Life List Club – Continued with Anne-Mhairi Simpson

Yesterday, in our Life List Friday, we had a huge daisy chain of blog hops that stretched for miles through the Twittersphere. We hosted, blogged, drank virtual drinks and attempted to inspire writers everywhere.

Did it work?

Anne-Mhairi made a glittering grand entrance to the party

Anne-Mhair almost didn’t make it here to More Cowbell, due to having to fight traffic over twelve other Life List Club sites and the Atlantic Ocean to get here from England. She persevered and HERE SHE IS.  Please send lots of comments and Life List Club feedback to make her feel welcome. Oh, and chocolate! Definitely send chocolate to munch on while we read your comments.


Who You Are
by Anne-Mhairi Simpson

It’s a grey day outside, but it’s only just gone 10am and I’ve been to the gym and had my healthy, gluten-free breakfast. The gluten issue recently raised its ugly head, telling me in no uncertain terms that I am majorly intolerant of gluten in any form (even oats), so I’ve cut it all out of my diet.

On a separate but relevant note, the Flashdance theme song came on the radio as I was driving home from the gym. (Yes, believe it or not, these two things do have a common thread.)

I can’t call living gluten-free a goal. No, it’s a necessity. I have felt rough beyond all measure this last couple of weeks and it’s only since I cut out everything that has gluten in it (including oats, which I didn’t originally know had gluten in them) that I have felt better. Therefore, living gluten-free is not going on my list of goals. It’s just something I have to do for my health. Like breathing.

Or writing. The Flashdance song reminded me why I write in the first place. Not because I want to or I have to. There is no outer motivation. There’s not much of an inner one, either. I don’t even think about it. It just happens. It’s something that’s there, a part of me, whether I like it or not. Like breathing. Or gluten intolerance.

Chuck Wendig wrote a great article yesterday (I think it was yesterday, but maybe that’s just when I happened to see it) about what it actually means to be a penmonkey. As opposed to a pen-muggle. He has also written in the past about the fallacy of being compelled” to write. It’s not something we have to do or we’re going to chew our hands off. It’s what we do.

So, in a way, it’s kind of daft to even have goals about it. Yes, I know we’re all about the goals, but this is the Life List Club, not the Goal List Club.

You see, I didn’t get to go gluten-free by degrees, although I kind of did. I thought oats were gluten-free, so I cut out every other form of gluten and switched to oat flake cereal at breakfast. A week later, I was still feeling icky. Then I found out about the oats. Cut them out. Fast forward three days. I was so relaxed and happy yesterday I’m sure I made several of my friends nauseous.

But I couldn’t set a goal to gradually fade gluten out of my life. It was damaging me, more and more, so I had to stop it altogether. Like you can’t fade breathing out of your life. Or writing.

The really big goals are there, in front of us, our dreams. The things we must acknowledge openly that we want, otherwise we will only be half ourselves. Or less. If I didn’t write, I don’t think I’d be me at all. Or maybe I would, only lacking in an excuse for gazing into the
middle distance when I’m supposed to be booking someone’s flights to Montenegro, or re-organising the seating plan for a conference. Maybe I’d still be just like I am now. But I’d rather write. People understand the flakiness a bit better when you tell them you’re a writer.

Well, they don’t. But I like to give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s just the way I am.

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
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22 Responses to Life List Club – Continued with Anne-Mhairi Simpson

  1. Sherry Isaac says:


    I, too, am gluten-challenged, with dairy thrown into the mix to make things just that much more fun. I thought it was would be impossible at first. It isn’t. You make your choices every morning, every meal, every snack, but soon, those choices will become as natural as breathing, and you seldom think about it. Gluten-free life will simply be.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I didn’t realize that, Sherry. It seems to me a gluten free life is a hell of a lot of work. My hat’s off to you both.


    • Wow. I was in the shop just yesterday looking around and thinking, I am so glad I’m not dairy intolerant as well! As you say, you just have to work with it. There’s no way around it and it gets easier as you get used to what you can and can’t eat.


  2. Very interesting post, Anne-Mhairi. My diary intolerance is very like not writing–if I avoid milk, I feel better; if I write, I feel better. Will I die if I don’t write? Of course not; I spent months not writing. But what is true is that i feel better and I am a better person when I write. It makes me think about the things that matter to me, and helps me to honor them.


    • Exactly! It’s actually a good thing, as when we have the certain knowledge of how we will feel if we don’t do the right thing, it’s much easier to make ourselves to it! Hats off to you for handling dairy intolerance, I think that’s harder than gluten.


  3. jessicaaspen says:

    You are so right! I’ve gone vegan, well mostly. But when I don’t do it all the way I feel awful. And I have to ask myself, was that worth it? Denying who you are can be not just painful but life constricting. Whether its ignoring your health or ignoring your need to create. Why is it it took me this long to figure all this out? Glad you’re feeling better!


    • Don’t beat yourself up about taking a while to work it out. I’ve known for years that I’m gluten intolerant but I liked my wheat stuff too much to give it up. It was only when I realised how intolerant I am that I realised I was just going to have to suck it up.


  4. Linda Burke says:

    I, too, cannot eat gluten, or peanuts, aspirin, or Dr. Pepper. It is just something I live with. You make choices. And make sure. when you go to the grocery store that has one whole aisle of gluten free choices, that you stock up on every snack available so you don’t have to cook for every meal.

    I love the way your first name is spelled. Is there a story behind it?


    • I think I need to go to the supermarket more often. The small shops near me don’t have any kind of gluten-free stuff at all! But I did find biscuits (cookies) at the speciality food store yesterday, so that was a plus 🙂

      Yes, there’s a story behind it. My paternal grandfather is Scottish and when my mother announced she wanted to call me Anne-Marie he asked if it could be spelt the Scottish way. In the end they compromised. It’s spelt the Scottish way and pronounced the English/French way (Marie). Endless entertainment all round – some of the spellings are just spectacular 😀 I answer well to AM 😀


  5. For a lot of years, I didn’t write (except for grocery lists and the like). I didn’t die but I wasn’t fully me either. Sometimes I actually miss not writing because the writing can be so hard. But I know it’s be like trying to phase out breathing. Thank you for a lovely post. Totally worth the wait. 😀


  6. Stacy Green says:

    Fortunately I don’t have any food intolerances so I can’t commiserate with you. But for years I didn’t write and didn’t feel like myself. Writing is the only thing that makes me feel like I’m truly doing something.



    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m with you, Stacy! And I have so many friends who suffer.


    • I was actually thinking of you recently as an inspirational figure in my life because of all the weight you lost. I need to sort myself out so that I can lose weight too. It’s not happening yet and I suspect I’m eating too much fat on my new gluten-free diet. Need to get myself sorted on that. So don’t feel like you’re not a part of the group or anything like that – I think you’re amazing!


  7. When you said being a writer is just a part of you it took me a few minutes but I got it. You see I always thought mine was external because, you know, I have voices in my head wanting a story told. I’m not crazy I swear. Then I thought about it. Duh.

    Writing is a part of me and always has been since I was bitty thing making up imaginary friends. Now let me wipe the sweat off my brow. All that thinking hurt. Lol.

    I enjoyed the post. Thanks.

    Oh and I looked up the gluten intolerance thing. You have my sympathy, good luck with staying gluten free.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m with you on the voices in my head. Sounds COMPLETELY normal to me, Angela!


    • Hahahaha This made me smile. I can just see you looking at the screen going “WTF?” The gluten intolerance thing is a bit of a pain, but I’m getting a handle on it, and to be honest, I have no choice. If I want to stay healthy and productive, I have to stay off the gluten completely. Motivation isn’t hard to come by. Just remembering how I felt after a sausage the other day was enough to convince me to stay away from the cheese straws at a friend’s party the other night 😀


  8. I enjoy taking milk and eggs. I’m not allergic to those but I’m allergic to pollen and dust. Yes, we should acknowledge things as they are. We won’t feel good until we totally acknowledge it.


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