As the new year is unfolding and life seems to be more stable, it's time for a health update and a warning for everyone… we're doing too much!
Ok, so maybe not “everyone” is doing too much, but I certainly was. After 35 days straight of illness from November to the New Year, my body finally said “I give” and put me out (flat on my back most days).
This amount of downtime really gives one a lot of time to think and reflect on what got me here in the first place. For me, it was burnout.
I identified the need for more margin in my day-to-day life. By nature, I'm an overachiever, a go-getter, and a dream-maker. In other words, if I think something is a good idea and could be helpful or beneficial for others, I'll find a way to make it happen.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when margin is ignored, it can become detrimental to one's health. I experienced this firsthand at the end of 2023.
Enjoy today's podcast (episode #414, Health Update & The Warning for Everyone), and I hope it gives you the perspective and encouragement to include margin in your life.
In This Episode
- My need for surgery. Including details about my surgery and the outcome. If you missed why I needed surgery, you can listen to (or read) more about that here.
- Two weeks post-surgery, getting a virus and having it for 35 days!
- Changes to my thyroid, including symptoms I should have been suspectful of, but ignored.
- Purchasing our Farmstay in 2022 and changes we've made over there.
- Expanding our cattle herd (listen to that episode here).
- How to book a stay at our Farmstay or join us for in-person workshops.
- Expanding the herb gardens at the Farmstay.
- Reducing my garden size.
- Reducing the number of YouTube videos I publish each month.
- Changing my podcasts from weekly to seasons, taking a couple of weeks off between seasons.
- Why we're not getting another dairy cow… yet!
- How grateful I am for you, those who listen to these podcasts, watch my YouTube videos, visit my website, purchase one of my classes, buy one of my books or join my membership.
- Why margin is such a good and healthy thing to have in our lives!
- What I'm doing to improve my health:
- 30-minute walk outside w/out listening to a podcast.
- Reducing the amount of input I'm taking in throughout the day and giving my brain a chance to rest and just be!
- Taking time five days a week to get into a weight lifting plan (you can see what I've done in the past here – link)
- Improving my mobility with stretching after my workouts.
- Every hour, take 5 minutes to just breathe. This will help reduce stress and find calm multiple times throughout your day.
- Listen to your body! If you ignore it for too long, it will catch up with you and make you listen. We don't need to wear our “busyness” as a badge of honor. It's honorable to care for your body and give it what it needs.
Azure Standard is the sponsor for this podcast and my go-to when I'm under the weather and not making homemade food from scratch. If I need to purchase foods that I would normally make at home, the quality Azure Standard offers is top-notch. Specifically, the Alexander Family Farm A2/A2 brand of yogurt (with the cream on top) is what I've been buying while not making homemade yogurt for the past couple of months!
If you're a first-time Azure Standard customer, use that link and coupon code “Melissa10” at checkout to get 10% off your first order of $50 or more.
More Posts & Podcast Episodes You May Enjoy
- Our Broken Food System
- The Nourishing Asian Kitchen (Sophia Eng)
- Modern Homesteading Conference Recap
- 13 Healthy Ingredients to Swap Out Now
- What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Healthy & Cut Out Sugar
- Healthy Processed Food Options
- What is A2 Milk & What are the Benefits?
- Decoding mRNA in Meat w/ Joel Salatin
- Rebekah Rhodes’ Journey with Auto-Immune Disease
- Unplugging for One Year with Rory Feek
Hey Pioneers and welcome back to the Pioneering Today Podcast. This is episode number 414.
So today's podcast episode is going to be a very personal one. And I am confident from the amount of feedback I have gotten from many of you when I shared parts of this in my email newsletter that many of you are feeling the same way. And this will provide you, I hope, with some tactile things that you can do. And also kind of that sometimes it's very helpful for us to know that we're not the only ones experiencing something or going through something. I find that there's some amount of comfort in knowing I'm not the only one that is dealing with this or is feeling like this. Even if it doesn't solve the problem, there's something in note about knowing that we're not going through something by ourselves.
So I'm going to get really personal with you guys today. I don't know if I'll cry or not. I found that when I do these personal episodes, I have no intention of coming on here via video. Or if you're listening to this through the podcast apps and you're just hearing my voice in your ears, I don't ever come on here with the intention of crying. I don't really know anybody who likes to cry on camera. It's very vulnerable, kind of an odd feeling. But I've also noticed when I share some of this stuff with you guys as you're going through it, excuse me, as I'm kind of reliving it, that sometimes emotions just come up. So I'm just going to lay it all out with you here today.
So for those of you who have been following the podcast for a while and been hanging out with me online, you know that I had surgery, so we'll link to that if you want to get a little bit more of that. And so that was kind of my last official podcast episode, was letting you guys know that I was going in for neck surgery to have a tumor removed. And then I was planning on coming back and starting the podcast up in the month of December and just kind of taking a short little time off, and here we are mid-January. So it's almost been a full two months since I have done a video or a podcast episode.
Things are going to look different moving forward. Some of the things I know how they're going to look and some of the things I don't. So first I'll just share with you what happened and also a little bit of backstory about what this year has really looked like. So there's been a lot that's good. There's been a ton good that's happened in this year. And I think it's always really important that we acknowledge the good and that we focus on the good, but we also have to look at the things that haven't went right and acknowledge those too, because I tend to be a Pollyanna type person and always focus on the good, which I do think is healthy for many reasons. But if we never acknowledge the things that are hard, the things that aren't working well, then how do we know to change them? And that's kind of where if there was a theme of this episode, it's kind of what that's going to be, is taking a hard look at things.
So I had my tumor removed on my neck. If you're watching this on video, I don't know if you can... You probably can't see this scar very well. Right there. So that's where it came out. It was very successful. You guys, it was crazy. I went in at 7:30 in the morning at the hospital and that's when procedures started. I was out on I-5 in our truck, my husband driving me home, obviously I wasn't driving, at 10:30 in the morning. So three hours and out. That's the fastest turnaround I've ever had. I'm very grateful for it. I think you heal much better at home than in a hospital environment.
What was really crazy is when I woke up, and you're still kind of groggy and out of it when you're coming up out of anesthesia, my neck hurt less. I had less pain waking up from surgery than when I went in. And full function of the hand, so no nerve damage. I can turn... Look at that, I can turn my neck independently. It's not like my whole body operating. So that part was all major success. I couldn't believe it. I was so happy and was like, "Oh man, I wish I had went in sooner."
But exactly two weeks after I had surgery, I came down with what I assume some type of virus, upper respiratory, a lot of head congestion, that type of thing. And that was on November 30th. And literally for 35 days straight, the entire month of December and into the first part of January over New Year's, I was completely sick, like fever sick under blankets, unable to breathe, sometimes sleeping, having to sleep for almost 20 hours in a day for weeks on end.
Now, other people in my family did also get sick and have different symptoms of different viruses. I have a couple of thoughts onto why it hit me so hard. One, I think I ended up catching a couple of different separate viruses that had similar symptoms back to back to back. I think because I had just had major surgery and my body had been under a lot of trauma from that and a prolonged period of being run down from dealing with that tumor, I think my immune system was just crashed. And so what I got, just hit, hit hard and my body had a really hard time fighting it off and then caught the very next thing because everything was kind of compromised.
Thirdly, I have Epstein-Barr virus. I think the surgery and being sick and just all of those things I think probably put me into an active infection. So if you're not familiar with Epstein-Barr virus, a lot of people have Epstein-Barr virus. But usually it's one of those things that's dormant in your body. So you'll have it, but it's not an acute infection of the virus. Now, two and a half years ago, I did have an acute, meaning the virus was an actual infection, like live, about two and a half years ago. So I think that being sick and the surgery and everything also triggered that, and I was probably dealing with an active case of Epstein-Barr virus. So being sick for 35 days pretty much straight. I had about four days out of 35 where I was able to do a few things. I had to take my daughter to a doctor's appointment, those types of things. I could go in and do some Christmas shopping because it was during the month of Christmas.
So I had just a couple of days where I could function and do things, but then the very next day I was totally wiped out, was on the couch, fever would return, couldn't really do hardly anything, just the bare amount of functioning. And I have to tell you, that was really hard. Not only just physically. Because when you have a fever and you have the body aches and the body chills and you can't breathe because you're so congested, despite using... I will say that using all of the herbal remedies that I have and I'm familiar with, those did help, but my body was just so run down that it just didn't kick them right. I think because I have been trying to suppress getting sick and just soldiering through for a very long time physically on things that my body just said, "Nope, no more," because our mind is something that's very powerful.
Now, I had kind of felt aside from the tumor that there were other things that were going on with me health-wise that I needed to have some labs done. One being a full thyroid panel. I haven't had a thyroid panel done in about four years, which is kind of funny. I don't know if funny is the right word. Many of us will give advice to other people, yet we don't take our own advice. And so this was a classic case of that.
I, in the past, have had low thyroid. So my thyroid hasn't functioned as it should and have been on prescription medication for thyroid. Now, the good news is... And again, this is never all or everyone or always, right? There's always caveats to that. But the good news is for most people, you can heal your body enough. It is a process, depends on multiple factors there, to be able to come off of thyroid medication. Not always, not everyone. But I had reached that point, so I went off of my thyroid medication with my doctor. We did the lab. You have to do labs every so often to make sure everything is steady.
And so I did. I got to come off of them, was super excited. And about two years ago, now looking back, with actually looking back with hindsight, I started experiencing low thyroid symptoms again. So that is being very, very cold all the time. Thinning hair, also losing some of your hair, unexplainable weight gain where you gain weight even though you haven't changed anything else. I truly haven't changed anything else, not just in denial like, "Oh, I don't really think I'm eating more," but I am. Because that can happen too. And those are kind of your main symptoms. There's other symptoms, like you can have different skin symptoms can show up, digestion symptoms. And those can be attributed to other things, but it's kind of all of these under that umbrella, which typically is low thyroid.
So I had all of the symptoms return, but did I even think to go have my thyroid panels done again? Because anybody else would've told me those symptoms that in two years I've gained almost 18 pounds in two years and still doing all of the same things. Very active in the summer months, I get anywhere on average between 15,000 to 20,000 steps a day, doing the full homestead, still eating really the same foods, all of those things. That's not normal, right? But I didn't even dawn on me, like, "Maybe you should get your thyroid panels checked." So I share that because if you are in that boat, this is your reminder, your "Go get some labs done" if you're in that situation or suspectful of that.
So I had already scheduled an appointment to have lab work done, and thyroid panel was just one of them. There's some hormonal issues and possibly some other issues that I was suspectful of. But until you actually have the lab work, it's a guessing game. It's kind of like with what I recommend. I'm like soil testing. If you're experiencing a plethora of problems, don't just throw everything in the kitchen sink at it. Get a test done so you know what levels are off, so then you can take a calculated approach in order to get them fixed and not playing a guessing game.
So I am waiting to get some of the lab work back. I'll do another episode in full on that when I kind of have the full lab picture. But I also know that a reason a lot of those things have come back into play, especially like with thyroid, but also basically hitting a burnout spot. And that is because we don't listen to our body's signals. I think this is really true of most of us. We ignore them or we push past them until the point where our body is screaming and says, "You didn't want to listen before. I'm going to make you listen now."" And usually that's when most of us hit that health crisis point and we're forced to make changes and we're forced to acknowledge what's going on and then forced to deal with it. So that's where I'm at right now.
This is not my original thought. I'm sure many of you have heard this before, but in looking at all things at your life, so not just health, even though that has been a catalyst for me coming into homesteading, I know that that's a catalyst for a lot of you. You've had some type of health thing and realized that the food that I eat, the way the food is raised, the way the food is prepared, all of those things greatly affects health. And I'm taking control of my food, and a lot of times that is raising it myself or purchasing it from people who are using regenerative practices, not using synthetic chemicals, pesticides, inputs, et cetera. But for a lot of us, that is that catalyst and it comes back to the health. But in health, in crops that you're growing, things that you're doing within your home, your entire life, all of the different facets of it, we keep doing the same thing expecting different results, which is one of the basic definitions of insanity.
So if you are not happy with the results that you have in whatever it is in life that you're working on right now and you're doing the exact same thing, we have to look at that and we have to make some changes or be okay with the same results. So in the broader picture, there's a lot of things I am thrilled with the results that I'm getting. And so, obviously those things you're going to keep the same.
And there's some things in the small timeframe that you're looking at something, you have to give it a little bit of time. So for example, if you have just started working out, you have done the same thing ideally for a couple of weeks, you may not be seeing results yet. But that's just because that takes some time. But if you've been doing the same thing for three months... And I'm just using the fitness analogy here, like working out, if you've been doing the same thing for three months and you've not seen any results, it's time to look at making some changes because you should see some type of results in three months with our fitness analogy. So I say that just to give a little bit of context and to make sure that you're using that proper lens when you're evaluating.
So there's so many things that are working really well and we want to continue. However, there's a lot of things that are not working so well. And so for me, looking at it within what I do within the homestead and what we did last year and what we're going to do again or do going into 2024, so this is an evaluation point for you, is we planted down at the farm stay. So we'll put links in there for those of you who maybe don't know that part of the story. In June of 2022, we bought a 40-acre farm, a half mile down the road from us, so that we could increase the size of our cattle herd, which that was one of the last episodes that I did. You can go and check that out.
And then we turned the farmhouse into a farm stay. So a short-term vacation rental Airbnb, Vrbo. We use all of those platforms. You'll get the cheapest rates if you go to norrisfarmstead.com and just book directly with us, but that, just to give you idea. So it's usually people stay for two, three nights. Sometimes a week during the summer they'll do a week vacation and come, that sort of thing. And so we did that. And then we created an event barn down at the farm stay property where we do live in-person workshops, which we are going to do again this year. That was one of the things that I really enjoyed being able to do small 30-person workshops. And we're going to do three next year. Those will be available soon, and I will be putting info on those. They won't be till spring and summer.
And then we also planted a large vegetable and flower garden down there. Now, the vegetable garden, I had envisioned that farm stay guests would want to come, that they'd want to go during the spring, summer and fall months, that they would want to go out and harvest some of the fresh vegetables to experience on the farm and cook a farm-to-table dinner for themselves. I thought it was going to be like this really big draw. I thought that a lot of people in our community would be excited about extra produce and want to come and get it. I didn't want to do a CSA, a community-supported agriculture, where I promised a certain amount to a certain amount of people every week because I knew farm stay guests would be harvesting from the garden as well. And so I'm like, "We'll just be kind of extra like, hey, we've got excess winter squash or whatever," and that people in the community in our neighborhood would want that. So all really, really good things.
But the reality of that was I had two gardens to maintain because we didn't know how many people would take produce, want produce, buy produce, however, all of those factored in from the farm stay garden. We raise over 60% of our vegetables over 75% of our fruit for the year for my family. We preserve it for the entire year. And so we needed to keep that same production at our own house, our own 15-acre homestead, our original homestead that we have, for my family. So I had a very productive vegetable garden at home. And then I had another one not quite doubled. I can't say it was quite doubled, but another very large vegetable garden now to attend, but a half mile down the road. So it's not the same as like, "Oh, I've got a little bit of space here where I can run out and do this at the garden." I had to either walk or drive to go down there.
And for those of you who have ever done a vegetable garden, especially a larger vegetable garden that's very productive, you know how much work that is. Well, essentially it doubled it in one year, which is never what I recommend. I never recommend doubling your vegetable garden at home or anywhere else in one year because it becomes very overwhelming and it's very hard to do. And we want sustainability for this to be a way of life for the long term, but I didn't take my own advice. What we found out was most people who came, the vast majority of them, did not care about harvesting fresh vegetables to cook from the garden down there.
So on one hand, that was fine because I could go and get my produce from there. It wasn't going to waste that way. But we also found that a lot of people in our community, on our road, in our neighborhood, a lot of them already either A, grow their own vegetable garden, which I love. That's awesome and amazing. Or B, they're already part of a local CSA, which again, I think is fabulous. If you can't grow it yourself, supporting a local CSA, community-supported agriculture, that's phenomenal. That is community at its very best. But I made a critical mistake, and it's a business mistake that I know better, I do know better. But this is my business advice, I should say. It is better to test the product in your market and make sure there is a demand for it before you move into full production and do a full launch of a product.
So what I mean by that is I should have went to people in the community and said, "This is what we're going to be growing this year. Would this be something that you want?" And there's multiple ways you can do this. You can do a down posit, you can get a verbal agreement depending on how much the amount is, et cetera. Because oftentimes on social media, you can put like, "If I made this, would you buy it?" And you'll have a ton of people, they'll say, "Yes, yes, yes, yes." You make it. And all those people that said yes, they don't actually put their money where their mouth was. And not because they were lying. I mean, it's just when it actually comes down to it, they thought they would buy it. But when it actually comes to shelling out your cold hard cash for whatever that item is, they don't do it.
So I recommend pre-ordering can be a really great thing to do. That is what we have done with our beef and some different things like that. I didn't take my own advice. I made an assumption that my market would want what I was producing without doing my due diligence. So that's on me. And I really had no idea because it was so brand new if farm stay guests... There wouldn't be a way for me to really know that or not ahead of time, but I could have at least known for the community.
So now moving into 2024, I know that that wasn't a big draw for farm stay guests and it wasn't a draw for our neighborhood. It took a huge amount of energy and costs because we had to put in irrigation. And even the time labor, right? So time and labor, and then also costs, even though it was my husband's and mine's labor. There's still a time cost to that. But then extra compost, we had to put in extra irrigation. There's a lot of things that added up to that. We put in the extra seed. I did extra seed starting, and those have small costs because I already seed start at home, but there was that additional part. We put in additional trellises for bean tunnels, cucumber tunnels, et cetera. So all of those were costs and time labor that we put in. And so we're not doing that this year.
We're turning those beds that we did establish into... We planted a lot of flower bulbs because people really did enjoy the flowers and the bouquets, and it is a wedding venue. So we're not growing vegetables down there. We are just going to be doing flowers. I put some native wildflower mixes in part of the beds. So we're just going to go that route with them this following year. And then I will have my main vegetable garden just at home, which now it's funny, you think of the vegetable garden, and it is a work of love. It's a work of joy, but it is work. And I'm like, "Oh, I only have to do mine, just mine." It makes it feel like so much less work to just do mine at my own house.
So that's one change that we are making. But you may have areas in your life it might not be having two vegetable gardens I realize in this exact same scenario, but you really have to look at that and be okay with, "Hey, this wasn't working. We didn't get the results we wanted. Let's make some changes." So that's one of the big changes, kind of change number one.
And then I had thought for the wedding venue aspect of it that it would be great if we do a couple weddings a month during the summer months, et cetera, foolishly not realizing how much work goes into the advertisement, the back and forth with brides, all of this just as they're inquiring, coming and doing tours, all of the things. It's a full-blown business all on its own.
And so we did some weddings last year. We have some weddings on the book for this summer, but I really just started to pump the brakes and say, "It's okay if we only do two, three max for the entire year." And that's completely okay. So I pulled back some things from there because we don't always have to go super big. I feel like sometimes there's... And I don't know, maybe this is personality, but for me, I tend to have that personality of go big or go home. I'm sure you've heard that saying, go big or go home. I tend to just go all in and be like, "Let's make this what it can be." And not everything has to be taken to the max. So pulling that back and kind of hitting pause on that, and that feels really good.
So those are two immediate changes that we're doing. But then also with the amount of content and things that I put out, I love helping people, I love teaching. That is my passion at the core, is being a teacher of homesteading life. I truly live and breathe it, and I love it. And I love helping people, but it has come at a cost. And so what I mean by that is since February of 2018, yes, that has been a long time, I have done a YouTube video of usually tutorials, sometimes a little bit vloggish every single week. Maybe missing a couple of videos throughout a year, but almost every single Wednesday year in and year out since February of 2018. I have done sometimes twice a week, but usually once a week podcast, brand new episode, every week since I think 2014, going on 10 years.
I know when you see a finished podcast episode or a finished YouTube video, you look at the total time on that, and I was the same way until I started doing it. I had no idea. You look at the total time, so this episode will probably be around 30 to 40 minutes total, and you think, "Oh, okay, well that long to record, maybe a few edits or whatever." But you think that took 30 minutes out of their day, maybe an hour max for 30 minutes. Oh my gosh, but that is not the truth. There's so much more that goes into it than that. There's obviously the planning aspect, there's the prepping so that you know what you're going to talk about if you need to have things in order. There's the equipment part, there's the editing, there is the uploading.
I mean, for some of the videos, you might see a 20 to 30 minute as a finished video, but especially if there's any time-lapse in there. Like cooking videos, canning videos, you have to cook it for the whole time. You have to can it for the whole time. And you have to wait right to film those in between. So some of those videos where you see a 20 to 30 minute finished video, especially on pressure canning videos, those can take hours from actual start to finish, from the prepping of the food that's going in, the jars to end, et cetera. I realized I can't keep going at that pace. Plus, we have the membership.
So if you're a member of the Pioneering Today Academy, you know a lot of this, I've already shared this behind the scenes, but we do live videos every month with academy members as well as new lessons that come out within the courses. And so by doing the YouTube and the podcast videos plus everything that goes on in the membership, I mean, that alone is really a full-time job, producing that many lessons and courses and doing all of that. I realized I can't keep up at this pace. My body's very much let me know that I can't keep up at this pace.
And so I'm not quitting YouTube, I'm not quitting the podcast, but I am pulling back. So at this moment in time, I am not going to be putting out new Wednesday videos on YouTube every single week like I was. I am going to continue doing the podcast, but I'm going to do the podcast in seasons. I've never really done that before. And so we're going to do the podcast in seasons where we'll put out so many episodes. And then we'll only take a two or a three-week break. It won't even be a full month in between seasons. But this is where it comes down to having margin.
I realized a lot of my days, there was no margin in my days. No margin in my weeks, no margin in my months, and honestly no margin in my years. And so I've had to look at everything and look and say, "Where can I create some margin?" So one of the ways that I can do that is just as I shared with you, is doing seasons within the podcast. So I have these little breaks. It's only two to three weeks, but I have some breaks where I don't have to scram, I'm not scrambling. I can take some time to breathe, to do some more thinking on things, to create more series, to be able to go more in depth on certain things and then be able to produce those in seasons and not just week after week after week after week.
With the YouTube channel, I'm honestly not sure exactly what that is going to look like. It'll have the podcast episode in the seasons, which will be almost every Friday with some margins there. But as far as just the regular weekly videos that aren't podcasts, I'm not sure what that is going to look like. We are keeping things the same inside the membership and the academy. So you'll still get all of the monthly lives that we do there as well as the new courses that we roll out, the challenges that we go through together, all of those, none of that is going to change. So that will all stay the same. So if you're Academy member and you're watching this, no worries. That part is all going to stay the same.
But really looking at for me is also the daily margin. And so I think for homesteaders, a lot of us, we're cooking from scratch, we're growing food, we are raising livestock. And then all the normal household stuff, you have laundry, there's all those things. You have to clean your house, all those things that is normal for a household. We're already packing a lot more into that though when you're homesteading because most people aren't raising livestock anymore and they're not growing a large percentage of their food. And honestly, a lot of people are using convenience and processed foods. They're not cooking food from scratch. And so, finding some spots to have a little bit of margin. And so that one for me comes a little bit hard, I'll be honest. For both me and my husband, but both of us are feeling almost like we've not been able to catch our breath or have any time off at all really for the past two or three years.
And so we obviously doubled our cattle herd. And that part, we're good with that decision, but we're looking at this year on what we're going to do raising meat birds, how many we're going to do, what that's going to look like for us, and maybe where there's some areas that we pull back. But we've got to create some more margin for ourselves. And I don't even have all of the answers on how we're going to do that personally for ourselves.
But one of the areas that we have is many of you know the story of we got our first milk cow and we had our dairy cow Clover, and it's been just a little over a year since we lost her. There's videos and podcast episodes where I walked through that and what happened and why we lost her. And so at first, I was just too raw emotionally to get another dairy cow. And so we put it off. There was a couple of different dairy cows that came up for sale or was in our area, and we went with like, "Oh, do we do it? Do we not?" and just didn't feel ready yet.
But then now I can talk about losing Clover without crying. We had the anniversary of her death was a couple of weeks ago. That part has healed, that rawness, that emotional part. But honestly, to take on a dairy cow right now, neither one of us have the bandwidth for it. I'm like, I do not have the bandwidth to milk, all that entails with having a dairy cow with everything else, and I'm totally okay with that. We have a local farm that we go and get raw milk from. I go down to her dairy, I pick it up from her. I see her cows all the time, all of that. And I am very happy to support that.
Now, I can't say we'll never get another dairy cow because we may in the future, but I know that it's not right now. So there is no part of us that is going to be bringing in a dairy animal now. I know it's interesting because we want to be very self-sufficient, and I think that's why a lot of people come into home sitting, is to be self-sufficient, to do a lot of it yourself. And that is very great, but we also can look at seasons and it can be totally fine. Like I said, I had a dairy cow. I probably will have one in the future, but it's okay that I don't end this season. So that's completely fine.
And so I'm sharing this, because as you look at what you're doing in your life and in your day to day-to-day, it's okay if you're not doing every single thing. One of those things for us is not doing our dairy cow. And so I guess I just wanted to be very open and honest with you guys as you look through and evaluate, because unfortunately, there's a lot of beautiful things about online. I mean, obviously this is a podcast, right? I wouldn't be able to do any of this aspect of it without being able to share it with you online. I have learned so much from the internet and from people that I've met online. And so I don't think online is bad. There's aspects yes, but there's also a lot of good. So I'm not one of those people that are like, "We need to abolish the internet and take it down." I don't honestly believe that. I do think that we need to know how to function without it, 100%, but I don't see it as all or nothing.
And if you're listening to this podcast or watching it on YouTube, honestly, you don't either, or you wouldn't be here, right? But on the other flip side of that, it can be really easy as we see a lot of people who are coming to homesteading, which again, I love, I love seeing people homesteading and moving into that and sharing what they're doing and sharing what they're learning. But it can be where we see people doing all of the things, or what we assume is all of the things, and think that we need to do all of those things as well or we're not a real homesteader.
Nobody is doing all of the things all of the time, I guarantee it. They're not. And so it's okay to decide what works for you and your family for right now in the season that you're in. I've actually seen a lot of people, especially on YouTube, but in other parts of online, I shared part of this in an email newsletter that I send out... I send a newsletter every Wednesday and Friday.
And so I've been sharing bits of piece of this in the newsletter because I could type with a laptop, I could type and share some things that were happening. I couldn't film anything or do anything like that, but I did have where I could still write the newsletter and I could type that and I could send that out. And as I was sharing just everything that was going on week by week, I got so much feedback from people that said, "I feel like you're reading my mind. I feel the same way. I don't have breathing room. There's no margin, and I've been going at this pace and I can't keep it up. It's not sustainable."
And that's like the antithesis of homesteading, is we want it to be sustainable in all the aspects of that word, but it has to be a way that we can do it for weeks and months. And a lot of things you can do for weeks and months on end, because I have. But can you do them year in, year and year on end and not come to a health point? And that's kind of where I'm at right now.
So as I shared, I don't necessarily even know where all the changes that will happen, but I'm definitely making changes. I'll share more on the health stuff once I get all of the labs back and work my way through that. I'll definitely share all of that with you because I know a lot of you have shared with me that you do have thyroid issues and hormonal issues, different things along those lines. And so I will definitely be sharing more as I work my way through that with you guys. But I just wanted to let you know where I'd been, what to expect going forward, and to hopefully give you some insight and some tools to make changes where you need to in your own life.
So for me, I am making sure that... And this might sound... I don't know, it might sound silly to some people, but I am making sure that I am taking time to do a 30-minute dedicated walk. Just a walk outside, not listening to a podcast. Though in the past, I have loved listening to podcasts or music when I'm out running, that type of thing. But just a walk where I am not trying to listen and absorb things as far as... Because I'm a great multi-tasker, which is kind of a fallacy, but I'm like, "Okay, if I'm weeding the garden, then I'm going to listen to this podcast on XYZ that I want to learn." And that's not a bad thing. But when you do it all the time and you don't have any space where you are just being, where you're not taking in things, but you're just being, our brains and our mind need moments of rest. So I'm taking that time to do that where I just have the 30-minute walk, so I'm getting in a movement, but really that's all it is.
And so that might not seem like a really big deal to you, but it's actually been a really big deal for me because I realized even though they were all good things, how much I was always taking in. Our brains from a stress standpoint and how much input we can actually absorb and take in, we've never had as humans all of this that we have access to now. And so our brains do need time to just rest and to just be.
And I love to learn. Learning is seriously probably my biggest love language. I love learning things. I loved school. I was one of those geeks. I loved school. I love to read. I love to listen to podcasts. That is my jam. But, you can only do so much. Again, like that all or nothing thing. I'm like, "Okay, got to have some margin." So that's one of the things that I'm doing.
The other thing that I'm doing is taking time five days a week, and that is to get back to a weight lifting, but actual weight lifting plan where you're working certain body parts in certain orders because I'd kind of gotten very sporadic with it. And living on a farm when I wasn't sick for those 35 days, I should say November through the first part of January, you're lifting hay bales, you're lifting feed buckets, you're lifting waters, you're lifting chickens. So chickens don't really actually weigh that much. I'm moving chicken tractors by hand, some of them. Some of them are too heavy and we have to use the four-wheeler for. But I'm normally pretty active. But especially within the seasonality of homesteading, I tend to use different muscles in different seasons more than others. And honestly, my mobility, that I really noticed because I had gotten out of doing in a consistent rhythm, doing stretching and some of that mobility work that I typically would do in a warm-up and especially in a cool down when I was actually doing a workout.
So I'm starting back slowly. Part of it I had stopped was because I had so much pain in my shoulder and neck that I couldn't really do a lot of upper body weights. I couldn't do any shoulder work, like shoulder presses or anything like that, push-ups, et cetera. And so that was part of why I had gotten out of the habit. And so I'm starting very slowly to start to build that back. But I could look at my day and say, "I don't have time for these things."
There was a lot of days where it was true, and you probably will find it true, right? You're like, "I am so, so busy, I don't have time to do those things." But I realized with 35 days of really not being able to do hardly anything, I figure out time to do the things that are needed in order to stay as healthy as possible, or I can be flat on my back because I refuse to listen to my body because one way or the other, it will catch up with you.
So those are a couple of the things that I'm doing. And honestly, if I'm tired, like this last week has been the first week where I felt fully functional again, where I didn't have a fever, I had energy to do things. And honestly, it was amazing. I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I haven't felt functioning like this in, one, it was weeks, but truly even months at that level. It's been so long since I felt like this."
What's interesting is, Sunday, which I'm recording this for you on a Monday, so yesterday was Sunday, after church and doing some stuff down at the farm stay because we had some guests check out, I came home and sat down in the chair and I looked at my husband, I'm like, "You know what? I'm really tired." And I took a nap. And so, recognizing when your body says "I need rest" and giving it rest when possible.
Now, I realize if you work a 9:00 to 5:00 job somewhere, like when I worked at the pharmacy, if I was tired at two o'clock in the afternoon, I couldn't just go take a nap on the floor of the pharmacy, right? I get that. But there was so many times when I felt tired like that, like I really needed to sleep and just rest, and I just refuse to do it. I would get up because I'm like, "I'm a hard worker. I can get stuff done. I can plow through this." And maybe it is a pride thing, like I don't know, like a badge of honor almost, like pride myself on, "I know how to work hard and I'm just going to get it done. Regardless if I feel tired, this needs to be done." But you can only do that so long and I kind of reach the end of mine.
So I hope that this has brought you some food for thought, if nothing else, and for you to look at the places that you can find margin. One of the other things that I'm doing, and I think all of us can do this, even if you are in a 9:00 to 5:00 for most of the part, is if you just take five minutes every hour, like set an alarm if you need to, whatever that is, but if you just take five minutes every hour, even if it's just to get it from where you're at, if you're working at a computer for example, or if you're working, really doing something outside, but just take five minutes to just breathe. And I mean deep breaths where we're that deep inhale and inhale and exhale and to just sit and just be. We do not do that enough as a society. And it really does affect you long-term, like your mind.
Our mind and stress, stress has just as much impact on your health as what you eat in your environment. But a lot of times we don't acknowledge that or we don't realize it. So even if you just take five minutes every hour. Maybe it's two minutes. Whatever you can find or make. I shouldn't say whatever you can find. You need to set aside a time where you're making a commitment and a conscious thought and effort that, "This is what I'm going to do."
So for me, I try to take at least five as my minimum of 10 hours every hour throughout the day where I just take a couple of minutes to me. So maybe that's brewing a cup of tea. But not just brewing it and then bringing it back to my desk or moving into the next meeting and then just sipping it without thinking about it, or without just taking those moments to just inhale the steam and to really enjoy it.
So thank you so much for coming on this journey with me. I excited to share what I find going forward with you. And I'm thankful that you're here. And today's podcast episode is sponsored by Azure Standard. And as I said, when you come to the realization that you can't do everything yourself and that there's seasons, I have relied on Azure Standard for the things that I'm not able to do right now, but I don't want my health or my family's food to suffer. So for example, normally I make a lot of our own dairy products, so I'll make our own cheese, I make our own cultured yogurt, those types of things. But honestly, when I was sick, I did not have the energy to make our own homemade yogurt. No, it wasn't there.
So I got from Azure Standard, they have a great brand of grass fed, grass finished organic regenerative agriculture, dairy farm yogurt. It's the brand of the Alexandra Family Farm yogurt. What I love about it is it is an A2/A2, and it is the whole milk extra cream on top, which means that it is not homogenized because I try to stay away from homogenization. I want the milk to be in its closest state as it comes out from the cow. And so this has been a great item that, yeah, I know how to make it myself. Is it cheaper if you make it yourself? Yes, it is. However, there's some great options, and Azure carries a lot of products that... Actually, all of their products I should say. But their products meet the standard of what I would do at home in my own kitchen, and I'm not able to find those products at my regular grocery stores. So I order a lot from Azure Standard, and they are a staple in our pantry and in our kitchen.
If you are a first time customer and place an order of $50 or more, then you can use coupon code MELISSA10 and get an extra 10% off. They have a ton of products. They have perishable products, they have frozen products, they have fresh produce, as well as a lot of pantry staples as well. So definitely go and check them out.
Thank you so much for joining me on this episode, and I will see you back here next week where we're going to be diving into gut health and the brain connection. You guys, it is a fascinating episode. Especially if you have been dealing with any type of health struggles, I think you are going to really enjoy this episode. So I'll see you same place back here next week with that one.
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