The Impact of Gut Health on Mental Health


gut health yogurt


Originally published on Insight Bulletin 

You are what you eat is more than a common dictum, it appears to be the real deal when it comes to your mental health.

More and more scientific research is pointing towards intestinal bacteria playing an influential role in managing mental disorder symptoms.  Moreover, gut health and mental health are positively correlated. According to an article from Nature International Weekly Journal of Science, “there is hard evidence linking conditions such as Autism and Depression to the gut’s microbial residents, known as the microbiome.”

So if your gut isn’t balanced, and you already have a mood disorder or anxiety disorder, symptoms could be expected to exacerbate as your gut health declines.

Likewise, as gut health improves, some mental health symptoms may improve concurrently.

This information shouldn’t be that shocking – there’s already strong evidence that the mind/body connection is positively correlated, meaning the more balanced your physical health, the more balanced your mental health ought to be – but it’s important to know what one can do to use this information in their favor.

An article describing a study done in England explains that they saw that supplements that boost “good” bacteria in the gut (called prebiotics) could have a significant impact on the way people “process emotional information, suggesting that changes in gut bacteria may have anti-anxiety effects.”

They go on to emphasize the importance of regulating one’s gut bacteria through supplementation and diet.  And experts say both probiotics and prebiotics are important for boosting gastrointestinal health.

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria (live cultures) naturally occurring in the stomach. These active cultures help balance gut flora by reproducing more good bacteria. A good balance helps boost immunity and overall health, particularly the aforementioned gastrointestinal health. Additionally, probiotics can be used to treat stomach issues like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), food allergies and lactose intolerance.

Prebiotics are the foods that help the probiotics along. They are good bacteria “promoters.” Prebiotics and probiotics work together to achieve gastrointestinal health.  So how does one get those probiotics and prebiotics into their gut?

For probiotics, consume:

  • Fermented dairy foods including yogurt, kefir products, and aged cheeses, which contain live cultures (for example, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli).
  • Fermented non-dairy foods containing beneficial cultures, including kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), sauerkraut, miso, soy beverages and kombucha (fermented tea).

For prebiotics, consume:

  • Foods/supplements containing fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), such as inulin and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS).
  • Foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-wheat foods.

Another interesting, and more recent, finding is that scientists have actually discovered a specific gut bacteria which relies on a brain chemical for survival.

The bacteria depend upon the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA (a molecule that the brain uses to calm itself) to survive. GABA plays an important role in behavior, cognition, and the body’s response to stress.

Low levels of GABA is linked to depression and mood disorders, and this finding adds to growing evidence that our gut bacteria may affect our brains.

Identifying the relationship between the gut biome and human brain chemistry could give way to improved treatment for depression and other mental health disorders.


Ferguson, David,  “Scientists discover gut bacteria that influences mood by ‘eating’ brain chemical”  Raw Story,
01 Jul 2016, Accessed 10 Oct 2016.

Konkel, Lindsey, “What Is Gaba?”, Everyday Health, Accessed 10 Oct 2016.
Marchant, Jo, “How Happiness Boosts the Immune System”, Scientific American, 27 Nov 2013, Accessed 10 Oct 2013.

Reardon, Sara, “Gut–brain link grabs neuroscientists”.  Nature News: Nature International Weekly Journal of Science, Springer Nature.  12 November 2014, Accessed 10 Oct 2016.

Rettner, Rachael, “Gut Feeling? Probiotics May Ease Anxiety and Depression”, Live Science, 24 Dec 2014, Accessed 10 Oct 2016.


Guilt, Self-Loathing, & Affliction


Hurricane Matthew did not spare me. When we returned home from the evacuation, we discovered that an enormous pine tree fell on my house. I am devastated beyond what I can succinctly express. It will be thousands of dollars to remove the tree and even more to fix my home. The back of my house is damaged; the entire backyard is filled with the tree, as it is massive, like a California Redwood.

I am without homeowner’s insurance. I am displaced from my home and am an extraneous, immediate hardship on my parents. My depression and anxiety have increased exponentially. My guilt is so heavy; I can recognize nothing practical to be done. If only I had been in my home, under that tree when it fell, I could have unburdened my family once and for all.

This disaster has now made manifest an even greater guilt that I so carry with me always. Constantly, I am anxious and worried. I am now an even greater encumbrance to my family than I was before. The weight of my life and the torment of my mental anguish becomes greater by the day. I do not know what else God can ask of me to bear. Every time I think I find a small amount of footing, I am again knocked to my knees.


These were the words that I declared onto Facebook, emotionally, but honestly.  I wasn’t exaggerating my desperation:

When you are bipolar, and already in the midst of enduring an emotional flare and you hit a legitimate major crisis, self-harm and suicide rates rise dramatically.


In the weeks leading up to the hurricane, I’d been becoming more and more depressed, despite the lifestyle changes that I’d made and the medication I was taking.  Looking at my mood charts from this time last year along with my blog entries, it’s clear that this time of year is when I struggle with serious, clinical depression.

This is when I have the days when I can’t get out of bed.

When I believe I don’t deserve human niceties, such as bathing or clean clothing.

I never revealed this, but, last year,  lack of self-care hit such an all-time low during the winter months that I was sometimes asked if I was homeless while outside exercising.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to understand the level of hatred I sometimes feel for myself.

I am an incredibly insular, selfish person, but I have a penchant for self-deprivation when it comes to self-care.  And this is not because I am lazy.

Self-care restriction is an extension of anorexia in that the disorder itself is simply self-deprivation in and of itself.



It is the restriction of food.  Does a diet feel like punishment to you? Anorexia feels like hell to me.


Bulimia is a cyclical, unending, unstoppable inescapable punishment.  Does overeating feel like guilt to you? Bulimia feels like degradation to me.

TO NOT BATHE IS TO SUFFER. Does a skipped shower feel like an itchy inconvenience to you?  It feels like the infliction of a paltry penance to me.

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This internal torture, my madness, I understand cognitively that it is faulty thinking.  It’s not right, there are missing synapses firing in my brain, making me feel strongly in ways that I shouldn’t.  

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I am not well.

Does God not like us to select our own punishments when we feel we deserve self-deprivation?  Is he angry that I am taking matters into my own hands by suffering or does he perhaps feel I simply have not felt enough pain?

I am writhing in pain, graceless.

And this, this is a new punishment.


Is Bipolar Disorder Caused By Inflammation?

looking out across the bay

Targeted Treatment Could Be Option for Depression-Related Inflammation


Inflammation is our immune system’s response for fighting off danger in our body, and scientists are beginning to link inflammation to psychological disorders such as depression.

Severe depression affects 6.9 percent of the U.S. population, and more than half of people with major depression are unable to find relief from their symptoms with antidepressants. Interestingly, about a third of depressed patients have consistently high levels of inflammation.

Evidence now suggests that inflammation is more than something simply found in some depressed patients—it could be the cause of their disease. Researchers think the immune system is responsible for this long-term effect due to traumatic events earlier on in life.

In 2012, Duke researchers conducted a study on the connection between inflammation and mood disorders. They looked for the presence of an inflammation marker in the blood called C-reactive protein (CRP). The high amount of CRP led them to believe that childhood emotional distress could lead to the foundation for inflammatory processes in the body.

Duke researchers found the number of cumulative depressive episodes was associated with increased levels of CRP, but they could not definitively say that inflammation caused depression. Rather, the researchers scratched their heads as to whether the presence of depression itself caused inflammation in a chicken-or-the-egg-type scenario.

Now, it’s clearer that the immune system can alter cognitive functioning.

According to Carmine Pariante at King’s College London, “Nearly 30% to 40% of depressed patients have high levels of inflammation, and in these people we think it is part of the causal process.”

An article by the BBC noted Pariante saying, “the evidence supporting this idea is that high levels of inflammation are present even if someone is not depressed, but is at risk of becoming depressed. Adult individuals who have a history of early life trauma, even if they have never been depressed, have an activated immune system so they are in a state of risk.”

But it’s not just the immune biomarker in the blood. There’s something else that’s been found to make the connection.

There is evidence that IL-6, a chemical normally secreted by white blood cells to stimulate an inflammatory immune response to infection or trauma, can affect brain activity in a region called the subgenual cingulate. This region is thought to control mood and anxiety, sleep, memory and self-esteem.

Joseph Hayes at University College London identified a significant link between high levels of a chemical involved in inflammation at age 9, and experiencing aspects of hypomania at age 22.

Additionally, a recent New Scientist article revealed that, high levels of inflammation present in a child could go so far as predicting a higher risk of manic behavior in later life.

Manic behavior can be present in not only bipolar disorder, but also seasonal affective disorder and some forms of psychosis. This is enormous progress for all mood disorders, but especially significant for Bipolar Disorder as the disorder is rarely correctly diagnosed until after a person has a manic episode. Women in particular, are “susceptible to misdiagnosis”, and many have to endure many years of untreated mood disorders because of misdiagnosis or lack of treatment.

In the study that solved the chicken-egg connection, PET scans showed significant inflammation in the brains of the people with depression, and the inflammation was most severe among the participants with the most severe depression. People experienced clinical depression exhibited an inflammation increase of 30% in their brains. The study focused specifically on the activation of microglia – immune cells that play a key role in the brain’s response to inflammation.

This new finding could lead to changes being made in the way mood disorders, such as Bipolar Disorder, are treated and how future studies should investigate the possible impact of anti-inflammatory drugs on depression symptoms.

A group called NIMA (Neuroimmunology of Mood Disorders and Alzheimer’s Disease) is currently investigating whether targeting the immune system to fight specific types of inflammation could treat these conditions. They may have a pill to target that specific type of inflammation.

Hopefully, drugs targeting the immune system will provide much-needed treatments for patients.


Hurricane Matthew Update


For those of you who don’t know, I live in South Daytona, Florida, directly in the head-on path of category 4 Hurricane Matthew.  Last night, I was forced to evacuate my home.  My dad helped me try to quickly  prepare my home as best as we could before fleeing for safety.  Both time and funds were insufficient to board up my windows with plywood, but we were able to get the sandbags in front of the doors to help prevent flooding damage.  I’m currently safe, staying with some family in The Villages, Florida, which is located in central Florida.  

A total of 180 shelters have been opened.  23,000 people are in shelters now.  

All of the bridges in St. Johns Counties are closed.  All of the bridges in Flagler and Volusia counties are also closed.  

Flagler County and Coastal Volusia Counties have gotten the worst  of the hurricane so far with storm surges, flooding, and wind gusts of about 100 miles per hour.  

There are a lot of downed trees, power lines, and a great portion of A1A beachside is gone

Three people in Florida have lost their lives and this is the most updated information available.  Two in Port St. Lucie and one in Volusia county: a woman died when a tree fell on her.

So far, there’s been two in Port St. Lucie and one in Volusia county.  The Volusian woman died when a tree fell on her.

 It’s still really bad in Daytona Beach and Daytona Beach Shores.  I don’t know if my house is still standing, but I’m physically okay. Right now, our area doesn’t have any power.  The majority of Volusia County does not have power right now.   

More than One Million Households Are Without Power.   Continue reading »

Alzheimer’s Prevention Begins in Childhood


Did you know that Alzheimer’s Prevention Begins in Childhood?

Alzheimer’s isn’t just a disease that begins later in life.  What happens to your child’s brain now seems to have a dramatic impact on his or her likelihood of Alzheimer’s decades later.

Gary Small, M.D., director of the UCLA Center on Aging, says the belief that Alzheimer’s is entirely genetic and unpreventable is perhaps the greatest misconception about the disease. In fact, you can even have significant Alzheimer’s pathology and no symptoms of dementia if you have a high cognitive reserve, but you’ve got to use it or you risk losing it. -w.p.

Lifestyle Habits: 

“Keep your child’s brain busy with a variety of activities and experiences to help them develop a cognitive reserve. Expose them to physical, mental, and social challenges as all of these things contribute to a stronger, higher functioning brain that can process data and memory retrieval faster and with more efficiency. This cognitive reserve is an accumulation of life experiences – education, marriage, socializing, a stimulating job, language skills, having a purpose in life, physical activity, and mentally demanding leisure activities – all make your brain better able to tolerate plaques and tangles.”  READ MORE at


DIETARY GUIDELINES PER The Physicians Committee

7 guidelines to reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease

  1. Minimize your intake of saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fat is found primarily in dairy products, meats, and certain oils (coconut and palm oils). Trans fats are found in many snack pastries and fried foods and are listed on labels as “partially hydrogenated oils.”

  2. Eat plant-based foods. Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should replace meats and dairy products as primary staples of the diet.

  3. Consume 15 milligrams of vitamin E, from foods, each day.Vitamin E should come from foods, rather than supplements. Healthful food sources of vitamin E include seeds, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. Note: The RDA for vitamin E is 15 milligrams per day.

  4. Take a B12 supplement. A reliable source of B12, such as fortified foods or a supplement providing at least the recommended daily allowance (2.4 micrograms per day for adults), should be part of your daily diet. Note: Have your blood levels of vitamin B12 checked regularly as many factors, including age, impair absorption.

  5. Avoid vitamins with iron and copper. If using multivitamins, choose those without iron and copper, and consume iron supplements only when directed by your physician.

  6. Choose aluminum-free products. While aluminum’s role in Alzheimer’s disease remains a matter of investigation, those who desire to minimize their exposure can avoid the use of cookware, antacids, baking powder, or other products that contain aluminum.

  7. Exercise for 120 minutes each week. Include aerobic exercise in your routine, equivalent to 40 minutes of brisk walking, three times per week.-pcrm

Other preventive measures, such as getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night and participating in 30 to 40 minutes of mental activity most days of the week, such as completing crossword puzzles, reading the newspaper, or learning a new language, can only help boost brain health.  READ MORE at

My First “Real” Byline!


Relentless pressure. Wildly unrealistic sales targets. Having to pressure family members and friends to open unnecessary bank accounts. Corporate executives designed the sales quota systems and created the culture of harassment and fear when we did not meet them.

Read about it on the 



Analog Life: How Gardening Can Positively Affect Your Mental Health


Gardening is one of Mother Nature’s great equalizers.  It’s a satisfying and therapeutic activity that anyone–from a senior adult to a very young child – can tackle relatively independently. 



Many can enjoy the gratification of creating something from virtually nothing.  What begin as tiny seeds germinating into something that’s living, thriving, and – potentially – bearing edibles is positively enchanting.  Planting vegetables, fruits, and flowers is an invigorating activity, regardless of one’s age.

Gardening allows us all to be nurturers.  Plants don’t discriminate or stigmatizeFor those with mental health problems to be able to contribute to such a transformative activity, gardening can really help boost self-esteem.

Additionally, we can deal with depression, worry and panic by getting our hands dirty and digging in the dirt.

Here are the essential reasons you’ll want to incorporate gardening into your and your family’s lifestyle:

Teaches/Provides a Sense of Responsibility

For kids: Garden caretakers will have to be conscientious in watering the plants regularly, checking to make sure they are looking healthy, and keeping them in direct sunlight (or shade) as directed.  They will take pride in their “green pets” and the fact that they are thriving thanks to their hard work and dedication.



Provides a Tangible Source of Accomplishment & Pride

Gardening takes commitment and sustained effort but there’s a payoff! It helps us to be less insular, less self-absorbed.  We are forced to refocus our efforts on something external: there’s the diligence in watering the plants consistently, checking to make sure they are looking pruned back and healthy-looking, and getting enough sun (or shade), as the case may be.  You might be surprised at how much pride you take in your plants and the fact that they are thriving thanks to your hard work and dedication.

Reinforces Healthy Eating Habits

Practically nothing beats fresh produce, and definitely not artificial, pre-packaged foods full of preservatives.  It can be easy to eat unhealthily when fresh food isn’t readily available, but what if it were right outside your front door?  A successful garden project gives you an opportunity to get excited about eating the right foods in the most organic, fresh, and eco-friendly way possible, which could ultimately contribute to a self-esteem boost.



Working (Out) in Nature Releases the “Happy” Hormones

When we exercise, levels of serotonin and dopamine (hormones that make us feel good) rise and the level of cortisol (a hormone associated with stress) is lowered. According to the National Institute of Health, the Benefits of regular exercise include improved sleep, stress relief, and improved mood. I can personally vouch for the workout that gardening offers: as a former long-distance runner, I now rely on gardening as my main source of exercise – and each session leaves me dead on my feet – it can get rid of excess energy so I sleep better and ultimately feel renewed inside.  No treadmill or free weights required.

Promotes Self-Esteem, Positive Personal Identity and Internal Locus of Control

According to MetroParent, “Gardening engages both mind and body, and can help kids improve motor skills, boost self-esteem and stimulate the senses. Parents who teach their children how to nurture a garden soon discover that the garden nurtures the child as well.”

The exercise that gardening provides can yield a self-esteem revolution It promotes positive personal identity: one rooted in hard work, strength, and perseverance.

Specifically for Kids: Children learn better when they understand the context of their activity. They’ll have fun gardening, but beyond the fact that gardening is associated with “playtime”  they are contributing to the overall family well-being. Besides planting and nurturing their garden beds, be sure they alone do the harvesting and preparation of their crop for the table, no matter how modest the offering.



For Adults: Gardening yields a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction for us all, especially when there’s suddenly head-high sunflowers or that first tomato ready for picking.  It’s a great feeling and you’ll know we’ve worked hard for it! Continue reading »


How Adding Probiotics To Your Diet Could Impact Your Mood


According to recent research, both probiotics and prebiotics are important for Gastrointestinal Health.

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria (live cultures) naturally occurring in the stomach. These active cultures help balance gut flora by reproducing more good bacteria. A good balance helps boost immunity and overall health, particularly the aforementioned Gastrointestinal Health. Probiotics can be used to treat stomach issues like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), food allergies and lactose intolerance.

Prebiotics are the foods that help the Probiotics along. They are good bacteria “promoters”. Prebiotics and Probiotics work together to achieve Gastrointestinal Health.

Gastrointestinal Health is important for more than just happy tummies. More and more scientific research is pointing towards intestinal bacteria playing an influential role in managing mental disorder symptoms.

According to an article from Nature International Weekly Journal of Science, “there is hard evidence linking conditions such as Autism and Depression to the gut’s microbial residents, known as the microbiome”.

Another article states: “In humans, there is some very early evidence of a link between gut bacteria and mental health. A new study from England found that supplements that boost “good” bacteria in the gut (called “prebiotics”) may alter the way people process emotional information, suggesting that changes in gut bacteria may have anti-anxiety effects”.

Gut bacteria plays a role in our sanity.


So how does one get those probiotics and prebiotics into their gut?

For probiotics, consume:

  • Fermented dairy foods including yogurt, kefir products, and aged cheeses, which contain live cultures (for example, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli).
  • Fermented non-dairy foods containing beneficial cultures, including kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), sauerkraut, miso, soy beverages and kombucha (fermented tea).


For prebiotics, consume:

  • Foods/supplements containing fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), such as inulin and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS).
  • Foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-wheat foods.Pixabay

I Wish People Came With Subtitles


I Really Suck At Reading A Room.


Credit: Pixabay

I hardly ever get the opportunity to see all of my brothers at once, so when two of the oft-absent siblings were recently in town, I made the extra effort to go see them at my father’s house where they’d be crashing for the weekend.  

When I first arrived,  I noticed a movie playing in the family room with the closed caption feature enabled. Naturally, this version displays subtitles at the bottom of the screen, providing viewers the words to the entire episode. I could see and hear it from the foyer: a popular actress was lighting up the screen and deftly stealing the heart of her co-star while every last word was accounted for.    

I remarked to no one in particular that I have a habit of utilizing the subtitle feature on absolutely everything I watch, without exception. Literally, it is unreservedly compulsive.  I detest watching movies or television without this feature and, if said option is not available, its absence becomes so distracting that I will often cease watching altogether. I’m so used to doing it, that, when I don’t,  I feel as though I’m missing one of my senses, like the sound is turned all the way down on the program, even though I know, of course, that it’s not.  

I’m not sure when the obsessive subtitles dependency began, but I can definitively say that I have been doing it for the last 5 years minimum. The inclination toward doing  this probably originated simultaneously with my Netflix binge-watching habit.

In response to my comment, my brother agreed that he’s likewise fond, verging-on-obsessed, with subtitles. I know my mom uses subtitles at her house, too. She’s big on foreign cinema. Also, she utilizes the feature while running on her treadmill because that can get noisy.

It could be that my family members and I are genetically predisposed towards auditory issues, but that explanation seems unlikely. Rather, I believe that our collective devotion to reading, both for pleasure and education, is so strong that we simply prefer to “read” what we watch.  As a child, I had a strong and enduring passion for reading.  I sought it out as an “escape” and a comfort.  As an adult, I still seek relief in its familiarity.  

I wish I could apply the comfort and familiarity of the “Subtitle Feature”to my real life; especially when interacting with people in real life.

And dogs, too, obviously.  That goes without saying.  So entertaining.   Continue reading »

Run Happy, Run Smart!


I just knew I was on to something when I declared that the practice of
ought to be packaged and marketed as a glorious idea producing machine!

According to an article on Medical Xpress, a study was just completed by the Psychology and Biology Departments at the University of Jyväskylä which reported,  

“It may be possible to increase the neuron reserve of the hippocampus – and thus improve preconditions for learning – by promoting neurogenesis via sustained aerobic exercise such as running.

Aerobic exercise, such as running, has positive effects on brain structure and function, for example, the generation of neurons (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus, a brain structure important in learning.”

The article goes on to detail how the results of the study were collected and to explain that the findings are significant because,

Continue reading »

What Riding The Wells Fargo Wagon Was Really Like


NEW on Amazon!

My personal recount of the corporate culture:

Relentless pressure. Wildly unrealistic sales targets. Having to pressure family members and friends to open unnecessary bank accounts. Corporate executives designed the sales quota systems and created the culture of harassment and fear when we did not meet them.

Beyond Business Ethics:

What Riding The WELLS FARGO Wagon Was Like

Beyond Business Ethics: What Riding The WELLS FARGO Wagon Was Like by [Polito,Kristen]


This Is All About Pain


“Are you going to eat all that yourself?

The delivery guy’s expression was incredulous as he handed me my order–an order, which, I’d used compromising means of obtaining, so desperate and pathological the means of my destruction had devolved.

I paused, immediately conjured a plausible lie, dismissed it and admitted, “Yes.”

“Whaaat?” He assessed my frame in disbelief.  “But…how?”

I had no energy for shame or mortification.

“I’m going to throw it all up when I’m done.”

Caught off guard by my candidness, his speech faltered, “Oh!  OhmyGod.  I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.  It’s not your problem.”  I pause.  “Only, if you don’t ask your customers so many personal questions, you might not have to deal with so many personal answers.”

He nodded, reaching for the signed receipt.

Now, he is finally walking away, and I think he is going to let me be.

Still, not put off, he’s got one more for me.

“So…you’re like, Anorexic or somethin’”?

Yeah, buddy.  Or somethin’.

They don’t understand.  It isn’t gluttony.  And isn’t hedonism.

This is not about pleasure.  This is all about pain.


Credit: Pixabay

Near or distant, it’s likely that nearly every family has at least one “mad” relation.  You know who I’m talking about; the one who’s responsible for the legendary tales of insane behavior, collective embarrassment, and general familial strife? Chances are if you’re reading this essay, you either love a “mad” person or are one of them.  Well, you’re in good company my friend.

As late as the 1970’s, those “affected” were institutionalized in barbaric versions of asylums and hospitals, a la One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Strides made in modern medicine and mental health care ought to reduce the destructive ripple effect these individuals wield upon their respective families, but, in my estimation, it hasn’t done much to help.

At best, positive changes have been minimal;  mental illness poisons entire families.   The reality of mental illness is that there is no cure, only strategies of maintenance and coping.  The management of mood disorders is largely guesswork: trial and error requiring time, patience, resources and information.

And step one is diagnosis.

Correct diagnosis, that is.

From childhood into my early 30’s, I’ve been the unwilling passenger of a perpetual rollercoaster, with violent emotional waves dictating my behavior, decisions, and interactions.

I felt (and still feel) so wrong in the head, not understanding the constant intensity of emotion, the internal turmoil always clutching at my insides.

I’ve been confused by the behavior of those around me.  Everyone else seems so relaxed, so unaffected, so very, very even.

When I was younger, in elementary, middle and even high school, it frustrated me to no end that, when I was in a manic rage or sobbing desperately, my parents didn’t seem to take me seriously, dammit.  In fact, they often appeared amused.

Outrageous! How dare you! This is life and death we are talking about here!

I was quite indignant.

Talking to my dad about it now, he tells me: “I didn’t realize anything was really wrong.  I just assumed the fighting with your mother, the emotional outbursts, the dramatics…that it was all part of being a girl.”

Sexist, maybe.  Understandable? Absolutely.

Most of the time, I covered up the illness.  I desperately wanted (and still want) to fit in, be accepted, appear normal, be liked and admired.

And still, to this day, I seek external validation.  My 20+ years of Anorexia and Bulimia can certainly attest to that.

But of course, an Eating Disorder is not ever about just one thing.  Yes, a significant part of me wants to appear attractive, controlled, on top of things, and strong (ha ha…ha), BUT the main role of my Anorexia and Bulimia has been a homemade mood stabilizer,  only I never realized its true function until 2014, when I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

For years, family, doctors, psychologists, and therapists attempted to treat only the presenting symptoms: the starving, bingeing, purging, over-exercising, self-harming behaviors.

All the while, not seeing the forest from the trees.

At my sickest, I felt angry at them.  Patronized.

My problems were chalked up to the trivial pursuit of beauty.  Thinness. Perfection.  Attaining the unattainable, blah, blah, blah.

My parents theorized it was a preoccupation with vanity; a hyperbolic representation of societal standards for the aesthetic ideal.

The times when I veered toward the danger zone, more dead than alive, they realized it had become an obsession over which I’d lost control; a set of destructive behaviors so addictive and necessary that I was willing to die for them.

And I may, still.

My parents tried to understand, but they did not have all the information.


Credit: Pixabay

Wanting very much to keep me alive, they’ve attempted all conceivable ways to help: spending tens of thousands of dollars on treatment, hospitals, rehab, therapists, doctors, and dentists.  Arguing with insurance companies on my behalf, fighting for more comprehensive care.  Seeing me through divorce and bankruptcy.  Moving me back home and opening their own homes to me, all the while providing financial and emotional support.  Straining their own relationships, prioritizing my needs at the expense of my siblings.

I am a living, breathing investment.

And then.  

Then, the true and full extent of my family’s unconditional love, support and patience was tested when I had my first psychotic manic episode.  I had initially not been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder because, for years, doctors, psychologists, therapists, and counselors had been focused on the presenting symptoms of my eating disorder.  Forest…trees…you get it.  

 Around the time of my divorce, my family had helped moved me back home, at their time and expense, I might add, but I’d already been relapsing into Anorexia once again.  Historically my anorexia has always manifested as sub-type 2: purging type.  What this means is, that I primarily restrict my calorie intake, but if I do binge, or even eat normal portion sizes, I will purge through vomiting.  During anorectic relapses, this behavior is always accompanied by excessive exercise.  I normally run 45 minutes to an hour, but during a relapse, a two to three-hour workout would be about average for me.  OCD behaviors always intensify during these times as well.  

Having refused to go to inpatient eating disorder treatment during this relapse,  I was seeing both a medical doctor and an outpatient therapist regularly, at my family’s behest.  The doctor, in an attempt to treat my “depression and anxiety” prescribed me anti-depressants, which promptly sent me into full blown mania.  

Starvation-and not in the hyperbolic sense, mind you-combined with, well, basically speed for Bipolar people, made me a fucking lunatic.  


Credit: Pixabay

 Compounding that, a Bipolar person, having a mixed-manic episode, I was readily and enthusiastically putting myself in peril. There’s that impulsive, risky element that’s so magnetically attractive in this state; even suicidal thoughts are idealized and appealing.

Continue reading »

Early Intervention Is Critical For Children’s Mental Health Services


Early intervention is important, but it can’t be the parent’s entire responsibility. School’s *do* have to offer this kind of support: mental illness is more widespread among youth than people realize.

According to a recent article on Spectrum:

Both girls have been diagnosed with psychiatric conditions — Sydney with bipolar disorder and Laney with a similar condition called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. (The family asked that their last name not be used, to protect the girls’ privacy.)

School has been a real challenge for them. That’s not unusual for the one in five children in the United States who have a psychiatric condition. They often experience anxiety, difficulty focusing and social challenges. Half of them drop out of high school, in part because many schools don’t manage to meet their needs.

Selena has spent the past eight years trying to get the girls the resources to help them succeed. Like a lot of parents of kids with mental health issues, she’s had to be her children’s biggest advocate.

Read the article from Jenny Gold via Spectrum:

Parents battle for children’s mental health services at school

Parents battle for children’s mental health services at school

Bipolar Disorder Butterfly Round Sticker

Is Sustainability For Suckers?



Ugly…or  BEAUTIFULLY delicious?

Apparently, growing spreads like this for yourself is silly, foolish, and…

ugly?   AND ILLEGAL??                                                                              

That’s what a judge just ruled because apparently, veggie gardens are, get this, UGLY.

READ HERE: Judge Rules Government Can Ban Vegetable Gardens Because They’re ‘Ugly’ Continue reading »

Featured Article On writeHackr


My most recent article is featured in writeHackr Magazine Issue 05 which is now available in the iOS App Store and on Google Play.

If you have an apple or android device, you can download a free issue of writeHackr Magazine. My first article for them is now available in issue 05! Apple users can get it on iTunes and android users can get it on Google play.

The magazine is geared toward content creators, but there’s a lot of good business strategy and entrepreneurial-related information, too.

Click over to (for Apple devices) or (for Android devices) to subscribe and read the latest issue!




National Suicide Awareness Day 2016


When it comes to emotional navigation, August and September are historically very difficult times of the year for me.  I typically cycle through major depression at this time.  Last year, I was passively suicidal.  One year later, I am relatively better due to the trial and error guesswork of nearly 20 different medications, but I’m still not well. Moreover, my moods are not stable and I’m profoundly depressed relative to where I was about a month ago.  I started feeling bad right around the time that August began.  Much to my objection, my medication had been changed about halfway through the month, which sent me into a depressive freefall—but still, I kept living.

It is unfair of me to expect someone who does not share my illness (or one like it) to completely understand.  If you have never stood on the shore and looked at the ocean, you don’t know what that feels like. If you have never flown on an airplane, you don’t know the sensation of take-off or ascension.

Mental illness = same thing.

It must be experiences to be understood. Don’t get me wrong, people can be there for you. They can try to put themselves in your place. They can read about your illness. Attend NAMI meetings. But when you are laying in your bed, unbathed for days, cell phone battery dead, thinking of the easiest ways to die – that, dear reader, can be hard for them to comprehend. Because, after all, “You have so much to live for,” “Nothing’s that bad,” etc.-bbb


Today, on National Suicide Awareness Day, I felt deeply depressed and profoundly hopeless.  My personal life in shambles, I’m an emotional wreck.  My thoughts are constantly disorganized and I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be at this time a few months ago.  I’d expected to have certain matters settled that still remain up in the air.  I feel like I have actual, VISIBLE question marks floating above my head.  I can almost feel an electrical crackle of anxiety cascading from each shoulder down my arms to my fingertips.

To make matters worse, I have no food in my house. I am hungry which makes me even more emotional.  Sharp hunger pangs are, ironically, caused by eating normally, instead of restricting, or bingeing and purging.  Not purging does that to my metabolism.  It’s a cruel trick, isn’t it?  Ha!  Eat and keep it down and you will feel absolutely famished.  It’s my metabolism repairing itself.  🙁

And I have no money to buy more food.  I have to wait on a measly, slow paycheck to come in the mail.  It will be for less than a hundred dollars and I will have to budget it out.  I hate my life.  I’m tired of begging my family for handouts.  I’m so pathetic.  Is this all I have to look forward to?  Living like this for the rest of my life?  I’m trapped in a hell I can’t escape.  How could anyone on the outside understand?  I am drowning.

I am drowning. 

Then I read on Being Beautifully Bipolar, something that resonated with me.  She’s attempted suicide three times, but is making the decision not to attempt a fourth time.

Today has been one of those days when  I have spent the better part of it in bed. I think I am a loser. I think I am a failure. I compare my life to others’ with jobs and houses and families. I think of all those great boyfriends that didn’t pick me. This isn’t self-pity. This is depression. This is wishing my head would stop hurting, that the anger and frustration I have been feeling for weeks would go away. This is wishing it would all stop.

And there it is – the lie. I don’t want it all to stop. I just want to stop feeling this way. There IS a difference.-bbb

“And there it is – the lie. I don’t want it all to stop. I just want to stop feeling this way. There IS a difference.”



American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP):

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA):

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800.273.TALK


Continue reading »

Lace Up To Shape Up: How To Begin a Running Program or Start Again Now!


The other evening, a friend I grew up with in Palm Coast contacted me to ask my advice on getting back into running. He explained that, although he had been in peak physical condition during active military service, the demands of work and the responsibilities that come along with raising a young family have made settling into a predominantly sedentary lifestyle a subconscious decision for him.

“I’d passively let it happen to me,” he explained. “But now I have a baby on the way and I don’t want to be a ‘fat dad’.”

While I don’t believe in providing running advice in the context of weight loss, I understood the implication was that he wanted to maintain an appropriate body mass and thus reclaim cardiovascular health, theoretically extending his life.

He’s making positive changes because he wants to stick around for his kid.

In regard to his former relationship with exercise, he said:

“I loved my long runs, I lived for the sprint at the end of a 10 miler. How do I get back into loving running where I need it all the time, the energy, the quality of life?”

Kristen Polito Disney Princess Half Marathon

Here’s my response (could be applied to anyone running to a running regimen or beginning one for the very first time): Continue reading »


Can Caffeine Offer Mild Treatment For Depressive & ADHD Symptoms?


Read this entire article on InsightBulletin

Can Caffeine Offer Mild Treatment For Depressive and ADHD Symptoms?

For parents who say they don’t want to administer drugs or chemicals to their child for their ADHD symptoms, a cup of coffee brewed from organically grown coffee beans might be the more attractive alternative. When considering our rising healthcare costs, its ubiquity, affordability, and ease of use are what make caffeine an intriguing option for an adult or child with ADHD. All of those factors make this consideration difficult to pass up.


For a lot of people, too much caffeine can have a negative emotional effect: it can contribute to anxiety, jitteriness, irritability, impulsivity, and insomnia. A moderate amount of caffeine does the opposite for me.

Because many people experience jitteriness and increased anxiety when they consume too much caffeine, my personal experience may seem counterintuitive, but I’m not an anomaly.  According to a 2005 study of rats with hyperactivity, impulsivity, poor attention and deficits in learning and memory, a significant improvement was reported in test results when caffeine was administered to the rats beforehand. And in a 10-year study, spanning from 1996 to 2006, researchers found that depression risk in human females decreases with increasing caffeinated coffee consumption. The study included 50,739 women and the clinical depression was “defined as self-reported physician-diagnosed depression and antidepressant use.”

Accordingly, moderate caffeine intake (< 6 cups/day) has been associated with less depressive symptoms, fewer cognitive failures, and lower risk of suicide…READ MORE




Thursday Thoughts: New Insights Into How The Body Influences The Mind

This post contains affiliate links.

There’s strong evidence that the mind/body connection is positively correlated, meaning the more balanced your physical health, the more balanced your  mental health ought to be.



Spraying chemicals on the lawns your children and grandchildren play in or in the gardens where you grow your produce that winds up on your dinner table…how can you be surprised with these results? Wake up people! Think about what you are doing. The FDA and government regulations aren’t protecting you–they are protecting their profits. Why do you think Autism rates have climbed so dramatically? One theory is liberal use of pesticides. Maybe you don’t believe that theory, but you can’t tell me you are in “support” of the copious use of poison on our food that IS linked to other defects? Go organic now. Stop using pesticides, herbicides and go organic.


You can be weed-free and grow successfully without poison. Promise. Continue reading »

What Is Stigma?


Three out of four people with a mental illness report that they have experienced stigma.

75 percent!

What is Stigma? 

Stigma is a mark of disgrace and/or public shunning that sets a person apart.

Stigma can evoke feelings of: 

  • shame

  • self-blame

  • hopelessness & distress

  • reluctance to seek and/or accept necessary help

    Families are also affected by stigma, which, in turn, can lead to a lack of support. For mental health professionals, stigma means that they themselves are seen as abnormal, corrupt or evil, and psychiatric treatments are often viewed with suspicion, fear, or disgust.

 How is stigma perpetuated? 

 When a person is labeled by their illness they are seen as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes create prejudice which leads to negative actions and discrimination.

When Star Wars’ Jake Lloyd’s schizophrenia got him into trouble, he received very little media empathy. In fact, there was much parody made of him, not only making light of a very serious illness but publicly shaming him. It made me so furious that so many media outlets could be so irresponsible, cruel, and dangerous in their public messages –some of which went viral– that I wrote the following about how they propagated the stigma of mental illness. 

The article is live on Odyssey


Continue reading »


Illuminate Your Life With Aurorae Yoga


The following is an affiliate post and contains affiliate links:

My Aurorae Yoga package arrived over the weekend.  😀

I’ve been saying that I need to reduce high-impact exercise and focus on doing anxiety-reducing, strengthening yoga.  

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time or if you know me personally you know that 1.) I am a perpetually anxious person and 2.) I am perpetually injured person from overtraining via high-impact cardio.  

I was inspired to try out the eco-friendly Classic Yoga Mat,  luxurious microfiber towel, cute women’s slim flip flops, and slip-free rosin bag-which, by the way, is genius.


Continue reading »

What is Guilt?



Feeling guilty has been a predominant theme in my life.  As a child, I learned to feel guilty about eating, ashamed about my body and, for some reason, (irrationally) responsible for my family’s collective happiness…


…I wanted to be small like my friends; tiny.  I equated smallness with thinness and thinness with value.   I wanted to shrink into myself.  I wanted to fit into my friends’ clothes so we could share.  I wanted to fit. I wanted to fit in.

READ MORE AT Sammiches & Psych Meds

Guilty: Overcoming the Seeds of Childhood


What Is Paranoia?


Anxiety, like any other emotion, falls on a spectrum; there are varying intensities of the feeling, and, depending on the context or situation, it can endure for any given length of time.  Everyone feels anxious now and then, say, before an interview or while preparing to go on a blind date.  But feeling anxious all the time is another story altogether.  Anxious and fearful, that is.

Read more at InsightBulletin

I Wear My Sunglasses At Night So I Can, So I can…Sleep


It’s no secret that I have a sleep cycle that’s perpetually in flux.  Days with no sleep aren’t uncommon, but neither are days comprised of sleep and only sleep.  My bipolar disorder is the conductor of its rhythm and, although I try to maintain a traditional schedule, my neurological pathways beg to differ.

I blog about the challenges of finding balance often.  I know that the disruption of natural biological rhythm contributes towards aggravating my bipolar symptoms.  Insomnia reinforces or creates states of hypomania, mania, or a mixed episode.  Oversleeping and depression are correlated.  I know this.  And it’s not just how many or how few hours I spend sleeping.  It’s when I’m sleeping.  And for the better part of the last year, when I did sleep, my body has desperately wanted to sleep through the day and be awake during the night, all night.  I’ve been totally mixed up.

Let’s say I began with a state of something akin to alert wakefulness somewhere in the afternoon hour.  I’d exercise, do chores around my house, get a ton of writing done, eat meals around the times that a person would if the p.m. were actually a.m. and vice versa.  I’d get so much done, in fact, that I’d keep working and keep working through to the next day.  But instead of going to sleep during what was “my nighttime”, I’d still be awake because, of course, the sun was out now.  So by the next day, a little bit of hypomania kicks in, but I’ve got no idea, because, you see, I’m getting so much done!  

At this point in my sleep-wake cycle, I’m not paying any attention whatsoever, because (according to what I think at the time) I’m producing the most articulate and comprehensible delight for which any editor in their right mind would be champing at the bit!   Only, I’m not in my right mind, just my write mind.

Fortunately, because of my medication-mainly the mood stabilizer and antipsychotic medication-I’m prevented from escalating into full-blown mania, or worse, a mixed episode.  I don’t know how many days pass like this.  Not many because I’m Ultradian Rapid Cycling.

And then.

Continue reading »


No-Fail Summer Garden Starters


Have you thought about starting a garden but let spring pass you by?  It’s not too late to plant a Summer Garden! You can plant now for a late Summer harvest and even plant again in time for a Fall Harvest too!

If you’ve never scratched the surface of gardening before, not to worry! When I first started my garden, I was completely clueless.  Every new project is an experiment, and I’ve learned from some of the planting mistakes I made early on.  I’ve now got plentiful Muscadine grapes, so I must be doing something right!


I put together an article for Tribe Magazine that is just perfect for novice gardeners and children:

5 Super-Easy Plants Your Kids Will Love Growing Themselves This Summer

It’s full of good information to get you started on your summer garden. This one provides specific examples of the plants that are best suited for a child’s (or impatient adult’s!) first gardening experience. There are lots of plants that are practically no-fail options that don’t require a green thumb or lots of space, time, or funds. Check out this article to see how you can get started!

Gardening is one of the most satisfying and therapeutic activities kids can tackle relatively independently.  Children love creating something from (virtually) nothing.  What begins as tiny seeds which germinate into something that’s living and bearing edibles is almost tantamount to magic.  Planting vegetables and flowers is an exciting activity, regardless of age.

Read more:

IMG_1884IMG_1816 Continue reading »

A Body That’s Mine to Accept


Gaining weight and maintaining an appropriate body size and shape for my height has been the most difficult step in the recovery process. Being comfortable in my own skin is an arduous process. It’s one that I have to battle on a daily basis. Some days it’s a much easier fight than others. I wrote this essay a long while ago, so it’s not new or anything. I don’t always feel this way about my body now–and not to such extremes, but I do still struggle a great deal. I know a lot of people struggle with body image too. It’s up on The Mighty today, so I decided to share it with you all, as this step was helpful for me in LESSENING THE INTENSITY of the feeling of body hatred. It helped me create a distance between myself and my hallowed anorectic frame. Read, don’t read, comment, don’t comment, but whatever you do, love yourself and your body.

IMG_2288 (2)13774343_1572861823010114_202399518_n

Read, Share, & Like on The Mighty 

I’m ‘Sitting Shiva’ for My Anorexic Body

Continue reading »

Commuting Via Bicycle Can Be Dangerous, But It Doesn’t Have To Be


Be Wary of Flying Gatorade Bottles! Plus 11 More Tips That Will Keep You Safe On The Road

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

And it can be dangerous business going out your door. Especially when you’re a cyclist commuter.

While only 1% of all trips taken in the U.S. are by bicycle, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants of motor vehicles do.

In 2014 in the United States, 726 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 50,000bicycle-related injuries.

Most bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas and at non-intersection locations, like side streets and one-way roads. Continue reading »

Orchestrating Change Indiegogo Campaign Ending!


The IndieGoGo campaign for the documentary film about the Me2/Orchestra, the only classical music organization in the world for people living with mental illnesses and those who support them, called ORCHESTRATING CHANGE, is coming to a close.

Margie Friedman & Barbara Multer-Wellin have been working like crazy to get it finished, but there’s still one more day to donate and no donation is  too small.   Continue reading »

Kick Beauty Standards To The Curb: Join The Movement Now!


Taryn Brumfitt’s new documentary “Embrace” is giving society’s body image an overhaul.

How many of you have ever done this or something similar?

…looked down at your humanly imperfect body, squeezed, lifted, and pulled at the trouble spots, frowned, thinking, “This won’t do at all.” so you…

  1. Decided to go on a strict diet and/or exercise regimen,
  2. Calculated how long it would take to get to your PERFECT! weight,
  3. Circled that date on the calendar

and told yourself–subconsciously or not–

THAT’S when my life will turn around! THAT’S when I’ll be happy! When I’ll feel confident! When I’ll ask that guy/girl out! When I’ll ask for that raise! When I’ll finally wear that bathing suit! When I’ll go to the beach and actually be wearing said bathing suit!

And life will be just dandy.

Except it’s not, is it?

91 percent of women hate their bodies.

In response to this alarming statistic, Taryn Brumfitt’s on a mission.

Taryn Brumfitt, former inhabitant of a (nearly) perfect body, is on a global crusade.  She’s calling it a Body Image Movement.

Continue reading »

Container Gardening 101


Container gardening is a totally achievable way of creating a beautiful and varied organic garden of any size and scope.  It all just depends on how much space you are working with and how creative you want to get!  

IMG_7252 Continue reading »

10 Effective Post-Workout Foods That Aid in Recovery


There is something that is just so incredibly satisfying about that delicious soreness we all get in our muscles in the day or two following a challenging workout. That little bit of “hurts-so-good” feeling in our triceps, glutes, and hamstrings tells us that we owned that workout! There was no “phoning it in” as Jillian would say.

We put in the effort and expect to see results, right?

Well, results come with consistency, and consistency is only going to happen if we can make it to our next workout. We don’t want to be so sore that we can’t get out of bed…or lower ourselves onto the toilet seat.  Yeah, you ever been there? I know I have! Squats, baby! You gotta love ‘em.

One way to prevent being quite that sore is to pay close attention to what you eat immediately following a workout. What goes into your body can significantly reduce inflammation, repair cells and tissue damage, build muscle and guide protein synthesis. It’s pretty amazing!

Here are top 10 post-workout food choices and what each will do for your awesome bod:

1. Berries, Cherries & Dark Colored Fruits

Antioxidant rich foods like berries, cherries, and darker colored fruits help reduce inflammation and decrease muscle soreness. You can drink tart cherry juice, or go for the whole fruit, like these freshly picked muscadine grapes, or black raspberries. When possible, organic is best.

Whole fruit provides fiber and keeps you feeling fuller longer, but juice is great if you’re on the go and trying to rehydrate quickly.

2. Fruits & Starches with a High-Glycemic Index

Right after your workout, your muscles are going to be dehydrated and depleted of energy (or glycogen). Eating starches or high-sugar fruit 10-15 minutes after your workout will help your muscles bounce back and also provide the following:

  • An increase in insulin which will reduce inflammation.

  • A rise in blood antioxidant status, which can help with pain and inflammation.

Bonus: The antioxidant factor in many of these foods can aid in tissue repair and cell recovery, getting you back in the game faster.

3. Eat Your Greens!

Dark, leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and brussels sprouts help rid the body of an overabundance of estrogen, which can slow down the recovery process. These veggies are also full of water, so they’ll help improve your hydration right away. Foods like collard greens will eradicate free radicals that can slow down healing. Potassium can be easily found in protein-rich foods and leafy greens; consumption of these foods should be seen as a preventative measure for muscle cramps.

4. Salmon, Cod & Other Fish

Salmon is rich in fish oil, which is better known as omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3s eicosapentaenonic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are involved in several anti-inflammatory processes. In those processes, EPA and DHA give rise to anti-inflammatory eicosanoids. They play a significant role in reducing inflammation and decreasing production of inflammatory cytokines.

Note: It’s recommended to consume 1.25-1.5 grams of protein per pound of goal weight. Fish is an excellent source and can work overtime as an anti-inflammatory and protein food source.


Ground Chia Seed is an excellent source of Omega-3s!

5. Almonds & Other Nuts

Image via Pixabay

As a natural source of protein, a nutrient that aids muscle recovery, almonds are ideal. A handful of almonds (30g) contains 15 essential nutrients including 65 percent of your daily requirement of the antioxidant vitamin E; recent research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has gone a step further and concluded that snacking on almonds can improve endurance.

6. Eggs

The incredible edible egg! Eggs contain all eight essential amino acids needed for muscle recovery. They also have about 6 grams of protein, and minerals like calcium, zinc and iron–all of which build muscle and promotes workout recovery. Hard-boiled eggs are a quick and portable to boost these nutrients after a challenging workout.

7. Fermented Foods to Aid Digestion

Improved digestion equals improved immunity. It increases your B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, and lactase and lactic acid that fight off harmful bacteria. It aids in the preservation and creation of important enzymes.


If you aren’t eating fermented foods (What!?), you’re missing out. They are DELICIOUS and all kinds of good for you! Check out kimchi, these fermented sweet wonder peppers (pictured above), refrigerated pickles (not shelf-stable), refrigerated raw sauerkraut (not shelf-stable) and kefir. You can also check out my Balanced Gut, Balanced Mind post for more suggestions and resources, like Apple Cider Vinegar!

8. Ginger & Turmeric

Both ginger and turmeric are other sources of food high in antioxidants.

9. Cinnamon

Cinnamon spice contains anti-inflammatory compounds which can be useful in reducing pain. The explanation behind it is that it reduces insulin sensitivity and therefore helps speed up tissue repair after a tough workout. It also helps with glycogen replenishment. Glycogen is the “stored energy” in your body that your muscles use up to propel you through your workout. Cinnamon is delicious on basically everything: sweet and savory foods; it’s amazingly versatile. Any easy way to add it to your diet is through teas, smoothies, yogurt or coffee.

10. Water

This seems like a no-brainer, but if your body isn’t being hydrated properly before, during, and after your workouts, you’ll begin to experience problems right away. Issues like cramps, dizziness, and extreme fatigue are going to hit, and that’s going to make it harder to get motivated to workout the next day or the day after. Plus, all of these issues can contribute to muscle soreness! It’s recommended to drink 7-10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes; even more if you’re exercising outdoors or in very warm conditions (like in a hot yoga class).

With a cheat sheet like this, you’ll have no problem stocking up on your next grocery run. Make sure to stretch after your workout, stay hydrated and keep post-workout recovery nutrition on point: you’ll have fewer “forced” rest days and significantly reduced periods of injury.

Simply choosing specific foods will help your body bounce back faster and it will thank you!

This post originally appeared on on May 24, 2016


Hey! Like my writing?  Do you wish you had access to all of my password protected posts and other content that isn’t available online?  I have other work!  I’ve published a few eBooks on Amazon!  It’s nothing crazy; they are about 50-55 pages each and cost approximately $5 each depending on what country you are purchasing from.  Each ebook consists of a collection of essays centered around eating disorders, mental illness, family dynamics, social anxiety, and other awkward shit that happens in my life.  It’s relatable, honest and raw.  Oh, and there are pictures in titles like Body Image Rehab & Weighting Room.  You’ll probably like it.  Or not.  What the hell? It’s $5! 

***If you have previously purchased Amazon downloadable content, please note that the ebook content has changed.  Some previously available titles have been updated and contain more essays, pages, pictures, etc.  If you have specific questions, please email me directly @



How To Rehab Your Body Image (and “Prehab” Your Kids’ Body Image By Example)


A version of this article originally ran on Parent.Co.  Find it Here.

I’m a runner.  

Running is of my favorite things to do.  I love it so much, in fact, that I often find myself logging too many miles, too many days of the week, which, invariably, results in injury.  I’ve had shin splints, stress fractures, recurring tendinitis and bursitis like you wouldn’t believe…and all of those injuries have sidelined me.  They’ve forced me to rehabilitate or “rehab” each injury until it got better and I could run again.

Rehabbing a sports injury can be tough.  The process can be uncomfortable,–  at times painful–lengthy, and involves  Reactive Therapeutic Efforts.  When I’ve been injured, it’s always made me wish that I’d taken Proactive Measures to avoid that injury in the first place.  I internally chide myself for not embracing “Prehab” or preventative steps like sports-specific exercises, stretching more often, foam rolling, or–most difficult–taking more rest days.  It seems I never learn.  

Mired in self-pity over my latest injury, I got to thinking about the concept of repairing or “rehabbing” body image.  It struck me that Body Image Rehab is analogous to rehabilitating a sports or fitness injury in that it takes both time and effort.   But most comparable, however, is that it takes Reactive Effort.     

In my estimation, Proactive Effort is preferable to Reactive Effort because if we rely on the latter,  we’re repairing damage already sustained.  Avoiding (or reducing) damage is desirable, and if you ask me, most of us are in need of some measure of body image repair. Continue reading »


Healthy Honey Mustard


I am obsessed with condiments. 

Vinegar, Barbeque Sauce, Mayo, Mustard, Salsa, Chutney, Hot Sauce, Duck Sauce, Pickled Ginger, Pesto…you name it and I will use copious amounts.

Store-bought condiments are kind of pricey, though.

And they’re filled with preservatives to promote a longer shelf-life.

One of my favorites I love, LOVE is Honey Mustard!  

But it’s sort of bad for you.

Through a few messy attempts, I developed my own version of Healthy Honey Mustard that is delicious and packed with Protein AND Fiber. Continue reading »

Orchestrating Change


I am embarrassed to say that I’m nearly a week late posting this, but I have some very interesting and inspiring information to share with you all.  About two weeks ago, I was contacted by the talented, highly acclaimed, Emmy-winning filmmaker, BARBARA MULTER-WELLIN about a documentary that she and the mutually talented, Emmy-winning MARGIE FRIEDMAN are creating entitled ORCHESTRATING CHANGE.  

Orchestrating Change

ORCHESTRATING CHANGE is the documentary film that tells the inspiring story of Me2/Orchestra, the only classical music organization in the world for people with mental illnesses and those who support them. Led by a once world-renowned conductor whose own career was shattered by his diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the Me2/Orchestra’s exhilarating performances challenge societal stereotypes about mental illness.”

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 “In ORCHESTRATING CHANGE,   the musicians courageously disclose how they cope with the many difficulties of daily life including, devastating discrimination. They interact with friends, family, co-workers, and each other while rehearsing once a week with the orchestra and working towards the big performance. Some must make mandated appearances at Mental Health Court. Others are living at halfway houses or sober residences. Some, unable to work, are barely eking by on disability income. For many, just getting to rehearsal every week can be a major obstacle.”

Continue reading »

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When you get a moment, check out Goodnight Macaroon’s EVERY TUESDAY Flash Sale by clicking through this post or on any of the affiliate banners on this site.  Their clothes are super cute and they do have pieces that are reasonably priced.  They have an entire section devoted to $20 or less!  Check it out: 

Goodnight Macaroon.

The Parisian-inspired clothing is tasteful and stylish.  It’s like…everything-with rompers, peasant tops, and nautical looks.  You just have to see it for yourself.  

They specialize in celebrity & blogger looks too!

Shop travel outfits for your vacation half off today 48 hours only through this link!




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**Affiliate Post

Hey! Like my writing?  Do you wish you had access to all of my password protected posts and other content that isn’t available online?  I have other work!  I’ve published a few eBooks on Amazon!  It’s nothing crazy; they are about 50-55 pages each and cost approximately $5 each depending on what country you are purchasing from.  Each ebook consists of a collection of essays centered around eating disorders, mental illness, family dynamics, social anxiety, and other awkward shit that happens in my life.  It’s relatable, honest and raw.  Oh, and there are pictures in titles like Body Image Rehab & Weighting Room.  You’ll probably like it.  Or not.  What the hell? It’s $5! 

***If you have previously purchased Amazon downloadable content, please note that the ebook content has changed.  Some previously available titles have been updated and contain more essays, pages, pictures, etc.  If you have specific questions, please email me directly @  

7 Tips For Overcoming Impostor Phenomenon


I grew up in Flagler County Florida, where surfing rules, brah.

When I was in middle school, being a surfer was the popular social designation. It trumped any other athletic pursuit—soccer, lacrosse, football, cheerleading, wrestling—they all deferred to surfing.

Surfing defined a predominant part of our kiddie culture, complete with special slang and the coolest gear. They were the cool kids; the inner circle—at least, that was the way it seemed to me.

They were amazing.

I was not a surfer. I was also painfully shy. I had friends, but mostly existed on the periphery, excessive awkwardness crippling any chance of breaking into the elite crowd. I was never bullied directly, but, in my mind, I had constructed such a vast disparity in social ranking between myself and the surfers that I would suffer strange psychological symptoms including, but not limited to, panic attacks in their presence.

In our school, one of the biggest, baddest, most respected insults a kid could hurl at another was being called a “poser.” This label was used liberally and enthusiastically by the popular kids as they called out others for misrepresenting themselves through speech and style.

Continue reading »

Why Do Women Do That?



I was scheduled for a doctor’s appointment that was meant to address the ongoing pain and lack of mobility in my left hip. The persistent injury was at its worst in last January, preventing me from even walking normally, much less going out for a nice long run. At the time, I substituted my running workouts entirely with low-impact cardio and, when I was disciplined, some weight-training. As the pain began to subside, I hesitantly resumed running, limiting myself to once per week.

It seems foolish to want to resume an activity which, historically, has caused so many overuse injuries, but it is the only form of exercise which provides me peace and freedom from a mind that’s normally a raucous liability. My anxiety-riddled mind demands more miles than my body can provide. Both the inconsistency of my workouts, as well as years of overuse has set me up for my ongoing state of pain and misery. My hope for the appointment had been to determine the cause of the pain (fracture, tear, etc.) and provide some guidance for treatment.

I needed that appointment, and yet, I canceled it. Continue reading »

It’s Okay To “Skip” A Day If You Need To





Depression wants me to harm myself.

It says, “Isolate.”

“Sleep.” “Starve.” “Binge.” “Hide.”

It says, “Hate yourself.”

It says, “Kill yourself.”

”It says, “Tell everyone you are OK, then come back so I may abuse you further.”

It does not whisper these words; it shouts in my ear.

It claws at me, pulls me under for a time.

I am rallying; I am fighting. I have things to do.

Leave me alone, I am busy.

I have workouts to complete, books to read, cards to send, stories to write, dogs to pet, trees to plant, weeds to pull. Medicine to take.

Am I drowning? Am I alive? Am I saying any of this aloud?

I woke up today with no strength. No resolve.

I am tired of fighting

Today, brain chemistry won out over will.

Today, I skipped life and loving myself.

So, I’ll start again tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I’ll say today never happened.

Tomorrow, I’ll remember I have a garden that needs caring for.

sunflowers in a garden

Tomorrow, I’ll pet a neighbor’s dog I pass on my run.

Tomorrow, I’ll open up my notebooks, my planner, my eyes, to everything I have not yet finished, accomplished, begun.

I will swallow my pills and write an essay — maybe two. Maybe more. I’ll write something on the calendar that is going to happen months from now because I’m going to be alive to see it happen.

But for now, for today, I need to stay. right. here.

And that’s OK.

I am skipping today.


Hey! Like my writing?  Do you wish you had access to all of my password protected posts and other content that isn’t available online?  I have other work!  I’ve published a few eBooks on Amazon!  It’s nothing crazy; they are about 50-55 pages each and cost approximately $5 each depending on what country you are purchasing from.  Each ebook consists of a collection of essays centered around eating disorders, mental illness, family dynamics, social anxiety, and other awkward shit that happens in my life.  It’s relatable, honest and raw.  Oh, and there are pictures in titles like Body Image Rehab & Weighting Room.  You’ll probably like it.  Or not.  What the hell? It’s $5! 

***If you have previously purchased Amazon downloadable content, please note that the ebook content has changed.  Some previously available titles have been updated and contain more essays, pages, pictures, etc.  If you have specific questions, please email me directly @  


Rage is the New Black


Since I was very young, I’ve struggled with controlling my anger.


Kali, the Goddess of Destruction

As a little girl, I’d succumb to temper tantrums often. Throughout adolescence, I’d quarrel with my parents, having meltdowns in rapid succession. When I was married, I’d fly off the handle at the smallest of infractions, becoming even more incensed when my former husband refused to engage in an argument. He’d always manage to remain reasonable and level-headed; to stay exasperatingly calm regardless of how irrational or emotional I became.

Instead of this calming me too, however, his detachment and formality only angered me further, making me feel trivialized, childish, and impotent. I doubt his fighting back would have done us any favors, though. The problem, of course, wasn’t him. And it wasn’t my parents, my siblings, friends, or peers, either. It was (and is) me. Me and My Rage.

As a bipolar adult, I still struggle with rage issues. Often. Big-time. I’m impatient, impulsive, and irritable. Plainly stated, I have a short fuse. Excess anxiety makes me hyper-vigilant – that is, I become startled easily. When that happens, it triggers instantaneous anger.

Of course, anger’s actually a secondary emotion to fear. I know this, as I sit here, rationally typing away. But in the moment, I don’t take a beat to carefully consider my reaction and arrive at a more appropriate, healthy response. In my estimation, there isn’t time to employ some anger management coping strategy such as counting to ten, deep breathing, or using “I” statements before I totally lose it.

This temperamental behavior isn’t reserved just for me or unique to those diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In fact, I witness similarly demonstrative displays most commonly among my friends with kids. (Just an observation.)

Anyway, the medication that I’m on does take a significant edge off my predominant negative emotion – anxiety – and in doing so it reduces overall incidences. Running also helps a lot because it’s so aggressive, so physical. But anxiety still happens and I struggle. The white hot anger takes control and before I realize what I’m doing or saying, I’ve lashed out, been disruptive or awful to somebody – and that’s never good.

One anxiety reduction method that’s been suggested to me time and time again is that I begin practicing yoga. Honestly, I really would like the physical and athletic benefits of a dedicated yoga practice. I know that yoga would help me with things like flexibility, core strength, and correcting muscle imbalances – all of which contribute to what I’m ultimately seeking: injury prevention so I can keep running. Theoretically, it sounds great!

But as far as the spirituality part goes? The meditative piece? Bringing the hands to the heart’s center, and all that jazz? You can keep it. To me, that seems very annoying, very aggravating; all that slowing down, holding still, breathing deeply, and keeping quiet. Even as I think about a hypothetical practice, I’m growing itchy and annoyed.

Yes, chaturanga dandasanas would do wonders for my delts, but how to proceed with making a yoga practice more appealing to a ferociously angry, rapid mood cycling person, such as myself? And would a traditional yoga practice even work towards eventually reducing my anxiety, that is, if I practiced regularly? Would it actually help even out my moods, grant me more patience, or make me less likely to go ballistic at the slightest affront?

Probably not, actually. Come to think of it, I know several yogis with a dedicated practice who are angry and impatient as all get out. Ultimately yoga is about union, not separation, yet they are divisive, narrow-minded and just kinda…mean. But I’ve been hearing about all these alternative forms of yoga popping up and one particular mutation, er, interpretation caught my interest: “Rage Yoga, a brand-new, unconventional type of yoga practice developed by Lindsay Istace of Calgary, Canada who uses screaming, swearing, and heavy metal music during workouts.”

You don’t say. Tell me more…

The official website defines Rage Yoga as “a practice involving stretching, positional exercises, and bad humor, with the goal of attaining good health and to become zen as f*ck.” The classes are based on the Vinyasa flow, which I don’t really know much about other than it’s continual movement from one pose or “asana” to another, rather than holding the poses for a period of time. So it’s faster-paced and “fitness-y.” And there’s screaming. And swearing. And loud music. It’s, essentially, venting.

I like what I’m hearing so far.

Rage Yoga is the only yoga I could deal with at this point in my life. That said, “at this point in my life” is I’m a single gal with zero dependents. I have the theoretical luxury of visiting with my nieces and nephews, patting them on their cute behinds, and then high-tailing it outta there as soon as pre-naptime fussiness begins, or worse, the full-blown meltdown.

But we’re all human, and as such we can relate to occasional feelings of edginess and hyper-vigilance, right? Ultimately, this type of yoga class sounds really cathartic and definitely worth trying. Since these classes are only offered in one Canadian city, those of us elsewhere will have to settle for the six-week online courses slated for this summer, but I’m sure copycats are close behind. Better yet, YOU could start a Rage Yoga studio yourself! If you do, let me know. I’m game for some screaming, swearing downward dog.


Image Source

Hey! Like my writing?  Do you wish you had access to all of my password protected posts and other content that isn’t available online?  I have other work!  I’ve published a few eBooks on Amazon!  It’s nothing crazy; they are about 50-55 pages each and cost approximately $5 each depending on what country you are purchasing from.  Each ebook consists of a collection of essays centered around eating disorders, mental illness, family dynamics, social anxiety, and other awkward shit that happens in my life.  It’s relatable, honest and raw.  Oh, and there are pictures in titles like Body Image Rehab & Weighting Room.  You’ll probably like it.  Or not.  What the hell? It’s $5! 

***If you have previously purchased Amazon downloadable content, please note that the ebook content has changed.  Some previously available titles have been updated and contain more essays, pages, pictures, etc.  If you have specific questions, please email me directly @  

Goodnight Macaroon Flash Sale Tuesday 50% Off!

The following post includes affiliate links: 

IMG_1881 IMG_1884

My first featured article on RoleReboot went live on the front page today.  

Check it Out here.  

Also, for a full listing of my articles published on other sites, see these pages:

Published Work |  Featured On 


And when you get a moment, check out Goodnight Macaroon’s EVERY TUESDAY Flash Sale by clicking through this post or on any of the affiliate banners on this site.  Their clothes are super cute and they do have pieces that are reasonably priced.  They have an entire section devoted to $20 or less!  Check it out: 

Hey, everyone.  Summer’s here.  That means vacations are coming up along with summer holiday gatherings.  You’ll definitely want to be dressed appropriately for each and every occasion.  

The good news is, I have a great shopping recommendation that I’ll share with you:

Goodnight Macaroon.

The Parisian-inspired clothing is tasteful and stylish.  It’s like…everything-with rompers, peasant tops, and nautical looks.  You just have to see it for yourself.  

They specialize in celebrity & blogger looks too!

Shop travel outfits for your vacation half off today only through this link!






Floral Print Mock Layer Navy Blue DressHADID Floral Romper - Goodnight Macaroon 'Elisha' Parisian Floral Criss Cross Romper - Goodnight Macaroon 'Brooklyn' Classic Blue Denim Skinny JeansBlue / Black Plaid Sleeveless Top & Tied Waist Shorts Co-Ord Set - Goodnight Macaroon

Shop Now! 50 % off Sale Only Lasts 48 Hours


**Affiliate Post

Hey! Like my writing?  Do you wish you had access to all of my password protected posts and other content that isn’t available online?  I have other work!  I’ve published a few eBooks on Amazon!  It’s nothing crazy; they are about 50-55 pages each and cost approximately $5 each depending on what country you are purchasing from.  Each ebook consists of a collection of essays centered around eating disorders, mental illness, family dynamics, social anxiety, and other awkward shit that happens in my life.  It’s relatable, honest and raw.  Oh, and there are pictures in titles like Body Image Rehab & Weighting Room.  You’ll probably like it.  Or not.  What the hell? It’s $5! 

***If you have previously purchased Amazon downloadable content, please note that the ebook content has changed.  Some previously available titles have been updated and contain more essays, pages, pictures, etc.  If you have specific questions, please email me directly @  


For the Exposure




In poor taste? Quite possibly, but I’m on a mission.

No, not that kind of mission.  

The blog remains a place to emotionally decompress, to connect, to inform, and to advocate.  

It’s My Home Base.  

So here we go:

I promise these uncomfortably mercenary posts will end soon, but hopefully not along with this blog.  

YOU can help keep this blog going by making a donation to


The fact is, this blog doesn’t run on sunflower seeds, figs, and rainbows (although that would be nice), so if you’ve been with me from the beginning or if you’re just beginning to follow please consider making a donation to help this blog in motion.  

Gears, Cooperation, Transmission, Organization

Pixabay Creative Commons License

Pixabay Creative Commons License

The goal to reach is $111.00, help me get there by the end of June!  Thank you for reading and supporting my writing!

Hands, Friendship, Hold, Holding, Together, Partnership

Pexels Creative Commons License


Download, Team Spirit, News Field, Team, Teamwork

Pixabay Creative Commons License

Hey! Like my writing?  Do you wish you had access to all of my password protected posts and other content that isn’t available online?  I have other work!  I’ve published a few eBooks on Amazon!  It’s nothing crazy; they are about 50-55 pages each and cost approximately $5 each depending on what country you are purchasing from.  Each ebook consists of a collection of essays centered around eating disorders, mental illness, family dynamics, social anxiety, and other awkward shit that happens in my life.  It’s relatable, honest and raw.  Oh, and there are pictures in titles like Body Image Rehab & Weighting Room.  You’ll probably like it.  Or not.  What the hell? It’s $5! 

***If you have previously purchased Amazon downloadable content, please note that the ebook content has changed.  Some previously available titles have been updated and contain more essays, pages, pictures, etc.  If you have specific questions, please email me directly @  



Happy Weekend


Happy Weekend! 

Here are some pictures from my garden this weekend: 

And here are my latest articles published on BlogHer


What’s new with you? 


Hey! Like my writing?  Do you wish you had access to all of my password protected posts and other content that isn’t available online?  I have other work!  I’ve published a few eBooks on Amazon!  It’s nothing crazy; they are about 50-55 pages each and cost approximately $5 each depending on what country you are purchasing from.  Each ebook consists of a collection of essays centered around eating disorders, mental illness, family dynamics, social anxiety, and other awkward shit that happens in my life.  It’s relatable, honest and raw.  Oh, and there are pictures in titles like Body Image Rehab & Weighting Room.  You’ll probably like it.  Or not.  What the hell? It’s $5! 

***If you have previously purchased Amazon downloadable content, please note that the ebook content has changed.  Some previously available titles have been updated and contain more essays, pages, pictures, etc.  If you have specific questions, please email me directly @ 



Pineapples & Protein


 In keeping with the theme of my Second-Day Soreness & Cinnamon post, I was inspired to write a post about the kinds of recovery foods that are best to eat immediately following a challenging workout.  I wrote a Top 10 List especially for BlogHer’s site: 

10 Effective Post-Workout Foods That Aid in Recovery

I encourage you to go over there, check it out, and share it! 

 Speaking of good sources of nutrition, I’m very excited about how my pineapples are doing:IMG_1752

Continue reading »

A Plea for Help!


Yesterday, someone asked me: What makes life meaningful for you? Essentially, what is the most important aspect of your life?

My initial answer was: Writing.  That’s a selfish and self-indulgent answer, yes, but currently, it’s what keeps me going.  Writing provides me moments of liberation from illness. Moments of clarity.  

Writing has provided me an identity outside of my Eating Disorder.  It helps me set goals, plan for the future and cope with the mercurial nature of Bipolar Disorder.  It softens the edges of virulence; it gives me focus, purpose, and passion.   

Those moments are best utilized in creating some of my best work.  That work isn’t always professionally published.  A lot of pieces of which I’m most proud have been rejected with the most frequency.  Some websites simply are looking for what’s going to be popular with mainstream readers.  Some websites prefer comparatively editorial pieces.  

That being said, writing sometimes comes at a price.  I’ve just begun to get my feet wet in the realm of article freelancing and it is really hard.  The competition is vastly talented and experienced, the ratio of work to writers is seriously unbalanced, and, unfortunately, you’ve got to make some errors in order to learn the process.  Online query etiquette can be tricky and inconsistent across the industry.  

Part of “selling yourself” to editors is through social media and many times that can mean connecting through your blog to redirect your readers to your professionally published articles: the better an article performs (i.e. more shares, likes, tweets, etc.), the better.  Blogging is sometimes a big part of that.  Maintaining a blog for updates, portfolio content hosting, and service listing is also vital.  

But lastly, and I think most importantly, the personal blog remains the place to emotionally decompress.  

There are no guidelines to necessitate tailoring a post or article to meet certain requirements or check off boxes on a list.  It can be abstract, simple, instructive, or editorial.  There’s still the opportunity to create quality content through updates, musings, and honest divulgences.

That being said, running and hosting a blog does cost money.  My domain name and blog hosting package are set to expire in mid-June.  I’m issuing a plea to my readers to help me raise funds to keep the blog open so that I can continue to provide you with interesting, thought-provoking content.    

Are you a reader who enjoys my words regularly?

Here are a number of ways you can HELP SUPPORT THIS BLOG and keep it going.  The first suggestion will have the most profound and timely impact on supporting this blog.  The rest will be a help over time as funds are not paid out until a benchmark is reached.  

So here we go, the absolute classiest bulleted list you’ll see on this blog, I’m sure: 

You may support this blog by making donations through the PayPal Donation buttons found on this site.  All contributions are welcome and appreciated.  Even $1.00 will help go to the cost of the domain name and host service. Thank you!

***DONATE HERE*** Alternatively, you can donate through Paypal’s website directly and send to:

Now & Then


Do you ever come across photographs from just a year or so in the past and think, this couldn’t possibly be the same (fill-in-the-blank) that I am looking at today? 


Well, I happened to be looking for something completely unrelated, but I came across these pictures of my grapevines from sometime during 2015.  It would have been early in the year, say January or February, when everything was still dormant from the winter weather.


The side yard has had some pretty incredible changes, too.  Pretty dramatic, huh?  


I miss Rennie so, so much.  She was a sweet baby.  This Memorial Day weekend will be one year since she was taken from me.  


I was going through a dangerously low period around this time last year and while I can say that I still have a really bad day every 4 days or so, I am in a relatively better head space now.  I am more functional, productive and forward-looking.  The changes in my grape vine pictures are similar to the changes in my outlook: they are stretching upward and outward, towards light and life.  I have too much writing to do to die.    


On that note, I have another article that was published by The today and 6 more that are coming out over the next two weeks or so on:,,, and  

If you’d like to check out the article, here’s the link: In the Mind of a Person With Rapid-Cycling Type I Bipolar Disorder

make sure to “like” it and share it on facebook, twitter, and Pinterest!  


What photos have you recently come across that have demonstrated a dramatic change in something in your life?




Grammarly Gets it Right! Product Review


This post is sponsored by Grammarly, Inc.

I’m not one to arbitrarily post product or service reviews very often.  In fact, I believe the very last one was back in January or February of 2015!  Not only that, this is my very first post sharing an affiliate review with you!

Grammarly's Profile Photo

What this means is that I’ve teamed up with Grammarly to share what I like best about using their writing-enhancement resources, and how it is helping me become a better, more efficient writer.  What I wrote in Home Base was sincere: I don’t want to waste your time with blow-off posts; I want to offer you, and all my readers quality content that has a purpose, focus, and meaning.

In most jobs, the ability to write clearly and unambiguously remains an essential skill.

-The New York Times

Because I’ve found Grammarly‘s service to be so helpful, I’d like to list just a few of the tasks it does for me as I write, without any extra work on my part!

  • Instantly proofread your texts, correcting over 250 types of errors:  I use semicolons where I should use commas!

  • Improve word choice with context-optimized synonyms: They’ll tell you when You’re overusing a word!  I am so guilty of this!    


  •  Avoid plagiarism by checking for originality and generating citations: Make sure you are not inadvertently regurgitating somone else’s unique ideas!

  •  Perfect your written English and become a more confident writer: You will be amazed at your efficiency!

I’ve noticed that Grammarly finds a lot of spelling and grammatical errors that WordPress misses.  I was shocked at how incomplete most of the spellcheckers are on other programs!  I’ve gone back into old blog posts and been completely embarrassed at all the mistakes that have shown up!  I’ve been misspelling judgment for quite some time.  Note: it is not “judgement”.  I know Grammarly is not going to be happy with me typing that!

It’s so neat because it corrects in real time, as you write, and it fixes your errors everywhere.  Who else can say they’ve misspelled all kinds of words while commenting on Facebook?  I know I have!

I highly recommend this product.  Now that I’ve been using it, I don’t know what I ever did without it.

And it’s so easy to sign up for the free trial!  Just click on the banner above this post and it will take you directly to where you want to go!

The trial is completely free, requires no obligation to sign up and you can cancel within 7 days.  I guarantee you, you will not!  

Ready to get started? Click on this link and get 20% off a new subscription plan when you decide you can’t live without this writing platform!  

Grammarly Gets it Right!

You might be surprised at the number of corrections Grammarly identifies to improve the quality
of your own writing.


What’s keeping you from signing up today?  Check it out!

5 Reasons Why You Should Start Growing Your Own Stevia At Home


I’ve done posts on Stevia previously, but it’s been a while and, since various versions of the sweetener seem to be available just about everywhere, I thought I’d write a comprehensive post on why it’s best to grow your own.  If you aren’t familiar with it, here’s a quick run-down: The Stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) produces sweet-tasting, calorie-free leaves which can be crushed or dried to sweeten foods and beverages naturally.  Stevia can replace sugar in TONS of recipes and is perfect for consumption because it is not metabolized by the body.

Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by Basil.  I live in Florida, so it’s an ideal climate for both Stevia and Basil to proliferate.  Bonus for me, because I’m a fan of both:   

104_2024 Continue reading »

Second-Day Soreness & Cinnamon


One strong indication that I haven’t been challenging myself in my fitness routine is the distinct absence of the occasional D.O.M.S. or Second-Day Soreness.  D.O.M.S. (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is the result of athletes engaging in workouts at a higher intensity than which they are conditioned.  

It happens when one goes out of their comfort zone…and when it comes to fitness, and life, in general, that’s usually a good thing.  The body needs to be continually challenged and surprised.  Muscles can actually become lazy and apathetic if they become too comfortable and accustomed to one specific workout, and it could be a precursor to injury. Continue reading »


Luck Be a Lady…Bug


Hi! Happy Friday the 13th!  I’ve never really been a big believer in Friday the 13th being unlucky or in superstitions in general.  

In fact, I discovered three LUCKY ladybugs working diligently in my garden today to keep the nasty, destructive bugs away.  

IMG_1819 IMG_1816IMG_1817IMG_1821

Another lucky thing that happened is my article on The Good Men Project went live.  Please go on over and check it out.  Give it a “like” on their site, if you would, also.  I would be very grateful. 🙂  


And another lucky thing that happened is my article on Yahoo! Beauty went live.  Please go on over and check it out, also. Give it a facebook, twitter or social media share directly from their site, if you would, also.  I would be very grateful for that as well. 🙂  

Continue reading »

Flight of Ideas


If I were one to utilize the Facebook status composer more often to update how I am feeling, the current answer would be agitated.  Actually, no, modern language is oversaturated with the application of this word, so I’ll go with unstrung, instead.  

Incidentally, neither agitated nor unstrung is available on the list of autofill emoticons, so I guess I’ll have to pass.  Also, my facebook profile name is not Roddy, in case you were wondering.  

Unstrung is not a comfortable place to be, and I can attribute it to being overwhelmed and overstimulated.  I’m taking my medication regularly, but I’m not sleeping well.  However, it’s difficult to say which came first, feeling overstimulated or not sleeping regularly, as they usually go hand-in-hand.  

The problem with all of this, too, is, I have several different writing pieces I am working on at once, and I am trying to focus on them, and just get them finished for God’s sake, but I can’t get my mind to shut off, and I keep thinking of different projects and pitching new ideas and committing myself elsewhere when I haven’t even followed through on the first bits.  

Here’s the problem:

Continue reading »


When it Rains…


When it rains, it pours, right? Or so the saying goes.  It actually did finally rain a great deal this week, and the garden saw that it was good:

IMG_1744 IMG_1776IMG_1748IMG_1752

Yep, that’s a real live pineapple you see right there, and I’ve got six of them.  They are all the product of table scraps.  Amazing, right?  I will show you an easy how-to guide in an upcoming post so that you can grow your own pineapples at home.  

Continue reading »


“The Parent-Pleasing Trap”



My mom is first and foremost a Pragmatist. 

Straightforward and matter-of-fact, she doesn’t typically let emotion distract her.  I have to assume that these characteristics are innate, for this has been her nature as far back as I recall.  Compounding that, it could certainly be argued that 14-plus years of raising severely Autistic children has necessitated an intensified level of efficiency and practicality.

 To the nth degree.

From my own perspective, these traits can sometimes seem remote or standoffish.  If I am in a particularly emotionally raw state, her straight-forward manner can feel critical and disapproving.  I need to emphasize that this is How I Experience our relationship, and may or may not be accurate.

 My relationship with my mom is complicated and confusing.  Landmines, just under the surface of our 33-year connection, threaten to erupt at every interaction.  I am her first-born.  And her only girl.

Naturally, there is the implication that dreams in the realm of “feminine” glory or success are my responsibility to fulfill.  How could it not be intense?  My mom wanted so much for me.  She has done so much for me.

 As her firstborn, she literally made me the center of her life from the very beginning.  Looking through my baby books, her devotion is apparent; milestones and other details are painstakingly recorded in beautiful handwriting.  Thousands of pictures are neatly labeled and arranged.

She guided my educational path by teaching me to read as well as supplementing my classwork with workbooks, tutoring and other resources.  During elementary school, she advocated I.Q. testing so that I had the opportunity to enter the Gifted and Talented program.

I became, and continue to be, an avid reader and capable writer as a result of my mom’s influence.

She encouraged and supported me in the undertaking of any extra-curricular activity in which I demonstrated an interest.

She taught me morals and ethics.  She read me The Bible and brought me to church.

Through the years, she created homemade Halloween costumes of professional quality and indulged my childish whims.

Together we drew, completed projects, took walks and baked cookies.

My Mom is a really amazing person.  A really good mom.  However, as a highly emotional, rapid-cycling Bipolar, Eating Disordered adult-child, I struggle with a lot of internal, self-imposed pressure in relation to our dynamic.  Regardless of how objectively successful or unsuccessful I happen to be, I have always felt as though I haven’t pleased her.  Fallen short of the mark.  Without exception.

 The underlying concern that I am “not good enough” isn’t a recent sentiment.  I didn’t begin feeling this way during my recent and significant struggles with physical and mental health.  It didn’t start when my marriage dissolved, I claimed bankruptcy, lost my job and fell into legal trouble.  It’s not a neurosis stemming from angst-riddled teenage years or even from middle-school.

 This desperate desire to “perfectly please” my Mom has been with me always.  I remember the anxiety in elementary school, in pre-school even.  I probably was a stressed-out, high-strung baby.

One particularly traumatic memory from 3rd grade demonstrates both the longevity and irrationality which characterize my fears.

My teacher, Ms. F, had administered a pop-quiz in which students were to complete sentences utilizing appropriate punctuation.  Apparently, the teacher was having a bit of an off-day because her reaction to the less-than-stellar performance of the class was over-kill.  In a loud and (what I remember to be) intimidating voice designed to humiliate, she listed the students names who had failed to use periods at the end of their sentences and would, therefore, be receiving an F-Grade.  I remembered being terrified to go home that day, dreading the inevitable confrontation in which I would have to present my mother with such a shameful abomination of school-work.

 I suppose this was my first experience with failure, and I was unprepared to handle it. Ridiculous as it sounds, that experience shook me to the core.  The terror in potentially disappointing my mom was sufficient to remain in my memory to this day.

From that moment on, my subconscious had become altered.  My preexisting anxiety to please became augmented by the new knowledge that I possessed the capability to disappoint.  The sheer inevitability of it was overwhelming.

I felt as though I was defective, somehow.  

 At age 33, there’s a part of me that remains overly reliant on her for validation and approval.  This is an entirely different type of acknowledgment than that of which I seek from the ever-evolving relationship with my father.  With my mom I feel childish and stunted, as though I’m still earning gold stars to stick onto one of those achievement poster boards lining the sad, fluorescent hallways of any school, Anytown, USA.

I am the first to admit that, given my genetic predispositions (Bipolar I, Anxiety and Borderline Personality Disorder diagnoses), I experience the parental dynamic at a higher intensity than others.  However, I am not alone in the seemingly uphill battle that is parent-pleasing.

 A very dear friend of over 20 years recently sent me a message containing this excerpt:

So my dad was here for the week. He asked about you and we were reminiscing about that trip to the Keys. He loved telling everyone that he would wake up before dawn to go out and monitor your runs. I think I joined you once and then just kept sleeping the other times. Haha. And that wretched barracuda encounter while snorkeling. He is so fond of you and really wishes you well. Isn’t the father-daughter dynamic so strange…I am still constantly trying to impress him and win his approval even at this age. (Husband’s name) teases me about it. I tell him to remember this for his own two daughters – he needs to give them constant praise and approval.

This, to me, demonstrates that no one’s relationship with their parents is perfect.  No one is exempt from the desire for parental approval….and (sometimes) the feeling that it’s just out of reach.  

The truth is, I haven’t failed my mom.  Not at all.  Even at my rock-bottom, my mom has loved and supported me unconditionally.  Yes, she may scowl, speak sharply  or give me the silent treatment.  But it’s less about whether I have achieved that all-so-elusive state of “success” (whatever that is) and more about her wanting “more” for me. No matter what, she wants more. More for me. And more for my brothers.

Because she loves us, she wants more.

More than anything.




Hey! Like my writing?  Do you wish you had access to all of my password protected posts and other content that isn’t available online?  I have other work!  I’ve published a few eBooks on Amazon!  It’s nothing crazy; they are about 50-55 pages each and cost approximately $5 each depending on what country you are purchasing from.  Each ebook consists of a collection of essays centered around eating disorders, mental illness, family dynamics, social anxiety, and other awkward shit that happens in my life.  It’s relatable, honest and raw.  Oh, and there are pictures in titles like Body Image Rehab & Weighting Room.  You’ll probably like it.  Or not.  What the hell? It’s $5! 

***If you have previously purchased Amazon downloadable content, please note that the ebook content has changed.  Some previously available titles have been updated and contain more essays, pages, pictures, etc.  If you have specific questions, please email me directly @



My Ecotone


When I initially launched saltandpepperthearth, my post topics were fairly diverse.  I wrote about activities which I enjoy: running, biking, not swimming (yep, no tri’s for me), gardening, reading, and, of course, writing.

I discussed topics about which I was continuously learning: organic gardening methods, fitness, healthy eating, supplementation, and do-it-yourself projects.

Shortly after I moved into my house in early Spring 2014, I plowed up the lawn and utilized the lot to establish a miniature-scale organic farm featuring a variety of fruit trees, vegetable plants, edible flowers, herbs, and vines.  This has been the largest and most difficult do-it-yourself project I’ve ever undertaken.  It’s also been the most successful and personally rewarding.


My garden is a living, ongoing project.  It’s changed with the seasons and with time.  I’ve killed a lot of plants and done really well by a lot of plants.  Like a lot of things in life, it’s about trial and error.


My garden is a living, ongoing project.  It’s changed with the seasons and with time.  I’ve killed a lot of plants and done really well by a lot of plants.  Like a lot of things in life, it’s about trial and error.


Because the project was so unusual and interesting, I began documenting my progress with this blog, taking pictures and sharing growing methods which work in a Florida climate.  I was excited about this large project, so the blog was conceived as a smaller, adjacent undertaking.


At first, the content was a bit “surfacey”.  I wanted to be construed upbeat and likable.  I hoped that readers would be drawn to a (counterfeit) cheery personality.  I thought that, perhaps, they might think of me as a pretty girl with a bright outlook who was enigmatic and energetic.  I (incorrectly) assumed that growing readership translated to blogging solely about pleasant, trendy topics like organic gardening, fitness and nutrition.

So…that worked for the first ten posts or so–and maybe not even those.  I began to feel irritated and repressed.  Writing this blog was supposed to be pleasurable, something to look forward to doing, but it just wasn’t.  Almost immediately, it began to feel like a tedious task.

I wasn’t writing as my authentic self.

I’m still raising my crops, maintaining my plot of land and enjoying that work.  But that’s mostly just for me.  I do like writing about it and sharing the pictures occasionally,  but I can’t limit myself to the sole topic of gardening.

Yes, the pictures are beautiful, and the fact that anyone can grow their own food is amazing and wonderful.  The sustainability movement is huge and sharing information about it is vital.

But, it’s not my cause.

For me, writing exclusively about my gardening felt so one-dimensional.  And an attempt at “spicing up” the content with my repetitive workouts felt frivolous.  New recipes were fun to try and share every so often, but the posts lacked depth and meaning.

I’m not the pretty, bright and cheerful girl who I initially misrepresented myself to be.


I don’t ever wear makeup except for very special occasions, like when I was honored to be a bridesmaid for the wedding of my very dear friend, Miranda.  I normally wash my hair with a 2-in-1 and use inexpensive liquid hand soap on my face and body.  There are no  fancy lotions, potions, or fragrances.  And I shave my legs when I begin looking like a Gorilla in the Mist.

The truth is, I’m raw, dirty, sinful, indulgent and flawed.  I’m selfish, dishonest, inconsistent and careless.  I’m forgetful and clumsy.  I have cellulite, grey hairs and sun spots.

In short, I’m human.  Real and passionate.  Damaged.

Damaged…but interesting.

When I realized it would be much more cathartic and therapeutic to start writing publicly the way I thought privately,  I started to write for real.  And I haven’t stopped.

The gardening pictures have all been lovely, but the written content reads like junk food for the mind.  Gratuitous and flowery.

Reading the older posts now, I think: Who is this annoying person?  How tedious is she?  How obnoxious and patronizing?  Ewww.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you may have noticed that, a couple of months ago,  I changed the header tagline from “GIRL GOES GREEN” to “DAMAGED, BUT INTERESTING”.  I probably should have changed it back in October of 2014, when I got home from the crazy hospital.  The reason that I didn’t change it then was because, quite honestly, it hadn’t occurred to me.  The transition from superficial content to the gritty details happened organically (no pun intended).


Transitions are difficult for me.  I need for them to be very gradual, nearly to the point that I’m not aware they’re even happening.

So, gradually, I began sharing more and more of the shameful, strange and intimate workings of my bizarre brain.  And my unconventional, dysfunctional life is thus displayed for public consumption.

There is a term for the region of biological transition.  Where the overlapping takes place.  It’s called Ecotone.  Isn’t that beautiful?  I like to think that this blog is my own little region of transition.  My Ecotone.   

And it’s probably saved my life.



Hashtag Shmashtag


TRIGGER WARNING: Note that this post contains images which I feel obligated to warn may be triggering to some eating disordered individuals.  If you are currently struggling, you might want to skip this one for now! Continue reading »

Rate Me! on PsychCentral


Hi family, friends, and readers of

 My blog has just been accepted to’s Contributor Directory.  This is exciting because the blog had to be vetted and meet certain quality standards, both in terms of writing skill and content matter.

I’m asking all readers to visit the link below and “rate” my blog so that I’m able to get a broader following from the mental health community. I’ll also make the announcement in a post, but also here is the link:

 Psych Central

Would you do me a favor and rate the blog for me on PsychCentral?

Thanks so much!

Spin Cycle


I’ve always been emotionally explosive.  Rather, I’m like a raw nerve.  I wasn’t diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, (Type I, Severe, Rapid Cycling), until I was 32 years old, but when I finally got the diagnosis, hot damn, did my life-long wild and erratic behavior suddenly begin to make a lot more sense to me.

It was an enormous relief to have some sort of explanation for the rampant mood swings, the overwhelming irritability, the rages, the meltdowns, the all-or-nothing approach to ABSOLUTELY EVERY ASPECT of my life.

Finally, I felt less alien, less alone.  There were others out there, just like me, bouncing off the walls, invincible; out of their head with grandiose plans to achieve this, that and the other…and then, the next week, having to cancel everything because LIFE WAS OVER and there was NOTHING LEFT IN THE WORLD.  Therefore, I could not leave my bed, much less my house.  And this isn’t hyperbolic, to be frank, this is, truly, putting it rather mildly.

I live, primarily, inside of my head; the roar and silence of my mind consumes nearly all my mental and emotional energy.  I find it difficult to emerge very often.
Although depression and mania are expressed in opposing timbers, they are equally demanding, clamorous in my mind.  Because they insist on my undivided attention, the world surrounding me is dimmed.The voices, feelings, and needs of my family, friends, anyone, everyone, are drowned out.  In order to hear, engage, converse, react appropriately (in the societal sense) I must concentrate very hard and, even then, I fear I’m not getting it right.

My mental illness makes me feel Selfish.  Immature.  Self-possessed.  Self-obsessed.  Needy and Greedy as a child– a wretched woman-child; a blight, a leech, a mistake.

A very dominant portion of my genetic make-up is the predisposition for anxiety, engendering considerable fear, self-doubt and rumination.  It presents itself most potently during mood fluctuation- usually at the height of a mixed episode when agitation becomes extreme. Then the anxiety itself promotes a depressive swing, underscores it.The hopeless, frantic ruminations press in.  I am afraid to be alone but desperately averse to the company of others.

This is social anxiety, magnified.  Overtaking me.  Engulfing me.  Controlling me.
There is the tiny cross-section of time: intermittent bouts of Hypomania, in which I am hyperverbal, creative, expressive, gregarious, enthusiastic, euphoric.  They are fantastic.

 And fleeting.

At various points of occurrence, the illness presents a false demeanor.  I am caught up in the play acting, the pretending.  I am fun, spontaneous, likable.
It is a farce, though, this pleasant and engaging personality, this false congeniality.  The more I learn about Bipolar Disorder, the more unbelievable it is that it took well into my 30’s to be properly diagnosed. Furthermore, I think my mood swings might be slightly more complex than I originally thought. My depressive and manic periods can last 3 to 6 months, switching back and forth, tag-teaming me mercilessly.
Compounding that, I’ve already been told I am rapid-cycling, which means that within a Depressive or Manic period, I have shorter, more subtle mood shifts throughout the day.
Read: My mind is set to spin cycle, and neither delicate nor permanent press settings are options.
I think the patterns in mood-switching are becoming more predictable, but I’m still taken by surprise when I suddenly find myself mired in depression, or consumed by mania.  I suppose when one is crazy and going crazier, they are probably too damn crazy to realize it.
The mornings are always the worst.  Regardless of whether I am in a manic or depressive period, each morning weighs me down.  My eyes open with reluctance as the anxiety kicks up into full-force.  My armpits already slick with anxiety sweat, my breath is shallow.  My heart speeds up.  The dread is overwhelming.  The dread, the anxiety, the feelings of worthlessness are almost too much to bear.
I take my medication, the pills which are supposed to make me not so unhinged.
But I am. Still.  So. unhinged.
..unhinged enough to know that the suicidal ideation isn’t that far behind me.  In fact, I can see it rearing its ugly head again.
My last trick of the night, folks.  The grand finale of the Crazy Kristen Show.
After waking, I lay back down.  I pull the blanket around me, over my head to block out the light from the cheerfully obnoxious sun.  

What. a. bastard.

The sunshine remains unceasingly cruel; mocking me, almost taking pleasure in my suffering.  I keep the blanket tucked around my head, even though it is getting hot and uncomfortable.  It’s hard to breathe in there.  I don’t like that.  Sometimes, I think I want to die, but I’m afraid of the suffering.  I forget that I will MOST DEFINITELY NOT want to die later in the day, post-mood shift.  The afternoons are better, and the evenings are EXCELLENT.

Every morning, I forget that now, since I am taking the pills,  I am feeling better.  For part of the day.  At least the whole day isn’t  just one long, drawn-out morning.

Even with that it mind, it takes an hour or more for me to coax myself into an upright position, to put my feet on the ground.  To slowly stand.  To look in the mirror and quickly look away, hating what I see.
I try not to obsess about my fat, the uneasy knowledge that my Body Mass Index now sits squarely in the middle of the “healthy” range.  The word healthy sounds fat to me: well-fed, over-nourished, portly.  The fact that I am no longer thin sets off the panic.

That reassurance, which would normally calm my frayed nerves, center my thinking, reassure me; the focus around being thin, concentrating on this one goal, dials down the outside world.  When I am using this unhealthy coping mechanism, everything else is muted and the complex problems in my life no longer seem so bad, so terribly urgent or troubling.  But, this is not an option…sickness, I mean…certain death, I mean.  I am in the dreaded state of eating disorder purgatory, where my weight is restored, but the mind (and often behaviors) are still very diseased.
I don’t start feeling better until about halfway through my workout when the endorphins kick in.  And then the creativity returns, the ideas come, the planning, the small glimmers of hope.  These feelings are not steady throughout, but they make enough of a dent in my misery to propel me through the rest of my workout.

Post workout, I am feeling pretty even for a while, just so long as I do not linger in front of the mirror. Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall–Mirrors seem to have magical properties, you know–they are able to transform my mood almost instantaneously.  If I can remember to keep away from mirrors and other triggers, to take my medicine on time, and to employ healthy coping strategies, I can get through the day, relatively unscathed.

 If I can do that, then I can actually take advantage of the fact that I’m Bipolar, because, even though each day’s most basic demands leave me completely exhausted, my Bipolar brain is the very reason I’m able to write the way that I can.  If I wasn’t unhinged, I’d not likely have a comparable grasp of the English language, of syntax.  Words are a powerful display of feelings and sometimes people, even the ones we love, don’t understand or have access to suppressed feelings locked away for one reason or the other.

MIGHTY1I’d choose rhetoric savant over boring old mainstream shmo’ any day.


Dear Sir


Also published on Yahoo! BeautyThe Mighty, BlogHer, and The BodyisNotanApology:

To the Father of the Little Girl, Whom He Teased

Publicly About Being ‘Fat’

Dear Sir,

I’m guessing you didn’t mean intentional harm when you laughed loudly and instructed your young daughter to get on the scale at the Publix supermarket so you could see how “fat” she was. I’m sure you didn’t mean anything by your thoughtless remark. In fact, you acted quite tickled with yourself, as though what you’d said had been rather clever. You even looked around to gauge the reaction of onlookers — a goofy, expectant grin pasted on your face. You waited for those within earshot to reward your “witticism” with a hearty chuckle.

When you made eye contact with my friend who’d been there, she did not laugh. She did not smile. You may, at that point, have realized your social faux pas. You might have thought perhaps what you’d said had been in poor taste.

Maybe you felt a little sheepish, a little badly, even.

Had I been there myself, I would have stopped you in your tracks. I would have made you listen. I would have told you my story. Because I was that little girl. I am that little girl.

Every day, I relive every instance of that hateful word “fat” being directed at me. I remember every single time in hideous, gut-wrenching detail. In fact, I still suffer frequent nightmares about one boy who was particularly cruel in middle school.  I am 33 years old and have dealt with anorexia and bulimia for more than half of my life.

I have no doubt you love your daughter unconditionally and, had you realized your “playful teasing” might be doing irreparable harm, you’d have stopped yourself at once.

Yes, there were times when my own parents were guilty of something similar, an offhand remark about another person’s figure or some gentle teasing when I was going through some awkward stage.

Truly, it boggles my mind, though, how parents, in the year 2016, can still claim ignorance to the pitfalls and dangers of body image issues for both girls and boys. I am not a parent, but damn if I don’t feel fiercely maternal when it comes to this topic.

When it comes to The Absolute Necessity of Positive Body Image, how can it be, with all the efforts to educate and campaigns of awareness launched, that our society remains grossly uneducated and unaware? With glazed, unseeing eyes, we view The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty ads on television, flip past the pictures of “real women” and spend more time gazing at the fantasy.

Although I readily admit to being guilty of doing this myself, I recognize it’s not the way it should be and certainly not the way I would want my own child to experience the world. There really wasn’t anything like the Dove campaigns when I was growing up. I was raised as a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World, saddled for a lifetime of body dissatisfaction. But no one knew any better! Positive Body Image wasn’t a “thing” yet.

It took the healthcare community a long time to recognize anorexia and bulimia as serious (and deadly) problems. Bulimia didn’t even make it into the DSM until 1980, and the term “bulimia nervosa” wasn’t coined until 1987. I was born in 1982, and eating disorder advocacy didn’t really begin to gain momentum until the 90’s, and even then, it wasn’t broadcast widely.

Before I became sick, the only eating disorder case of which my parents had even heard, was that of Karen Carpenter. How could they know any comments or observations, however well-intentioned or harmless,  might be 1) Misconstrued and 2) Solidly ingrained in my memory and thus have an impact on my body image well into my 30s? They didn’t know. They didn’t know I was genetically predisposed to developing an eating disorder. They didn’t know I was battling a constellation of cognitive issues including bipolar disorder. They didn’t know what they might say about my body, their own bodies or the bodies of others would be interpreted as a guide for self-evaluation.

I was (and am) hypersensitive to any and all comments and (perceived?) criticism, seeking external validation constantly. Awareness. just. wasn’t. I think it’s interesting to note the contrast in education and awareness between then and now. Although I stand by my assertion that continued societal ignorance borders on negligence, there are now more resources available resulting in an improved sensitivity within child-rearing.

Of course, eating disorders are incredibly complex, and the causes are myriad.

However, prevention can start at home if you Watch Your Mouth:

  • Foster Positive Self-Talk.
    • Be careful of disparaging your own body’s flaws in the presence of your children.
    • Be careful of disparaging other’s bodies in the presence of your children.
  • Resist the urge to comment or criticize your child’s appearance and/or how their eating habits have an impact on their appearance.
    • Healthy eating does not require motivation by shame or guilt. Instead, emphasize improved health instead of improved appearance.
  • Prioritize other qualities as having greater value than appearances such as intelligence and character attributes like kindness, generosity, honesty, i.e. fruits of the spirit.

Note: This Body Image “Prehab” applies to girls and boys.

Eating Disorders do not gender discriminate.

Protect your children and Watch Your Mouth.



Caffeine: To Mainline or Moderate?


After one month of no caffeine, I’m back to drinking coffee, and other delightfully caffeinated beverages. 

I could not be more hysterically gleeful grateful.

Now my house totally smells like a Gloria Jean’s when I get back from running–not a Starbucks like you’d think, but an old school, Gloria Jean’s-that-they-only-have-in-malls-that-you’d-go-to-with-your-friends-when-you’re-in-high-school-for-whatever-reason.  

Do they still have Gloria Jean’s cafes?   Do they still have malls?   


Believe it or not, I’m still working on the last half bag of the above Starbucks 2015 holiday blend, but I’ll catch up quickly.  Oh, and sometimes when I want it really sweet,  I’m using this new Stevia blend called Zing!  I like it!  And none of the used coffee grounds will be going to waste.  They’re destined to go straight into the garden.  That is, they’ll be worked into the soil around the tomato plants.  Right now, I have quite a few potted tomato plants raised organically from seed.  I’ve decided that I’m not going to transplant them into the ground this year; I’m experimenting with keeping them in the pots just to see how they do versus transplanting.

Actually, strike that last statement from the record, please, because today I transplanted two three rows of additional tomato seedlings.  So this season, I will be growing tomatoes using both methods.  We’ll see which works out best.  Either way, all the plants will be hooked on reaping the caffeine benefit.   

Continue reading »

Home Base


In the (nearly) two years since I began publishing this blog, I’ve gained some valuable insight on how to write more effectively, clarify my viewpoint, and–hopefully– avoid alienating my audience.  

And while blogging has helped improve my rhetoric, its primary function has been to reestablish my identity.  That is to say, it’s solidified the answer to the question of “what’s my calling”?


Hint: It’s not to be a Banker.

bank Continue reading »

Stigmas & Susceptibility


Civilian or celebrity, if you have a mental illness, you can’t run away from it.  It will not be ignored.  Rather, it will track you down, wrestle you to the ground, and, potentially, even immobilize you, and steal your life. Your sickness will also wreak havoc on the lives of your very sane family.

Star Wars’ actor Jake Lloyd — who played Anakin Skywalker in Episode I, The Phantom Menace– suffers from schizophrenia.


His demons wasted no time in tracking him down when he went off his meds early last year. On the 26th of March 2015, a police report was filed after he drove to his mother’s house and physically attacked her.  A few weeks later, he led the police on a high-speed car chase through Charleston, South Carolina, hitting speeds of 117 miles per hour before crashing into a bunch of trees.

Since that time, Lloyd has been held in jail for ten months and is only now being transferred to a psychiatric facility.  I think this demonstrates the breakdown in our criminal justice system: how did it take close to a year for the courts to determine that a schizophrenic who’d gone off his medication and had committed the criminal acts during a psychotic episode needed to be transferred?  Why was it not glaringly and immediately obvious that a psychiatric facility was the more appropriate rehabilitative place for him?  I am angry that it took so long but mollified that he is now receiving proper care. Continue reading »

Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar


If the glass bottle of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar from my Balanced Gut, Balanced Mind post caught your eye and you’re wondering how in the world vinegar might be beneficial to your health, then this is the post for you.¹

  And iOrganic Apple Cider Vinegar 16 oz - Click Image to Closef you’re already well aware of the benefits of using raw apple cider vinegar, then I apologize for being patronizing, but, hopefully, this post will provide you with a platform to contribute your own  unique experience using apple cider vinegar.

     The information that I’m providing is by no means exhaustive, I’m not a doctor, nutritionist or licensed health professional.²  This post is based on personal experience and I’d love to hear how it has personally helped you! So if you already use, or have used, apple cider vinegar in your daily regimen, then please comment below with your experience. Continue reading »

Balanced Gut, Balanced Mind?


Near the end of 2014, I published a post entitled What’s in My Pantry which explained the difference between Probiotics and Prebiotics as well as how they work in synchronicity within the human digestive system to promote Gastrointestinal and Mental Health benefits.

Because April is Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to revisit this topic.   

As was stated in the original post, “there is hard evidence linking conditions such as Autism and Depression to the gut’s microbial residents…”  There is scientific proof that the GI environment and conditions like Autism are linked. 

“In humans, there is some very early evidence of a link between gut bacteria and mental health. A new study from England found that supplements that boost “good” bacteria in the gut (called “prebiotics”) may alter the way people process emotional information, suggesting that changes in gut bacteria may have anti-anxiety effects”. -Source

Gut bacteria plays a major role in our sanity.  Incredible. 

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria (live cultures) naturally occurring in the stomach.  These active cultures help balance gut flora by reproducing more good bacteria.  A good balance helps boost immunity and overall health, particularly the aforementioned Gastrointestinal Health.  Probiotics can be used to treat stomach issues like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), food allergies and lactose intolerance.

Prebiotics are the foods that help the Probiotics along.  They are good bacteria “promoters”.  Prebiotics and Probiotics work together to achieve Gastrointestinal Health.

Gastrointestinal Health is important for more than just happy tummies.  More and more scientific research is pointing towards intestinal bacteria playing an influential role in managing mental disorder symptoms.  Continue reading »

Fatshaming: Filter Words Not Photos


Fat-shaming has become so commonplace a behavior that society’s predisposition to think, act, and proceed in this particular manner is sometimes a knee-jerk response; second only to breathing.   Skinny-shaming, which can be even more brutal and mean-spirited, is nearly as commonplace.  Collectively, this  cruelty is called Body-shaming, and frankly, it sucks.

Fatshaming or Skinnyshaming, We Ought to Filter Our Words Instead of Our Photos.

I just can’t reconcile a double standard favoring either extreme.  Some people are born naturally curvier, some are leaner.  That’s epigenetics, right?  And then there’s lifestyle; and personal choice, or other factors, like mental health and internal struggles.

Have you seen this pretty lady?

Continue reading »

Infectious Pain


Because my body’s been fighting a nasty infection, I’ve been feeling run down, sleeping terribly, and really struggling to get through any physically demanding tasks.  Activities that I enjoy; love even, have felt grating.  104_1902-1024x768104_1512-1024x768

I started prescription antibiotics on Friday, and when I woke up Sunday, wasn’t really expecting much in the way of motivation.  I’ve been running, of course, because, if you know me, you know I will run with a severed head if I can manage it.  I’ve also put in a little time into the garden each day–just not as much as I ought to at this point of the season.  

I know I need to step it up, but I’ve felt so below par and, this is going to sound counterintuitive, but, for some reason, the kind of physicality that gardening requires–the squatting and standing back up again repeatedly–versus the continuous cadence of running, has felt so much more taxing over the last week.  

Sometimes when I am gardening, I get dizzy and see stars, or everything gets very dark momentarily.  It’s possible that it has something to do with orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure when standing quickly).  It’s very common and causes of this are myriad, but I think (and we all know I have an advanced medical degree, haha) the likely culprits are either dehydration, anemia, or my prescribed beta blocker.  

Continue reading »


The Garden of Verisimilitude


Between the Easter holiday and copious rain showers, it’s hard to believe we’re not well into the month of April already!  Truly, this year is flying by.

Celebrating Easter isn’t for everyone; some people celebrate the resurrection of The Messiah, others look forward to the arrival of the Easter Bunny.  Some go out for Chinese food.  😉

Whether you put your faith in Christ or Coney, there has to be a modicum of verisimilitude present leading up to that “willing suspension of disbelief” which is, ultimately, what allows a person to go along with an outlandish-sounding story.  This is actually a literary term which was coined in 1817 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge who asserted that if a writer was able to fill his work with a “human interest and a semblance of truth”, the readers would willingly suspend or delay their doubt in relation to the story.

I’m enamored of literary devices.  I’ve been familiar with them since the 6th grade thanks to an extremely talented and valuable English teacher, Diane Tomko, whom I can thank for my love and appreciation for literature and language arts. I use literary devices so often in my writing that I have to actively think of examples simply because I’m not even conscious of using them; it’s second nature.  Verisimilitude is defined as appearing, or having the appearance of, being real or true.  I would venture to say that Jesus is more verisimilitudinous than the bunny–even the Cadbury one.

And if Jesus has verisimilitude, then Adam & Eve do, too.  So maybe they came from the Garden of Verisimilitude.

And speaking of gardens…ahem, here’s a completely natural segway…

Obviously, it’s much too early in the season for anything substantial to report, but there is some preliminary action worth sharing that’s pretty neat! Continue reading »

Racecars & Reality


To say it’s been a while since my last post would be an understatement.  

It’s been 35 days since I last hit the “publish” button on the blog.  And it feels a great deal longer than that! Making my life and thoughts available for public consumption has become so natural, so routine and so vital to my identity that a separation from writing and publishing, however brief, is unwelcome–distressing, even.  I’m glad to be resuming a normal writing schedule for both the blog and my offline writing project.

And to address the break itself, I’ll say that things hadn’t–and haven’t–been going so well for me personally: internally and emotionally.  I could just say: “I went off my meds” and leave it at that; streamline the speculation process, so that everyone could conclude that I willfully and deliberately made a choice to stop taking the medications that effectively manage my mood, personality and eating disorders.  

But it’s a little more complicated than that.  

I didn’t just wake up one morning, see my bottles of pills all lined up, quietly and patiently waiting for me, throw out an arm, scattering them to the floor, all the while hollering Fuck it All to Hell!

Why would I do that? The current meds were working! The suicidal ideation had stopped completely.  I’d begun tentatively thinking about the future.  I was experiencing little to no side effects.  I couldn’t even claim one of the more adverse side effects–weight gain–that prevents some from taking psychiatric medication altogether.  In fact, I’ve actually lost weight over time since beginning a consistent course of medication. 

So…why, then?   If I was feeling better, what was the problem?  

I  really was.  Feeling. Better.    

Well, what happened, see, was it was time to refill one of the bottles of pills, see.  A really important bottle.  The mood stabilizing one. 

And because it’s a government subsidized program, the SMA Pharmacy is necessarily and understandably tightfisted concerning medication refills and the flexibility in picking them up sooner rather than later.  And so, unfortunately, one can’t plan very far in advance.  

And in the days leading up to this, I’d miscalculated, called in the refill late, had to sit it out over the weekend (as they are closed) and come Monday morning, the pharmacy staff told me they were out of the specific medication I had refilled.  Not that my refill wasn’t ready.  That they were just. Out.  

So now, thanks to my own poor judgment, with a side of bad luck, I’m now on Day Five sans mood stabilizer.  

The good people at SMA say, Don’t worry, it’s okay.  

They say, Come back tomorrow.  We will have your medicine by then and you will be okay.  

I say, okay.  I say, See you tomorrow.

I do not see them tomorrow, because, by this time tomorrow, I am batshit crazy.

The very poisonous, very diseased part of my brain, assumed command and jumped into the driver’s seat.  I don’t even own a car, but there the demon was, racing gloves snapped on, pedal to the medal, zooming around like a Daytona 500 pro. By then, I wasn’t even in the passenger’s seat. I was knocked out, unconscious, in the trunk, without even enough time to try and kick out the tail lights like they tell you to do.  …they?   I guess maybe I read that somewhere; it sounds plausible.  

 Anyway…it sounds as though I’m not taking responsibility, right? Well, I am.  I got what was coming to me.  And since then, my meds have been adjusted.  The monster inside me is sleeping.  Fitfully sometimes; quietly, mostly. Continue reading »

Vegan or Orthorexic?


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know of at least one person who has either tried or adopted the vegan lifestyle.

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products. -The Vegetarian Resource Group

I think that when people choose to go vegan and their hearts are truly in the right place about it, it reflects in their behavior, decision making and outward countenance for the better.

When I went vegan between the years of 2007 and 2013, it was for the purposes of restricting. I was basically using the lifestyle as a socially acceptable excuse for my anorexia.

So for ME, Veganism did not make me kind.

Rather, it made me bitchier, more defensive and all the more inconsiderate.

That was the case for ME. I am not projecting that on the experiences of others–everyone is different.

So in examining my experience, it was yet another instance of manipulating circumstance to protect my eating disorder–even if it has to evolve in some way, or so it has been the case over the years. I am and have been, working on that.

There has been a lot of bad press lately about orthorexia & veganism, so I want to address that: 

What can happen to some individuals who adopt the Vegan Lifestyle is potentially developing the newly classified eating disorder called Orthorexia.  This is when the person becomes so focused upon healthy eating that they begin to eliminate unhealthy, impure or “bad” foods from their diet to the point that it becomes so restrictive that they become malnourished.  

The irony is that they are “so focused on being healthy” that they literally begin to sacrifice their health for the sake of it.  Before everyone starts shouting at once, please notice I said “Some” individuals and “Potentially” developing.

I want to be clear that Veganism does not cause Orthorexia.  

That would be like saying ‘Dieting causes Anorexia’ or ‘Getting the stomach flu causes Bulimia’, you see what I am saying?

Continue reading »

Taking The Initiative


Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative is a global research study designed to help learn more about why some people have eating disorders and why others do not.

The University of North Carolina is recruiting 25,000 participants total, most of whom have (or have had) Anorexia Nervosa and about 8,000 individuals with no history of an eating disorder.

They are asking participants to provide some information about their medical and psychosocial history as well as to provide a blood sample. In order to participate, there are a few steps to go through.  

Since I am going through the process myself, I figured I would walk everyone through it to demonstrate how simple it is to join this study and help further Eating Disorder Research:

Continue reading »

Raw, Vegan Walnut Milk!


Today I used up the last of my creamer for coffee, so I decided to get creative with what I had on hand.  I am by no means skilled in the kitchen–I’m rather horrible actually.  I’m neglectful in following recipes and usually just go off instinct.

This sometimes results in an accidentally nice-tasting result, but, more often, the results are pretty bleak.

I’d recently used my food processor to make homemade cashew butter sweetened with dates, and that somehow turned out really good.  A day or so later, I wanted to find a savory use for my raw pumpkin seeds.  I’d already tried a *sweet* attempt with Pepitas, Brazil Nuts and Raw Honey a while ago, with fairly decent results (below).

It turns out, pumpkin seeds, coarsely blended with salt and garlic, taste amazing mixed with pasta.  I realized that I’d stumbled upon my own homemade vegan “Parmesan cheese” without actively looking for it.  Whaaat? It was so good with plain pasta and a little pepper added.  When tossed with the warm pasta, the pulverized pepitas became creamy.  It tasted like Fettuccine Alfredo, but vegan!  So, so surprisingly good.

Continue reading »

Valentine’s Déjà vu



Below you’ll find a fun re-blog! from last year’s

Please enjoy! And if you are a silly goose who pronounces Valentine’s Day with an “m” substituted for the “n”, you can just move along. vday 
From as far back as my memory allows, Valentine’s Day has consistently borne a great deal of significance to me.

In elementary school, I relished the activity of constructing a personalized “mailbox” that would allow classmates to “send” me cards and candy.

Then there was the shopping trip with my mother to select the box of cards that I would be sending out.  I have always had trouble making decisions, especially when presented with many choices.  This particular errand was a true testament to her patience as I painstakingly deliberated over the selections. In my childish estimation, my card selection was the utmost important decision I would make in all of February, if not the entire school year!

Which design??

Did I want The Little Mermaid or Garfield?

Wait, they have ones with yellow lab puppies! And New kids on the Block!! er… NKOTB! (yeah, cooler to say it that way!)

What did the cards say?

Did at the least one of the cards in the box communicate the precise sentiment to send (fill-in-the-blank) with whom I was currently “in love”?? Continue reading »

Barbie’s Body



I just did a double take.  Barbie’s got some curves!

The look of Mattel’s Barbie IS CHANGING, and it’s catching up with positive body image awareness.  


The new line of Barbie and friends embraces what I like to call *The Beauty of Distinction*.  

Mattel calls it: The Evolution of Barbie (Feels a little Darwinian?).

T.E.O.B. “This is just the beginning. From offering products that feature more empowering and imaginative roles to partnering with best in class role models, we believe in girls and their limitless potential”. -Mattel 

Their tag Line? #YouCanBeAnything    

Awesome.  Seriously, I do think it’s awesome.

The empowering/career/imaginative roles part of the campaign? NOT GETTING ENOUGH AIR TIME.

But we’ll go ahead and talk about what everyone’s talking about.  You know- the body image part? Great.

Check out Barbie’s New Figure:

Continue reading »


Neat Gardening Tips & Tricks: 2016


Dear Readers, 

This Post was originally written around this time last year.  Since then, I’ve learned a little bit more about gardening and made some cool additions to the front, side and back yards respectively, and I thought I’d update this little post with some things that came into my head today.  So, some of it’s a re-read and some of it’s new.  

My hope is, you’ve acquired a year’s worth of new gardening tips & tricks to share with me! 😉 Kristen 

 Facebook's House With GardenSamsung's House With GardenFacebook's House With GardenSamsung's House With Garden

While I was working in my garden today, I took pictures of the plants that have recently improved, bloomed or yielded crops.  While doing so, I began to think about some of the neat tips and tricks I have learned through my own gardening experiences.  I thought I would share some of that knowledge with you in this post in the event you were considering planting a Spring Garden this year. 

While it would be a boost to my ego for you to just blindly follow my instructions, I will explain why these gardening tips and tricks work.

There are opportunities to improve the quality of the plants in your garden that you may be missing daily!

Continue reading »

My beautiful picture

Dr. Candy Crush, Dogs, & Triggers


 I saw my psychiatrist today for a medication management appointment.  Yes, Dr. Candy Crush, again. 

In her defense, she was actually pretty focused today.  

I attribute this mainly to the brevity of the appointment and the fact that I came straight in, disregarded the usual pleasantries, and immediately stated my request.  I’m growing fairly certain she’s ADHD.  

Although, the perpetual communication breakdown probably lies with me.  I’m the patient and am therefore, the affected one.  

Hard-knuckling through a bi-monthly face-to-face of endless, repetitive droning about my *horrible life cognition* has got to be brutal, whether her time’s compensated or not.   I mean, who would sit, hands steepled, transfixed, while I regale them with fresh hell from neuron-to-synapse-to-mouth?

Continue reading »

Lara Croft & Writing


Hold on for one second, can we all just acknowledge that some random Facebook App 

has deemed my countenance most closely resembling that of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider?  

Compared to…Mickey Mouse, I guess?


I don’t care, I’ll take it. 

Please, and Thank you. 🙂 

Now that we’ve dealt with housekeeping matters most pressing, I’ll let you know what I’ve been doing, and that is not been preparing much new *quality* blog material unless you count my diatribe on Running! 

In the last 19 months or so, the subject matter of my writing has remained largely the same: organic gardening, fitness, running, eating disorders and mental health.  When I first began publicly sharing my life, the ratio of posts devoted to gardening and fitness was much more balanced.

Just as I explained in MY ECOTONE, the blog was launched to document my out-of-the-box gardening activities.  That wasn’t enough, so I began writing EXACTLY what I’ve been living.  It was real, raw, and mortifying.

It’s was also self-indulgent and woe-is-me.  Sorry about that.

Yes, my posts can seem redundant.  My subject matter can be tedious, monotonous, repetitive, obsessive, what-have-you.  You know why? Because not every reader has been following from Day One, and I have a message.

If I were pressed to state two goals I had for this blog, I’d have to say 1.) Personal Catharsis, 2.) Public Awareness. 

Writing privately is therapeutic.  Writing publicly–especially about the ugly, shameful, humiliating, terror in my brain, my head and my life is surprisingly restorative.

I’m not looking to be told I am brave, strong or virtuous for sharing unattractive and embarrassing details.  I’m weak and sick.  I’ve done such incredible damage to myself and much more to my family.    I’m that nasty fault line under my parents’ and siblings’ homes. The structural damage reaches it’s treacherous, spiky thorns across the country, insidious, cracking foundations, separating lives and relationships.

*There I go again.*

Not everyone has the time for (or interest in) reading every last Mental Health or Eating Disorder Related post in chronological order.  I don’t even want to do that.  Some of my posts are horrifyingly self-indulgent, narcissistic and just plain garbage.

With that being said, the Blog is still Here.  I am still writing and am still passionate about the message.

But, for the heavier writing about mental health and eating disorders, I am realizing a blog is simply too disjointed a forum for the subject matter.

I want to write on this Comprehensively, Provocatively, and Articulately.  Hence, the project.

So, what I have been up to recently, besides deluding myself into thinking that Angelina and I might share some facial features? 2

Writing, writing, writing.

Running (about 3-4 times a week).

Gardening (Yep, it’s already started…I planted a new Pomegranate Tree today and I am in the process of transplanting 9 (Little) FIG TREES).

So, coming up, you will be seeing a great deal of gardening and fitness related posts, with some light discussion on mental health issues.  🙂





Grow Your Own: Avocados


Growing your own Avocados takes some patience and planning, but the payoff is well worth it  The indoor-to-outdoor process takes a while and, but before you know it, it’ll be time to move your little

Avocado Tree outside for planting!

*Growing from seeds*



My Florida Avocado Tree: 6 months after planting from seed/pit.  



My Florida Avocado Tree: 12 months after planting from seed/pit.

**Haas Avocado Tree Grown From Seed** 

Updated 5/2016


Continue reading »


The Elusiveness of R.E.M.


One very unpleasant manifestation of Bipolar Disorder is the symptom of Sleep Disturbance.

In the same extreme manner which characterizes other behaviors, my sleep has deteriorated to an pattern of all or nothing. I am either awake for days on end or I over-sleep, losing between 16 and 24 hours.

Moreover, when I do get sleep it is of inferior quality; I awaken expressly devoid of refreshment or rejuvenation.  There is almost certainly no R.E.M. happening. I can’t seem to get on track.

In an attempt to coax my unwilling mind into a calmer, less hectic state, I am seeking relief with tea.


Tea animated emoticonThis is my first experience with kava and valerian root combined which, according to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, have sedative properties when taken together.


This is also my first experience with loose tea.

104_2129Personally, I think it looks identical to potpourri and, to be honest, tastes just how I’d imagine a perfumed medley of dried petals and spices might.

104_2130Because the blend is loose, I am straining it with a filter prior to drinking.

As a supplementary measure, I am fully stocked with calming Chamomile tea which, on its own, has historically aided in reducing some anxiety, but has not sedated me to the point of all-out slumber.

sleeping hello kitty emoticon
Although similarly floral, I find Chamomile more palatable that the kava and valerian root blend.

104_2167104_2059104_1292 104_1262sleeping hello kitty emoticon

(This blend of Yogi Tea has kava but also contains cinnamon and sarsaparilla which make the tea quite delicious).


And let’s not forget my all-time-favorite, limited edition, Downton Abbey English Rose Tea which contains Stevia Leaf & raspberry!  I know my brain needs sleep, so I am willing to forgo the yummier teas, until I have improved my Sleep Cycle.  

Why Your Brain Needs Sleep.  104_0656


Have you ever struggled with Sleep Disturbance? 

How did you overcome it?


All-Inclusive Sporty Staycation: Running!


The main impediment to my own pursuit of recreational

“tri-athleticism” has always been reticence.

That’s it.  I’m shy; unsure of myself.

I don’t have the “proper jargon” down for the swim/bike portions of the program.  I don’t have the right gear or proper technique.  And you have to know a lot of stuff.

Additionally, I’m patently uncool.

I’m always doing massively lame things like forgetting to refer to my bicycle seat as a “saddle”.   I ride a slow, heavy bicycle from Walmart which I’ve no objection to using, in fact, I think a heavier bike provides a more challenging workout, but I wouldn’t dare bring it to a Bicycling Meetup Group.

I can just hear the (imaginary?) elitist snickers now.

I couldn’t clock a respectable 100 yard freestyle swim because I’d be doggy-paddling halfway through.  I couldn’t demonstrate a decent butterfly stroke for $1000 tax-free dollars.  And I can’t do the cool flip turn at the end of the lane, although I really, REALLY want to.

So what if I could eventually work past these hurdles? In my mind, approaching my local Tri Club would result in my being laughed straight out of Florida.

Someone might respond to my declaration of (irrational?)fear like this:  “Kristen, you were new to running once,  you got over it, and now you are natural and relaxed in that environment.”  No one has, but that would be a reasonable assertion to make in this context.

My Response:

Running is Unique.  One thing I’ve observed, and this is just my opinion, is the vast difference in permeability between running and other sports.  Unlike everything else, running is wide open.  I’ve always taken pride in being part of the running community; for it’s all- inclusiveness and ease of transition between other recreational sports.

Want to be a runner?

Ok, Go Run. boom.⇒   You are one.

It’s that simple.

It would break my heart to know that someone felt that their body type, running style, disability, etc could or would exclude them from being part of this fantastic, amazing, rewarding, addicting, All-Inclusive Sport that’s an All-Inclusive Resort for Your Mind and Your Troubles.

Running’s a Staycation that’s only a pair of shoes (or not) away.  That’s it.  There’s no stopping you.  Except maybe, injury.

9 times out of 10; I’d be willing to bet, they are over-use injuries.  Why?

Because Running is just that good.

So forgive me if I get a little defensive about the sport that I’m so proud to be a part of.  As far as mainstream exercise goes, it’s the simplest, most accessible, and most welcoming of communities.  I’d be very sad to hear that someone might be deterred from the happiness of running because they felt alienated by their physicality.  There’s simply no room for that nonsense; figuratively and literally.

And as far as organized racing goes, there have been some additional divisions created to broaden the competitive field and encourage participation by all runners.  The new divisions are by-weight categories: Athena, for women, and Clydesdale, for men.  Runner registration is completely optional; the purpose is to give more runners an opportunity to “place” in different categories and,

I don’t know about you, but my fondness for accolades and medals has held pretty steady since childhood.

So don’t worry about having all the right gear or the ideal runner’s physique, because there is no such thing.  Don’t worry about having a clumsy or awkward-looking stride, because running shouldn’t be about judgment.  I’d like to think that running is the sport that’s closest to being free of elitism, or at least, has the capacity to be.

 Running is All-Inclusive.  Everyone Willkommen.

***Disclaimer:  I know many triathletes, swimmers, cyclists, and other athletes who are not elitists in the slightest.  I used other sports as illustrative comparisons and to demonstrate my personal experience with the way running has made me feel included (relative to other sports).




***Full disclosure: this is a frivolous and fluffy post.***  

Cons: Possible waste of time to read.

Pros: Likely minimal time wasted & one can always click the little ‘X’ button, yeah?

 Ahem.  I was pretty unsure about Mozart in the Jungle.  

Adverts for the series were plastered everywhere.

This Face.


I’d clear my internet browsing cache, and within minutes, they’d be back.  Taunting me. Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.Mozart.



I’d lay down to sleep, close my eyes, and there the ensemble cast would be; poised, waiting, instruments at the ready.

When the Golden Globes came and went,

I did not watch either-the awards show,

nor the recipient of 2 nominations and 2 wins.

The face, it implored me; watch the show.

My mom and two oldest brothers are fond of classical music, as am I.

If nothing else, I’d hear Debussy.  Bach.  Haydn.

↓ This.

But well and truly, what sealed the deal, is I’ll watch anything and everything with Bernadette Peters.  

And that’s a fact.

This Glorious Clip is from the year I was born.  Three Very Talented Performers in one of my favorite numbers of all time which has nothing to do with Mozart in the Jungle with the exception of Ms. Peters:

And I am rather pleased I finally gave in to Mozart in the Jungle because:

1.) There is some amazing music.

2.) It’s a thoughtful script.

3.) There are no perfect Hollywood-looking people in the cast.  Everyone is flawed.  And Interesting.

4.) Jason Schwartzman.

Seriously, don’t not watch it because you’re feeling so hassled by all the hype.  It’s a good show; I like it.  I’d watch more of it if there was more.  And if the show itself wasn’t that great, or I didn’t like the looks of the actors, I’d just play the episodes like a Classical soundtrack for cleaning, cooking, or drawing, because the music is that great.  

Check it out & Let me know what you think of Rodrigo!  🙂



Grape Ape


So far, the crops for which I have developed the most passion are my Grape Vines.  I established half of them in 2014, when I first began

My Front Yard Garden.  They were so tiny back then:





The other half, which I just planted this season, are the same size as the others were starting out.  I am confident that they will flourish in the same manner as their predecessors.

As you can see, the established vines have grown a lot (2015).





And they’d begun producing.

I first noticed just a few grapes last week, which I mentioned previously.



At the time, I only spotted these few grapes on a singular plant.



What a week of mostly sunshine and one downpour can accomplish:



They are literally everywhere:





I don’t drink wine or grape juice, but I love fresh grapes.  Because of their high sugar content, they were on my list of fear foods for a period of time.  Thankfully, I have made peace with that particular neuroses and have embraced the phyto-nutrients.  I can consume an obscene amount in one sitting with nary a tummy ache.

I know that some people have food allergies which prevent them from enjoying this delicious pleasure and I am truly sorry for them.  If I were confronted with this limitation, I might just keep an EpiPen on standby.


↑If I were a Hanna-Barbara character, I would be Grape Ape.104_1776

Do you like grapes?

Or grape juice?

Or wine?




Learn To Grow Your Own Caesar Salad!


As I am planning out my next Fall & Springtime gardens once again, I’m looking forward to:

Planting Everything!

Planting Lettuce    


And as much of everything else as time allows.  🙂

Grow it Now 104_0340

Get started early indoors 

There are 4 distinct types of lettuce: Crisphead, Loosehead, Looseleaf,  and Romaine.  Within each type of lettuce, there exists many varieties and hybrid varieties.

The fact that Romaine lettuce makes up one-quarter of the market share is pretty impressive!  It is my favorite kind of lettuce and I literally eat it every day, without fail.   Romaine hearts are fairly pricey:  a three-pack runs about $2.99-$4.99 depending on Organic status and the grocery store.  At the rate I consume my salads, it could run me upwards of $30 a week…just on one type of lettuce!  And yes, I realize that’s a lot of lettuce.

A brief history of my much-beloved salad staple:

The Romans were also rabid fans of Romaine lettuce and its radiant healthy properties (hence the name). Emperor Caesar Augustus may have been even more obsessed than I am.  He commissioned his craftsman to build a statue in praise of Romaine lettuce.

Kind of makes the whole “Caesar Salad” thing make sense though.

 Or not.

Regardless of whether you can shovel in lettuce around the clock or if you want to provide a delicious and healthy salad for your family, it is INSANELY EASY to grow lettuce without using any pesticides, chemicals or unnatural fertilizers.

First, pick an area (in your yard, on your deck, in a box, with a fox, etc.)  that gets decent sunlight.  We’re talking 6ish hours per day.104_0158

Second, choose the right lettuce type for both your geographic location and culinary preference.  The seed packages have color-coded maps on the back that will tell you how to make an informed decision.

Third, prepare the area you are planning to use for planting.  Lettuce seeds can be sown directly into the ground once spring arrives.  Alternately, you can start the seeds indoors in containers with potting soil.  I did the second option because I was so antsy-in-my-pantsy to get going and the last of our cold weather was not quite over.

Tip: Lettuce seeds are MICROSCOPIC so very carefully and deliberately space them in the ground or in the containers.  Make sure to check the seed package for spacing-specifics.  I used an organic potting soil mix to get the seeds sprouting, and then once they were about 2 inches tall, I transplanted them to an exterior row in my garden.  I chose this spot because it was accessible for weeding and tending a crop so low to the ground and also because the borders of my garden share space with marigolds,  a natural pest repellent.

104_0063104_0061                           Make sure to water your plants.  🙂
104_0065104_0064Harvesting the lettuce is the best part and it is so neat!!  When you are craving some rabbit food, simply walk out your door with kitchen shears and snip what you want, starting with the outside leaves, working your way in.  Since you didn’t use any nasty pesticides, just lightly rinse the dirt off and enjoy.




Resume caring for your plants as you had been.  One day, you will wake up to discover the lettuce leaves have not forsaken you; they do indeed grow back.  At first I suspected black magic, but then I read that both Loose-leaf and Romaine are are “cut and come again” lettuce types. They really do  keep on giving.  Do not pull the lettuce out by the roots unless you are prepared for it to be your last supper,  near the end of the summer.

What questions do you have for me regarding Growing Your Own lettuce?

What is your favorite lettuce type/variety?

What other greens do you enjoy in your salad besides lettuce?

I really like baby kale, too. 


“Scale”-ing Back


On this very rainy Sunday, it was my intention to write about scales; the medical variety.

Instead, I have decided to announce a serious scaling back in terms of blogging.

For a short period of time, posts will be limited to very light and fun updates:

  • Preparing for my Spring Garden

  • Refreshing my Running and Cycling workouts with Pilates!

  • The weekly progress of my Writing Project 🙂

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So the blog has not, and will not, be going anywhere.

I’m just shifting my focus to offline work for now.  The blog is for fun updates and to stay connected throughout the project.

Thank you for sticking with me.


Next Week:  Later this Month: promise.

How to grow your own Avocados at home.  



Leveling Out


Everyday! is an emotional roller coaster in The Bipolar Mind, but yesterday seemed just a little more level than in days previous.  I’m taking this as a good sign and trying not to give in to The Ever Present Anxiety tapping me on the shoulder, helpfully reminding me that it’s not okay to enjoy any degree of relief, because, rest assured, the hammer’s coming down, oh yes indeed, it’s only a matter of time.  **Rubs hands together evilly**...oh wait, is that Purell? 

I wrote until I reached the point at which time everything was sounding contrived, so I knew I needed to work out.  Exercise has always helped me with brainstorming, but Running is especially effective.

During my run, I was thinking about how the activity of running itself  is like this Amazing Idea Machine:  I’m picturing something similar to Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches’ Star Removal Machine, but instead of Sneetches with or without stars on their bellies, the machines are producing millions of good and bad ideas for a runner’s brain to process, accept or discard.

The nostalgic imagery of The Sneetches had prompted me to research the story when I got home.  A few of the websites discussing Dr. Seuss’s publications claimed The Sneetches story has a shockingly anti-Semitic undertone, which I believe was completely unintentional and really reaching.

Honestly, I think that if you examine something closely enough and for long enough, you are certain to find something to which you object.

Anyhow, Dr. Seuss is amazing.  And most definitely not anti-Semitic.

ALSO, my run was amazing and quite productive as far as brainstorming is concerned.  It was 62 degrees when I left the house and very sunny.  I couldn’t find my gloves today.  Because I haven’t really been running outside much lately, I don’t have extreme weather gear “at the ready”, so when I decided to impulsively go for a run, it was socks on the hands or get frostbite and potentially lose some digits.

I looked outstanding and definitely not crazy.

Joking aside, I do have Raynaud’sbut that can flare up when I’m inside my house and at any time of the year, not just outside, during the winter months.

Running is really hard on my body; but it is so good for my mind.  I dread the time when my body finally breaks down and no longer tolerates running even a handful of days a month.  I’m not freaking out in an eating disordered, poor body image way (although I don’t deny that being a problem); this is purely chemical.  This is me needing running for emotional and cognitive regulation.  

It’s like rebooting a computer.  You don’t know why it fixes the problem; it just does.    

Yoga’s been suggested countless times, and still, I remain skeptical.  I just don’t see it working for me.  I can’t be calm: I will worry.  I can’t be still: I will fall asleep.

It’s hard enough for me to sit down long enough to type this.  If I am having a particularly bad OCD day and I want to focus on writing, I literally have to lock myself in my own bedroom so that the rest of my house won’t distract me.

I’ve seen what yoga can do, and I know one needs to be made of some tough stuff to do it, but I’d prefer to be less “present” and more “checked out”.   And I already know what my yogi friends are going to say here: that doing yoga will keep my body healthy to give me more of the running days that I want.  😛

When it comes down to it, the activity that my brain, my emotions, my psyche collectively need to “reset” is not in strength asanas, flexibility, breathing or balance. I need something with a steady cadence; to just get up and go.

Cycling is a close second, and that’s where the resistance trainer comes in.  It’s nice having it, because when I do get a little light bulb over my head, I can grab my voice recorder, pretend to be House, M.D., and record whatever random idea comes to mind.  And between doing that (Words), taking my (Meds), and working on my garden (Plants), I am Leveling Out.

Thank you for indulging me and please enjoy a short clip of Sneetches being Sneetches:



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Something very sad happened a little over seven months ago.  I’ve been trying to motivate myself to write about it, but, oddly enough, every time I’ve begun to type up a draft, all my words are just…wrong.  I sound childish and whiny.

Because I’m a perfectionist bordering on absurdity, I’ve put it off and, in doing so, made it that much worse for myself.

I’m at the point now where I’m completely tortured.  See? Histrionic already, and I’m not even warmed up.

I can’t help it; my heart is so broken.

My beautiful picture

My dog, Rennie, was killed in May.  I had her for 14 years, and I loved her very much.  She had been by my side through an incredible amount of life experiences.  In fact, she had moved with me 11 times over the years.


Aside from immediate family and surrounding neighbors, I’ve kept her passing entirely private.  The traumatic nature of her death was my main reason for not sharing right away.

Back in May, just after Memorial Day Weekend, and I was working in my Front Yard Garden with Rennie close by me, in one of the garden rows.    It was late afternoon, approaching early evening.  This, of course, was at the end of Spring, beginning of Summer, when the daylight lasted well into the evening.

Rennie was basking and investigating the plants.

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At this point, a woman on a bicycle came up the street.  She was being led by a very large dog on a leash.  As they got closer to my house, the dog spotted Rennie in my yard, and crossed the street towards us.  Rennie (who was not on a leash since we were in my yard) headed towards the property line, yapping at the huge dog.

A lot of things happened at once:

  • The large dog pulled the woman off of her bicycle.
  • Overpowered, the woman let go of her dog’s leash.
  • The woman yelled at me to get my dog to protect her from her dog.
  • I jumped to grab Rennie but did not get her in time because I lack animal reflexes.

Rennie’s torso was clamped tight in the large dog’s jaws.  And she was shaken brutally, as if she were a toy.

The woman and dog fled the scene.

I picked up my precious, shredded baby and screamed so hysterically that every one of my neighbors on the entire street came running out of their houses.  My neighbor directly across the street, Matt, dropped everything he was doing and rushed us to the emergency vet, blowing through every red light to get us there.

Matt pulled into the parking lot and I opened the passenger door, stepped out, cradling Rennie carefully.  Matt’s car interior; the seat, the handle, the locks, everything, it had all been smeared with blood.  It was gruesome.  There was so much blood for such a little dog.

I walked straight into the Animal E.R. with Rennie, screaming and sobbing for someone to help me.  The vet took one look and said, I’m Sorry.

Rennie had died in my lap on the way there.



I don’t think I want to write anything else about it.

2015:  You hurt me so much.




A is For Apraxia


When it comes to various modes of communication, I’m much more effective via the written word than I am through verbal discourse.  It’s been that way for as long as I can remember.  And if my dialogue happens to be extemporaneous?  Well, then you can just forget hearing me utter anything remotely articulate.  I fall apart, my thoughts and words turning haphazard and rambling.  And in the moment, my arguments become so poorly reasoned, so weakly constructed, that I’m convincing absolutely no one, least of all myself.

I think the difficulty I have with any “off the cuff” exchange has more to do with my being overly influenced by emotion and less to do with any malfunction in cognitive processing.

Because I am both self-centered and myopic, I first consider this theory and how it pertains to me.

“Does this mean that I’m a good writer, but I’ll never be successful because I fall apart in person?   My life is such an embarrassing disaster–nobody will ever believe my work legitimately came from me.  Who will ever take me seriously?”

I then discuss the National Crisis that is ” Kristen and her Writing” at length with my parents, whose unconditional loves bids them do so.  Readers, did you happen to catch that uppercase W?  That may indicate significance.  You might consider making a note. ***Sarcasm***

When they are unavailable to pander to my self-obsessed verbal loop about me and my “Writing”, I debate the concept with any random stranger who makes eye contact at the market, God save them.  Just kidding!  I’d bet most readers aren’t fooled into believing that last statement;  I’m far too socially awkward for that kind of wild abandon.  Unless, that is,  I happen to be with my Dad.  If that were the case, I’d have miraculously gleaned at least iota of his charisma that he seems to radiate in endless supply.  I’ve subconsciously dubbed it his “Host Charisma” which is Warm, Loud and Silly.


Dad, Me

In contrast, when I am with my Mom, I also absorb a segment of her personality.  When I was growing up, I spent much more time around her than with my dad, so I’d venture to say my personality developed more closely to hers.  She has a Charisma which is Cool, Quiet, and Quirky.

mom grandma and me

Me ( At Healthy Weight), Mom, Grandma

Ok, that became tangential very quickly.  I feel pretty sheepish since I’ve spent the last few paragraphs expounding on the direct nature of my writing, but, as evidenced, I get easily distracted in any forum.   ***Incidentally, I’ve switched psychiatric medicines once again, just prior to Christmas actually, and the “Flight of Ideas” symptom should hopefully be curtailed soon.  Getting back to the main point, I’d recently been discussing with reasonable frequency  obsessing over the disparity in communicative skills when my second-youngest brother, Mark, interrupted my mom and I because he was struggling to communicate.  Mark is fifteen years old and has severe Autism.


Marky (age 15), helping me open a Christmas present, 2015.

Mark was diagnosed at 18 months old and also has Apraxia of speech, which is a motor speech disorder.  This is when there is difficulty connecting speech from the brain to the mouth.  Apraxia affects nearly 65 percent of children with autism.  Do not misunderstand.  This is just one disability of the myriad that comprise his Autism.  Those diagnosed can be anywhere on the spectrum.  Unfortunately, both he and my youngest brother, Aaron, who is thirteen, are on the profound end of the Autism Spectrum.

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My brother, Aaron (age 13) at his first basketball game, 2015

Aaron, while also profoundly Autistic, is slightly higher functioning than Mark, but interestingly, non-verbal.  His Apraxia is worse than Mark’s, but his cognitive ability is more advanced.  He is able to write words and communicate at a rudimentary level to indicate if he is hungry, feeling aggressive, or wants to do an activity.


imagejpeg_0 (2)

Aaron (Age 13) receiving Equine Therapy for Sensory Issues.

Mark’s Apraxia limits him to a few “words” that sound sort of like a baby’s babbling when they’re learning to speak.  He’s very low functioning, and has disabling anxiety, cognitive impairment, and difficulty self-regulating his moods.  Compounding that, he has sensory and pain issues that he’s unable to explain in clear, coherent language.  And unlike Aaron, he’s unable write as an alternative form of communication.

So, for me to talk endlessly about how my brain feels clicking onto that one perfect word, versus how ineffective I sometimes feel speaking in person, well, I guess I should talk about it less and write about it more.



If you are interested in learning more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, check out my other related posts: Autism 101 and Autism Awareness Month.  You can also visit Autism to learn more about Apraxia and Autism Spectrum Disorder.




Figgy Pudding 2.0


I know it’s enormously lazy to recycle a post and, I normally wouldn’t do this, but I noticed a great deal of traffic on My Figgy Pudding Post from last year.  For a moment, I thought to myself, “That’s bizarre.  Why on earth is everyone looking at this boring old post?”.


Oh yeah.  It’s Christmas Day in exactly five days.

For the love of–honestly, what is wrong with me? 

Anyway, if you are interested in learning about what this highly mysterious seasonal treat actually is, you can click on this link or see the post below.  I sincerely hope I don’t spoil its enigmatic appeal for you.


Oh, and if you are interested in reading more recent posts about my own Fig Tree Cultivation, you can find several posts within the Gardening Category in the column on the right. Continue reading »


Skipping Today


Depression wants me to harm myself.

It says isolate.  Sleep.  Starve.  Binge.  Hide.

It says hate yourself.

It says kill yourself.

It says tell everyone you are okay, then come back so I may abuse you further.

It does not whisper these words; it shouts in my ear.

It claws at me, pulls me under for a time.

I am rallying; I am fighting.


I have things to do.  Leave me alone, I am busy

I woke up today with no strength.  No resolve.

I am tired

Today, nature won out over change of habit. 

Today, I skipped life and loving myself.

I am skipping today. 



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Stevia & Smoothies


The Stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) produces sweet-tasting, calorie-free leaves which can be crushed or dried to sweeten hot or cold drinks.  Stevia can replace sugar in a lot of recipes and is ideal for consumption because it is not metabolized by the body.

Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by Basil.  It can be started from seed, but with challenges.  It is easiest to grow it from the herb’s cuttings or from a plant transferred to a raised bed.

How convenient and serendipitous that my mom dropped by today with a potted specimen of each herb!


Basil & Stevia Plants

Sweet Basil is my favorite herb.  Up until the weather became uncooperative, my Purple Basil plant was surviving.


Purple Basil

With a combination of my over-zealous harvesting and not enough rain, it has all but died off.

I am hoping that it will make a comeback, but for now, I am content to enjoy my new Basil plant.

I have never used Whole-Leaf Stevia before, so I was interested to see how it would work.


The hot and humid weather makes me want cold food and beverages.  This morning, I concocted a delicious and refreshing Fruit Smoothie by combining frozen watermelon, blackberries, strawberries in my food processor.  A few leaves from the Stevia plant sweetened it just enough.


If you look closely, you can actually see pieces of Stevia Leaf in there.  It’s much better to consume Whole-Leaf Stevia than the derivative of Stevia called Rebaudioside A.   Most commercially available drink mixes and packaged sugar substitutes are not Raw or Whole-Leaf Stevia, but the processed version.  It’s sometimes labeled as either Reb A or Rebiana on the label. These sweeteners are nutritionally inferior to Whole-Leaf as they have been liberated from most of their antioxidants.


In the past, I have experienced a fairly bitter taste when sweetening my tea with Truvia, the commercially available pre-packaged version.  From what I have read, this is caused by over-heating the herb.

Courtesy of Mother Earth News, here are a few basic Stevia applications as well as a Sugar-Equivalent Guide:

Stevia Tea. Fill a metal tea ball with 1 rounded tablespoon of dried, lightly crushed stevia leaves. Place in a clean pint canning jar, and cover with almost-boiling water. Steep 10 minutes before removing the stevia. Screw on the lid and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Yield: 2 cups (16 ounces), sweetness equivalent to about 2 cups sugar.

Stevia Extract. Bring 1 cup water to almost boiling, add one-half cup lightly crushed stevia leaves. Remove from heat, cover with lid, and steep 40 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter, and pour into a dark-colored container. Store in the refrigerator 1 to 2 weeks. Yield: 3/4 cup (6 ounces), equivalent to 3 cups sugar.

Stevia Tincture. Place one-half cup dried, lightly crushed stevia leaves in a clean glass jar. Add 3/4 cup 100-proof vodka or rum. Screw on the lid and shake. Place in a cool, dark place for two days, shaking the jar twice a day. Strain through cheesecloth or a jelly bag, and place the liquid in a small saucepan. Heat on low until steam rises, and maintain that temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, (do not boil). This creates a more concentrated tincture while removing most of the alcohol’s taste and smell. Pour the cooled tincture into a dark-colored container. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 months. Yield: About 1/4 cup (2 ounces), equivalent to 6 cups sugar.

Stevia Preparation Sugar Equivalent    Notes
Stevia tea

1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon

1/4 cup

1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon

1/4 cup

Top method for sweetening herbal teas and lemonade, or for sprinkling over cut fruit. Can be frozen in cubes for long-term storage.

Stevia extract

1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon

1/4 cup

Ideal way to sweeten sorbets, salad dressings, fruit muffins and berry syrups. Most versatile form for cooking.

Stevia tincture

3 drops

1/2 teaspoon

1 teaspoon

1 teaspoon

1/4 cup

1/2 cup

Best method for stevia-sweetened hot chocolate, pudding or mousse. Concentrated and convenient to carry.


Have you tried Whole-Leaf Stevia as a sugar replacement?

What is your favorite fruit-blend for a smoothie?



Rose-Colored Glasses


For a brief period of time today, the “Rose-Colored Glasses” of my Eating Disorder-skewed mind slipped down.

They slipped down just slightly, but enough to allow for a moment of clear vision.

While working out on the Stairmaster at the gym, I powered-up the small tablet I sometimes use.

As I waited for the screen’s icons to load, a once-prided image of my upper body appeared on the screen.

Before I had the opportunity to shove the glasses back up to the bridge of my nose; my eyes and brain communicated in the lightning-fast way that neurons dictate.  And I saw the picture for what it really was.



Continue reading »


Science, Shoes & Sanity


For the past week, I have been exceptionally tired, both physically and mentally.

Days and nights have blended together.

I’ve slept between 14-16 hours at a clip, getting up only to use the bathroom, eat, check on my plants (when I remember them), exercise (on the days I have the will) and think obsess (when I can’t prevent the ruminations).


Having taken rest from any physical activity for three of the last four days, I assumed that my Depressive Downswing was the main culprit to my utter exhaustion.  While my poor mental health is likely 99.999% to blame, I awoke today with an itchy, sore throat, congested nasal passages and an outstandingly painful sinus headache.

Which came first, the sadness or the sickness? Continue reading »


Returning to Running: A Simple How-to Guide


The other evening, a friend contacted me to ask my advice on getting back into running.

He explained that although he had been in peak physical condition during active military service, he’s recently settled into a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.

Wanting to reclaim cardiovascular fitness, he’s motivated to make some positive changes.

In regard to his former relationship with exercise, he said:

“I loved my long runs, I lived for the sprint at the end of a 10 miler. How do I get back into loving running where I need it all the time, the energy, the quality of life?”

Here’s my response:

Continue reading »


Muscadines>Blueberries in a “Superfood”-Off


Following yesterday’s post, a dear high-school friend, now living out in Corona, California inquired about the particular variety of grapes I am growing.


He guessed correctly in that these particular grapes are the Muscadine variety. Continue reading »


Grapes & A Grinchy Gripe


Having thoroughly celebrated My Freedom with a 10-mile run outside and a solid 4 hours of work in the gardens on Saturday, I rested yesterday (Monday) with a serious case of Second-Day Soreness.

As grateful as I am for my Life and Freedom, I am ready to move on to new tasks, goals and projects.

My neighbors, whoever, do not seem to have arrived at the same transitional stage.

With a seemingly endless supply of loud and disruptive store-bought fireworks, I am left wondering exactly when the show might cease to have me on pins and needles each evening.

High-strung individual that I am, the staccato background ambience (lasting from dusk to nearly midnight) has me practically jumping out of my already uncomfortable skin with every snap, crackle and pop.

Yes, I know that it is only July 7th and I do feel slightly “Grinchy” confessing this Gripe.  So in the interest of being a good-sport and to make a stab at flexibility, I will move on the Positive Portion of My Post.



I first posted the first emergence of Grapes on my Second-Season Grape Vines in the Grape Ape post. Continue reading »


Do a Little (Rain) Dance


Something tremendously exciting happened today! 104_1859My Gutters and Rain Water Barrel were installed!  The down-spout in the front of the house feeds rainwater directly into the barrel for storage.  The front of the barrel has a valve which can be open or closed manually.  There is also a filter in the top to catch debris. Continue reading »


Hail Caesar! Season 2


I am by no means a seasoned gardener.  However, this is My Second Growing Season and I have acquired some knowledge along the way.

Through trial, error, and a lot of research, I have learned which methods work and which do not.

I have had some successes and A LOT of failures.

Last year’s efforts to grow Romaine Lettuce yielded, by my estimation, respectable  results.    This season, I followed the same protocol but reduced the number of plants.


The plants are still small, so this may be the time to try something a little different.


Continue reading »


But There is a Whole Backyard Just Waiting…


As mentioned in the last post, my mom and I have launched a full-scale gardening project for the entirety of the Backyard.  This portion of growing real-estate was not previously utilized because of inferior sunlight exposure.

Because the Front and Side Yards have more than adequate sunshine, I prioritized the cultivation of that ground first.

In a suburban neighborhood, it is unusual to have a large-scale garden encompass the entirety of a Front Lawn.  If you have been following this blog a while, you may remember when its sudden presence caused a bit of a bother.

While maintaining what has already been established is keeping me plenty busy, the need for expansion must be satisfied.  And There is a Whole Backyard Just Waiting, after all.

When creating the Front Yard and Side Yard Gardens, I did not document the step-by-step process to my satisfaction.  Therefore,  I am making amends with a more comprehensive explanation of this new endeavor. Continue reading »


Stopping & Seeing


Sometimes I don’t have an accurate perspective on how far my garden has progressed in the past year.

Seeing it and working in it every day centers my focus on the minutiae. I prioritize mundane, and sometimes tedious, tasks like weeding, pruning, seeding and transplanting.

Taking pictures helps me appreciate its aggregate beauty.



  It’s remarkably fulfilling seeing hard work come to fruition. Continue reading »