Be the Happiest, Healthiest You!

character building

I don’t hate the word Vegan

I want to share something personal with you. I am a Vegan. Earlier this week, I was with someone who said “I am not a vegan. I am plant based. I hate the word Vegan. I wish they would just get rid of it.” His reasoning is that the word vegan turns people off to trying this new lifestyle which is so healthy.

For a minute I almost agreed with him. He said saying vegan sounds so extreme. I disagree. People also hate words like feminism and liberal. But I think when we start to water down things by making the names more “palatable” we are doing just that . . . watering it down. I don’t like my oatmeal watery and I don’t like my movements watery either.

Being a vegan makes me proud. I am trying to do something healthy for me and my family. I am trying to draw attention to the horrible livestock industry and animal cruelty. I am trying to save the environment.  I feel like the work I am doing and the lifestyle I live is important and good. I am not ashamed of it.

Being a vegan is about more than just the food I put on my plate. It is about the cleaning products I use, the clothes I wear, the shampoo I use. It is about commitment. The NRA doesn’t try to water down their message. And I won’t either. I’m happy if people come to the movement because of food. I’m happy if people want to call it plant based eating. Every little drop counts. But I refuse to be ashamed of the label Vegan.

It is more than that. Labels can help us develop a cohesiveness. Something to get behind. A group identifier. I have a lot of conservative friends. I often try to gloss over my points of view in order to keep friends and the peace. But I am a feminist. I am not ashamed of that. I am a liberal. I am not ashamed of that. I am a vegan. And that makes me so proud.

Yucky day to Yeah Day!

>Today just started out yucky. Awfully yucky. Terrible really. I found out the traffic ticket I recieved is going to cost me an arm and a leg. (I pled not guilty to a portion of it so I have to go to court). My house is a mess. I’m under a veritable mountain of homework and work work. I just feel blah. Not to mention there is this nagging voice “whatcha going to do with your life?” That is intensified by the people around me who keep asking me things like, “what are your long range plans.” I guess I’m tired of feeling responsible for all the plans of other people’s lives! But I understand that the decisions I make really do impact so many people. To put it mildly. Today sucks.

Then I had to stop at Kroger to pick up some “filler groceries.” Filler groceries are what I call the groceries you have to get in between big shopping. Sometimes it might be milk (of the almond variety for us) or bread or whatever. When I got there, I was just pissy. I have to spend money when I found out how broke I am from a stupid ticket, you get the picture. But then, blueberries were on sale. So I got some crazy idea to make a fruit salad, and I just went crazy. I bought all my favorite fruits from canteloupe to pineapple to kiwis.

Then they had Earth Balance Margarine. This stuff is great. It is made from natural ingredients.
Like I can pronounce every ingredinet on the label. That is usually my threshold for products we bring in the house (except oreos). All of a sudden, I just started feeling better. I think I am starting to feel like I can do this. I feel more confident in my choices more sure that even if I make a flub (like the great margarine crisis of 2012) that I can find a corrective action and move in that direction. I didn’t just give up. I didn’t just throw in the towel because today was a rough day.

For those of you who know me, it is unusual for me to feel proud of myself. I always feel like I could have done it better. But I really feel like, “yes, yes.” I don’t know if going vegan is the reason for it or not, but I feel like it might have something to do with it because I am really starting to live my values, and that, my friends, feels good.

I know I promised a post on fake meat . . . I will still do that fake meat post . . . either later today or tomorrow.

Nervous Breakdowns, butter, and oreos

>So I had a “vegan” nervous breakdown. I have been doing a lot of vegan research; and as I transition to veganism, I am experiencing the usual ups and downs of what that means. It is also difficult living in a more rural setting without the expansive resources available in more urban settings. But even in Longview, I have it better than in other more rural settings. However, one thing I am coming to realize is that it may actually be better being a rural or suburban vegan because there are fewer choices and fewer judgements so it is easier to transition.

My husband also has helped me overcome some of these little hiccups. He basically said, “you can’t be perfect. You are doing the research, you are doing the best you can with the resources you have. Sometime there are going to be mistakes, but you just keep moving forward. Lesson learned.” I see his point, and the good thing is that maybe I can share those lessons with you all. And maybe someday all these lessons will make it into a book. But that may be wishful thinking 🙂

Anyway, back to the nervous breakdown. I ate margarine with whey in it. Whey is a milk byproduct; and therefore, an animal product–not vegan. I had done the research. But when I went to the grocery store, my daughter was bugging me, it was really late at night, I was hurrying, and I didn’t read the label. I thought I grabbed the brand that was vegan. So, we just ate it. Then I had this weird nagging voice in my head. So, I read the label. The bad news is it had whey in it. I was really upset.

I mean, I have been trying so hard to have it all go up in flames over whey! Grrr. Dang whey. So, of course, we quit eating it. We bought a vegan brand. Move on.

So, then we went to the store for sun screen. My kids have pretty fair skin. The middle child (Persephone) has been getting a really serious freckle outbreak and it is only APRIL! Well freckles are a sign of sun damage. Our family has a pretty serious history of melanoma, so I wanted to get her one of those stick sunscreens that she could swipe on her face before recess everyday. Just something to be preventative. Well, everything had beeswax in it. GRRR! My dear husband said, “you live in Longview. These are your choices, move on.” Well I struggled. Finally I found a stick that didn’t have beeswax, but it was on SPF 30. I know the studies say SPF 30 is enough, but I wanted at least 50, and I wanted it to be zinc based, blah blah.

So, I decided that I was going to go with the SPF 30 because it didn’t have beeswax and the literature supports that SPF 30 is adequate. But then there was a small display of sunscreen off to the side. So, I read the labels of all of those as well. And as luck would have it, I found a vegan stick that is SPF 50! Yeah! Robert was really irritated that I took like 25 minutes to pick out a sunscreen, but I will know for next time, so it won’t take so long, and I felt really happy with my choice.

Then I came home and really thought about what it meant for my family to be Vegans. I think for us, it means that we just do the best that we can. But I realized how difficult this is for me. Especially after my husband called me “One of those crazy Vegans.” Am I being crazy? I am not sure. I guess I am figuring it out as I go. I am trying really hard to evaluate gray areas. I am trying to be a good Vegan and to find out what that means in suburban areas.

So what that the margarine had whey in it? I didn’t do it on purpose. I learned a valuable lesson. But I also learned something that made me a little sad: a may never be comfortable eating an unfamiliar product again. That is hard to swallow.

So, what did I do in my sadness? I ate a freaking oreo! I promised myself I was not going to be a junk food vegan. I am a healthy, whole grain, celery eating vegan . . . who gets upset and comforts herself with food like the rest of us. That food is oreos. Tomorrow I’m going to write about tofurkey and why I don’t eat it. I think all the transition gurus are wrong, so I don’t eat fake meat (that is your preview). But I needed the oreo. I needed to eat something vegan that reminded me of what it is like to eat to be happy. I just felt guilty. But I guess, at least it was Vegan, right?

Happiness and Compromise

>I have been thinking a lot lately about happiness and compromise. When we are young, we just expect to be happy and for good things to come to us, but as we age, we learn that life is a serious of compromises. I have been thinking about how each compromise we make to keep ourselves happy or a loved one happy and each compromise has to be considered in terms of what we are willing to sacrifice.
If you have a personality like mine, you probably are willing to sacrifice too much–sacrifice to the level that we compromise our way out of our own happiness. I have noticed that I am always on the wrong end of the compromise–eventually. Recently, I noticed that in some of my relationships, the other person is always asking me to compromise. When these people ask me to compromise, they often seem to forget that I have been compromising all this time. In fact, I get told often “You get the good with the bad” or “You have to be willing to make compromises.” What I have come to realize is that everyone has a breaking point in terms of compromise. Part of compromise is that both people have to be willing to make sacrifices in order to meet in the middle.
Recently, I was asked to make a compromise that I know will make me unhappy. I know it will degrade my personal integrity and will destroy my plans for my future and the dreams I had about how my life will turn out. Now, I know that life doesn’t always turn out how you imagined and that things aren’t picture perfect. I also understand that compromises sometimes led you down a road that is different that your original path. I also understand that it is important to compromise and sacrifice for those you love.
Where do you draw the line? This is the question I have been wrestling with. Where do you draw the line and a compromise becomes too much compromise. Where does self preservation begin and selfishness end. I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want to think only of myself because I find that selfish people are the most unhappy people. But, I do want to preserve myself. I have been thinking that I want to make the other person in this compromise happy (even though this person isn’t compromising very much) and I want to be a good person, but I am faced with a compromise that will probably mean the loss of my happiness for a very long time.
Ok, so it seems pretty easy: Don’t make the compromise. Right? Unfortunately, it goes back to that loving other people thing. It comes back to fear and all of those negative emotions.
What am I going to do? I’m not sure yet, but I hope as you are asked to make compromises, that you will consider your own happiness as well…. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Let me introduce…..

>Remember that journey I just talked about? Well, none of us journey alone. In fact, if we like it or not, we have many people on our journey with us. Those people include our family, our friends, our colleagues, our enemies, and even those we don’t know but who help us everyday (have you ever talked to your grocery store clerk?)
On my journey, the most important people are my friends and my family. The person who falls into both these categories and helps me every step of the way is my husband, Robert.

Robert is the most special man I have ever known, and that is how each person should feel about their life partner. He is a bit quirky, but he is the type of person who is absolutely supportive and wants to see you succeed. He is the coordinator of operations and data control for a railroad, and he really enjoys his work, but he also loves to come home and spend time with his family, work on the house, and play with computers. Do we fight? Yes. Every couple gets in disagreements, but it is how you handle them that is important. In the end, he loves me for who I am and that makes all the difference.

Then, we have three lovely children. Magdelaina, Persephone, and Medea. They are all so special, and they complete my life. I never knew that you could feel so much love, pride, concern, happiness, fear, and compassion before I had my children. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, but who doesn’t? My three daughters provide me with a continuous supply of adventure. My oldest daughter is bright and compassionate and socially conscious. My middle child is creative and emotional, and the baby is trouble with a capital T, but she is also interesting and vivacious.

Last, but certainly not least, are my parents. My lovely and wonderful parents, Ruby and Larry, who raised me to be who I am and have always stood by me no matter what horrible mistake or huge success I was making. My parents just moved to live near me, and I am so dog gone lucky that they are here. Both of them are medically retired, and are about to be my guinea pigs for my wellness plan. They are loving parents and loving grandparents. My husband’s parents, Bill and Maria, have also played a big role in my life, and I am lucky to have them as well.

Who wouldn’t love that face? My dad Larry (pictured above) at a school function is showing off his signature grin.
My mother is doing what she does best… snuggling a baby!


My husband and his parents at the park… ahhh!

Well, now you have met my family, and I am sure I will mention them many more times and will introduce others!