I write a post like this almost every year. I’m a little bit surprised to see that I have written so few blogs this year. I think this is because I spent 2014 on introspection. The husband and I got married, but in the midst of this, I was halfway into my food intolerance testing as well as trying to figure out what really makes me happy and where I want to go from here.
In 2014 I learned:
- How to eat without annoying my body. I have spent a lot of time with my doctor and nutritionist trying to figure out why I had acne, why my cortisol levels were so low, why I had eczema and why I had excess belly fat. It turns out there are multiple reasons – but I may also never find out all of these reasons. One important reason was that my carbohydrates:protein:fat ratio was wrong. So I learned to eat again. I learned how to eat more fat instead of carbohydrates and to increase my protein intake generally. This has been annoyingly documented on Instagram. I know, there are only so many chorizo scramble photographs that I can post after some point 🙂 Another reason was that gluten and sugar are bad for me. I am one of those people with non-cealiac gluten sensitivity which is not something that you can prove medically from what I understand. But it seems to be the best way I can get my skin to not breakout in acne or eczema. By eating no wheat or gluten, cutting my sugar intake dramatically, and watching my carbohydrate portion, I can feel better, have clearer skin, and actually have enough energy for the day. I’m much calmer and less irritable. I also no longer have severe PMS mood swings.
- How to keep my individuality despite being married. I’ve never really mentioned this much, but this was my biggest concern about getting married. Like many people out there, I have invested a lot of time in defining myself. Trying to learn who I am, who I want to be, and how to get there. Part of this process was to move away from home to see how to achieve my ambition. When relatives used to ask about marriage, I used to get panicky as I was worried I won’t be able to be “me” anymore. My typical response was “There are many things I would like to do before getting married.” and nobody understood that, so they kept pushing. It was very uncomfortable, and I used to get very anxious about it that I dreaded going back home. I really dreaded these situations such that 2-3 weeks before trips home I would be upset and unsure about everything around me. There’s a lot of “we” in marriage that I was concerned I would feel stifled or claustrophobic if I got married and couldn’t be myself anymore. Thankfully my husband is just as particular about this so we have managed to keep our individual traits and interests but also develop mutual interests in things like traveling, cooking, working out at the gym, TV series, making new friends, keeping old friends, and learning new things about the world around us. But I’m still interested in makeup and skincare, Indian movies and music, fashion, photography, and tea, while my husband maintains his own interests in gadgets, computers, beer, jazz music and winters sports.
- How to save money. We did our civil marriage, moved in together, planned a wedding, a honeymoon, and a few smaller weekend getaways within 2 years. It’s been crazier than 2013, to be honest. Which is also why the blog has been quiet. There just has been so many things to do and the corresponding financial aspects to consider. But it is such an achievement, when we look back, to see how much we can achieve when we put our minds together and work towards a common goal.
- How to be kind to myself. This is still work in progress, but it’s a lesson that my doctor pointed out to me and I’m still learning it. She actually wrote it down on a piece of paper where she listed which supplements I had to take and the duration. Sometimes you want to do everything in life and you forget about your health. And it takes somebody else to tell you that you have to be kind to yourself. Many years ago I read this post from Karen who runs MakeupAndBeautyBlog. It was about how we talked to ourselves. I hadn’t realised how harsh my self-critic was. I used to think I wasn’t deserving of a lot of things and would be very strict with how I treated myself. Strict schedules, possibly running on little sleep, high expectations of output despite low input, you know? So I started to talk a bit less harsh to myself, but this was years ago. After working with my doctor and nutritionist since last year, I’ve started to actually be kind to myself. Somedays I don’t feel like doing chores – so I just don’t do them. Somedays I also don’t feel like going to the gym then the husband and I sit on the couch, drink tea and watch TV series back to back — and try not to feel guilty about it.
- How to switch off from work. I have huge difficulties with this but I believe I have made some progress. I’m constantly “on” with work running in the back of my mind. It’s a bit weird sometimes and it’s not very respectful to other people around me because it means I’m not “being present”. So I’m trying to work on this, and it does involve putting away my phone from time to time to show respect to the people around me. But more importantly to respect myself enough to not be mentally at work all the time. That would just be a recipe for burnout.
- How to listen. I’m actually quite a bad listener – not because I want to do all the talking, but I’m generally quite impatient. I do notice that I’m starting to listen more when people talk. It’s actually quite relaxing to listen to somebody else talk. Especially if the person has a soothing voice.
- How to accept my body. If you have been plagued with acne, eczema and then Bell’s palsy – health issues that alter how you look, it is very difficult to accept yourself. While my eczema has healed completely (I really hope it does not reappear.), my acne is still healing slowly. As for Bell’s palsy, I feel like I have lost the symmetry in my face. While I don’t look scary, I find that I look a bit weird. This is very obvious when I take a selfie on my phone camera because the image might be reflected vertically before it is shown to me on the screen. So my lack of facial symmetry is very obvious there. I’m thinking it is either that, or it is that my eyes are more forgiving of my new features, than the phone camera. Either way, I am slowly starting to accept that this is just how I look and it is okay to not have facial symmetry. It’s a bit upsetting some days, and I was quite worried about it at the wedding, but the photographs that resulted were okay from a facial symmetry aspect so for that – I am very, very grateful. Another aspect about accepting my body was to buy new clothes. While many people think this is a lot of fun, I had to drag myself to do this. Because it meant giving up my old clothing that I was utterly in love with and investing in a new “me” that may not be permanent as I am still losing weight [which is not my plan, really]. I still have some pieces that I have difficulty parting with, like a limited edition Camel coloured wool coat that the husband got me years ago. Or my favourite blouses from Gap that I have bought over the years. But at the end of the day, I try to tell myself that they are just things that can be replaced. But health can’t be replaced.
- How to prioritise. This has been tricky because it involves not being on good terms with some people. I know I may have upset some people as I have been less interested in their lives and in taking the time to connect with them. Unfortunately, such is life. Sometimes you have to strictly prioritise and even cut out things that you may have liked to do because there were other things that needed to be done. To these people, I do apologise – but I also know that true friendship does make room for these times.
So there it is – what I’ve learned from this year. In many ways I’m very glad for this year to end because it has been a painful year for many people – especially where flights and natural disasters are concerned. I actually am slightly nervous about flying these days, despite my love for travel. But ultimately, it is all fated. We just have to live each day to the fullest and try to be happy. At least that’s what I plan to do 🙂