If there is pasta in house I’ll never go hungry. Carbonara is a particular favourite. It’s not a particularly authentic version, so I’m sure Italian people would roll their eyes if you put it in front of them, but I love it. When I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, the thought of not being able to eat pasta freaked me out more than the lack of bread. So began my search for good gluten-free pasta. Of course good in gluten-free terms is always second best to the gluten filled version of anything, but there had to be an edible alternative out there somewhere. Trial and error ensued. Pasta made with rice is OK. Pasta made with corn is better. Pasta made with a mix of rice and corn is only so so. Pasta made with corn, potato and lupin is the best. And so my love affair with pasta continues.
Here’s the thing about coffee, l love it but my body doesn’t. A few years ago coffee was the only thing that kept me going during a particularly long bout of insomnia. Eventually my body screamed STOP. Vicious migraine after vicious migraine resulted in me giving it up all together. I dabbled with decaf, but for obvious reasons it wasn’t the same. Yet we live in a world of “but first, coffee” and I never really stopped craving the stuff. I’ll never be a daily caffeine drinker again. But nothing beats people watching, over a cup of coffee, a couple of times a week.
TIPS FOR WRITING
Have an idea. Compose paragraphs in your head. Jot down some notes. Come up with a title. Scribble some more notes. Sit down at laptop. Open Word document. Stare at the blank page. Consult notes. Struggle to read your handwriting. Vow to makes notes on your phone in future. Stare at the blank page. Check emails. Re-read notes. Figure out what the title is. Jackpot. Type the title onto blank page. Save document, just in case. Stare at the page. Design a really basic title graphic. Check Facebook. Stare at the page. Check Instagram. Stare at the page. Decide music is needed. Open Spotify; decide which playlist to listen to. Stare at the page. Open new document. Write a book review. Check Instagram. Decide silence is needed. Turn off playlist. Stare at the page. Admit defeat. Stand up. Grab the lead and take the dog for a walk. Breathe in the spring air. Breathe. Just breathe. Know that you can try again tomorrow. The words will eventually come. They have to.
If you have spent any time on the internet in recent years, you’ll have heard of self-care. It’s everywhere. At its core, self-care is “care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.”
New Year Resolutions and I never really got on. The only one I’ve stuck to is the one I made three or four years ago about using up skincare products and make-up before purchasing new ones. I used up my, not insignificant, stash and largely stick by a one product in, one product out system. Yet, in the run up to January 1st I found myself full of ideas.
I’ve been struggling to write, with any real meaning, this year. Sometimes I write, but when read back it feels forced. Sometimes I write, but it goes round in circles until I don’t know what I’m trying to say. Sometimes the words flow easily, like this post about grief. For the most part, I’ve spent my time staring at a blank screen. My mind is full of ideas, but I can’t make sense of them on paper.
Enter Laura Jane Williams and her #AskTheQuestion series. These weekly emails, where Laura is honest about the things in life that are hard to do (emotionally and physically) and poses the same question of her readers that contributed to the story she shared, sounded exactly what I needed to reignite my writing spark. Laura is one of my favourite writers. Her writing is raw, honest and often times heartbreaking. It always makes me think and sometimes makes me cry when I didn’t realise I needed to, but it’s cathartic. Her ebook, The Book of Brave, helped me let go of the guilt I felt about some of the mistakes I’ve made.
The questions from weeks one and two definitely got me thinking. They got me talking, during therapy, but the writing still didn’t come. This week’s question is different. This week’s question hit me hard. The answer came immediately. The answer is part of the reason why writing has been so hard.
The question – What truth must you reveal to yourself, so that you might let somebody else in?
Grief is a strange thing. It can sneak up on you, even after time has passed. Sometimes out of the blue, sometimes you know the reason. Today is my nanny’s twentieth anniversary. I knew I would feel it, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of sadness and loss that hit me yesterday. I miss her. I know I’m not the only one who does. This makes it a little easier, but doesn’t change the sense of loss.
Back in October I recommended 5 podcasts, today I’m back with 5 more podcasts you should listen to.
Opia Scented Candle White Amber, €2.50. Opia Scented Candle White Cardamom & Sage, €5.00. Torc Fine Fragranced Candle Cocoa & Cedar Woods, €14.95
I love scented candles, considering my love of perfume this probably isn’t a surprise. Candles are a great way of exploring fragrances without completely breaking the bank. Two of my three favourite candles at the moment are from Penneys (Primark for those outside Ireland).
There is nothing I enjoy more, at this time of year, than lighting a candle and curling up in front of the fire with a good book.