Annie McHale

Hi there!

In my element – feeding people!

Because you might be considering a retreat or inviting ROOTS Farmacy into your home, I think it’s a good idea for you to know who it is you’ll be sharing space with.

Born and raised in Michigan, I am the tenth of 11 children. Out of necessity, my mom became an incredibly organized woman with a mission to implement efficiency at every turn. Otherwise, chaos ensued (did I mention I have 8 brothers?!). Meals were served at the same time, on time. Everyone was served the same food, whether we liked it or not. And we all took our turn at the kitchen sink washing and drying dishes afterward.

The dinner table was the one place we met every night without fail and shared our day’s events. Hardly a bucolic setting (someone was always crying, in trouble, or teasing), amidst the pandemonium there was an undercurrent of love, connection, continuity, stability, nurturing. Breaking bread was and is still what I most cherish, and have carried forward into my adult life.

My dining table is my most-prized possession. Nearly everyone who’s taken a seat has signed its underbelly, striking ink against grain in commemoration of good food, wine, and company. This tradition is in its second decade, and the signatures and accolades serve to remind me that food is the gateway to a heart-connected community. More than wood and bolts, the table is my offering: of love, of friendship, of health, of well being, of meaningful conversation and sharing. Preparing and savoring sustainable friendship is my Purpose. And food is my medium of choice.

In a former life that seems eons ago, I was climbing the corporate ladder with an emphasis on organization development and training, complemented by a business coach certification. Mine was a wonderful career affording many adventures and skill development, but by the 4th corporate lay-off I was exhausted, unhealthy, and spiritually depleted. I decided to let it all go, and moved from the food capital of the Pacific Northwest – Portland, OR – to Stevenson, WA, a small, rural community in the heart of the stunning Columbia River Gorge, in search of the 3 “ity’s”: serenity, anonymity, and, being newly unemployed, affordability.

You’ve heard the saying: “when one door closes, another opens.” I wasn’t at all certain that moving to a 75 acre, untended and wild farm was exactly a door opening. What it was was cheap, as in easy on the budget. To my surprise, the proverbial door did open. That farm and all of its gloriously rich organic soil yielded a garden that became the envy of friends (anonymity never happened, by the way).

Perhaps most importantly, serenity managed to wend its way into my routine. I shook the corporate armor loose, reconnected with Nature, and found my Self. And, much to my surprise, a husband. Curt Gray is, among a thousand other things, the most decent and honorable man I’ve ever known. He’s of the Atticus Finch, Jimmy Carter, MLK, Jr. caliber crossed with Macgyver – the man who can save a burning barn with a tooth pick, duct tape, and fishing line. Seriously. From courtship to marriage and now 8 years down the road, we’ve committed to living as peacefully, sustainable, and healthy with as little impact on the planet as possible.

But I had to face a very real fact first.

Sugar Addiction.

It began in my early 20s with fast food and soda. Then I met wine, pasta, and artisan bread. And soon after discovered the joy of decadent pastries and dark chocolate. In my mid-forties I finally realized the common denominator: sugar.

Ours is a culture completely immune to the very real and life-threatening effects of sugar. Did you know that it has been scientifically proven to be as or more addictive than cocaine? It is, and you can read more here if you’re interested: http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/experts-is-sugar-addictive-drug.

For years I tried, desperately, to beat my addiction into submission. Sometimes I won, for extended periods of time even. Inevitably, though, a holiday or other special occasion would give me permission to have “just one…,” which, we all know, is a slippery slope straight to the bakery.

But I think I’m onto something different now that feels right, that feels manageable: I am exploring the emotional relationship I have with food.

I mean, deeply exploring: family dynamics, personal insecurities, emotional triggers, habitual tendencies.

I am delving into the “why” behind the impulse, behind the sabotage, behind the laziness, behind the boredom, behind the yo-yo fluctuations. Bottom line: I’m facing my demons; all those “dark” sides of me that I prefer to keep out of sight. This exploration, this awakening is yielding astonishing a-ha moments and a constant game of connecting the dots.

What I can say for certain is that I have been packed full of myths that simply aren’t true, yet have conditioned me to believe that I am not good enough. The media, especially, has managed to convince most of us of this lie. This multi-trillion dollar lie. This general, yet insidious feeling of not being enough is common, and is destroying our health and relationship with self.

The key, I believe, is to be an active participant in creating the support I need to optimize my health and quality of life. And that’s what I hope ROOTS Farmacy is for you … a support system. A place where you can learn, expand, narrow, breathe deeply, exhale loudly, explore, discuss, build alliances, share stories, strengthen resolve, and eat. Eat well.

Welcome. I look forward to meeting you.