Category Archives: up for discussion

I’m doing NaNoWriMo again.

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I forgot to write my customary October 31st “I’m doing NaNoWriMo, so don’t bother me” post for 2016. And of course, I should now be banging away at my 1,667 words for the day, but I’m procrastinating by writing this post instead. Isn’t that how it always goes?

Maybe the delay is for the best though, because it has given me time to realize a mistake on my part. I’ve generally always been a pantster, but I’ve been trying to learn to plot and outline. Of course, I know who to write a flipping outline. I went to school, after all.  But I’ve not really mastered imagining a whole novel in outline form and I think my writing process would be vastly improved and streamlined if this was a skill I could pick up. *sigh* It’s hard, yall.

So, leading up to November 1st, I wrote an outline of events and character descriptions and a breakdown of the world’s magics. I pondered the characters’ motivations and decided what they really want and fear. I picked out my themes and committed myself to ensuring a diverse cast. I felt like I’d done a ton of work. Certainly more than I did when I basically accidentally wrote TWE and undoubtedly anything I write now will be better for it.

As a result, in the past three days I wrote over 17,000 words! Now, I always front load during NaNo, because there are all those initial ideas in my head that I’ve just been waiting for the starting pistol to get down on paper. But 17,000 words rocked. I shocked myself.

Unfortunately, this is where the mistake comes in. 17,000 words brought me to the end of what I’d plotted. Now, of course there is a lot of fleshing out to be done between those scenes, but I thought I had plotted enough scenes to carry me through the writing process, but I’m way, way, WAY short. I mean, it’s a learning experience. I now know I need to be more meticulous in how deeply I plot. But it’s disappointing too.

On the up side, I have 26 days to fix it. And I like my plot this year. I’m writing fantasy—shifters, magic, DRAGONS. Oh my. I think I’ll make it. Hitting the word count has never really been the challenge for me. I could rattle off 50,000 words to the barista in an attempt to order coffee. I’m long winded on my most concise days. But I want more than a Nano ‘win.’ I want a finished piece of work and that is where I struggle.

By means of encouragement and accountability (which is a large part of why I always write a blog post when I do Nano) I am allowing myself to buy a Kindle Fire when I submit my word count at the end of the month. I have a Kindle e-reader that I love, but having a tablet would give me access to some things my Voyage doesn’t, like Hoopla through my local library. A reward is something I always give myself after NaNo and I see no reason to change that now. (You know, other than being broke, but I’m ignoring that. Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. See how that works?)

So, here’s to all you crazy, crazy kids out there trying to write a novel in a month. I’m right there with you.

You should be writing

I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

the-universe-is-always-speaking-to-us

This may be a tad rambling as I bring all the components together, but bear with me. You probably don’t know, as I’ve never had cause to mention it, but I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is basically an autoimmune version of hypothyroidism. Majorly simplified, my immune system has a tendency to attack my thyroid, impairing it’s ability to produce thyroid hormone, causing a deficit. I’ve had it for years and years, take a small does of artificial thyroid hormone and all is well with the world. Usually.

The thyroid controls metabolism, among other things, so when my hormones get out of whack I can usually tell because I turn into a sloth, gain weight, am cold al the time, itch (OMG the itching!), etc. And my case has always been relatively mild, but does seem to need more attention as I age.

So, seemingly unrelated, about two years ago I was feeling down and have a number of irritating, but not life altering symptoms. I self-diagnosed myself from the internet as having an over-growth of candida in my gut. The thing is that the solution to this is a very strick and very healthy diet. So, I figured if I was wrong the worst case scenerio was that I ate really well for a couple months. What did I have to lose, right?

Thus, I went on the Candida Diet. That’s diet as a noun, not a verb. In other words, I was seeking to improve the foods I ate, not go on a diet. If that makes sense. It’s semantics, yes, but it is a distinction I feel important to make because I’m also modeling for my daughters. I don’t want them to see their mother dieting all the time, but rather eating a healthy diet.

I went cold turkey on everything. In one day I gave up alcohol, caffeine, dairy, gluten, grains, sugar, anything my body might convert to sugar and all processed foods! I basically lived on kale, chicken and almond butter. Be thankful you didn’t know me during this time. I was not pleasant. (I love you family for putting up with me.)

Just like I’d been warned, about two weeks in I crashed hard. I mean like I found myself having to lay on the floor in the shower hard. I got sick. But I’d been warned, so I didn’t worry too much. Just stuck it out. This is apparently the result of something called die-off, in which the candida dies in mass and, in doing so, releases toxins into the body. I imagine my blood sugar was also doing some major readjusting too.

But when that cleared up I felt amazing. A lot of my background aches and pains went away. I had more energy. I lost 30 pounds, totally without trying. I got in shape, because I had the energy to get to the gym. My sex life improved, as I had more of a libido, more energy and endurance for it and was simply stronger. (Should I be embarrassed to admit that? I don’t know.) My brain fog, that I hadn’t even noticed until it was gone, cleared up. My hair and skin tones improved. My nails grew stronger. (I’m a nail biter, so this is a big deal for me.) Really, I was in awe. Suddenly that restrictive diet totally felt worth it. And honestly, after the cravings (which were hell at first) cleared it wasn’t that hard to stick to under normal circumstance.

But like all good things it unfortunately came to an end. For me that came in the form of Summer guests and all the inevitable going out that comes with vacationers. We went out to eat, for ice cream, to bakeries, etc and little by little I fell off my wagon. And despite my best efforts, I have not yet been able to get past those very difficult first weeks to establish the eating routine I need in order to feel as good as I did. This despite knowing how great it is. Man, it’s amazing how the body can trick you into compromising itself.

So, I’ve felt guilty about this. I’ve felt physically crappy. I’ve gained weight. I’ve chastised myself again and again for not being mentally stronger, which is hell on my self-esteem. My energy levels are bottoming out. I’m barely making it to yoga and only going to Tae Kwon Do because I do it with my children, so I have to. Simultaneously, my husband, who is an amazing support is also a terrible food shamer*, now that he knows what a difference it makes. He’s perfectly willing to do all my prep work to make the diet possible, but if I don’t eat right he’s also willing to snub me for it. (I have very torn feels about it. I once threw a brownie at him.)

So, this is where I have been for several months now. It’s not a great place. On top of that I keep putting off getting my thyroid levels checked. Because, you know, I have so little gumption to do anything. This is a maintenance thing. A couple times a year I should get them checked to ensure I’m still on the right does of Armour, which is the type of artificial hormone I’m on. But also, I can kind of just feel my levels aren’t right.

The Thyroid ConnectionCut to a couple weeks ago, and what do I win from Goodreads? Amy Myer’s The Thyroid Connection. And I’ve been reading it. I haven’t finished it, but I am slowly reading it. (Come on, a medical diet book is dry material, no matter how evangelical the writing style.)

Now, to bring these seemingly disparate point back together, it turns out that Myers’ diet to balance the thyroid very closely mirrors the Candida Diet I was following when I felt such an amazing change in my body. As I understand it, both focus on cutting inflammation and balancing the gut. So, I’m left wondering if part of what caused that almost miraculous improvement in myself wasn’t entirely down to killing off yeast in my intestines, but maybe also in inadvertently balancing out my thyroid levels.

This instantly intrigues me, gives me a little added impetus to get over the initial challenges of eating right. (Because when I don’t, I really don’t. I’m not a middle of the road kind of person. When I don’t pay attention to what I eat, I will subsist on popcorn, pretzels and angel food cake. Really.) And in conversation about it Hubs, supportive as always, simply said, “OK, well, lets order some cookbooks so we can learn some new recipes and broaden our eating options.”

Thus we ordered two: The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, which is very highly rated (4.5 stars, with 500+ rating on Amazon), and Against All Grain, which was recommended to us by someone we know and who’s knowledge we trust. Plus, it has shopping lists. Both are technically Paleo cookbooks, which is not the diet I’m looking to follow but there is enough overlap not to matter and because of its popularity it’s easier to find Paleo books than niche diet books.

But here’s the thing, the universe wasn’t done with me. I won another book. This time it was Nourishing Meals: 365 Whole Foods, Allergy-Free Recipes for Healing Your Family One Meal at a Time. What are the chances?  Are you seeing a theme? ‘Cause I am.

Cookbooks

Meanwhile, Myers’ book has convinced me to seek out a Functional Medicine doctor next time I get my blood work done, which should have been about four months ago. I’ve always just had my GP do it, but I think this time I want to look at my whole system. I don’t think I was wrong about candida. I don’t think my hormone levels are unaffected by the foods I eat or the allergens I encounter. I’ve just never thought to have anyone test me in any fashion.

So, “Hey Universe! I got the message. I’ll be better. I’ll make the appointments. I’ll use the cookbooks. I’ll trash the last of the Cool Ranch Doritos. (They make my stomach hurt anyway.) I’ll drink my water and do my yoga. I will. But if you want to send me another book, I’m totally cool with that too.”

Edit: My mother wrote a comment regarding this post on Facebook. (You guys are getting all the family drama.) And believe me when I say I never thought she read these posts. But I suppose this is a subject that would interest her, as she is herself into Functional Medicine. She doesn’t live near me though, so I can’t take advantage of that. (Wouldn’t it be nice.) But interestingly she said, “And to think your mother is a certified functional medicine practitioner who has been telling your for three years to get your hormones checked, not just the TSH. I would like to read Amy Myer’s book when you are done. I have met her at the functional medicine conferences. Odds are pretty good if you got off all grains and exercised and de-stressed your thyroid it would regulate itself. I have decided that tubers are ok. So I have been eating potatoes and sweet potatoes and hard squash…. I eat rice, too. But I need to eliminate all the grains and dairy but that is so hard.” Don’t I know it, Mom. Don’t I know. [Note: I edited some capitalization in here, to make it easier to read,  as she tends to drop them in social media comments.]

*After reading this (apparently he pays attention to my tweets, who knew) he said to me, “It’s not shame. It’s that every time I see you eat something we know you shouldn’t I have to watch a little of the woman I love die.” But I don’t know how to internalize that as anything but shame, so I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that.

Little Free Library design competition, hosted by Space

I got to do a fun little thing this afternoon. I attended the judging party for this year’s Little Free Library Design Competition, hosted by Space (a local architecture firm), in conjuncture with Saint Louis’ general Design Week.

Poster

I am a book hoarder, a manic reader, and a Little Free Library steward, but not part of the design community. This means I was able to stand back and observe as an outsider. (And check out Mayana‘s nacho bar and Narwhal’s urban ices!) What I discovered, other than that a Bellini slushie is a hard thing to pass up, even if you do have to drive home, is that Saint Louis has an engaged and open community of designers that seemed to truly enjoy getting together and giving back to the community.

Roughly a dozen groups submitted Little Free Libraries for consideration. And, for me, seeing them was the best part of the evening. It’s amazing how many ways the same idea can go.

I wasn’t able to get pictures over everything. I missed a few info cards along the way. But this was largely because, by the time I thought to take pictures, there were quite a few people there and I didn’t want to obnoxiously elbow my way in. But that also means there was a pleasantly positive turnout for the event. Win! But here is an example of what was there.

It’s worth noting that the heart shaped one was drawn by an art student at Adam’s elementary and then turned into a library that will hopefully be placed at the school. See, that’s just cool community building. As is the competition in general. The houses will be passed to the  St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, who will distribute them around the city and officers will hopefully use them to build and strengthen relationships with neighborhood children. (Please, please let this be a step toward community policing. Please!)

I was also a little camera happy with the cool posters hung around the office.

Anyhow, it was a fun chance to see what the community is up to and a step toward sharing literacy. As I even donated a few paperbacks, there was some playing with books too. All in all, I think everyone deserves a trophy.

trophies

……Except you Mr. Parking Warden. You may have just been doing your job, but I don’t feel like giving you a trophy for it.

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