Signing off, for now…

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a while. I figured now is as good a time as any, seeing as I’m really early for a doctors appointment and have nothing else to do while I wait! This week, there’s also an incredibly important mental health awareness campaign running, that I’ll come back to in a moment…

When I posted this last image to Instagram back in June, there was a lot happening – mostly, I’d found out a few weeks previously that I was pregnant, and that husband and I would be joined by a little apprentice traveller in January 🙂

It was great news and we’re super excited, but unfortunately, even in that early stage, I was already having a pretty rotten pregnancy. I was struck down with hyperemesis gravidarum – for those of you  (read: me) who laughed when it was revealed Kate Middleton was suffering from this illness and made comments like “ohh poor princess can’t handle a bit of morning sickness, whatever,” let me tell you, it’s no joke. 

Imagine the worst hangover you’ve ever had, one of the ones where the idea of even a cheeseburger turns your stomach and a sip of water makes you throw up, when you don’t even have the energy to walk from your bed to the bathroom, when you can’t envision ever brushing your hair again, much less showering and changing your clothes. Picture those few hours of hangover hell; I felt like that almost 24/7 for about 14 weeks.

Turns out it’s not just “a bit of morning sickness.” It’s a completely debilitating illness that leaves you utterly depleted, very isolated and pretty much confined to bed. And in my case, also unable to work. 

The illness, the loss of control over my body and physical health, and the fear of the unknown (I’ve never had a baby before, after all!), combined with the stress of selling our home and buying a new one at the same time, having to move house, and also being bullied relentlessly by the senior management team in my workplace after I announced my “happy” news (if you think Australia is a civilized county where workplace bullying of pregnant women doesn’t happen, you’d be wrong) before finally taking my job away in the first few months of my pregnancy was never going to end well. And it hasn’t.

In the early stages, I had hoped that taking a bit of time away from my writing would give me a chance to get my mental and physical health back on track – it was also really hard to focus on writing anything when I was running back and forth between the couch and the bathroom! I can see now that was wishful thinking. The combination of all those factors breathed new life into my depression and anxiety, and, at least for now, they’ve taken my voice, my strength and my health away. 

I voluntarily took a break from writing because I was so sick; I’ve stopped writing completely for now because I have no voice left with which to write. I guess I’m one of the 1 in 5 women who experience perinatal depression. This week is also PANDA Week – a week to raise awareness about perinatal anxiety & depression, which is why I took it as a sign from the universe that I should finally get around the writing this post, as difficult and uncomfortable as it is.

I’m lucky to have a strong man by my side who hasn’t for a second balked at the difficulty of this situation. I have a sister to confide in who is pregnant for the second time around, and understands much of what I’m going through. I have a wonderful OBGYN who is prioritising my mental health and ensuring I have access to all the help I need. And I have the advantage of having come through the darkness of mental illness before, so I know I’ll get through it again.

And when I do, I hope my voice comes back, too, and I can get back to doing all the things I love – including writing here. In the meantime, the biggest thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who’s read along and encouraged me to write here over the last few years – I’ve made some truly wonderful friends and have really enjoyed having a space for me to share what I love – hopefully I’ve been able to encourage a few other people to get out and explore, as well! xoxo

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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories – launch time!

Hi guys,

Just a quick post to apologise for the radio silence last week and this week; I’ve been working hard to get my little side project ready to go, and I’m excited to let you know that Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories has officially launched!

We’re going to be releasing a new chapter every Sunday, so make yourself a cup of tea or hot chocolate, curl up on the couch, and enjoy the first chapter 🙂

If you enjoy reading, hopefully you’ll consider contributing your story, too. If you have any questions about how it all works, you’ll hopefully find the answers on our FAQ page, and when you’re ready to tell your story, just click along to the Submissions page!

A huge thank you to everyone who’s supported this project so far – I hope it’ll find it’s wings and take off, and be around to share many extraordinary stories for a long time to come 🙂

Eating the city: Hoi An, Vietnam

There is a truly ridiculous amount of great food in Hoi An, and as with most of South East Asia, the best of it is on the streets. Add these dishes to your “to eat” list when you visit…

White rose dumplings.
A shrimp-filled dumpling, wrapped in thin, translucent dough and shaped to look like a rose. Also usually served with a delicious sweet dipping sauce and sprinkled with fried shallots. This is a classic, served everywhere, and we didn’t eat a bad version.
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Cao lau.
Where have you been all my life?! A dish synonymous with Hoi An (the only city you’ll find it made in), it’s the perfect bowl of chewy noodles, fresh green herbs, tasty pork, crunchy fried noodles, and easily the most flavourful broth I’ve ever tasted. Again, we tried several bowls of this – you can’t get a bad version.
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Banh Mi.
They’re all over the country, and they’re all delicious. We found them to be the perfect breakfast, costing us only a few dollars for some crispy shelled, pillowy soft baguettes stuffed with BBQ pork and all the fixings. Take a stroll down the street in the morning and pick one up as you walk in to town.
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Pandan coconut sweets.
Every time we walked past this lady’s cart, we stopped so I could get one. Gelatinous, gooey, pandany coconutty goodness, they were the ultimate sweet fix in such a hot climate. But they’re sticky as hell, so bring some anti-bacterial gel with you, or you’ll stick to everything you touch for the rest of the day!
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Street food feasts.
There are a few places that’ll help you out here, but my hands down favourite is Bale Well. I wrote about it a few years ago when my sister and I visited, and it was one of the first places on my list to go back to. Rice paper to wrap, freshly fried spring rolls, pork skewers, kimchi-style pickled veg, a mountain of fresh greens, banh xeo, bowls of dipping sauce, and a drink each set us back all of about AUD$12.00. And we were utterly and completely stuffed by the end of it. Don’t be put off by it’s location down a dark alleyway – this is the best cheap feast in the city!
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Eating the city: Hanoi, Vietnam

Let’s eat our way through another city… let’s go to Hanoi  🙂

Bún chà
Every city does it a little differently, but its most popular in Hanoi. Places like this do an incredible spread of food – for only a few dollars, we got a pile of vermicelli, a bigger pile of fresh herbs, a big bowl of freshly fried spring rolls, a bowl each of broth and grilled meat, and fresh lime, garlic and chili. Just so much deliciousness! You can find this amazing place right here.

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Snake wine
You’re gonna see some weird stuff in Vietnam. And when you do, you have two choices: run away from it, or embrace it. When we sat down to down to a nice dinner and spied an enormous glass jar filled with what we guesed to be some type of rice wine, a few snakes and a chicken carcass, we figured “when in Rome…” And that’s how we came to drink Vietnamese rice wine infused with dead cobra and chicke

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Coconut jelly
There are some delicious desserts in Hanoi, especially in a lot of the little hole-in-the-wall family restaurants. My favourite was coconut jelly, especially ones like this with little coloured fruit and jelly bits in it.

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ANZAC Day: Lest We Forget

It’s so easy for us to forget what this day actually means, living in a time and country where we’re not really faced with the concept of war. Can you imagine young guys these days leaving behind their designer jeans and cold drip coffee to take up weaponry to defend their country? Can you imagine young women leaving behind their hair appointments and brunch dates with the girls to nurse the wounded? What a horrific notion…. Yet, only a few generations ago, that’s what young Australians were facing. And so each year, on April 25th, we commemorate the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and their fight for the freedom of generations to come.

On the ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee website, they write:

Every nation must, sooner or later, come for the first time to a supreme test of quality; and the result of that test will hearten or dishearten those who come afterwards. For the fledgling nation of Australia that first supreme test was at Gallipoli.

 

I remember watching the movie Gallipoli as a teenager, and thinking about whether I’d be able to do what those young people did back then. It’s in large part because of their sacrifices that I get to leave my house safely today, that I get to have brunch with my friends and drink matcha lattes and shop for nice clothes and travel. It’s because of those enormous sacrifices that I have such a lovely, safe life these days. They made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives for the freedom of future generations; they went to war knowing they’d probably never get the chance to enjoy the future they were helping to create. I’ve watched that movie many times since my first teenage viewing, and I cry every time, because it’s just so raw and real to me. And I’m not sure I’d have the strength and conviction to do what those men and women did.


Every year on ANZAC Day, I make ANZAC cookies (say hello to this year’s batch, and I’m finally going to share the recipe in my new cookbook  🙂  too good not to share!). It’s not just a token motion I go through, nor is it an excuse to eat delicious cookies (but they are delicious!). The time I spend making them is time I use to reflect on what the day actually means and how grateful I am for the strong people who came before me. I absolutely detest the notion of war. I don’t agree with it. But I also know it’s naive to believe there should be a better way and I can’t see that happening in my lifetime, so in the mean time, I am incredibly thankful to our war heroes for protecting us when we need it.

 

They shall not grow old
As we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them

Lest we forget

Ordinary Girl Extraordinary Dreamer is now on Instagram :)

Join the party at http://instagram.com/ordinarygrlextraordinarydreamr 🙂

I thought it’d be a good idea to finally get this up and running, so you guys can get a sneak peak at each day’s blog post! Looking forward to getting this up and running!