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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Mooney

Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 20

Today is the day! I'm wearing my Pod Save America tshirt under my RBG squad sweatshirt. My middle finger nails are painted bright blue. My crystals are gathered in one place together for maximum energy output. I am burning all the things, all day long. And I have my stress management plan ready: walking on the beach with the boo, cleaning the china cabinet from top to bottom, watching the feel-good movies I have queued, and snacking on the bowl of citrus I placed on the counter while planning our escape if things don't go our way. Kitchen dance party is scheduled for this afternoon.

Godspeed, everyone! LET'S DO THIS THING!



  • Trimming my political diet. Remember when I subscribed to everything political and told you to do the same? Well, I have now UNsubscribed from almost all of it. And I am a happier person for it. I even got rid of every "breaking news" alert. Here's what I kept: Brian Stelter's Reliable Sources and Crooked Media newsletters. The Daily and Pod Save America podcasts (their HBO series was good, too.) That's it! I watch some news (I last about 10 minutes and then I'm too angry to keep going) and try be very careful about dipping into Twitter.

  • Noting the "Introvert Door Slam." I am an INFJ (as highlighted in the article) and totally guilty of this. I've done it many times -- and usually YEARS after I should have done it and in ways I'm sure the other person never notices.

  • Cutting off the size tags in my clothes. Ages ago, I volunteered at the Goodwill in Boston to sort clothes that were donated for the Dress for Success program. We were instructed to sort the clothes according to size as best we could, because every woman CUT OFF THEIR SIZE TAGS. I used to do this, too, and had no idea it was an epidemic! How messed up is that? And we all do it! But, my friends, I finally stopped.


  • Daily cleaning schedule. I know this sounds horribly boring, but it was totally and completely life-changing this summer. We get a lot of visitors in the summer months and sometimes without a lot of notice. So this year I treated every week as if we were expecting company and was able to keep on top of things AND avoid that last minute scurry to clean the house from top to bottom (usually on the sunniest day of the week, which would make me hugely resentful.)

  • Hummingbird feeder and grape jelly for orioles. I shared last time that birds are my thing right now. We got ourselves a hummingbird feeder and learned at the Mass Audubon that orioles like grape jelly. We only saw a few of these birds, but next year we'll put everything out at the right time and get plants that they both like. Bookmark this page for next year so you can find out when the hummingbirds are sighted in your area during their migration. Also, here are more tips for attracting them to your yard.

  • New section on health. I recently read that they removed the information on breast cancer on the US gov website -- like, JUST TOOK IT DOWN. I read a lot of health-related, science-based articles and decided to start a new section of this journal to share some of that information with you. I'll likely focus on women's health, mid-life health issues, and those things no one ever told us to expect as we age. First one is below.


  • Women, alcohol, and breast cancer. Did you know 15% of breast cancer cases are related to alcohol consumption?? Alcohol is a carcinogen AND, in women, it raises estrogen levels in the body, which can encourage cancer cell growth. I don't think we are warned enough about this.  "Alcohol causes at least seven types of cancer, but it kills more women from breast cancer than from any other. The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that for every drink consumed daily, the risk of breast cancer goes up 7 percent." And this little tidbit: "In Utah, Mormon women’s breast cancer rates are more than 24 percent lower than the national average." Mormon women generally don't drink. Definitely do some research on this! Start with the hyperlinks in this section, read this too, and then talk to your doctor.

  • Changing and conflicting breast cancer screening guidelines. "There is almost no agreement between the seven major institutions that establish breast cancer screening protocols, especially for women in their 40s." I find this totally insane and would recommend to any woman in her 40s to insist on the tests she needs. 

  • Lymphatic massage therapy. I had several sessions of this after my surgeries. The lymph system has no self-propelling mechanism and only moves the toxins out of your body when you move around. If you are on the Cape, two recommendations: 1) Mercedez Calleros is a wonderful practitioner and energy healer. Go see her! 2) The Cape Wellness Collaborative provides $250 wellness cards towards a huge list of alternative therapies for anyone undergoing cancer treatment (including us previvors.)

  • This very cool thing that Harvard Medical School is doing. By gathering data on "exceptional responders," they will create "the first national registry for exceedingly rare patients who beat overwhelming odds and respond mysteriously — even uniquely — well to treatments that failed to help others." 

Planning + Organizing:

  • Glass storage. I've been saving all our glass jars to use as storage for my nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. We're avid recyclers here and I have always loved putting things in containers. So satisfying! Also, did you know how harmful black plastic is?

  • Fort Lauderdale. We were planning to go to Bayahibe, which is on the Caribbean side of the DR, but I had one of those moments when things were getting too complicated -- midnight flights, two hour transfer to the resort, too much! So we found a terrific deal to what is really Ptown South, as many in our town move there in the winter. I'm looking forward to some warm weather! We'll be travelling while Mercury is still in retrograde so I'll be following this advice pretty closely. 

  • Setting intentions for the seasons. I mentioned that I had a kick-ass summer. 100% of that was due to planning and setting a few guidelines at the beginning of the season. I created a 100 Days of Summer Pinterest board that I used as a reminder of those things that are truly best -- or, in many cases, only offered -- during the summer months. And then I planned my weeks around them. The Super Mr. and I also agreed on a plan to balance our summer with our guests' vacations here. And in the end, there were only a few things we didn't get to do -- mostly because of weather or because we ran out of free weekends -- and not because we compromised our plans. We've done the same for fall and you can view my Autumn on the Cape Pinterest board and my "Townie Summer" highlights here. I'm busy rounding out one for the winter as we speak.

Fur Mama-ing:

  • Grain-free dog food may cause heart disease! I read this article this summer and had a complete freakout. After boiling some rice and shoving it down Stephen's throat, I immediately bought food with grain in it and started mixing it in with his regular GRAIN-FREE kibble. I also talked to my vet. She is a huge advocate of feeding dogs whole foods and recommended this web site, which is very hard to use (click on "healthy dog" and choose the "popular pre-set recipes" option) and for now we're rotating his food and adding eggs, cheese, and chicken/rice to his food. We're also having his taurine levels tested, which is not inexpensive, but the boo was heartworm positive when we adopted him and went through a lot with his treatment for that. They also discovered during that time that his heart is slightly rounded so anything related to his heart makes me nervous. I'll let you all know how things proceed. ALSO, if you have a golden retriever, talk to your vet! Both the articles I read and my vet said that they seem to be impacted by this in higher numbers than other breeds.

  • Turns out vets have higher than average suicide rates. I never thought about how hard it must be to euthanize our furbabies as a regular part of their jobs. Give them some extra love the next time you see them!

  • Keeping Stephen calm during storms. Like a lot of dogs, he paces and pants and only calms down if I go in the bedroom and sit on the bed while he hides underneath. We bought him a ThunderShirt -- I can't tell yet if it works, but he seems to be less frantic with it on.  We also recently had a tornado warning (one was actually spotted at the other end of the Cape) and it is not the first time we've had one since we moved here. I found this article with some great tips for preparing your pets for a tornado. I need to refresh his go bag and get him used to following me into the basement.

Extra Credit:

  • "I can't believe it's not clutter: maximalism hits our homes." True story: I showed up to college with two cars filled with stuff and covered every surface of my half of the room (even the pull-down shade) with art posters. This is my time, people!

  • The loss of two irreplaceable Jonathans: Jonathan Gold. I bet Tony and he are comparing notes somewhere, somewhen. Jonathan Skow. I keep thinking about the fact that he asked to be taken off life support after being paralyzed in a boogie boarding accident in Hawaii.

  • "Style Profile: Pru Leith." "‘I have never understood why the whole world goes into grey, black and brown in cold and miserable winter, just when we need that lift.’" I agree! (She's still my least favorite person on the new Great British Baking Show. I miss Mary!)

  • "Harvard is Vaulting Workers Into the Middle Class With High Pay. Can Anyone Else Follow Its Lead?" I worked in Harvard Yard during the student protest and Living Wage campaign, two buildings away from Mass Hall. It's interesting to see the positive effects of the changes made as a result of that effort. 

  • "Inhuman Resources." Workplaces can be so toxic. Having worked in HR for a long time, I can totally see how this whole thing played out the way it did, with every person involved believing they did the right thing. Brutal!

Thank you so very much for reading -- especially if you made it through all three parts! I'm working on a few of my bad habits and as part of that effort I'm setting a regular writing schedule for myself. Publishing dates for November will be: November 15 (with extra holiday-ing information and my gifting special) and November 22 (my annual "The Mr. Contemplates the World" post.)  NOW, GO VOTE!

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