Monthly Archives: December 2013

Early Winter Aspendale Farm Update

Our front yard Christmas morning. What a way to wake up!

Well, I’ve been a bit absent for awhile, I admit. It’s been a whopper of an autumn in many ways, and extremely uneventful in others. I’d love to tell you all about the new, interesting things we’re doing here — unfortunately there is nothing new.  A lot has been happening, but nothing worthy of excited sharing, I don’t think. Still I’ve had emails, Facebook questions and person-to-person inquiries about what we’re up to.

Of course my oldest son moved on to college Labor Day Weekend. While I’m extremely proud of him and super-excited for him, it’s been a hard adjustment for me. After all, I’ve been the Mama around here for eighteen-plus years. That’s been my main drive and occupation, all other responsibilities and interests aside. I’ve enjoyed having him around. He and I have a good, fun relationship. So it was quite a difficult adjustment for me when he packed up all of his belongings (save for one box of grungy clothes that still live in his closet) and moved out. Not only have I grieved the loss of him as part of our everyday family life, but I found myself wandering around in this disconcerting haze of “what am I going to do with the next stage of my life?” My other kids are well on their way to independence. Cecily just dual-enrolled for classes at the local community college and next fall my third child will be in high school and learning independently of any need for me. So there it is, bearing down on me like a freight train. A huge adjustment for which I have been ill-prepared.

As you know, too, I sent my Saxton to a new home. He and his new family are loving it. His new owner adores him and has so much fun riding him. It was definitely the right move, albeit a painful one.

And the weekend before Thanksgiving I was struck with another blow that I had hoped to push off for a year or even several years. At least for some breathing room from the other losses. But no, down at the barn we found my beloved Lacy on the ground, unable to get up. She was old after all. We’d taken thorough and tender care of her while we had her, but we knew she couldn’t live forever. And we were forced to make the agonizing decision to put her down. It still hurts, as does losing anyone you love deeply. I’m grateful to her for the sweetness and balm she was while she was with us. She restored my faith in horses and has given me good memories.

A bit of a bummer, eh? Can you see why I’ve been a bit on the quiet side? We go through seasons, and some of them are hard to bear. This has been a hard one for me.

On the brighter side of things, when JJ left, my health deteriorated noticeably, which actually led to some surprising overall health improvements. It is a fact that trauma of any kind — physical illness, injury, high stress, emotional shock — can lower one’s defenses and knock you out of balance so things don’t work as well anymore. I can only surmise that the grief I went through at the ending of our family life as we’d known it was about the last straw for my Type-A personality.

I’d been working with a homeopath to solve my mystery hip issue, but the rest of my health started going downhill and I began to gain weight even while actively dieting. I was overtly fatigued and noticing a marked lack of enthusiasm for, well, anything, really. Through a serendipitous chance, we found out I was now hypothyroid. Who knew?  Stress is a big factor in hypothyroidism. And some of the “mystery” ailments I’d been putting up with for a couple years, edema, a hip that just wouldn’t let me run without it going out, a couple of episodes of severe back spasms… seem all to be related. I’m not one to jump on the allopathic medicine bandwagon if there’s any way to heal the body instead of relying on a chemical. After much of my own research, and working with a naturopath and my chiropractor, I’ve headed up the campaign to restore full body health, and I am seeing gratifying improvements. I’m doing close to a dozen things to support thyroid health, including natural supplements, chiropractic adjustments, homeopathics and Bach flower remedies, self-acupressure, a careful diet composition (lots of veggies, a fair amount of fruits and healthy proteins, and just a small, small portion of carbs – preferably whole grains like oats), I <<ack!>> gave up coffee (too stimulating), and have switched my work-outs so I’m now doing metabolism-boosting, body-healing circuit training (heavy weights or R&R workouts) between sets of sprint intervals instead of steady-state cardio which can actually depress your metabolism (who knew!), and Qi Gong to keep stress levels low.

I’m also doing a lot of restorative walking. Walking, while some people consider it exercise, really has the effect of lowering stress-hormone levels, particularly when done leisurely, in a nature environment. I’ve been out in the woods or down by the river every day I have a chance – and I love it! Except when someone accompanies me who happens to be stressed out or overly talkative. LOL! That doesn’t really lower my cortisol! LOL! I’ve also jealously guarded my sleep, and reduced my committments. It’s been a whole lifestyle change in a way. But I realize the need to work hard to restore myself to full health now, before I have something much more serious like cancer or diabetes or heart disease. So I’m taking it seriously. And honestly? I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying feeling good. I’m enjoying running without worrying about my hip putting me out of commission for days. I’m enjoying eating a lot of foods that I know are nourishing me. I’m enjoying having enough energy after dinner to take part in whatever’s going on. I’m enjoying having more balance

I still don’t know what the future holds. But I’m not really worried about it. There are many things I’m interested in. We’re still in a state of flux with our house on the market — not sure where we’ll end up or how long we’ll remain here.  I love it here and don’t want to move. Where else could we live where we are surrounded by so much beauty and snow and a mild climate? But for now it seems the right choice.

Fall is over. Thank goodness this time. And I’m relieved that the winter has gotten off to a great start. I am noticing that I feel a little better each week and have hope now of complete recovery. I’m shedding the extra few pounds that crept on after JJ left, without doing any silly diets. I’m just eating. We have a good 20-inches of snow out there and I’ve been cross-country skiing, walking out on the frozen river past all the ice-fishing shanties, I’ve taken the kids sledding, enjoyed many a wood-fire in our cozy new family room, got to have some fun garage-band jam sessions with some good friends and our instruments … it’s a nice change from the turmoil of earlier in the autumn.

Farm-wise, the hens took a two-month break from laying, and have finally begun to lay again. It’s disappointing to buy eggs from the grocery and feed for the chickens at the same time! That’s the kicker with keeping birds past their first year of laying, but it is what it is. We’re down to just three horses now. The orchard is asleep, shoveling and snow-blowing are a regular part of life here now, as is loading the wood-furnace and hauling split wood for the fireplace. The seed catalogs are arriving in the mail, and after the first of the year I know I will spend a few lovely, lazy hours poring over the pages, choosing what we will put in this next year.

And I pray that you and yours have a lovely, prosperous, healthy new year. May your times of sorrow and pain ultimately bear good things, as mine have. And may you live and love the beauty of the moments that make up your days in the next twelve months.

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