Why is Health so Complicated?

I  wonder, why does health seems so complicated. Taking a note from my own personal health, I found out about 2 and a half years ago I have fibroids. At the time I had three which were relatively small.  Fortunately, they did not effect my pregnancy, but I had to make a few decisions. I wasn’t familiar with what fibroids actually meant to my body. What I knew was that I had many friends and family who had surgeries to relieve themselves of pain, pressure, and the other symptoms that come along with having fibroids. After consulting my doctor she suggested that I do not have surgery because they can shrink be eating right. She suggested I take a holistic approach.


Even after my a second opinion, my male doctor said the same thing. Of course, I didn’t want to at first. Why? Because of the fried fish, French fries, cinnamon rolls, popcorn, pasta, and the list goes on. Now, I using eat pretty “healthy”. However, the minute I had to think about not eating what I needed, is the minute I realized how conditioned I was to my interpretation of  “healthy eating”.  After deciding not think about it and do it, it wasn’t as bad as I thought although I did give in at times. Like so many, I was fooled into thinking that I had to have certain foods prepared a certain way, I fooled myself into thinking that I couldn’t live without cinnamon rolls, but the truth is I can.


What my doctors meant by eating right is eating more raw leafy green vegetables that are high iron, potassium, folate, vitamin A, K, and C. This meant I had to put away the sauces, stir-fries, butter, salt, pepper, and seasoning rubs. Nowadays, I eat straight from my garden. The only thing I do is wash the greens off and eat them. So far, so good. This does require lots of focus and getting use to the taste. Among my favorites are collard greens, chard, beet roots and leaves, broccoli leaves, cabbage, and chunks of raw ginger.  This days I don’t look for support, because I realized I am the support I need. Besides, it is difficult finding someone who voluntarily eats raw vegetables without detoxing, dieting, or experimenting as a vegan.

~ ShirMel Hayden

Me and the Sweet Potato

For the last 2 days, I got the chance to host 100 8th grades on the farm. It was hot, humid, 90 degrees, and exhausting. The groups we hosted really worked the farm and were enthusiast about being there (as much as 8th graders came be).  They cleaned, harvested, dug, turned over, watered, layed mulch, and sifted soil. By day 3, I was so tired I felt like I could not go on any longer, but I did. This morning I got up and harvested sweet potatoes. My mother mentioned that she wanted to make sweet potato fries. Even after the last 2 days, I managed to pull myself together. What I realized while getting the sweet potatoes is that fa20170922_074109rming doesn’t stop. There is always something important to do. When I had my garden I could spend a couple days a week managing it, having a social life, working, and a few other things. Farming is another level of work. It is by far the hardest work I have ever done. When I am out there it’s me against the environemt. It’s me trying to figure out the needs of all I grow. It’s me trying to manage myself when fatigue and exhausted creeps up. It’s me trying to show my son at a young age how to feed a community of people. I must admit it is also rewarding picking 5 pounds of sweet potato without frowning at grocery store prices. The price is the hard work put into them.

The Unplug

Don’t be a Prisoner to the CELL Phone

Wake up, check the phone. Get the kids up, check the phone. Freshen up, check the phone. Get dressed, check the phone. Fix breakfast, check the phone. Eat breakfast, check the phone. Load up the car, check the phone. Drop off the kids, check the phone. Battle traffic to the office, check the phone. Unload car at the office, check the phone. Send some emails, check the phone. Go to work meeting, check the phone. You get the point. The ability to unplug is becoming a necessity in day-to-day life for many Americans. Whether you’re a single person, single parent, or married; the hustle and bustle of daily life can really wreak havoc on your relationships and your spirit. So how do you unplug?BestPhones-Mar15-1200-80[1]

When I think about the many social media outlets and how attached we’ve gotten to our cell phones, more than ever I know we need to have a game plan for unplugging from everything. Growing up, I went outside almost every day. As video games became all the buzz I continued to spend my time with my friends playing outside and discovering nature. Throughout high school I stayed on the move. In 1996, I applied for my first cell phone, who knew it would become a universal addiction. My first plan was probably sixty dollars for around two hundred minutes, but today’s adults and youth enjoy unlimited plans that sound advantageous but seem to be working to our disadvantage.


#1 Put the phone down. Can you put your phone down for an entire morning or an entire evening? What about an hour or two? Or are you like most people who’ve walked out of the house, left their phone, and felt completely naked. We have developed a need to be constantly entertained and it’s impacting every aspect of our lives. The cell phone has morphed into a device that keeps us connected, provides us information, and for many people gives them a sense of comfort on a level we’ve never seen before. But while we’ve gained a sense of comfort we’ve lost the ability to RELAX!

#2 Relax about everything. Many of the most successful people among us do one thing very well, they’ve mastered the ability to unplug from everything and just be at peace with life, if only for the moment. Before finding my passion in life, mentoring kids, I was working in corporate America. I was doing everything I could to ensure my family was taken care of. I was moving up the corporate ladder, but it wasn’t until my Saturday mornings at Starbucks I realized how cluttered my mind was.

#3 Create time in you schedule that you don’t check your phone. Trying to maintain sanity in today’s world can be a tough task so we should carve out time in our daily routines to simply unplug from the phone and media of any kind to find peace. I’m not sure how you unplug, but I want you to start putting more thought into being unplugged from the world. I don’t think that we can truly connect to what’s important without being unplugged. Many adults as well as youth are having a hard time coping with anxiety. While almost everything has become more convenient people are more on edge than ever. It is important to find a balance to keep our mind, body, and spirit in balance.

Unplugging doesn’t mean spending a ton of money on vacations. I often find the hustle and bustle of vacation can often leave you wanting only to rest when you arrive back home. I’m simply talking about taking time to find a quiet space to clear your mind, reflecting on what you’ve learned about life, and being thankful for the many opportunities that you’ve been given. Practicing this steps just may make life a little more enjoyable!

~Guest contributor – Delane Knight

My 1st Indoor Gardening Workshop

Yes! I completed my first indoor gardening workshop on September 12th. It was a success by numbers and people were full of questions, conversation, and enthusiasm.  I will admit I had no idea what to expect while setting up tables, chairs, and supplies. I had no idea who would be there and if they knew more than I did. 20170912_180209 I was so nervous I was sweating in an air conditioned room. Lol!  As everyone arrived I noticed they walked in with smiles and great attitudes and did my best to build on their energy.  The workshop capacity was twenty and we exceeded that five minutes before I started my presentation. We had a total of 24 people.  I opened up with a small ice breaker which added to the wonderful energy. There were people with disabilities, elderly, young people, 40 somethings, different cultures, different backgrounds, an array of gardening experiences, different eating habits, and more. Being active and learning is what we all had in common. 20170912_180146They were all there to learn what indoor gardening meant and how to create a space in their homes for it. I was very surprise at the positive responses I received from the surveys that none of the participants wanted to workshop to end. They were all interested learning more. The most important lesson I learned was that if you have a goal you owe it to yourself to keeping going and follow it through. Sometimes it is not about the numbers, but about the people you reach. I am still working on adding more workshop options and learning different ways to incorporate cooking, herb pairing, and smoothies into a workshop series. I am looking forward to expanding my indoor gardening classes.


Water Lessons – There is a Difference

For the past few months I have had a difficult time growing vegetables from seed to seedling. Many of the plants have dried out after the stem and stalk, despite continuing to water them. After months of confusion, it dawned on me the reason they were drying is because I was using filtered water.  When I lived in southern California, there wasn’t much rain water. 95% of the water came from a hose or filtered water. There wasn’t much natural rain water falling from the sky.  Living in the south is a new experience, new way of gardening for me, and an adjustment. Seems my plants love the rain water, as much as they like the dew in the morning. I realize that soil, zodffg306_1fg.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462[1]ne, sun, humidity, environment and hurricane season all play important roles in gardening here. Learning new ways of gardening is not difficult, just requires lots of patience, trial and error. Working with the sandy soil in California is not much of a different than here in the south where many people use sand as a way to provide good drainage. My new DIY project includes being able to catch rain water with a barrel and nozzle for watering. Plants are very interesting with their likes and dislikes. This should be an interesting project.  I hope my barrel looks as cute at the one in the picture. I am adding another goal to my list. Wish me luck.


Building a Business and Garden Growing

20170825_091326I am up early Sunday morning with lots to do. For the past few days I have been out in my garden space preparing for the late fall and winter months. Preparing means lots of turning over soil and fertilizing it. It means getting dirty, sweaty, working outside in the heat, and being exhausted afterwards. It means nurturing the soil before planting.  In the mist of this preparation, I am currently working on proposals to be a local vendor for a smoothie shop and funding my partnership with Rosewood Farms (teach indoor and outdoor gardening classes). All this is happening at the same time. It is not without lots of sacrifice and early mornings.

In all of this I have learned that there is no perfect way to create the life you want.  It is more about your vision and how you handle the ups and downs of it all. I order to make this land look nice and manicured, it takes countless hours of hard work. In order to have the fresh vegetables, it takes pushing in an extra 10 hours per week. In order to build positive professional relationships, you have to do the work and more importantly, people have to see you making progress.  It takes answering every phone call, responding to every email, and for me it waking up at 4:45am and having a 18 hour days sometimes 7 days a week.  It takes stepping outside your comfortable zone by yourself and listening to that inner voice that says, “stop holding yourself back.” Sometimes it means you have to walk that road alone and pick people who are on that same path.

Growing the Pain and Learning to Talk About It – Part II


When Our Hearts Stopped-Part II: Empty Arms

depressão (2)My doctor called ahead to the hospital where I was admitted to the women’s labor and delivery unit. I was in such a daze I wasn’t certain what was about to happen. I’m sure the doctor explained, but I couldn’t hear a thing. I remember the day shift nurse being so kind. I was hooked to the machines and labor was induced. This process was rather familiar, although different from the time of bringing my son into the world. The pain was so sharp with each contraction, it consumed my body. Five hours of labor, before the doctor makes the call. When I awoke, she was gone. We were no longer one. We called a dear friend who is a minister and asked for prayer. The tears fell like a waterfall. There was a new shift of nurses that arrived and they were just as kind. The nurse asked if we wanted to see our baby. I had conflicting thoughts and emotions with this question. Overwhelmed with uncertainty, we requested to have a moment alone to talk. I didn’t want to leave with any what if’s or regrets, yet it was such a struggle to come to an agreement. The nurse brought her to us and gave us our time alone with her. She later came back with two other nurses and they prayed over our baby and prayed for our strength to carry on. I cherish the memory of having that time with our baby girl and having the chance to hold her even if only for a short time. Leaving the next day was numbing. I remember when my son was born being wheeled out to the car with him in my arms. This time I was wheeled out to the car, but my arms were melancholically empty. The moment we drove away from the hospital, was the beginning of what would be a five-year journey through muck and mire of marital turmoil, loss of self, unsuccessful infertility treatments and depression. It has been a long journey to recovery from such a devastating life experience. Much of it done in silence. I have come a long way to reach this point to share my story. I hope my story can be a catalyst for others to share their story.

Loss of a baby no matter how far along cause’s unimaginable grief. Many women and couples suffer in silence; simply because miscarriages are just not discussed, yet they are so common. Each person will have their own process of getting through such a traumatic experience. Even though 1 and 4 women suffer miscarriages, we are silent. There are many reasons why I believe this to be, but we who have been that 1, must break the silence and share our stories. If we don’t talk about it, who will? By all means it is not easy to talk about and at the same time not easy to listen to either. As a professor, I always say to my students, you must become comfortable being uncomfortable in order to grow. What would it take to get the conversation started?

~Part II of a blog series based on a true story.

Growing from Pain and Learning to Talk About It

When Our Hearts Stopped-Part I: Heartbeat

It was a gut wrenching wail heard throughout the office. Time seemed to have stopped. I felt as though I was blind and could no longer hear anything around me. This could not be possible, I just heard the beats of my baby’s heart the week before. As I lay on the hard table, I think to myself, this person is making a mistake. She just doesn’t know what she is doing, she must be new at this job and doesn’t know where to look. The tech says nothing to us for a long period, then she says quickly, “I’ll be right back, I seem to be having a little problem.” The tech comes back with a man who introduces himself as a doctor. He moves the wand around on my belly quietly and intently. I think to myself something is happening, something must be wrong. I ask, “What is going on?” He turns to us and says those six words.

FB_IMG_1503401306711“I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.” I look over to my husband and his head is down between his hands. Then it hits me like a tsunami. The anguish pulling back like the waves of the ocean and the sound was not audible. Suddenly, there was a rush like the ocean waves coming back towards the sand on the beach, the pain crashing into the pit of my soul and I was drowning. My husband put his arms around me and suddenly there was sound. A wail from the depths of my feet that moved through my body and out of my mouth. I’d never felt a pain so great in my life. For 15 weeks this life was growing and developing in my womb and in a moment’s time, the dream was no longer. The hope, the vision, the dream of our growing family stopped with her heartbeat. Yes, “her.”

We held the news close to the vest for 12.5 weeks. We waited that half just to make sure we crossed that “safe” threshold. We made it! We were so excited. You see, we had already experienced 2 previous miscarriages. But this time, we made it past that fragile period and wanted to spread the good news. Our son was 6 years old at the time and took the news in a way only a 6 year old could. Life for us, was just where we had waited so long to find ourselves. As life would have it, that bomb was dropped and we were left to sink or swim and we sunk for quite some time.

~Part I of a blog series based on a true story.

My Leafy Green Eating

A couple of days ago I decided to take a stand for my personal health. Before I got pregnant I was told I had 3 fibroids that were small. My doctor suggested that I curve my diet to prevent them from growing and having any surgical procedures. I thought this was an easy task since I had a garden with over 20 herbs and vegetables growing. I usually eat straight from my garden, but every now and then I would enjoy foods that are not the healthiest. For me, its fried foods, pasta, cinnabons, bread, and very often something sweet like ice cream. While, having one foot in and a foot out of my eating habits, I recently realized that my eating habits were unproductive. Yes! I love to snack. It is often difficult with so many billboards while I am driving, commercials while looking at TV, and rows of sugar at the grocery stores. When I thought about it, I do not want to have any type of surgical dark-green-leafy-vegetables-in-colander-elena-elisseeva[1]procedure if I can help it. Staying focus is very difficult, but doable.  A few days ago I plated peas, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, basil, thyme, and chard.  I have already planted for the fall and have started to create a vegetable  list for winter to get an early start.  My leafy greens eating allows me to get vitamins A, B, C, K, iron, and potassium. They are also high in alkaline with a host of other benefits.  It is very interesting to think about because it doesn’t take much to growth them yourself.

What I realized is that one foot in and out of my eating habits was counter productive. On a larger scale it brought to the forefront the ways I approach most things in life. Speeding up to present day, I believe life much about your health. The processed sugar, salty foods are simply not healthy to eat. I like many people I know would look the other way, and pretend what I eat doesn’t impact my health. For me, not anymore. Staying and leading a balanced life in my decision making and the foods I eat.