I'm back from a much-needed holiday break (well, I am still technically on break for another ten days... a blessing I am very thankful for). I needed a little time away from the computer to re-focus a bit, and I am feeling markedly better. Not ecstatic, or energetic, but better.
There's been lots of Christmas excitement around these parts, with parties, a trip to see the Nutcracker ballet, and of course tons of shopping! There is something really joyful about this time of year and all the generosity and giving and shopping for things our loved ones will enjoy. It was also the first Christmas in over a decade that I have been part of a church family, and that added a new dimension to Christmas that I didn't even know was missing. My daughter and I spent time with church friends, went caroling together, and bought presents for a needy child from the Angel Tree (which was very poignant for me, because my sons names were *on* the Angel Tree when they were little... so I know just how much this program can bless a family and how much it means to receive it). My daughter made an advent wreath that we lit each week, and we went to a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. I can tell you that this has healed me in a way I didn't even know needed healing. Some of the sadness is lifted, and I feel the happiness seeping back in. My kids and I decorated the tree, made cookies and fudge and English toffee, and played video games together. We all exchanged presents and it was so great to see my grown boys being so thoughtful about their gifts for each person. I really love my kids, and while I miss them all being little, I am also so proud of how they are as they grow up.
I did something, too, that I have not done in a very long time: I cooked all of our old traditional Christmas foods without trying to make them low carb or sugar free or more healthy or whatever. I have spent the last seven years trying to control every morsel of food that went into my mouth (and thus my family's mouths), whether I was successful or not. I long ago gave up my baking hobby; I used to bake breads, muffins, cakes, brownies and cookies several times a week, and you may remember how pained I was trying to give that up because it felt like a huge part of my identity. This year when I made cinnamon rolls from scratch, I recaptured that peaceful happy feeling I used to get while standing in the kitchen, kneading the dough. It's like a meditation of sorts. I've missed it. I made breadsticks and rolls and candy last week, too. Yes, the kids got the cheesy potato soup with long, soft breadsticks that they used to love as small children. They got the Skor cake I used to make for them every Christmas. My daughter got to lay the chocolate bars over the hot toffee in the pan to melt, just like her brothers used to do when they were small. All the food traditions came back this year... all of them. And while they made me smile and tasted delicious, that wasn't the main point. The point was, as Cloe says, to normalize food. To stop having panic attacks about "omg cinnamon rolls" and just get my hands in there and feel them and touch the sugar and spread the butter on with my hands and see them for what they are: a powerless, simple food. A special treat... something I am good at creating. And then to see that yes, I am also good at creating meals that nourish and are good for us to have daily. I also enjoy broccoli and carrots and Clementines. All of it is okay, none of it is evil, all of it is available to me, and I can choose to eat the things that make me feel best. Sure, my kids can eat a cinnamon roll or a piece of candy and it is just a treat, and they don't crave 500 more or obsess about them. They go on about their day. Me, I still want more and obsess so I know I have to be very careful about what I choose to eat. But you know, it just felt really good to bring back some of those food traditions to go along with the others we enjoy this time of year.
The days are getting longer now, and I've so enjoyed getting out in the sunshine on days that allow it. I've been using light therapy and vitamin D3 supplements along with my prescriptions, and I have this sense of what I can only describe as 'awakening.' Not a sudden, leap-from-your-bed awakening, but a simple feeling that I have been sleeping in the dark and now am stirring and opening my eyes to the morning light. I think that is going to allow me to get back to addressing the weight and fitness issue, because yes, I do still want to recover my fitness and energy, and also re-lose the weight.
I am grateful for the joy of Christmas and thankful for a new fresh year approaching. I'm so thankful, too, for all of you who have reached out to me in the comments and by email. It has meant a lot to me and given me hope in the darkest times. I think things will only get better from here!