It’s been a while since I did a week in pictures. Mainly because I have not been doing anything all that exciting. I have had a few family dos of late, so I’m doing a share.
First up was my youngest nibling’s first birthday party. The first year of these baba’s life has gone at lightening speed. They have been an absolute delight from day one and continue to be wee darlings. They are now very much on the move, starting to find words and full of fun. Their party was lovely. The babies enjoyed their new toys, grown ups enjoyed a cuddle and bigger kids loved running riot.
Following on the family fun theme I had a gorgeous Easter lunch with my Mum, Sister & her boys. My sis made a superhero afternoon tea with plenty of vegan friendly options for me. The boy opened some Easter gifts and then we set off to his swing park for a bit of carry on.
After all that activity, I required a wee bit of rest. I had a quiet few days at home. Wore my comfies, tried to finish some work and painted my nails. I also had some yummy comfort food & bought Bronan some new catnip, which went down well. Strangely it also increased his paper fascination.
Thursday brought some Auntie time. My sister needed me to watch the boy for a few hours in the morning. This worked out perfectly as it gave him an opportunity to try out the blocks that Geomag* kindly sent me. I had intended to get a few of my littles to try them out, but this boy fell in love with them. He played all morning, took them home to play all afternoon too. The Magicubes are magnetic blocks that connect and hold on all six sides, meaning kids can build anything with them. I’ll definitely be buying more for the rest of my nibling gang.
I finished off the week with blood boost. A transfusion can be a nuisance, but necessary. Ultimately I am very grateful to have access to the medical care I need. Plus it gives you a good excuse to stay still and listen to a podcast all afternoon. I came home to huffy cat (annoyed that his dinner was late) & a lovely sunset. Not the wildest Friday night, but I’ll take it.
Of late I have been bothered by much of the therapy speak I see cropping up everywhere. I’ve always been slightly irritated by the therapy buzz words, but it used be reserved to certain arenas. Now it feels impossible to get away from it. Some are impenetrable, some misapplied and some a little stupid. So, come with me in a little therapy rant.
Sit with it.
The ‘it’ being emotions. I doubt there is anyone who has ever sought mental health treatment who is unfamiliar with this phrase. I have been advised to ‘sit with’ all manner of feelings. I’ve never been entirely sure what this means. Nor has any explanation ever satisfied me. Let yourself feel it makes sense if you are actively avoiding emotions. I used self harm, disordered eating and occasionally alcohol to block emotions that I wasn’t able to deal with. However, when I moved past avoidance it was still the guidance I was given. When I was ready to acknowledge and tackle those feelings I needed more. ‘Let yourself feel it’ is redundant. I am feeling it; that is the problem.
Once you are sitting in all that emotion you will often be advised ‘not to judge it’. Just feel it, they’ll say. Well, I’m sorry, that’s impossible. I have already judged it. Judging is a prerequisite for finding something problematic. The judgement is automatic. More than that, it’s involuntary. The minute I find the emotion unpalatable it has been judged. I came to the (sometimes correct) conclusion that perhaps what these therapist meant was don’t judge yourself for having that emotion. That makes sense, I can work on not attaching negative connotation to what I feel or how uncomfortable that makes me. I can even get on board with attempting not to label specific emotions intrinsically negative. I’m not convinced, but I do see how in some cases that could be fruitful. However, removing the intuitive I DO NOT LIKE THIS just doesn’t strike me as a realistic goal. If I were able to control my brain in that way, I wouldn’t have a problem.
Let it go.
Feel it and then let it go is definitely the aim. I’m not sure it actually counts as advice though. I know that getting stuck in difficult emotions is not good for me. What I need is help learning the way out if that. Restating what I should do is not helpful. I know the problem, I am here because I am looking for answers.
Many years ago when I first experienced therapy the inner child thing was kind of a joke. It never came up. Of course therapists talked about childhood experiences & being compassionate to past versions of yourself. However, a psychologist would never say the words ‘inner child’. Now it is everywhere; from woo woo spiritual healers to actual trained therapists. I’m sure it applies to some people, but it’s just not relevant to me. My inner child is a ok. I had a remarkably lovely childhood. I was loved, appreciated, supported, safe and very well taken care of. My ‘inner child’ is probably the healthiest part of me. I’m not carrying any painful scars from childhood. So, I have found it incredibly frustrating that everyone and their granny wants me to get in touch with my inner child and heal her. Even when I proffer my history and explain that my upbringing is not a problem area, I am still pressed to explore it. I don’t know how or why this happened, but I really don’t love it.
This is another one that totally has merit in the right situation. There have been times when I have been scared of touching memories and emotions that made me feel vulnerable. I did need to work through that. Being vulnerable can be frightening, but it is also necessary. I would argue that engaging in therapy is already submitting to vulnerability in many ways. The showing up is a great first step. However, the canonisation of vulnerability has gone too far. There is definitely a time and a place for vulnerability. We can’t and shouldn’t always expose weak spots. We live in a fairly brutal capitalist society and being completely honest about your vulnerabilities will not serve you in many situations. People will take advantage, they will bypass you based on their perception of that vulnerability and many folk will judge you. Still I hear professionals who really should know better urge everyone to embrace their vulnerability throughout their life. It drives me crazy; we need to protect ourselves. Let yourself be vulnerable in safe spaces only.
Am I just jaded? Or do you feel frustrated by these therapy catchphrases? Maybe you have your own therapy pet hates. I would love to know your takes.
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If you have been eagerly anticipating the second part of holiday escapades, today is your day. When last I left you I was chugging out of Munich. So, let’s get going on magical Salzburg.
Our trip was a 70th birthday present for my darling Mum. Her favourite film is The Sound of Music. She never tires of Sister Maria and all the Captain’s children. Thus our (& now the grandkid’s) childhoods overflowed with edelweiss & doe a deer. Mum has talked about visiting Salzburg forever, the big 7-0 seemed the perfect opportunity to take her there. Purpose explained it won’t surprise you to discover that we stayed in the hotel where they filmed the movie.
Schloss Leopoldskron was a dream. Everything about the hotel is luxe. The rooms are gorgeous, the views are breathtaking and you have breakfast in a ballroom.
The hotel is gated. When you arrive it feels like you have entered a secret world. Wandering around the grounds I grew up watching on screen was so lovely. Sound of Music aside, it is a beautiful place. The grounds sit right on the river, looking out onto the most picturesque mountain scape. The only sounds are the ducks & geese on water. The air feels fresher. It is a wonderful spot for a complete escape from real life.
The hotel (& Salzburg in general) aren’t big on the film connection. It wasn’t a hit in Austria for various reasons & the hotel is keen to focus on its links with Harvard. That doesn’t take anything away from the experience if you are a fan.
Since we are fans we booked The Sound of Music Tour. As it was a special trip we opted for the private tour. It was expensive, but felt it was worth it. The hotel doesn’t grant access to the tours, so if you aren’t staying you can only see the captain’s house locations from across the river. We were very happy to have had access to those spots, but there is still plenty more to see. Our wonderful guide, Alenka knew everything there was to know about the film & the city. She led sings songs on the drive out to the mountain locations & made the experience a total delight.
All of the locations on the tour were accessible. The group tour is on a coach, which would present accessibility problems. Our hotel had great accessibility; lifts in both buildings, wheelchair accessible entry and adapted bathrooms (on request). On the Covid front I felt pretty safe the entire trip. Masks were mandated indoors and we had to present our vaccine passports to enter any premises.
The final chapter of my holiday saga will be coming soon & it includes a castle.
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If you are at all interested in dismantling diet culture you will be aware that new government legislation regarding calories on menus has now come into force. The legislation is part of the government’s plan to tackle ‘obesity’. Whilst I have a lot to say on that larger topic, I’ll stick to the calorie information for now. It will come as no surprise that I am not in favour of this development.
As a fat woman who spent years of my life embroiled in yo-yo dieting I know how dangerous constant calorie counting can be. In the depths of my disordered eating I was obsessed with calories. They were my enemy and required constant monitoring. I had calorie based rules for everything. Limits for every meal and limits for the entire day. If I was going to drink alcohol I wasn’t allowed any food. I counted the calories burned during exercise in an attempt to cancel out what I had consumed. I knew & counted the calorie content of everything; a smint, a grape, a sip of wine. Calories were omnipresent. It was an exhausting battle against my body’s basic needs and I was miserable. My quest to be thin damaged me, physically & mentally.
I’m not the only one nor am I the most severely impacted. We live in a world that is constantly reinforcing the message that smaller is better. Putting the calorie content of every item in every menu only compounds that. It won’t encourage ‘healthy eating’, everyone already knows what foods are full of saturated fat. What it will encourage is distorted view of what a healthy lifestyle is. It will support the diet culture narrative; fewer calories are better. Looking at the numbers every time we go out to eat will reinforce an unhealthy relationship with food. People will feel guilty for ordering the dish they want. It’ll trigger obsessive thoughts and behaviours in those who are dealing with or have experienced disordered eating. It will cement the connection in the collective mind between health and calorie control.
I posted about this legislation on my Instagram stories today and have already received multiple messages from people who have been distressed by seeing these menu additions. These are people trying to claw back control of their eating. People who have worked hard at ignoring that voice in their head telling them what they can and cannot have. They’re scared. Genuinely frightened of how they feel when they see signs telling them how many calories an adult shout eat in a day. Worried about the thoughts the calorie count on their coffee provokes. This isn’t a surge towards a healthier society, it’s a huge step backwards.
The problem with this move is the thinking from which it stems. Our government is telling us that being fat is a problem. That fat people are a burden we must shift. That isn’t true. There is no proven way to permanently make a fat person thin. Diets do not work; within 5 years 95% of those who intentionally lose weight will regain all they have lost and more. Calorie restriction is not sustainable. More over, it is not good for you. It ignores the intersections between weight and poverty & disabilities. Not to mention the impact of medical weight stigma on the health of fat patients. There are many lifestyle changes a person can explore if they want to improve their health. Focusing entirely on calories and weight loss is not one them. Health and weight are not intrinsically linked. Adding the calorie content to menus is dangerous. It sidesteps the issue of public health and props up stale old diet culture tropes.
I am not a doctor or an expert. I am merely an informed former victim of the diet industry. I am a fat activist and as such I can see that many people may dismiss me as having an agenda. With that in mind I point you towards the following resources.
I returned from my German speaking adventure a week ago and am only now in possession of the spoons to tell you all about. I had such an amazing time that I wore myself out entirely.
We started with a few days in Munich. We got unbelievably lucky weather wise. The sun shone every single day. It was so warm that I wished I’d brought less cardigans and more floaty items. Don’t worry, I still put together some excellent outfits. We also saw many excellent sights and had a grand old time.
Our first stop was Munich’s old town hall. It is an incredible building located in a square full of beautiful architecture. The boy loved all the gargoyles and crazy creatures sculpted in stone. We enjoyed the sunny square whilst we waited for town hall clock to do its thing. Its thing was worth the wait. At the stroke of noon court characters began to dance and play the organ high above us. Royalty, drummers, jesters and even a joisting match spun above us as the gold clock glinted in the sun.
Just around the corner from the town hall is Munich’s old fruit market. These days the stalls have a variety of wares; hand made crafts, flowers, cheese, fruit and plenty of beer. The market is also home to lots of drinking water fountains and my nephew adored them. You can take a 4 year old anywhere in the world and they will be happiest playing with simplest of things. Thus he spent many a delighted minute emptying & refilling water bottles.
After a wander around the picturesque market, with our handmade delights purchased we found a lovely outdoor cafe to sample some German yums. The boy selected authentic Bavarian sausages and munched the lot. His Mummy & I played it safe with giant pretzels. Gran went for a truly a delicious apple strudel. We were mildly pleased with ourselves for navigating the German menu with the help of google. Even happier to receive what we had intended to order!
We rounded off the square with stop at the the exquisite St Peter’s chapel. Although I am not Catholicism’s biggest fan, I do enjoy the beautiful architecture. My Mum, who is regular worshipper, took the opportunity to say a prayer. Meanwhile the & boy I lit a candle for our respective Grans. As we waited outside for my Mum the boy was overjoyed to meet a headless busker. Watching him come up with explanations for the man’s lack of head was exceptionally entertaining.
Our final stop in Munich was the Englischer Garten, an awesome oasis in the city. This park is the perfect sunny day outing. As you enter you can see people surfing on the man made river. The water moves so fast, watching folk brave the rapids is amazing. A few steps into the park there is the cutest little cafe, which we took advantage of. Refreshed, we ventured further and discover a fab play park for the boy to rascal. After a little rest for Gran and Auntie ly we continued on to admire ducks, pretty bridges and have a tonne of carry on.
Munich is a handsome city. There was so much more to see, but we only had two days. We ate lots of yummy food and found the people to be really friendly. If you can catch the city in the sun even better. Public transport is abundant. If you’re struggling (like I was) street taxis are all over the place and I got Ubers really quickly when he weren’t near a rank. It’s fairly flat city which makes it easier to walk. I also found most places to have good accessibility. I’d rate it a good city for spoonies to get around.
On day three we were Austria bound on the train. Stay tuned for the next chapter of the adventure.
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