My diet is pretty perfect right now (my own world view of course), and has been for a while.

Apart from chocolate.

I gave it up over Lent. And that was absolutely fine. I had no trouble with not eating it at all.

After Lent? Not so much.

The worst bit is, I don’t even like it much anymore. I keep trying new types of chocolate because — well, I’m just not liking it. So rather than celebrating that I am free from the desire to eat chocolate — yippee! — I am buying weirder and weirder types of chocolate in the hope I will find one I like. (Lime and seasalt chocolate: just no.)

I’m perplexed as to why it’s chocolate that is my bete noire. I was reading an interesting piece on the interwebs about the fact that chocolate’s hold over us is almost entirely cultural (ok, ok, that’s not what the piece is about, but it’s in there and is the part I found interesting…). And it’s true: chocolate has mythical, magical powers and it represents so much more than some sweet brown melty candy.

Today, I was reading a blog post about giving up chocolate for ever which I found thoughtful, and thought-provoking. The way she articulated the yearning and emptiness that she filled with chocolate resonated with me.

I don’t really want to eat chocolate. I don’t derive much pleasure from it, and often feel unpleasantly over-sugared straight after consuming it. Duh. And yet. And yet I eat it on a regular basis.

Today I had three (very small and rather unpleasant) chocolates after my lunch because they were there. Mr P had bought them for the children at the weekend, who are still overwhelmed with an enormous Easter egg collection (not bought by us), and I find it almost impossible to walk past the cupboard without them announcing their presence (especially the stray, unclaimed bits and bobs of chocolate). I put them out of their misery by eating them.

Later on, as I was avoiding writing a report for one of my clients, I discovered another unattended chocolate in the cupboard (slightly larger this time — a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup — again, actively not liked by me). Needless to say, that is no longer there either.

It  makes me cross with myself. I am an intelligent, reasonably disciplined person: I know it’s not good for me; I don’t actually like it that much; I don’t like how it makes me feel. And yet I regularly find myself reaching for chocolate because I want … what? It’s not chocolate that I want, so not surprisingly chocolate doesn’t really deliver it.

It’s because I want something different.

I want not to be in the place or mood that I am in.

I don’t want to feel angry, or trapped, or bored.

But those emotions don’t fit very well in my life. (In anyone’s life? In any woman’s life?) And so our culture gives us — and actively promotes as a solution to managing those feelings– chocolate.



On books, real books

One of my goals for 2016 was to read more books.

Real books.

Because I live in the middle of nowhere and getting to the shops is a real effort I did some random scatter gun Amazon purchasing and bought a big pile to dip into. They sat on the table in my study for a while and I even enjoyed just looking at them for a while, before I even started reading them.

There is something about the texture of book covers that I really like. And I like the colours of the spines, and the different fonts and title formats …

The reading itself is going really well (14 books so far this year (plus one I abandoned) — go me! And the kids are still alive). Needless to say, I’m loving it. For the last several years I have been moving away from paper books — books are clutter, the paper versions are so expensive, you read them so quickly, who has time to read books anyway …

Part of rediscovering my pleasure in reading, though, has been allowing myself the luxury — and commitment — of a proper book. I love the artwork on the cover; I love holding the weight of a book in my hand. The promise of a new story. The smell of a fresh book. I love having a book mark (I have an impressive bookmark collection, some of them made for me by friends I have not seen in twenty years) and being able to see at a glance, from across the room, where I am in the book gives me a sense of rightness in the world.

Having a book is like having a friend with me at all times. A book I am in the middle of enjoying is a physical object I can bring with me, wherever I go, and just holding it makes the world a better place, giving me a sense of delicious anticipation of all the lovely things I am about to read.

So books. They rock.

This month I am attempting a “write-a-(first-draft-of-a)-book-in-a-month” so my rate of reading has already declined through April (writing is going well so far, thank-you for asking, in terms of wordcount, and I have switched off my inner editor, as required by the process, but wow I can write a lot of derivative drivel quite quickly — but what is surprising me is how much I am enjoying doing it).

Looking forward to getting stuck in again in May. I probably will need to go shopping again, though.