Snowball - where to begin. Let's just do the whole story, shall we? (If you're just here for the pictures, just skip this bit and jump to the photos further down - they're there, I promise.)

I had a couple of lovely nights of dancing, and one that was absolutely fantastic. And then it fell apart. I hadn't slept. I was incredibly jealous at every dancer - no, not every dancer, every follow - who is better than me at anything; more musical, more athletic, has more dance vocab, has better connection, brings more fun and personality to the dancing, responds faster and better, more beautiful, more popular. Especially more popular. Those follows who get asked to dance all the time. Who are they, even?

And I started to feel like burden for Liam. He's had to spend a lot of time comforting and supporting me at dance events during the past year. We started contemplating not going to dance events together anymore. I decided to cancel all the events in the spring and summer we've already decided on, just so I won't be in his way because CLEARLY he doesn't even want me there.

The next to last night of Snowball I danced very little. The last night not at all. At that point I was ready to not just stop going to dance events with Liam, I was ready to stop dancing altogether. Maybe this is it - maybe this is when I stop dancing - why even do it when I'm such a shit dancer, and I'm completely stuck? Nothing's happened in my lindy for years. I need a practise partner to grow as a dancer, but I don't know anyone who'd want to be that, who couldn't easily find someone better than me. There's nothing to do about it anymore.

I cried in the hotel room for hours, not silently trickling tears, but the kind of desperate despairing crying that just never seems to end.

The day after, we went back to Göteborg to spend New year's eve with my friends. Liam managed to calm me enough to be able to function during the train ride there, and asked me to not cancel any events just yet - never make important decisions as sleep deprived as we are, he said, and I agreed. Slowly, slowly he convinced me that he would much rather have me with him at all those events; he just doesn't want me to feel all those horribly negative feelings that come over me at some events. I felt a little better.

And then I got my period. And everything made sense again.

And I'm like FOR FUCKS SAKE BODY GIVE ME A BREAK. Polycystic ovaries kinda suck, and one of the trickiest bits is never knowing when I'll have my period. PMS for me is never angry or grumpy. It's sadness bordering on actual despair; so much so that I barely recognize myself. And yet it happens so rarely, and so irregularly (two months in between? Six months? Who knows?) that I still can't spot it when it happens; the feeling is so intense and so real that it didn't even cross my mind that it wasn't really me.

And just like that, I felt a million times better. I'm still struggling with all my feelings of inadequacy; I still feel stuck in my lindy and don't really know what to do to grow; I'm still struggling with jealousy about better and more popular follows. But I felt like I had returned to myself. The despair was gone, replaced with a mild sense of excitement: A whole new year to work on my dancing! I can't wait.

Anyway - back to Snowball. When I'm not the official photographer, I tend to bring my camera to the dance floor for the last few nights of the event, just to capture some joy and memories. But as I said, this time, for the last two nights, I had other things on my mind. In the daytime though, a lot of lovely things happened. Here they are:

Burgers (and salted caramel milkshake, aww yiss) for dinner with the wonderful Ben and Isobel.

An afternoon walk through Stockholm, and waffles at Älskade Traditioner.

Liam posing with his delicious, luxurious salad bar salad from ICA. :)

Pre-dancing drinks at Geoff's place - had a lovely time but only managed to get Liam and Miranda in photos.

And then a walk back to the hotel, enjoying the NK store windows on our way.

We had dinner with Miranda and Johan one of the evenings, which was lovely.

And I had lunch with Uli, a tradition from last year that I hope we'll keep up.

And last but not least, I took Liam to my favourite brunch place, Greasy Spoon.

So, what you may be wondering: Am I going back next year? Yes, certainly. I'm intensely disappointed still that my event ended like it did. But now that I'm back to myself, I want to throw myself into more dancing, and many more dance events. More learning, fewer excuses and different ways of developing my skills. Snowball is one of the best ones. And I can't wait to go back and do it right next year.

Ella Fitzgerald | Blue Skies

dec 24 + 25

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were both calm, slow and lovely days since we'd already done "big" Christmas on the 23rd. Personally I LOVED having multiple Christmas days like this. Obviously. :)

This photo is my absolute favourite from Christmas: Anne and Liam on Christmas morning (by which I mean proper Christmas morning, on Christmas Eve).

Such beautiful people.

Joelle came over and had some more of the gingerbread I brought over from Sweden. You see, they have something called gingerbread in the UK, and I kinda hate it. At least it's certainly not worth eating. It's like, thick? And less flavourful? And just weird? I brought a tin over of gingerbread that my mum and I have baked, and it was an instant success, and everyone agreed that Swedish gingerbread is better, yay! (I feel quite proud of that since I'm worthless in the kitchen normally. And I don't even like baking. The Christmas tradition of baking proper gingerbread though, that's different.)

Then Liam and I went for a Christmas Eve walk around Stowe Pool in the last afternoon light.


We found a cemetary with mist and all!

This was a really beautiful place and a lovely short walk.

When we got back Liam and I had our own little present opening time (because Christmas Eve). I may or may not have brought those mini baubles from Sweden just to decorate his gifts with. Maybe.

And then we watched Sagan om Karl-Bertil Jonssons Julafton (the tale about Karl-Bertil Jonsson's Christmas Eve) which is a Swedish tradition I'll never want to be without.

On Christmas Day all four of us went for a walk, a longer walk this time, around Chase Water.

There were deer!!!

And birds.

In the evening, board game time! We played Codenames. I gave up quite quickly because of overload. :)

And later, Liam made me hot chocolate and a fire, and I got to snuggle up on the couch with him watching Stardust (for the millionth time, but I love it and we've never watched it together). Christmas couldn't have ended more perfectly than that.

Ella Fitzgerald! | Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

love, crackers and a pudding on fire

OMG, I spent Christmas in the UK, and I had a truly wonderful time.

Lemme tell you, I picked a really great family to have as my family-in-law (well, future family-in-law - don't worry, when we get married you'll hear about it, I promise. :)). Obviously they are all completely mental, but they are so much fun. And loud and chatty and just all over the place. :) And they are so sweet and kind and welcoming to me. Best bit is they tell me how happy they are that Liam picked me and no one else; that they can tell that it's different now, that he's different now, that I'm making him happy. It's hard not to feel welcome in a family like this.

Christmas happened on the 23rd this year, because that was the day that worked best for everyone. I didn't mind of course - 25th would also have been the "wrong" day to celebrate Christmas for me, so it didn't make any difference to me. :)

We had food! It was all in all a baffling experience. Christmas dinner doesn't happen at dinner but at lunchtime (much in the same way that tea sometimes means tea and sometimes dinner). It included MOUNTAINS of food that disappeared within minutes (it seemed). They (by which I mean Anne and Liam, who make all the food in this house. At least I made the place cards! Look, I contributed!) made me a veggie nut roast which was completely delicious. I've even gotten used to having gravy on everything, to Liam's delight.

Look! A pudding on fire! Like in the films! (What it tastes like? Answer: A lot. It tastes a lot.)

Bracken also came to visit! Such a beautiful dog.

This smile thooo

Present opening time! It was as manic as everything else in this family. And super nice and warm.

This made my heart melt quite a bit!

Liam got poop for Christmas

much to the delight of, well, the givers. :)

LOOK IT'S MY NEW HAT that Bella made for me!!! I love it so much!

After all the presents were opened, the strangest thing happened. As though there was a secret silent cue, suddenly everyone retreated to a corner for a nap. Obviously I love naps, I just had no idea that this was going to happen. What else was I to do than curl up next to Liam for snuggles? Woe is me.

And in the evening, we played a bunch of silly games, I hid in the quiet of our room twice because of overload, and I ate my body weight in chocolate. Just as it should be.

Aretha Franklin | Joy to the World