Some of the best meals I’ve ever had were from right around the corner. And I’m not talking 5* restaurant or Catskills-chic farm-to-table cliche that’s become so popular around here but rather the kind made by friends over a fire pit or a smoker or a grill a flattop at the campground. The kind made in crock pots and old ovens, seasoned with creativity and experiments and trial and error and a dash of laughter and good times. And I’m not kidding either – some of these meals made by me and my friends are better than you’ll find in any restaurant!

This week’s dining experience was an Independence Day pig roast with a 30# pig and two 10# (each!!!) pork shoulders slow roasted and smoked. Leftovers were then shredded and marinated in raw cider vinegar with some dry seasonings and left to soak. Heat up with BBQ sauce on the grill and toss over a salad for dinner or for the kids, grill alongside chopped kale and zucchini in garlic butter, then pile the pork, veggies, and a slice of melted cheddar cheese and a dash of added Sweet Baby Ray’s on top and mmmmm! I’m talking that kinda good. The day after was northern pico with local veggies – radishes, cucumber, arugula, celery, red cabbage and salsa – on the pork with a NY-made kombucha hot sauce in lettuce wraps. Also ahhhhhmazing! It’s fun and healthy, and I’ve really enjoyed it lately especially because I can be super creative without a ton of prep or effort or cleanup. Winning!

I’ve been fighting crippling panic attacks lately and I’m not sure why. I know I am under a lot of stress but I feel like it’s all stuff I can deal with, everything is going in the right direction, and while it’s not ideal, things ARE looking up. Work is improving steadily as is our professional reputation. My ability to work within and be a leader across my and other counties is something I am proud of, and being able to use things things to help build a better community and future for all is both inspiriting and work that I am grateful to be able to do. Ballots went out for the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development board and while it’s an unpaid volunteer position, I am really hoping I get it because I am invested in this local community in so many ways. And I am self-aware that these things are happening, there is still a lot of stress and pressure on me, and aware that these panic attacks are based on fears and not reality but for some reason I haven’t been able to stop them from coming.

It’s been debilitating some mornings and most nights. I wake up in 2-3h increments around the clock with 45+ min gaps where I can’t fall back asleep and whatever sleep I do get is crappy at most. In the morning I feel overwhelmed and start to panic and then freeze in fear, and partial exhaustion from crappy sleep, and try to go back to bed but instead I feel horribly guilty for not being more productive. I calm myself down and talk myself out of it while checking work emails and weather forecasts and making mental to-do lists of everything I need to get done before Morgan’s graduation party and then I still feel guilty when finally at 9am I drag myself out of bed, finished with whatever emails I can answer from my phone. I set aside work to feed the dogs and cats, clean the house, start laundry, do the farm chores, take the dogs and myself for a few mile walk (for all of our sanity’s sake!), and come back to shower, make coffee and a protein smoothie and then look at the time and see it’s nearly 11am and feel like I am so incredibly late for work and I haven’t even started my day yet (like somehow everything I’ve already done since 630am until that point doesn’t count).

I have these impossible standards for myself and I am not sure why. I am sure that’s what’s triggering some of these panic attacks. Now that I think of it, I did just have an incredible experience at the NY Air Show that brought back all good memories with my father. I validated some of them with my mother that yes, I had been to an air show as a child before my siblings were born or my sister was very young. I did remember a bunch of other good stuff too and that was cool so perhaps in some way this is connected to the healing from that? I do know that I have to stop and remind myself everything I’ve accomplished and still accomplish every day, even on the days it feels like I’m doing nothing because I know that I both need and deserve those things. I am learning these years to be kinder to myself and allow myself the same grace with which to grow as I so readily offer to others.

This summer is light years better than last summer. I am in a completely different place, with more confidence, fitness (despite still fighting to lose the last 10# from winter ugh!), and much more work than I’ve had in a long time. SO I am going out with friends tomorrow and not going to let myself feel guilty about it. I am going to stay in and do things around the house and farm to get ready for the party and for camping so that I feel accomplished in ways I enjoy in addition to work. And I am going to continue to drive things forward with new business and work here in Sullivan and planning ahead for August and September travel to Las Vegas and Crystal River again. I’m looking forward to all of it! Even better is knowing it’s going to keep getting better from here.

I think I am understanding better now the shifting of vibrations and elevating one’s self if you will. It’s harder than all these online courses and discussions make you believe on the surface. It’s comparable to the difference between a diet and a lifestyle change and understanding the motivators for you, yourself that drive those behaviors and give you the ability to better grow.

We are all powerful beings. Realizing the true depth and purpose of that power is both scary and liberating, as you learn how to use it for good.