beauty, Christmas, Foodie, mental health, Uncategorized

Christmas 2017 for me: everything from veganism to working in retail

Gosh. Christmas is over. It’s been a chaotic blur of working, sleeping, many cups of coffee and spending unrealistic amounts on my loved ones. But so what? It’s Christmas!

The New Year is heading our way and it won’t be long until retailers stock up on their next occasion’s merchandise (Valentines comes to mind). Time is ticking and that’s pretty scary. Where is life going?

If i’m honest, the rest of 2017 feels like miles away. I can only coherently explain the latter half (well, September onwards…) to myself in my mind and the other memories I possess seem surreal.

Anyway, this post centres around Christmas 2017 for me. I’ll be discussing all things disability, working in retail, gift buying and receiving, being vegan and much much more.

So, where to start. I think I’ll start with my first Christmas as a Vegan.

This year is my first Christmas as a vegan. Infact, I only turned veggie this year, too (after years of wanting to I finally took control without the sways of my family), but for the past 3 months I’ve been a plant eater, solely.

Obviously, that means Christmas was different this year. I’m used to Turkey, tempura prawns and pigs in blankets, but this year I choose compassion.

What’s more is my family decided to go out for dinner this year. We have always spent Christmas day at home but not this year (it was time to give my grandma a break from cooking). We went to a lovely place in Hartney Witney, but their menu didn’t even have a veggie choice since I’m sure it’s on a farm (sadly). When my granddad asked if they could facilitate for vegans, they asked me what they wanted. The chef didn’t really know the best way to make veganism Christmassy. We settled on a traditional nut roast and it was beautiful.

I had my own potatoes cooked without any animal or dairy based fats, and my own portion of veg (I admit, I basically just guzzled roast parsnips and sprouts). The place were so lovely to cook for me when i’m sure they were already busy enough. I was the only vegan, veggie even, person there*!

*My sister is actually vegan too, but spent Christmas with the other side of my family in Scotland. I believe she had a normal roast but replaced turkey for tofu.

The day before, as I mentioned in a previous post, I had a lovely Avocado and violife salad, but also had my own homemade pigs in blankets. They were made from Cheatin’ Sausages and Cheatin’ bacon. Vegan food that tastes like bacon is the best.

Usually at Christmas time there is a vast array of desserts; at some point along the process, said desserts are bound to have encountered dairy (in the form of cream etc) or eggs (meringue or something similar) along the way. I used to adore my yearly portion of Pavlov, but wit no real other substance to it than cream and meringue, of course that was off the cards. This year, at home (Christmas Eve and the latter part of Christmas Day) a Jaffa mousse was on offer at the table. As a huge orange fan (and Jaffa cakes’ biggest advocate, before I went vegan of course), I was totally gutted to have not been able to try this pud. The sheer beauty of how it even sounded made my mouse water. Another chocolate caramel cake was on offer with the world’s most beautiful mirror glaze. It truly looked like a galaxy and I was mesmerised. Regardless of my mouth watering, I do not regret my choice to be a vegan. I stuck to my Mango sorbet and Swedish Glace Vanilla (Soy, dairy free) ice cream and it made me very happy. Having sorbet for me made it a very guilt free dessert*. The next day I actually also had sorbet and a fruit salad at the restaurant. The sorbet was pomegranate flavoured and it was probably the most luscious thing I have ever tasted. I am currently craving more, so, so badly.

*If you’ve read my posts before you will know I struggle with food. This is particularly bad at Christmas time and always has been, but I refuse to let my mental ill health filter into such a post as here. The truth is raw and behind my general positive façade, still exists, but I generally don’t feel it is too relevant to this post (but may be happy to reflect on it in the future (that is very much dependent on my anxieties on talking about the topic). Anyway, I was, for once, able to enjoy a little dessert and feel a lot better about it (mostly because it had a certain light feel to it).

But remember:

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Let's talk about the 'make up for it' mentality so many of us have around food. You know how it goes: we spend a few days eating more than we think we should, indulging in foods we see as 'naughty' or 'bad' (spoiler alert: eating high calorie foods doesn't make you 'naughty' or 'bad'. Ever.) then to undo the calorific damage, we spend the next week drowning in guilt and restricting everything we eat. Thanks to diet culture, we see this behaviour as completely normal, even necessary. We're so scared that those few days of indulgence will show up on our bodies that we think punishing ourselves with crash diets and bullshit cleanses is the only answer. The 'make up for it' mentality is the only way to stop ourselves losing control over food, right? WRONG ❌Because AS SOON AS we start restricting, no matter how much we've eaten the day before, we send our brains the message that there's a famine, and thanks to our evolutionary survival instincts, starvation mode kicks in. When our brains go into starvation mode they will do everything they can to preserve our fat stores and keep us at our set point weights. Which means heightened cravings, lowered metabolism, and messed up hunger/fullness signals. Which is why restriction (aka dieting), almost ALWAYS leads to a binge – our brains are wired to protect us in times of famine. So if you're thinking about skipping meals, drastically reducing your calories, going on a cleanse or fast to 'make up for' Christmas – YOU ARE SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR A BINGE. Which is how the 'yoyo' dieting cycle is created. BUT if you try your best to listen to your body, eat when you're hungry, and fight off that food guilt, you will fall back into your regular eating pattern. Your weight will regulate to your set point. Your body might even send you the message that it wants some more nutrients to balance out all those mince pies, that's different to restriction and is 100% in line with intuitive eating, so listen to that! I promise, you do not need to punish yourself or your body. You do not need to restrict. You do not need to skip meals. You are allowed to eat today. And tomorrow. And every day after. Everything is okay. 💜💙💚🌈🌞

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Christmas dinner transformation photo 🎅🏼🎄 The first photo was taken before eating food, the second was taken after eating lots of delicious Christmas food, and the third photo was taken the next day, today, before eating 😊 I wanted to post this transformation to remind you that eating lots of food one night won’t change your body permanently!! It’s normal for your tummy to expand when you eat lots of food!! It’ll go back down the next day! Everyone’s body goes through these changes differently and that’s okay!! Eat what you want without worrying! Don’t let food control you. Don’t punish yourself or feel guilty for eating food, food is meant to fuel you and it’s meant to be something that’s enjoyed, it’s not meant to make you upset. So please don’t stress out and skip out on eating all the delicious Christmas food, do what makes you happy and satisfied!! Treat yourself, life’s too short to count every calorie and portion everything you eat. Don’t beat yourself up for eating unhealthy or eating a lot because you aren’t doing anything wrong, you deserve to be happy with your body and love it no matter what!! So please don’t stress about eating!! Enjoy your holidays with your loved ones and cherish the special moments today!! 🌴☀️ Ps: I’m Finnish and celebrated Christmas yesterday, that’s why I already had my Christmas dinner ☺️ —————————————— . . . #christmasdinner #bodyposi #loveyourself #youreworthy #merrychristmas #loveyourbody #eatinggood #stopcomparing

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Heck, you eat as much as you like this Christmas. You eat as much as you like all year round. Nourish yourself.

Speaking of Veganism, do you know what was also vegan this Christmas? Lush.

Good old Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics launched an entirely vegan Christmas range. Of course, I know the products like the back of my hand, but knowing I didn’t even have to consider what was and wasn’t vegan was a wonder. I could have it all, no missing out.

The Lush Christmas range this year was extra special. They didn’t bring back some of my favourites (Yog Nog, Peeping Santa, So White… where you at?) but they did something extraordinary…. They went Naked.

I spoke about going naked in ‘We’ve Lost The Pot!‘ and of course, as someone living a sustainable lifestyle and on a journey to zero waste, it was perfect for me.

The main reason I’m speaking about Lush, however, this time, is not my love of the products, but my experiences of being a retail worker at Christmas.

Last year, I was a Christmas temp. I didn’t know if I was going to keep my job on the other side of the new year so I enjoyed every moment giving the 5* experience to each customer. As it is clear, I was kept on and am forever grateful that decision was made.

Oddly enough, I don’t think I can truly say I experienced Christmas as a retail worker last year:

  1. I was on a small, 4 (I believe) hour contract and being in Sixth Form at the time, so only experienced small chunks of Christmas.
  2. At the beginning of December 2016, I dislocated my hip. I worked the first December weekend, then turned up for my first weekday shift on crutches (and of course, was turned away. It was a very sad moment for me). I was pretty much out of action totally until early jan, when I was able to walk short distances (so hobble to work on crutches but leave them in the back during shift)

So, this year was truly my first Christmas in retail. And not only that, but my first Christmas as a member of management in retail.

It was hard.

I’m not gonna complain, I signed up to this, but it was hard. The tills of course had to crash every five minutes, we totally ran out of change (despite ordering a lot every single day), people generally were very rude. But I had a blast.

There’s something wonderful about pressure. Being under that constant pressure worked me hard and was buzzing from stress. Admittedly, it was tiring, and tiring with a chronic illness at that (even my CBT therapist for fibro/ME told me my disabilities gave it to hard enough without me working 40 hour weeks in retail).

I found myself very disconnected from the world daily. For a time, I ignored everyone. I would barely even reply to the wonderful human I’m dating because I was so disconnected (I honestly can’t tell if it was tiredness or my DID/DPD, or any other mental health issue, that was causing it. But I really wasn’t me. I was working and sleeping and being utterly useless at everything else).

Anyway, working so much in a busy rush was tough, so I really didn’t appreciate people being unnecessarily horrible or taking other things out on you.

Luckily, the few lovely customers we had made my entire week at a time. There’s nothing better than truly bonding with a customer, and I love giving Random Acts Of Kindness out, too. Be it to an ever cheerful kid, or lovely adult, random acts really brighten my day.

It further brightened my day to hear someone who I RAOKed left this review about me. Knowing I improved the day I knew at the time was going horribly, and that impacted her week, made my week too.

To know I made an impact on someone has me forever grateful to be in this job. Yes, we do just sell soap, but no, we don’t just sell soap. The reason I applied for this job is because my heart was touched many a times by Lush employees (both locally since childhood, and in my later teen years at Oxford Street) from sheer loveliness (and also random acts of kindness). Though it was lovely to receive kindnesses, what meant tonnes to me was the amount of care and love I was given from the sales assistants at Lush.

As you know, I suffer from mental health issues. I remember at a time I suffered so awfully from my depression, going into Lush after school to treat myself. Aromatherapy, I thought. I spent over an hour with a girl I know know as Holly (her and Zahra, who I later made friends with working for Lush) and she just chatted with me. Anything. Everything. I got a wonderful consultation from her (pretty much was a shop tour) and she chatted with me. It lifted my mood more than anything and meant the world to feel valid when truly I didn’t want to be here.

I am so grateful that I am now able to have that impact on others. I would much prefer a long consultation with one person than several rushed moments.

Anyway, my first Christmas in retail was an experience, but I loved it.

As I note the hard work of retail workers and a want for people to stop being rude (we are trying our best), I also want to give a huge shoutout to the emergency services, the NHS, and everyone else doing extraordinary things over Christmas.

I personally have the NHS to thank; I have been under then crisis team for the past month and a half, and am now still over Christmas, so don’t know if I’d be here without them, and despite my acknowledgement of underfunding for mental health and complaints due to such, I owe them. Big time.

Speaking of the NHS, I want to touch on disability. I wrote, last year, and earlier in the season, on how difficult Christmas with Chronic Illnesses and disabilities can be. First of all, as you know, I currently have a dislocated ankle. This time last year, and three years ago, I had a dislocated hip. And knee. Though, quite frankly I dislocate my knee a lot (but three years ago, I did it for real – and couldn’t just pop it back in myself).

Disabilities are something that are hard to deal with all year round, and that doesn’t disappear at Christmas. As you know, I do struggle at Christmas time. My track record above shows it. But my focus today is more on things not getting easier at Christmas, rather than the things that get worse.

Christmas Day was a hell of a pain day for me. I was in so much agony, and so doses up on painkillers for the whole of Christmas Dinner. The restaurant had to help my family in accommodating how I was able to sit and the means of pain relief I could exert. It was difficult to be out, be exhausted, and be in pain.

Of course, mental health doesn’t disappear either. I struggled, as ever, with food. On the days surrounding, I had many a breakdowns. As I mentioned before too, I was recently signed off work and have been under the crisis team for a while now.

Disability truly is a hard thing to struggle with in winter, and though I wish it does, Christmas cheer and fairy dust doesn’t get rid of it.

Though that section of the post has been a little more miserable, I’m gonna talk about something fun now!

Buying gifts!

Christmas is super fun and a season of giving. I love people receiving presents I have bought or made for them. I was planning on writing about gifts I’ve given but due to working loads and other circumstances, not everyone has actually received their gifts yet, so I’m thinking of postponing this segment to the new year and writing a post on my favourite gifts I’ve given. A lot of gifts I give are heavy on effort and not necessarily financially dependent. I’m a very creative person so focus so much on the creativity and would love to share that.

As this impacts the future of my blog, I am however gonna talk about a few things I received this year!

I am firstly going to talk about something I received from my family.

I got a Lenovo IdeaPad 320. I am now able to write on an actual laptop!!! I can also watch my new obsessions, I can message people not just on my mobile device, and much, much more. I’m super grateful I got this and can’t wait to use it more.

I’m also excited to get back into gaming. I’ve currently downloaded one game on steam called ‘To The Moon’ And I’m loving it. I want to expand my gaming once more because I used to be so into it.

I also received this lovely gift from Aida, my boss and also amazing friend.

She knows how much I love this quote (as I’m sure you all do too), and was thoughtful enough to make me this amazing canvas. I can’t wait to showcase it on my wall in my new room.

I also got the most amazing present from Jadey. It was an advent calendar of many vegan treats, cute stickers she’d made, and other amazing things with an environmental and animal loving theme. The effort put into it truly touched my heart and I also loved each thing individually. I also adored the fact I got to spend my Christmas Eve-Eve with her. It was truly wonderful and I adore her and being in her company.

All in all, I had a fabulous Christmas. I am very lucky to have parts of my family holding a high privilege and therefore have these amazing opportunities, and it was certainly different this year to any other.

I hope you all had wonderful Christmases! Whether you did or not, I am always here if you would like to chat.

This thread is something very relevant. My DMs are open:

Love always,

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