Why I’m not writing a recovery blog

Note: This isn’t just relevant if you if you have struggled/are struggling with an eating disorder – you might find this applicable to your own blog, too.

Reading the title, some of you might wonder: ‘But isn’t that what she started out as??’.  And well, I figure you could say I was leaning towards it more in sharing recovery-focused topics and struggles in many of my first posts, yes.

Am I recovered? Not struggling with food anymore? Unfortunately no.. Yet I do not want to go into this topic all the time anymore, not let this be me as a whole. Sharing bits here and there because I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not . It’s an unfortunate part of me, one that has shaped my life, there’s no denying this. Centering my whole blog around recovery and my strained relationship with food and my appearance, though, is not what I’m trying and wouldn’t recommend for anybody. Here’s why:

Not letting go

If I was to write about EDs and food anxiety all day every day, immersing myself into the recovery blogosphere only, I’d allow these things to manifest. I’d allow them to have more power over me and my life than they should. I’d allow them to keep me stuck. And this exactly has always been my worry and criticism regarding full-on recovery accounts. At some point in life – and given the length of my own struggles I’m not putting any number of months or years of recovery here – you should [be able to] let go of being ‘in recovery’, ‘fighting your way back to happiness’ or whatever else recovery Instagram bios read like these days and just live.

Fall collage

Who am I without my ED? or: Losing your identity [for the better]

If you feel you can post your every meal, the accompanying feelings of guilt and worry while eventually eating more and more and identifying with your ED less and less – awesome, keep going. But if you feel tied to your recovery title and scared of who you’ll be once you’re weight-restored [mental recovery, as most of us will know, takes a lot longer] and not as intensely afraid of eating anymore – reconsider. I think this “identity crisis” is something most if not all of us in recovery will experience at some point. A lot of blog posts out there address this struggle and I won’t pretend I had it all figured out myself yet. Just being honest here.

This exact point – clinging to an identity created or held up by an ED – is what Kaila Prins talked about on the Food Psych podcast. The topic and a past draft of this post had been on my mind more than a year ago already but her words brought it back to the forefront of my mind. Kaila specifically talks about a certain blogger [anonymously] she wanted to help recover but couldn’t. A girl tied to her identity as a health blogger, athlete and creator of low-calorie recipes. So yes, I can absolutely understand how hard deciding to fully recover is when your identity, you brand essentially depends on you being trapped in your ED. What if recovering for you meant – temporary or longer term – a lack of interest in cooking, a preference for rich desserts rather than healtified versions and you no longer enjoyed the intense workouts you did before – but feel that your readers expect you to? Are you going to hold up an image that is no longer you or take the scary step of diving into the unknown?

Not writing a recovery blog? It still applies 

Even if the focus of your blog is a completely different one, the same might happen. Maybe you’re writing a running blog. What if you suddenly get injured and need to take months off to recover? Or discover that you enjoy yoga more or even take a break from formal exercise altogether  (it happens!). Maybe you’re writing a vegan/paleo/macrobiotic/whatever diet blog, strongly recommending the diet to everybody around but then find you need to include animal products in your diet again[we’ve seen what happened to other bloggers in this case before; the Balanced Blonde being the best known example]. Or you happen to discover intuitive eating and as such suddenly find that you want to let go of labels altogether. Or a fashion blog but you fall out of love with fashion or question the ethics behind it at some point. I could go on with examples here but I think you got my point. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with choosing a specific niche for your blog. And if you’re lucky, you have an awesome community cool with a change of focus in your blog. If you’re not – and I’ve heard/read bloggers talk about their struggles with this – you might feel torn: Continue to write about something you’re not feeling anymore because you feel you owe it to your readers or you built a business on it. Or daring the metaphorical leap into the dark in changing topics. Even if you enjoy the topic you chose immensely, why not share the occasional post about some other interests of yours [this might just be me in keeping those doors open for a potential change of mind after all …]? We’re all way too diverse characters to eternally specify on just one niche and – speaking as  a reader here – your readers might be curious to see more facets of you, too.

The things I’d consider are: Can I imagine myself writing about this overall topic in, say, five years still or will I have nothing new to say anymore/outgrown it?  And (the most important one for me): Do I want to be identified as this (i.e. the athlete, the recovering person, the health nut never touching any sugar, …). We all change. That’s what life is about. Growth. Developing into different directions. Finding ourselves. And – to end this long post here – that’s what I want my blog to reflect. I’m not who I was when I started this blogging journey and I don’t know the person I will be in five years yet. What I do know is that I’m curious about what’s to come and sharing it through my writing. Unless I decide I hate writing – which is very unlikely to happen because yes, that’s one identity I’ve had since my childhood and am happy to own: being a writer [and reader].

Enough from me: I’m genuinely interested to hear your thoughts on the above!

Happiness-inducing today: Taking a walk – no matter how short – when the weather cleared up a little. Oh, and the memories of yesterday’s cooking date with a friend. These always make my soul happy.

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The Power of Writing

One advantage of being a blogger? You’re legitimated to celebrate not one but two birthday [week]s a year. Because – laugh at it if you’re blogging yourself [yet!] – but looking back at how long your outlet in the online space has been around is worth mentioning. I obviously mention this because today marks Spoon’s third birthday – congratulations to Amanda! It also collides with the fact that my thoughts this week led me to reminisce about why I write. Not just blog-wise but in general so there we go – out loud.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Ever since I was a wee little one I had the reputation of being drawn in by every piece lf writing I could get my hands on. I was eager to start school because I finally wanted to find out the sense behind the letters on the pages of newspapers, books and random leaflets. And once I knew how I couldn’t stop reading everything in sight. Occasionally to the annoyance of my parents who tried their best to get me away from the books when we had guests. Or sighing in relief libraries existed as else the amount I read would have resulted in huge bills.

Putting pen to paper to create my own stories fascinated me, too. While the content has changed throughout the years what hasn’t is that I still write. Sometimes I – and I assume that’s true for other twenty-somethings, too – feel a little lost. And unless this colides with being lost for words, too, I start writing. To clear my mind and find hold again.

Occasionally I hear [read] others describe themselves as broken human being made whole again through their relationships with their significant other. Not to say writing was equal to these people’s relationship with other people. Yet I will say it is healing, therapeutical for me. I’m broken – not only but obviously through my history – and writing, little by little – helps me become whole again.

current view_writing(My current view whenever writing – be it on my laptop or pen-to-paper.]

What I write on here and possibly even more in almost daily posts on Instagram is ## nicht zuletzt ## a reassurance for myself. Like I mentioned I’m not trying to  compete for the most followers but write first and foremost for myself. Though yes, I’m hoping to help others, too. I want to hear from them; from you. I believe that by sharing our stories we can support each other. Lead by example. Two people might be on a similar road in life with one ahead of the other being able to offer hope and help. And next time it might be the other way around. If we wrote for ourselves exclusively and never shared our thoughts with anybody we’d still be lost. It’s about the community.

At the same time putting my feelings into words – often only reflecting on an event the very moment I start typing and letting my thoughts run wild to be surprised by the outcome. In a good way: More often than not writing things out offers me more clarity. Shows me the lessons  I can learn from certain events in life in hindsight. It’s also about commitment and accountability. Funnily enough it’s – like mentioned above – again only now that I’m reflecting on my reasons to write that I see how many and diverse ones there are.

Yes, I write light-hearted posts, too. Actually, though, these are usuallya bit harder to write for me than the deeper ones because I’m an overthinker and apparently that doesn’t match well with [written] humor?*

* For some reason I feel the need to clarify that I can still crack my friends up in person – it just doesn’t translate that well in my writing ;).

I’m writing to discover who I am.

I’m also writing to kick my perfectionism in the curb. If you want to post at all you have to hit publish at some point – and trust me that can be hard when they never feel ‘perfect’ to you  … Good training.

As cheesy as it sounds – but I have an inkling a lot of what I wrote so far will come across like that already – I’m writing my own life story.

I write so I am? Why, yes, I’d like to think so. Take away the ability to write and express my feelings through words and I’ll once again be broken. Working my way to ‘wholeness’. Word by word. And I’m happy to share my journey with you and take part in yours. Let’s build each other up.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: A little gardening work While working with words/writing is nice for the brain it’s good to get a little physical action on, too.

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Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Enough talk about me [as a blogger I probably shouldn’t say it but I don’t really enjoy talking about myself :)]: Tell me why you write. Don’t hesitate to get wordy or even write a post of your own on the topic. I’m honestly curious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about Instagram.

Something has been making me sad in the world of Social Media again*. Jumping right in: I’ve been dabbling around with Instagram lately and noticed something … If it was just the occasional person I wouldn’t give it much thought. Yet: I see it happening left and right all of the time. Literally every time somebody posts a picture of themselves – aside from ab shots or body builders/fitness IGs – it comes with a semi-joking caption like ‘okay, ready to loose a few more followers again’. Or in the case of several people even – and this made me sad – the excuse of ‘hope it’s okay to post this.’ Am I the only one who gets thinking about our focus and priorities here?

Here’s what I noticed. And yes, I double-checked. Triple-checked. In short: I kept an eye on this during the past few weeks to make sure it wasn’t a mere coincidence within a few profiles. Let’s take the example of a random profile. What goes on in your mind if you see that a package of storebought pasta gets [decidedly] more likes than the pictures of the [subjective but yes] sympathetic couple behind the account?

Source

* Please note that I’m not generally a sad person :).

Are we really more interested in seeing food picture after food picture than the people behind them?? Their interests? Their hobbies? Quirks? Random things that made them smile?

Along those lines is the issue of people asking their followers what they’d like to see more of. Sorry but really? If I asked and the most popular answer would be ‘monogram-styled bowls of oatmeal and selfies’: would you change your feed and stop posting pictures of your garden/family/whatever else you like to share? Just to please others? Win followers? Loose yourself [allow me to be a little drastic here] ?

No. If somebody enjoys my pictures and captions I will happily welcome them among my followers and check out  their profile in turn – that’s the way to build community. The ‘mission’ shouldn’t be to post for others but yourself.

my Instagram feed
Blog for yourself. Post on Instagram for yourself. Share what’s on your mind or important to you. Like minded people will follow. The remainder? So what. As you might have already guessed I’m not somebody you can ask for ‘S4S’ or ‘f4f’. Nope. If that’s your goal than au revoir, mon ami. We won’t be #instafriends anytime soon. Actually,  about that term friends… you know my take on this.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want anybody to follow me. But like I mentioned some time ago in regards to blogging I value quality over quantity. The most important and best part of both blogging and Instagram to me still is the community.Even if a picture didn’t get many likes yet a few people commented sharing their thoughts and opinions that would matter so. much. more to me.

On a last note I’m not judging people who treat Instagram differently than me. To each their own. All I’m hoping to do is remind whoever is sad about a small following or unsure why their pictures don’t get as many likes as others: it’s not about you. You are great the way you are as is your Instagram account.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: Starting a great new book and reading outside in the sunshine.
Tell me whatever comes to your mind: Do you agree? Disagree? What are your experiences?

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One chance you shouldn’t miss when blogging

Inspiration strikes at the oddest times. The other day, it came in the form of the Yogi’s wisdom while drinking one of my many cups of tea.

“Empty your mind and let the universe fill you.”

I hope the Yogi won’t mind me stretching his words a little and bringing them into the modern context of the blogiverse [yes, I cringed a little typing this]. Fact is, the words brought up a topic I’d been thinking about for a while already. Why not accept Amanda’s invitation to share my thoughts out loud with you today?

Thinking-Out-Loud

Whenever bloggers talk about their favourite reasons to blog you will hear one thing mentioned as the most important: the community. And honestly, I can go on and on and on […] about this, too. That was my intention with and what we all seemed to agree on in last week’s post. Meeting alike minds is giving you that warm and fuzzy feeling every time you open your browser, start delving into new posts and discover how similar people you’ve never met in real life are.

Where else in the world would people from all over the planet, different age groups, social and cultural backgrounds, diets, lifestyles, … get together than in the blog world? Which leads me to the one chance you shouldn’t miss out on when blogging/blog reading:

Broadening your mind.

 

Don’t stay within your peer group.

Like I mentioned above in the blog world it often doesn’t matter what age you are, if you’re single or [happily I hope] coupled, which diet you’re following, what’s your favourite kind of exercise, … I could go on for hours but you get my point. In real life, we usually seek company of alike minds. Or better yet: those we can identify as such on first glance by joining a local running group, meeting up with a book club or – thinking of the many mums out there – through play dates. In the end, though, we’re limiting our chance of new experiences – and surprises.

When I first started reading blogs – years before I started my own – I followed mostly people my age and with similar interests. Nowadays? My reader is filled with a much larger variety of bloggers – some my age, some noticeably older. Some are vegetarian or vegan, some are paleo. Which leads me to …

Forget first impressions. Give second chances.

Soothing tea to settle a wonky stomach.

This isn’t one I necessarily had to learn through blogging but it definitely rings true here more than ever, too. Don’t let the title of a blog or even its usual topics scare you away. Just like judging somebody by their appearance only is wrong we’re better off giving other bloggers a second chance, too.  It’s not unusual for me to continue keeping a blog in my reader though I don’t completely ‘click’ with the author or re-visit one only to be positively surprised by a thought-provoking post. It’s worth reconsidering your first impression and following people you might not have made friends with in real life. Use the blog world as an opportunity for self-growth of mind and heart.

Throw your assumptions out of the window.
I’ve lost count of how much I’ve learned through blogging in the past years. We’re not talking about any fun do-it-yourself projects here [mostly because I haven’t tried any but keep me accountable for starting!]. What I mean is the kind of unconscious learning. By reading blogs written by authors with various cultural or fitness backgrounds,… and just overall opinions on any topic there is.

Letter

Just giving a random example here: bodybuilding and figure competitions. Living in a small town with one tiny gym occupied by either old folks or beef-cakes gruntingly lifting huge weights and drowning protein shakes, I grew up considering it a very weird kind of sports. Competitors to me were viewing food only as fuel rather than a source of enjoyment  [obviously exaggerating a smidgen here so take it with a grain of salt].
And then came blogging and getting to ‘know’ some of those people and their personal stories that were so far from vain. There many examples out there but Brittany was one of the first figure competitors that gave me a different understanding of the topic. I learned that competing didn’t have to be about deprivation, obsessive workouts and rigid rules.

Seek discussion and be open to changing your opinion.

Okay, I’m not suggesting you disagree just to disagree. Like I said before interaction is key in the [blog] world. We can learn so much from each other if we don’t blind out every opposed opinion. Arguments – led in a polite and respectful way obviously – help us broaden our horizons.  Conversations are more enlightening when you can add to them and possibly discover aspects you hadn’t thought of. Like  when my opinion on selfies changed thanks to Georgia  shedding a different light on it .  Keep an open mind!

yellow_flowers_tree

No matter where we live with blogging the world is at our fingertips and we shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to look beyond our own horizon.

 

Happiness-inducing today: An insightful conversation with one of my aunts – even if it was just via phone.

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No questions today but your thoughts on the topic and maybe what you’ve learned through blogging or how it has changed your mind.

 

The Art of Commenting [to connect and communicate]

What a title, right? If you’re asking any blogger what they like most in the blog world the answer is likely going to be: the community. Connecting with alike minds. And one of the best ways to do just that is by commenting. No big deal, right? You’d think so but I’ve come across some – dare I say? – commenting faux-pas in the past that inspired me to think out loud about the art of polite commenting. Take this with a tiny spoon grain of salt and let me know your take in the comments.

[And because complients and kind comments are like flowers those make appearances in today’s post, too. Also because I may or may not be obsessed with taking pictures of them.]

Thinking-Out-Loud

1. Avoid one-word comments.
Let’s face it: a quick “Delish!”, “awesome” or “gorgeous!” isn’t saying much at all. What would you expect the blogger to reply?  It feels awkward to say “thanks ” for every such comment you get – and depending on the post  [like What I ate Wednesdays] there might be many of these.
The one exception to this rule for me is when many commenters already said all you’d do, too, or if the post was expressing all your feelings towards a topic so well all that’s on your mind can summed up in an ‘Amen!’ I’ve seen others use this occasionally and for the most part was right with them there. Personally,  I still prefer to write at least one sentence because that’s the way I roll but go you if you’re the master of the  [occasional] one-word comment.

Flowers

2. Show some appreciation for the blogger. 

No, that’s not the hurt soul in me speaking – promise. We all like to get some praise or just a little virtual pat on the back  for our work and the time we put into a post. Wouldn’t you like somebody raving about how delicious your bowl of chocolate cookie crumble oatmeal topped with homemade honey vanilla almond butter looks in a What I ate Wednesday post? Or how adorable your new dress is? Or chime in on a more serious issue you addressed and tell you you’re not alone in feeling a certain way? All those are little virtual pats on the back … or flowers.

Flowers

3. Don’t scroll to the end of the post right away to solely replying any questions posed there.

Hurt soul or not: yes, I speak from experience here. At least for myself I can say that while I’m genuinely curious to hear your answers to those I’d much rather have you chime in with any thoughts that came up while reading my post.  Also, in my experience  replying to the questions only every time you visit a certain blog doesn’t help build a relationship with that blogger. It’s like exchanging pre-set questionaires: you’re only getting a very limited glimpse at the other’s personality.  Like no blog could run successfully for years if its author posted survey after survey.  It’s the in-between the lines, the quirks that are revealed in free-form conversations and daily happenings that friendships are built on.

4. Give feedback

Liked something?  Don’t just click the ‘like’ button in your Bloglovin’ feed. Or at least not every time. As I mentioned before I completely understand lacking time to comment on every single post you read. As much as I wish I could and want to it’s not realistic when there’s way too much going on in every day life already. Still, how would we as bloggers know which [parts] of our posts you enjoyed if we didn’t let each other know? It’s a win-win because if you let the author know what you like they will [likely] publish more of your favourite content. You get what you ask for.

Flower

5. Write the kind of comment you want to receive

The easiest advice is really to ask yourself what you’d like others to say about your posts. Despite making commenting look like a science of its own here I think many of these points  are very natural.  Just that it’s so easy to forget our intuitiveness when we want to be friends with everybody and spread the news about our blogs.  There’s nothing wrong with that. Simply take a moment every now and then to walk a few steps in others’ shoes. Comment the way you’d like others to comment on your own blog or [if you’re not a blogger yourself] the way you’d like to converse in real life. Simple, isn’t it?

Happiness-inducing today:  Lunch out with my mum for the first time in forever. We went to our favourite small local café and had a delicious risotto with green asparagus and cherry tomatoes. Plus a good conversation – part of every good meal experience.
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No questions today. Just your thoughts on the topic with the one rule: no one-word-comments, please 😉 .

The secrets to great blog posts? [+ my struggles with them]

I’m still in disbelief of the enormous response to my recent blog post. If you’re a ‘big’ blogger you might be used to that happening on the regular but for me it was a shock. Albeit of the positive kind. The reason why I didn’t expect anything like this? This very post was probably the least edited and touched up I’ve written to date. All it was meant to be was a reminder to myself. A reminder that while recovery isn’t easy and I have ‘those’ days everything is better than falling back into old habits. Skinny can’t hold a candle to life.

Thank you

Thank you once more for commenting and sharing – and by that I don’t just mean via social media but sharing your own experiences and stories in the comments. It meant the world to me.

In trying to understand why the post went viral I noticed a few [apparent] ‘secrets’/reasons so they’re what I’ve been thinking about [and only now out loud].

Maybe it sounds ridiculous to an outsider – wait for it, I’ll explain in a moment – but my first thoughts were: How in the world could that post be my most shared, commented and recommened yet? Don’t get me wrong. The post, the message – it was 100% me and meant that way. But: I’d spent a fraction of the time I work on many other posts on it. No writing and re-writing it for days. Yet – maybe that was the secret? Maybe you related so well because it was raw, authentic and not me trying to meet any expectations of myself or anybody else?

Thinking-Out-Loud

Write just for yourself and like nobody’s reading. Like I mentioned above that post was written for a simple purpose. I hadn’t planned it nor did I edit much. It just came about while eating dinner on Monday night and looking back I honestly can’t see why I published it.

Keep the editing to a minimum. This one’s really hard for a perfectionist like me. But looking back at why some of my past posts didn’t feel like ‘me’ anymore once published and why the response was shy I saw: I’d out-edited my personality. If I couldn’t recognize myself again in these – how could any readers?

Don’t be afraid of speaking your mind. We can never please everybody else [old news, I know] but that’s actually what keeps blogging – or any kind of socializing – interesting. How boring of a world would we live in if everybody agreed with everything we said? No, thanks, bring on the discussion!

 

The reasons why I haven’t been following these rules in many of my previous posts? For one, I’m still not feeling confident enough in my writing. I’m not a native speaker and sometimes feel I can’t articulate the exact points I want to make as well as I would in German.

More so, however, there’s a worry that was implemented throughout my ED: the fear of not pleasing others or – worse – rubbing them off the wrong way. It makes no sense when you think about it. I want to be easy-going, speak my mind – and all too often let perfectionism hinder me. Realizing this now I could have published a lot more posts that are 100 % true to me – a peek into my drafts folder would tell you – if it wasn’t for my inner critic stopping me. Saying that somebody else has said it better before or will potentially do in the future. And yes, the pond of blog post ideas might not be endless so a topic we pick up could have been featured elsewhere before.

But it’s about the individual spin. No  two people and their opinions are exactly the same and not every of your readers will have seen that post about  [insert topic] by [insert blogger] before. So let’s be bold. Go out and say what we feel like saying. We’re writing for ourselves after all, remember? So that post I talked about recently? It wasn’t last week’s. But now it will see the light of the day. Maybe nobody will care. Maybe some people will disagree. It shouldn’t matter as long as it’s genuinely what I feel like sharing.

Dance like nobody’s watching. Write like nobody’s judging. It sounds pretty good to me.

Happiness-inducing today: Some good news on a day that overall wasn’t too amazing. It’s about focusing on the little things [broken record but true].

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Following along the spirit of this post and Thinking out loud: Speak your mind!