Friday 1 August 2014

Breakups & Beetroot: Beetroot and ginger juice and fresh starts

Breaking up is hard to do. There are no two ways around it. Avoidance feeds the ugly void within. Keeping busy merely to avoid thoughts, emotions and memories is a waste of time. The simplest of triggers come crawling back in to the psyche and settle there for a period of time of its own choosing. There is no great sense of control or time or calm after a break up. It is what it is. An unholy mess.

I've never been good at them, even though I've had limited practice, meaning two previous breakups in total. The first was a best friend from teenage years, though looking back, can two horny teenagers ever really be best friends and not be thinking about getting together in their minds? When we broke up I was crushed and put energy into being angry for quite a while. It was only when I was setting off to New Zealand for the first time that I realized life was too short to hold a grudge and so went all-out Irish and sat down and had a cup of tea with him. That started the resolution. When I came back from NZ, I realized a more concentrated effort was necessary. In the space of a few hours we were laughing our asses off at our naive teenage selves and admitting that neither of us had a clue what we were doing when we were younger, much less now. I heard the words I needed to hear from him. The first was "I may have been 18 but I didn't have a clue how to be a man, never mind a decent boyfriend". The second was "even though you were younger (by two years) you knew more than me about relationships". The third but by no means less important, was "I'm sorry". He meant it and we've been honest, trusting, joking, caring friends since. The second relationship was just plain awful, something that should never have begun in the first place.

This breakup will have been my third. August bank holiday last year. It feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago and a parallel existence mixed together in some dishwater mess that struggles to go down the sinkhole drain. I've been happily busy, genuinely, for the last few months. The struggles that I've gone through have tapered off and I'm enjoying life with a renewed sense of vigor I can't remember having before I was ten years old. I've fallen back in love with my passions, built a sense of community around me and focused on the now rather than worrying about the past and being anxious around the future. I'm far happier in myself these days. All positive, tick-the-box moments.

Then there's this weekend coming up and the inherent realization that a full year has gone by. It's over. It's been over and that time is gone, he's gone. That's tough. It doesn't seem real. It's something I never wanted. Living in Dublin for the last year has meant flashbacks from various points around the city, places I skillfully avoided by cycling detours around them to avoid seeing them so as not to get upset. Trinity Gates and the Spire were the meeting points before a date. The Bernard Shaw was our Friday pizza meet up at the end of my working week and the beginning of his. The canal is where we finally got to relax with a few beers after work, the swan gym the place where I'd meet him before or after a swim in the pool. Boojum Burritos was the holy grail of takeout. He would even bring some back to Sligo when he came back from working in Dublin. The Grand Social was where we went to various gigs and the Cobblestone was where we cheered on our friend in her Blues Grass band. The front steps of my work is where he'd meet me some days at 6 pm. O'Neills is where we had that fight out of the blue about travelling. Temple Bar is where I cried and Dame Street is where he got on the bus and I waited for him to turn around and say it was all a mistake and he didn't. It wasn't until a few months later that we both realized we had both looked back to search for the other's forgiving eyes. We just hadn't seen the other looking. We stopped making each other's hearts go boom in that beautiful way love encourages lovers to do.

A full year of changes and memories, good, bad and ugly. A full year of challenges and doubts and new friends and new experiences. A full year from forcing myself to write a blog post about renewing my blog and fresh starts. Even in the chaos of the aftermath of a breakup, I still managed to redesign my entire food blog and mean it. I have spent the last year applying baby steps to changing things in my life for the better and it worked! Life is better. Life is fresher, friendlier, more interesting and much closer to the type of life I wanted because I went with what felt good, what my gut and my heart felt right with. I learnt so much about myself. I learnt to forgive. I learnt just how far my love goes for someone I truly care about and love. I learnt to love myself more too.

What does any of this have to do with food then? Again, small steps. This time last year, I had spent what felt like an eternity neglecting myself; emotionally, mentally and physically. One major booster of energy, enthusiasm and emotional and physical stability for me is good food. It was one of the key reasons I set up the blog and the main reason I wrote that post this time last year to take the food I consumed seriously and realize just how much good food affects me.

The first step I took to looking after myself was increasing my intake of colorful, beautiful, glossy, sunshine glasses full of juice. I had taken to making juices for my Mam, constantly thinking of better, healthier, tastier versions of vibrant juices for her but of course, didn't think about myself. Juicing, when balanced with a healthy diet literally re-energizes and re-invigorates your body like no other food I've come across. By taking the small step of aiming to have one juice a day, I've felt healthy, energized and alive.

Taking care of yourself when you are used to taking care of others or going through an emotional time seems insurmountable. It seems that way but it's not. Taking time out to make a juice and feel better by seeing it's healthy glow and then drinking it down each day makes a massive different to your health and happiness. When bad days, break ups, illnesses and shitty days are weighing down on you, honestly, making a juice is the difference between another shitty next day and a real goodie.

So many people ask me what they can do to 'be healthier'. I generally say, cut out the crap and get more veggies into you. I never thought to say "drink more juices", so I'm saying it now. Incorporate it into your daily life. Here's a great one to start. It looks beautiful and healthy and despite what you might think about the ingredients (really, let's be real and state the obvious, it's the beetroot, isn't it?) it tastes AMAZING.

1 beetroot
1 pear
1 apple
1 carrot/orange/a few mandarins (if using oranges/mandarins, remove the peel first)
1/2 lemon
1 chunk ginger (about the length of your thumb nail)
handful of mint

Except for the oranges and mandarins, the peel/skin/core of all the other ingredients can stay on

Wash all your veggies and fruit. Using your juicer, blend the juice in the following order: (gets the best out of your ingredients and the juicer) Beetroot, lemon + ginger + mint, pear, carrot, apple.
Add a few ice cubes, stir and drink slowly.

Enjoy every last drop and remember, baby steps and be good to your amazing self. It may lead you to have the energy to get up and go, despite the breakup, to places where you can see views like those below in person and not just trawling through facebook feeds :) Views and feelings and passions of different sorts that make your heart go boom in another beautiful way.

Happy Friday. Now get juicing.

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