Changing Direction

Yesterday I wrote about my ongoing frustrations with… well… everything.

Which is understandable considering that my life is taking a sharp left turn. Change can be painful. But the final destination will be worth it.

For the last few years, on New Year’s Eve, I’ve written my intentions and goals for the year on a glass votive, and burned a white candle inside as one year passes into the next. I like the white color because white candles represent cleansing, healing, protection, and joy. The first year I did this, I wrote very specifically about the type of man I was looking for and the sort of relationship I wanted. Lo and behold, six months later I met Jeremy. You all know how that turned out :-). The next year, I stated my intention to finish my novel and get my health back. I did finish my novel, and as the year ended, my health was certainly improving, but not where I wanted it to be. This year, my intentions were really simple. 1) Find a literary agent. 2) Lose weight and get in shape. 3) Finish the other two novels I have kicking around in my brain.

These are not things I expect to magically happen for me. I may be lighting candles and setting intentions and acting all New Age-y about things, but I get it. My intentions will live or die based on the work I put in to making them happen.

So about those intentions, and the growing pains as a result:

INTENTION #1: Find a literary agent.

My search for a literary agent is going well. I’m getting requests. There are some agents out there who have requested more pages of Good Medicine, so I’m bolstered knowing it doesn’t suck. The first query batch was a testing ground to see if my query was working. It is and I’m planning to send out a new batch of queries just as soon as I’m done researching agents and their current wish lists.

It feels good to do what I need to do, even while it’s distressing to put myself out there and face a potential tsunami of rejection. If I get a literary agent out of this, it will have been absolutely worth all the grief.

But it’s the kind of thing that would cause a person to stress eat. Which brings me to intention #2.

INTENTION #2: Lose weight and get in shape.

Something weird has been going on with my body for about 11 years. After John was born, I had this all over doughiness to my body and even though I lost weight initially, I never looked thin again. Then, the weight started creeping back up. I would diet, lose the weight, and gain it right back. I don’t eat much, and certainly no junk food, but my body didn’t get the memo. I also started feeling like I had adrenal fatigue or hypothyroidism. None of which ever showed up on a blood test. Plus I also had chronic stomach problems, a hold over from a sub cutaneous strep infection I had when I was 17. Then I started getting a yearly episode of bronchitis, and became intolerant to over the counter cold and allergy medicine (stomach issues). I went to the doctor over and over again for all of this. So many tests. They found nothing. So I’ve had to go out on my own and muddle through figuring out these issues on my own.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, I developed osteoarthritis in my lumbar spine, and developed such excruciating IT band and knee pain that there were points when I couldn’t walk up a handicap ramp without having to stop and take a break. This while I was alternating between two chiropractors who failed to find the source of my pain.

I finally found a good chiropractic neurologist who brought me 90% relief. I still have some pain because that osteoarthritis isn’t going anywhere, but I can deal with that. I can shovel snow and rake leaves and travel and walk again. I trust my chiropractor completely now. He’s helped me tremendously in getting my health back on track.

For starters, he turned me on to fenugreek for colds. It thins mucus naturally and my stomach doesn’t mind it. Between that and an inhaler from my doctor, I’ve been spared bronchitis for a while now.

Taking large doses of vitamin D has been hugely helpful for my energy levels.

Spanish black radish has calmed my stomach. As have probiotics.

I tried the Keto diet last year and lose some weight, but not the body puffiness, and after a while I stalled on Keto, too. I complained to my chiropractor who told me the puffiness was accumulating mucin in response to inflammation all over my body. I’d never heard of mucin before, and good luck googling it. It’s nearly impossible to find any mention of it, so I’m guessing it’s not something the medical community at large agrees with. Since I don’t completely agree with those tests saying I was fine, we’ll just agree to disagree on that point. It made sense to me that mucin was causing the puffiness, and that meant I had some kind of whole body inflammatory response to something I was eating. Since it hadn’t calmed down with the limitations of Keto–and Keto is very dairy and nightshade heavy–I figured I needed to go further to get to the bottom of things.

I started researching inflammatory foods and came across the Autoimmune Protocol Diet. It’s an extreme elimination diet of any and all potential causes of inflammation: grains, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshades, certain spices, etc.

I figured, why not? Eating only meat, fruit, and vegetables wasn’t going to harm me. So I started the diet on January 6th. It’s been a challenge to figure out what I can eat, and surprise, surprise, my stomach that is never happy with anything, hasn’t been happy again. I’ve been Spanish black radishing and probiotic-ing my stomach. I also added in some white rice (technically not allowed, but I found it soothing), and things have gotten better as I adjust to this new way of eating.

Pro tip: a burger with coconut aminos, avocado, and slices of pineapple is AMAZING.

I’m managing, and I’m starting to see some results. I feel good on the diet and the puffiness seems to be minimizing. I know I need to give it more time. I’m hopeful that if I address the inflammation and the weight gain, I’ll feel good enough to start exercising regularly again. First, it feels right to allow my body to rest and recover.

And in the meantime, I’m working on intention #3.

Intention #3: Finish two more novels.

I have two books in mind that I’d like to write. One is middle grades historical fiction that takes place in 1690. I have some research to do on that one, and although it’s an exciting project, I needed a break after writing Good Medicine. This story will be even more intense to write, and I’m not quite in the headspace for it.

So I’m writing a fun contemporary romance. Although I’m struggling to find a groove writing something modern, I’ve still written 13,000 words so far. Since I have a long weekend (yay for school holidays), I’ve set a goal to double my word count by Tuesday. That seems doable if I focus.

All of this is a lot. But I keep telling myself that the end result will be worth it.

A Unicorn-Themed Birthday Party (Of Two)

My birthday is on Christmas Eve and historically, it sucks having a Christmas Eve birthday. I joke that the hospital sent me home in a stocking (true story) and it’s all been downhill ever since, but that’s not entirely accurate. Somehow, I escaped being given a Christmas-y name like Holly or Noelle (despite the fact that my mother really put some thought into which French Province I should be–Brittany or Saxony). And my family realized the suckage that was a Christmas Eve birthday and always made an effort to make the holidays fun for this only child/only grandchild and threw me a half birthday with friends at the end of June.

But when you have a Christmas Eve birthday, you learn very quickly that it will never be a normal (birth)day. I’ve learned that the odds of me getting together with friends is about nil while the odds of my presents being buried under the tree by an avalanche of Christmas presents (thus necessitating I wait a day to open them) is at about 90%. I will never know what it’s like for my birthday to be the BIG EVENT of the day, to have endless options when it comes to places to celebrate it, or to get a birthday card without some mention of Christmas on it.

It is what it is, and after 40+ birthdays, I know the deal.

Sometimes I’m lucky enough to find a friend that still makes time to hang out with me and, for the last several birthdays, Tahsia has been that friend.

In years past, we’ve gone out for burritos and a margarita as big as my head. But this year I wasn’t feeling it. Without the boys around to celebrate, and constant reminders of all the recent family deaths near the holidays, my Holly Jolly is broken. And loud restaurants and hangovers aren’t helpful in combating holiday fatigue. Also, I knew that after a weekend in NYC, this introvert was going to need days to recover. So when Tahsia asked me what we should do to celebrate my birthday this year, I took a few days to think about it, and suggested a day of crafting.

We were initially going to make a sock unicorn. After a test run (which you can read about here ), I scrapped that idea in favor of something a little less labor-intensive. We decided to try unicorn ornaments instead, and used this youtube tutorial.

I decided to stick to the theme, and got a unicorn ice cream cake, a unicorn candle, unicorn plates and napkins, and a unicorn tablecloth.

Then when I was poking around Michaels for ornament-making supplies, I found these festive unicorn headbands and got them too. Because obviously we needed them.

Unicorn head wear is wasted on the young.

So we drank eggnog and wine, ate from a beautiful charcuterie board, gorged ourselves on ice cream cake ( I made a birthday wish for a literary agent in 2020 on my fancy unicorn birthday candle! I’m counting on you birthday wish-granting universe!), and we made these.

It was lots of fun! And for me, it was a perfect day. I really love nothing more than hanging out one on one with my friends, eating, and working together on a project. It’s seriously the kind of day I live for and the best possible start to my 43rd year. I’m so grateful to Tahsia for making the time to join me.

It’s taken me a long time, but I really feel like I’m finally coming into my own. Maybe that’s a being-in-your-40s thing. I feel like I know myself and trust myself, and really know what I want out of life now and what works for me and doesn’t work for me.

For example, this party. I am never ever going to want to go out with a huge group of people, be the center of attention, have all eyes and attention on me, and endure god-knows-what groups of people do to fete birthdays. Group birthday song singalongs, toasting, singing waiters, flaming desserts, shots, inflatable bull riding, sash and tiara wearing, clubbing, what have you… I’m internally shuddering at the thought. Some people love that sort of thing, and I finally know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am definitely not among them in my love of hoopla.

I like quieter celebrations, and time to reflect on what I want my next year of life to look like. So in that spirit, here is my list of 10 intentions for the coming year.

  1. I want to get back in shape. My chiropractor has resolved the worst of my osteoarthritis pain, and I’m feeling good again. It’s time to work on reducing inflammatory foods in my diet and getting back to the gym.
  2. I hope this time next year that I have found a literary agent, and that I have finished one of the two books I’m just starting to work on.
  3. I need to give myself permission to read more.
  4. Along those same lines, I need to reclaim quiet time for myself. I do not have to be accomplishing something every second of the day.
  5. I want to deepen my connection and friendships with fellow writers and creatives.
  6. I want to travel to places I’ve never been and see old favorites with new eyes.
  7. I think my role in this house is to encourage and facilitate everybody’s creativity–not just my own. I think I’ve fallen into that naturally, but I want to be more intentional about it this year.
  8. I want to come back this time next year and be able to make a list of authors and artists that inspire me, which means I need to seek out inspiration from the world.
  9. I want to be more of myself and quit limiting and censoring my self expression.
  10. This will be a year of explosive creation.