About ten years ago when I first joined Facebook it was a rather quaint place that felt like a virtual town square. I reconnected with people from high school and New York City whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to since the 1980s. It was all “hey, what’s up!” and fluff. But then more people started joining. Some of it was painful and triggering.
Minutes ago a mosquito followed me into my house and then into my home office. I have been trying to get away from it since it bit me in the neck when I sat down at my desk, at which point I looked in the mirror to see how bad the bite was. Besides its sneaky snack attack it had followed me around the house and in the mirror I could see it was flying up and down around the rest of my neck. Rather than smacking myself while trying to send it onward to its next spiritual station I ran back into my office. Hopefully I’m good for now.
Ever since I wrote my post about it not making economic sense for me to work on a follow-up retro diet book when I admitted to myself (and all of you!) that it would be cost-prohibitive, I’ve been enjoying a sense of relief. I appreciate those of you who commented or emailed to let me know you’d be interested in a fee-based subscription newsletter!
Hello everyone! What a lovely summer it has been here in Maine! I hope to share a garden update within the next couple of weeks.
I’m thrilled to announce that I have begun writing a secret book that I think you will enjoy reading once it’s complete! It’s like my fingers are on FIRE* when I sit with my laptop each morning.
Now that I’m embracing writing as a full-time job as a means for an income I have to be business-like in my approach in addition to having enough passion about the material to keep me energized. A nice problem to have is that I have more interesting projects than I do time. I wish to continue blogging here, too, and that is income-free but not without expense. That’s why I apply good old Yankee Thrift to business savvy decision-making!
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?!
“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.
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. It was too painful for me to continue to be the kid from the wrong side of the tracks in places where the vast majority of students came from very wealthy homes. It was then I decided to transfer to the University of Maine in Orono where I earned my B.A. in English.
I attended grad school at the University of Vermont where 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.
“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.
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!
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!
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.