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Day 23: October Journaling Adventure with The Joy of Writing Journal

Lisa Tener Joy of Writing Journal

Welcome to Day 23 on the journey through The Joy of Writing Journal. Here I share an excerpt from my journey and I hope you will share something about yours—an excerpt, an insight, a challenge, a joy…

Months after 5 days in the hospital and a couple emergency room visits on both ends, I journal about my return to eating a few animal products, after years of eating vegan.

My journaling begins with scrolling the WhatsGood app for organic veggies and mysteriously ending up ogling the prepared foods—salmon entrées, in particular. Here’s an excerpt from my journal.

Directly from the WhatsGood App, here’s a dish from Matunuck Oyster House

I order the organic eggs from free roaming, happy (I assume) hens and the flash frozen wild caught Atlantic salmon.

I bake the salmon and devour it. It’s so fresh rich delicious that I immediately cook up the second half pound I planned to save for tomorrow.

When I can’t easily get fresh salmon, I buy canned.

All the while I worry about the possible mercury and PCBS and plastics I may be consuming along with these poor fish.

I try to curb my salmon habit. But when I go to an outdoor restaurant or order takeout with others, it’s hard to find simple foods that won’t aggravate my gut. But salmon, every waitress seems happy to have the cook throw it on the grill unembellished.

This has become the summer of salmon.

In tackling today’s prompt, I struggle with this craving for eggs and fish. I believe my body is telling me it needs such foods to rebuild, something an acupuncturist once told me after a back injury. And yet I have these ideas that such foods may not be healthy for me, and that such choices impact the planet.

My journaling doesn’t necessarily resolve the problem for me, but it does make me aware that these foods do bring pleasure as well as restoring my strength and health.

Sometimes journaling helps us to just be with what is true for us right now, with all its inherent contradictions.

Your Turn

Share an excerpt from your Day 23 exploration in The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day. If you don’t have a copy, you can buy it here.

The Joy of Writing Journal: Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day

Here’s an easy share—list 3 foods you love in the comments.

Or share an excerpt from your journal exploration about one of those foods.

Looking for the journal prompts? You can get them here.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Mary Ann L says

    The first time I heard “Eat close to the ground” it came from former celebrity chef Mario Batali’s lips. The phrase rang in my head like the V8 commercial where the person smacks his forehead and says, “Wow, I could have had a V-8!” instead of some sugary drink. This idea was a revelation.

    I grew up in a family who was conscious about health but was equally conscious about our grocery bills staying within budget. We shopped sales and stocked up- code for canned and processed foods. We eschewed prime rib and expensive cuts in favor of London Broil and hamburger. We didn’t drink soda or eat candy in the house, although when I was at a friends house I gulped down sweets like there was no tomorrow. My mom was a lot of great things but cooking was not her forte and I was not a fan. I got my first Betty Crocker for Kids cookbook and I started cooking because I liked to eat-I tried one pot spaghetti, chili con carne and even spam loaf Hawaiian. I’m guessing you are cringing, me too!

    Fast forward and I began to think about what it meant to eat food that was produced locally and to eat it in season. How amazing food tastes when it is freshly harvested, nutritious and humanely raised. How wonderful it is to a local economy to support small farmers. Who I ask you-works harder than a small farmer with all the perils of nature and pests to contend with?

    Mario Batali was an uncompromising chef who specialized in regional Italian cuisine. There was no “fusion” cooking in his repertoire. We thought of him as an authority on Italian cooking, went to his restaurants in NYC and bought his cookbooks. I thought about trips to Italy where familiar foods like pizza, pasta, apples, strawberries, bread and cheeses to name a few tasted so different- so much better. In Italy their ground did not contain pesticides, their cows were not given antibiotics and growth hormones. Their wheat was not GMO. They did not substitute corn syrup for sugar.

    Eating close to the ground remains a mantra for me and I grow and earnestly seek out fresh organic vegetables. Food is medicine and I want to be healthy … except when I see a bag of crispy potato chips or a chilled bottle of Chardonnay. Just saying, this girl is still a work in progress…

  2. Lisa Tener says

    Wow, Deborah, that is powerful herbal information! I am so inspired! And that thyme can protect bees from the current diseases! I am going to share this with an herbalist I know if that’s okay!

    • Deborah Louth says

      Yes Lisa, you can share it. I was a beekeeper for 2 years in the 90’s. I was considering getting back into it???

      • Mary Ann L says

        Deborah-I love how you hooked us in the beginning of your story personifying thyme! The story was fascinating & I learned a lot! I grow herbs and garlic to flavor food and plants to attract pollinators, but I know next to nothing about the science. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Lisa Tener says

    Thank you for clarifying the source of some of the material Deborah. I have deleted the original comment and replaced it with your new one!

  4. Deborah Louth says

    Day 23 – Farm to Table – Prompt – Culinary and Medicinal Herbs

    I make my own medicines – grow, wildcraft and dry herbs and love exploring using spices in cooking. Enjoy.

    While I was working in my garden one fine morn, I heard someone say, “Hey little lady listen up”. I turned around scanning the space, seeing no one. “Turn around and look down”, echoed in my ears. To my surprise a patch of Thyme wiggled it’s tiny leaves, saluting me. I am happy to have your attention – please sit with me awhile, so I can tell you a tale of Thyme. There was a time people considered me quite valuable, perhaps not as precious as those Silk Road exotic spices, which were bartered and sold, as if they were gold. I am merely a lowly common herb growing close to the ground, awaiting acknowledgement. The bees love my purple flowered nectar, for they are wise. Grow me around bee hives and the bees will be protected from the current diseases that are decimating them and the honey will contain my medicine for all who partake.

    I have amazing antiseptic qualities. The thymol in me and it’s smell destroys virus and bacteria in the atmosphere, as it destroys infectious germs in the body. I do not know of any infection that cannot be mitigated internally or externally, if treated with my strong constituents. I am an excellent weapon against epidemics and much cheaper. “From boils to typhoid to tuberculosis, I am excellent beyond compare”!

    I am in the same realm as garlic, both of us being Nature’s Antibiotics, whether a tea, tincture, extract, powder or essential oil. In addition, you can add my fresh or dried thyme sprigs to salads and cooked food shortly before serving. Did you know I am handy at purifying water? Just add a good handful of cut thyme to 1 quart of water, cover, boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Strain and Voila, no more diarrhea and fever. I can relax muscles, heal teeth and gums, skin conditions; candida, bronchial problems, lice, gastritis and eliminate parasites. I do believe I need to be honored and elevated to a more Kingly/Queenly status.

    Some of this information about thyme was imparted to me from another herbalist, who got it from a renowned folk healer, the French Herbalist Maurice Messegue, who died in 2017 at 96. You can find him in a google search. An interesting character.

    The purifying water formula is in John Heinerman’s book, “Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs and Spices. John is a medical anthropologist, who has traveled to 33 countries for his research.

  5. Maureen says

    Deborah, I love the image of the patch of thyme in your garden grabbing your attention and wiggling its leaves!

    I wrote about butter—how we ate margarine when I was a kid, because butter was too expensive. And then when I lived in Europe, I was introduced to real butter and the love fest began. But when I came home from Europe, it was mostly margarine again, with butter only for very special occasions…until the first time I went grocery shopping with my then boyfriend, now husband.
    When we got to the dairy section, I headed straight for the margarine, comparing prices and fat contents and figuring out which one to buy. Lou grabbed a pound of butter. “You can’t buy that!” I exclaimed. “Why not?” he asked. “You love butter. Butter is great!” “But if you buy butter, we’ll never use the margarine, because butter is so much better. And we’ll have to keep buying more, because it’s so great and we won’t be able to stop eating it.” He just started laughing. “By that logic,” he said, “we should just buy lard! Because it’s disgusting and we don’t like it and we will hardly use any at all. So it will last forever!” I started laughing, too, and so we bought some butter and some margarine. But no lard!

    • Deborah Louth says

      Maryann, I absolutely love butter. My Mom would catch me sitting behind the couch eating a stick of butter. It’s good you married that man, sounds like he is lasting forever.

    • Mary Ann L says

      Maureen- love this response that is laugh out loud funny! And once again your dialogue is so powerful- thanks for the “show”!

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