First of all, thank you all for the lovely comments on yesterday’s post. It was wonderful to hear from so many of you and feel supported and loved. Very uplifting.

To answer some of questions, being back at the farm doesn’t mean that I am better. We’re working on it, but I don’t think I will “better” for a long, long time. I am still pretty weak, still losing weight, although the rate has slowed. I am wearing a sweater that I haven’t worn since college, one that I lent to Amy’s 9-year-old daughter last year.

I didn’t quite realize how frail I look until I saw Amy and Paul’s faces yesterday when they saw me after two months. I am somewhat confident that eventually I will be healthy and thriving again, but not tomorrow, or next month, or the months after that. It’s going to be a process.

In the meantime, I have (finally) come to the conclusion that I am going to have to make some major changes to streamline and simplify my life. I have been struggling and fighting with this decision for months and I thought that giving in to this disease would be giving up, something I am loathe to do under any circumstances. Instead, making the decision to give some things up has felt incredibly freeing, like an enormous weight has been lifted from my chest and I can breath again. For the first time in a very long time, I can imagine what the future might look like, and that is incredibly hopeful.

I don’t have any real news to report at this point- no decisions have been made. But I know there will be changes and I am okay with that now. I hope you’ll be okay with it too.

And now, on to resolutions! I have only two this year, and they are more like goals than resolutions.

The first was inspired by a conversation with my sister Carrie. She and my mom had offered to help me with something and I turned them down, as I am want to do. When the task proved so difficult that it drove me to sobbing, body-racking tears, my sister asked why I hadn’t just taken them up on their offer to help me in the first place. I answered, through gasps and sobs, that I thought they only offered to be nice, that they didn’t really want to do it.

My sister countered that if that hadn’t wanted to do it they wouldn’t have offered. I replied, “What do you mean? I offer to do things I don’t want to do all the time!” And Carrie said, “Well stop.”

Please don’t think I’m completely moronic when I tell you that this was a revelation to me. I sort of thought everyone agreed or offered to do things they didn’t want to do all the time. Apparently they don’t. And from here on out, neither do I. I am going to start saying no. ¬†At least, I’m going to try.

The other resolution is a small thing really. I was at the doctor’s office the other day and I looked down and noticed that my nails were a mess. All different crazy lengths and in need of filing. And then I decided that, after 40 years of not being able to grow long and lovely fingernails, I am never going to. I’ve been trimming my nails short every Monday since then.

Do you make resolutions? And do you keep them?

P.S. The internet is down at the farm so please forgive if you are awaiting an email from me. I’ll be going into town to blog and check emails until it’s back, but we have a big photo shoot scheduled for this weekend with lots of friends coming in from out-of-town to help out, so it may be hit or miss.


  1. Susan,

    I know you through how you have shared your journey in your blog since I stumbled upon it, last year, I think. May the energy of heart and spirit of many be with you and your lovely farm, animals and your stories and lives you touched …..

  2. when every thing seems too big HUG A BABY ANYTHING! there’s something about new life that is so energizing. YOU are my hero.

  3. i completely understand what it is like to be limited by your health. i wish you huge healing blessings this year and hope that you are able to do what you can and be happy with that. i’m finally after too many to count years, realizing that it is okay to not be able to do EVERYTHING and that saying no is not a mean thing.

  4. NO is an answer.

    As our mind learns, our body can express. Self. Not Self. Yes. No.

    Rooting for your swift recovery to robust vitality once again, Susan.

  5. Hi, Susan,
    Just in case you decide on any second opinions, the Cleveland Clinic is very astute with Crohn’s and Paulette and I would be happy to host your stay anytime. love, jb

  6. I just have so much love and good wishes for you.

  7. So happy you are home and on your way to health. Sometimes lifestyle changes due to our chronic illnesses aren’t giving in….it’s just working with the hand you have been dealt. I have a sister newly diagnosed, and she is fighting it tooth and nail. Being on the outside this time, I am seeing the incredible damage this is doing to her, but she will have to reach where we are in her own time. And, yes, it is so freeing! Be well, continue on in your journey, and know you are not alone. My thoughts and prayers are with you….:)

  8. No matter what changes, we’re all here thinking of you and supporting you and hoping for YOUR sake that you’ll feel better sooner than projected!

  9. I KNOW what you mean about thinking someone offered becuase that’s what’s expected, not what youwant. I don’t know if I have said this on this blog or not, but this year I have been saying (mostly at home, but out loud to the cats) Happy New Year, Happy New Me. I am not making changes because of any illness, unless being sick and tired of (fill in the blank) counts. I am on vacation next week, planned several months ago, before my big decision, and to be honest, I don’t want to cancel it. I am accepting that I cannot kick it into high gear until I get back so my new year will be starting on January 13th. Or Feburary 1st, ’cause that’s my birthday and I will have tons of work to get done with may interfer with starting, but enough about that. Now, what I really want to say is this – how can I help? I am not afraid of hard work and would love to come help out for a couple of weeks if you need some help, maybe during lambing season? I have never worked with sheeps or goats but have always had cats and an occasional dog, and now a few chickens and bee hives. I may not know much but I learn quick. I can do the grunt work while you do all the glory work such as delivering the babies… I am serious. You can start a whole new form of share holders. This is the new JMF CSA where we pay in sweat… and I gave up a long time ago with the fingernails. I do, however, indulge in pedicures…. Hang tough and learn to say “No, I cannot help you at this time” and “Yes, I accept your help/offer.” Oh yeah, you may also have to learn – gasp – to ask for help. I am still working on this one. And the other two. And they are all part of the ‘New Me’… Take care.

  10. I had the same revelation (that no is an option) a couple of years ago. Here is what has worked for me,:

    1. overcoming my instinct to say yes on the spot to be polite. “Let me check (my calendar, with my husband, my schedule that week, etc)” is a good time buyer. Then you have time to compose an answer you are comfortable giving.

    2. you’ll always have another opporunity to practice saying no, so if habit trumps and you say yes, don’t worry. Next time you can say no.

    I’ve been practicing saying no for awhile now and I still have friends, my in-laws still like me, and I am much less resentful about helping others out (because I don’t feel forced to). Now that I’ve got that down I’m tackling the flip side of the coin –asking others to help more as well. I have a hard time with that, even if it is exactly the same favor that person recently asked of me (pet-sitting, driving me to the airport, moving, etc). Good news is that so far my friends are happily returning the favors.

    Good luck and take good care of yourself!

  11. And when you say “no”….and they ask why? Just say, “Because I don’t want to”.

    I come from a family of “well why nots?????” And I am just learning the I don’t want to trick. No other explanation or apology is needed.


  12. Lots of love, sweetie. Know that whatever you choose to give up, we’ve got your back. And we won’t hate you. We also won’t hate you for saying no.

  13. As you adapt to your new normals and situations, I’m confidant all of us who support your missions and business and person, will simply adapt with you. It’s what we do, adapt. Be well.

  14. Hi Susan,
    My mother-in-law is a quilter. When her quilt group offered to make her a friendship quilt (where you choose the color scheme and theme and everyone makes a quilt block for you) she choose to have one made on the theme of ways of saying “no.” It was a great quilt and she hung it in her office behind her desk–it gave her the courage to say no when people asked her to do things she didn’t want or need to do. Her name is Shirley and I particularly like the quilt block that was a pun on her name, which said “Shirley Not!”

  15. Susan,
    So glad you are home with your animals to love you and help you restore yourself. Your life “simplified” would still be most of our lives on overdrive. Sometimes just reading your blog exhausts me and makes me wonder when (and if!) you sleep.
    Hope you can shift into a lower gear, be content with knowing how much pleasure you have given so many of us, and allow yourself to enjoy the simple pleasures of each day. (Sometimes it’s even OK to eat soup from a can instead of from scratch!)

  16. I have had to make a lot of adjustments because of developing chemical sensitivities from working in a very sick gov’t building – this is autoimmune as well (though there are disagreements on this….). I have had to accept that there are jobs I can’t do, houses/lodging I can’t do, etc. I try to focus on the fact that I love camping so I always have my stuff with me; some of those jobs would be so stressful, it would probably make me sick, etc. Always look for the positive (easier said than done, I know) and do whatever you can to keep doing what you love and giving up things that drain your energy. After reading your post today, I just wanted to quit my job and come work on the farm :)

  17. Susan, not only do you need to learn to say no, you need to learn to put yourself first! We will love and support whatever you decide to do. Knowing you has made me a better person and has introduced me to a wonderful group of ladies who I am proud to call friends. You can never do anything wrong in my book!

  18. Diane Shepherd-in-the-Making

    January 2, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Welcome home.
    As to nails I can say this: here in TheOC one is supposed to have one’s nails done and regularly, in a salon, by someone else. Back in the day (decades back) I did just that. Had acrylics. Peeled them off in the two weeks between appointments and had to go thru the process all over again. Today my nails are (and have been for a longer time than dirt) short. Just look at the pictures of me trimming lamb hooves @ the first Shepherd School at Juniper Moon Farm. Talk about free-ing!

    As to resolutions, here’s an idea passed along from my sister, Marilyn. Instead of a resolution or resolutionS, pick a word – one word. As Susie would say: Pick. One. Freakin. Word. Let that be your authentic word. Let it amplify your awareness of your potential this New Year. Not my idea. I’m not as bright as all that. It comes from

    Check it “Your Word of the Year Discovery Tool”.

    Meanwhile, as for Susie’s word, I would pick waycoolawesomerocksthechapelmostexcellentresilientshepherdpioneer – but she has to pick her own.

    Wishing health & prosperity in all its forms.

  19. My New Year’s resolutions? I’d like to be as pretty as Stella. Or have a grin like Sam’s. Jack’s charm…Cini’s wisdom…Roquefort’s agility…sigh. I resolve to be a member of the JMF flock. :)

  20. Susan, Hugs and Love, that’s all I’ve got, but, I’m happy to share in buckets!

  21. Hi Susan,
    So good to hear from you! Your return to full health will be a process but surely being back home among your beloved flock will be restorative in its own way…

    Your health is your most important asset. I am glad recent events have made you slow down and take stock. You NEEDED to. (Not that I’m happy you got sick – never that!) But you were going at an untenable breakneck speed with all your wonderful ideas and projects. I guess that’s the danger when you’re a creative, innovative GENIOUS!!

    Your fans will be here cheering you on, supporting and uplifting you. Please trust we will understand when a project has to shut down. The important thing to me (dare I say US?) is that you get well.

  22. Oh, and since you know me a bit, I’ll bet this doesn’t surprise you: I never kept resolutions so stopped making them. But I do tend to set goals which I sometimes keep. There’s a small difference between the two, I think.

  23. After reading the above comments, my heart filled with love and joy! Susan you are quite a human, loved and admired so very much… By Me too:-)
    Happy New Year too you! I love Fran’s new idea of JMF CSA paid in sweat. I too didn’t have an ounce of knowledge how too clean a chicken coop but I did it when I visited JMF last year. Cheers to you Susan!

  24. Susan, I’ve been following you for over five years and have always admired your generous spirit and your willingness to share all things good and not so good. Thank you for being you, your courage, your love of living your dream, and sharing the animals of Juniper Moon Farm.

  25. Jane from Maryland

    January 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Welcome home!! Would love to see you, any time you’re around we have a spare bedroom, and a secret place in the north! For you!!

  26. Wow – saying no? What a liberating and wonderful thought! I must try it, too!!
    Best wishes to you in your ongoing recovery. Slow down, take care of yourself, and let others take over for a while without feeling guilty (very important!). I’m living proof that recovery will happen if you can do that!

  27. I so enjoy your posts about your farm. I came upon your blog while looking for yarn and knitting ideas. I rarely add comments to a blog but I was so concerned for you, I thought it right to say so. Be blessed and continue to do things that will enhance your healing.

  28. It’s great that you are finally home a the farm. I know you’ll recuperate faster there because it’s where you belong. I’m sure the flock is just as glad yo see you and you are of them. Sometimes, it’s very hard to ask for help, because we’d all like to think we can do it all. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but an acceptance of our limitations, for surely we all have

  29. (cont, because the cat walked across the screen before I was done)

    things we wish we could do better or had more time for. All that being said, should you need some help, especially during lambing, please ask.

  30. I was once told that I should write “NO!” on every page of my calendar, so if someone asked me to do something, I would be reminded that NO was a perfectly legitimate response. And if someone asked why not, I told them “It’s just not possible.” No more. A very important lesson to learn and also a very hard one. Congratulations! You will feel so much better now that you have given yourself permission to take care of yourself first. I used to raise dairy goats and I love your blog. It makes me feel at home.

  31. I think it’s noble and honorable to admit you have limits. Everyone does! You have a lot of amazing and wonderful ideas. I look forward to what you’re going to do with the ones you cannot personally execute. Will you blog about them, toss them to the world and see who picks up on it? Or will you mentor folks more privately and match people you know with awesome ideas? Or will you just write them down and execute only 1-2 per year?

  32. Your sister, she is a wise wise woman!

    I’m like you, not so much with the resolutions, but down for a goal or two.

    This years goal: Go through every single nook and cranny in my house and toss/recycle/donate all the STUFF I’ve lined my nest with. Sheesh, there’s a lotta crap around here!

  33. No is one of the hardest words for us to incorporate into our useful vocabulary. It took me until after I was fifty-don’t let it take you that long to learn this vital life lesson.

    May the Universal Healing Power descend into your life and spread warmth and compassion all about you.

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