Thursday, December 13, 2018

Annual Update...

It's that time of year... When I begin to hear from so many of you
that continue to create cookies like the ones I shared with you here!
It's also that wonderful time of the year when my Etsy shop explodes with
orders for my cookie cutters and decorating squeeze bottles. Why, just this
morning I shipped dozens of bottles and a set of cookie cutters to bakers
in York Springs, PA and Los Angeles, CA. I cannot tell you how delighted I
am that this hobby of mine continues to inspire others from coast to coast!
This morning I received the above photo from one of my follower-friends
in Oregon to let me know that she and her cousins recently gathered for
what has now become an annual cookie decorating tradition at her house!
When I reached the part of her e-mail where she thanked me for the post
cards I've sent her throughout the year and mentioned again how much she
misses my updates, I decided it was high time I post one. And, Leo agrees!
Although I've never felt the need to write one of those year-in-review letters some
folks include with their Christmas cards... For all of you that still check in to see if I
have updated and on the off chance that something I experienced this year might
inspire you, I will share the reply I wrote to my follower-friend this morning...
You're most welcome for the postcards... I love sending them and love
knowing that you enjoy them too. Yes, I do miss my blogging; however,
you can follow me via my personal Instagram and Facebook pages
where you'll see Leo and more of our day-to-day shenanigans than you
probably ever care to see! So what has kept us busy this year? Let's see...
First... Although I never got around to posting about it on the blog, the
vendor booths I established in 2013 at two of our local antique malls was the
hobby most responsible for my exit from blogging. The name of my business,
Barefoot Farm Girl was inspired by this photo of my mother, taken in 1947
when she was just six years old. It was just a few years after my Opa was killed
at Stalingrad and my Oma was forced to flee their home with her six tiny children
to escape certain death at the hands of the Russians. Of all her worldly possessions,
my mother counts this photo among her most prized. Here she stands, next to her
older sister and my patentante, (God mother); the original Barefoot Farm Girl!
You are welcome to follow the Barefoot Farm Girl Instagram Page...
If you have followed along for any time at all, you know that Army dad and I
have always loved shopping estate sales and auctions. He always leaves with
piles of books and occasionally, a new bookcase... While I always come away
looking like I have robbed the Butler's pantry because of my love of English
silverplate, sterling serving pieces and fine crystal, such as Lalique, Baccarat,
Val Saint Lambert and others. You may even remember a post I wrote several
years ago about the vintage (1935) Lalique perfume bottle I picked up at one
of our auction haunts for $22 and sold via e-Bay for $1,500.00+. Which...
Along with the fact that I had outgrown our storage space and had way
too much stuff, inspired me to consider opening up my own vendor booth!
After sharing my wish with my friend Kirby, I learned that she was already a
vendor at Shoppes on Patterson, an antique mall not too far away from us; also,
that she was willing to allow me to add a few pieces to her booth to see if I liked
it. Well, it was like lightening struck me because I instantly loved it! This business
fed my soul and became an outlet for my creative side, which never sees the light
of day at my corporate job... Staging my wares and decorating my little booth for
the seasons and holidays was right up my ally! And, with a house full of old finds
that needed new homes to make room for all my new finds, I was suddenly...
Into the business of being an antique mall booth vendor!
Partnering with Kirby allowed me to get my feet wet without assuming
the full responsibility of having a booth of my own, which could not have
been a better way for me to begin. However, when Kirby was offered a
booth at Antique Marketplace, the largest antique mall in our area...
I applied to be a vendor there too and pretty soon, found myself with two booths!
But hold on to your hats, because as much as I enjoyed being a booth vendor...
There is nothing like taking your show on the road!
But not to just any antique show... Trust me, I learned the hard way that just as
not all antique malls are a good fit, not all vendor shows are a good fit either!
Fortunately for me, I've been shopping Tiffany Ruffin's charming little farm
shop, Ruffin's Roost since before I even thought of getting involved in this
business - So when I expressed an interest in trying another vendor show,
she invited me to be a vendor at her Ruffin's Spring on the Farm show!
Of everything I have tried and experienced as a booth vendor,
I have to say that being a show vendor at Ruffin's Roost is by far
the most lucrative, rewarding and fun I have had in this business!
After earning more in one day at the Spring show than I did the three
previous months as a booth vendor in my  mall, I quickly decided that being
a show vendor at Ruffin's Roost for their Spring and Fall shows is where my...
Energy and enthusiasm for this business is best spent. And, that's why I decided
to close my booth at Antique Marketplace in just a few weeks, on December 31st.
But there is another reason as well... You see, the spring show taught me a lot
about working smarter and not harder at this business but it also highlighted
something I had been avoiding and had been unwilling to face for a while; and,
that was declining health. After Ranger left the Army, I felt like my life had been
given back to me. But with this new life of diminished worry about losing him in
combat came new worries when he decided to remain in Texas and to become
a LEO. A LEO in Texas... Less than a year after five LEOs lost their lives during
that summer massacre in Dallas. Proud of this man that cannot seem to stop
raising his right hand to protect and defend his fellow Americans? You bet. But...
In the process of all this change I got lazy. I over-ate and under-exercised my
body/mind to a place it had never been before; a very unhealthy and dark
place. My body was beginning to break down and it was never so clear as it
was while working that spring show. Although I bounced around and carried
and lifted share of the work to set up, after 9 hours on my feet, I was completely
and utterly broken. My legs and ankles swelled up so badly, they were nearly
unrecognizable and more painful than I can describe. It was then that I knew
something had to change. I had to make the moves necessary to reclaim my
health before something truly awful happened to me. I woke up the day after
the show knowing I was no good to the people I love dead and, that I needed
to find way to change everything about my life as it related to my health! So I
decided this next hobby of mine, after cookies and after my vendor booth is me!
But where to begin? I didn't really know... All I knew is that it had to be
something drastic. Something that took me out of my comfort zone and
allowed me to focus on nothing else but myself for a while. For as long as it
took... So I began researching wellness seminars and retreats. And, because
I had already been following Geneen Roth for years and have read all of her
books, my first thought was to attend one of her retreats. After all, there was
one coming up at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, where we used to live and only
minutes from where my parents still live. But then I thought... I have read
all her books and I have even sat in on one of her virtual retreats, so how will
sitting in a room for five days listening to Geneen talk help me? It would not
and I knew it. No! I needed a more drastic and tactical approach to saving my
life. So my mind wandered back to those Biggest Loser shows I used to watch;
you know, the ones where you say to yourself, If I had nothing to do all day
but exercise and had someone to cook healthy for me, I could lose weight too...
So I looked into the Biggest Loser camps. There are two; one in New York and
another in Florida. But aside from my fear of flying, there was something else
besides driving distance these camps lack... And, that is the ability to address the
why we eat the way we do that causes us to be overweight and unhealthy. For those
of us that struggle with our weight, we already know what to do to lose weight. What
we are missing is the emotional awareness to identify why we eat the way we do and
how to give ourselves the time and space required to feel the feelings that drive us
to food so that we can make different choices. So, if the 4-6 hour daily workouts they
promote at Biggest Loser is something you can go home and sustain in your daily
life, then BL may work. However, if it is not and you want to learn how to cope,
celebrate and work through anger and disappointments without abusing yourself
with food, then you will do what I did and choose Hilton Head Health, aka H3!
To tell you what I learned about myself, why I ate the way I did (and sometimes
still do) and how I learned to listen to my body and trust it again would take me
far too long and make this post longer than it already is. So I will tell you this...
H3 taught me how to eat REAL food and lose weight...
Not diet food. Not frozen, packaged or processed food and no shakes. There
were no pills, cleanses or gimmicks. I ate real, whole, natural food prepared
by their phenomenal chef in ways that were easy to duplicate at home. There
was no diet plan and not one person at H3 made any suggestions about what
or how much I could or should eat. If I wanted to order two of everything, I
could. If I wanted to take a bite of something and decided to order something
else instead, I could. There were no limits and no pressure around food at H3,
which, looking back, is why I never (not once) felt the urge to binge. I arrived
at H3 so very broken but also so very committed to allowing whatever was
going to happen, to just happen naturally... I arrived to this beautiful, warm and
welcoming space ready to do whatever I was told to do. After all, I had nothing
left to lose, because like so many other overweight people, I had already tried
everything else. Spending a week away from my life is something I have never
even considered. Truthfully, I was always afraid to tell anyone what I needed;
but when I did... When I told my husband I was spending nearly $4,500 to go
spend a week at a wellness retreat to concentrate on myself, (I left out the spa
part and did not mention any of the fun excursions I knew I would be taking)
he said to me, Sounds like a great idea! So without anything to lose, I packed
my bags and headed off to Hilton Head Island. However, in the end, what I
lost in just seven days at that magical place, was eight pounds by eating real
food. I also lost my fear of food as well as my constant thoughts about food. By
bringing the focus to what I need, versus what I want, I have been able to form
an entirely new relationship with food that does not include deprivation, guilt,
shame or any of the other hang ups I had about food. It is just food. It is fuel
to keep my brain and body functioning. It cannot do anything else for me... 
H3 also taught me how to move my body to gain strength. No
more dreaded, forced marches to the gym to perform exercises I don't
enjoy. At H3 I learned that weightloss is 90% what we eat and 10% how
we move. I also learned that you cannot outrun a cheeseburger and to
believe you can work off a bad meal in the gym is just wishful thinking!
At H3 I had my choice of workouts, which allowed me to explore what I
really liked to do. I took my first Pilates class and learned toe exercises!
I also took my first TRX class and learned from my fabulous H3 trainer
how to break up fascia adhesions, knots and scar tissue using lacrosse ball
wall and seat massage so that muscle tightness and soreness do not become
excuses to skip or shorten my workouts. I also took a treadmill tabata class
and ran for the first time since the tenth grade. I ran. Then I cried because I
realized telling myself that I could not run was a lie. Now, I admit that my
treadmill running was not gazelle-like or in any way beautiful. But I ran!
Although the equipment and facility at H3 is Best-in-Class, nothing
beat being on the beach for a stroll, bike ride or to take in an H3 yoga class!
There were heavenly spa treatments and a fabulous sunset boat
excursion. During my free time when I was not scheduled to be in class, I
got to explore Hilton Head Island and ride my bike throughout the resort.
When I returned home, the lessons I learned about exercise and how to move
my body for strength and because I want to took hold. I got back on my bike
(because I love it) and now, every day I am moving in ways that make me happy!
Before I tell you the last thing H3 taught me, I want to tell you about
a couple of things recommended during the H3 lectures I attended as
part of my program... Things that had an immediate impact on me and
really have helped me continue everything I learned at H3 here at home...
First, I want you to find, follow and listen to Elizabeth Benton. She has a
Primal Potential podcast series (with over 500 episodes) and any one you
pick to listen to will grab you! Second, watch this video. After I watched it, I
decided that since my sedentary job will eventually kill me, I must get up at
least three times a day to walk for ten minutes. Incorporating these ten minute
walks into my day have made all the difference. Not only am I more fit and have
lost a lot of weight, I feel mentally and physically better at work. Third, read the
book titled, The Joy of Half a Cookie by Jean Kristeller, PhD. Prior to H3, I
had been seeing a medical nutritionist/therapist, who I believe did her very best
to teach me mindfulness and how to listen to my body. I also paid almost $500 to
attend an adaptation of Jean's MB-Eat (mindfulness based eating) program at
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and not my therapist and no one giving the
MB-Eat class at Wake ever explained mindfulness in a way that this book pulls it
together. I feel so strongly about this book that I bought two copies. One to keep at
my office and one to keep at home. The last thing I want to share with you in terms of
resources that keep H3 alive for me every day is The Appetite Awareness Workbook,
which is something I found after H3 but helps reinforce The Joy of Half a Cookie
So... Now for the last and probably the most important thing H3 taught
me. It's the reason I believe Hilton Head Health should be the only choice
for anyone searching for a way out of the prison of binge eating, all-or-nothing
and black and white thinking, dieting and the grind that is food obsession...
You see that girl up there? That photo is a selfie I took on
Thanksgiving morning just as I was leaving the house to run
my first 5k! How did I go from feeling barely alive to running
a 5k on Thanksgiving morning, just six months after H3?
Well, it is all about that last lesson. H3 taught me how to be nice to myself...
At H3, I learned how to tune out my shitty-committee... That negative
narrative that told me I was too far gone to even try. That voice that told
me I had a long, hard day so I deserved junk (crap) food. That voice that
said if I cannot look like I did at 19 (pick the age you last remember feeling
good, confident, beautiful...) that it wasn't worth trying any more. The voice
that said only food understands me and is the only thing I can count on. H3
taught me how to be nice to myself. How to speak to myself as I would to
anyone else I loved that was going through a difficult moment. H3 taught
me that I am worthy of forgiveness, especially from myself. At H3, I learned
feelings will not kill me so there is no need to stuff them down with food. At
H3 I learned that saying no to things and people that do nothing to help me
move myself forward, to achieve what I want for my life is okay. At H3, I
learned the answers are within me. All I have to do is listen and trust myself...
Today I reward myself with things other than food. For each time I lost 25
pounds this summer, I purchased something special from Tiffany's...
There is no doubt that the week I spent at Hilton Head Health not
only changed my life, it saved my life and I will forever be grateful to
them. If you would like to learn more about H3, do not hesitate to ask
me, call them or visit their website. H3 does not know about my blog
and I certainly was not compensated for sharing them with you today...
I hope it will not take me another year to check in with you... In fact, I am
going to make a promise to check in with you after my New Year's 5k; how
does that sound? In the meantime, Leo and I send you our best wishes for
a very Happy Christmas and may 2019 deliver your every wish come true!