All posts for the month January, 2013

Let there be fire and light!

Published January 31, 2013 by Crystal

In two days I shall be lighting candles around the house and saying a blessing in each room, eating some hot and spicy food, and hoping to get out and acquire some items to decorate my alter during a walk in the forest.  My corn doll I shall dress in white, and if the weather is good we shall light a fire outside.

Imbolc is close, and I am excited.

This winter has been long, and dark, and the promise of Spring is forefront in my mind.  After weeks and months of rain, and snow, and sleet, and desperately grey days, the thought of sun, and new life is more than enough to see me through to Saturday and celebrating!

Unfortunately all three of my bratfinks are poorly today.  I had hoped we could book a night away in the camper van on Saturday to celebrate in the country, but I don’t want to risk us booking and not being able to go, so we’ll wait until Saturday and see how everyone is. But even that is not enough to dampen my enthusiasm for celebrating Imbolc.  I’m not a strict wiccan, or regular of rituals.  I wouldn’t name myself as a particular type of pagan.  I ebb and flow, and sometimes I’m up, and sometimes I’m down.  Most of my worship really does involve going out in the forest, taking a deep breath and simply saying thank you.  But this year, more than any other of recent years, sees me keen to mark the beginning of Spring, to welcome back the sun, implore her to return,even!  The hopes of new beginnings in my own life, and in that of my family.  To turn our backs on the pasts, and the negativities we’ve encountered, and to stand strong and firm together, facing that wonderful Sun, and the anticipation of a year full of new adventures and experiences!

In a time of darkness, a festival of fire can only bring light to us all, and Imbolc, also known as Candlemas, reveres Brigid, the goddess of the hearth and home.  To me, she is the family protector, the keeper of the heart of the home, bringing warmth and light, nurturing and surrounding families.


Whatever your plans as we move in to February, I wish you the very best of health, and warmth, and love and light.  Maybe you could light a candle this weekend, welcome the Spring, say goodbye to the dark, and look forward to brighter days!

Bright Blessings. xxx


“Weight Watchers: How they make their millions” The Dispatches post mortem

Published January 29, 2013 by Crystal

Did you watch last night’s Dispatches?

In weight loss circles, particularly WW followers, there was uproar.  “It was one sided”, “The reporter didn’t do it right”, “She didn’t speak to successful weight loss members”.

It was quite biased, I’ll agree to that, but I also found it quite lazy journalism.

Jane Moore spent one week on the plan, and didn’t go to a class.  She experienced the 26 points a day and feeling extremely hungry on it, and getting bored thinking constantly about food.  But she didn’t experience the classes, the euphoria at losing 2lbs, or the shame and anxiety and gaining half a pound.  She didn’t get to see what happened regularly in class, after the queuing and weighing in.  She went only on other people’s experiences, and the people she spoke to were not the huge success stories that many WWers are claiming exist in classes everywhere.

I went to classes.   I remember the waiting to weigh, the going to the loo beforehand, taking every item of clothing and jewellery off that might add to the ounces.  I remember the leader’s former fatty photo at the front of the class.  In fact I’ll be the first to admit the consultant of the class I went to was lovely, and stunning and very inspiring.  She had a friendly manner and remembered everyone.  But even with all that, I ended up with the most unhealthy body image.  “Skinny” became the holy grail.  I lost more weight than I ever had before and could fit a size I’d only ever dreamed of.  But it wasn’t enough. I wanted lighter and lighter, changed my goals because even at my lighter I believed I was fat and there was room for improvement.  And the thing is, no one in class saw a problem with it.  Slim was the goal, after all. It was family and friends who’d show the concern, “you look great now, enough is enough”.

At some point I snapped.  The endless soups and naked salads had taken their toll, and once I tasted my old food friends again, the ones that had brought comfort before skinny became my obsession were once again bringing comfort. Because actually, ultimately, being slim hadn’t brought the answers and the dream life I had been seeking.  I wasn’t healthy.  I was passing out in restaurants from hunger.  I didn’t exercise much, and if I did it was with a goal to earn more points, not because I enjoyed it!  I was lighter, lifting myself was easier when I was lighter, but I had no tone.  I guess I could call myself skinny fat back then.

Weight Watchers obviously does work for some, they’re very vocal about it, and I am happy for them.  But for me it just added to the food and body image issues I already had.

I am glad that gradually there is a movement against dieting, and more importantly against negative body image.  Look at our young people.  They want boob ops and lipo even before they’ve left puberty.  Do we really want this to get any worse?

Something needs to change.

“It’s not the diet that fails you, it’s you that fails the diet”

Published January 26, 2013 by Crystal

Channel 4 will be airing Dispatches on Monday 28/01/13, asking how Weight Watchers make their money.

Without yet airing, an online debate has arisen over this programme.  Faithful, loyal dieters have jumped to the defence of WW, testifying to successes and continued and sustained weight loss, while others have argued that the diet didn’t work for them, and they’re heavier than when they started.


You would have to live in a hole to not realise what big money “dieting” is.  Everywhere we look, someone is touting some diet cure. And hell, I’ve had my fair share of experience.  Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Slimfast, Herbalife, simple calorie counting,  low carb, GI, low wheat, no wheat, ryvita, Special K.  Goodness knows what else.  And personally, nothing has brought me to a place where I’ve maintained weight loss.

“But you should take responsibility for your actions.  It won’t work unless you do.” I can hear the voices already saying this after reading the above.  And yes, you’re right.   When I eat more of a portion than I need, it is my choice.  When I go for the high fat option on the menu, rather than the jacket and beans, it is fully my decision (What is it about food that makes it all the more tantalising when you’re not meant to be having it?).   The thing is, when you’re in a diet club, how much guilt do you feel from making that ill fated decision?   How much guilt is placed around every food that is not on that recommended  list of yours?

“Aha” you say “but I can eat what I want. I don’t have to give up the foods I love, I just adjust them slightly, or count them, or syn them”    I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and I may be alone but I felt pretty cheated with an awful lot of those adjustments. Extra light mayonnaise, really?  And don’t even get me started on the Extra EXTRA light.  Someone mentioned on a post I read earlier, that their joy of food had returned with giving up dieting.  This I can fully relate to.  Now I’ve taken the resolution to NOT diet this year, I’ve felt far more peace and enjoyment at mealtimes.  I don’t spend the day salivating over some meal I’m spending hours preparing to try to get it remotely like what I really want.  I don’t eat my sandwich, made with the thinnest bread known to man, in two seconds, and then sit there listening to my stomach rumbling for the next 3 hours.   Liking food is not sinful, enjoying mealtimes is not wrong.  A lady I used to live with had a phrase “Some people eat to live, and some people live to eat”.  Now maybe I was already paranoid at that age, but I couldn’t help feel that this in itself was a judgemental phrase.  Are those that eat to live superior beings?  Spending their time doing good deeds, and only snatching food to refuel?  I must be a very bad person when I think about food so much.

I guess the thing is, I have issues around food.  Lots of them.  Dieting for me does not address those issues.  It focuses so much on the overeating, or wrong eating, but it doesn’t ask the questions as to why I make the food choices I do.

And the consultants can’t possible begin to counsel or help those of us with these deep rooted food issues.  Ultimately, the consultants are there to list out the diet plan, take the gains and losses, and throw a few ideas out as to how to cope in certain situations.  If you’ve had a bad week, they don’t have time or training to discuss with you or listen to your pains.  They’re there to help with the simple complexities of the diet plan.  Their training is to gently chastise, to encourage you to try harder, to remind you that “nothing tastes as good as being slim feels”.  If you believe that then you haven’t tried Nigella’s Bread Sauce Flavoured Gratin that’s for sure.


If you want to go to a diet club, that’s your choice, and you have every right to choose how you spend your money, but one thing I would ask is that you start to value yourself as you are now.  You are far more than your shape, your size, and the number you put on the scales.




Build your own road

Published January 25, 2013 by Crystal

Am in an excited state of nervousness.  I took the decision to go back to college, and while initially it’s a small course, it’s what I am hoping will lead to bigger and better things.

At the age of 34 I feel I am in a state of limbo.  I never did finish my education as far as I had planned, but the upside is a pretty damn wonderful family life consisting of spouse, kids, and animals.  It’s pretty idyllic, and I wouldn’t have changed the last 12 years  for anything.  Financially, though, we’re limited.  Jobs are limited when you’re having to deal with school terms and days, and childcare is expensive, especially if the job you’re on is based in minimum wage.

And so of course, I start to wonder about my lack of education and qualifications.

new path  13 years after leaving college, I think I know what I want.  I’ve made enough mistakes, and have taken enough jobs and wrong decisions to know what I don’t want to do.

I’ve made enough observations of situations and people to decide how I want to make my mark on the world.  I’m fairly certain I know what I want now.

So what’s been holding me back?  After all this time, if I know what I want, what is to stop me?


I’m used now to making mistakes, and realising the cost of those mistakes.  Financially, emotionally, and mentally a bad choice can cost a fortune, and what if this is the wrong choice again?  What if I fail?

Aren’t we taught though, that all the best successes have come from failure?  Isn’t there a famous quote, apparently by Einstein?

“I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”


The problem is though, I have an obligation to my family.  If I fail, if this course isn’t right for me, then it will affect us all financially.  I am not a single 20 something with no one else to worry about.  I’m an allegedly responsible adult, with dependants.  How many times can I afford to fail?

The truth is though, that actually, I’m failing myself already.  I’ve been believing I’m not capable, believing that I’m doomed to fail so why try?  Worrying about failure has had me failing to believe I’m able to get what I want.  Ironically, I’ve tried so many things instead of college (because I didn’t want to fail at college again), and have failed at many of them because my heart isn’t in it, that I can add even more to my list of failures than if maybe I’d just gone back to college!


So from today.  From this moment on.  I am building my very own road, creating my own career path.  I cannot predict the future, but if I want a good one, surely I need to have a part in that!

So I’ve failed on lots of things, I’m just closer to the success than ever I was before!









Published January 20, 2013 by Crystal


Gave myself a fringe today. I’m not sure about it, but sometimes it’s worth ringing the changes. The good thing about hair is, it grows, and hats and hair bits and bobs can cover a multitude of sins. I’m itching to get a hair dye but we’re on a strict budget in 2013. Might look up some home made dye ideas. Any recommendations please do share!

Get comfortable in your own skin, you may be here some time.

Published January 19, 2013 by Crystal




We’re 19 days in to the New Year.  Did you resolve to lose a stone?  Did you tell yourself you were disgustingly greedy over Christmas and now need to make up for it?  Have you been cooking up soups and berating yourself every time you look in a mirror?

I haven’t.  And I’m not telling you this to be smug or to put you off any goals you have.  I haven’t lost 2 stone by not dieting, and I haven’t dropped a dress size.  

What I have dropped is the self criticism and self loathing when I look at myself.  What I have lost is the feeling of anger at “letting myself go”.  In fact, I’ve spent time getting comfortable in my own skin.  I’ve not said something mean about my full tummy, or substantial thighs, and I can honestly say, the positive talk, the encouraging comments are really starting to have an impact!

I’ve been large for as long as I can remember, and for as long as I can remember I’ve hankered after a different size and a different shape.  I’ve spent many an hour looking down on myself for not being the size 10, got it all together, perfectly flawless woman that is portrayed on tv and in the magazines. For a few years I’ve tried to talk positive, but there’s always been a “but” somewhere in the conversations with myself and the parts of me I don’t like. “I accept my belly, but I would love it a bit more if it were smaller/more toned/less scarred” is not self acceptance.  Acceptance (to me at least) means knowing that if this is the size and shape I am to have for the rest of my life I will be ok with that.  If my full tummy remains full until I am laying on my death bed, I will have lived a long and happy life with it.  Those parts of me I found unacceptable are becoming parts of me that are respected and loved. 

This may sound like utter madness to you; “The woman is talking about loving her belly, she’s crazily talking about accepting and respecting her thighs!”  but how many of you, on a bad day, look at your body in the mirror, and grab disparagingly your flesh around your middle?  Or slap your bum or your leg and look with disgust as they wobble?  We grow up thinking it’s personally normal to assault parts of our body when we look in the mirror on a bad day.  Our body becomes the focal point for all the stress, tension, hurt and anger we amass in a day.  Ask yourself, have you ever said something like “I wouldn’t be feeling this way if I were thinner”, or “I’d be more confident if I had bigger boobs”, or “My body is that of a boy, I don’t feel womanly.”?  

And where has it got you over the years?  There will be a few who will have changed their diet, and will have created an exercise regime and have created their ideal selves.  But there will be others, a majority, for whom even the dieting and exercising didn’t change a thing.  You still disliked your body.  It didn’t lose weight from the right places, or your muscles don’t show up like you thought they would.  You thought that a “new you” would be the answers to your problems, but it didn’t.  You still come home and look in the mirror and look at yourself with disgust and loathing.

So I’d like to suggest to you a little experiment;  

For 3 weeks, avoid the fashion and gossip magazines, skip the self improvement programmes such as weight loss, or looking better (except maybe Gok Wan, because he inspires!), and turn off the cereal and yoghurt adverts suggesting a “New You for Summer!”.

For the same 3 weeks, pay attention to how you talk about yourself.  When you feel that self criticism start to rise from your lips stop it and simply say “I’m beautiful” out loud, or in your head.  Don’t grab the bits of your body you don’t like, instead, take extra care of yourself, moisturise or massage, if you can afford it, book yourself in somewhere for a pamper.  Just treat your body well.

And finally, for the 3 weeks, avoid diet talk, or conversation with other people who are self criticising and focussing on their faults. 

I’m pretty sure how much you’ll see a difference if you take yourself out of the media bombardment, and if you can say nice things about yourself enough times, it will start to sink in.

It is hard, it’s taken me years to get to this point now where I actually am liking my body and feeling honestly comfortable in it, where I can actually say I love my round, scarred, soft belly!  

It’s taken me a long long long time to be actually able to step out of the diet rat race, and say “I’m really truly accepting my body, and I’m no longer dieting”.

It’s finally sinking in that health really can be at every size. 


What we lack in snow we make up for in enthusiasm!

Published January 19, 2013 by Crystal


It’s the typical south west UK situation. There’s not much snow, but what there is causes panic and mayhem, and the snarky comments arise over how everyone falls to pieces over a flake. To be honest the comments irritate me. “lazy teachers grabbing a day off at any opportunity” is far from the truth, but the allegations get hurled, and the arguments on either side abound. Personally I think fewer ill equipped cars on icy roads can only be a good thing, and i’d rather not be on the road. Anyway, I digress. The thing I really love is the way that everyone finds the time to get out with their families for a bit of sledging. It may be only an inch covering that hillside, but it’s enough to kill the friction and send the sledge down the slope. Up and down up and down. Walking up a hill is easy going if you know you’re going to ride down it at break neck speed! I didn’t get my six mile walk in today, and I definitely didn’t do two in half an hour. But I did get out with my family, and we did have fun in the slush and mud and smackering of snow and now we’re back in the warm for a cosy saturday film session!