Wow! Where did 2020 go? This year has been like nothing I’ve ever experienced before and I wanted to take a few minutes to share a personal update on life, my business, family, and education. Let’s dive right in!
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How do I feel the year went given everything that has happened?
All-in-all, I think this year went pretty well. COVID definitely made 2020 more complicated than years past, but we adapted and have managed as well as can be expected.
I spend most of 2020 pregnant. COVID aside, that was an added dynamic that made things a bit unusual. By mid-summer, I was experiencing a lot of practice contractions, throwing off our routine most days. I can’t complain, though. It was a great pregnancy and William is a wonderful baby.
My husband shifted to remote work in March and has been in our first-floor office ever since. (Almost literally, but hey – #startuplife) We’re really thankful that our townhouse has room on the bottom floor for a (somewhat private) office. It isn’t perfect, but it’s so much better than our previous living situation.
What are the highlights from the year?
Enough about COVID, let’s get to the good stuff…
The biggest highlight of our year by far! August 22, 2020, we welcomed Baby William to the family. This was our second homebirth and I am more in love with homebirth now than after Henry was born. (Stay tuned for his birth story in the next few months!)
Outside of those highlights, we are thrilled that my husband’s youngest brother got married in October. We are thankful to have another Mrs. B in the family (after a mere six years of waiting) and look forward to many, wonderful family gatherings to come.
Due to the day being chaotic, I didn’t get any pictures of the four of us, but I did manage to snap this of Zach and Henry:
We (loosely) started preschool with Henry. He is eager to learn about anything and everything. So, we’ve been trying to sit down together a few days a week to do “school.” He is really excited about workbooks, cutting and pasting crafts, painting, and cooking. I’m also trying to regularly rotate in activities that expose him to the arts, science, manners, and the great outdoors.
A week after William’s birth, college classes started and I’ve been knee-deep in Public Health-related topics ever since. (I’m actually taking a break from my paper on SIDS to write up this recap…) Last month, I decided to switch my major from Liberal Arts to Health Sciences with a Public Health Concentration. I’m really looking forward to classes on health-related writing, research, epidemiology, and chronic illness in the new year.
My Facebook community started taking off earlier this year. We are at nearly 5,000 members and the group tends to be pretty active. Last month, I brought on two moderators to help manage the day-to-day operations of the group.
In 2020, I released two books and a course:
- In January, my Perfect Postpartum Planning worksheets released.
- Mid-April, my guide to going dairy-free hit Amazon as a paperback and ebook.
- In November, I launched the Ovulation Masterclass.
Where are things at with my business?
After two years of operating Blissberry Wellness, I feel like I’m starting to formulate a more concrete picture of who I want to work with and what my services look like. (This may honestly be the result of spending the majority of 2020 away from people giving me an opportunity to reflect.) The rapid growth of my Facebook community helped to reinforce my belief that there is a gap in infertility care. While I am extremely passionate about the full spectrum of women’s health – infertility, menstrual health, pregnancy, postpartum, chronic illness, autoimmune conditions, etc. – I am going to be intentional in the new year to focus my efforts on infertility. Unexplained infertility is especially of interest to me and I’m considering working exclusively with women struggling with the condition.
Let’s get a little more personal, how is my health?
Overall, I’m in a much better place than a few years ago. My understanding of mast cell disorders, histamine, and the like has grown significantly. Similarly, I’ve grown in my ability to detect early indicators of a flare and, often, make adjustments to minimize the severity of symptoms.
That said, I’ve also realized that some aspects of my health are beyond my control. I know what I need to do from a dietary and lifestyle perspective to minimize flares. Unfortunately, a significant problem for me continues to be external dysregulators. Anything from a weather change to Zach baking a pizza to the smell of someone’s laundry detergent can set me off. These exposures sometimes result in flare-ups that come on too fast and too strong for natural intervention. (This happened to me on Thanksgiving.) In those moments, I am thankful to have an antihistamine available, but otherwise, I’m trying to manage my symptoms naturally.
All-in-all, I’m thankful. I feel mostly well most of the time, which is a significant improvement on years past.
What am I eating these days?
Last year, I transitioned to a modified version of the Wahls Protocol and was finally able to reach a healthy weight for my height. I’ve continued following the basic framework and find it is extremely helpful in minimizing food-induced flare-ups.
Talking specifics, I’ve been gravitating toward fall fruits and vegetables pretty heavily. My kitchen is stocked with sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, apples, onions, and garlic and we enjoy all of them regularly. Paleo Chocolate Fudge, AIP Biscuits, and Chia Pudding have been my mainstay treats, though I’m indulging in AIP gingerbread as we near the holidays.
A few items regularly making it into my shopping cart:
Curious what I buy? Just click the link.
- Cassava Flour
- Coconut Flour
- Coconut Oil
- Chia Seeds
- Himalayan Salt
- Coconut Sugar
- Cocoa Powder
- Canned Coconut Milk & Cream (Whole Foods, Kroger, or Trader Joe’s)
- Unsulfured Shredded Coconut
- Flax Seeds (Whole Food or Aldi’s)
- Collagen Peptides
- Smoked Oysters
- Canned Pumpkin (Not Picky – Wherever I’m Shopping)
- Organic Chicken Liver (Whole Foods or the Organic Butcher)
Henry also tends to go through a significant amount of gluten-free oats. So, we buy them in bulk, too. His custom “breakfast blend” is gf oatmeal, chia seeds, and shredded coconut. (He concocted the recipe himself!)
What supplements am I taking?
I’ve been a bit all over the place this year. Some of that has to do with the nutritional demands of pregnancy, while another significant factor is that I don’t tolerate supplements well. Some of the supplements I was able to take during pregnancy had to be discontinued postpartum, due to their histamine releasing properties. Without extremely high progesterone (which is antihistamine), I couldn’t tolerate even small doses of certain supplements.
So, with that in mind, what do I keep in my supplement cabinet and take regularly?
- Ginger (my primary antihistamine right now)
- Vitamin D
- Liposomal Vitamin C Plus
- Digestive-Intensive Enzymes
What am I reading, listening to, and watching?
Reading & Listening
I feel like I’ve been all over the map this year with what I’ve read and listened to. As I tend to be obsessive in nature, there have been several consistent themes…
- Various dietary theories, specifically regarding disease management. (I really enjoyed Wheat Belly.)
- Pregnancy guides – The various perspectives are fascinating to compare and contrast! (Nurture was one of the best I came across.)
- Vaccines – ingredients, manufacturing, various perspectives, alternative approaches, all of it. Controversial and emotionally-charged topics are interesting to dive into. (I’m currently diving into Vaccines, Autoimmunity, and the Changing Nature of Childhood Illness.)
- Marketing – I binged a few reads and audiobooks earlier in the year on the topic of brand positioning, selling psychology, etc. Interesting stuff.
- Chaos Management – I mean home organization with kids. I’ve dabbled on this topic here and there this past year. (I just wrapped up MOM – Master Organizer of Mayhem. Definitely recommend.)
- Various theological topics.
- I dabbled in a variety of other topics, but I don’t want this to get too lengthy.
I’ve also done several deep dives into research, medical interviews, and articles on a variety of topics:
- Mast Cell Disorders (no surprise here): Adult and pediatric presentations, diagnosis, treatment, disease pathology, the whole nine yards.
- Placenta Encapsulation – This was more of a refresher than a deep dive in response to several inquiries on the topic. I plan to publish an overview of my thoughts and the research findings…we’ll see if I get to it in 2021.
- Herbs in a variety of capacities: fertility, anti-histamine properties, impact on the gut microbiome, etc.
And of course, there are a dozen or so other topics that I’ve done mini-sprints diving into this past year that I don’t remember. Sometimes, you see those reflected in my Facebook/Insta posts, Instagram stories, or videos.
I also have a tendency to suddenly binge (listen or read transcripts) a few podcasts…
- The Whole View
- The Doctor’s Farmacy
- Mastering Nutrition
- Dr. Ruscio Radio
- The Paul Tripp Podcast (Religious/Sermons)
- Timothy Keller Sermons (Religious/Sermons)
- Fundamental Health with Paul Saladino, MD – A new addition to my list
A few experts (either blogs, e-newsletters, or Insta accounts) I’ve been especially enjoying in 2020:
- Kara Fitzgerald, ND
- Michael Ruscio, DCN, DC
- Chris Masterjohn
- Rhonda Patrick, PhD
- Ben Lynch, ND
- Gabrielle Lyon, DO
- DUTCH testing
- Fullscript Webinars
This past week, I finally had an opportunity to watch Sacred Cow. I’ve been waiting for the documentary to be released for months and I really enjoyed it. If you’re familiar with the concept of regenerative farming, this won’t be anything new. That said, I think you’ll appreciate how comprehensive the documentary is.
We seem to have been on a food and farming kick this year. We’ve hunkered down as a family a number of times to watch videos geared toward sustainability, small-scale farming, and the like. Youtube is great if you want to dive down a rabbit trail on a Sunday afternoon!
Earlier this year, I wanted to learn more about sustainably sourced essential oils and came across a documentary called “Lavender.” If you want to relax, definitely check it out.
The questions everyone is asking: How do I manage two kids, college, a small business, and a variety of other ongoing projects?
Honestly, I have no idea. Lately, I’ve been trying to scale back and prioritize only the things that are really important. I’ve also been working to better structure the day to allow for a mix of playtime/school time and focus time. My evenings also have a tendency to be eaten up by catch-up projects – though I’m working to get back to reserving those for relaxing activities and rest. Just this past week, I revamped my custom, weekly planner page. It helps a lot to organize what is really important and what can wait.
Finally, what can people expect from me in 2021?
There are a few small projects that I am planning to roll out in the first few months of the year, but I don’t have any set vision or plan for the majority of 2021. My goal is to be consistent in producing high-quality content – whatever that looks like with the busy-ness of life right now.
Two things that are on the top of my list for the first quarter:
- Testing out a mini, 7-day program to deliver bite-sized education, expert insight, accountability, and support.
- Revamping my consultation offerings – I am eager to get back to seeing a few clients more consistently.
- Keep getting As in my college classes. (Super important for if I choose to go on for my MS)
Otherwise, I’m going to be exploring various delivery methods for content on Instagram and will, hopefully, continue publishing one post a month on my website.
Overall, 2020 has been a pretty decent year for us, despite everything going on. I’m excited for 2021 and what it brings for my family and business. I’m optimistic that it will be a good year and am eager to continue figuring out the best way I can support women.