

”It’s also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that’s sitting right here right now…with its aches and its pleasures…is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.”
-Pema Chodron

It is important for us to appreciate the little things in life, like these lilies from my garden.

Last week I made a confession on my personal Facebook page. I always try to keep Facebook lighthearted and focus on the positive. It doesn’t feel the proper place to whine and complain (that’s what my husband John is for 😉 ).  However, I had to admit that I have been struggling for a while.

John has been trying to get me to go for a medical appointment for a couple of years. Truthfully, it’s been a point of contention with us. I kept promising I would make that appointment and I never did. Even my dad jumped in and told me to go to the doctor. I kept telling them I was fine. After all, I’m a healthy person. I never get sick (not even a cold or the flu).

My issue has been extreme fatigue, weight gain (as you may be aware I have posted about this MANY times) that I cannot lose (believe me I have been trying), anxiety, and depression. While my vanity HATES the weight gain (I am a miserable overweight person) – the most difficult has been the anxiety and depression – because I’ve never suffered from either before. It has been frightening. I know that it’s been difficult for my family too. I’ve been IMPOSSIBLE to deal with.

I have been writing it off as aging and all those lovely female hormones that women must deal with. Maybe at forty-six my metabolism is REALLY slowing down. Of course I should be tired, I get up early and work hard. I am a relatively new step mom. I am busy! I kept telling myself that the anxiety and depression was a symptom of past trauma and stress. After all, I had gone through a lot in the past decade. I still was healing.

However, this summer I have been dragging. No motivation and I have to push myself to do things (even the things that I enjoy doing).

I finally made that appointment. The turning point was my step son and step daughter’s reaction to a LARGE bruise I had on my leg (incidentally the same leg I suffered a blog clot that led to a pulmonary embolism in 2007). John was beside himself and pushed harder for me to go. I felt horrible – the look on their faces – terrified and concerned about me. I knew that I had to go.

My doctor listened to me. I explained to her how I DO eat healthy (It’s honestly very common for me to eat salad even for breakfast). I was a Weight Watchers coach for eight years. I have been advocating a healthy lifestyle for years and have a food blog with over 100 healthy plant-based recipes. I wear a fit bit and over the past year it does not matter if I get in 2,000 steps or 20,000. My scale has been stuck on the same number for over a year (after gaining 30 pounds). I no longer follow the WW plan, but I am a healthy eater. I eat primarily a vegetarian diet (with some seafood), fill my plate with vegetables, and I am not a big sweets eater. I have been journaling my food and calories. I’ve tried reducing calories, increasing calories, watching starchy carbs, paying attention to protein, and minimizing processed food. This spring/summer I dramatically increased my activity and I have only lost a few pounds. My husband John has commented many times that I should not struggle with my weight the way I do because of my healthy food choices. For example: while he indulges on calorie rich desserts at night, I opt for fresh fruit, berries, or even raw vegetables.

To add insult to injury, my anxiety is getting worse. I feel like crying all the time (and sometimes I do). Often my anxiety masks itself as anger. I told John that when I was a little girl and woke up from a nap I would be extremely crabby. So much that my parents called me Obstinate Amy. Let’s just say that nickname has resurfaced (even though I’m sure John would like to use other words).

As I said before, my doctor listened to me and after my physical she ordered a series of blood tests and then an ultra sound of my thyroid. Yesterday I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Disease. Basically, my antibodies are elevated and my body is attacking my thyroid. Thus, nearly all the symptoms of Hashimotos or Hypothryoid, I have been having. Yesterday I started my prescription for WP Thyroid and hopefully I will find my balance again.

No, it’s not great news, but it’s treatable. Plus, I have some relief because now I have answers. I have not felt like myself for some time and it was extremely disconcerting. I have never felt like this before – it is really horrible. (Incidentally, the bruising was not a concern and went away in a week. It was caused by all the work I was pushing myself to do – weeding the hoop house and planting 120 gladiola bulbs and other flowers around our farm).

When I posted my recent diagnosis, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from family and friends. However, what was the most surprising, was how many people I know suffer from thyroid conditions. While some people came straight out and sympathized and gave tips and support — I was shocked by how many private messages I received. The messages were all from women who either did not feel comfortable discussing the issue publicly, or wanted to offer additional resources that I could consult. The more alarming part was how many women said that they felt that they were suffering from thyroid issues, but how they have been unable to receive answers. Either their doctors did not listen, or the testing did not turn up any results that would point to their thyroid. Yet, deep down they knew! I gave out my doctor’s information and we discussed never giving up – to continue to seek out answers.

Through all of this, John has been incredibly supportive. I know that I have been a deplorable person to deal with. I am thankful that he was persistent in making me go in for an appointment. I know that if I kept refusing he would have had to really use his “police voice” and some of his training to drag me to the medical center. We were at that point.

Maybe as I move forward I can encourage others to listen to their bodies (as I failed to do) and pay attention to those around them who know and love them. My doctor said that thyroid conditions often go undiagnosed and untreated in women because they easily appear to be symptoms of pre-menopause and aging. Because of the anxiety and depression thyroid conditions can also be misdiagnosed as a mental health issue. Please do not assume, like I did, that your symptoms are not treatable. Do not write off changes in mood, energy, and weight as pre menopause, menstrual cycles, or aging. If you are not happy with the answers you get, seek a second opinion, a third, or a fourth — and do not be afraid to reach out to your community for support and advice.

I will use this diagnosis as an opportunity to educate myself. From the past I know that nutrition plays a huge role in how our body heals and I will continue to advocate for healthy eating. It may take some time, but I will figure out what my body needs to thrive again.

In the next few months I will be educating myself and making sure that I am reaching for whole and non-processed foods. I am going to regain my energy levels and get back to my productive self.

As I heal, I am continuing to enjoy our beautiful farm. This week I have been on a pickling spree – and canning my ultimate favorite DILL PICKLES! I am trying to focus on the blessings in my life and taking in the beauty around me. It is amazing how much better I feel when I reframe my attitude and breathe in positivity.

Pickles from my mama’s should-be-world-famous dill pickle recipe.

I am thankful that John chose me to be his life companion, for making my health his priority, and for taking care of me (in spite of my obstinance) 😉 Oh how much I love him. ❤ I also appreciate my family and friends who have offered words of wisdom, love, and support. It means more to me than I can express.

My man building me a bench out of cedar he cut himself so I have a place to sit an enjoy our new pond.

Do you suffer from Hashimotos or other thyroid conditions or love someone who does? I would love to hear what has helped you/them heal. I welcome any nutritional advice and would enjoy hearing from others who have embraced a thyroid healthy lifestyle.

Make sure you too are listening to your body. While I am ashamed that I waited so long to make that appointment. I am supremely grateful that I did. We are worth putting ourselves first. When we are healthy and full of energy, we can take care of the others in lives so much better. I am ready to tackle this next adventure. No more excuses. I need to be a priority in my own life. ❤

My step daughter Avalon is one of the reasons that I am going to focus on regaining my health. ❤

I need my energy to keep up with Lukas the frog whisperer. I love this little boy! ❤

The tiger lilies transplanted from my dad’s house never fail to make me smile.

Our hoop house fills my soul with endless joy. My husband brought home the bush with purple flowers to plant “just because.” ❤

We planted 20 blueberry bushes this spring and they did well. Next year we will be adding more.

More berries…

and more…

My kitchen is my happy place.

Pickles are one of my favorite food groups. My mom has been known to can over 100 quarts in the fall. I was raised with pickle brine in my blood. 😉

Our hoop house is producing an abundant supply of cucumbers this summer.