I was supposed to be sitting down to write a piece as part of the blog tour on Parenting and Creativity. My piece was going to be about coming to terms with the anger of discovering the feminist line of “women can have it all” that had been pushed on me in the 80s and 90s had turned out to be a complete and total lie. I’d spent 18 months or more being angry about it and then having to work through it. And I had lots to say on the topic. Instead, something parenting related happened to me that completely paralysed all creativity. For so far, a month.
I had a pregnancy related complication – nothing so rare that they didn’t know how to pick it up or what to do with it, and there are very safe treatments and tests. And I’m okay now (on maintenance and being monitored and managed) and the baby is fine. But it was quite the experience to live through. It turns out, it’s not very reassuring to have your GP call you after hours, send you to the ED and call ahead so that when you arrive, they triage you straight through and you already have 2 nurses setting up an ECG for you in the bed you are about to live in. I feel like you can judge how serious things are by how nice to the nurses are to you and they were all super nice to me the whole time I was there.
But bottom line is that what I had was life threatening and shit got really really real. You know when life suddenly tunnel visions and everything else is just a blur and you suddenly know exactly what is important in life, and to you, and therefore that everything else just isn’t? Yeah that. I was in that space for I guess about 48 hours and I learned a lot of things about myself. And about life. And even though, by the time I went home I was fine and everything was okay and had the best possible outcome, it was really hard to get my brain to change out of that gear and go back to Life. And you know, all the stupid little decisions like what carpark to choose and which milk to buy.
I also experienced some anxiety issues whilst in hospital. I discovered THE WORST place to be in a hospital is in the overnight observations ward called Medical Assessment. Especially if you’re a germophobe. Also, they don’t cope well with pregnant women who aren’t there for hyperemesis gravidarum aka they forgot to feed me for very long stretches of time. The lovely nurses did smuggle me out all kinds of tiny packets of biscuits and cakes. And once, whilst waiting for a nuclear dye scan, I got a airplane snack pack-like meal.
So, by the time I got home, my brain had been beaten about a fair bit. It felt like it had glitched into a hung screen or like it was buffering before it could stream again or something. It felt broken. I lost the ability to read fiction, to edit or proof, to slush read!, and even to sew or knit. And I couldn’t handle much TV above a cooking show. Normally my response would be to dive into a Gilmore Girls rewatch but I couldn’t face the speed of their dialogue and also the whole drama of that overarching plot.
Oddly though, I suddenly had great capacity for paperwork and book keeping. So weird. I think possibly because that kind of work doesn’t require any creativity and I suddenly had this new focus of being able to be ruthless and decisive about things. I was able to tackle two overladen and spilling all over the place in trays and just steadily work through it all piece by piece. I actually found myself using the GTD process of collecting, collating and processing the way it’s supposed to be applied. I still don’t know how someone who is starting from scratch can seriously get their whole life into GTD in just 3 days. I’ve been at it for 3 or 4 weeks now and I’m only just almost on top of it. But I’ve been suddenly able to pick up a piece of paper, ask myself what it is, decide if I can just bin it, actually delegate it if not, or do it if it would take less than 2 mins. And my onset of ruthless decisiveness has helped me just make calls on things. Like, say, if I no longer have the ability to answer a question (like, I didn’t record crucial information so couldn’t move it forward without knowing that), then I’m not suddenly going to have this information if I leave it in my in tray (leaving it there for 2 years hasn’t helped) and it’s likely to not even be relevant anymore. So I did this thing where I just filed it and moved on with my life. OMG. So liberating. And in so doing, I’ve managed to almost completely sort out all my paperwork, finances and royalty reports. Jobs that I would rather poke myself in the eye with a fork than do instead of anything else that is creative, normally.
And in being ruthless and decisive, I’ve managed to learn how to delegate. So much so that I want to get even better at delegating. Sometimes, it’s just admitting to yourself that you’re procrastinating on actioning something because you have feelings related to that – an email you have to write or a question or favour you have to ask. I’m really lucky to have an awesome and enthusiastic team of peeps at TPP – I wouldn’t have been able to get through a lot of what’s been going on this year if I hadn’t been able to rely on them for help getting things done. And it turns out, it’s not a negative to admit the ships too big to be run by just one person these days. When you suddenly take ill, it’s actually really useful to not be the only person with access to the email accounts and other admin things as well as not being the only person who knows what’s going on. Up til now it’s been both scary to let other people see the warts and all and also, I’ve not wanted to ask people to do boring jobs. And all that does is slow you down and sabotage the potential. As you can see, I’ve really jumped on board with this delegation thing – because it also turns out, it’s easier to write someone else’s scary email for them when you don’t have the feels. I knew this, having been other people’s admin person before. I guess I just felt bad asking other people to do things for me that I was personally capable of doing (if I actually had 48 hours in every day).
So suddenly things are moving forward at TPP in several directions at once. It would normally feel scary but doesn’t because I completely trust the team. And this being immersed in the whole paperwork thing enabled me to do some things like set in place spreadsheets for calculating complex problems for ongoing bookwork upkeep rather than reinventing the wheel each time. Something I might have been doing until now, ahem.
I am now just slowly feeling like my brain is unlocking from its screen freeze. I’ve managed to get back to some editing. I’m almost completely on top of all intrays and inboxes. I’ve not yet got back to crafting or reading yet but I think in the next couple of weeks that will happen. I’m very keen to maintain some GTD processes though. In preparing for a newborn’s arrival in about 4 months, I’d like to have as much as I can be on just ticking on over processes. I definitely learned with my first one that writing things down and preparing as much as you can when you have the time available in order to be able to pick up and action a small thing later in a small window of opportunity, you can kinda stay on top of things. If you can not sweat the small stuff!
, mental health
This one falls under the New Years Resolution of “Don’t make things harder for myself.”
Last year I set myself the intention to rejoin the 12WBT program in the new year. Hi new year! *waves* I’ll admit I’d not been thinking about this commitment in a positive light. I spent almost all of 2013 in what felt like a zone of deprivation – I was sick with Crohn’s coming into the year so I don’t even think I got to drink a glass of champagne to toast our wedding or on our honeymoon. And then the pregnancy diet, if you follow it to the nth degree, is not that much fun. Well, ok, that’s a lie. I did manage to make my baby out of icecream and chocolate. And I got away with that mostly because I had morning sickness for 8 of the 9 months and barely ate anything else. But even so – brie! authentic chocolate mousse! custard! smoked salmon! sushi! soft poached eggs! almost any vegetarian option anywhere on any menu! green salad! Oh how I missed you all *hugs and holds on for dear life*
There were many many foods I missed during my pregnancy. And I’ve been eating then ALL since then. I’m home by myself and I have no concept of time anymore. Lunch most days is at 4pm, dinner can be at 9 or 10pm. It’s pretty clear if I continue on this track, it’s not gonna go the way I want it to. On top of that, I feel tired and lethargic all the time. Today and yesterday were the first days in three months that I did something other than watch TV. Yes, I have a newborn. But I think I can feel better and I think with a bit more effort, I can be a bit more on top of this. And … I finally have dug myself enough up out of the sand to care enough to find the effort.
And. It’s not our intention that the baby be an only child. When a woman gets to a certain age, she gets to have certain conversations with her doctors. In the risk factors surrounding falling pregnant again and for a healthy pregnancy and birth, health, wellbeing and fitness are the ones I can control. I can’t get younger. But BMI is related to a bunch of these things. I feel I benefited from spending a year or two prepping my body before the baby and so … we reset the counter. I guess.
Finally, I really like the 12WBT program. You get emailed your meal plan Thursday before the week starts with a full shopping list. You can swap out meals you don’t like. There’s a really varied and balanced vegetarian plan – something I am not good at doing for myself. This alone means I will start to feel better. I’m not really that focussed on losing weight for the sake of losing weight. I have a weightloss goal for this round and for the year but more as a way of keeping track on how I’m going in terms of building fitness and eating better. I want to feel better in terms of energy and nutritionally as well as physically. Basically, if you move more and eat less chocolate, the weightloss is a natural consequence.
Part of the preseason tasks ahead of the round (which starts Feb) is to make public your commitment so here is mine:
“My commitment is to give the program my all and be careful and thoughtful about my participation and through this, to meet my goal to lose 10kg.”
So. There it is.
Tags: 12wbt, health, new years resolutions 2014
I feel a strong need to record things here about my pregnancy so I have a place to go back to when biology conveniently does its mind wipe erase. I’m really indignant about that.
Yesterday was a bit of a rough day. No husband to provide access to rational thought and to give me a hug. Just me and my body that was somehow trying to play the enemy. I’m still struggling with getting enough sleep. I’m now at the point where I celebrate getting 6 hours in two blocks of sleep as a huge win. Often I have to settle for 3 to 4 hours. But I’d started to get a bit of momentum and the night before last I was having a really great sleep when I woke up at 3.15 with my throat completely swollen shut. I’d had a bit of what I can only describe as pregnancy induced sleep apnea. I’ve had sinus issues since I hit 5 weeks along. So I figured it was that. And every now and then I get jolted awake as I struggle to take a breath, I guess. But this was different. I woke up and my throat was closed and it didn’t dissipate instantly – I could still breathe through my nose though. Being alone in the house, I got quite scared and wasn’t really sure what to do.
It’s quite funny in that in the cold harsh light of day, you’d call an ambulance or you’d go to ED. But at 3am, and when you’re pregnant, you get quite irrational. And you second guess yourself – I didn’t want to disturb anyone at that hour. And I didn’t want to drive to the hospital by myself. And I was worried that maybe I was overreacting and would look silly for making an issue out of it (hysterical, emotional pregnant lady etc). And by the time I’d got as far as looking to see what the wait time would be like at the hospital, I figured I’d be dead if I was going to die, right? And so I’d wait it out. Where wait it out meant wait for husband to wake up in Sydney and call him and cry on the phone. (Aside: I do have a nasty habit of doing that to people, I remember doing that to my mother when I went to live in Israel for a year and got lost on my first day in Haifa and almost ended up in Tel Aviv, so I sobbed on the phone to her about how much I hated it – culture shock, it passed – and she was like “I’m 27 hours away, I wish I could do something!!!”) Poor husband does very well at going from asleep to being cried at in 5 secs. I think that’s his training kicking in. And we agreed I’d not go back to sleep and would go see a doctor first thing. I ended up taking a Polaramine (sanctioned by doctor previously) and did get a bit of sleep at about 6am.
And? Well. When I saw the doctor yesterday, he thought the most likely thing was that it was anaphylactic shock. Which was a bit left field. I’m still not overly convinced since it feels like I’ve had milder symptoms for a couple of months. But, I’m happy to go with the “let’s just avoid nuts for now” recommendation – I’d had pistachio nuts before bed. Not a nut I have ever had a problem with before. And up til now, my allergy to nuts did not give rise to anaphylaxis. He pointed out that your reactions to an allergy scale up with exposure. And you know, pregnancy does weird shit to you. And in retrospect, I forgot about it at the time, but I had my second AntiD injection this week and it’s possible that has interfered (they monitor you straight after in case you react to that). So. That was fun. If it happens again I’m supposed to call an ambulance. And I might need to carry an epipen.
So there was that. But you know, that’s only partially how I roll. And why I was amused when people were warning me with “you wait til”s when pregnant – cause I ain’t the run of the mill. My Crohn’s is of course gearing up. Course it is. And that’s no surprise. I had that flare up caused by anxiety for my *hen’s night* for heaven’s sake. And that is NOTHING compared to November for me, right? So I was expecting this wouldn’t be a happy horse and cart ride in the park. The next part of this story is cut for TMI but to say that pregnancy and Crohn’s flare ups do not mesh well together. And I was quite miserable yesterday.
On the upsides, I’m still low in iron so my midwife has prescribed B12 to take as well (that’s a no brainer, cause, Crohn’s) so I’m hoping to feel awesome by like tomorrow. That’s how it works, right? And at this point, I am popping so many pills that it’s almost equivalent to the futuristic not having to eat anything, just take a pill, where the pill is actually about 12 different things. And much as I was terrified to go to sleep last night (even though the doctor reassured me your body wakes you up if you can’t breathe, as it had done the night before), it didn’t reoccur. So yay. And also, I think I’m quite happy with that medical practice – I’ve yet to actually move to a GP down here and I kinda need to decide that before the baby comes.
So, you know. This is me. I don’t do things by the book. It’s just how I am. The baby on the other hand has been fantastic – doing all the right things, growing well, very active. All good.
Tomorrow is the beginning of the new round of the 12 Week Body Transformation program and I’ve signed up again. I’m doing so under medical supervision and with a promise on a handshake that I made with my midwife (and then signed off by my OB) that I not put on any weight in this pregnancy. It’s a pretty daunting thought. Don’t pregnant women *have* to put on weight? Aren’t you supposed to be a whale? Aren’t you eating for 2 etc?
Many years ago now, when I was having an anxiety meltdown, Tansy said to me – you have to work out *how* you can do [particular thing I wanted to do but had decided I could not, due to OCD] and figure out all the things you need to set in place to make that ok. What she was saying to me, and what she’s said many many times since is – figure out and set goals for things you have control over. It’s not reasonable to say “my goal is to win [X] award or publish [so and so] or create a viable business” but it *is* reasonable to set high standards for the fiction you buy and your editorial processes in order to publish the best work you can possibly publish. *That* is something you can control. And it turns out, *that* is also something you can be proud of. The rest, you can’t control so what is the use in stressing about it? I’ve taken this advice and I’ve clung to it. When I start to freak out about something, I look at what I *can* do about it and I focus on that. If noone is buying any of my books this week, I look at what I’ve personally done to promote them and what I could be doing. And I do that.
So in the face of all the media hysteria that gets thrown at you about leaving having babies too late, I looked at what I could do, given that I can’t halt time. I looked at the factors that were within my control – I lost 15kg. I ate better, consistently. I reduced my intake of alcohol. I exercised. I didn’t take up smoking. I don’t know whether these made a difference but I do know that they gave me things I could focus on, healthy things that would improve my quality of life, even if that’s the only benefit I got.
And now here I am. 37. Pregnant. And getting bombarded with all kinds of other scary risk factors and statistics. Having a higher BMI increases the risk of complications later on in pregnancy. And given my family history of diabetes. And my own potential health complications. The best thing I can do is be healthy in this pregnancy. I believe my midwife called it ‘body sculpting” – I guess whereby the sculpture I produce at the end will be a baby? I sorta feel bad that said baby will have been made out of ice cream, chocolate and gummy bears. But probably that’s just the funny things my brain does to random shit I hear.
There’s no doubt that eating well will help me feel better and make the best baby I can make. It’s been rough so far as I have had no appetite at all, felt sick pretty much most of the time, and can’t stand the taste of water. This has meant I’ve mostly eaten glutinous carbs which have also made me feel sick due to Crohn’s stuff. I don’t see how you are supposed to only eat 200 extra calories when pregnant yet also stave off morning sickness by never having an empty stomach. How does that even freaking work? Carrots don’t quite seem to cut through that empty growling abyss in the pit of my stomach. And with my heartburn issues, there’s a whole bunch of food that I used to be able to eat that I now cannot. And so, being a vegetarian with gluten and lactose intolerances now having to avoid anything acidic … you see why toast with honey is the option, right?
Anyway. Here’s to morning sickness abating (any day soon!) and moving on to that whole extra energy thing I hear is supposed to kick in (any day soon!). I’m signing up to the next 12WBT with the goal of not putting on any weight and of getting fitter in preparation for this whole labour thing I’m trying not to hear so much about. Mostly I’m looking forward to someone else thinking through the balanced diet thing so that I start to feel better. (Incidentally, the 12WBT has a pregnancy plan option which adds in the extra calories, gives a range of meal options with pregnancy safe foods and pregnancy workouts).
So that’s me telling you the goal, as per pre season task 4. I’ll probably check in once a week on this. I start tomorrow.
Despite having a bad night again last night, I think I’m progressively starting to feel a bit more like me. Ish. I still have a battery of tests to do, running here there and everywhere for time sensitive stuff, but they’ve started giving me drugs to treat symptoms. And it’s amazing how you realise just how bad you felt when you start to feel not bad and also just how easy it is to forget what feeling human feels like. One of the most important leaps forward was having my Vitamin D trebled by a doc this week. I feel instantly better. I’m sleeping great and I have my energy back. OMG not having energy is like some kind of horrible torture for me.
I’m also my own worst enemy, as my mother loves to say.
The worse I feel, the less likely I am to take action to make myself feel better. Dehydrated? Unlikely to start drinking more water. If I’m lucky, I’ll up the caffeine intake. Have a headache? Why pop a pill when I can just blame the self infliction and thus point to the self deservingness of said pain? Lack in energy and general blahness? Why consume more fruit and veggies and take a vitamin when I could loll listlessly about, nosh nutritionally devoid junk and just groan?
So my gradual improvement this week has also improved my outlook on life (yay) and I’ve started to eat better and take my meds and gotten into the upwards spiral I so often avoid.
And got myself to uni yesterday for the first time. (I mentioned I have an office at home so I don’t really need to be on campus all that much?) I had the energy and mindset to be able to cope with parking (luckily I had already set the parking app up on my phone so I just had to learn to use it) and I found the Humanities building and the postgrad lounge where the workshop I had RSVPed for was held. I’m not convinced I needed the workshop, I couldn’t tell you what I got out of it and to be honest, I find most other people’s thesis topics kinda boring (except for Helen’s other student who was there, obvs, since his is SF creative writing), which is more likely due to my lack of arts qualifications than anything. Also, I’m mostly not here to hang out and waste time. I can see that it’s a really fun campus and there are so many cool things on and even just that I could get involved in in my own dept but at the same time, I have a lot going on in my life right now, I took a big salary hit to be here, and I feel too old for the uni experience this time round. I’ve been there and done that and know how easy it is to lose 6 months or a year of productive study to being a student. And so on the one hand I’m making myself go to all these workshops on how to do a phd, which I didn’t take the last time through, but on the other hand … I mostly know all this stuff – I know that my thesis topic will change over the next four years. I know that at the moment I want to solve the world but most of that will fall away because the point is that you need to focus on one specialised idea and contribute that to your field etc.
Probably the one thing I took away from yesterday is the way a creative production phd is a dance between the creative work and the exegesis, that the two form one thesis together and that you need to work on them simultaneously so that one informs the other. And that that’s pretty cool as a thought exercise. And that it’s really really cool that I get to spend the next three years, like, thinking. I still can’t believe I’m allowed to have fun enjoying my day job. So weird.
, phd life
I’ve had diagnosed Crohn’s Disease for 14 years. I’m very lucky to have a mild form. Chronic diseases aren’t fun. You get good days and bad days, good patches and bad patches. Stress exacerbates. No surprises then that in the lead up to my wedding, I got a flare up. I actually had close to one of the worst flare ups I’ve had, and probably the worst since the first few years. I was my sickest on the day of my hens. And I had some not that great days in Paris.
After 14 years, and having been through periods of really really debilitating sickness, I’m blessed with the learned knowledge that this too shall pass. I know there will be better days. I can bear the fact that I haven’t been able to tolerate even a sip of alcohol in about 5 months. I’ve not had an espresso coffee in a month, and only a couple of instants in that time. And last week, I finally admitted that I have to go back to being gluten free. I can cope with all this because I know it’s not forever. And because I feel 1000 times better when I don’t eat/drink these things. I almost feel disease free – so much so that a few times I’ve been caught out thinking it was all better and having a coffee only to discover that no, no it’s not better it was just being managed.
For the last two months I’ve felt sick almost 24 hours a day – there’s the indigestion, nausea, stomach cramps – both the sudden sharp and the dull constant – muscle cramps, random rashes, there’s the TMI stuff, the sudden lack of appetite, the mouth ulcers and what sometimes trumps all of these for worst – the ravenous hunger. The kind that is this hollow desperate feeling in the pit of your stomach that if it doesn’t get filled, turns to intense, flooring nausea.
But today I realised that the black abyss has set in, has been creeping in for a while. I mentioned it to C and he told me he’d noticed. It’s a pretty standard thing – if your body isn’t absorbing vitamins and minerals, and in particular B12 – then you become susceptible to depression. That’s not even taking into account the drain of feeling sick all the time, or having to compromise lifestyle or diet. But I realised today that this is the reason I can’t seem to make myself *do anything* and that I lack focus and drive and direction. It’s very frustrating.
But screw all that, you know? I mean, what choice do I have?
So I took the best measures I could – I ate salads and drank juices and I guess I’m going to have to be vigilant on that front for a while. At least I know why I’m in struggletown. It feels like knowing why is the first step to conquering it. Cause I have too much to do this year to put up with this shit.
Well. I had a bit of a horrible day. C got up early and headed out to what I really hope is the last week of weekly sailing. I got up not long after, got ready, sorted out the puppy and headed out the door. I got to the bus stop and remembered I’d forgotten my phone so headed back and got that and then realised I’d forgotten my lunch just as the bus pulled up. All good. Got to the train station, hopped on a train. All good. I caught up on the twitter and the emails and then put away my phone and looked out the window. I started feel very sleepy and did that thing where you just close your eyes for a bit.
And then as we were pulling in to Murdoch station, I began to feel very unwell. That sudden sweatiness and needing to lie down feeling. I thought I’d get off at that station and see what happened but as I stood up I had that claminess and started to see stars and realised I was going to pass out. Thank goodness I was able to get off the train and sit down. I put my head between my legs and just stayed like that for about 6 minutes. I really really wanted to lie down on the station platform but even in such a state, the phobia says no (ew germs!) By the time the train heading in the opposite direction arrived, the feeling of fainting had passed and I got on and headed home, texting my boss that I didn’t think I would be in and explained why.
I think this happened cause I was in terrible pain – as a result of having to take the anti inflammatories for my back (two weeks ago) my Crohn’s Disease has had a flareup triggered. Up until now, it’s been just indigestion and nausea which I’ve dealt with by pulling back on the spicy food. Yesterday though, I had crippling stomach cramps. I spent much of the day in bed and really struggled to move around and stand and whatnot. Today was the same and I’d thought I could just push through, take painkillers at work, but I didn’t get there in time. The worst of it is that the painkillers tend to exacerbate some of these symptoms so it’s all really annoying.
And the moral of the story? The back issue – which got so bad that two Mondays ago I hobbled into work barely able to walk and got sent home and meant that I finally needed to take meds that I know trigger Crohns to deal with the inflammation – is something that cannot be ignored. The injury came about from sitting. Yup that’s right, it’s a pathetic injury from not doing enough exercise. I inflamed a joint in back from bloody sitting! And what’s annoying is that I’d had a conversation with writers who know that sitting is a serious work place hazard for this kind of work and I kinda brushed it off. After all … I’m not writing so RSI or sitting issues doesn’t affect me. Honestly, I even irritate myself with the way I think sometimes.
My day job is mostly a desk job. My last two jobs before this one both had some field work in it. It didn’t really seem like all that much field work but it’s possible even that was enough to just mix up my routine. Now I basically have a desk job for 7.5 hours a day and, to speed things up cause I’m always looking to find time in my day, I tend to work through lunch a lot. So I sit all day. I sit on the train to and from work. And then I come home and work at my latop for maybe 5 hours a night. And for WFC I sat for 40 hours on plane trips recently.
So yeah. I hurt my back. The moral of the story is … be kind to yourself and look after your workspace habits. As a result, I requested a standing desk at work. I didn’t get one but I’ve been given a temporary solution and I’ve been making sure I stand for an hour and then sit for an hour alternately all day. And guess what? Back issue fixed within days. I also schedule in 15 minute walks twice a day to break up the hours of possible inactivity. And when I say “schedule” they are in my phone calendar to remind me.
The other moral of the story is … my back issue was the worst on the Sunday before last and then this Sunday I had this other issue. Both leading to having to call in sick on a Monday. It has not escaped me that Sunday is the only day lately I have a proper day off. And I’m assuming this is my body telling me to Slow The Hell Down. It’s not really going to happen in the near future – we have our wedding in 20 days (!!) and much to do before that and I’ve just discovered that I have to apply for a job next week, which I’m still debating whether I have the mental energy to even do. So … My eye is on the honeymoon ball. And all the Not Working that I will be doing over that. I’m supposed to have closed down Twelfth Planet Press 3 days ago with my personal promise to take off Dec and Jan but .. well, yeah. I’m still mopping up and sorting a few things but that will slowly grind to a halt, I’m hoping by the 14th.
Today’s Tea: Madagascan vanilla, drunk black, one sugar, Stars 4 out of 5
Today’s Craft Project: Ravi Cardigan in Aubergenius by Blue Moon Fibre Arts
Wow. Been a really weird week this week for me. I am tired. Like bone weary, could fall asleep at any moment, struggling to keep my eyes open all day kinda tired. I never really get this kind of tired. Sure if I have a night of 5 hours or less of sleep, I might have that zombie haze thing where you’re dragging your mind through mud to get through the day, but mostly I’m pretty good on less sleep than most. Not this week though. This week, I am so tired I could sleep if I get too still. And I have an eye twitch. I’ve had it since Sunday and it’s driving me up the wall.
So I’ve been trying to limit the amount of work I do in the evenings after work. And I’ve been sending myself to bed by 9.30 and lights out by 10. And I’ve been upping my vitamins and protein. It’s not helping yet but I’m hoping it will soon. So I’ve been quiet and slow on getting things done. I hate that but in the event that this is burnout, I want to limit the fallout.
So if I owe you something, I’m hoping to get it to you real soon!
You know when you’re just a little off? When things just refuse to go right? That’s me at the moment.
Thursday I went home from work sick. I had a meeting first thing and then an overdue deadline. I sat and worked on the one page briefing for a couple of hours and tinkered and worked on it and thought I’d just get it done then I’d go home. But I could see I had another hour maybe to whip it into shape and I was reallllly not feeling well. The – if I leave this longer, the train may no longer be an option – kind of unwell so I emailed it onto my boss and headed home. C of course was out for lunch with the car so I had to catch the train and then a bus to him to get the car and house keys to get home. And then I slept for 3 hours. As you know, I don’t nap, so that’s never a good sign.
And then I spent a good 24 hours just not on – staring into space, watching terrible (but oh so good) television, answering emails and reading Deadline by Mira Grant. Saturday was more of the same. I was just … not quite right. And doing things like slamming doors on my hand coming out of the bathroom, woke up with a pinched muscle in my back and limited neck movement etc. That ever happen to you? When you just don’t seem to be firing on all cylinders? I dunno if it was flu that never really came on (auto immune diseases are good for one or two things) or being really run down or what.
Sunday I managed to make it to the quilt and craft fair. My usual buddy couldn’t come this year as she broke a bone in her foot last weekend (!) and since the duty was looking like falling to C, his mother stepped in and said she’d be happy to join me. So I met her there and we spent a couple of hours looking at the exhibition and buying fat quarters and having coffee (and I’m really getting married, aren’t I?!) and then I stayed behind to get a few more bits and pieces before heading home. [I bought 3 fat quarters, 6 buttons, a tea cosy book because I am obsessed with hilarious tea cosies, a pattern for a kimono shirt, and bits and pieces – pencils, pins etc]
Then I headed to Helen’s to have a nice catch up with her and Amelia and I’d not been there half an hour when I took a rather dramatic tumble down Helen’s back stairs. I don’t know what happened, I’d hardly moved when I fell forward and then fell down the stairs and kept going. I seem to have managed to have fallen on my whole body – slammed one hand and have taken a chunk out of the palm of my hand so I can’t type well or knit, and scraped the other whilst I landed on my other arm, one knee and both shins copped it, one much worse than the other with a massive scrape and then my ankle and toes which have blood blisters. But I reckon that’s the only thing that stopped me breaking a bone. And we weren’t sure there for a while. I nearly took out Helen’s daughter and as I lay there sprawled on the stairs the look on her face was of such terror I spent all my effort on not crying. And then not fainting. There was blood and a lot of pain and a lot of bruising and I go into shock quite easily.
But after a while, and some ice and bandaids, all was good and I had a cup of tea and cheered right up!And then went home to enjoy Eurovision. OMG I loved Turkey and Ireland so so much.
Today I hobbled into work to find much of my team had either been off sick, were off sick or went home sick. And I found a physio in the CBD to look at my neck/back. The city is pretty convenient for having access to things (better than either of the other jobs I had this year). And I got a new pillow, which might have been some of the problem. And I need to address stress, and ignoring headaches. and peering at the laptop like I’m doing right now. And probably it’s time for bed.
I hope you’re fairing better than me right now.
Trigger warning: I talk about food issues herein.
Well it’s week 6 of this 12 week program I’m on – almost half way through. Already? It’s hard to believe actually. I thought it would be so much harder – to give up some of my much loved habits and I thought it would be harder to drag myself up off the couch. Which is not to say that there haven’t been skipped workout sessions or off program meals but they have been the exception rather than the norm. I’ve never stayed on a program this long before. I am the queen of the two week flunk out, to be truthful.
It’s weird to know that I really can go 6 weeks without a packet of lollies and not only not die but not even really miss them. Sure I get the odd craving but it turns out cravings are fleeting. Huh. There are a few things that I have downshifted calories and servings sizes so as to not have to give them up completely. I might really think the world without chocolate is not worthwhile so I’ve shifted to a sugar free dark chocolate which, to be honest, is really not that bad. And we’re also allowed a brand of low fat ice-creams so I’ve not really gone ice-cream-free either.
That said, there have been two main reasons for stopping myself from throwing it out the window and diving into the mini fun size choccie bars flopped seductively in their charity box just 10 steps down from my office cubicle. The first is that I really have worked hard to get to here, both physically and mentally, and I don’t want to undo that and that leads into the second, which is, I suspect that if I had one taste, just one, I wouldn’t be able to stop again. I’d be back into those foods having a hold over me and I’d be back where I started. If I could have just one chocolate bar and stop. And then not have another for a while, I’d be ok. And the goal is to get to that place. I just think it’s a little while off from here still.
So, where am I at? Cause as it turns out, it isn’t just about losing weight.
I’ve lost 5 kg in 5 weeks, which I’m quite happy with. My 12 week goal was to lose half a kilo a week (6kg) and I almost completed that in the first third of the program. I have had to review my goals (which is apparently what you are supposed to do and not just me shifting the goalposts) and now am aiming to lose 12 kg by the end.
We’re eating a lot more healthily and consistently than we were before. We clean out the fridge at the end of every week because we need to make room for the new week’s food plan. I noticed this weekend that we threw out a lot less moldy fruit and veggies and that we had almost no leftovers from cooked meals in the fridge at all. And what went in were almost all fresh, unprocessed groceries. And lots and lots of colour.
On top of this, I’ve started taking a nighttime multivitamin which is supposed to promote rest and repair for your body. I’m really really crap at remembering to take multivitamins in the morning but a nighttime one suits me perfectly and I’ve been really consistent about this.
So the sum of all these things is that I am sleeping better than I have done in years. In YEARS! Yes I also gave up espresso coffee. And I’m exercising a lot more than I was before. And OMG sleeeeep. I know that’s the thing people with children tease you about but I have never ever been a good sleeper so being able to sleep through the whole night without waking up 6 times? Divine! And new for me. And you know what else? I wake up feel rested. RESTED! It’s like a whole new body. Every day. And therefore, unsurprisingly, my Crohn’s is really settling down. I’ve found the nutrition plan has a lot more gluten in it than I would ordinarily eat. We’ve sort of tried the food as is to get a feel for it but this week I am switching things out to replace, especially bread, with gluten free options. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out.
And exercise. OMG exercise. I have a love/hate relationship with it. It’s always been this way for me – putting on the clothes (to be fair, more so when it was those thick ballet stockings with the seam you had to have perfectly straight) is always the hardest part for me and sometimes can be the stumbling block I cannot climb. I am enjoying seeing myself get fitter and stronger. I’m enjoying being able to do more and recover faster. Today I ran all the way down to the sports complex and back and I can’t believe how comfortably I did that (in 3 min/2mn run/walk blocks). I’m getting the endorphin rush that makes it all worthwhile. And I’m also really aware of all the studies that show how exercise can alleviate depression and Crohn’s symptoms.
I’m also *moving* around and strengthening core muscles! I’m suddenly aware of how many friends of mine suffer from RSI and it occurred to me that whilst I am not a writer, I still spend a lot of time at a desk and then further hours hunched over a laptop. It might be prudent for me to be proactive about preventing injuries. I’ve noticed since about the first week of this program that my headaches have gone – I used to pretty much have constant headaches and now I know, because I *remember* them, that I have had only 3 in the past 6 weeks. Not only that but my neck issues seem to have eased up as well. And you know, physios and doctors tell you that exercise will help but you kinda look at them and think something FREE will fix this? Come on! Yeah it turns out getting off your arse and moving around a bit is good for you. Who knew?
I’m only 6 weeks in. I have to make it another 6 weeks and then beyond. And I don’t know how I will go yet. But I have started to get really (more) cynical about a bunch of things in modern life. All these things that are supposed to be convenient and help you save time but really make you fat and lazy and cost you money and then you have to pay more money to get thin and moving and so on. You really have to wonder what kinds of mugs we are, just lapping up all the cola and fries we can get whilst flicking the channels on the remote.
Tags: 12 wbt
Warning: I talk about food issues and weight in this post.
So I’m at Week 5 of the 12 Week Body Transformation. Weigh in is Wednesday but I’m on track to lose another 1kg+ which pushes me below my first round number milestone. The program promises to be more than just a diet and exercise regime, promoting itself as a life transformer, part of the outcome being the weight loss and the other part, changing the way you think and behave. At Week 5, I think I really can see some of those changes coming through. And it’s required some fairly big mindshifts as well as some soulsearching and thought self policing. I’m not even sure I can fully articulate what’s changed and what kind of ride this is.
My issues with food are complex and not really something to go into here. But they are separate to issues with body image. Which adds to the complexity. My inner monologue is almost constantly negative. And I tend to use food to fix all that ails me – feel down? feel anxious or angry? feel depressed? want comfort? celebrating a win? Is it a day ending in y? All get a liberal serve of food to remedy. On top of that, I am addicted, I think, to certain foods. Maybe that’s a cop out but that’s how it feels. Food is my drug of choice – lollies and chocolate and icecream to be specific. And muffins and pastries and desserts and and and. Add to that that the exercise thing had kinda fallen by the wayside, the whole OMG the momentum required to put on shoes let alone leave the house!
And you’re not gonna overcome that kind of stuff in a day or a week or even in 12 weeks. And the thought of never going back ever again, still doesn’t feel quite real so I know I have a long way to go. But hey, today when I was hanging out with Jonathan for lunch, I happily chose a salad, considered it a “meal” and enjoyed it. There’s hope.
I’ve actually really enjoyed the nutrition side of this program. To be fair, C has taken on the shopping and cooking for it which is a major deal. I would likely not have been remotely as successful if I had been doing the food stuff on my own. And I think the food is far more interesting and exciting than what I was eating – especially for breakfasts and lunches during the week. So that already makes this hardly a chore. And now, 5 weeks away from bags of lollies and licorice and blocks of chocolate, I can look at it a lot more from the outside looking in and deconstruct a lot of it. Some of which I want to talk about below. But that said, I know that if I were to even taste some of those things, I would be right back there scoffing a bag in a blink and be hooked again. I hope in the future to have a more balanced and healthy relationship with these foods.
The exercise on the other hand has been more of a struggle. You have to complete 6 workouts a week and I find that really hard. I’m juggling so much else in my week sometimes I just keel over. But one of the exercises before the program started was to write down all the excuses you use to avoid doing exercise (or related to food) and you know … I still catch myself trying to fob them off. Like … if you’re injured, that’s fine but you can work around that and still exercise. For me, sometimes my Crohn’s is worse than other days and doing crunches is so not the best thing for it. But now I know that I can just skip the crunches and do something else in the session rather than not exercise at all because I “feel sick”. Big revelation. Also, for me, I tend to find time by jettisoning exercise off first. Now, I’ve discovered I can reorganise my day, perhaps by several hours ahead so I still get in the exercise as well as all the other commitments. I’m still not doing great at this one – I am so overcommitted. And I’m becoming that person I hate – who is too busy to get to things or to answer emails promptly or to prepare ahead of time. I’m working on this one (commitments) and it should be better soon. But I discovered something really important. I had been describing myself as not an active person, or not someone who enjoys exercise. But actually – I do! And I’d forgotten. I’ve had so may moments of flashbacks to when I used to dance and these have reminded me of how exercise and pushing myself to my limits felt back then. And how much I enjoyed that. It’s been really nice to get back in touch with the me of 20 years ago. Before things got screwed up. It’s made me have to readjust how I see myself.
So taking some of what I am learning or skilling myself up to help get through the program has really flowed into the rest of my life. I’ve noticed the same kind of internal talk for addressing other things in my life and have taken to using similar techniques to deal with that. It’s slow and it requires constant awareness of my inner talk and in changing that around but I think I’m making inroads.
I gave a talk on the weekend and I felt that it went terribly. I didn’t feel comfortable up at the front, I hadn’t prepared enough so I ended up reading my prepared notes instead of talking off the cuff, I felt nervous and sounded so and I stammered a bit. I was pretty down about it. At the end of the day several people came over to tell me how much they enjoyed my talk, how it had made them think and so on. But I walked away still saying to myself I’d screwed up and it was a shit presentation. But over the rest of the day, I started to turn the talk on myself – how could I ignore the several people who said differently to how I felt? Why would I value my own self destructive talk over outside of me evidence to the contrary. Maybe all the things I thought about how I went were true but maybe the material I presented overcame that?
And so now I’m looking at tackling two issues I’d like to get straight. One is that I’m having trouble motivating myself to get (more) stuff down (I know I know but …). Back in the postgrad days I used to have a list system that kicked arse – I would write a serious list 0f 10 big deal things I wanted to achieve for that month and then I would divide each down into the exact single tasks or actions it would take to get that big thing done. And then I would give myself a red tick each time I got a task done. A tally at the end of the month for red ticks would determine if or what kind of reward I would get. I have a feeling at the time I mostly was getting stuff from the Body Shop but I’d set a dollar limit and could choose. And being close to the tipover into reward would push me to scour the list to find low hanging fruit. I got a lot done and the system really worked for a while.
I’ve been trying to get back to that system but now I have this habit of moving the goal posts. So I’ll say if X, then Y and then when I do X, I’ll say, yeah but that was easy, now you need to also do W for Y. And no rewards ever get doled out. Which defeats the whole purpose.
Add to that, the very real need for me to find other ways to deal with emotions other than placating with food. I’ve actually found a really good technique for dealing with anger or frustration is to action something. Doesn’t have to be related but just *doing something* when you feel helpless or frustrated really makes you feel better, more in control. Plus you get that thing done. It takes a negative and makes it positive. So I’ve been looking for something to help with other emotions. Something that I could also use as rewards for the getting things done requirement. And it turns out, as I’m doing better and better on this program, I actually feel better about myself. And as I told a friend the other day – you nurture what you love. I feel better about myself. I feel great healthwise as we are eating so much healthy, unprocessed foods. Even my hair looks shinier! And I’m happier.
So last week, I decided to do something about this. I decided I needed to get some perspective on what is reward worthy and hopefully recalibrate my own internal feeling about what is a good job well done. I decided to go to two of my favourite shops – The Body Shop and T2 (since I was at the shops already replacing yet another bung laptop charger) and buy in advance a bunch of treats. They varied in size and value, some just little testers of things I wanted to try and others more luxurious. But all things that would require indulgence once obtained. So the reward would be twofold – 1, I get something! and 2. I have to then use it – to relax, to cheer myself up, to feel good about myself, to destress, to take time out etc.
And then I gave the bag of rewards to C to supervise. So someone else with a nonscrewed up barometer of achievements could help me figure out what deserved reward and when. He cracks me up – when I gave him the bag, went through it and then stood up and nodded and said, yes he had his head around what was in there now, and then swept it off somewhere. To be honest, I felt a little scared at that point! Should I have given up that power?
Today I got my first reward – it was delayed from the promised reward fotr preparing and delivering the paid speaking gig I did on the weekend. I was such a pain in the arse preparing for it and I don’t like public speaking. Still, I sucked it up and I got on with it. And my reward was – picture at the top – Strawberry and Cream tea! And this evening, instead of casing the pantry for after dinner shaped things, I sat with my feet in a hot bath with Radox and I sipped my fruity tea! And it was good.
Tags: health, lessons, life
I didn’t blog much after falling ill. I figured there was nothing more boring than, “yep still sick” plus some of those days I was actually in so much pain I couldn’t type. Or knit. Or really even hold a coffee mug. The ultimate message from the universe, all I could do was lie on the couch and watch TV. Yup. Spent about 7 days there. Watched all of Studio 60. Worked my way through about 3 seasons of Doctor Who. And eventually I got better. I’ve been back at work. Doing things. Catching up. But still running behind.
So a bunch of linky the links before I head back off to the chain gang.
I answered some questions on editing over at Donna Hanson’s blog. I actually think her question (and many people’s answers to – Can editing be taught? – to be really really fascinating. Go read the series!
Deborah Biancotti is featuring a series of paragraphs on creative burnout. Mine is here. And I should add that when I say that I watch TV that I think is really great, I really do mean the Gilmore Girls. If you see me break out a rewatch of the whole series, you know things are bad. Cough. I also really get back into Elton John – a bit of Can you Feel the Love Tonight, Candle in the Wind and so on. And the Goo Goo Dolls, which I admit I was listening to yesterday (Black Balloon, Accoustic #3 and Iris on repeat means all is lost).
Our big Twelfth Planet Press news is that Charles Tan is steadily working on ebook conversion (and soon to have extra help, kind people are really kind) and we now have Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex available in epub. The Kindle version will be up tonight. And both are available now from Wizard Towers Books. Very soon I’ll have links for ebook subscriptions and upgrades on the site.
C has been away this week. I would have done a big Things I Want To Get Done whilst he is away but I’m knackered. And just running to stand still. Also really behind on TPP and focussing on that. If Tansy will stop pitching ENORMOUS ideas at me. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to focus on next year when he is at sea off and on throughout it. I have some ideas. Mostly I’ll be concentrating on TPP, I have some two years goals which really will need concerted and sustained hard work to pull off. But I’m also toying around with some other, smaller projects. That need their own blogs. We’ll see.
This month though is a weird one. Most of it we will be spending apart – he’s had two courses on this month and I realised YESTERDAY that I only have this week and next week at work before I LEAVE FOR WORLD FANTASY CON! for which my schedule is already deliciously jam packed. I have finally booked and paid for a shower, seated massage and hang out in a lounge during my long sojourn in Hong Kong airport. I have organised with my family for pick ups, eating and siteseeing (and phone!) for the couple of days before the con. And mostly, I am intending to just have a vacation. I know, I know. It’s A CON. But still. I’ve sent 5 boxes of Glitter Rose over to San Diego for the convention bags. And a thousand postcards for the Twelve Planets. I’ve also been kindly given a wee bit of space in the dealer’s room so if you want something – let me know and I’ll be sure to pack it and bring it with me. I know what dress I’m wearing for the banquet. I think I’m getting towards ready for it! Eeeeeeeekkkkk
, lucy sussex
, Twelfth Planet Press
, twelve planets
, world fantasy con
In all, I had a busy and partly productive weekend. Friday night I was knackered and glad that the week had finally ended. I worked a 50 hour day job week which doesn’t really leave much room for 30 odd hours of Twelfth Planet Press. Though with the long day I pulled today (still tempted to get some ASif! updates done now, at nearly midnight), I think I did pull about 30 hours on TPP too.
Tired. Not the best way to go into the week. And as seems to be usual lately, did not get close to nearly all the housework done. Sigh.
Still Friday night, I had a lovely bath (C ran it cause he could see how cranky I was, no patience left at all and the puppy misbehaving). I read a bit more of Yarn by Jon Armstrong. And then watched some Doctor Who.
Saturday, I was sleeping in when C came and offered me breakfast out – see he knows how to make me do anything! I was up and ready for a proper flat white, you bet. Unfortunately, either the tail end of my Crohn’s flareup or just the long week and not being careful enough with my food, I had a mouth full of ulcers. With Crohn’s it’s not unsual to have 1 or 2 but I have about 5 at once. And one is sitting near the back of my teeth and right where you swallow. It took me ages on Friday night to work out why I was having difficulty eating dinner. So yeah, kinda avoided eating much this weekend – be careful what you wish for (see further down). So I had a lovely coffee and just a croissant. I wasn’t fussed. And then C suggested we head to Rocky City since we were near to see if the A&R had Trent’s new book Business of Death. Quite liked that idea too! And it turns out it’s been ages since I’ve been in the shops and I try to avoid hanging out in them because … well, I went shopping. I bought Gotye’s new CD and after being annoyed at the price of Mad Men S3 in Sanity, I got S3 and S4 and S1 of Breaking Bad for the same price in JB HiFi. (C is off early next month for a course so I shall amuse myself with TV obsession/catch up.) I also splurged at The Body Shop – went to replace my finally all used up Oceanus perfume only to find they stopped making it. The smell reminds me of my 6 month working holiday in Israel so I’m sad I have no more A&R had not yet received their copies of The Business of Death so I reserved a copy and will pick it up next week. That should all keep me busy for a while.
Then we came home and I did the interview with Ben Peek for Galactic Chat. And then hurried off to shower and beautify to go to a work function with C. As usual, I totally missed the mark on what to wear. I’m usually not this bad but Navy throws me – I try to match it to the uniform C wears but that is no help at all. He looked really dressed up, as did all the officers, and the women were way dressed down, lots of pants and casual summer dresses. I wore a maxi dress. Fail. We had a nice time which is actually funny because via a miscommunication, neither of us really wanted to go and was going for the other. We laughed and decided we should have better clues for each other but I’m not sure about that now since C got to catch up with some people he hadn’t seen for a long time and we did kinda enjoy ourselves. We’re house bodies the pair of us and the forcing ourselves out was good, I think. I got to see my first ceremonial sunset which was fun. And I had a lovely think about things which I might write up for another post.
By the time we got home it was late and I think I just watched TV and headed to bed. To wake up by 9am to record a special episode for Galactic Suburbia. Tansy and I had a very lovely and long debrief on The Hunger Games trilogy. That episode will go up soon but don’t listen to it if you don’t want to be spoiled for the books because we talk about a lot of the details. After the recording I basically worked, finally, for the rest of the day. I’ve sorted a bunch of PR stuff – PR is all the little things but they are very time consuming to set up and maintain. They are so easy to put off but if you do, then … you don’t have them. I worked through a few of the PR things on my list. I also worked on emails. And book orders. And sending out some other copies of books. And did I mention I answered a lot of emails? I also had the washing machine going the whole day. I did some dishes and a bit of tidying/unpacking. As usual, my mother was right and instead of working steadily across the house, I concentrated on a few spaces and finished them (top of the dryer in the laundry, unpacking a couple of bags/suitcases and sorting out the TV space I sit in) and seeing a few places start to come to where I want them was a good feeling. So much further to go. Sigh.
And I did some cooking today. And here is the tie in to the title of this post. For a while now, I’ve been ordering a fruit and veggie box as part of our weekly food order. And recently C dropped it down to fortnightly because we weren’t actually getting through the box. The point of the box was to challenge myself to make food to fit in with whatever they sent – to cook seasonally and to also push me to try new things each week. I am a bit of a routine lover. But see, if you don’t actually take up the challenge, well you end up throwing out limp fruit and veg at the end of every week. The week before last I decided to make a soup on the Sunday with whatever of the veggies was leftover and looking a bit sad. And then I ate the soup for lunch every day at work. And it was great – very hearty, very healthy and a good low GI that made me last without snacking.
Cue to this week. On Friday night I was catching up on some blogs and read a few different SF/F writers talking about their own struggles with weight and specifically talking about the issues being related to their depression. And boy did that strike a chord with me. Hello! The three authors I read were all taking a long term and really healthy approach to dealing with this issue and I really liked the way they were looking at it – as nurturing themselves back from the harm they did to themselves when they weren’t in the best mental health. That’s me too. And I’ve given myself a year (from about June) to get on top of a bunch of things and one of them is this exact issue. And it’s all tangled up in headspace and emotional things. You can address the depression and work through it but … well … us self saboteurs, we can find ways around. I got a little bit motivated, I admit (I’d been following one author’s progress for a while already). And I’d also been talking with my boss whilst away this week and he made something else click for me too – that running isn’t a good way to lose weight but you notice every extra gram when you run. The idea of losing weight to enjoy running more appeals more than other reasons one might have to lose weight. But at the end of the day this is all a product of a much less healthy headspace and the bad habits (of how I treat myself) remain, even if the reasons why do not.
Which brings me to preparing a soup today for my lunches for next week. I grabbed all the veggies in this week’s box that I didn’t think we’d use elsewhere and I made up a veggie soup. I played around with the flavouring. It turns out spices are awesome. If food tastes fantastic, you totally don’t need as much fat and salt to cover it up. This one is kind of a version of sweet and sour or hot and sour, maybe. It’s quite nice. Not at all authentic but importantly, not the same flavours as the previous soup. I threw lentils in to thicken it. And it was so delicious, I had a big bowl for dinner. Definitely good for a very sore mouth. The interesting thing though was how it felt to prepare the food. I’m used to being loved through food. C does most of the cooking and it makes me feel loved by him when he does so. And I spose my mother always shows love through food too. And if you seek comfort in (junk) food … what does that mean? But to stand there and peel and chop fresh healthy veggies to prepare healthy and wholesome lunches for myself for next week? That felt like a very nurturing thing to do for myself. And that feeling felt foreign. Meaning that all the comfort food I normally eat is not so. An interesting thought I want to mull over some more. After I put the soup on, I looked through the fruit to see what we’d eat. We do worse at the fruit than the veg. So I decided to bake the apples (thanks all for your recipes on Twitter) for dessert. A lovely warm, sweet dessert that I made for us. Yet wholesome. Again, really weird feeling. They were good too though I need to work on the liquid a bit more. But in all, the fruit and veg this week won’t go to waste and I took up the challenge and I feel kinda good about it.
I expected burnout to hit end of April. It’s just the way I am – my business model, as Tansy would put it. I work better under pressure and that’s when I tend to excel, and I give everything I’ve got and then, after that, I’ve got nothing. I usually get sick going into a convention, lose my voice by day 2 or 3 and come home and nurse a bad flu or something for a week or 2. After Natcon in Adelaide, I swear I had Swine Flu. It’s the way I’ve always been, for as long as I can remember.
So it was really weird when I didn’t get sick at the con or in the days after – usually burnout hits just as the pressure finally is off. I wished I’d had a couple of extra days holiday after the convention but I didn’t have the leave to take (I’m still hoping to somehow get to World Fantasy this year and I really really want to have leave to take over Christmas.) As much as I need the time off now, I know I can’t afford to trade that for time off at Christmas. And the really weird thing is, my long service leave entitlement is kinda just round the corner. It feels weird to have been with this agency this long but, I’m sorta hanging out for it and hoping to make it that far. I have plans for that time, and am hoping I get to have it. We’ll see.
So, what I wasn’t really expecting was this kind of slow burnout rather than the crash and burn. The crash and burn I know how to handle. Take to my bed with the Gilmore Girls and some hot chocolate and just … chill the hell out. And then I’m good. Back to it. This though … this is weird. It feels like a malaise or an apathy or a … a complete lack of energy and a lack in making myself find the energy. I’m still working full time. I’m still working pretty full time on the press – juggling the promotion and marketing of the recent books, readying book 3 for the printer and starting to get stuck into book 4 of the Twelve Planets. And I’m still far behind on the whole TPP to do list to even contemplate thinking the last couple of late nighters I pulled this week have brought me up to speed.
But … I just can’t get enthused. Or energised. Or moving. I haven’t exercised since before Swancon. I’m eating a lot of sugar and chocolate, craving the buzz, I guess. I’m not being super careful with my dos and don’ts for food allergies. I still haven’t managed to make inroads into the gritting my jaw thing. And I have the puppy – so, puppies don’t sleep through the night. I’m not sure I knew that!
Today I got to work, and (societal norms mean that often for me in order to be at work in the times expected, I don’t wake up until I’ve sat at my desk for half an hour or an hour) realised that I felt vile. The first person I spoke to was when I was ordering my coffee and I sounded like I had a head cold. I told her I felt foul this morning and she asked me if i had a headache, that I sounded off this morning. After sitting at my desk for a while, I realised I felt sick and was feeling sicker. I know I can’t work as hard as I was before and expect the physical and mental robustness. I’m burned out. But at the same time, I don’t get the option of … not doing so.
Eventually, my workmates talked me into going home, without take home work, and I did. After a couple of hours of almost no work and a lot of reality TV, I started to feel a little more normal. I’m hoping to get a lot of downtime this long weekend. Of course, I’m also hoping to get more packing and moving done and I’m not currently living in that location so, these things seem at odds. But we’ll see.
The really awful thing is I’ve lost my crafting mojo. I haven’t really worked on any projects since before the con. Normally I find sewing a really good craft for when I am doing fine tuned thinking like line editing and knitting better for project development and reading. But right now, I have no will or interest to do either. In the first place, my hands were really really sore when the change of weather happened and I laid off anything too much (though my mother says knitting kept my grandmother’s fingers limber). But like the rest, above, I just haven’t felt the energy to craft, like I don’t have the creativity in me right now. Burned out and unable to take the stimulation of colours and textures and patterns. Though, at the same time, I’m also doing a lot of project planning, business vision and direction and development. So in some ways, I feel highly creative in that area and not needing the craft. I miss crafting though. I have a sock I am knitting that I pick up and do a row here and there but I really miss the intensive crafting. And worse, I’ve replaced that time with recreation reading. And I’m really scared that it’s a one or the other type scenario.
… this was me answering my dentist’s question today as to why I have been so stressed.
I was supposed to be there for a filling but I had that whole earache drama the other week which we had to deal with first. I spent the whole day dreading going this afternoon on account of the “impacted tooth” diagnosis from my GP. I actually didn’t think it was but thought it could be an issue leading to a root canal that I am trying to avoid. Either way, I was terrified of having a root canal or another tooth removed. He took one look at it and was like, nope, it’s not a tooth thing at all, it’s a muscle thing. Turns out, my jaw is tight due to clenching from stress/anxiety and it’s gotten so bad, it’s caused the earache.
So, instead of having a horrible procedure, I got a 15 minute jaw massage, a prescription of hot pack, yoga, talking to a friend and a script for Valium. And two more appointments for fillings later.
I have to admit, I do love my dentist. I’d been so dreading all of this that I forgot how nice he is. Which is why I see him. And he gave me a very stern talking to about being stressed out and how Type A, high strung worriers end up dying young. And then he told me about his brother who died a year older than I am now and how that made him realise what’s important in life. It was all a bit grim but yeah, he’s right. About all that stuff and the sugar too (I don’t wanna talk about that now). I know most of my current stress is remnant Swancon stuff. The nightmares have almost stopped. Though I did have the stress dream I have of shopping in a general, up market department store (I have no idea why that’s stressful). But still, it’s not just Swancon and I know that.
I’ve referred in passing to the reassessment I’m currently doing about my life and commitments. Pretty much most of it is up for grabs at the moment and is being asked to justify relevance to me to stay in my life. I’ve set myself the next year to do nothing, to destress and to make major lifestyle changes to facilitate that. But that has moved to a slight reinterpretation of “do nothing that I don’t want to do”. 2011 has felt very much so far like a year where I am constantly in situations that force me to confront that which I have been trying to ignore or procrastinate or sweep under the carpet. Ordinarily in my everyday life, I would prefer to go with the flow and not make waves. But this year, no. I don’t seem to be able to get away with such things, be it seeing a movie that I really don’t want to see or something more important than that. It’s been rough for me because I actually would prefer to do something I don’t want if it makes the other person happy. (In the past I’ve made some really self destructive choices in life because of this need to please.) But in being confronted with the fact that I don’t really want to do X, and having to say so for a variety of reasons and often this year, I’ve also discovered that beyond the uncomfortable revelation conversation is this other thing – the joy of not having to do something you don’t want or rather, doing the thing that you do want. And the more this happens this year, and the more I realise that you don’t actually regret not doing things you didn’t want to do or not spending time with people you didn’t want to spend time with, the more vigilant I am being about first checking how I feel about things and then honestly responding in kind. It’s been very freeing.
So yes, more of that. More decluttering in my life. More spending time on the things that I want to do. More moving away from negativity and towards positivity. And more joy and happiness. And less stress. So the theory goes.
And I guess a return to yoga.
And the unhappy news is that I apparently have an impacted wisdom tooth, not an ear infection after all. That does explain why this earache comes and goes (over quite some time *cough* like from the day my sister got married *cough*). And to make it worse, the only doctor I could get an appointment to see was the unsympathetic one who rarely gives out any drugs of any kind. Which is fine normally, I try to avoid taking as much as possible because most things upset my Crohns. But damn my ear hurts so I wanted the big fat antibiotics to kick the pain out of my head. I was expecting her to tell me to suck it up. But she looked in my ear, said it was fine, looked in my mouth, declared the impacted tooth and then started offering me all sorts of things.
I took the drugs, started those tonight. I have a dentist appointment by chance for Wednesday so will see him then. The words “oral surgeon” were raised. Ignoring that for now. And then she asked me if I wanted a medical certificate for a couple of days off. I was totally taken aback. I mentioned how run down and burnt out I am and she said, “well of course, that’s why this happened,” which I didn’t know you could get a tooth thing from being stressed and run down. Huh. Anyway, I have two days off. I politely declined the antidepressants – seriously weird consult, that bit she offered after we talked about my day job a bit. The sympathy cheered me up some!
And I am home, trying to de-con-press more and hoping that my tooth will settle down and does not need to be cut out. Cause seriously? I don’t think I got what that needs in me right now.