Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, I discovered I have an acute gluten intolerance.  I’m told removing gluten from my diet will decrease my headaches, my stomach issues and a whole host of things.  Today is Day Five of Barb’s Gluten Free Lifestyle.  Thus far, I’ve discovered a few things:

1. Going off gluten can cause withdrawal symptoms.  Apparently gluten peptides can bind with opiate receptors in the brain, giving people a high similar to being on opium or heroin.  It’s why we feel better after eating pretzels.  Thus, going gluten-free can feel like quitting an addiction cold-turkey.  I spent the bulk of Saturday on the sofa feeling like I’d been hit by a flu-filled truck.  Didn’t help matters that my son, Tattoo, was home from college reminding me of the whole opiate receptor/gluten connection.  Why I thought his taking nutrition was a good idea, I’ll never know.

2. Going off gluten isn’t as simple as giving up bread and pasta.  Gluten lurks everywhere.  The margarine we use?  Gluten.  Twizzlers licorice? Gluten.  Beef broth? Gluten.  Bottled salad dressings? Gluten.  Starbucks Skinny Vanilla Lattes? Gluten.  Eventually knowing what foods you can and can’t eat becomes second nature.  In the meantime, however, I have to look up each and every item I put in my mouth.  What’s more: In addition to switching foods, there’s the whole issue of cross contamination.  If a spatula touches a bun, then it can’t touch my food for fear of gluten contamination.  So, today I’m off to buy a new toaster, new canisters, a new cutting board, my own special spatula and spoon.

Bottom line is all this is quite mentally exhausting, time consuming and distracting.  Making writing  difficult.  As I told my editor this morning, I actually worried yesterday about my hero eating whole wheat toast!  Fortunately, I have a very understanding editor who would rather I turned in my best work two or three days late than give her #$()*#$ on time.  (I swear, if I had a daughter, I’d rename her in this woman’s honor!)

All this has made me appreciate the impact life stress has on our career.  Some jobs you can keep plugging away despite distraction.  Creativity requires we be fully and emotionally rested. Last week I talked about having to honor your process no matter how messy it is.  Here’s a second piece of advice: Honor your self as well.  Life happens.  How the stress affects your creativity is part of your process as well. Bear that in mind, and if  you find yourself a bit bogged down because other crap is happening – it’s okay.