Time is a weird thing

I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone or just people on the Autism spectrum, but the passage of time can be very weird. If my weekly routine is disrupted, I’m mentally (and in some cases physically) thrown off for at least a week, sometimes longer. But what is really weird to me lately is the passage of time in the grander sense. How things that seemed so big to me are now 5-10 years ago. I feel like I just was in culinary school, and yet, when Facebook shows me ‘memories’, it pops up as “5 years ago today”. I could have sworn it was only a couple years ago that I went sailing for a month in the Caribbean, but it was 8 years ago.

I’ve started a new job; one that will carry me through the summer and part of the fall. I’m working at a scuba shop, around dive equipment and people who share the same interests as me – all summer. I get to spend the entire summer up at the family cottage, surrounded by gorgeous nature, and basking in my ‘new-found independence.’ Yes, it’s any writers dream – I get to live in a cottage in the forest. Wording it that way sounds infinitely less creepy than ‘cabin in the woods’ (it’s amazing how words work that way). But I’ll be living alone. Not that it’s a huge problem – I’m as introverted as they come. No, I’ll be living in a cabin, solo, four hours from home.

One side of me says “You got this girl, you can rock this thing and it will be awesome.” The other side says “Girl what are you NUTS? Four hours away from your family, your bedroom, your…everything?! You crazy.” And then I have to remember, I’ve done this before. The summer I turned 16 I started my (at the time) dream job…90 minutes from home. I boarded closer, with another family and went to work every day. I saw my family on weekends, but I was living away from home. I came home once summer was over, but I did it all again the next summer, and the next one, and the next one. For four summers, I lived away from home and I was totally cool about it. Because I knew what I wanted to do. It was also before I got my diagnosis.

Now that I know more about me and how I tick – it’s a little more challenging. I know my strengths, and I know my weaknesses. But this will be a new situation, a new routine, a new everything. I have to try and recall how I did things back then – getting up and surviving full time work, making meals for one person, cycling as my main method of commuting, etc. I know I’ve done it before, but there’s one more hiccup: the summer I turned 16? That was TEN YEARS AGO. Mind blown. It seems so close, and yet, like another lifetime entirely. So yeah, time is weird.

 

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The year of self-care

So it’s 2017. Okay, it’s been 2017 for a few months now. Already, 2017 has been bat crap crazy. Not crazy in the way 2016 was, but it became clear to me very early on that the theme of 2017 is Self-Care. Having anxiety and fighting functional/clinical depression introduced me to the world of self-care, and while some of the suggestions kind of had me like “yeah, sure, whatever”, I have come to realize that self-care is a necessary thing, especially when your life is insane and you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You need to take time to ground yourself and take care of yourself. So I’m going to share the techniques I’ve found work best for me.

  1. Take a walk. Even if it’s just 10 minutes going to look for Pokémon. Fresh air and moving around is good for you.
  2. Music & Dancing. I have two styles of music that I need for self-care, depending on what mood I’m in. Sometimes I need really calm, peaceful music that slows my breathing and heart rate. (3 hour evening relaxation) Other times, I turn to the rock/punk songs on my phone. (This Means War – Marianas Trench) Whatever music gets you into your happy place, turn it up. Don’t be afraid to dance – get your body moving. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at dancing or if you have two left feet. Flail in your kitchen, bedroom, wherever. Just maybe not on the bus, you might get some weird looks.
  3. Get a plant. I read this and scoffed. Now, I’ve got an open terrarium with succulents and a flourishing English Ivy. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gotten a grin on my face just from looking at the new leaves coming in, and measuring how much that silly plant has grown. Plus, if you get one of the plants on the NASA healthy plant list, you’ll be helping the quality of the air in your house, which makes you feel better too.
  4. Sugar Scrub. At home spa…hour? Even if you don’t have the patience, dexterity or sanity for a full mani-pedi, a sugar scrub is an awesome little way to make you feel awesome. In the same way you feel all happy and swishy when you’ve just shaved your legs, a sugar scrub does that to your arms. It doesn’t take much effort or planning – literally just take some granulated sugar, mix in just enough oil (vegetable, sunflower, coconut, whatever) to make a thick paste. If you’re feeling fancy you can add a drop or two of food colouring, and a drop of your favourite essential oil (more on that in a minute). Over your bathtub or sink, rub that stuff into your arms, hands, and even legs if you made enough – don’t scrub too hard, just until your skin is a little Gently wash it off and you’ll be amazed at how soft your skin is. Instant pick me up!
  5. Get crafty. It doesn’t matter what you do, just find something to do. It can be something you do while you binge watch Netflix, or something for when you need a break from Netflix. Hobbies I’ve done in the past for self-care include: Beading, painting, quote journaling, cross stitch, and writing. Just this year, I also taught myself crochet, which is awesome fun.
  6. Salt lamp. No, I’m not one of those new age hippies “use the salt lamp and all your health problems will go away”. I don’t know if there is any backing to the scientific claims about what the salt lamp can do. All I know is, I like the light it gives off. Makes me happy. It’s a calming, ethereal feeling, which equals self-care.
  7. Essential Oils. Here’s something I know works because…science. Again, I don’t think essential oils are the be all end all, take some clary sage and your whatever will be cured. But I do know that lavender calms me (and is freaking awesome at soothing bug bites, btw). My go to two are Lavender and Bergamot. Both have calming, soothing properties, and Bergamot is great for helping with anxiety and depression. If you’ve ever had an Earl Grey Tea, that citrusy scent – that’s Bergamot. As a straight essential oil, it’s got this amazing other-worldly citrus smell. Like if fairyland had an official fruit, this would be it. So yeah, it makes me happy, and that’s self-care. Oh yeah, what do I do with them? I either toss a few drops in with an Epsom salt bath or diffuse them near my bed at night.
  8. Video games. Surprisingly therapeutic. My go to is Skyrim, and it’s amazing how much tension you can release by hacking and shouting at dragons, draugr, and other mythical bad guys.
  9. Treat yo self. Part of where a lot of my stress is lies with the fact that right now, money is tight. I had a dream job, and then lost it, around this time last year. I’ve been trying to make money, but it’s a low point for me right now. But there is some truth in retail therapy. Now I’m not suggesting to go out and spend a bomb and then have a panic attack the next day that you spent 70$ on makeup and you need to make a credit card payment. I’m saying, even if money is tight, if you can possibly afford it, every now and then – Treat Yo Self. I have recently discovered the adorable cuteness of Funko figures, and so that is my little occasional splurge. funko

(Captain Cold and The Doctor were found on a day when I REALLY needed something happy. And they were on sale! Double bonus!)

But again, whatever makes you happy. Whether it’s geeky memorabilia, makeup, art supplies, or clothes, you deserve to treat yourself every now and then.

So there we go. My top self-care tips. This is quite a long post, but I hope it helps 🙂

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Never trust a skinny chef… or should you?

First, some back-story. A few years after graduating culinary school, I looked at myself in the mirror, and didn’t like what I saw. Between puberty, the infamous Freshman 15, and a year long battle with depression, my weight had gotten beyond what I was happy with, and I had enough. I made a promise to myself that I would get back down to a healthy, happy size. It’s been just over a year, and it’s been a tough slog. I’ve lost 16 pounds, leaving 14 to go. To some, it may not seem like a lot, but on a five foot nothing chef with a sweet tooth the size of her head, it’s a big deal.

Before culinary school I would see the saying on aprons and oven mitts and all kinds of kitchen paraphernalia, and I would kinda chuckle. Even before I started losing weight, I had people mention the phrase to me with a yuk-yuk joking around kind of tone. Most of the time, I could just kind of chuckle politely, but I have come to realize that it actually does bother me, and always has bothered me; and now I’ll tell you why.

From my perspective, “Never trust a skinny chef” implies that there is a certain amount of gluttony involved. Now it is entirely possible to be a chef, and to sample too much of your creations. I am guilty of that, myself. Especially desserts, my Achilles Heel. And to some extent, when I struggled with my depression, there were times when I almost used the phrase as a ‘get out of jail free’ card. “Well, I’m not happy with where my weight is, but hey, never trust a skinny chef, right?” Once I started making an effort in watching what I ate, I realized just how many cookies, tarts and pieces of bread I was snacking on. (Being a private chef, it’s not as big of a deal as it would be if I was working at a restaurant, but I realized it was still way too much.)

Now before you go “Hang on, it’s just a silly phrase meant as a joke.” Let me tell you, I remember going to my doctor for a check up, telling her I had lost about 10 lbs, and she was amazed. “But you’re a chef! How do you do that when you’re cooking and baking?” The key is moderation and self-control. Instead of three or four cookies, I would have one, the smallest one. I would split a tart with one of the kids I worked for. There were times that I would slide, especially when I made something like Skor bars…mmmm…Skor bars. But I never let it get out of a healthy, sensible limit.

And I guess that’s what bugs me most about the phrase. Chefs are some of the most disciplined workers, and using that phrase implies that there is a lack of restraint, that they eat everything they cook.You can taste what you are cooking and know if it is good, without having to eat an entire portion. I get that it’s a joke, that supposedly a skinny chef doesn’t eat their own cooking and therefore you shouldn’t either. But consider this – I am becoming a skinny chef, and I eat healthier with my own cooking than from restaurant foods. I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to shame anyone’s body size, but I think that if someone wants to put in the effort to make their body the best it can be, they shouldn’t have to have people ribbing them, or making semi-disparaging comments, simply because of the profession they are in. If want to push myself so that I am healthy, and happy with how I look, don’t discourage me, by saying “Oh, but you know the saying…”

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The upside (and downside) to hyper-focus

One of the traits of being on the Autism Spectrum, specifically having Aspergers, is hyper-focus. The ability to block out all outside distractions and focus completely on the task at hand. It usually only works on a subject that the person is interested in, sadly. Oh that it would work when I need to wash dishes.

I have been working on my newest cosplay, Jedi/Elsa, and I forgot how much hyper-focus can take over when I’m really into something. I started last Sunday night, and by Tuesday night had the belt and tunic completed. That’s big for me, considering that I break out my sewing machine only a couple times a year. I sewed almost the entire tunic on Monday, leaving only a third of the hem to finish the next day.

And then I remembered the downside to hyper-focus. Specifically hyper-focusing on sewing from 10am til 9pm, stopping only occasionally. It makes my muscles jam up. Thankfully I didn’t end up in pain like I have in the past, and was able to get my chiropractor to loosen them up before it got to the pain point. I’ve done this to myself before, where I’ve lost track of how long I have been working on something until my muscles object and say “no more.”

But it did make me grateful for the upside to the hyper-focus. I was able to sew a belt and tunic in a day and a half. There are some people who I am sure would sew for a couple hours and get tired of it and stop for the day. When I get into my projects I can literally lose complete and utter track of time and not realize that several hours have gone by. And I wouldn’t give up that feeling for the world.

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“Do you have any stress in your life right now?”

That’s a loaded question. One that my chiropractor asked me this afternoon. My brain couldn’t decide if I was going to laugh maniacally or burst into tears.

I settled on wide eyed acknowledgement. Do I have stress in my life right now?tumblr_ma5cl3mp3u1ry937io1_250

Where do we begin?

My dad got diagnosed with cancer in November. Thankfully the doctors have a very good outlook on his situation, but it’s still a constant thing in my head, even when I’m not directly thinking about it. And of course this week, which could possibly be the single crappiest week in terms of celebrity news, we lost four amazing people to cancer. So of course my social media feed has been blown up by both the news of passings, as well as people angry at this terrible disease. While I don’t actively engage in conversations about it, it’s still emotionally draining hearing everyone else expressing their emotionally charged feelings about it. My brothers are handling it all remarkably, from their perspective, you’d think nothing was up. My mom is hanging on with both hands, and I feel a bit like Sheldon in terms of knowing the right words to say to help alleviate her stress.b88ad840fec4952b42a21534664dd990

 

My grandfather almost died, two days before Christmas. The doctors were able to pull him through and he’s back home, but that was a very, very stressful week. I daresay the most un-Christmasy Christmas I’ve ever had.

Work is going well, but it’s still stressful. There are a number of health issues going on there, which makes it an ongoing struggle to keep a cheery disposition. But sometimes you just have to laugh it off and keep moving forward. Thankfully I’m not working quite so many hours as I was, so I have a chance to de-stress, relax and get myself back in good shape. I was honestly working so much, I was headed for a total burnout. But now I can actually sleep in some days and recuperate. But we are also doing a major kitchen renovation there, so my main workplace is just a little bit chaotic for the next however long.

So stress. I gots it in spades. Which means my health is not doing well. I haven’t worked out in goodness knows how long, my eating habits are somewhat craptastic, I’ve been properly call-in-to-work-because-I-literally-can’t-get-out-of-bed sick twice since November (once with suspected strep throat), my muscles are tense as can be, and I feel like there is a heavy weight on my shoulders.

On the plus side, on Saturday, I’m going out with my cousin and the rest of her bridal party to look for our bridesmaid dresses. Which is fun and all but…wait…more stress! For an aspie, something like this means more stress than nypicals could ever understand. I’ve been mentally planning since Sunday (which is when I got the invite), plotting out driving, checking out dress options, figuring out what to bring, what to wear, what not to wear, etc. etc. And of course I am mentally over analyzing every possible situation that could or could not happen. What if I don’t like the dress? What if I love a dress and the bride hates it? What if I get stuck in traffic on the way there? What are we going to eat? How long will we be shopping? etc etc etc. Yeah. Good times.

So, in answer to your perfectly innocent question…b117da8e7354a3ea0000ddd08df268bc

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Mapmaking hurts my head

True story. I currently have a headache, am covered in eraser and pencil shavings and have a stack of papers in my waste bin, but I have been map making! UnWorBuMo has not been quite the rousing personal success that I had hoped for, but I got more than I would have without a funky name. Since December first, I have given names to about half a dozen characters and places, I have recorded every city, village, mountain and river in my world, and I am now starting on making the map.

That’s not entirely true. I had a map. Just not an accurate one. To anyone who is writing fantasy, I strongly urge you to make even a basic map of your world. Even if you never show anyone the map, it will help your brain make sense of what is where. I found several logical inconsistencies that I will have to sort out in editing. (If the forest and the border are relatively the same distance from city A, why does it take the group of 20 soldiers two days to reach it, but one solitary man a week?)

Map making is frustrating, and I have wanted to throw my sketchbook at the wall a couple times, but I am confident that I can get this done. Hopefully before the end of December. Doesn’t help that Steam had an awesome sale and I now have Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, extra DLC for Skyrim and a Star Wars game calling my name.

 

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UnWorBuMo

Yeah. It’s a thing. It’s a thing because I said it’s a thing. Actually, I just made it up this morning. For NaNoWriMo this year, I did something I have never done in my three years of doing Nano. I rebelled. I worked on finishing last year’s novel that never got finished, and I got a whole bunch of editing done on the novel I wrote for Nano the year before last. Which means, ladies and gentlemen, I now have all three first drafts of my trilogy complete! Woot!

But because I rebelled, despite winning, I feel off. Like somehow I don’t deserve the win. But enough about that because I totally do. I feel now like I should be doing more editing and things like that, but it’s December. There is Christmas coming, my work schedule is crazy busy and I come home physically and emotionally exhausted. Which means I don’t have a lot of energy to devote to writing right now. But I still want to do something. So I present: UnWorBuMo. Unofficial World Building Month.

I write fantasy, which means I have created my own lands. Which has its advantages and disadvantages. Biggest disadvantage is that the topography has changed over the years that I’ve been working on these stories. So I have decided to sit my butt down and actually sort that out before I get too much further into editing. There are no rules for UnWorBuMo, no goal, no ideal time/word count/cities mapped etc. It’s just a simple goal for me to get something done, so that in the new year I can do some hard core editing.

Nothing fancy, nothing crazy, just some simple goals to help me make my world more complete. Little things like finalizing the timeline, making sure all the cities are in the right places, and everyone who needs a name has one. I still haven’t decided on a prize for if I get everything I want to done, but I have a new favourite shop on Etsy, and it may be a geeky hair bow from them.

So hang onto your hats and quills, hopefully I’ll get some crazy world building done!

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Progress, not Perfection

Time for a serious post in amongst the sillies. I have discovered that losing weight is hard. Really hard. Like crazy hard. There are so many mental choices you have to make in order for it to work. You have to choose to be healthy even when you *really* don’t feel like it. When you’re sick of smoothies and salads but you eat them anyway instead of a waffle and burger. Most of the days. When you SO don’t feel like working out, but you do a tiny 15 minute one anyway, because you know in the long run it’ll be better. And there are times when you don’t see the progress. Supposedly, it takes 4 weeks for you to see a difference, 8 weeks for friends and family to see a difference, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world to see a difference. I don’t think that’s a one size fits all philosophy. My mom has been saying for a couple months now that she can see a difference in me, but try as I might, I couldn’t see it. The doubts started creeping in “am I destined to be this size forever?” “how the heck can I do this? It’s taking forever!” “I don’t have the willpower, and I’m not seeing a change.”

But it’s days like today that make me feel like it’s all worth it. For the first time in a long, long time, I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. I didn’t go “well, I guess it’s the best I can do with what I’ve got”, I said to myself “you look good.” I nearly cried, because I haven’t been able to say that about myself for a long time.

I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there. 🙂

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24 things I’ve said at work

Being a private chef/driver/child wrangler/chief cook & bottle-washer for a family with 7 kids has its ups and downs. Thankfully, I love my job. It’s one of the best jobs I could have ever asked for, and pulled me out of one of my lowest points in my life. The youngest girls have basically adopted me as their big sister, and I think I’m an unofficial granddaughter to their grandpa. That being said, being surrounded by 7 children for 8 hours a day can be nothing short of hilarious, and there have been moments where I’ve just had to pause and go “Did I really just say that?” Here’s 24 of those moments:

  1. True, but are you really suggesting that she takes parenting advice from Full House?
  2. Since when does four cartons of chicken broth equal six cans of mushroom soup?
  3. We can do the Battle of Wits, but only as long as you’re putting dishes away while we’re doing it.
  4. You know you’re Canadian when you sit in the car with the heat on, hat on, coat done up all the way, eating ice cream.
  5. Sheath the swords and clear off the table.
  6. Why is there a boot in the soup pot?
  7. Why are you putting chips in your applesauce?
  8. Right now my brain is saying that your toast popped.
  9. So let me get this straight, you think we should have cat food and dog food with vinegar and garlic and icing and peanut butter for lunch? And I’ll have a trip to the hospital for dessert?
  10. Look at my beautiful pies.
  11. I’m not praising myself, I’m praising the pies.
  12. Look at the beautiful pies the Lord has graciously allowed me to make. Better?
  13. Mace Windu totally died because he fell like 500 feet and landed splat on the pavement like a Jedi pancake.
  14. (in cheesy Russian accent) This look no good for you. You look like KGB deckhand ready to club baby seal over head.
  15. Stop traumatizing the moth!
  16. Yes, I fixy trixy dixied it up for you.
  17. Am I a squeaky toy?
  18. You want to eat my shirt?
  19. I have a lobster in my apron.
  20. You can make it snow in the house, provided you clean it all up after.
  21. Tangled has a good method for love? You meet the guy, smack him on the head with a frying pan, go on an adventure, nearly die and then get married. Yep, you’re right.
  22. Those are two bite brownies. I asked you to bring me the pepperoni.
  23. No, I don’t know if General Grievous went to the Dead Sea if he would float or sink.
  24. No, don’t take a nap in the sink.

Yep. Never a dull moment.

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24 things I’ve said on my weight loss journey

My weight loss journey is far from over. I finally hit the 5lb mark over the weekend, but it’s taken soooo long to get there. I still have so far to go and quite honestly, I’m feeling really discouraged about it. But there are also funny moments, so I’ll share a mix of quotes.

  1. Am I skinny yet?
  2. I’ll workout tomorrow.
  3. No Skyrim until I’ve worked out.
  4. My abs are killing me!
  5. I did more than this in gymnastics and it hurt less than this does.
  6. That frappuccino has HOW many calories?!
  7. Yay me! Time for another sticker!
  8. Finish the darn bottle of water.
  9. Up a pound, are you kidding me?
  10. If I could control my movement in Skyrim by actually doing the movements, I would burn SO many calories.
  11. I had a salad for lunch, I can be bad and have an ice cream now.
  12. I hate walking.
  13. Yes! Another pound down!
  14. I want cookies.
  15. I have come to the conclusion that I hate kale.
  16. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find peanut safe trail mix?
  17. If there was an actual Adipose diet program, I would totally sign on. I mean, without the side effect of possibly dying, of course.
  18. Because it’s healthy.
  19. Dang, I forgot that I bought candy.
  20. I can’t wait to fit into this again!
  21. Five Pounds! I’ve lose Five Pounds!
  22. I have zero motivation right now.
  23. How do people ‘make’ themselves workout? I don’t get it.
  24. These shorts fit a little better.

So there you go, another installment of ’24 things I’ve said…’ Hopefully another one coming soon, unless I’m boring people in which I case I’ll stop and blog about other things.

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