Friday, August 26, 2016

Further Investigations in Cystitis

So, cystitis. I have written about this before, here, and have actually since then been officially diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, which I have mentioned in that linked post. Basically it means that my body often mimics the symptoms of cystitis without there actually being any infection present.

I have been put on a pill to try and relax my bladder and such, trying to reduce my symptoms, and it has actually been helping. But over the last week or so, I have been getting the symptoms with increasing frequency, and also with more pain than I have experienced since going on the drug. And that has been pretty tough for me to deal with.

I am trying very hard to dig more into what is bringing the symptoms on, but it hard given that a lot of my conditions tend to just get worse during stressful times, and I don't feel like there is much that I can combat that with that I haven't already (no, being told 'just worry less!' and 'try meditation!' has surprisingly not led to an instant fix!). What I have noticed is that two main emotions often come up around the time that I get the symptoms - anger, and sadness.

Both of them make sense to a certain extent - I am usually really upset that I have the cystitis again and that I am so uncomfortable. I am wondering if it has something to do with not expressing when things are getting too much, or I am feeling overwhelmed and not talking about it - because when cystitis hits I often realise just how much stuff I have been piling onto myself, and how much I have been shirking self-care.

I can't say that I am always capable of investigating when this comes up, or digging into the 'why' of it, but I want to keep trying in the hopes that I might start looking after myself even better than before, and maybe keep the cystitis symptoms from taking over again.

I also hope I will continue to share my thoughts on this most frustrating and embarrassing of conditions... Just in case someone out there might need the reassurance that it isn't just them.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Inspiration Fixation

I felt like doing a slightly different post today, because I realised that I have some things that I go back to, time and again, for renewed inspiration. Today I rewatched a video that inspired me so much when it was first aired back in 2014 that I started to change my life quite a bit.

It isn't any secret to those that know me that I love watching Good Game (a tv show aired on ABC2 and a kids version on ABC3. You can also find them on youtube here if you can't access Aussie tv!). I've actually been watching it for years, ever since my brother introduced me to it. It's a great way for me to bond with my brother and also my husband, and find out about new games coming out that I might like to play (zombie games are still a big no from me, though, so I tend to read if they're reviewing one like that!). I wouldn't call myself a serious gamer, but I am definitely a gamer of sorts - I just tend to turn to books more often than games. Right now, for example, I am playing Dragon Age: Inquisition, and have played it for about 40 hours so far.

Anyway, when Hex got a chance to do an episode on her role at Good Game, and also her life in general, I watched it and rewatched it too many times to count. I loved it - and I realised that I hadn't really been forming my own style for some time. Her style was so similar to my own tastes that I found myself...yearning. For the life I was supposed to be living. And I feel like I have tried, more or less, to get towards that life, since that day. It may sound kind of odd, and perhaps you will watch this video and wonder what on earth I am talking about, but sometimes the strangest things can be like a wake-up call to others, saying 'you want a life like this? then what are you waiting for?'

This was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I hope you enjoy it, too! (psst! this is just part of the episode! if you want the full episode, with all of Hex's favourite games, look for Good Game Season 10 Episode 25 on youtube!)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bookish Thoughts: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

"Destined to destroy empires, Mia Corvere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and daemons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no ordinary school, but Mia is no ordinary student.
The shadows love her.
And they drink her fear."

I haven't always had a great time with Kristoff's books. I was impressed with his Stormdancer books, but ultimately ended up finding them a little to overwhelming - it kind of felt like too many themes jammed into one book. Illuminae, which he co-wrote with Amie Kaufman, was pretty good, but I am a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to zombie books, so there's that.

This one, however, just blew me away. I randomly decided to pick up a copy because it looked interesting and I ended up being kind of obsessed with it. I completely disappeared into it, and loved every single part. There's these little annotations throughout the book (sometimes not so little), and the wry humour with which they are written is just fantastic. Mia as a character is fantastic - strong, sometimes confused, sometimes vulnerable but showing herself all the stronger for that vulnerability. I loved reading about her and everything that happened to her, and the narrator's voice really just made it even better.

The other characters did not disappoint either and, while a lot of the subject matter here is very dark (assassin school... so...), it was absolutely my style of humour and had me laughing out loud more than once.

Basically, I loved what Kristoff has created here, and I am so very interested with where he is going to be taking this series (trilogy? series? more please!).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Review: The Anxiety Book by Elisa Black

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: The Anxiety Book
Author: Elisa Black
Publication Date: May 31st 2016

Synopsis: "'Just stop worrying' - Adelaide journalist Elisa Black has been told this her whole life.

Elisa is one of the ten per cent of Australians who live with an anxiety disorder. Weaving science with memoir, in The Anxiety Book she explains why 'just stop worrying' doesn't work and explores the various treatments that do, as well as including the latest in research and science about anxiety and its causes.

With breathtaking honesty, Elisa uses the stages of her own life to explore the different types of anxiety that many of us face. Elisa's story will inspire the millions of Australians who live with anxiety to believe that it is possible not only to manage their condition but to live meaningfully. Her story offers hope that anxiety does not have to control you - it can be conquered."

My thoughts: I didn't really get on that well with this book. I definitely applaud Black for writing it - for having the courage and ability to give it a go and write about her own story. However, I felt like the blending of her own story with research wasn't super effective. I felt like there wasn't a logical pattern or flow that I could follow, so whenever she switched between a info about her own life to research, it didn't always feel seamless or even make a lot of sense to me.

I deal with anxiety myself, and I did get a little bit out of this book from certain parts, but mostly I felt like I didn't really connect that much to Black's experience. Partly I think this is because my anxiety isn't as severe as hers is (or as specific to certain things) and so I found it hard to identify with her, but there was also parts where Black would talk about teasing her brother or pinching him cruelly, and I just felt disassociated from all of that instantly. I don't doubt that her writing probably would connect with someone who has had a similar experience of anxiety, but for me it just kind of fell flat a little - though I did gain kind of a perverse joy from feeling like I wasn't as messed up as I thought I might be.

I felt like some parts of this book could have used a bit more editing, and that the layout of the book would have been better served by identifying specific chapters on anxiety research and then identifying chapters which were memoir-based. Reading this book did encourage me to write a list of things I was scared of, which was very important for me, but otherwise I just didn't feel like I got a lot out of it (of course, I have some experience with research on anxiety and depression, so that could have played a part!).

Overall, I think read this if the synopsis really appeals to you, but I don't think I will be reading this again.

{I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!}

A favourite line from the book: "A problem shared, when that problem is anxiety, really is a problem halved. To hear the fears of others, especially when they mirror your own, is to step out of the shadows. You are not alone. You are not a freak. You are human, that is all.
Just don't spend too much time with the arseholes."

You would like this book if: You have dealt with anxiety for a long time and relate to Black's story.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Something super calming, perhaps a nice chamomile?

Rating:  6/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two Script Book

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Author: J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Series: Harry Potter #8 
Publication Date: July 31st 2016

Synopsis: "The eighth story. Nineteen years later.

Based on an original story by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places."

My thoughts: I'm not sure how I feel about reviewing this. The fact is, I grew up with Harry Potter. Unlike a lot of others, I didn't get into reading because of it, but it did play a huge part in my childhood and also my teens (when the movies started coming out, too). I wasn't really sure I wanted to touch that. To be perfectly honest, I have been avoiding other people's thoughts on this, so I don't blame anyone if you don't want to read my thoughts on it - just close this post and go read something else, no judgement!

In light of the above, I am really just going to be putting my basic thoughts down and then moving on. I am not looking to start a huge debate about this (mostly because I probably won't reply if you are looking to do that :P), but just thought I would voice what I am thinking.

First of all, the format is really different. I know that seems like stating the obvious, but it kind of hits you slowly. The HP books are really strong in their stories and how the flesh out the world and make you feel like you're there, and for obvious reasons a play just isn't really capable of doing that as much - you can get lost in a play, but mostly when you are actually watching it. You need (or at least, I found I did) an enormous amount of focus and imagination to picture what was happening with this format, which can be good but can also be hard if you are just tired. I actually quite enjoyed that different format, but I still found myself missing the beautiful prose that Rowling weaves in the books.

Another point that my husband actually made - I am not sure about the science or the logistics behind certain timey-wimey elements of the story (using a Dr Who quote to avoid too many spoilers...). I personally made the decision not to think too much about it, but it might be a bit of a sticking point for others.

My final point is the attitudes of some of the characters. I was all ready to love Albus, and I kind of did, but I ended up loving Scorpius more in the end... That was nice but also it often felt like a result of just finding Albus kind of... a dick. I am still not sure about this, but I think the character design was very very deliberate, and it ended up working really well, my own slight disliking aside.

Overall, I had a really good time with this. It was like being back in a familiar house, but one that had had a few updates and such that made it kind of more exciting but also made you a bit unsure at the same time. I definitely recommend giving it a go if you're game.

{I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!}

You would like this book if: Hard to say. I think you will probably like it if you are a big HP fan, but definitely give it a go to find out for yourself!

Tea to drink while reading this book: My dear friend Chris just got me some Sticky Date Delight tea from T2 - I think this is a tea that would be enjoyed by many in the HP universe! I believe the tea is sold out, but maybe you could get this chocolate instead?

Rating:  9/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Book Review: Spotless Pets by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming

I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: Spotless Pets
Author: Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming
Series: Kind of a part of the authors' "Spotless" series
Publication Date: May 30th 2016

Synopsis: "The messiest member of any household is often a pet. All that hair, all those unfortunate accidents... But never fear - Spotless Pets will helps you solve your pet-stain dilemmas and save you oodles of money at the same time.
Using low-toxic remedies to every pet stain imaginable, Spotless Pets has chapters on dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses and small and exotic animals. Packed with advice on removing stains and smells, it also covers everything from cleaning cages, tanks and bedding to removing hair from upholstery.
With more than a million copies of their books sold in Australia alone, Shannon and Jennifer are the experts you will turn to time and time again when your pet makes a mess."

My thoughts: This book is pretty much exactly what it says on the box (err... book) - techniques and ways to deal with all assorted kinds of pet disasters. I was most interested in the chapters on dogs and cats, and this book definitely doesn't disappoint - it addresses all different kinds of disasters, and, what's even better, it addresses them in a 'green' way - opting to use easy and earth/people-friendly options to clean rather than advising to use more toxic chemicals.

I am not sure what else really to say about this book except that it is definitely going to come in very handy in the coming years, and I do recommend you take a look at it if you have pets of your own!

{I received a review copy of this book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!}

You would like this book if: you have a pet and want to know how to deal with the messes it makes!

Rating:  9/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Burnout: Continued...

I wrote about burnout at the start of the year, and I think that was just the beginning of things. In that post, I talked about how fighting burnout just doesn't work because there's nothing to swing at, and I still believe that is true. But guess what? I tried to fight through it, anyway.

I didn't even really realise that was what I was doing until recently. I felt like I 'should be better by now' and that maybe I was just being lazy, or pretending, or just wasting everyone's time... Yeh, a lot of old stuff started coming up for me, and I somehow convinced myself that it might be true this time. So I told myself that that was what other people in my life were secretly thinking (untrue) and that I needed to "get my act together" (not even sure I know what this means). So I pushed, did more chores, started looking for a new place (Xin and I are moving soon), started freaking out about our cat (she was a bit sick recently) and trying to fix her by myself, all the while ignoring all the symptoms that were popping up, or the warning signs that indicated I needed to just slow down.

This has happened so many times before, and I really felt like I ought to know how to deal with it properly, but even this time it took a few conversations with Xin for me to realise what I had been putting myself through.

The thing is, burnout doesn't just go away when you are ready for it to be gone. It can sometimes be a ridiculously extended process - especially when you push yourself to get more things done - and I'm afraid that with all my experience of burnout, the main thing to remember is to let go. (Sure, go ahead, sing the Frozen song. You know it's already in your head.) Find your balance again. Forget about forcing things to work, and take some time to just be. 

Right now, I am going to drink some more bubble tea (okinawan brown sugar milk tea!) and read some more of the book I am loving at the moment (Nevernight by Jay Kristoff) and chill out for a while. Any links to burnout recovery are welcome below!

Love to all who read.
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