So what happened after Veganuary?

At the beginning of January, I lay out my New Year’s Resolutions for the year and the first one was to complete Veganuary, which I’m very happy to say that I did! So today’s post is giving an overview of the month and what happened next. If you want to read about my journey to vegetarianism, you’ll find it here and if you want to see a typical “What I Eat In A Day: Veganuary Style” you’ll find that post right here.

So what were my thoughts on Veganuary? I really enjoyed it but I didn’t expect not to enjoy it. I only accidentally messed up twice and both times were with food I was given at Christmas; jellybeans and fudge to be exact. I was a little annoyed at myself at the time but reflecting back on it, I tried my best, I didn’t do it on purpose and I was able to move on without thinking “I had ruined everything.” That is a massive step for me.

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I didn’t have a lot of challenges throughout the month. If I was going to restaurants, I rang in advance if it was somewhere I haven’t been before but I believe throughout January, I mainly stuck to restaurants and cafes I knew I would be okay in. I did slightly miss my cups of tea with milk, it’s a habit I have had for almost twenty years so to be without it, it was definitely different but I quickly got past it.

A few family members did ask me “When was I going to eat real food again?” Because fruit and vegetables aren’t real food apparently. Having to defend my point almost everytime I seen them for, I would say, a month and a half got very tiring after a while. When you grow up with the concept of meat, potatoes and two vegetables on your plate for so many years (and I believe this is why a lot of the generation above me still haven’t come to terms with a vegan or plant based diet), depending on who you are; it can take a while to get your head around the fact that when you take away the meat (and the potato for me of course!) then what do you do to substitute that. From that point of view, it’s understandable why some people have a hard time with that.

So February 1st came and I thought I was going to go back to eating my regular bread (You’d be shocked to see how difficult it is to find gluten free bread that’s also vegan), back to my regular cup of tea that I’ve grown up with ever since I started watching Coronation Street with my rich tea biscuits at the old age of seven or even treat myself to a lemon cupcake that I love finding in the Sainsburys Free From aisle. I couldn’t have been further from the truth…

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I had zero urge to drink another cup of regular tea, I wanted to stick to my gluten free vegan bread and the cupcakes no longer fell into my basket. I don’t mind not being able to eat most of the cakes in the Free From section and I don’t mind having a green tea instead of a regular tea (I love green tea anyway!).

The one thing I have changed though is I don’t call myself a vegan. I’m not a fan of labels but I think in a diet context, it can get very complicated. Having a plant based diet and being vegan are of course, two very different things. I haven’t changed all my make-up to cruelty free, the same goes for my body, skin and hair care and I haven’t made that transition with my clothes and shoes yet. So right now, I don’t feel comfortable saying I’m a vegan, I prefer to say I’m eating a plant based diet. When I’m talking about my diet to someone who doesn’t know a lot about eating vegan or when I’m perhaps calling a restaurant, I will state I’m vegan, just to make things less complicated. (See, it can be complicated!) Another example is when I’m hash tagging on Twitter or talking about it online in general, then I will use both terms, just because I know people will look for tips for transitioning to becoming vegan and my plant-based experience will help if I use vegan in a diet sense (Again, just a little complicated, right?)

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Overall, I’m really happy eating a plant based diet and I’m so glad I’ve finally made the transition. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time now but leaving at home and not having as much cupboard and fridge space for all my food made it difficult so I knew when I moved into my own place, it was the perfect time to start.

Did you take part in Veganuary? What did you find the most challenging? I’d love to talk to more people who took part in Veganuary so leave me a comment below or tweet me over at @RetroSnowflake on Twitter or @RetroSnowflake on Instagram.

 

Re-evaluating my Facebook friendships.

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Last week I was on my Facebook account (as you do!) and I looked at my friends list; I had one hundred and fifty friends. For me, I didn’t think I knew 150 people, never mind be friends with that many people!

So what did I do? I had a “Facebook Refresh”. I hear people who have had “a Facebook cull” and to me, a cull is just deleting people for no real reason or purpose, unnecessarily. This wasn’t unnecessary (Plus, cull isn’t a very nice word, is it?) Why do I need people who I never talk to on one of my most personal accounts? It’s also very important for me to say I didn’t dislike (or hate) anyone I removed, that’s not what this was about.

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I had people from the one year of University that I haven’t spoken to since. I had one person who I used to be best friends with in Primary School (for a good five or six years) and when we “reunited” on Facebook, her Mum had to remind her who I was (Yes, that made me feel missed!). I had people who I went to college with but hadn’t really spoken to them since we finished. I had people who I met ONCE on a night out. I had people who I spoke to quite actively on Twitter but very rarely on Facebook.

(And speaking of Twitter) Like many others, I have a Twitter and Instagram account where I have some of these lovely people on there instead. So, I still like their tweets or Instagrams; it doesn’t mean I don’t want to see things they post, it just means that I can use my other social media channels to do so.

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I’m not a massive Facebook person anymore. I used to be but I think as you grow older you don’t feel the need to add every single photograph, feeling and restaurant you check into. If I could get away with it, I wouldn’t have a Facebook account but it seems to be the one social media account most people I want to stay in contact with, have so it makes sense to have one for that reason and to use it for its purpose every once in a while.

After my “refresh”, I went from 150 friends to 70 friends and you would be amazed afterwards why you had so many people in the first place. Sure, I might not get as many birthday wishes, profile pictures likes or as many new posts every time I refresh my app; but realistically, if you’re worried about someone you don’t talk to wishing you a Happy Birthday, I think you need to re-evaluate why that is so important to you. I know people who have over 1000 friends on their list; I can’t imagine they talk to every single one of them because who has the time for that?

So is it a numbers game? How do other people view it? A popularity platform? A positive re-enforcement? A pressure cooker of needing constant approval of your life? Or simply just a simple hello to your friends and family every so often?

How important is Facebook to you? Do you value it more than other social media? Thank you for reading my post and if you have any thoughts on it, leave them below or tweet me over at @RetroSnowflake

Speaking from Personal Experience | Engagement Dates.

When I was eighteen, I got engaged. I was on holiday in England with my boyfriend (who lived there) who I had been in a long distance relationship with for about three and a half years. 

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What sparked this topic for me? Valentine’s Day was a few weeks ago and we’ve just waved bye to Christmas too. Being on any social media like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, I’m sure you seen at least one engagement, right? I’m very involved in Twitter especially so I seen a small number of the girls I follow, get engaged. However, what I also seen was some of these girls having to defend themselves and having judgement passed onto them about getting engaged close to on or Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day.

So why did I tell you that I was engaged at one point? I got engaged on my eighteenth birthday.

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Birthday’s for me were always quite special and so they should be. Christmas and Valentine’s Day are on the whole, something that (almost) everyone celebrates together but your birthday is something that is special to you.

The engagement didn’t work out, we never got married. We broke up when I moved to England, and a few months later after finishing my first year at University, I came back to Belfast. I have never regretted not getting married and not going further with that relationship; we lasted for a little over six years with five and a half of those years being long distance. It was my first ever relationship, I didn’t know what I was doing right and wrong most of the time because it wasn’t a “normal” relationship. There were more things wrong with the relationship than right. Looking back, I was worried about coming home, not because I was sad that it had ended (because I wasn’t), I was more worried that I had build this vision up of myself that I got engaged so young and he was my first everything and we were the perfect couple. (My trait of being a perfectionist had ideally slid in from here I think). I had to come back with my tail between my legs essentially and explain to people that we weren’t together.

Ever since then, I didn’t enjoy my birthday as much. The first birthday that I had when we weren’t together was my 21st. Again, another big birthday for many and I had a different outlook on it. I wasn’t excited, I didn’t want a big fuss, I didn’t think I was worth fussing over; it was just a day to me now. That’s how it was every year after, until my birthday last year.

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I wrote a short little blog post on it but that was my 25th birthday; my boyfriend at the time had gone all out for me to give me the greatest day ever and for the first time (ever), I didn’t think about that failed engagement. I didn’t think about how my life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would at eighteen. I was so overwhelmed with the amount of thought and effort that had gone into celebrating my birthday and making it special that I couldn’t feel or think of anything else but utter happiness.

For those that criticise others for getting engaged at Christmas, New Year’s or Valentine’s Day (for example), it’s no=one’s business when someone gets engaged apart from the two people in the relationship. If you think it’s cliche, fair enough but don’t push your view and your negativity on someone who is currently on cloud nine after just having an amazing moment happen, and quite a life changing one at that.

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I’m not against anyone getting engaged on those days, not at all. Getting engaged is different for every couple, so Valentine’s Day might have an even bigger meaning for you than most. I know that for me personally, it’s not something I would like again. I have told friends and family, and I even told my ex-boyfriend that I don’t want to get engaged on days like that or my birthday again. It’s nothing against those that choose to do it on those occasions but I now have the understanding that not everything works out the way you want it to. I used to love my birthday and it just became a “day” to me for a few years, I just didn’t want the hassle and I didn’t think I was worth it. Some people don’t like their birthday at all and that’s fine, but that never used to be the case for me.

My point is, I understand it from both sides. Stepping away from the criticism for a minute; I’ve been there, I know how it feels to look back a few years down the line at a failed engagement and be disappointed. Not that I’m sad that we didn’t get married (because I’m very thankful that we didn’t in the end) but because I looked back on it on my birthday. A day that should be about me (It sounds selfish, but that’s essentially what your birthday is, right?) yet I thought about this momentous event that was dampening my birthday experience years later.

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When you’re in that moment, it doesn’t matter what day it is. At the time, I didn’t think for one second how this could affect me in the future because I didn’t have anything to worry about. Maybe most people won’t but we have to understand that sometimes things don’t work out and that is perfectly fine. If everything worked out the way we wanted every single time, I would take a guess and say most of us would hate that, we wouldn’t be challenged and we would feel like life is far too easy. I’m just saying that doing this on a more celebrated occasion, it could be more likely to affect you if it doesn’t work out.

I’ll give you a really simple example; I don’t remember the day my ex-fiance and I broke up, but I do remember my most recent long term relationship break up because it was on a family member’s birthday. Chances are, when that birthday comes around, I’ll still think about that on that date whereas a few years down the line, if it had have been on a random day, I would probably forget the date altogether.

I hope from reading this that you can see there is another perspective of engagements and dates that you might not have heard before. Again, you do you, your engagement and the date it happens is special to you, I’m certainly not wanting to put a dampener on anyone’s happiness. I’m just sharing part of my story and how it affected me years down the line. Thank you for reading! ❤

 

I can’t fake this.

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Normally on a Sunday, I would be sitting here wishing you a lovely day, I would talk you through some of my favourite blog posts I’ve found during the week that have inspired me and everything would be dandy.

Today I can’t do that. I can’t force myself to write a post about inspiring and motivational blog posts when I couldn’t feel any further from that right now.

Yesterday was not a good day for me, emotionally and mentally. The night before, I had such a lovely night with my friend but I sat up an hour before bed in a complete panic with my anxiety sky high. I had no idea what I was worried about, but I was so panicked that I felt like I couldn’t go to bed.

That night I had a horrible dream, well I would say more of a nightmare. It knocked me for six the next morning. I lay in bed for an hour after waking up feeling very teary and very stressed.

I then felt quite ill walking to the gym, I stayed in the gym for ten minutes before I told myself I wasn’t going to feel any better and left.

My FitBit was really low on battery and didn’t pick up my half an hour walk to the gym (or most of the walk back).

I was walking home from going to get groceries and could feel like I was getting a lump in my throat, my breathing was getting heavier all of a sudden and I just wanted to cry. If there wasn’t a queue of cars right down the long road I was walking down, I probably would have.

To top it off, I went into the city centre with my Mum that night; we were heading to a concert and every restaurant we walked into was fully booked so we ended up in Starbucks with two teas even though we were both really hungry.

These may be classed as first world problems and to most people, they might all sound like little problems that aren’t a big deal. I completely understand that there are many horrible and bad things happening in the world right now so I know some will be thinking  “Oh no, you couldn’t go to a restaurant and get fed.” or “Oh no, your expensive tracker didn’t work.” First world problems or not, they had an effect on me. They had a very negative effect on mind, my body and my overall well-being; at times I felt like I was trapped in my own head and my own body and when I wanted to leave, I couldn’t.

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Being true to myself is something I wanted to make a priority in 2017, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m admitting that the world got to me and because of that, I won’t pretend to be in a good mood and tell my readers how posts inspired me or write a post that I don’t feel connected to. Who would that serve? What purpose would that have?  I could fake it and say I’m in such a great mood (but I won’t because I’m not). I could fake it and say ” I loved <insert blog name> because it was so motivating and I can’t wait to try this too (but I won’t because that would be a lie). That won’t help me and pretending that I’m happy and chatty and wonderful just to motivate myself for a blog post certainly won’t help anyone else either.

It’s okay to feel like the world is against you. I thought that and I acknowledge now that the world doesn’t hate me and it’s not trying to make me cry on purpose, but for that moment in time, that’s all I wanted to do. I acknowledge that my mental health is a priority and I acknowledge that these are signs to a more negative side of my mental health as a whole.

I’m sure my Sunday Saves will be back next Sunday but if you ever feel like I did, just know that it’s okay, you’re not alone and that feeling will not last forever.

Thank you for reading ❤

(Top Photo Source: Pexels.com)
(Bottom Photo Source: Unsplash.com)

(Blogmas Day Seventeen) Top Ten Positive Outcomes of 2016!

So with Blogmas Day Seventeen, it marks the last day of Blogmas for 2016! It’s been a really interesting project to take on over the holiday period especially since everyone (including myself!) has been so busy but it’s been a really nice distraction.

With my last post focusing on what life lessons 2016 taught me, I wanted to end Blogmas on a more positive note so today’s post is the Top Ten Positive Outcomes of 2016 (or the Top Ten Positive Things in 2016, whatever way you want to read it).

10.  I became a vegetarian.

This March, I took part in Meatless March and I haven’t looked back since! For the first half of the year, I was eating pretty much about 90% plant based food (I don’t like to say vegan because I wasn’t 100% of the time) but I’ve slipped back to about 60% now with more additional dairy and eggs. So now I’m a gluten free vegetarian with all the intolerances…

9. I went to so many more music gigs.

Music gigs were a big thing for me this year! I went to see the likes of Fall Out Boy, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Busted and Nickelback, the atmosphere and the high you get from a concert is honestly like nothing else.

8. I was a bridesmaid for the first time at my Dad’s wedding.

My Dad got married in July and it was the first time I had ever been to a wedding, never mind be a bridesmaid. I loved my dress and the day itself was gorgeous!

7. I cooked and baked more!

Deliciously Ella was my big inspiration for cooking and baking this year. Knowing that everything that was going into my food was clean and healthy made me feel so happier!

6. I turned 25!

I’m a quarter of a century old now and I’m excited! I feel like this year has been my half way mid-life crisis (This year would make so much more sense if it was!). I wrote a whole blog post on my birthday; it was honestly one of the most perfect days and I was treated like a princess, I’m very very grateful for that moment and that part of my life this year.

5. I went on holiday on my own for the first time to Rome.

At the start of December, I booked myself a long weekend trip to Rome on my own. I spoke about it briefly in my Life Update post but it was a new experience for me to be completely on my own in a different country, different culture and to take some time for myself.

4. I went on my first adult holiday to Finland and Russia.

Going to Finland and Russia was my first ever adult holiday and it was such a fun experience! I went with my ex-boyfriend and I’m so happy for those memories because it opened my eyes up to a new part of the world, a new culture, new foods and a new found respect for travelling.

3. I secured my first house.

Again, I spoke about this briefly on my Life Update post but I found out I have my first little house to rent a few days before I went to Rome. I’m really really excited to have my own place, to spend time with myself and create my own routine, as well as embracing this new found independence.

2. I’ve met some lovely people.

The people in my life over the past year have had a huge influence on me. Whether that’s the start and end of relationships and friendships, new work friends or those that I talk to online, I’m so appreciative of everyone that have been a part of my life this year; I continued to learn from each of them.

1. I started taking care of myself.

And finally, the most important one that I should have started doing a long time ago, taking care of myself and putting myself first sometimes. I go with my gut more now, I don’t always put everyone else’s plans above mine, I do what I can and that is more than enough. As long as you try your best and you’re being the best you can, no one can ask for more.

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Thank you so much to each and every person who took two minutes out of their day to read this post or any of my other Blogmas posts. I am so grateful to have had this platform to talk on and share a part of my life on this year, it has been a huge helping hand for me. So thank you!

 

(Blogmas Day Sixteen) 8 Life Lessons 2016 Taught Me

Welcome to Blogmas Day Sixteen! There’s just one more Blogmas post left now!

So today’s post is Part Two of my 2016 series. If you’ve missed Part One, you’ll find it right here and that was Blogmas Day Fifteen. This post focuses on life lessons I learned this year, and I’m going to be completely honest, this is my most personal post to date on the blog. It’s very open and honest, and you might see it as a negative post but most of my life lessons I learned from the year, came from negatives experiences. That’s just the way it worked out.

Sometimes life is shit.

Yep, there I said it and let’s be honest, we all think it. Life is truly shit sometimes. People will drag you and make you feel like shit. Everything will become too much at times and you won’t know what to do. You’ll want to just crawl into bed sometimes, not talk to a single person and just sleep. You have to be your own positive influence in the end and teach yourself how to find the balance between letting yourself be upset and picking yourself up again. I understand that for everyone that is completely different and is a lot easier said than done.

People make mistakes. You are human.

Ever done something you regret? Ever done something you wish you could take back? Ever done something that you still makes you upset and want to block it out of your memory for good? Congratulations, you’re a human being! Learn from your mistakes, understand why you made them or why they happened, but never allow your mistakes to be held over you like you’re the only one to ever have made them.

Your past does not define you.

I have a past. You have a past. Your next door neighbour has a past. Your boyfriend or girlfriend has a past. We all do, and again, that is totally okay. Regret your past or embrace it, that’s up to you but at the end of the day, you have to move on from it. If you’re ashamed, you have to tell yourself that you aren’t that person you used to be; you’ve changed, you’re working every day to become a better person and that’s better than doing nothing about it at all.

Therapy was the best investment I have ever made.

I have been going to therapy for just over a year now and it truly is the best investment I have ever made. Everyone’s experience is different but mine was life changing and eye opening; I learned more about myself than I ever thought I could. I learn in every single session and I bring that experience into my every day life. Therapy was there for me when I was having the greatest days riding on Cloud Nine and it was also there when I felt like I couldn’t cope. I owe so much to this year to my counsellor and how she has helped me through the good and bad times.

Crying does not mean you are weak.

One of the most important lessons I learnt in therapy is that crying does not mean you are weak; crying is your body telling you have something to let out and let go. You build up so much emotion and so much tension, where else is it meant to go? It’s natural to cry, don’t be ashamed of it.

Heartbreak is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

I went through a break up this year, not something that I decided to share a lot on social media. It broke me into a million pieces, it was really really hard. Now don’t get me wrong, I used to be engaged to a guy I was with for six years so this wasn’t my first relationship (It was only my second) but this relationship was nothing like my previous one. Nothing can prepare you for the heartache (pre and post break-up), the constant stream of tears, the flowing stream of thoughts of blaming yourself and the what if’s, absolutely nothing can prepare you. It’s hard, it sucks (I really wouldn’t wish it on anyone) but you learn more about yourself than ever before after it.

Friendship is so important.

My friendship group this year became rock solid for me in the past six months and I am beyond grateful for everyone who has been there for me. I gained a new best friend, Leonie has become my rock, she’s the best ❤ (and thank you for reading my blog Leonie!), Toni and Andrew have listened to my stories over and over again along with lots of tea, Caoimhe was there to comfort me with nights to Pizza Express and a tearful night over Indian food and finally Eoin, who I missed so much and I’m so glad to have back in my life again. Never ever underestimate your friends and how much of a positive influence friends can have on your life, in the good and the bad times.

You will be okay.

No matter what you’re going through, you will be okay. If you miss your bus, if you go through a break up, if you have a horrible day at work, if you feel like you can’t cope with what life throws at you, you will be okay. When you’re going through something at the time, you don’t believe it. You think that you’ll feel this forever and that it will never go away, trust me, it really really does become better.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post, it was quite a big one for me and despite how it looks, my year wasn’t all bad, but at times I definitely felt like it had completely defeated me.

(Blogmas Day Fifteen) 8 Surprisingly Interesting Things 2016 Taught Me

It’s Blogmas Day Fifteen! So as I explained at the beginning of December, I’ll be blogging until the end of December with Blogmas, rather than just until Christmas Day.

Today’s post is 8 Surprisingly Interesting Things 2016 Taught Me and this is Part One of Two. Part Two will be the 8 Life Lessons 2016 Taught Me and that one will be more serious because this year really has been such a massive year, mentally and emotionally for me, and I wanted to address what I really have learned.

 I was missing out when I chose not to listen to Lady Gaga.

For years I refused to listen to Lady Gaga for no actual reason, I have no good plain reason why I wouldn’t listen to her. My friend Leonie then told me how amazing she was (and that I needed to listen to her) and I listened to her latest album, bought it about a week later and now I’m making my way through her back catalogue every morning on my way to work.

Musicals are wonderful.

Leonie gave me my first experience of musicals and I can’t believe I was so against them before (Again, what’s with the pre-judgement?). I had only really seen the hype and annoyance around High School Musical and I just wrote all musicals off because of one film. It was wonderful though; I really respect the actors who can sing, dance AND act in front of a live audience, it’s memorising to watch.

Vegan cheesecake is the best cheesecake.

Being gluten free, you think that you’ll never have a cheesecake again. Thankfully there’s a plant based cafe in Belfast who make the best vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free cheesecakes and I believe they are quite literally a slice of heaven.

Being by yourself gets easier.

Date yourself. Treat yourself. Love yourself. Respect yourself. Take yourself out for a cup of tea once a week, give yourself a manicure, let yourself read a book for a few hours, watch a dozen episodes of Friends in one go. Be by yourself and embrace it.

5. There’s nothing better than making your own dinner from scratch.

Using Deliciously Ella’s cookbook for the majority of the year, it’s an amazing feeling knowing exactly what has went into your dinner that night, you feel this sense of accomplishment making it yourself and you feel better after it too.

Tea with milk really is a British thing.

When I went to Italy, they had more black tea or cold tea. I didn’t have a single tea with milk. When people say milk with tea is a British thing, it really is true. They don’t seem to do it a lot in Europe! (In my experience anyway).

I prefer being blonde than red (for now).

Before my Dad’s wedding, I decided to do something different with my hair and go back to my original brunette but add in blonde too. I used to have blonde highlights when I was younger but it didn’t take me too long to dye my hair back to red then. But now, I really love the blonde and brown, it’s like a new lease of life!

Getting up at 5:30am really is incredible.

It sounds crazy doesn’t it? It’s not, trust me. There are so many more benefits than negatives. You feel better once your body gets used to it, you get so much more done, you feel like you can concentrate in work better and I personally felt more motivated for the day. You have to make sure you go to bed early the night before! (One of the reasons I haven’t done this in a while!)


Thank you for keeping up with Blogmas so far! Check back on Wednesday for a brand new Blogmapost.