Book Title Update: The Retro Diet™

My book-in-progress, formerly The New England Diet, is now titled The Retro Diet. While Wayne and I live on a traditional New England diet, the principles and practices also draw from national sources. My first vintage diet book, American Women Didn’t Get Fat in the 1950s, was an in-depth look at the marketing of obesity to American women, the complicity of the medical profession and softening of metrics used to determine healthy weight. The Retro Diet is going to be a “how to” for both men and women with clear guidelines and meal planning suggestions. It’s not just a book about eating, but about living! Eating retro is a lifestyle filled with gratitude, simplicity and accountability.

But there will be something big missing from the book. Also, who am I, anyway, to write such a book?!

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Good News For Wounded Souls

“God will not look you over for Medals, Degrees or Diplomas, but for Scars!” -Elbert Hubbard, The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard

I’ve learned that time does NOT heal all wounds but God loves them and us! There can be beauty in a graceful brokenness when we use God as a crutch. But wait, isn’t needing a “crutch” a sign of weakness?! YES! Aren’t we weak when we’re left to only our own devices? I choose spiritual prowess over destructive earthly vices I’ve given up. I no longer feel ashamed about my scars, a shame which fueled a lot of my destructive crutches (smoking, drinking, overeating). I’m not ashamed to say I’m in recovery, my last drink being almost twenty-five years ago. I’m cool with not being cool. My deepest scars are invisible, although I do have, shall I say, an “oven kiss” on my hand I acquired while removing a lasagna from the oven last fall.

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A Degree of Mischief at University of Vermont

The college admissions scandal has highlighted what some have referred to as “affirmative action for the wealthy.” As I mention on my “about” page, I grew up in subsidized housing but went to an Upper East Side prep school with the aid of a scholarship. My freshman year of college was spent at Bennington College, also via scholarship before transferring to the University of Maine in Orono. It was too painful for me to be the kid from the wrong side of the tracks in places where the vast majority of students came from very wealthy homes. 

Then, once at grad school at UVM I lived in a tiny house in the woods complete with big spiders* (steel-toed Doc Martens are a form of organic pest control) and was fortunate to have been awarded an assistantship for two years which paid my tuition in full and gave me a small stipend. However, that also meant my days began at 5:00 a.m. and I didn’t get home sometimes until 10 at night. Even so, my most valuable life lesson learned wasn’t a part of my curriculum, but in a playground.

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A Simple February Passage

“What other men have thought is valuable, but its chief value is, not to save us from the labor of thinking, but to enable us to think the better for ourselves.”

From “The Golden Way to the Highest Attainments” by Rev J.H Potts D.D, 1889

Some Mainers (aka “snowbirds”) go to Florida to escape February (and the couple of months prior and after) during their down time. I keep it local and go to the couch! February is a time when I do more reading. The cozy simplicity of snuggling under a wool throw with a cup of tea and good book takes the edge off of one of my least favorite months. I’m actually starting to grow fond of this time of year. The more I accept February as it is instead of feeling righteous indignation in response to things like the short daylight, icy public walkways, the lonely glossy white landscape outside my window that’s devoid of friendly furry or feathered visitors, the more agreeable it is/I am! In fact I often think a good test of true inner joy is not needing summery days to have a sunny disposition.

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Bring back simple animations, please!

Yesterday evening while flipping through the channels before “Keeping Up Appearances” came on I stopped at Alvin and the Chipmunks. Look at Alvin the Chipmunk in the 1960s versus today. Personally I think the modern day animations are mostly abominations. Alvin no longer even remotely resembles a chipmunk!

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The Retro Diet™

The photo of me above on the left is from 2009, before I lost 10% of my body weight in 2010 by following a 1950s diet that I documented in my book American Women Didn’t Get Fat in the 1950s. The photo on the right was me at my wedding in 2018. Since 2013 I’ve been reading diet books, articles and cook books from the 19th century through World War II, many of which are New England sources. I’ve maintained my weight loss and continue to have very healthy cholesterol levels by eating a traditional early New England diet balanced with retro American guidelines. And so, I have an announcement!

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Simplifying: Only One Blank Check

I’m always working to reduce mental clutter and recently had an opportunity to clear some out!

In the past I’ve spent too much time feeling guilty and inadequate because I had the mistaken belief that I wasn’t doing enough to help others beyond friends and family. Reading the news daily and passively witnessing reported tragedies, seeing good people fall on hard times or lose loved ones to cancer or other horrible circumstances can be so disheartening. But oh! There’s a GoFundMe! Now multiply that by a thousand. Then there are community causes that I’m passionate about, I want to serve in church and also continue my annual donation to the animal shelter. Because of so many great needs, my donations of time or money can feel like pennies thrown in a can no matter how expansive my desire to be of service. Then, having to set limits by not giving to every good and compelling cause has left me feeling powerless and anxious. Worse, I’ve often compared myself to others who have more time, energy or much deeper pockets. Until now.

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Sickness and Self-Care

That cold I wrote about at Christmas, where I lost my voice? Turned out to be bronchitis which I haven’t had since high school. Cough suppressants, including a heavy duty prescription syrup did little to reduce my coughing fits, but I did have some relief from taking Olbas cough syrup which I highly recommend (and it’s alcohol-free).  Ricola Mixed Berry with Vitamin C (non-menthol) also continues to be helpful along with lots of tea and homemade chicken soup. My voice, although slowly coming back, is not my own!  I sound like a hard-livin’ chain-smokin’ barfly until I laugh. Then I sound like “The Nanny”!

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Portland Monthly Magazine: “These brides ditch tradition”

I’m thrilled to have been quoted in the Winter Guide issue of Portland Monthly Magazine! Contributor Sofia Voltin did a piece on brides who wore non-traditional wedding dresses:

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Now Or Never

Snooty ghosts hovered around old houses along the winding road to the Inn that brought passers by to inviting nooks and crannies. Inside the lobby of the Inn, starched people laughed and sipped cold beverages. Outside, a veranda displayed a view of the water with a faraway mountain watermark in the hazy pale sky. The dim library housed well-aged books, and as I entered the room the wood floor creaked like an ornery granny reprimanding me for not being more ladylike in my footsteps. The shelves were filled with titles from a time that only those beyond had experienced. Alone in the room with just the hundreds of us, I felt that I was about to be entrusted with their secrets.  I ran my finger along their spines and stopped at the title, Now Or Never, or, The Adventures of Bobby Bright by Oliver Optic*.

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