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Barbara Radecki is a multi-talented author and actress. Her acclaimed debut novel, THE DARKHOUSE, came out in 2016 and earned her a spot on the shortlist for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. Her second novel, MESSENGER 93, came out last year and was a CBC Books and Forest of Reading pick. Below, she answers questions from the (in)famous Proust Questionnaire and reveals what it means to be “Barb-ing it.”

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Outside in nature, a body of water in front of me, writing a story. Nothing else to do but write for days/weeks. No chores, no ticking clock to the next appointment. For the record, I’ve never actually experienced this whole package. Which I guess is why it’s an idea of perfect happiness. In reality, pure happiness comes to me when I’m with my family, sitting around a table, eating and laughing.


What is your most marked characteristic?

Being busy. Ask any of my people, they will say ‘she’s so busy.’ And I make things more complicated than they need to be. A friend coined a term for this—if I decide it needs 10 steps to do something that can [for others] be done in 3 steps, we call this “Barb-ing it.” [P.S. don’t call me “Barb” unless you know me well.]


What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Always being busy.


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Being busy all the time.


On what occasion do you lie?

When someone needs something, I reassure them I’m not busy.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Letting go of expectations. After telling myself for so long that my life would or should be “this” or “that,” with specific results and outcomes, with one clear route to get there, with exact measures of success, I have finally let those expectations go. The shift in the way I now approach my work and my exchanges with people has brought me unexpected levels of joy and peace.


Who are your favourite writers?

I adore writers who use language with delicacy and precision, who explore the intricacies of human emotions, the layers and complexities, all while inviting me into inventive, imaginative and familiar realities. Kazuo Ishiguro does this so beautifully. André Alexis, Esi Edugyan, Heather O’Neill, Terese Mailhot, Jennifer Egan, and I could go on.


Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

I always come back to Alice, the one who finds herself in Wonderland. I guess I admire curiosity above all other degrees of courage.


What is it that you most dislike?

Hierarchies.


What is your greatest fear?

That it all means nothing.



Follow Barbara on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or visit her website at barbararadecki.com


Order your copy of MESSENGER 93:

CANADA

Amazon.ca

Indigo

U.S.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble



Long before Emily Lipinski earned the professional designation of Naturopathic Doctor, she struggled with her health. It was a lengthy journey from her initial symptoms as a kid (ranging from allergies to eczema) to her eventual diagnosis with an autoimmune disease. In this exclusive excerpt from her recent book HEALING YOUR THYROID NATURALLY, she discusses how she took control of her health, found a routine that worked, and eventually saw the symptoms of her hypothyroidism begin to fade.


My journey with hypothyroidism began long before my diagnosis. I was the kid who reacted to everything: pollen, grass, and dust—just to name a few. If I came into contact with cats or dogs, I was sneezing within a few minutes, and half an hour later, my body was littered with hives. I had chronic eczema on my face, hands, and legs. By the time I was ten, I was diagnosed with asthma and I also began to have chronic issues with strep throat. Clearly, my immune system was struggling, but my medical doctor did not have any answers except to give me antihistamines for the allergies, puffers for my asthma, and multiple rounds of antibiotics for my strep throat. Little did I know that my allergies and asthma represented an overreacting immune system that could predispose me to autoimmune disease (such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism) later in life. Not to mention the plethora of antibiotics I was exposed to that were harming my microbiome and could have also set me up for autoimmune issues.


During my high school years, my health was fairly good. However, once I moved away from home for my undergraduate studies, began to have less home-cooked food, stayed up late, and took on a large course load, my sore throats returned. I also began to constantly feel cold and I started to gain weight. My doctors chalked it up to the “freshman fifteen” and fewer home-cooked meals. Fair enough—but when my blood work was taken, not only were my ferritin levels (the marker of a person’s iron stores) low, but my TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) [was often slightly elevated. If I only knew then what I know now, I would have challenged my doctor and pushed for more tests to be run. Like countless patients I have met over the years, I trusted the expertise of my physician and assumed that everything was “normal.”


Fast-forward to my last year at naturopathic medical school. My weight was at an all-time high, my face was puffy, I was cold, and my fatigue was unbearable. After learning about how to treat and diagnose patients with thyroid issues, I knew I had to retest my thyroid. This time around, armed with new information, I requested that not only my TSH be tested, but also other blood markers of thyroid health: T3 hormone, T4 hormone, and thyroid antibodies. When the results came back, my new doctor was shocked. My TSH levels were now significantly elevated, my thyroid hormones were low, and my thyroid antibodies levels were sky high! I was told that I would now need to be on the thyroid medication known as Synthroid (levothyroxine) for the rest of my life and there was nothing else I could do. There was no mention about my high levels of antibodies. But by that point, I had my own medical knowledge and I knew better. Elevated thyroid antibodies meant I had an autoimmune issue—Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. High levels of certain antibodies (we’ll explain more later in Chapter 1)have also been associated with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive syndrome. Additionally, if the autoimmune disease is not addressed, there is an elevated risk of developing other autoimmune diseases, such as pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. I also knew that women living with elevated thyroid antibodies can have difficulty with fertility and with becoming pregnant. Essentially, if I did not address my immune system, my health could get a lot worse.


Although I started on the levothyroxine thyroid medication, many of my symptoms persisted. I was still having difficulty losing weight, I was always freezing, and my fatigue was only marginally improved. Deep down, I knew that medication was only part of the puzzle. I began to search out any and every possible way to lower my antibodies and improve the state of my immune system. My journey included dietary changes, such as the removal of gluten and other grains from my diet, changing my beauty care routine, addressing my stress head-on, and using herbs and other supplements to help support my immune system and my thyroid gland. I also stopped using the levothyroxine medication and switched to desiccated thyroid medication. Slowly but surely, my symptoms of hypothyroidism began to subside and my levels of antibodies gradually reduced. I am now a healthy body weight, my face no longer looks puffy, and my energy is much better. Thankfully, I did not have any trouble conceiving and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy in 2018 without complications. By addressing my immune system and using natural therapies, I am now essentially in remission from Hashimoto’s.



Excerpted from HEALING YOUR THYROID NATURALLY. Copyright © 2020 by Dr. Emily Lipinski. Used with permission of Hachette Go, an imprint of Hachette Books. New York, NY. All rights reserved.


Want to learn more? Visit emilylipinski.com or follow her Instagram or Facebook.

Click here to order your copy of Healing Your Thyroid Naturally



Alison Romig at Delacorte Press has acquired BECOMING BRIGITTA a middle-grade novel, by Kalena Miller, author of THE NIGHT WHEN NO ONE HAD SEX forthcoming this September.


BECOMING BRIGITTA is a contemporary coming of age story that explores the complexities of middle school friendships, family dynamics, the importance of theatre, and the realities of being a tween with OCD.


“I fell in love with the main character, Shannon, and her mom and grandma – the dynamics of these three incredible females navigating life together completely captured me,” said Stacey Kondla, Miller’s agent at The Rights Factory. “And the bonus of musical theatre, friendship problems, and the awkward hilarity of being a middle schooler is magic.”