Lessons learned from a traditionally untraditional Christmas

When life hands you limes an unconventional Christmas you can either feel disappointed looking at everybody else’s recaps of their celebrations. Or enjoy reading about those different from yours and see the marvelous parts and lessons learned in the latter. Needless to say I’m going with the latter today in sharing our very untraditional holiday.

MiMM_new

A tree is a tree is a tree. Not!?

Do you know the famous picture by Magritte? Because: this is indeed a Christmas tree. Yes. Anybody saying differently shares my initial opinion is highly intolerant or narrow-minded. This is a tradition I wish my family hadn’t broken for the second year in a row. While I approve of eco-conscious lifestyles celebrating Christmas without a tree just didn’t feel right at first. I will admit, though, that – once we’d sat down for dinner and “lit” it – our home-built non-tree tree did a pretty good job adding the necessary atmosphere to the room. Also, I can’t remember the last time my family had this much fun having a photo shoot in front of the tree. Or actually the last time we ever did that.

You win, un-tree, you win.

Christmas Tree

 

When your heart is full food becomes secondary

Okay, yes, I cringed a little at how cheesy this sounds but allow me to explain. So: Intuitive Eating. It’s the ultimate goal. The means that is supposed to help us eat without worry and … It also is really scary to me. I haven’t shared much of my [food] background on here yet. But what I’ll say for now is that I’ve never NOT struggled with food and at that finding balance is hard. Extremes I can do – either over- or undereating – but listening to my intuition? It’s hard.
Back to the point. We had a very late dinner and I found myself snacking yet never satisfied for long all day leading up to it. Worried about going way overboard. Yet once we sat down, shared the wonderful meal – obviously including Rotkohl – I felt calmed and at mostly at ease. Finishing dinner we moved on to gift giving and playing a game afterwards. No space for overthinking and worrying about what I ate. In fact, I ended up not reaching my calorie goal and eating past my point of satisfaction to reach my calorie target for the day later on. A relieving experience when going through times of endless hunger on the regular. It’s good to realize there are moments when food becomes a second thought only. So much so you forget to take pictures and have to recycle some … #bloggerfail.

Christmas Eve_dinner_Rotkohl

 

Expectations can ruin your holidays – but only if you let them

Oh, expectations … we love to hate them, right? As a huge fan of planning I do not take changes from the agenda lightly and if you mess with my plans completely – not cool. My family obviously did. When all plans fell wayside I could have let it ruin my mood completely but just relaxing and taking things as they came is the best attitude. Though I still think we should have at least played board games instead of Yathzee for a fair chance of me winning.

 

A short amount of time can still create a lot of happy memories.

Gifts_Geschenke_Christmas

As mentioned before our main celebration is on Christmas Eve and it was very much limited to it this year, too. My brother and sister arrived only on 22nd/23rd so the time we got to spend with each other was limited. Another one of those expectation crushed but we still got to share lots of laughs and moments of togetherness. The same can be said about a way too short but wonderful meet-up with a friend of mine. Sipping tea, catching up and then heading to the movies which proved that …

 

I’m a hopeless romantic.

Granted, this was no lesson learned or any news but my sneaky way of saying: watch this movie! I wasn’t expecting much and was more than pleasantly surprised by this dramatic love story set in 19th century England. Every woman needs a Mr Oak in her life.

All in all, my Christmas weekend wasn’t perfect but it also wasn’t what I was expecting both positively and negatively [am I making sense?]. Not everything I’d hoped for happened but it also surprised me in good ways. And I’m choosing to keep the positives at the forefront of my mind. Just iike we should any day of our lives.

And with that I’m wishing you a happy Monday!

Happiness-inducing today: Meeting a friend and watching above-mentioned movie. You really shoud, too, if you get a chance.

 

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Tell me about your Christmas and your favourite moments of it!

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! – Fröhliche Weihnachten! – Joyeux Noël! – Geseënde Kersfees! – God Jul! – Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas_source_photopin

 

While I won’t be around the blog world today – Christmas Eve is our main celebration over here – I wanted to wish all of you a happy holiday. No matter where you are, if the temperatures call for fleece shirts or flip-flops: I hope you’ll have a wonderful time with your loved ones.

P.S.: I’d appreciate you keeping your fingers crossed for me faring well in our board game night today ;).

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photo credit: Christmas_DSC2453 via photopin (license)

Embrace the Discomfort

Happy New Year!

Living in Germany I had an early start [nine to ten hours ahead, I think?] to most of you so it feels almost late to say it just now after sending a dozen greetings into the world last night already.

By now, Christmas was probably the time of the year that had me face the biggest struggles but also helped me grow. Christmas – the season of change?  It definitely seems like that for me looking back not only at the one that just passed but previous years, too. While I don’t make my recovery a focal part of my blog I want to share those experiences that I hope some of you will be able to relate to and might find helpful on your own journey. Because I know that’s what I appreciate in other bloggers sharing their stories, too. Thanks to Amanda [who has been a great inspiration for me, too] for offering a motto to go on about my thoughts and reflections of the past holidays and what I learned from them.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Both in terms of exercise and food Christmas has been forcing me to work against the discomfort in past years. But ever since I started blogging and at that also committed to recovery more seriously – key word accountability! – I’ve seen progress.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here: Christmas wasn’t easy for me. Partly because of some personal issues and partly because of – you guessed it – food. In the safety of my own apartment it’s easy to avoid trigger foods and stick with my regular [and yes, on stressed days “safe”] meals. Elsewhere? Temptation all around. Starting with the immense boxes of grandma’s Christmas cookies, her Rotkohl, my mum’s stash of treats I wouldn’t buy myself, … Here’s the deal: I could have tried to resist, eaten piles of apples only, deprived myself. Been there, done that. It’s easy to say where this behaviour has gotten me during the past: nowhere. Stuck in place. Not facing my fears.

Christmas_cookies

What many of the treats around had in common and hence a reason why I was perfectly okay saying no to them is they all contained eggs. As you might kn0w these are not part of my diet. Select dairy products [no gelatin, no animal rennet] yes, eggs: no. No exceptions here. Until now.

They say ‘When in Rome’ – for me it was: ‘When at home‘. For the three days of Christmas celebrations I gave myself a free pass of eating all the treats and sugar I wanted. Did I feel I afterwards? Oh yes. Stomach aches ensued – that’s what’s to be expected when reintroducing a food we haven’t eaten in years – but they were worth it. What was best, though, is the amount of guilt I felt: hardly any. At least not while eating.  Later on I had a small bout of nausea and blaming myself for not resisting temptation.  However, this wasn’t my … voice. What I feel to be one of the main points in recovery is telling apart the healthy and disordered voice.  Blame for giving yourself permission to fully enjoy the holidays or even life in general? Without a doubt disordered. Like me, I’m convinced you’re SO fed up adhering to these thoughts.  And the only way to break the spell is embracing discomfort.

Do I see myself adding eggs back into my diet after going [rough guess] three+ years without them? Absolutely not. The idea anything with a visible egg yolk still grosses me out [sorry to any friends of #yolkporn], egg white oats don’t appeal to me and I don’t actually miss eggs. But it was the deprivation of some of my favourite treats that was so hard to endure. Any diet we follow should not make us feel constantly deprived and unsatisfied. And satisfied I was after eating my grandma’s cookies, seeing her face light up when I did and enjoying seconds of the calorie- and sugar-laden delight that is cinnamon parfait was invaluable. Christmas should not be about the food but about the ease of mind while eating. That’s what pushing myself past the guilt of straying from my diet did. I felt guilt-less, happy, simply like everybody else scooping more of the ice cream into their bowls and enjoying the sugar rush.

Cinnamon parfait_ice cream

Not the prettiest picture at all but it was THE best dessert I’ve eaten in a long time.

I went over my ‘calorie budget’. I ate more sugar in a single day than I usually do in a week. I indulged in egg-containing treats.  Does this make me an awful person?  Some people might think so. However, I disagree. Reminding myself common advice doesn’t apply to anybody in this situation as well as – blogs are a blessing –  knowing this is normal in recovery I found ease of mind.  This is not me waiting for a pat on the back. I’m not the first breaking free from rules my ED had set for me. I want to encourage anybody to rethink if the choices they are making are genuinely in the interest of feeling good. Or a means of restriction.

What I want to stress is that I don’t in anyway think veganism was a disorder.  It’s not. Like any diet veganism can be as healthy or unhealthy as the individual follower choses. My issues with food go deeper. Neither did choosing veganism start my ED  nor was giving up on it the miraculous cure. I still eat a largely vegan diet and can see myself go fully vegan in the future.  But I want it to be for the right reasons. Namely ethics [that’s why I’m lacto-vegetarian] and taste.  Veganism has introduced me to many new foods, inspired my creativity in the kitchen and connected me with a great community of like-minded people. And really, this isn’t about the diet we choose. Just like eating disorders aren’t actually about the food but identifying the underlying reasons and working on those.

Wow, this got a lot longer than planned so I’ll finish it here. Way to start 2015 on a wordy note.

Happiness-inducing today: Excitement for what’s to come in the new year. This could be one filled with changes and I’m learning to embrace the unknown.

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That time there was no Christmas tree [Holiday recap]

Now what was that?? I don’t know about you but I can never believe how quickly Christmas passes again year after year. Within the blink of an eye it’s back to the daily grind of non-festiveness. Before that all rolls in, though, how about a marvelous little look back at Christmas 2014? Celebrated the untraditional way as you’ll see in a minute.

MiMM_new

Even for my family’s already unusual standards this year turned out to be a brea. Aside from maybe a few years during my [earlier] childhood* I don’t think my family ever had what would be considered a ‘classic’ Christmas celebration. Starting with a first glance at our tree

Tree top_Christmas 2014

* I still consider myself a child because as long as we have parents that’s what we are, no?!

One thing that remained the same, though, was our traditional dinner on Christmas Eve.  Thank goodness. Missing out on grandma’s Rotkohl would have legitimately broken my heart.  I mean it.  The obsession is so strong I couldn’t wait but have a bowlfull the minute we arrived at my parents’. There was more than Rotkohl on the menu, though. Semmelknödel [that my mum actually prepared the vegan way using soy flour in place of eggs as per my suggestion – she was a fan], potatoes, a vegan seitan roast my sister made from scratch, brussels sprouts and obviously dessert. But that one comes with a slightly deeper background story that I’ll share on Thursday for my next time thinking out loud.

Christmas 2014_dinner

I feel we need a little close-up of the Rotkohl goodness because it truly is the best. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my grandma to write down the recipe to share on the blog because she’s a little secretive about it and never prepares it the same way. Her cooking style is the classic grandma way: some of this, some of that and, oh hey, let’s add that jar of homemade jelly, too.

Holidays_2014 004

Untraditional was our tree. Now here’s the big change and major shock to me: we didn’t have a Christmas tree. Or not an actual one. Do you remember what I said about my family’s stance on fake trees? I’m not sure into which category this one would fall. Without my knowledge my parents and sister had decided to go a different route this year  [and possibly those to follow?!]. Say hello to our environmental-friendlier tree!

Christmas tree_2014

My grandpa, sister and mum built it using old ply woods and tree branches they cut or found in the woods. It was hard to get used to the idea for me but once lit in the dark room it worked a charm at lending at least some of the traditional Christmas cheer. First blogger fail here, though, because I got no proper picture of the lit tree.

Christmas 2014_elks

Traditional, however, was our family walk. Workouts fell wayside for me most days in favour of spending quality time with my relatives.  It used to be a major stressor for me in past years. But – maybe due to seeing everybody even less in between – I focused on enjoying the days getting in exercise when I could but not fretting about missing a day or two. And definitely not cutting back on food. It’s a short time of the year only after all and I knew my answer to any ‘healthy’ holiday advice telling me to up my exercise if I wanted to indulge. Thanks but no, thanks. That’s not what the holidays are about.

Family walk_christmas

It wasn’t until starting to write this post that I noticed I failed at taking pictures of my gifts. In my defense: I hardly took a lot of pictures in general this year. Don’t you agree we capture most memories of family time in our heads and hearts rather than on our cameras and memory disks in anway?

One more thing: this Christmas – for reasons unrelated to its untraditional ways – wasn’t the merriest I’ve had so far. But I’m all for looking on the bright – or: marvelous – side of things and choosing what I want to keep in mind the most. And there we have it: a short recap of my untraditional Christmas in the countryside. Now let me know about yours!

Happiness inducing today: My sister for listening and offering a different and encouraging perspective on some problems I’ve been facing. It always helps to share what’s on your mind with somebody else – we don’t need to know all solutions ourselves.

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Do you approve of our untraditional tree 😉 ?

Tell me about your Christmas days!

 

What was your favourite

a) food

b) part of the holidays overall?

Where did the links go?

Hi and hello, blog world!

Usually, you’d find some of my favourite posts from the week here. This Sunday is a little different, though, because I just got back to my apartment [and at that my laptop] after spending the largest part of my week at my parents’.  Quality time with the family took priority over blog reading so I don’t have anything to share today. But the good good links will be back on Wednesday so be sure to stop by for some great reads. Until then find out about my year in blogging and share some highlights of yours!

Good good links

Now let’s talk about the holidays! How was Christmas 2014 for you? Big family gatherings? Intimate little get-togethers with parents and siblings only? Tell me in the comments! I’m always curious to hear about the different celebrations in between various countries and families.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Where do I even start? Despite some happenings taking away some of the holiday cheer I’m still incredibly thankful for my family and memories made during the past days.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! – Fröhliche Weihnachten! – Joyeux Noël! – Geseënde Kersfees! – God Jul! – Feliz Navidad!

Christmas Greetings_merry Christmas

Wherever in the world you are I hope you and your family are having a wonderful holiday filled with many hugs, maybe some snow (?), good food, gifts (not necessarily of the materialistic kind) and everything else you’re wishing for. Even if you don’t celebrate I still hope you’re having an awesome time!

I’ll talk to you again soon!

 

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