Wednesday, July 2, 2014

living by mama and daddy's example

i've come across this article before and skimmed over it, but a facebook friend posted it again today and i read it thoroughly.  after 16 years of marriage, gerald rogers' marriage was coming to a close - they divorced, and he 'lost the woman he loved'.  while reflecting on his marraige, and subsequents divorce, he discovered things he could have done differently.  he then wrote this article entitled 'marriage advice i wish i would have had'.  it's a good read, and i think good advice for any relationship, marriage or otherwise, for both parties, for their relationship to grow and thrive instead of diminish and fail.  

i have been lucky enough to have the example my parents set for me to follow.  i've told their story before to you few followers i have out there (and thank you, blog high-five), but i'll run through it again.  

my parents met at some party when they were younger after college, and i think they were both on the rebound.  two weeks after their first date, my dad asked my mom to marry him and she said, 'sure - sounds like fun'.  that is literally what she said.  

my parents friends, i'm sure, all thought they were crazy.  they are still friends with some of those people, and many of them are divorced now, and i think some others are in unhappy marriages.  but still, my parents thrive.  they have had their challenges, sure, and i'm sure at a couple points they could've walked away.  but my mom has also said not only are they committed to each other and the family they made together, but they are committed to their commitment to each other.  at first i thought that statement was confusing and the same thing as the other, but i realize now it is not the same thing at all - the two are entirely different.

i've asked my mom before, 'why did you say yes to someone you you met?'  it sounds ridiculous and crazy, right?  but she said that in that moment, her gut said 'yes' and she knew she would spend the rest of her life with him.  my dad, more of less, had that same feeling deep in his gut.  and thus, the first example they have set forth for me is to always, always go with my gut.  you know when you know, and you also know when it's not right.  but no matter which, go with your gut instinct -  it will never lie.

here's the link, his bullet points, and my commentary below (per usual).  rogers talks about 'her' as in his wife, but this is advice for both parties of course.

1) Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.

i think this is so important, especially if and when you have kids.  my parents always did and still do go on dates.  in fact, they have a date night - they go to dinner, have some wine, and date each other.   they've been married over 34 years, but they never stopped dating each other.  they went on dates when we were little, took trips together, and they've always done that.  

over the years i've noticed a trend - couples getting divorced after their kids graduate high school.  their relationship as husband and wife turned into only a relationship of mom and dad - their kids dictated and defined each other and the roles they played.  so when the kids left they house, they were left alone with each other and the relationship they had with each other didn't exist anymore.  they had changed over the years, and instead of growing with each other, they grew apart - they looked at each other after the kids were gone, and didn't recognize or connect with the person in front of their eyes.  

my parents always maintained a relationship outside of myself, aren, and perry.  sure, they were our mom and dad,  but they maintained their relationship as lovers and husband and wife.  so when we all left the house, they were strong and their relationship grew.  and i think it made them better, happier parents to be honest.  and they continue to date, go on trips, laugh, play, and discover each other after 34 years of marriage.

2) PROTECT YOUR OWN HEART. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.

protect that place in your heart, mind, and spirit that belongs only to your partner.  i have witnessed relationships over the years when one or both parties cheat.  their eyes wonder, secret texts start, your mind and heart start to wonder and follow your loins to 'greener pastures', your spouse becomes suspicious, checks your phones, starts to lose their trust, need i go on?  protect that trust.  protect that place in your heart that is dedicated to your spouse, and your spouse only.  keep that passion alive and growing.  i plan on marrying a man that i adore and passionately love.  love hard.  when you kiss your spouse, really kiss them.  when you hug, hug tight and hug long.  have sex like teenagers, maybe in the back of a car one night on a date.  keep the desire.

3) FALL IN LOVE OVER and OVER and OVER again. You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.

people change, it's no secret, and it's just a natural part of life.  as we grow older, as we encounter new life experiences, we change.  as you and your spouse change, learn to grow together.  in their 34 years, my parents have faced many obstacles.  they have changed, but they have done what they needed to do to grow together as  they encounter those changes.  they have gone to therapy to check-in with each other and learn how to face obstacles and growing pains they encountered.  some might thing that going to therapy is a weakness and sign towards an ending marriage, but i think the exact opposite.  working through all these things, getting guidance from a third party, was a key part in their success as a couple.  hell - i've gone to therapy over the years as i have changed, adapted, faced obstacles, faced death of loved ones.  you talk about them, work them out, and learn how to face them head on - in a marriage you just face these things together.

4) ALWAYS SEE THE BEST in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love.

5) IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CHANGE OR FIX HER… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.

when you love someone, you need to love that whole person, faults and all.  we all have our faults, and they're part of what makes us who we are.  i grind my teeth and wear a night guard - sexy, i know.  that damn nightguard is an insecurity i kind of have that comes along with me.  i take naps and can fall asleep at the drop of a hat during the day, and will fall asleep in movies (including at a theater).  i will fall asleep while in the passenger side of a car on road trips sometimes.  some might find that annoying, but it comes with the zoe territory.  i'm like a tornado when i sleep, and a hot pocket.  i'm ocd when it comes to the kitchen.  i have an unhealthy attachment to my dog.  i am sloppy when i brush my teeth - i get toothpaste all over my mouth, and water all over the counter.  i follow the speed limit to a 't' with both hands on the steering wheel.  i tell the same story over and over again, and might forget one you have told me because my mind wandered.  i have trouble sleeping at night sometimes.  these are all traits i have that could be considered 'faults', but they are mine and part of me.

i've witnessed some who are in relationships, and they are attracted to the person they think they *could* be one day.  if only they could change this, modify that, stop him or her from doing that because they hate it and it drives them crazy.  people, you can't change them.  and if you think you can and you want to, get out of that relationship.  you will continue to get agitated, annoyed, you'll fight over petty stuff, you'll grow apart, your mind will wander, your eyes and hands might stray, and it's going to be bad news.  love that person wholly, fully, accept their faults, and maybe even find them cute and endearing :)

6) TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.

i've talked about this before in some other entries.  so, yea.  folks, do not place your own individual happiness contingent on someone else.  you are responsible for your own happiness, no one else.  and in my opinion, if you aren't happy and fulfilled just being you, you have nothing to offer anyone else in a healthy relationship.  if you're placing your happiness contingent on someone else, i can see that leading to some major codependency issues.  i think that's one of the reasons i've remained single and haven't settled.  i'm so incredibly happy, fulfilled, and thrilled with life just being me that it is going to take someone very special for me to invite him in.  and i want someone just as happy and just as whole.  two halves don't make a whole, two wholes make a fuller whole.  and when you are happy and full and enter a relationship, just like rogers says, your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.  it will make your relationship so much stronger - how could it not?  positive energy is so contagious, and makes someone look so much more attractive.

7) NEVER BLAME your wife If you get frustrated or angry, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.

this makes me think of the 24 hour rule i have.  you will argue with your spouse, and that's not a bad thing - i think a littler arguing here and there means you care, and when you're not arguing at all, that's when you might  need to be concerned.  but if you get mad at something and want to unleash, don't!  take a step back, take a break for 24 hours, breathe, evaluate the situation, calm down, and then confront the argument at hand later on when you are calm.  when you are upset and in the moment, we all know we can say hateful, hateful things that are fueled by the strong emotions we are feeling.  we are going to say things we don't mean.  words can be forgiven, but never forgotten, so choose them wisely.

8) Allow your woman to JUST BE. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.

i think this kind of ties into #7.  when we are sad or upset about something, sometimes we just need some alone time.  we may want to talk it out, we may just need some alone time.  and when you want to be left alone, leave that person alone.  lovingly let them know you are there if and when you are ready to talk, support them, love them, and just let them be if they need to.  and on the other side of the coin, if you need some alone time, let your partner know.  no one is a mind reader.  i know sometimes when i'm upset, i just need to be left alone and have a good cry, or sulk for a day, and then i'm fine.  but that's just what i need, and i need my partner to respect and honor that.  i want to know he is there for me when and if i need him, but i also want him to respect the fact i might need some room.  and when the upset spouse wants to talk about it, really listen to them.  look them in the eye, hug them long and tight, support them.  and do the same for them.

9) BE SILLY… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.

i know for a fact this is one of  the crucial parts of my parents' marriage.  my dad can make my mom laugh so hard it will bring her to tears, and he does it often.  and mom makes my dad laugh hard and sometimes he'll do this high-pitched thing.  they'll smile, roll their eyes adoringly at dumb things the other does.  they laugh, they play, they go on adventures.  they got the church giggles so bad one time during yoga it was suggested they might  not want to sit next to each other.  it's a great thing to watch, actually - my parents laughing together.  and i want to end up with someone just as silly and ridiculous as i am, and never ever stop laughing.

10) FILL HER SOUL EVERYDAY… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel loved. 

we are all different, and feel loved in different ways.  some people need gifts and jewelry and stuff.  there's nothing wrong with that, but i don't need that stuff and actually makes me feel uncomfortable to an extent.  some others need words of affirmation.  for me, i need to hugged tight and kissed hard.  i need to be looked in the eye and told, 'damn - i love you so much'.   i need to make out in an elevator.  passion makes me feel loved and wanted.  everyone is different, know what your partner needs, and give it to them.

11) BE PRESENT. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.

your spouse is your priority, plain and simple.  when they talk to you, look them in the eye and really listen.  when your spouse needs you, get off your damn phone and give them your undivided attention.  make damn sure they know and feel they are appreciated, loved, and heard.

12) BE WILLING TO TAKE HER SEXUALLY, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.

yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.  never stop having sex - and don't treat it as a chore.  sex is meant to be one of the best parts of life, not the worst!  and keep it fun, silly, and exciting.  go on a date and then fool around in the back of the car.  pull me into an alley or against the car in a parking lot and kiss  me hard.  give me butterflies.  let's make out.  passion is so important, crucial - don't lose it.  and if you do lose it, find a way to get it back.

13) DON’T BE AN IDIOT…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.

everyone makes mistakes.  learn from them, talk them out, gain some wisdom, move on, and maybe laugh at the really silly ones.  just don't be stupid.

14) GIVE HER SPACE… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered.)

see #8

15) BE VULNERABLE… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fear and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.

i don't expect you to be a hero, and i'm not one either.  we all have weak moments, and we all need to feel vulnerable at times.  when you're feeling vulnerable, feel it.  ask for help, tell each other what you need.  if you partner is in this place, be there for them and lift them up.  we all lose our marbles at time.  and sometimes a spouse needs to take on a little more weight off the other's shoulders, and this is okay and a sign of a good partnership and team, i think.

i love jack johnson, and he has this semi-new song - love these lyrics:
Some days I can't hold it at all
You take it on for me

When tomorrow’s too much
I’ll carry it all
I’ve got you
16) BE FULLY TRANSPARENT. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, and part of that courage is allowing her to love your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.

make your partner feel safe and secure with their feelings, no matter what they are, plain and simple.

17) NEVER STOP GROWING TOGETHER… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is for a relationship that isn’t focused on growing. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.

yup - see #3

18) DON’T WORRY ABOUT MONEY. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.

marriage is a romantic partnership, but it is also a business partnership - some may disagree, but that's how i see it.  again, i think that's been a key to my parents' marriage.  my mom stayed at home with us kids when we were younger before we were in school full time, and today i feel incredibly blessed she and my dad were able to give that to us kids.  that was important to my parents, and it was a big decision they made together.  my dad would financially support the family during that time, and we were blessed to have a father that was able to provide a very nice life for us growing up.  after we were all in school full time, my my mom went back to school to become a nurse.  my dad retired years ago, and my mom is now the bread-winner.  my dad had his own business, and my mom ran the books for the business and the family.  they have made some key decisions for their retirement, and make all financial decisions together.  and you know what, money stuff changes.  you may think something is going to happen a certain way, and think you can project your financial future, but chances are it will be a little different than what you might have planned on.  finances change, planning needs to change along with it.  money is one of the top reasons for divorce, and i think it's one of the most preventable reasons.  don't fall victim to it.

19) FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. Forgiveness is freedom. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.

work differences out entirely at the time they happen, forgive, learn, grow, move on.  when you don't work things out and forgive the other for mistakes made, you will hold onto resentments and those are so dangerous and will prevent any future growth.  forgive each other, be kind to one another.

20) ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.

always choose love, always choose love, always choose love - just like rogers said.  after 34 years, after arguments, disagreements, mistakes, tears, parents and friend dying, obstacles, my parents love each other and their love continues to grow, endure, and because of that simple reason they thrive.  it sounds easy, but it takes work - love and relationships take work. tell your partner you love them, even if you may hate them at the time.  love will endure, love will get you through the hard times, and at the end of the day when you go to bed, in your final years, all you are left with is love.

and that's what i have for now - for some reason, this article caught my eye today when i came across it.  i was recently talking to my mom about her and my dad's story.  and here are some pictures of this example i've had.  and how cute are they?!?

Friday, May 16, 2014

is it rude to leave a yoga class?

i've been neglecting my yoga practice the last couple weeks.  my regular yoga teachers i go to, the only ones i have found in austin i thoroughly enjoy and agree with, are out for a little while having a baby (they're married).  although i am thrilled about them becoming new parents, i miss them in class!

yesterday was the first time i've been to yoga in two weeks, i hate to admit.  i knew there would be a sub for ben's class last night, but i went anyway and gave her the benefit of the doubt.  the class started out quite nice, actually - we eased  into it, did some breathing work, had some opening meditation, so it was starting to look good.  so far, so good.  then within 10 minutes it turned into a fast flow aerobics type class with music so loud i could barely hear the teacher.  i was annoyed the rest of the class, left irritated, and didn't get anything from it.

now, i know that there are many people out there that like this type of class.  it's fast, you get a good aerobic 'work-out', you like the music, etc.  americans tend to like the westernized version of yoga.  but this kind of yoga is absolutely nothing like the original yoga that began years and years ago in other parts of the world - it's not even reminiscent of it.  did you know the original yoga only had a handful of postures and every single one of them was seated?  did you know the original yoga used to include practices such as deep meditation, different breathing techniques, ayurvedic medicinal practices, and using a neti pot?  yep - that's right.

my training came from a lesser known branch of the yoga tree - i think most teachers these days are trained in flow vinyasa, some type of core power yoga, more popular aerobic type yoga, etc.  i was trained by a student whose grand-teacher is pandit rajmani, who is the successor of swami rama.  i was trained more in trantric (not the sex kind - get your mind out of the gutter) hatha yoga, more similar to the original style of yoga.  it's a slow, deep practice.  you hold a posture for several breath cycles to maximize the physical, mental, and spiritual benefit of each.  there is an emphasis on pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, and rest.  i felt changed forever after my in depth teacher training.  the readings, the teachings, the practice, the overall knowledge i got is forever embedded into my heart.  since this is a less popular branch of the yoga tree, it is hard to find teachers who i agree and connect with - in fact, there isn't one yoga teacher i know of (and i searched) in austin who is apart of this branch.

these two teachers i have found in austin are amazing - they fall pretty in sync with how i was taught and how i like to practice.  i've been disconnected and disappointed with other teachers i have found.  i get far more physical benefits from hilly and ben's classes - we hold deep poses for a few breath cycles instead of flowing quickly with each breath.  i feel stronger when i practice with them than i have felt with anyone else.  sure, you don't get as an aerobic work-out as other classes you  may find, but again - yoga isn't meant to be a work-out, and instead is more of a work-in.  a little while ago, i was leaving one of hilly's classes and a woman who was in class with me (who i didn't know) let out a huge sigh and said to me, 'now that is what a yoga class should be.'  she went on to say that when she wants more of a calorie-burner and work-out she goes to other classes, but with hilly's class she always feels so well rested and calm after.  i couldn't agree more, stranger - i couldn't agree more.

i have left two yoga classes before.  a couple years ago, not only did i leave this class, but i left the studio entirely.  i had began teacher training myself, and as i delved deeper into my own practice and felt more in line with what i was learning from shanon, i felt more and more disconnected to my usual classes that i used to like.  my teacher's teacher rod stryker has a saying that rang true, 'give them what they want, and then slip them what they need.'  i thought i had what i wanted, but learning the teachings of swami rama from shanon was the gentle slip of what i didn't even know i needed.  at any rate, in my last class at this particular studio, the teacher said that yoga is like aerobics.  i couldn't have disagreed more.  i grabbed my mat, left the class, and never went back to that studio again.  and so, i followed hilly and ben to wherever they went.  it was an enormous relief, and i just felt at home on my mat in their classes.  i felt rested, calm, and just warm and happy all over.  the second class i left, the teacher was playing top 40 music so damn loud i couldn't even hear her or my breath, and she was moving the class along so quickly i just got pissed off - i grabbed my mat and left, and i have never been back to her class.

now, don't get me wrong - everyone likes different things, and different things work for different people.  i'm sure there are some that don't like to practice how i like to practice - and that's fine.  we all have our different opinions.  we all have an interpretation of what yoga is, and we take on what feels right within.  but if you are in a yoga class you don't like, is it rude to leave?  i don't think it is.  if i were teaching (which i chose not to pursue) i honestly don't think i'd be offended if someone chose to leave because i have left yoga classes before i wasn't digging, and if someone wasn't digging mine i'd respect their decision to leave.

this is a good article i came across this morning - the timing was quite ironic because i came close to leaving my third class last night.  good read.

Monday, May 12, 2014

to zoo, or not to zoo

so, i just got back from a trip to dallas to see the family.  my little brother came into town from california, and we don't get to see him that often.  it's been a rough few weeks at work and otherwise, so it's always good to go home, check in, and recharge my batteries.

on friday my parents, myself, and aren took my two and a half year old nephew to the zoo.  simon loves, love, LOVES the zoo and is crazy about animals - he can identify so many animals when you show him pictures and able to make the sound they make, and is so curious to learn more about them.  he's kinda awesome that way.  and most of simon's love and awareness of animals have come from aren, his family, and his teachers teaching him about animals and him seeing them in person (i.e., toby, his dad's dogs, my parents cats, the zoo).

as someone who loves animals and think they all should be treated as equals, as a vegan and someone who wants to reduce and end all animal suffering, i hate zoos and the caging and enclosing of animals.  however, as someone who loves animals, i also feel strongly connected to them.  i think this is crucial in others starting to feel how i feel, and educating themselves on the unfair treatment upon a lot of animals - they need to feel connected to them to care, and spending time with them and experiencing them helps to build this connectivity.  and so, i'm at an impasse.

i haven't been to the zoo in a while, and i honestly do not like to go.  and to add to that, zoos and sanctuaries are completely different to me.  sanctuaries house 100% rescued wildlife.  for example, the sanctuary we went to in alaska had wildlife that were all rescues - some they were holding through the winter to be released in the spring, others were permanent residents (those who were orphaned or injured).  their 'enclosures', if i can even call them that, were HUGE - like, they had acres upon acres of tons of space for the animals to meander about.  they were hardly comparable to then tiny zoo enclosures.  there also were only a few people there when we went as opposed to thousands of screaming children banging on the glass and yelling at the animals at the zoo.  so, to me at least, these two aren't comparable.

the animals at the zoo break my heart - i could've easily cried a couple times friday when we were there.  the cages for some of these animals were hardly sufficient for their size.  sure, some of these animals are rescues, but some of them aren't - some of them are kidnapped and taken to zoos to our pleasure and enjoyment.  screaming and growling children swarm their cages banging on the glass, pulling on nets - if i was one of those animals i'd just be so depressed.  and animals aren't stupid, people - they feel emotion, they feel stress and anger, they feel what we feel.  but, again, i'm at an impasse.

zoos and sanctuaries are pretty much that people can see wildlife in person.  and to see, is to believe.  seeing grows awareness.  seeing rids yourself of some ignorance surrounding wildlife.  reading the placards about a certain animal being endangered.  and what we can do to help them educates us.  seeing them, feeling them, raising our awareness, and building our education helps people feel connected and feeling connected makes us give a damn about them.  it makes us feel sad for them, it makes us want to help.  for example, almost 60% of vegans became vegan after either a) watching videos of a factory farm and slaughterhouse, or b) growing a friendship with a typical farm animal (ex., more and more people are getting pigs as pets and they no longer eat pork or bacon).  i started caring more about wildlife when i volunteered at wildlife rescue - it made me feel connected in a way that i wouldn't if i hadn't had that experience.  my mom volunteered and did something with gorillas at the dallas zoo when i was little, and she grew to care about them as a species.  marine biologists, zoo keepers, zoologists, veterinarians, etc. care GREATLY for the animals they tend to - they treat them as equals, as friends, as children.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

a ticking clock

i got toby when i was in rehab when i was 19 years old.  that's right, i was in rehab.  did y'all know that?  i had a nasty eating disorder when i was younger, and it took me far away to rehab when i was newly 19.  i went to inpatient in arizona for 30 days.  i thought after that i'd be done, back home and cured for good - shit, was i was wrong.  after arizona, i went to florida for four months for out-patient... and that's where i found my toby.

i was lonely in treatment, needless to say.  treatment is a horribly scary, lonely place.  and the further into treatment i got, the lonelier i became.  my out-patient facility in florida encouraged 'pet therapy'.  and i thought to myself, 'sweet!!  i can get a dog like i've always wanted!'  it sounded easy enough, but it wasn't.  the delray beach/boca raton area is a HUGE rehab community.  when i walked into the first pet adoption place i felt judged - they took one look at me and my friend, and did not want to place an animal into my care.  and looking back on it now, in their defense, rightfully so.  i was 19.  i was unstable and in rehab, for god's sake.  and so, i ended up at puppy palace - a puppy store, that i'm sure now gets all there dogs from puppy mills.  god forgive me!!

i wanted to adopt, but i was denied.  i was crushed.  but i wanted a damn dog to love on, and nothing was going to stop me.  i took my roommate and best rehab friend lindsay with me to puppy palace - i had no idea what kind of dog i was looking for.  the place had kiddy pools surrounded by fencing filled with puppies.  i walked from pool to pool, and finally walked up to this one that was in the middle.  there were so many puppies jumping around, crawling on each other, yipping and yapping, and there was one dead asleep on his back in the middle of the pool unaware of anything that was around him (he is now my toby).

i walked up to the pool.  all these puppies walked up to me and lindsay, jumping up begging us to take them home.  but i had my eye on this one weird little guy dead asleep, motionless in the middle of the pool.  i swear to god, the second i was against the pool that damn puppy woke up, stood up and shook off, and ran over to me and jumped up.  he looked at me with his little brown eyes and that was it - i was done for.  and that little ball of fluff is now my toby.

i picked him up, and tears came to my eyes.  he had a little hospital bracelet around his neck (they all did) with his birthday, price (gulp), and breed.  i didn't know what the hell a shiba inu was, but what did i care - this dog and i were in love and i was going to take him home.  i carried him to the front, wrote a check, and lindsay and i took him home.

i never grew up with a dog - i grew up with cats.  and all of a sudden i was in rehab with an 8 week old puppy.  i had no idea what to name him - how do you name a pet??  so lindsay and i got online, and pulled up a list of common dog names and we literally started from the letter 'a' and called to toby each name that caught my eye down the list.  we were sitting at our dining room table, i called 'toby', and that little guy came running and jumped up on me.  and so was the beginning of the relationship we have today.

toby is now 12 years old.  well, he's over 12 years old actually - in fact, he turned 12 on february 16 of this year.  i'm 31, and i got him when i was 19.  we've been together through everything - and i mean, everything.   he's been with me through hurt, heartache, happiness, every time i've cried, every time i've laughed, moved, fought, screamed, through every roommate, relationship, breakup, loss, victory... i mean, everything.

when toby turned 10, he hit the double-digits - his immortality was just so imminent all of a sudden.  i hated it.  and this last year, he had surgery - we had to have a tumor removed.  the tumor was benign, and apparently very common among 'older' dogs, but it sucked.  i had to drop him off one morning, and wait for them to be done to pick him up the next day.  when i dropped him off, i cried.  when i went home from work that day and he wasn't there, i couldn't help but think to myself, 'is this  what it's going to be like when he dies?  i'm going to get home?  and it's going to be quiet?  and still?  and alone?'  i couldn't take it.  i called the vet the next morning to check on toby.  he made it through surgery, and i was counting the hours 'til i could  pick him up.  i cried when i dropped him off, and i cried when i picked him up.  and he was happy when i picked him up - he was freaking out!!  if he was so happy, how could i be crying?  and how the hell was i going to handle it if i ever had to go to the vet with him and not leave with him?

toby is happy and healthy and insanely energetic for a 12 year old dog... but i think about it.  his face is getting whiter.  he's slowing down.  he sleeps more.  he has that sagging 'old dog tummy'.  and let's face it, he will leave me one day.  i pray and pray that i won't be in the position i will have to put him down.  sometimes i've, ahem, gotten drunk and put him in a headlock pleading to him, 'toby, when it is your time, please just go on your own.  please don't put me in the position that i'll have to put you down because i don't know if i'll be strong enough.'

it may sound morbid to think about, i know - but i sometimes think about what it's going to be like when he isn't here anymore.  most days i don't think about it, but some days (like today) i look at him with love and appreciation, and i think of what it is going to be like without him.

i think that throughout out lifetime, we are each blessed with a few select soulmates - and toby is one of mine.  i am confident that i would not be where i am today without him.  he came into my life at a time when i needed him most, and he saved me.  my dog toby honestly saved me.  he gave me something to live for, to love.  he needed me and love me unconditionally.  he looked at me like i could do not wrong.  whenever i was upset or hurt or lost, i looked at him and i was calm.  i know that toby will always be with me, no matter what happens or what may come between us - he is my angel.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

He's Just Not That Into You (a reflection on the movie)

I’ve watched this movie so many times, it is saved on my DVR to watch at my leisure, and whenever it is on TV I will stop what I’m doing to watch it.  Have you ever been watching TV and you’re, like, so embarrassed for one of the characters you kinda shield your eyes when they do something stupid?  I’m like that with Gigi in this movie.  That girl, that girl, that girl… But, I digress…

In this movie, they go over some very valid points and lessons of dating, all of which are true.  Gigi also mentions that these are the 'rule's, and rarely are there 'exception' - hence the token phrase, 'the exception, not the rule'  I’ve encountered most of them personally, especially over the last years and the array of guys I’ve gone out with (I swear, I’ve had more first and second dates these last three years than I care to count), but have also witness them with my friends over the years.  I’ve given advice to a couple friends recently about some of this stuff.  These lessons are in a fictional movie, but every single one of them is true.  They are as follows, and apply to girls and guys (so kinda ignore the pronouns):

‘He’s not asking you out.  Because trust me, if he likes you, he’ll ask you out.’

This idea seems plain and simple enough, but it’s not well received.  When you like someone and they don’t ask you out, they don’t like you – plain and simple.  When we really like someone we can convince ourselves they like us too, when they really don’t.  And then we’ll try and come up with some reason they aren’t asking us out – they’re scared, I make them nervous, I’m intimidating, etc.  But when someone is interested, they’ll ask you out or at least make it known they’re interested.  If they don’t ask you out, they aren’t interested.

**Sidenote:  Be cognizant of ‘being on the hook’.  This means that you are someone’s back-up.  They flirt with you, kinda keep you around, and kinda want to make sure you’re interested just in case someone else doesn’t pan out.  This sounds horrible, but admit it – most of us have done it.  I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve done it.  Someone may flirt with you, send you cute texts, whatever, but if they aren’t asking you out, you are ‘on the hook.’

‘He’s not calling (or texting these days) – men know how to use the phone.’

One thing I’ve learned after all the first and second dates I’ve been on the last three years is that not all first dates will lead to a second, not all second dates will lead to a third, and so on.  Feelings change  – as much as you are attracted to the other person, how much y’all flirt, how much you think it is gonna work out, chances are it won’t.  Sometimes I’ve gone on a first date with someone I ‘have a good feeling about’, and then during the date I think to myself, ‘what the hell was I thinking??’  You build something up so big in your mind, and then wonder what the hell happened when you realize it isn't so.  Or I’ve gone out with someone I’ve known for a while, and then I realize we’re best as friends – and in these instances, get out fast – otherwise, you run the risk of losing that friendship.

If they don’t call or text you anymore, or start to ‘phase you out’, they aren’t interested.  If they want to go out with you again, they will ask you out again, and ideally make plans at the end of the previous date (when they do this, they are REALLY interested).  And if someone doesn’t want to see you again, of course it’s preferable if they just say, ‘Look – I’m just not feeling it.’  Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen.  I think the most common method is the ‘phase out’.  We always think it’s shitty when someone phases us out, but admit it – you’ve done it yourself.  It’s the easier, non-confrontational route.  I’ve told a guy ‘I’m just not feeling it’, but I’ve also done the phase out.  You begin to become shorter in your text replies.  You start to become more indifferent than you were before.  You try and put them in the 'friendzone'.  Then you don’t reply right away, maybe miss a text of two and don’t respond on purpose hoping they’ll get the hint, but eventually the other party should get it.  If they don’t, then you can’t really help them at that point, and you gotta be blunt and spell it out.

‘He’s not dating you – I’m not ready for a relationship means he’s not ready for a relationship with you.’

I have a friend who recently went through something like this.  He went out with this girl a few times and he really liked her – he thought they were going to have this long-term relationship, she was throwing him all the signs, he was falling for her, she told him at one point she felt the same way, etc.  As things started to get more serious, she told him that she wasn’t ready for a relationship, had a lot of family drama going on at the moment, etc.  When I told him the cold hard truth, he said, ‘Maybe she does just have a lot going on right now.  She’s said she wants the same thing, she said we’re on the same page.  Maybe she really isn’t ready right now.  But she REALLY likes me - SHE TOLD ME SO!’  He was trying to find excuses and didn’t want to admit that she just didn’t want to be with him.

No.  People, when someone tells you this, it’s bullshit.  It’s not that they aren’t ‘ready for a relationship’, they just don’t want a relationship with you.  When you hear this from someone you’ve grown to really like, it stings, sure – you just gotta recognize the truth and walk it off.  And surprise surprise, this girl was in a relationship with another guy almost immediately after she started to phase my friend out.  He was confused, then started analyzing every little thing that had happened, wondered ‘why’, what did he do wrong, and what did this guy have that he didn’t.  She just liked him more than she liked you.  It’s hard to hear and accept, but that’s just how it is. 

Not matter what is going on in someone’s life, if they really like you, they will make it happen.  I don’t care what’s going on in life, if someone is recently divorced, if someone has an illness in the family, etc. – if they like you, they will be with you.  As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve made excuses too.  I’ve told a few people that I had a lot going on right now, I just wanted to focus on my running, I wasn’t ready, I didn’t want to date right now, etc.  But truth of the matter is, I just didn’t want to be in a relationship with them.

‘He only wants to see you when he’s drunk.’

He thinks of you as a booty call, nothing more.  That’s all I have to say about that one.  Don’t even pretend otherwise.

‘He’s breaking up with you – I don’t want to go out with you means just that.’

Uh, yea.  And I can reference the point before the last one (he’s not dating you).  Lots of times someone will break up with you and use the line, ‘I’m just not ready for this yet.  I have a lot going on right now.  You deserve more than me.  I’m so envious of the person that ends up with you.’  No – they’re not interested anymore, don’t feed into the bullshit, walk it off, move on.  Not all relationships will last, not all relationships are meant to be long-term.  You learn more about a person the more time you spend with them, and oftentimes you learn stuff you don’t like.  It happens.
I’ve had friends over the years that find themselves in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship, or in a marriage for the sake of being in a marriage.  All of their friends are married, engaged, or in a serious relationship.  You meet someone, like them okay, so it seems like a good idea at the time.  But you fight all the time.  They get on your nerves.  Every little thing they do begins to drive you crazy.  But it’s comfortable, convenient, etc.  Folks, cut your losses and get out.  I’ve been stuck in a relationship like this before, and it’s miserable.  We stayed together for financial convenience, we were comfortable around each other, we shared furniture and splitting everything up seemed like such a pain in the ass, and we shared the same friends.  Then one night over lasagna, we were just like, ‘what the hell are we doing?’  So, we split up.  We got over it.  And now we are such good friends.  I recognize that the longer someone has been together, the harder this will be (there might be kids involved, financial ties, property, etc.).  But it’s always better for all involved to end things, and then after time, you will feel a tremendous weight off your shoulders (hopefully).
On another note, if you don’t like how a person is EXACTLY how they are, don’t get in or stay in a relationship thinking, a) you can change them, or b) they will change on their own, or c) ‘but they’re really hot’.  We are how we are, and if someone doesn’t like it (preferable adore it), they aren’t the one for you.  If you fool yourself into thinking this, and/or ignore any red flags, it’s going to end and most likely won’t end well.  DON’T DO IT!  And ladies, don’t let a big diamond and money and a big wedding fool you into thinking someone is who they aren’t.  And people (mostly men – sorry, but it’s true), do NOT go after someone or most importantly stay with someone based on looks and sex alone.  Attraction and sex are important, yes, but if lust is all you have, what do you have at the end of the day to come home to?  Looks fade, but laughter and love can last forever – choose someone who challenges you, makes you want to be a better person, someone you can laugh and play with, someone you can converse openly and honestly with, someone who gets you and someone you get, and someone you genuinely enjoy spending time with. 
I have friends that come to me for love and relationship advice all the time, and sometimes I don’t get why – I’m not in a relationship, have been single for three years, and seem to have been a serial dater during this time.  But I guess I give good advice, or so I’ve been told – I’m the ‘go to girl’ for relationship advice for a couple of my close friends.  It’s kinda flattering, to be honest.  All the time people ask me why I’ve been single for so long – how is it that I haven’t met someone yet?  Well, I’m so happy with where and who I am right now.  I love my life, and have never been happier.  So, yea, I’ve dated a lot but I haven’t met anyone worth my time or met someone I want to invite into my life.  When I meet them, I’ll know it.  It just hasn’t happened yet, and I am not going to settle. 
I’ve seen what happens when you settle, and I’m not about to find myself in some miserable relationship and full of regret years later.  I’ve seen what happens when someone places their personal happiness contingent on someone else, and this never ends well – and if you aren’t fully happy just being you, you don’t have much to offer a healthy relationship.  I also always go with my gut – if I get any red flags or have a feeling like something isn’t right, I’m out right away.  My parents got engaged two weeks after they met – two weeks!!  That seems  ludicrous – who does that?  I’ve asked my mom before, ‘why would you say ‘yes’ to a guy you just met?’  And her answer was simple – she knew in her gut that my Daddy was the one for her.  I’ve asked my Daddy why he would propose to a woman he just met, and he said the same thing, and then told me that once you know someone is the one, you want to start the rest of your life right away.  Awww, how cute J  All their friends thought they were crazy (and I think they were nuts), and they’ve even told me if I do something like that I’m in trouble (hypocrites, but chances are I won’t), but they just celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary and are incredibly happy after all that time.  That is remarkable. 
And I’ll part with a few closing words… Recognize what’s right in front of you – if they aren’t calling or texting or asking you out, they aren’t’ interested.  Cut your losses as soon as you know something isn’t right, walk it off, and move on.  First dates don’t always result in some long-lasting and meaningful relationship – dating is about playing the field, and trial and error.  Sometimes friendships turn into relationships, and relationships turn into friendships – open your eyes to what is right in front of you.  Be honest with yourself, and with others.  And most importantly, go with your gut – your gut does not lie.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

do vegans swallow??

i came across this article on elephant journal, and it kinda got me thinking about some stuff and reflecting upon a decision that i have made myself since making the move to veganism.

last year after i made the move to being a full time vegan, i went to a nutritionist.  i knew my parents would be a bit more appeased if i were to go, i wanted to make sure i was still getting all the protein and amino acids i need (especially with me being a runner), and i wanted to trim up a bit.  on my first visit, carly asked if i would be open to eating any animal protein at all.  chicken?  no.  fish?  no.  whey protein powder?  no.  eggs?  hmm... interesting concept... eggs.  i told her i was open to it under a couple very important circumstances.  first of all, only if the chickens were on a private 'farm' type of setting or on a large piece of land that they could roam free.  second of all, if the owner did not slaughter or sell them for slaughter.  and third of all, if the owner treated them no different than they did their domestic pet.  i also talked to a few vegetarians and vegans about the idea, and the ones i talked to were surprisingly supportive of the idea as well.

and so i went on the search.  carly told me about this farm in town, i forget the name.  the chickens do have a ton of room to run around.  these chickens have an excellent quality of life, well taken care of by the family and staff that runs the farm, and have open access to huge open fields.  so i called them to learn more, and to find out if they slaughter.  the chickens did appear to have an amazing quality of life, but once their hens stop producing, off with their heads.  they are 'humanely' killed and processed, and the meat is frozen and sent to starving families in africa.  while i think it is admirable to do so much to help the hungry, i do not believe in the killing an animal just because they are not financially viable to you anymore.  they also raised chickens and turkeys for meat and to be, once again, 'humanely' slaughtered.  their website even had special advertisements around thanksgiving.  so, this farm was out.  i will not spend my money on and promote an organization that slaughters.

so then i went on the search to find a person who had chickens, and met the requirements i had.  i talked to several people, all of which had chickens running around their backyard, but only had a few hens that produced just enough eggs for them.  i was hitting dead end after dead end.  and then i was told about a woman with my running group who had chickens and supplied many runners at rogue with their eggs.

stephanie and her family live on a large piece of land in dripping springs.  she has several farm animals, some of which are rescues.  she also has a lot of chickens that produce eggs not just for her family, but enough for a lot of other people as well.  stephanie herself is mostly vegetarian.  when i talked to her about her chickens, she referred to them as her 'babies'.  she doesn't treat them (or any of her other animals) any different than we treat our dogs or cats, in fact she treats them better than i'm sure many dogs and cats are treated.  the more i talked to her, and the more i did research on the biological process of hens laying eggs, i was comfortable eating the eggs.

there are some that think eggs are aborted fetuses.  how dare we eat them?  we are eating the potential of life, and preventing a life that was to be.  why would we abort these baby chickens, fry them up, and eat them alongside bacon?  it was horrible, reprehensible.  and i admit i used to assume the same, but then when i did more research (and it was quite extensive, including talking to a vet), i learned i was wrong.

the eggs chickens lay are unfertilized eggs.  the act of chickens laying eggs is basically no different than us getting our period or other mammals going into heat.  we get our period every month, in short, because we didn't get pregnant.  but then when our eggs are fertilized, we don't get our period for 9 or 10 months while we are growing this baby.  chickens carry the same principle.  chickens still lay the eggs, but instead they sit on them until they hatch.  when you crack these eggs, even early in the process, the inside looks much different than the unfertilized ones.  when you have roosters running around with hens, there will be some eggs around that are fertilized.  just like our society in which you have men and women running around having sex, some pregnancies will result  but if you don't allow a rooster to have access to them (just like if we were to restrain from sex), all eggs they lay will be unfertilized and safe for us to eat.

now some vegetarians/vegans may come in with this argument, and i've heard it before - but those eggs are the possibility of life.  and then you kinda need to make sure those proposing this principle are pro-life.  an aborted human fetus is also the possibility of life.  so unless they are strongly pro-life, one could conclude their argument is invalid because we view animals as equals as us humans.  so then if i am confronted by a vegetarian/vegan who is pro-choice, i have another argument.  we have our periods because we don't get pregnant.  i hate to get graphic, but what we shed and expel is basically the potential of life.  what a man, um, expels is also the possibility of life.  so is every emission that doesn't result in a pregnancy considered murder or, as elle woods in legally blonde claims, reckless abandonment?  and i could go on.  people that find oral sex offensive, shield your eyes from the rest of the paragraph.  this is also the alluded idea in the elephant journal article (hence the title, 'do vegans swallow?').  this emission of a man's, um, capabilities results from oral sex.  ladies, if you choose to swallow this, is this cannibalism?  after all, all the little swimmers are the possibility of life.  if we are swallowing them, therefore not allowing them to seek an egg, are we committing murder?  and this is commonplace among the sexually active, including the vegan/vegetarian community.

no, we obviously are not.  this sexual practice is not murder.  having our periods every month is not the reprehensible denial of a life that could be.  the sperm never sought an egg, and in the situation of abstinence, never had the possibility.  our egg was never fertilized.  same principle with hens, but their eggs are exceptionally more edible than us women's.  this is the same principle.  the hens are going to lay their unfertilized eggs, whether we choose to eat them or not.  it is a hen's body's natural body process, just like us.  if they are not eaten, they go bad and are then no longer of any use at all.  since a rooster did not have access to them, in my eyes us not having sex, those eggs are all going to be unfertilized, just as ours are going to be if we do not have sex or if sex does not result in a pregnancy.

i was watching the documentary vegucated (which i recommend to you), and one of the ladies in the film said something that rang true to me.  veganism is not some religion or cult, it is simply about the reduction and end of suffering.  and to me that's what it is.  i choose to not eat the flesh of animals.  i choose to not eat dairy.  forcing the lactation of a cow that is not nursing her own calf is not a natural body process, just as forcing my lactation for anyone other than my baby is not a natural body process.  and if she is nursing her own calf, i'm not going to take that milk from her baby.  i wouldn't want someone to take my milk for someone else.  forcing lactation causes stress on the cow, stress on her body, is not a natural biological process, and the stress can even cause her life to be shorter than it would otherwise.  but i fall short on a reason to not eat the eggs under the circumstances and for the reasons noted above.

there was another interesting point brought up by the article.  since us vegans are vehemently against corporate farming and the raising of animals for slaughter, and if we were all vegan, would there be farm animals at all?  would they become endangered or extinct?  should we not have cows and chickens and pigs and goats and lambs and sheep?  i don't necessarily think so, but we'd have far less for damn sure.  we would not force these animals to continually be pregnant, only to take their babies to kill them just like their parents' demise.  instead we would have them in the sense i have toby.  i've had a few friends over the years with a pet pig.

i've read a lot about sanctuaries that rescue farm animals, largely from these huge abusive corporate farms.  these sanctuaries save these animals, nurse them back to health, rid them of the trauma, raise them, and let them carry on the remainder of their now happy lives.  these animals are literally smiling - i've seen it.  they are so happy and fulfilled it brings tears to my eyes.  these animals are treated no different than we treat our dogs and cats.  and to me, these sanctuaries are no different than dog or cat rescues - they take orphaned or abused animals to take care of and/or to place in happy and healthy homes.  one day i would love to live outside of town and have lots of land to do the same - i want to rescue all the animals that i can.  i want to take care of an orphaned calf whose mother may have been killed for hamburger meat, and was perhaps to be sold for veal.  i want to rescue a few pigs that were about to be electrocuted.  i want to take chickens who can barely walk because their bodies grew too big too fast from all the hormones they were pumped with, their legs can't hold their own body weight, nurse them back to health, make them strong, and let them live out the rest of their life happy.  i want to rescue orphaned lambs on their way to the slaughterhouse.  saving these animals and affecting their quality of life would give me so much joy.  making a difference, no matter how small, would bring a permanent smile to my face.  would i allow them to breed?   not unless it happens naturally, just as we become pregnant naturally.  here are some of these amazing places if you want to check them out.

Monday, March 10, 2014

eat and run

I read this book from start to finish while flying to Alaska.  Scott Jurek previously came out with Born to Run, and then came out with Eat and Run – both books are awesome reads, and not just for the running community.

Jurek grew up hunting and basically eating a meat and potato diet – few vegetables, lots of meat, lots of dairy.  He wasn’t that active when he was younger, but started becoming more active when he was in high school by joining the ski team, and then started running.  He loved running – started to get strong, started running more and more. 

He began to tweak his diet by eating more vegetables, and slowly started cutting back on meat and other animal products.  He was shocked by how much better he felt – he assumed he needed meat, needed animal protein, to be a strong and fast distance runner.  He was wrong – he found energy and strength from holding a more plant-based diet.  Over time, he found his way to veganism.

Jurek isn’t just a distance runner, he’s an ultra-marathoner.  And not only is he an ultra-marathoner, he wins them, he sets records.  He’s run dozens of ultras, and runs at least 100 miles a week.  He’s fast, he’s strong.

Before finding my way to veganism, I ate healthy and clean.  I ate a largely plant-based diet, but was eating meat and dairy on a regular basis.  Last year I slowly cut out animal products, and have had a Vegan diet since the end of September – never felt better.  I felt great before, and had no idea there was that much room to feel better than I did before.  I have more energy.  I’m sleeping better.  My blood levels and vitals were stellar before, and now they’re even more so.  Without offering too much information, I’ll just say my digestive system has never been more on point.  I’m lighter, I’m leaner, I’m tighter, I’m stronger, I’m getting faster.  The effects are astounding.

I get so many questions from people about my veganism – aren’t you hungry all the time?  But what do you eat?  How do you live without bacon?   Aren’t you lethargic all the time?  But how do you get your protein?  I’m hungry a lot, yes – but no more so than before.  Running 30 to 50 miles a week will make you hungry.  I actually stay full longer because I’m eating five times a day instead of three (as advised by my nutritionist).  And my plant-based meals keep me full.  And I eat lots of stuff!  I luckily grew up with a mom who cooked lots of different kinds of food for us, and made sure we acquired a taste for grains, veggies, and fruit.  So, I eat lots of food, all different kinds.  How do I live without bacon?  Well, that was actually one of the first meats I cut out.  I was never a big ham and bacon person, and once I discovered pigs are as intelligent as dogs, I threw that out the window without looking back.  And I’m not lethargic all the time – in fact I’ve never had so much energy.  And I get my protein from lots of places.  There are so many plants and grains and legumes that are packed with protein that I think a lot of people don’t realize.  I have my struggles, sure – but when I’m tempted, or feel myself craving milk chocolate, I think of the reasons I became a vegan and the craving subsides.

People find their way to Veganism for different reasons – my reasons are ethical and environmental, and the health benefits are a bonus.  Jurek became a vegan for the sheer health benefits and how it affected his performance as an athlete – the ethical and environmental reasons came a bit later, but he is still largely a vegan because of the health benefits. 

Last week I posted an interesting article on my Facebook page about the rise of Veganism – check it out below:

There has been a significant spike in the popularity of holding a plant-based diet as people discover the multitude of benefits is holds – it is an easy way to affect your life, the world, and the lives of animals.  The US population of vegans has more than doubled in the last three years.  The percentage of meat consumed by Americans is falling – we consumed over 12% less meat in 2012 that we did five years prior.  Wow!  Those are some awesome stats!  Other than the benefits for animals and the environment, think of the health benefits if we continued to raise this awareness!  Our children would be more educated and healthy.  We would be healthier for future generations.  Fast food chains would be less.  As the demand for fresh produce would grow, we would see the rise of more private and organic farms.  I’m not trying to force my agenda on someone, and not trying to be some militant vegan – but I would like to be a part of the movement of educating others on the benefits of eating a more plant-based diet.  I’m not even saying to become a Vegan.  Just cutting out meat of a few meals a week make a huge difference – to your health, to the environment, and to the lives of animals. 

This article also suggests documentaries cover mostly the health benefits of a more plant-based diet. If you want to Netflix some of the movies, I recommend Vegucated, Forks over Knives (also a good book that my dad actually wanted for Christmas), and Supersize Me. Vegucated is quite entertaining - challenges big meat-eaters to maintain a vegan diet for several weeks, and highlights some of the realistic challenges we face. Forks over Knives covers the benefits of eating more of a plant-based diet. And Supersize Me (went totally viral) follows a guy who eats only McDonalds for 30 days, every meal, every drink, and covers the decline in health he faced over this period of time.  There are a few others that have some grotesque footage and images of animals at slaughterhouses if you’re interested in those, which I do encourage others to watch – but forewarning, they are graphic and extremely hard to watch.  In fact, over 42% of vegans became vegan after watching a video like these they are so powerful.  Ignorance can be bliss.

Eat and Run is a great book, article is a good and quick read, and the documentaries listed are enlightening and eye-opening.

That is all for now, Zoe signing off.