Why “love” isn’t part of my daily vocabulary.

What this post is about? My thoughts out loud and running free [because it’s almost the weekend]. Probably cultural differences [tell me!].But first and foremost it’s a post about love – in a different way. One more note: this isn’t meant accusatory in any way. I’m a huge word fiend and believe that words have immense power. So maybe you think I’m a little odd for what I’m about the say. Just please don’t feel offended :).

I don’t love your new dress.
I don’t love that idea.
I don’t even love chocolate and you would really guess by how much of it I eat.

And I clearly don’t love McDonald’s. #sorrynotsorry

Why? Because I’m a conscious “lover”.  You’ll know what I mean in a minute …
We use love a lot: we love those shoes. We love mac and cheese. We love shopping. There isn’t enough love in the world and there’s too much. Wars, hatred and the likes represent a lack of love and overload of hatred. Yet – to me – saying or writing “love” too often takes away from its meaning.

Thinking-Out-Loud

The Black Eyed Peas wondered where the love was. My answer: maybe a little too present at times. What I wonder is if we love too much. Not like there was such a thing as too much love. But my love, for the most part, is shown through action. If I love somebody I will surprise them with treats, kisses or just doing them small favours [especially of the kind of household duties nobody enjoys]. It’s also a family issue: I haven’t once heard my parents tell each other or us as their children “I love you”. But anybody can tell they do love each other and I’ve felt as loved as any other child. That’s because they’ve shown us their love and still do.

The comparison is lacking but think of a favourite dress or bracelet you inherited and – if you’re anything like me – are reserving for special occasions. Just like this I personally find “love” too precious to use it daily. In fact, this might make me look weird but didn’t say the three magical words at any time during my previous relatioship. Granted, I’m also not somebody to date around a lot and I probably would have sooner or later. But as much as I’m a hopeless romantic I’m doing a Rory Gilmore* here and saving these words for when I’m absolutely sure.

Flowers_buttercup

*Gilmore Girls fans will remember Rory’s hesitation to reply to Dean’s declaration of loving her. These three words hold so much more power than the eight letters they’re consisting of would have you guess.

Words are powerful and maybe I’m overly sensitive when it comes to their meaning. But that’s the beautiful thing about blogging: we’re all different and get to share our opinion thereby opening up the conversation.Once again: these are obviously just my thoughts and I neither mean to criticize nor hurt anybody. Rather, I’m leaving this here to open up any takes you might have on the topic. The only “rule”: let’s keep the hatred out of the conversation, ‘kay?

 

Happiness inducing today: So. much. sunlight. until early in the evening. Spring is on its way!

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What are your thoughts on the topic? Does “love” have different meaning for you [i.e. sayng it to somebody vs. using it to express excitment about a thing]? Is there a cultural difference? Let’s get the conversation started!

 

Why you should blog for yourself and how to do so.

Ebb and flow, ebb and flow. Like I said that’s how my mind works in terms of blogging topics. Some weeks I can hardly come up with a single post and others inspiration almost jumps at me on every corner. The latter has been the case for this post which you’ll notice so let’s not wait any longer but think out loud.

Let's talk

We hear it all of the time as bloggers: first and foremost you have to blog for yourself. And most likely we rolled our eyes a little at least one of those thinking “tell me another story – everybody wants clicks and readers!” It’s one of the big [and hard to process at the beginning] lessons every blogger has to learn. Those frustration-filled first months of blogging when nobody will read and much less comment. Or only your mum, friends and relatives. I’d be lying if I said quitting hadn’t sounded intriguing at times back then. What ultimately kept me going was my passion to write and too many thoughts in my mind needing an outlet.

Now I’m not one of the “big” bloggers so can in most cases only talk from my perspective as an observing reader. But then again it’s for readers’ pleasure we write and even as bloggers we’re part of somebody else’s audience every day, too, so it’s a topic everyone can chime in on. Here are my [obviously subjective] ideas on how to fuse writing for yourself while also for readers:

Time and blog post frequency: Writing when you’re not feeling it doesn’t work. Plants, animals and humans all need water to grow and flourish. A blog requires its author’s brain to be a source of inspiration. If the latter doesn’t flow [good, enjoyable] posts don’t happen.

If you’re a mum, busy working in a full-time + job or lead a stressful life due to any other reasons post as often as works and feels good to you. Unless jobbing is indeed your job it should add joy not stress to your life.

Easter_flowers on the table

 

Product Reviews and sponsored posts: That’s something that occasionally gets me annoyed when visiting other blogs, at worst it makes me quit reading a blog for good. Let me stress that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these posts to begin with . Integrity’s the keyword again.
I get that a) it’s exciting when a brand reaches out to you for a collaboration or b) you’re a full-time blogger and depend on making money from your blog. However, there should be a limit to how many and which offers you accept. At least for myself I can say I’ll visit your blog less and less the more inauthentic product reviews I see. If your readers know you as a recipe blogger how in line with this image is promoting ladies’ hygiene products [aside from the fact you might be lady but never talked about these things before]? Or if you’re into healthy living but all of a sudden declare your life-long fondness of a popular brand’s sugar-laden cereals? #sponsoredpost

Recipes

Confession time again. This specifically has been on my mind for a while and was one of the reasons to write this post. It’s no secret recipes are what draws us to blogs. We all like to talk about and [I don’t like using this word myself but will replicate it due to popularity] drool over food. Knowing what’s popular in the healthy living blog world I was tempted to let others’ preferences lead my recipe creations and – for a second or two – considered if to get into that no-bake ball bite game. However, that wouldn’t be true to myself. I’m simply not rolling – literally – that way. As nutritious as they are I simply don’t fancy these and luckily there’s no lack of other delicious foods to create and share.

Cauliflower Nuggets_vegan

Blogging niches

Then there’s the other side: Let’s say you’re – like many of us – a healthy living blogger. Naturally, you deliver dozens of delicious recipes for flourless cookies, oil-free fries and green smoothies containing every superfood known to man**. But maybe you still enjoy a good cheese-filled enchilada casserole with – the horrors! – white flour tortillas once in a while. To post or not to post said recipe? Yes, yes and yes! Because while some people might be surprised to see this kind of dish on your blog there will likely be just as many [or more?] readers who are all up for it. Seeing that hey, that girl/guy has balance down to a pat, doesn’t let a label define her and is likely very fun to hang around.

The same would go if you’re usually a [insert niche] blogger but feel the urge to get your thoughts on a topic dear to your heart but not conforming with your niche out there. I’d say go for it because these posts are what truly shape our blogs to be a representation of who we are.

**please note I’m not actually hating on any of these foods. Mmmh, cookies.

In the end, blogging for yourself is blogging for your readers. Because they come back to find out what you think, create, like, dislike, your quirks and funny stories. Not for you pretending to fit into a certain mold of paleo/clean eating/smoothie drinking/running/lifting bloggers. What all of this comes down to is one statute will always lead any choices I make related to my blog – be it in terms of topics, recipes, sponsored posts or reviews:

Writing the blog I want to read. And I hope it’s one you enjoy reading, too.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: Another spontaneous after-work walk with my dad and winning another game of yathzee. Hello, lucky strike [not of the smoking variety].

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No specific questions.  Let me know any of your  thoughts on the topic!

 

Are you sure you didn’t accomplish anything at all?

Wise words spoken [or rather: written] by two wonderful ladies inspired this post reminding me to acknowledge all the little things in life. After taking part in Meg’s Week in Review these past weeks I’ve developed a new sense of seeing personal success. Not [only] in the big things – receiving the Novel price and the likes, you know  😉 – but the small, seemingly mundane happings that escape our memory all too easily. Let’s think [and talk] about that today.

Let's talk

 

But I didn’t really achieve that much compared to [insert name].

But everybody else is working out much harder. My easy three miles are nothing compared to [insert another name again].

If only I was an early riser like everybody else – I could get so much more done!

If only I’d prepped my meals like every other good blogger I wouldn’t have eaten out that often/spent so much on groceries.

 

That’s a lot of if, a lot of but and mostly a lot of not helpful. Sure, getting down on and being unhappy with ourselves is always an option. Usually the go-to option, right? Also the worst option as it feeds a vicious cycle of being stuck in the mindset of ‘never good enough’ = just give up trying in the first place because what you can’t change anything after all, no?

The truth is: yes, you – and I – probably didn’t achieve as much as the next person who’s juggling family life, marathon running, meal prepping like a pro and blogs six times a week along with working a full-time gig. But you might very well have achieved a lot for your own measures. It’s about first listing up and looking at what you did during the past week/month. What made you feel good and happy. And then scaling this list of accomplishments up with what you know is [currently or in general] possible for you. This one being my main point here but if you’re confused let me elaborate:

Maybe you’re struggling with depression. An eating disorder. Or simply are an introvert working in an extroverted business that makes you feel drained by Friday night.Or none of these but you’re just feeling overwhelmed by expectations. These obstacles are your heavy luggage in this game called life. I’d venture to guess most of us carry one or more of these around with us. That one big underlying issue or thing we need to face day by day along with any daily chores or jobs. Or even if you don’t have one specific  heavy luggage you could feel overwhelmed more easily than somebody else. And that is okay. Some of us are extroverted social butterflies who thrive going out with friends after work while others are glad to put on their PJs and Netflix [much needed me time] after work. Some of us can knock out 50+ hours at their jobs [yes, I know those people] while others are exhausted just thinking about that.

PJ pants_striped_bed

It’s about knowing the limits of what you can handle. While it might not be able to say no to every additional task you’re assigned or skip every social event that makes you feel anxious you being aware of your limits helps you see your achievements. Because if you did Don’t let anybody tell you taking care of yourself wasn’t an achievement in itself. I’m trying to not center this post around EDs but if you’re in recovery from one you’ll know that something as seemingly simple as eating every meal is a win. If you suffer from depression getting up is one. A friend of mine is dealing with extreme social anxiety. For her, going to a crowded mall is an achievement while it would be fun for me. We all carry our own little “packages” around and what’s an easy breezy walk for some might mean conquering Mount Everest for you. Breathe. It’s okay. Go at your own speed and if you decide walking the whole way is too much today you can still give yourself a pat on the back for trying. Making steps and staying on the move at all is enough.

Don’t measure your own days up to somebody who has a completely different character, living a different life and having a different background. Celebrate your personal wins.

If you’re struggling – with whatever it might be – at the moment the simple act of taking care of yourself is worth being acknowledged. Many times others will – intentionally or not – make you feel bad for not doing this/only doing that. The [unfortunate] truth is that if you’re burdened by any special condition [especially mental illnesses] outsiders won’t be able to see that what you do is a lot indeed when it’s not up to par with what the average Joe does. But: you are the only one knowing your personal limits. Knowing the amount of work you’re able to fit into a week. Knowing when you need to slow down and take time to recharge. Don’t get me wrong: This isn’t an encouragement for laziness. If you’re [mentally and physically] healthy yet still only lying around doing nothing and eating fries then this isn’t your excuse to keep doing this. For 99.5 % of us this isn’t the reality, though. We all achieve different things every week. And whatever it is that you’re putting your creative and physical energy into day by day: it’s worth celebrating.

 

Happiness-inducing today: An day that was probably exhausting but felt good. I’d have to write a novel to explain this so will leave it at this condensed version.

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No specific questions but just tell me whichever thoughts you have on this topic. I’m sure many can relate.

Why adopting a new diet attracts us so much in recovery.

Before continuing please know that I’m not hating on any diet and say this with a certain group of people in mind. Not every follower of the vegan/paleo/raw or a similar diet is necessarily eating disordered.

Recovering from an eating disorder is hard. Very hard. Especially because it means letting go, allowing the life and appearance you had to change.

I’m not making myself an exception here. Letting go of control is the biggest struggle for me. Intuitive eating is scary for the very reason it offers no set rules. Am I eating too much? Just out of boredom or could I actually still be hungry? Does that little occasional itch mean I should cut out [insert food]? Is eating x amount of fat okay?

It’s been said a million times already but bears repeating here:

Extremes are easy, balance is not. But what exactly does that mean in terms of eating and exercise? I’m no epert but here are my thoughts on a phenomenon I’ve noticed on social media for years.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Many people all over Instagram – yes, that one neverending source of post inspiration again – are following lifestyles like vegan, high carb low fat (HCLF), paleo, ‘clean’ eating, raw or keto suddenly feel amazing and shun their previous lifestyles. They could never ever eat [insert food] again. They have so much more energy and . And oh, yes, grains/fat/dairy/insert food not compliant with new diet never worked well for their system or appealed to them. They were the child that hated candy and sugar is the devil in anyway so they’re glad they never crave it.

All nice and well. It’s your freedom to post what you want. Only: I [usually] don’t buy it. While yes, for people with a healthy mindset any lifestyle can work well – recovery is different. Or not only that but anybody who went about exploring and following one of these lifestyles primarily for health reasons.

Bremen_Vengo_stuffed eggplant_March 2015

Any kind of diet comes with a set of rules, occasionally some sort of ‘guru’ or other role models with thousands of followers on social media to look up to and ask for advice. What you’re allowed to eat and what not. The macro balance to strive for. If you’re choosing one like veganism for ethical reasons it’s not should or shouldn’t but a conscious decision to abstain from certain foods for the benefit of animals and yes, potentially your own well-being, too. The problem is that there’s a fine line for anybody recovering from an eating disorder when choosing any kind of diet.

I absolutely believe it’s possible to choose a diet different from the one you grew up on after recovery. And yes, there are always exceptions. People who can change their diet in the midst of recovery and in fact suddenly find it easier to gain, tackle fear foods or eat out again. But I’d venture to guess this is the minority. Yes, I’m lacto-vegetarian and yes, that is what some people would consider restrictive. And also yes, I do second-guess my choices every now and then to make sure they’re not coming from a place of restriction. Though I’d been vegetarian for a few years before my ED set I still consider myself in a learning process as with many things in recovery.

It’s hard to give any final advice on how to determine whether or not somebody’s choice for a certain diet comes from a healthy mindset or not. My best suggestion would be to both ask question yourself and your choices regularly as well as having an outside person – at best an expert like a dietitian – evaluate your recovery journey. Which in itself is hard to judge as a person might be long recovered physically but the mind could take years longer to heal [so the “weight-restored” claim doesn’t say much]. A time when our environment deems us healthy but we might still be easily susceptible to any kind of detox/new diet.

Baked II

We want [food and life] freedom but the idea of letting go simultaneously scares us. Hence why we’re all ears the very second we hear of a new trend: intermittent fasting? Sugar detox? HCLF? LCHF? Tell. Me. more. <- the typical – occasionally unconscious – response [= clicking on the title of a post promising information before you gave a second thought on how beneficial reading it would be for you] of anybody who has dealt with any kind of disordered eating, is recovering from an ED, body image struggles or constantly trying to improve their diet.

Potential questions to ask or let somebody else ask you: Are you still consequently following the path of recovery you did before [i.e. trying higher fat foods, “unhealthy”/less nutritious foods], socializing more instead of using food as an excuse to opt out of invitations? Are you being flexible with trace amounts of, say, dairy if you’re usually eating vegan?

Like I said: I’m not perfect here, either. Hence why I also won’t change anything about my diet in terms of cutting any more foods out. Enough about me and my ramblings, though. I’m dropping the micro and am curious for your take on the issue.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: An overall good day filled with lots of smaller and bigger happiness-inducers.

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Once more no specific question. Just tell me any thoughts you have on the issue.

 

What to remember if you didn’t reach your goals this past year.

This might be my most spontaneous not-entirely-random Thinking out loud post ever. Originally intended in a slightly different way, the fact I didn’t get a chance to post earlier today [in my mind: at the only time fitting] turned this around with a new realization or better yet reminder. When I had to realize I wasn’t able to post in the morning I figured all was lost. I tend to get into this perfectionist mindset where I need to hit publish by [insert time] or else the chance is lost for the day. And with that my mood plummets a smidgen upon the realization that – once again [obviously overlooking the many days I did get post published in time] – I failed my own . Which leads me to the topic of this post …

Thinking-Out-Loud

 

2015 was a catastrophe.

Not my words but the ones by a lady I heard when turning on the radio the other day. Granted, knowing what exactly made her feel this way would have been enlightening but the radio show’s task for its audience to use five words or less didn’t allow for more. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the only one summing up the past twelve months in less than kind words. Which got me thinking.

Was my 2015 what I’d hoped for? No. But rather than consider the whole year a fail or lost I’m trying to see the positives. I’m not pretending this was easy every day but it’s worth it. Life is never just sunshine and while there was a lot of rain – to stay consistent with the metaphor here – I know the sun will shine stronger again. And never forget to see the silver linings. Even if there’s no way you can see the positives of the past twelve moments now remind yourself the past year was one wasted. Remind yourself of this:

You can still make your life worth living. You still have the power to create awesomeness.

It bears repeating: mindset is everything. Just like we’re told to see our diet in the big picture rather than fret about a few indulgences more every now and then life in itself is a big picture issue, too. Not to get too scientific here but with a current life expectancy of about … years even having one or two – though I do hope you can see at least a few happy moments in every day/month/year – won’t weigh too heavily.

On a walk

I refuse to consider 2015 a year lost. Despite the many sad moments I had, the frustration and thinking I couldn’t move on: it had its beautiful moments – many, in fact. I might not be where I’d hoped to at this point but that’s okay. We need to forgive ourselves and I’m not saying this with myself in mind only. I see so many people beating themselves up for slipping up in recovery, messing things up in relationship or not meeting their expectations in whichever area of life.

It’s okay. We are okay. We still have time to accomplish your goals. Whether it be in the next 366 (!), 388 or 460 days. There are obviously things we don’t get a second try at. In my life, in yours. But those again are the cases where we have to forgive ourselves and eventually move on to try better at the next chance we get.

flowers

If, by the end of January, you feel like you haven’t made progress in area x or y in life yet: it’s okay. See where you went wrong, learn the lesson and keep trying. Just don’t ever give up on yourself. Never.

And with that I hope you’ll have a great New Year’s Eve – as relaxed or wild as you please – and I’ll see you again on the other side … of the calendar page.

Happiness-inducing today: Winning a game of Yathzee when spontaneously playing wit with my mum. The fact she suggested it alone made me happy [she swears she didn’t like playing games].

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No specific questions. Just let me know how 2015 was for you or any other thoughts on the topic.

Hatred hurts. Where did the social [media] go?

Edited to add: As I got a few few comments and questions I wanted to clear up any potential confusion [sorry for that!]. Neither have I personally been target of any online bullying nor is my post exclusively directed at any specific websites or forums though I do see a lot [like the threats mentioned below] of it happening on Instagram.

Warning ahead: Certain happenings go me thinking again and there are lots of words ahead. Yet it’s an important issue I feel all of us have an opinion on or experiences with.

Let's talk

Faith in humanity. It’s constantly shaken aback by incidents that make you doubt its existence all over the world. However, it’s not merely through actual terrorism.  happening daily. Right around is in what is actually called $$ social $$ media but makes you wonder if some people leave their kindness at the login buttom or commenting form.

A few snarky comments aside I haven’t been victim of this very anti-social part of social media yet. But I’ve heard of and seen the reality of what is happening …

Gossiping and rumors.

Accusations.

Death threats towards people

The problem that can also be a blessing is: words are not just words. They’re powerful. Just like the unexpected surprise of a kind reader’s mail saying the enjoyed your recent post can brighten a bad day an accusing mail or overload of critical comments can turn said day even worse.

Think before you speak – the old rule applies still in the new age of social media. Or it should. Even if we disagree with others – and yes, I do occasionally, too – there are other options than hate. In fact, why not see it as a challenge and training for real life situations that enrage you: can you voice your criticism in a way that allows the other person a reaction other than tears and feeling hurt? A way that opens up a respectful discussion?

Truth is: yes, as bloggers we are opening ourselves up to criticism. But not all voluntarily. There’s no ‘social media light’ option: all the fun and community without the hate. If there was everybody would opt for that, thankyouverymuch. And: there’s [constructive]criticism and then there’s [hurtful]criticism. It’s okay if you can’t understand somebody’s choice and ask for their reasoning. But it’s definitely not okay to threaten to kill somebody’s dog [as seen on Instagram,yes] or the person herself [as read on a popular blogger’s media outlet]. Gossiping wasn’t cool in school and it’s definitely not on the much larger scale as the whole internet as your school yard. Or neighborhood.

Garden

In a food-centered social media world it’s not too surprising which topics leads to heated debates most often: diets. I’ll paint a slightly exaggerated picture for illustration of examples I actually witnessed:

If you choose to eat vegan/paleo/HCLF and talk about the amazing benefits nonstop you’re a superstar and have many devotees.

If, however, you do the above and suddenly notice you’re actually not feeling supreme anymore, hence decide to introduce a few non-diet-conform foods or – heaven beware – give up said diet for good: beware of the haters.

Once again: I talk about dietary-induced conflicts but the issue I’m talking about happens on a much larger scale involving criticism of people as a whole. Whatever you do and or/talk about – especially if you have a large following – you have to expect harsh criticism and bad rumors every minute.

What also makes me sad is knowing there are places/websites with the sole purpose of fuelling hatred and hurtful gossip. With the most popular one being the Lord Voldemort of the blog world I will not write out its name but I’m sure most of you know which forums I’m talking about. I’ll admit I’ve been reading up a bit every now and then there – curiosity always wins, right? – and became more and more disgusted. Like I said: criticism is one thing. But what these people feel they knew about others or try to find out borders on stalking. It is not normal to discuss somebody’s eating behaviours and doubt the truth of what they say or show. Not normal to make assumptions about a blogger’s family or the state of their relationships from a single picture of a few lines in a post. Not normal to discuss possble eating disorders or other illnesses of bloggers you don’t even know personally. Not normal to tear apart every post or comment somebody makes, dissecting it for some ugly truths worthy snarking about.

Everybody is entitled their own opinion? Absolutely, yes. But note the difference: everybody is entitled their own opinion not entitled unreasonable and endless hatred towards people of different opinion or living lifestyles you don’t approve of. But tnat is the reality of social media these days.

Candles

We’re all nosey, I get and admit it. But there’s a line to be crossed and it has been in many cases. Did you watch Mean Girls? It’s like that on steroids. Times ten.

If I was granted one wish for Christmas it would be for more kindness in the world. Or at least the world of social media. Especially as we know there’s a huge wonderful part of it, too. Let’s show the haters and the internet skepticals that love and respect still exist these days. We’re not that awful of a society and generation, are we?

 

Happiness-inducing today: Coincidentially receiving a letter from a fellow blogger. Call me old-fashined but real letters > e-mails any day.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Hatred, hurtful gossiping and even death threats: how do you experience this on social media? Share any thoughts you have on the topic.