Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas in Germany

I have been to many countries across the world due to my very very very generous parents, but I have to say that when it comes to Christmas, Germany is the most magical place to celebrate it in. Every store is decked out with reds, greens and silvers; wreaths hug doorways and tinsel clings lovingly to rooftops, while Christmas music sung by deep, sonorous voices fills the brisk, fresh air.

Snow covers sidewalks and falls softly onto eyelashes, colouring the scenery in a hue of cold, glittery Wonderland. Hands are warmed by gluh wein or hot chocolates spiked with rum, while the soft laughter coming from cafe chairs warms the heart.

At night the Christmas spirit really comes to life as the Christmas trees that stand charming and cheerful in every city square are lit up, while the gold and silver lights than hang along walkways and link every building to one another are set ablaze, making happy faces even more beautiful in the festive glow.

The people are decorated just as festivally as the streets, the black coats lit up with colourful scarves, hats, gloves, and, most importantly, glowing cheeks and smiles.

We spent our Christmas in Hohenschwangau; sharing a bottle of wine at a gloriously garnished table underneath a Christmas tree, while a live band (the cutest married couple you ever saw) sung Christmas tunes; watching the snow fall just outside the window as Neuschwanstein was lit up and stood blazing against the black sky.

I think I fell more in love that night.

Not just with Joel, but with Christmas, kindness, and life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

finding yourself in anonymity

Hello my lovely readers, I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year.

I have to confess, I wasn't planning on blogging while I was away. The anonymity I felt as soon as I stepped off the plane into Germany was addictive, and it has been difficult bringing myself back to my life back home, even to send short emails to the people I love.

But internet access, a warm and cozy bed, and vodka mixed with mango juice by my side was too much of a perfect blog writing atmosphere to simply ignore.

Unfortunately I am not technology savvy enough to download photos from my facebook onto my iPad, then to upload them here, so I'll have to wait to share the aesthetics of my trip with you until I get back. For now I'll stick to the 'emotional' part of traveling.

Because that's what travelling is all about really, isn't it? at least that's what I've found. While it's lovely to see history before you, to experience other cultures and to eat much too much delicious food, the personal journey we go on is what really makes traveling what it is. It's the reason we save, the reason we anticipate, the reason we dream.

Because there is no better way to find yourself than to become completely annonymous in a new place. To have no expectations forced upon you; to find that you can be anyone and dream as large as you want without anyone to force you back to the reality of your life back home.

I don't really recognise the self that I left behind. I have found somebody new amid the cobblestone streets, lolly-flavoured houses and cold winter days. Amid the coats, scarves and hats; the snow landing on outstretched tongues; the hot chocolates spiked with rum and warmth.

That is not to say that I won't welcome back the me I left behind with open arms on my return, but I'll also bring back a small part, just a small part, of the girl I found here. I will take her courage, her hope, and the inspiration she found, and use them to colour my life in Canberra for the better.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

winter wanderlust.

I am totally in awe of Kaylia right now. And I mean that in two senses. I am totally in awe of what she's experiencing as she treks around my little patch of the hemisphere, but I am also totally in awe of her bravery. Sometimes, following your dreams and opening yourself up to new experiences is such a difficult thing to do, but she's doing it - and fearlessly so. There is very little I admire more than that, and very few people I admire more for doing it. 

And so whilst I'm hoping that I will one day be able to do the same, I thought I'd share with you my top five wanderlusts this winter - all European, of course.

There's Switzerland...

...and Prague...

...and Edinburgh...

...and Norway...

...and Paris...

...but then again, I kind of think Paris is worth visiting all year every year. It's such a beautiful little spot.

Where are your favourite destinations this Christmas?

Kaylia, my love, I hope you have such a wonderful time. I know you'll come back with some amazing and inspiring stories.

Merry Christmas, everybody! I hope you have a healthy, happy weekend and a wonderful, prosperous New Year!

...and if you'd like to pop over and say hello, it would be so lovely to meet you over on my blog, The Hummingbee!

- Becky x

(Picture credits: Switzerland, Prague, Edinburgh, Norway and Paris).

Friday, December 16, 2011

last post from Australia (until February)!

I am heading off for Europe on Monday, eep!!!

I’m going to try and update when I can, I would love to do a small post about each place. I also have some amazing bloggers lined up to do guest posts, which I’m very excited about. I have had a sneak peek at one already and it is so absolutely lovely.

I won’t be commenting on blogs while I’m away (Joel would kill me I think!), but I would love for you to pop over so I can share my trip with you . And please let me know how you’re going and keep in touch, whether on here or by email.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!!!


psst, the places I’m going, in not exactly the right order (I have the worst memory)are: Munich, Rotenberg, Neuschwanstein Castle (Christmas!), Salzburg, Vienna (New Year!), Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Heidelberg, Cologne, Bruges and Dublin. So if you have been to any of those places and know some great things to see, or great places to eat at, any and all info will be much appreciated. :) 

Friday, December 2, 2011

a post about blanket forts, chocolate, wine and naughty cats

I realised the other day that I have never built a blanket fort. Well of course, that had to be remedied. After looking up how exactly one would go about making a completely awesome blanket fort, and realising that there was the slightest possibility that it was maybe kinda doable in our one bedroom apartment despite the lack of blankets and space, I went home and set about rectifying my childhood that was sadly lacking in blanket forts.

And that’s why I found myself under a blanket fort with Joel last night; playing Clue, drinking wine and eating the copious amount of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups that he brought me back from the States. And while our fort was tiny and uncomfortable, and while the roof sunk lower and lower until our necks began to cramp, and while playing Clue with two players isn't nearly as satisfying as playing with four, and while the cats kept stealing our playing pieces/pencils/anything in sight that wasn’t edible and trying to eat them, it was one of the best nights that I have had in a long time.

Sometimes there is nothing better than releasing your inner child- however silly and impractical it may be. And sometimes it’s fun to get tipsy in a blanket fort on the 1st of December, underneath the sparkly Christmas decorations that make you so happy; while you pry small, inedible pieces of plastic out of your cat’s jaws and kick your husband’s butt at board games. 

What is something that you always wanted to do as a kid and never got around to until you were older?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

finding what I had forgotten to look for

Tonight, as I sat in bed working on some new short stories and day dreaming, a feeling of contentment settled over me. Not the kind of contentment that comes with the cool dusk light, nor the contentment that comes with that comforting sleepiness that settles in after a certain time. No, this contentment felt…tangible. Like I could reach out and touch it. Like I could grab hold of it and keep holding onto it until I felt strong enough to let go.

It filled me up, inflating me into someone more confident, more sure of themselves. More alive. I am almost afraid to fall asleep, lest my grip loosens and it dances away. But I have a feeling that it won’t. I have a feeling that on this seemingly normal spring night I found a small part of myself that I had been missing for a long time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Summer Salads

Today I want to talk about food. Okay, okay, I want to talk about food every day. Let me rephrase that: today I am going to talk about food.

It is summer here and summer here is hot. Cooking starts to seem less like a chore and more like torture. Sticking needles in your eyeballs kind of torture. Hence the need for quick and easy salads on the days where it’s either that or cereal for the fifth night in a row.

So here are two of my favourite salad recipes that are delicious, nutritious (see what I did there?) and actually manage to fill you up. Note: I never put quantities in my recipes, just go with what feels right.

Rocket Salad (recipe from my sister)

Sundried Tomatoes
Baby Mushrooms
Baby Spinach
Feta Cheese
Olive Oil (or cooking oil if you’re like me and are too cheap to pay for olive oil and can’t taste the difference. And yes, I understand that it is extremely unhealthy to do that.)
Lots and lots of salt and pepper

Mix together in a big bowl. Ta-da!

Tofu Salad: Recipe and picture from here. It is modified a little bit because I am lazy and these ingredients are easier to get. But they include how much of each thing you should use, so head on over if yalikethatsortathing.

Tofu (I like to use Chinese soy tofu because it is smothered in soy sauce!)
Carrots (cut however is easiest because I can’t julienne anything)
Bean sprouts
Baby Spinach
Soy Sauce (lots! Nothing like getting your weeks worth of salt intake in one easy hit)
Kepis Manis
Sesame Seeds (it says to toast them, but who wants to spend time doing that?)

Mix together in a big bowl.

And there you have it, my favourite salad recipes for summer. Just a tip though: don’t eat them every single day for two weeks straight. You might not believe me right now, but you will get sick of them and your husband will say 'I told you so'...

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Perks of Being an Optimist

I wrote this about a month ago when things all became a bit uncertain. They sorted themselves out in the end but I thought I'd post this anyway :)

I used to turn down my nose at optimists. ‘They are setting themselves up for disappointment’ I would think, shaking my head.  I prided myself on my negative world view. ‘If it turns out badly, I won’t be too upset because it was expected’, I said, ‘and if it turns out well, I will be pleasantly surprised. Being a pessimist is a win-win.’

You see, I used to believe that optimists were those that always believed that good things were going to happen, no matter the odds. But now I see, by looking at the people around me who are always cheerful and always smiling, that optimists are really those that make the best out of any situation.

Which is an amazing trait to have. Because I often find myself unable to cope when things don’t turn out that well, unable to see how it could possibly be a good thing. But lately I have made a concerted effort to see the silver lining.

Right now life is sort of ‘up-in-the-air’ for me. Things may be changing suddenly; things that we have built up over the years may fall down into a mess of dust and rubble. And when I first heard, all I could think of was all of the horrible things that may come out of this. Granted, it is not a good situation, but nowhere near to that catastrophe that it could be were I simply to make it so.

But here’s the thing: A pessimist would look at this as a disaster, as I did initially. But an optimist would see this as an exciting new opportunity. So I have decided to join their camp. Because if I think about it as an opportunity I am lucky to have, well then I am so much more likely to turn it into something wonderful, rather than sitting in a puddle of self-pity until it all magically fixes itself again.

Optimism means making the most of what you have. It means looking around at all of the wonderful things in life and being thankful that they are still there, rather than drowning under the weight of losses that is inevitable in life. It is approaching change with smile, and a sunny up-beat attitude, ready to turn whatever you are handed into the very best that you can.

I am not sure what is going to happen over the next few weeks. But I know that no matter what it is, I am going to approach it with the most positive attitude I have, and make the most out of the changes that are sometimes forced on us.

An optimist is one that relies on themselves, and knows that that life will always be good because they will always make it so. A pessimist is someone who expects the worst, and makes no effort to change it or take any responsibility for it when it does.

After looking at it that way, I see my earlier thinking was flawed. From now on it’s optimism for me all the way. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Why I Love Holidays (aside from the obvious)

Do you know what I love most of all about holidays? Just how completely ridiculous they are. I mean really, who came up with the idea to decorate a pine tree in baubles and leave it in the living room? Or to eat chocolate in the shape of rabbits? Or to dress up in scary costumes and go to people’s homes and demand that they give them candy?

Like I said, ridiculous. BUT that is what makes them so fun!

Take Tuesday for example. It was Melbourne Cup Day in Australia. Basically it’s a horse race for all of the Australians that don’t bet on horses and don’t particularly give two hoots about any of it. But on this one day we all wear fascinators, drink a lot, bet on horses, and then proceed to yell in excitement when the race comes on.

Holidays are the one time when even the grumpiest of adults joins in the fun and celebrate for no good reason other than that they can. As a country, sometimes even as a world, we throw up our hands and act like the most excitable of children.

And that is what I love the most. The sense of community. That unspoken agreement that on that day we are unrestrained by time and deadlines, that we are free to be happy and in love with life without the guilt that, sadly, so many people seem to feel.

I think that if the holidays weren’t kind of ridiculous; weren’t filled with glittering lights, strange traditions passed down through the ages, and food in odd shapes; that they wouldn’t be nearly as special. Because if the world can celebrate things like this with so much gusto? 

Well then maybe the world is not so bad after all.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

learning a lesson the hard way

For a long time I have always been a firm believer that our happiness is entirely in our own hands. And it is, to some extent. But as someone who went through a hard time and got out of it, I felt like I had a right to judge people who were perpetually down.

You see, when I was a teenager I was a bit...dramatic. Okay, to put it bluntly, I loved self-pity like most my age loved candy. I made no effort whatsoever to try and be happy or to appreciate all that I had, and so I sunk further and further down until it took over my whole life.

I don’t like who I was back then. I resent who I was back then and I have absolutely no patience with her. Now, when I feel down, I jump on it quickly, stamping it out with gratitude journals, relaxation tapes, writing in the sun, breathing exercises, walks and time with friends.

But I forget. I forget that I was handed those tools, I forget that I didn’t find them myself. That it took years of therapy for me to be the happy person I am today. Yes, I work at it, but whenever a sad cloud comes I know exactly what to do. Only because I’ve been there before, and gotten the help I needed. Not because I am working any harder than others at it.

But I didn’t think about it like that until yesterday. Instead I went around pompously patting myself on the back for being happy, and judging those who weren't.

I realised how wrong I was yesterday though, when someone I love; the strongest, most giving person I know who has never wasted a moment on self pity; told me that they were sad. And had been for a while.
And it shook me to my core. I wasn’t surprised; I mean I had guessed it, deep down in that dark place you try not to acknowledge. But I couldn’t comprehend it. It shattered all of my previous views and I realise just how wrong my old attitude had been.

Being depressed isn’t weak. It doesn’t mean you’re not working hard, or are just ‘feeling sorry for yourself’. It means that you’re human. And sometimes life is tough. And sometimes we can’t go through it alone. Most people aren’t given the tools that they need to get through sad times, they don’t come naturally. It’s not an instinctual thing to be able to control your emotions effortlessly, or even with a hell of an amount of work.
Sometimes we need help. We need someone else to show us what to do to pull ourselves out of it. And there is nothing wrong with that. 

In fact, asking for that help? I think that it’s one of the bravest things that a person can do. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!


Normally I am not a big fan of this holiday, mainly because creepy things scare the bejesus out of me. I can't even watch anything remotely scary without having nightmares plague my sleeping hours for weeks afterwards. But, as I reasoned when it began to approach, a holiday is a holiday, and since I love holidays I have decided to learn to love this one.

And it wasn't hard. Pumpkin everything, lollies and chocolate in funny shapes, the Monster Mash playing out of most speakers, parties and dress ups? What was there not to love?

Plus this year I downloaded a list of Halloween movies for wimps, so I'll be treating myself to some non-scary fun for the rest of the week (because holidays should ALWAYS be dragged out over seven days at least).

So hopefully you all have a wonderful day/week full of fake skeletons, awesomely tacky decorations and scary(or not!) movies with your loved ones.

And remember: You're never too old to go trick or treating!

p.s. photos taken by my talented friends, not me!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

a weekend post :)

I don’t normally do any sort of life update or photo type posts, but these last two weekends were just so wonderful that I had to share. Due to the warm weather and clear sunny days we have been spending every second that we can outdoors soaking it up, which led to some lovely adventures.

The weekends included:
-performing at the Living Green festival
-eating yummy vegan peanut butter cupcakes
-walking around Florida (our annual tulip festival)
-walks around the lake
-reading under trees
-lots and lots and lots of BBQs
-early morning yoga
-birthday parties
-a little too much punch and cider
-a spontaneous trip to the Botanical gardens
-making friends with lizards
-dinner parties
-so many different types of salad
-tree climbing
-meeting lovely new people

...and lots of laughter!

How was your weekend?

Ps. All of the photos taken by my wonderful sister Bree (the girl in the purple dress)

Friday, October 21, 2011

living out your daydreams

Do you ever have those little daydreams in your head? Those little scenes that you play out whenever you’re feeling especially down? Those happy places that you turn to when everything isn’t going exactly as you planned?

 Like most girls who love literature, writing, coffee and romantic destinations, one of my sweet little daydreams is to spend a day in a Parisian cafĂ© reading beautiful books and writing beautiful words, maybe I’ll stop sometimes to simply sip my latte and people watch for a while.

But what I never thought about before is that a lot of my little daydreams occur right at home, in small, pretty Canberra.

 In winter during work hours I often gazed out the window and imagined myself walking around the lake, breathing in the scent of flowery perfume and maybe snapping a few photos here and there. On my days off this year I often pictured myself writing on a park bench in the green, cosy park in the city; rather than sitting in my bed with the electric blanket turned all the way up.

Every winter I have those daydreams, and even every summer. But while these places exist, are in fact only a twenty minute drive away, I have never actually lived them out. Last weekend I spent the entire two days outdoors, both in the garden of my parent’s house, and walking among the flowers at Floriade (the annual tulip festival here in Canberra). And I realised just how relaxing and lovely it is to spend time in the sun with friends and good food.

I also realised that I can do that everyday. And so I have started for walks around the lake with my sister after work; and even though I wore impractical shoes and she wore none, resulting in painful blisters (which, I’ll have to admit, was never part of any daydreams I have ever had) it was beautiful to do something that I had dreamed about during the colder months.

Today I decided to make my daydream about writing outside come true, and so I sit here writing to you on a park bench, surrounded by trees and the smell of summer, writing on my impractical laptop that I have yet to master, and living out my daydreams.

So today I challenge you to think of your daydreams that lie close to home: like sitting outside writing; getting a massage; or eating a family sized block of chocolate while watching chick flicks and not feeling guilty; and to do them. And then I want you to take a look at your bigger daydreams, the ones that may take a little planning, and go ahead and start the preparations. Life is too short not to live in our daydreams, no matter how small or big they are.

Ps. I wrote a travel piece for class that was published here if you haven’t had enough of my narcissistic ramblings yet...

Pps. I didn't take the photos, click on them for links  J

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bittersweet Melancholy

The beginning of spring, as beautiful as it is, comes with a price for me. Because as the flowers bloom and the wind brings sweet perfume dancing around my face, it also carries with it a bittersweet melancholy that settles into my skin.

It never lasts long and quickly goes back to where it came from, to hide in wait for another year; coming back a little heavier than it was the year before.

But it those few weeks I find myself dragging my feet, weighed down with lost friends and summers, memories of places that have never been as magical since. Weighed down with childhood dreams long forgotten and the person that I thought that I would be.

However this isn’t a self-pity blog. The melancholy is bittersweet for a reason. Bittersweet because while I miss them, I have been lucky enough to have these sweet memories than demand my attention for a short-period of time. And so I wallow. And pay them the attention they are craving, because they deserve that much.

And eventually I come to my senses and shake myself awake again with the reminder that there are plenty more bittersweet memories to be made.

And that I’ll have even more bittersweet memories to miss next year.

Which is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pick Your Battles

Until I was eighteen, I had a bad habit of letting people walk all over me. Anyone and everyone. And I would forgive them in a nanosecond if they so much as smiled at me. Once I turned eighteen I decided that this had to change. I was going to be strong. Confident. And I’d be damned if I was going to let anyone push me around.

But unfortunately I quickly swung in the other direction after that. No battle was too small for me to fight, nothing was too unimportant to let go.

It wasn’t until this weekend that I realised that maybe this was just as detrimental as my old childhood attitude had been. Because this weekend I found another battle to fight. It was simple thing, a not-very-big-deal-at-all thing, but I got fired up like usual, ready to make sure that I was not to be wronged.

But for once, rather than getting more and more fired up as time went on, a few hours later I just felt tired. Tired of fighting every single little battle that came my way.

It was time to grow up and wave the white flag. So I did. And while I had to give in to something that I thought completely unfair, I felt a million times better than if I had turned it into a thing. Life is too short to let people use or wrong you, but it’s also too short to fight every battle. It doesn’t make you weak; in fact, sometimes it takes more strength to swallow your pride and let go.

Sometimes you need to give in and move on. You need to save your strength for what is really important, and learn to take life and yourself a little bit less seriously.

Here's to choosing our battles wisely.


Friday, October 7, 2011

remembering to breathe

These past few weeks have been all about remembering to breathe. 

In. Out. In. Out.

Because I need new air. I need to let go of all of the now stale breaths that I collected over winter and let them flow out into the October rain. I need to cherish the new breaths that come in, roll them around my mouth and lungs, and remember the beauty that each new day brings if I am brave enough to appreciate it.

You see, last month I forgot to breathe. I forgot to let go of old wrongs and I gave into melancholy and bittersweet musings. I gave into panic attacks; short shallow breathing; and days spent worrying over the future so strongly that I forgot the present completely.

This month is about breathing deeply. It is about savouring every moment. And it is about focusing on the present, using my breaths to keep me centred.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

the power of listening

Have you ever gone to someone horribly upset and found that everything that they said just made it worse? I certainly have, and I have often found myself in the reverse situation: upsetting someone who had come to me for help.

I was terrified when my loved one went through a breakup last week. Absolutely terrified. Because I have never been in a breakup and I had no way of understanding what she was going through. And so rather than giving out my usual array of advice and condolences, I had no idea what to say to her. Nothing. What could I say?

And so instead, for the first time ever, I shut my mouth and simply listened. I listened to everything that she had to say, the stories that she told ten times not because she had forgotten that she had told them, but because she needed to tell them ten times. I nodded and smiled, hugged her when she needed it, and did not try to understand because I knew that I couldn't.

And I helped. At least, I think/hope I did. More than I usually do.

And it hit me. How eager we all are to put in our two cents, to bring up similar situations that we have been in and pretend that they are the same. Pretend that we have someone amazing insight that the person who is actually living it does not have.

When I am upset, unless I ask for advice, I don’t want. When I am confiding in someone, I don’t want them to start talking about themselves and acting like an expert about my situation. I want them to listen to me. That is it. They don’t need to say anything; they just need to listen in way that shows that they care.

So if your friend comes to confide in you, no matter how big or small their problem is, simply let them. Hug or comfort them if they need it. And let them know that they are loved, and that you will always be there for them.

Friday, September 30, 2011

lessons I learned from a romantic

Firstly, thank you for all for your wonderful comments. You guys are seriously the most inspiring group of people I know. In fact, I made everyone I know read your comments to show them how insightful and amazing you are, and they agreed!

And secondly, sorry about my absence. Someone very close to me just went through their first break up (and boy oh boy was it a nasty one. I don’t want to share personal details, but trust me, it was horrible), and so I have moved in with them for a couple of weeks.

Seeing her go through this was been just awful, but seeing her recover? Now THAT is amazing. This girl has been so amazing and strong about the whole thing; and considering I am the type of person to melt down when Joel gets the wrong type of milk or when I run out of shampoo, she has been teaching me so much.
But what she ended up really teaching me surprised even myself. You see, I am not a romantic. Not in the slightest. Neither is Joel. While we love each other (obviously; I’m not in the habit of marrying people I don’t love), it is in a very independent way. We have our own lives, as well as our life with each other.

And I hate to say it, but I judged this girl. Because she fell hard. She did not hold back. She committed to him completely, with every bone in her body. And I was not happy to see this. Because what if it didn’t work out? I loved her, and she would be hurt. And so I kept trying to warn her, to tell her to pull back just a little bit.

And I was right, it didn’t work out.

But she was okay.

And I realised that maybe I was wrong. Her ability to trust and love completely, without any reservations, is not something I should be trying to stamp out of her for fear she might get hurt again. It’s actually a gift. While this time she happened to give it to the wrong  man, one day she will give it to the right man. And that man will then be the luckiest guy in the whole world.

Life is too short for doubts. Holding back for fear of getting hurt could ruin something that could have been wonderful if only you had let yourself feel it completely. And yes, you probably will get hurt. No one gets it right the first time. But you will recover. And move on. And find someone worthy of all that love that you have to offer.

So everyone: Love as much and as hard as you can. Don’t hold back. Scream it from the rooftops (if you happen to be near one and no one else but your love is around...). And tell them. Tell them everyday. Let them hear it in your words, see if in your eyes, and taste in on your skin. And don't let an unromantic like me tell you otherwise.

ps. I am not in any way saying to put your happiness in someone else’s hands. I really believe that unless you’re happy alone, you can’t be happy with someone else. But this loving completely is a whole different kettle of fish, and one that I strongly encourage.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

a post about eating disorders

For those on here that don't know: I used to have an eating disorder. One that consumed me from the ages fourteen until eighteen. Anorexia Nervosa, to be specific. But I spent so long having to talk about it in the out-patient program, then to my friends and family afterwards, that I soon tired of mentioning it, and from there it didn’t take long until I tired of thinking about it as well.

But I saw a program on television a little while ago that brought it all to the forefront of my mind again. The program was like all others, trying to decipher exactly why people stop eating. The media is almost always blamed. The size of models, the obsession with looks, and the unhealthy eating habits that is often encouraged with articles like ‘I lost 6 kilos in 3 days!’ And I agree that this sort of attitude that is currently pervasive in society is detrimental. And I believe that it can contribute to people abusing food and their bodies.

But it is not the cause of eating disorders. I certainly never wanted to be a model; I found the whole idea shallow and quite frankly, boring. And I knew that I looked worse the more weight I lost, when looks from boys turned from interested to scared or amused at the sight of my now emancipated frame. The other girls in my out-patient program felt the same way. For us, it was never about looks, it was never about trying to be beautiful. It was so much deeper than that.

I went into the program in 2005, when the buzz surrounding the media hadn’t quite picked up yet. At that time the theory was that girls (the focus was mainly on girls; the theories surrounding boys were completely different) stopped eating because they were scared of growing up and developing woman’s bodies. But the thing is, yes we were scared of growing up, but we were scared of everything. We had looked ourselves in this tiny safe bubble, become more and more segregated from the outside world, until soon anything outside our bubble terrified us.

The theory that we were scared only of our changing bodies did not last very long, thank goodness.
And just like that theory is now null and void, the theory that the media causes eating disorders will soon pass too, and another one will take its place; one formed through studies and interviews conducted by professionals. But they will always be wrong.Because when it comes down to it, the answer as to why eating disorders occur is so much simpler than anyone would dare to believe.

Happy people don’t stop eating.

Happy people don’t starve themselves to the point of hospitalisation.

I was sad, and the other girls in the group were sad. This unhappiness could have been manifested in a variety of ways, such as drug or alcohol abuse, self-harm etc. But this was the path that we just happened to go down. Telling people with eating disorders to learn to feel beautiful, doing a lot of ‘love your body’ work, is simply fixing a problem on the surface. The reasons behind it all are much further down; outside appearance is just another issue amid a myriad of issues that these girls are facing.

Because of this, we need to realise that we can’t put all people with eating disorders into one box, with one idea for treatment. People are sad for a multitude of reasons, and we need to recognise this. Those with eating disorders are so completely different from one another, in a way that current theories do not recognise, and as such, need completely different approaches when beginning recovery.

But the first step will always be the same: Ask them why. Ask them why they stopped eating; ask them why they are sad. Instead of pulling out a textbook and making assumption.

If we recognise that each person is different, and adjust treatment to suit the individual, then the road to recovery may become a whole lot shorter, and we may be a whole lot closer to really understanding than we are at the moment. Jumping from scapegoat to scapegoat is not helping anybody, particularly those who need our help the most.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Monday Gratitude List

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments on my last post! I am all better now thanks to lots of sunshine, good food and wonderful friends (including you guys!). Because I am much too hyped up after a fantastic weekend and the excitement that warm weather and dress-wearing brings, I thought I’d write a little 'gratitude/what has been going on in my life these last few months’ list, rather than anything that requires too much concentration!

Things I am grateful for:

-warm weather! (in case I have talked about that enough...)
-tea dates with lovely people
-housewarmings and dress-up parties
-Europe in exactly three months from today!!!!
-Becoming a permanent staff writer for lip
-having a short story accepted into the annual anthology FourW (out in November, so excited!)
-my Masters course at my amazing new university
-family BBQs and that fact that they are becoming a weekly tradition
-my dog recovering from his leg surgery much faster than expected. He is now back to his happy, lovely self J
-being a bit silly with my savings and buying a Halloween costume and a one-piece 1950s swimsuit (I’m forever practical...)
-applying for a job as a Santa’s helper in the mall. Fingers crossed!
-getting into the NSW Finals of Miss Pinup Australia (it’s very silly and very cheesecake; filled with lots of petticoats, pretty dresses, and crazy hairstyles)
-The decision to save for a coffee shop with my sister and our friend (who is an accountant, which is very lucky for us!) So hopefully in less than two years we’ll have our own little business!
-exclamation marks!! (obviously!!!)
-date nights with lots of food and silly movies
-Canberra having their very first Christmas markets this December
-having tomorrow off with Joel (he’s had to work a lot of hours these last few weeks, so I am so glad to have him to myself for a whole day!)
-having five pieces of cake over four days. Impressive, yes?

Now enough about me! What wonderful things have been going on in your lives?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Space to Breathe

 Well this weekend, instead of doing something crazy, I got sick instead. While it put any and all things spontaneous out of the equation, it was actually really lovely to spend a whole three days recuperating, without having to do or accomplish anything. 

I feel calmer now than I have in a long time. I think I needed to get sick; my body and brain were both worn thin, tired to trying to do too much, trying to meet the non-existent deadlines that I place on everything that I do. 

Sometimes I forget to breathe. I forget that I need that space to just…be. To feel free, to break away from the bars I have shut myself behind and run barefoot in the sunshine. 

This weekend I gave myself time, that precious gift that we hand out like misers to ourselves. A little bit here, a little bit there, but not enough to buy anything substantial. Just enough to stop us from starving, from fading away completely. 

But this weekend I slept in for twelve hours each day, making up for weeks of early mornings alarms after late nights. I let myself lay in bed for hours after waking, reading books and snuggling under the blankets, listening to the rain outside. 

Sometimes we need to get sick, to appreciate just how important it is to take that unnecessary guilt away from our everyday lives. How vital it is to our very existence. You can’t be happy if you need to account for every second spent.

 From now on, I’m going to spend my time however I see fit; sometimes yes, I’ll be a miser, but sometimes I’ll spend every second that I have without worrying about the consequences, about the things that aren’t getting accomplished. 

Because that space to breathe, and the peace that comes with it? 

That is priceless.