In Which Words Occur

Lo and behold, I’ve been eating ‘clean’ for two days, and even though Tuesday I still felt exhausted, I was no longer epically groggy, and actually managed to write about 1200 words before bed. So yeah. Looks like I can either cheat on food (or even not just cheat, but push the boundaries a bit), or I can have words :\

On the one hand, it kind of sucks that writing is the first thing to go. On the other, it’s SUPER nice to actually KNOW what’s going wrong with my body after all these years, and getting a good sleep at night is INCREDIBLE, and now at least I have control over what is happening, which, wow, those of you who have stuff go wrong with your body will know, control is an incredible gift.

Being food intolerant sucks, but of all the things it might have been, at least it’s the one that puts the control firmly back in my court, and I am so, so grateful.

So hopefully tonight, more words! 🙂 How Not To Take Over The World is at about 16k out of about 70k, and as this is a rewrite, I’m hoping to have it done by the end of the year. I probably won’t release it until after Sanctuary 3, though, so you won’t have to wait as long between books 1 and 2… Or then again, I might just release it. /shrug. Freedom is a heady thing, ha 😀

(I realised the other day that if I can manage to release 3 titles per year, as I’ve done this year, it will still take me ~30 years to publish everything I think of as a ‘current work’ >.< And of the three titles this year, none of them were actually written this year, and publishing them ate into my writing time, sooooooo….. *cries* Too many stories, insufficiency of hours! 🙂 )

I’m Not Depressed, I’m Just… Food Intolerant.

Truth (sadly). Turns out that not only is the mild depression I’ve been prone to since having postnatal depression with my first baby attributable to food, but so are 99% of my other health issues. Even the joint pain that’s caused by Joint Hypermobility Syndrome is, it turns out, exacerbated A LOT by food.

Long story short, around Christmas last year, I stopped being able to breathe properly and was short of breath for over a month. I wasn’t too stressed, I’d had days like that before and it always passed – but after a month I was fed up and figured I should get it checked out by the doctor. (Short, I am keeping this story short…) Cue a bunch of tests, including a positive blood test for celiac disease, a gastroscopy, a colonoscopy, etc etc etc. And every time, the results came back: yeah, you’re all inflamed and your body’s mildly unhappy, but there’s nothing really WRONG.

(Short, short). I’ve suspected for years I had some sort of food intolerance (official allergy tests came up blank; sinus scopes showed the same as the rest of my insides – irritated, inflamed, nothing else to see) and tried to do an official elimination diet in the last quarter of 2015. However, elimination diets are BLOODY HARD, you guys. VERY, VERY HARD. So I didn’t make it.

But this time, with the whole not-breathing thing and the scopes done etc etc, I kind of had reached the breaking point, where SOMEthing needed to change, and this was the only probable thing I COULD change. So I started the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Elimination Diet (which was later affirmed by a dietician as being the Correct Elimination Diet For My Symptoms, so that’s nifty and helpful #oops #dontdietwithoutadvice #doasIdonotasIsay O:)). That was about three months ago now, and… Yeah. Guys? I am pretty much literally intolerant of FOOD. >.<

So this sucks, but I’m getting used to it, and I’ve made it nearly a whole week now without a food-related breakdown, so that’s progress, and my symptoms are manageable, and the most, most, MOST important thing? I CAN SLEEP.

I’ve suffered from apparently-random insomnia and disturbed sleep for YEEEEEARS. (Yes, had sleep tests done and been checked out for sleep apnoea too – conclusion? No apnoea, but yes, definitely something wrong, more investigation required >.<) Turns out the culprit isn’t stress, or lack of exercise, or even temperature (though I do struggle to sleep when it’s really hot). It’s amines.

Amines are a natural food chemical that, if your body is normal and sane, are actually quite healthy for you. They’re formed by the breakdown of proteins in food. But they’re known to be a trigger for migraines, and, in my case, a bunch of other fun symptoms too. So I pretty much can’t each chocolate, or any of the fruits/veggies on this list that have an A next to them, or a bunch of other really tasty things, like cheese. Which… is really sad. Because I like food. And I like cooking. And I’m kind of a low-key foodie. *sad faces*. Oh, and you see all the Ss against those foods on the list? Yeah. Can’t have too many of them, either. Thank goodness I’m okay with the Gs >.< (I also have to cut out gluten (though I’m hopeful that once my insides heal, I’ll be able to tolerate small amounts), and can’t have more than a few serves of dairy a week. URGH.)

*flail*

I’m at the fun end of the project now where I’m trying tiny amounts of random amine-containing foods every couple of days, to see what I can tolerate. For example, tomato sauce (ketchup) on hot chips for one night? Totally okay. A second night in a row? NO SLEEP FOR YOU, SUCKER!!!

Vinegar, which is supposed to be one of the worst amine triggers? Seems totally okay so far. Salt + vinegar chips for 3 days in a row was perfectly fine, mayo doesn’t seem to trigger, and I even tried vinegar salad dressing once and it seemed to be okay. Lemon juice, though? One decent squeeze, maybe a tablespoon, on some (GF)pasta was enough to keep me up for several hours past bedtime with insomnia, and disrupt my sleep for the rest of the night.

Bodies are weird, y’all. WEEEEEIIIIIIRRRRDDDD.

And some things I’ve just decided I can live with. The anxiety that manifests as nyctophobia, which I had as a kid but grew out of and then returned full-force with the postnatal depression and seems to be here to stay? It seems to ease when I eat exactly zero salicylate-containing foods (the Ss in that link – so, like, nearly all fruits and vegetables >.<) – but avoiding salicylates entirely is murderously hard, and makes me cry over my lack of food options at least twice a week. So – and I’m shocked, this is so bizarre – for now, I’m actually choosing to cope with the nyctophobia, because it’s easier (?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!) than trying to live without salicylates (which I still have to regulate and can’t overdose on, but some is waaaaaay better than none in this instance). And there are other things I can do too which down-regulate the anxiety – making sure I see the chiropractor and exercise properly often enough to keep my joints in place,* getting enough sleep – which, WOW, SO much easier without amines!! So yeah. Just going to cope with that one for now.

If you’re interested in learning more about this, I will obviously do the professional thing and say ‘see a nutritionist who’s experienced with food intolerances’, which is a giant case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’. There is also a lot of good information on the Fed Up website, which is based on the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital diet. And as an FYI-relating-what-I-was-told-and-not-in-any-way-shape-or-form-making-medical-recommendations-because-I-am-NOT-A-MEDICAL-PROFESSIONAL-Y’ALL, I was *told* by the community nutrition nurses that Fodmap is the recommended diet for bowel- and digestive-related problems, while the RPAH one is recommended as the first port of call re: elimination diets for people with ‘other’ symptoms (e.g. sinus problems, mood issues, behavioural issues, joint problems, cognitive issues, sleep disruption, skin problems, etc etc etc).

So. Yeah. Food intolerant. It me. It sucks, tbh, but not as badly as, say, being in a coma** or having a life-threatening disease, or even just a life-endangering disease like celiac, which they first thought I had.

And you guys? Wow. This sleep thing that everyone’s been telling me about for the last three decades? WOW. 10/10 would recommend.

Sleep?!!? IS MAGICAL. WHO KNEW.

 

* Anxiety + bad joints (for whatever reason) are actually pretty closely linked, the theory being that when you’re all out of alignment, your subconscious homeostatic brain is aware of this and spends its life running interference to protect your spine/neck from damage – so you’re essentially getting low-grade warning, warning signals from your brain constantly without a logical, external cause that your conscious mind can attach it to, and this manifests as anxiety – generalised and non-specific dread and fear – the feeling that something is wrong without something specific to attach it to. (Of course, there are plenty of other reasons for anxiety too!!)

** I know someone in a medically-induced coma rn. It’s… wow, yeah. If you have prayers/good vibes to spare, they could use some. <3

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical person or a doctor or a thing that is in any way, shape or form qualified to give health advice. I’m simply sharing my own experiences. Don’t sue me. La.

I’m Only Doing This Because I Promised Myself

See? Streak power at work right here. I had posts for every day last week, so now I want to maintain that. I noted last week that posting once a week was too infrequent for streak-motivation to kick in, but apparently this week-daily bizzo is doing the trick (and let’s face it, the Monday/Friday posts are all prescheduled anyway :D).

So I have things to say and things I thought I’d blog about, but tbh I had like 4.5 hours of sleep last night and I’m fighting off the plague and I’m really all just

right now. So instead you get a random, short, rambly update, I guess about books because… I have nothing else interesting to update you with?

So Sanctuary book three, When Worlds Collide, is officially In The Works. I’ve done a bunch of planning and outlining* and trying to fit together the jigsaw puzzle pieces I’ve left myself in the first two books, and tomorrow I get to actually dive into the writing – assuming I’m up to date with my marking by the time I get home, anyway 😉 At the moment I have it scheduled for release at the end of Feb, but that will depend on me maintaining a moderately gruelling schedule for the next 2.5 months, so it may end up tipping over into March. We Shall See.

And then that wraps up the Sanctuary series, and WHOA OH MY GOSH I WROTE AN ENTIRE SERIES. o.O Y’all have no idea how WEIRD that concept is.

But I’m SUPER excited about what’s coming after that. You might remember that last year I went and stayed with the Twinny One in the US, which was AWWWWWESOME, and that we spent a large amount of time Plotting All The Things, and that one of said Things was the big and tangled novel I have drafted that we detangled, reoutlined, and generally tidied up, filming the whole experience because… why not?

Anyway, yeah, that one. Ferrets and sarcasm and enemies-to-lovers and Mercury, the super-smart, super-possessive, super-snarky, super-SLYTHERIN main character. A bunch of people have read early drafts of this one, and you guys, you are going to love it. Promises. So. Much. FUN.

I’m really looking forward to getting it done and out :3

I’m also super looking forward to some writing courses I’m doing over Christmas, but that’s probably of less general interest! 😀

Anyway, the gloriously savoury scent of roasting potatoes and rosemary is letting me know my dinner is finally cooked, so Imma go deal with that. Food. I hear it’s good to eat.**

Hope you’re having an okay start to your week! <3

 

* I’m not an obsessive outliner, I don’t outline All The Things in comprehensive detail, but I do appreciate a road map.

** This, friends, is called irony, because I have recently learned that I am literally, actually, 100% medically confirmed food intolerant. More on that possibly later this week. *sigh*.

How To Have A Pinterest-Worthy Party WITHOUT Going Insane (Part 1)

Another three-part series because this is something that’s on my mind right now 😉

It can feel like there’s a lot of pressure sometimes to host ‘perfect’ events, what with the advent of Pinterest and Instagram and the like. My family is Big on Events, and we can Pinterest party like it’s… uh, 2017. I’ve been involved in plenty of events-coordination that took weeks and even months of planning, and my sisters, mother and I have collaborative Pinterest boards spawning out our ears.

But let’s face it: My life is packed. I don’t have TIME to hold Pinterest events. And honestly? I tried one for my birthday a while ago when I turned 30 and… eh. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was amazing. It’s just that the sheer amount of work coordinating on the day meant I was pretty stuffed by the time the party actually *started*.

Also, many of the “events” I’m doing these days are for kids, and you know what? A three-year-old doesn’t care if you spent six hours on their party or one or twelve. They just love that it’s a party.

But! It is entirely possible to get a party worthy of Pinterest and Instagram WITHOUT going insane, losing your mind, and making you want to stab your eyeballs out by the time the party arrives. All it takes is a little bit of planning…

1: FOCUS

The first really important step is to figure out which bit of partying you actually enjoy. My middle sister loves decorating. My mum loves cooking. Me? I love the cake. (Okay shush, I can hear your shock and surprise from here :P) So for me, that’s my deal-breaker: everything else I can hack, but the cake needs to be top-notch.

Figure out that one thing that is make-or-break for you as far as an awesome, wow-factor party is concerned. It is having the entire room full of themed decorations? It is an incredible, awe-inspiring cake? It is having every item of food totally in theme? Or is it something else entirely?

2: IDEA KERNEL

Okay, now that you know what’s important to you focus-wise, it’s time to brainstorm some ideas. Chances are you or the person you’re planning for has this bit covered for you: my son requested a Toy Story party for his birthday this year. (Incidentally, “Toy Story” is too big a kernel for a keeping-yourself-sane party, so we narrowed it down further: Buzz was his favourite character, so we’d be having a Buzz focus.)

Last year it was Frozen (which I chose, but he was OBSESSED with it at the time, so he was pretty stoked), and when he turned three I initiated him into our time-honoured family tradition of sitting down with the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Cakes cookbook and letting him pick a cake (no shocks to anyone, he chose the race-car :)).

Recently, I’ve been planning for the baby’s party. Figuring this year was the last year I’d really get to steer the party-theme ship, I decided to do narwhals, because NARWHALS, Y’ALL. However, when we recently discovered that she is totally obsessed with cows, I flipped and now we’re running with cows.

Narwhal cake.

It’s important that you hone in on that one specific thing is that you’re interested in, because it helps when it’s time to…

3A: PLAN (BRAINSTORMING)

While you can totally do this months ahead (and I do because I like to get things sorted during school holidays so term time is less insane), you do run the risk of having to flip if the person’s interest changes (especially with kids). Of course, you can always say, “Tough luck!” Your call 🙂

What you DON’T want to be doing, though, is planning the night before. Har. But with that said, if you use this system you could easily pull off a low-stress, Pinterest-worthy party with only a few hours of planning a week or so ahead, if you can either do everything yourself or have people you can outsource to.

So what exactly do you plan? EVERYTHING, but usually in a specific order.

First of all, hold onto your idea kernel. It’s going to be your guiding light when you come across ideas that are shiny but ultimately distracting.

Narwhal cake. <– Idea Kernel for the narwhal party

Secondly, brainstorm. I do this on Pinterest because it’s a great way to generate a lot of ideas fast, and you don’t have to do the thinking because you can pretty much be guaranteed that someone out there has already done it for you. Alternatively, you could do image searches on Google; you’ll still get some good results, it’s just more of a pain to try to save them and they might not be as strictly relevant.

So what am I searching for? Anything around my idea kernel. For the Toy Story party I searched ‘Toy Story cakes’, ‘Buzz Lightyear cakes’, ‘Toy Story party’, ‘Toy Story food’, etc. Often on Pinterest you can luck out and find that someone’s helpfully put together some composite images that show the food, the decorations, and the cake all in one; these can be a great place to look for ideas, especially for food.

For the baby’s party, you can see the original Pinterest board here. If you note that the first pins are at the bottom and most recent are at the top, you’ll see the gradual drift in ideas: my idea kernel was narwhals with mermaids in a teal-and-purple colour scheme, so down the bottom of the board are a lot of mermaidy pins with purple and teal colour-schemes. However, as I went along you’ll see that the pins drift towards silver + blue + Arctic. I had this thought that since it was a winter party and narwhals are Arctic I could incorporate that… but because I had my idea kernel, I realised I was drifting away from what I really wanted, and knew it was time to stop brainstorming.

Ideas as I started to drift
Initial ideas

When I was re-brainstorming for the cow party, I knew I’d be looking at a lot of farm party things – but because I knew I wanted to focus specifically on *cows*, I could avoid getting distracted by all the cute general-farm-themed stuff out there, and it literally took 15 minutes to put together a plenty-big-enough board.

How big is ‘plenty big enough’? You know it’s time to stop brainstorming either when you find yourself repeating a lot of ideas, or when you start to drift away from your kernel. You can get a perfectly decent brainstorm done in 10-15 minutes.

 

So now you’re finished the brainstorming phase of your planning. Tune in next week for the nitty gritty of what you actually need to plan to keep yourself sane 😉 <3