Back to the land
It is August, when the U.S. side of the border starts doing their early ‘back to school’ marketing thing. Before, I never understood why they would cut the summer mood so short by advertising protractor kits in August, but now I know that there, many schools, especially private ones, go back during what is to me the penultimate summer month – August.
Go figure… I don’t always get the U.S.. 😉
As someone who always attended Canadian public school, “back to school” for me is decidedly a September thing, and it feels like the start of a new time, a fresh start, every time September comes around. August is still an outdoor-focused back to the land time.
Speaking of which, if you have a garden you are probably harvesting your midsummer summer crops now. I’m not a garden pro, but even I’ve had lettuce, carrots, kale, green onions, cilantro, basil, strawberries and more. You may have veggies like peas, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and beans.
I just got my final boxes of local blueberries for the season from a farmer in Langley, which brings to an end my favourite gluttony – handfuls of fresh, firm blueberries every day.
This past weekend we kept getting offered fresh peas which were growing well on climber vines and ready to eat, but as the summer heat and dryness accelerates through August they can shrivel, yellow and die back.
Luckily, if you love peas, as the weather cools in autumn you have another opportunity to grow them. Snap peas, snow peas, and shelling peas (no stakes? – grow bush beans – thanks for the tip auntie Jacquie!) along with winter squash, cabbage and other stuff that can fade in the heat.
Try those seeds again
For those whose gardening has been a flop so far this year, and for those ready for round 2 or 3, it’s time to think about autumn crops! If you didn’t have a chance to plant a summer garden, now’s your chance to plant some fall veg.
Fall crops love the cooler weather and don’t do well if grown too early in locations that have very wet springs or sometimes hot summers.
For those who found the weather was too wet or cold or weird and your seeds did not germinate, try again!
The concept of GRIT recently came up in my conversations. This is the ability to persevere and keep going, to put in the work and wait to be rewarded. It helps to be passionate about the outcome you are striving for.
Well, now is the time to show your grit around gardening and growing your own food. It stands for so much: Self sufficiency, ecological sustainability, falling in step with nature, being less reliant on the consumption economy. So worth it!
Even if you’re up North you can plant, just maybe hardier stuff like turnip, carrot, parsnip. If you are not sure, check the hardiness ratings of seeds before buying or planting, and if need be, start plants on your window ledges and transplant them.
Things like root veg, Brussels, hard sided squashes, kale, peas, Bok choy, broccoli, corn, cauliflower, and cabbage are your prefect friends in the endeavour – they are pretty gritty themselves.
And maybe, you can still get in another round of summer veggies – peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, or beans.
Plan a late garden now
In life, timing cannot be understated.
Your seeds need to be sprouted, poking out of the ground and producing before first frost. Most plants take about 55 – 120 days to grow to maturity, aka the edible stage. It depends on the veggie and whether you start the seed outside or inside that you transplant as seedlings.
A short growing season area like Saskatchewan might see frost in early September, so, if you’re in the prairies, you may have 2 months to grow/go, and you’ll need to get seedlings in ASAP, but on Vancouver Island you may have 3 months, and seeds can go in over the next few weeks.
Check the seeds for their growing time to maturity, check your hardiness zone or typical first frost date, and count back the number of days you’ll need to start the seeds or get the seedlings in the ground.
The Old Farmers’ Almanac has a great chart that’s helpful. A friend of mine has great results using biodynamic charts too. If you are local, check out this handy guide to B.C. hardiness zones: British Columbia First Frost Map
Back to school?
Speaking of new beginnings and back to school, I am learning like a child these days. Beginner’s Mind and all that.
I feel it ramping up in preparation for September.
Everything is brand new since I came to the realization that my brain is wired really differently from most other people.
I recently read On Being Human, a great and very relatable memoir by Jennifer Pastiloff, a Californian retreat leader who combines writing and yoga in her workshops.
Through the book she comes to terms with her hearing impairment, disordered eating, which should probably be called disordered thinking, and body dysmorphia, as well as grappling with loss, depression, and issues with her family of origin too.
Being blind to the nature of your reality
I could relate to her experiences, even the one of realizing belatedly that the way you relate to the world is atypical.
She realized that she was going deaf, but it took a while, just as when I started to lose my vision as a child. I didn’t know I was losing my vision for quite a while, I just thought I was getting worse at math, because the shapes on the board no longer made sense. So she got by by paying close attention to other cues, as did I.
Friends and I once ran down a steep and densely wooded mountainside in the dark. I ran too fast to stop, legs akimbo, without being able to see 5 feet in front of me, praying I would be ok and not twist an ankle or get impaled on a stick.
Crazy? Maybe…but the experience did not feel that unusual for me. I always felt foggy in my head and outside my head and resorted to “using the force”.
Even after I got glasses, feeling blurry and not seeing was normalized for me. I have gone places with my eyes so fuzzy that I went by sound or feel only. I used to lose my vision all the time and not know why. (I found in my thirties that for me gluten + potatoes = fuzzy, blind eyes).
What is wrong with me?
I’ve always thought I was weird, mentally ill, or something was wrong with me and I couldn’t figure out what. I did plenty of self-help activities and study and personality tests but nothing helped me.
But, “what is wrong with me?” is a question that is bound to give you bad answers. That’s why I don’t ask that anymore. It was a lifelong habit I recently quit.
But I tried on different labels along the way to this clarity.
I didn’t fit in in high school so I found community and culture elsewhere, in the house music scene, so the first label was raver and I still identify that way, even though it is an out of date term.
When I was 16, my English teacher thought I was illiterate because I didn’t participate (because I thought she was awful. I was into animal rights, and she wore head to toe leather every. single. day.). They gave me the University test by accident instead of the high school test and it showed I could complete Graduate level English in record time. As in, not illiterate.
When I was raped and complained to the school counsellor that the captain of the soccer team was dangerous, they recommended a psychiatric evaluation … for me! (His poor girlfriend ignored me too, and later got a restraining order.) The psychiatrist-mandated IQ test showed I was in the 98% percentile, and even though IQ tests don’t count for much, I wasn’t stupid. So what was I? I figure I was sad and angry. They decided I was bipolar and needed meds.
I was moved to the special ed room – the one for misfit kids. Rebels, criminals, pregnant girls, those who accessorized their bodies or dressed too creatively. Maybe I was a rebel, I didn’t take the meds. Instead, I got interested in nutrition.
This opened the door to becoming what I call a health detective.
An Empowering Label
I decided I was not just a holistic nutritionist, I was a Health Detective.
It is out of my scope of practice to diagnose others, and now I focus on folks with diagnosed hormone issues, but when it came to myself, somebody had to do it, and that somebody was me!
I presented with loads of endocrine symptoms my whole life – crankiness, migraines, fibroids, depression, and even a goiter as a child, but no one put it together! We blamed the head, neck and lower back pain on the times I was hit by cars. I never got answers because no one in my family was good at getting what they needed from institutions like the medical system.
I had to get to figuring it out, broken fuzzy brain and all. It was like sword fighting in a fog, using my hearing and sense of touch, getting injured along the way, but fighting through (grit).
When I figured out that I had a bunch of health issues, things started to change.
I figured out I was nutrient depleted because of allergies and a damaged gut, and this is what wore me down so that Candida was systemically overgrown and making it worse.
I decided to cut out sugar and that really helped. When, by a lucky accident my partner brought home a load of groceries that were also gluten-free, EVERYTHING changed. The fog in my mind receded a little.
AHA! A clue! I figured I’d been chronically anemic, probably made worse from Celiac disease and fibroids. Iron, I need iron…
I intuited that I had Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis. That comes with brain fog, pain, mood problems, fatigue…it made so much sense. I pushed for the testing. Confirmed! When I chose to take selenium and vitamin D, my antibody count dropped by thousands of points.
I was testing low in B12 and folate. I got genetic testing and discovered I have the super common MTHFR gene SNP.
I suddenly remembered the bulls-eye mark of Lyme disease when I was 12, and figured my body had been battling for a really long time. That could explain why I was in a premature menopause, triggered early by chronic ill health and stress.
I had a lot of puzzle pieces but was still tired, my head still fuzzy.
I figured out that I needed to heal my gut even further. When testing showed that I was high in toxic mercury and then that I have a chronic gut infection with SIBO and SIFO and amoebas, knowing that all of that can show up as brain fog made sense too.
I felt like I was a crazed gambler, betting everything on supplements, but I knew that chronic Candida and bacteria and gluten and being depleted in Bs and low in thyroid hormones all contributed to the brain fog too, so I knew I could solve it, and when I did, the brain fog lifted.
Thinking clearly is amazing!
When the brain fog lifted over the past couple years, I was able to clearly see what I was left with. As in, what brain would I have, if I hadn’t been consuming the wrong stuff and battling infections and not low in thyroid hormones.
And the result is a pretty good brain. However, this summer I have made more breakthroughs with some big discoveries.
I came to understand that I need relatively massive doses of zinc and B6 because I have pyroluria. Doing this has solved most of my pain, my urinary irritation and improved my mood.
That has been a huge one for me, and I felt like I am getting to the end of the maze. Treating ADD with massive doses of magnesium and omegas has helped me to focus and feel calm.
Then, this weekend I learned that I have aphantasia, too.
What is Aphantasia?
Aphantasia is the term for not being able to visualize anything. It’s a blind minds eye.
When I try to visualize things, ((as I have paid thousands of dollars to be guided to do, in so many programs over the years)), I see NOTHING. Or, maybe not nothing. More like the TV snow in the old days when you’d lose the cable connection. I see black and grey swirls.
No visual representation.
I finally admitted this because I have been doing a course (the Silva Ultramind System, where you get into different brainwave states like theta and alpha at will) and I started crying because I still couldn’t conjure up an image of my dream reality. I always thought that I could learn, and get better at this.
I told my partner, admitting it for the first time out loud.
“I see nothing.”
And coincidentally, a few days later, while we sitting at our campfire out in the woods, he then met a woman who had the same issue and told him that it is called aphantasia. It is not well understood, and there is no cure, it just affects some people’s brains.
I think it is a bizarre twist that my father had a photographic memory.
What is doubly hilarious here, and I think the word IRONY is appropriate here, is that my coaching and nutrition clients LOVE my guided visualizations.
They seem to enjoy the way I can paint them into a scene and walk them through the steps word by word, telling them what to picture, what steps to take so that they can paint the reality and the feeling they need.
I get requests to do these, talking them into a place of freedom, or a place of fitness, or a place of ease… and I have always wondered why it makes me just a little uncomfortable.
For some reason I always felt a bit of imposter syndrome while guiding them… and now I know why. I can obviously find the words…I just cannot see it myself. So I feel phoney leading others.
Yes, I seem to live with it.
True, I think this is why I cannot decorate a room with furniture to save my life.
But, I have won several creative writing prizes.
And, I can describe to my photographer what kind of image would represent my brand…
… and I have the ability to draw a map of North America with all the states and provinces, from memory.
But I just know where they go, which is next to which. I know their shapes and sizes, but I cannot visualize or picture anything in my head.
And I think that’s why I am smart, but not so smart.
And why I can think my way where I need to go, even though I go blind. I am kind of used to just taking the risk.
Knowing this about the ADD and the aphantasia makes sense of things like my obsessive need to be the one to pack for a move or a trip, and to write down and list of everything, not just throw them in a box or bag. If I don’t, I may not be able to function later due to an inability to figure out what I have, because I cannot picture the bag or box contents, I can only recite back in my head the list.
It’s good to have a word for it, even though I feel kind of broken.
I am going to use this new info to start fresh, with a beginner’s mind, looking to see the world through my new understanding of my own perception for the first time. At least, that is the idea that I am going to plant.
I think that since I cannot visualize the future I want, I need to get planting seeds of the ideas that I need to have for that world to form.
Anyway that’s what I am hoping for.
Happy planting and gardening folks 🙂