It’s a Christmas Eve Miracle! I only ate half of this chocolate, and I even like it. It was just that one bite was enough.
A Different Kind of Christmas
This my dears, is the true Christmas story of Laurie, Mark, and the impact of Intuititve Eating. Mark and I made a different kind of Christmas for ourselves this year. No family or friends were on our horizon, so we decided to turn our solitude into an adventure opportunity. We took off in our convertible up the coast to the Danish town of Solvang. Here’s just one of the incredible views we saw on the way.
One of the many beautiful vistas we saw driving up to Solvang.
As you can see from the very first photo in this story, I had some amazing Intuititve Eating success and progress. I also had some challenges. Intutitive Eating for me is more than about how much food I eat. It’s also about accepting myself with kindness and love, and making decisions that allow me to have the most authentic and relationship-primary life I can. What a weird phrase I just coined, ‘Relationship-primary’. But it IS one of my goals, because frankly, my food and my body concerns have been my top concern over everything and everybody else for most of my life. That’s what disordered eating is. Just like any addiction, not only does it mess with you with physical consequences, it messes with your life in the form of off-kilter choices in how you deal with people and events.
A Dawn of a New Day
Amazing dawn greets me from the terrace of our room. I get to have coffee with this view.
This amazing photo was taken at the same time as I ate half of a chocolate, the dawn of Christmas Eve. A wonderful chance gave us one of the few rooms in this hotel that has a terrace outside of its sliding door. I took advantage to relax and take in my surroundings. To observe the beauty of nature, somewhat privately, yet hearing the hotel-piped Christmas music is a relaxing and gratitude inducing experience. At this moment, all was right with my world.
When I went down to get my coffee, I was greeted with a winter wonderland and an explosion of holiday decorations. I LOVED it. I felt festive and happy.
Olaf and I have a tender moment. The hotel has a whole area dedicated to photo ops from the movie, Frozen. Fun to watch the kids get excited here.
Another fun thing I love here is the chance to play ‘Bad Cats’ – my favorite pinball machine. It brings me back to my youth when there was no digital anything. When cameras had film, phone had cords, and teen hangouts had pinball wizards. Sadly, I wasn’t a wizard, but I LOVED to play. Pinball takes me outside of my body and all concentration is on those buzzers and bells. The machines are physical in how you gain feedback in a way video games are not. I love to play pinball. Mark and I had fun taking turns and laughing as much when we quickly lost our ball as when we made all of the buzzers sound and heard the exciting cry of ‘Bad Cats’.
One of my favorite things to do at this property. They have old style pinball – Bad Cats! It meows, hisses and makes me laugh.
Solvang – More Good – Mostly
Mark wants to go on the horse trolley tour of the Danish style town of Solvang. We did, it was awesome!
Solvang is a Danish style town up in the wine country of Santa Ynez. It was depicted well in the male-mid-life-crisis-buddy picture, Sideways. Mark and I in fact, ate dinner the night before Christmas Eve at the Hitching Post, the restaurant featured in Sideways. Delish! We ate for hours, drank a fine pinot, and I had no feeling of fear or of being overstuffed. I ate just enough for me and enjoyed it throughly. It was a good memory and enjoying our meal and each other was the focus of our night. Relationship-Primary Success!
Next day, at Solvang, Mark broke character and bought me a Christmas gift. This is what he used to do early in our marriage. But because we are such savers, we haven’t done something like this for a long time. Usually, we just window shop, if at all, not wanting more stuff to clean or to spend our money unwisely. We tend to go for exerience over things. But this cat pin feels like both. More of a souvenir of a great day, proof of Mark’s thoughtful knowlege of what I like, and a trinket I can hold rather than just another dust collector.
Mark picked out and bought me this stylish cat pin in Solvang. I LOVE when he finds me gifts – we don’t do this as much as we used to, being retired and having tons of stuff. But this was special.
We also laughed and drank at the beer garden some dunkel bier (dark beer) in memory of my dad, who would have LOVED to be in a beer garden – not because he ever drank much (I inherit my low tolerance from him) but because of his love of all things German.
Mark enjoyed the contrast between my small and his large beer at the beer garden.
As you can imagine from our ‘horsing around’, trinket shopping and beer garden adventures, we were feeling very jolly. We danced in a gazebo in a park and spied a Santa House and chair. We laughed and decided to grab a ‘Santa Selfie’ for fun. Enter the samaritan who insists on taking our photo for us to ‘include’ everything.
All of a sudden I’m not having fun. I’m feeling anxious, puffy, fat, out of control and this slender, kind, woman (bitch) is taking forever to snap many full body shots of a scene I don’t want to see. In it, I look strained, because I am not SITTING on Mark’s lap, I am perching holding my own weight. We thought our selfie to take 3 seconds. This went on and on and on. Again, she was being kind, and wanted a photo of hersef in return.
Here’s the evil (in my mind) result.
I’m being brave here. A lady took this photo, and not being prepared, I now get the chance to see what we look like at this angle. Normally, I’d discard or crop this result. But it was such a fun moment, I’m learning to accept ALL of myself, unflattering angles or not.
Between my murderous rage, and the maturity to write the miraculous caption above for the Santa photo, much went down.
After the none-too-soon exit of the kind photo snapping stranger, Mark reviewed the photos on his phone and stealed himself for the question, he knew was coming.
‘Honey, is this a bad picture or do I look this way?’
‘Er…uh…Sorry, Hon, you look this way.’
‘WHAT?! When did THAT happen?’
‘Er I think with all of our going out and all…”
‘I think you’ve been puting on some weight the last 3 weeks’ (This was said all in a rush).
I collapse in a puddle of tears, embarrassment and disgrace.I’m speechless with self-deceit, disappointment in my size, and remorse for my ‘food sin’ that obviously got me to this state of woe but WORSE is that I feel these painful emoitions. Aren’t I doing well with Intuitive Eating? Aren’t I self-accepting? How the hell have I been wearing the same size and putting on 10 pounds at least? How? How? HOW? And HOW COME I FEEL THESE OLD SHAME FEELINGS ON CHRISTMAS!
Now as we have discussed many times, Mark is wonderful, but emotional discusions are not his strong suit. This time, he simply held me and let me cry. His shirt was soaked, he kissed my hair – he NEVER kisses my hair, and said, we’ve been eating out a lot. We haven’t been exercising as much, and you are still you – remember?
He’s right! It’s ok to feel all of my feelings. I DID feel all of those bad feelings. I didn’t ask for more beer, or chocolate, or pastry. I cried on Mark’s shirt.
We went on to celebrate our hotel Christmas Eve with a music box we fell in love with.
Then on Christmas we caught a movie
Me by the Into the Woods movie poster. We saw the first show on Christmas Day.
Mark decided to be a photographer all day to take photos that celebrate how much fun I have and how good it feels to be me, no matter what I weigh.
Mark thought it woud be cute to show me in our red car with our red bikes in my red helmut. I’m ALWAYS happy in my car.
Then a Christmas bike ride – Mark made the effort to show me how strong I am.
Finally, back to the hotel after a long day of fun, hugs and feeling glad to be me.
I’m feeling like a princess in the photo place where you can meet up with Elsa, Olaf and other characters from Frozen. Mark has been MY prince this day.
Intuitive Eating for me is a way to connect with my body and my feelings. It isn’t a magic pill. It doesn’t guarentee to make you thinner. It doesn’t wipe out all of the negative thought patterns built up over a life time. But my practice of it, did lead to true communication with my husband, true looks at myself, inside and out, and a true appreciation for all of my life, body, mind and soul. If that’s not a Christmas miracle, what is? Hope your holidays were wonderful BCs, but if you had some struggles, feel free to share. I understand.
If you would like to see more photos and videos of our trip, check me out on Instagram at LaurieDreamWeaver
and look for the hashtag #ChristmasInCalifornia