Let’s Talk Vegan…It’s Not As Scary as You Think.

Have you been curious about going vegan? You think you’d like to try it, but cheese. Perhaps you’d dip your toe in the water but Easter just passed and what would you do without your chocolate bunny fix? I am here to share a few tips, tricks, and misconceptions about food and going vegan. I am NOT here to shove my lifestyle down your throat and make you feel like a murderer for eating dairy or meat. I would like to focus on the health and wellbeing of our planet and our bodies.

For the Love of Earth

For this article I will stick to the scientific facts of global harm done by farming, and avoid the whole animal cruelty argument….although yes, what is done to animals in the name of feeding humans is cruel. (Just to be official about my stance). Raising animals for human consumption globally requires 26% of the Earth’s surface right now. That number will continue to increase. Over 1/4 of Earth is being used right now to raise animals to eat. Not to mention the amount of methane gas released by these animals which is also harming our environment. These facts alone are reason enough to at least consider veganism, or at the minimum vegetarianism. Some simple research (Google that shit) shows just how detrimental to our planet the meat industry has become, and we only have one Earth…just sayin’.

Impact on the Body

Another reason to opt for the vegan lifestyle is for your own health. Antibiotics are given to farm animals at an alarming rate. The consequence of this to humans comes when the antibiotics are passed on to our systems, causing difficulty fighting off infections. We then end up with superbugs which kill 23,000 people yearly. While you may say, “I don’t purchase meats containing antibiotics, I am very careful at the grocery store.” Think about the times you go out to eat, or eat at a friend’s house, or at work. Daily, there are many opportunities in which you have, or may have, consumed antibiotic tainted meats. Unless you are vegan.

In addition to the antibiotic impact, there are the heart health issues, increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, and blood pressure issues. Animal products clog up our arteries and impact our health in so many negative ways. No amount of, “I need to get my protein from animals,” can make up for that, or lessen the reality of the situation. We can get all the protein, and other nutrients, we need through eating plants. We just have to eat the right amounts of the right plants.

Let’s Do This!

So we’ve established the harmful impact eating meat has on our planet and our bodies. Are you ready to give it a try? I promise you will not be eating like a rabbit, unless you want to. The vegan world has a plethora of great options for meat replacement, recipes, and sites which are geared towards supporting a vegan lifestyle.

Let me warn you, there will be cravings. But just because you are craving one thing does not mean you are deficient in that thing. For instance, a craving for sweets can mean you are dehydrated. Moving to a vegan lifestyle will send your body into a TEMPORARY state of shock. Once you get past the first 3 days, it will start to get easier. You may also opt to wean yourself off meat and dairy, and into veganism. That’s fine too! It’s all about the greater good and the big picture. Anytime we start something new it is important to focus on doing things the most successful way for us personally, and finding support. We all have difficult moments but the greater your support system, the easier it is to maintain the change. The Vegan Society has even created an app to help people make the transition to veganism.

What Do I Eat?

By now you are wondering what the heck you are supposed to eat. I am happy to tell you the answer to that will not fit in this simple blog post. The diverse menu available to vegans is a wonderful thing. Vegan recipes are easy to find and delicious! Open your mind, and your tastebuds to a world it may have been cut off from until now. Explore your local produce department, or better yet, go to a farmer’s market, or local farm. Get the kids involved too, because when they are part of something they are more likely to accept and try something new.

I also recommend following vegan pages on social media. I find great inspiration and support by following other vegans. I get great recipe ideas and find myself continuously inspired by other people’s journeys as well. Share your food porn even if it is a salad you made. You may be surprised at how much attention you get from the vegan community. Vegans are a close-knit group, even if we are strangers. We often find ourselves on the receiving end of society’s criticism and are fodder for endless jokes. We find solace in supporting one another, encouraging and motivating each other toward the common goal of a healthier lifestyle.

Stand Out in The Crowd

Do not be afraid to wear your veganism proudly. Stand tall, keep your chin held high. Do not waver in your resolve! If you falter, know it is okay, just pick yourself up and keep going. Seek support when you need it, and offer support when you are able. Share everything, your recipes, your successes, your health changes, your weight loss. SHARE EVERYTHING! The more you show the world how positively this lifestyle impacts you, the greater an impact we can all make. When people begin to see how fantastic we all feel and look, the less they can disregard and ignore the positive outcome to a vegan life. Be vegan, and be proud to be vegan!

Advertisements

The Future’s So Bright….

I have the song, Shine Bright Like A Diamond, on a loop in my head as I sit here constructing this post in my head. I have so many things I want to say on this topic, and yet, I am sitting here, jamming in my psyche like I AM Rhianna. In today’s world it can be scary to think about shining like a diamond. So many of us are riddled with fear, with anxiety. How do we break our chains to allow our inner sunshine to break through? How do we throw up a big middle finger to our fears and face them head on, shining our way through life, living the dream?

I am working on figuring that out myself. I have always had an issue finding balance. I would be eating really healthy, but not exercising at all. I would have a great job, but eat junk and never break 1000 steps in a day. I would be running, training for races but hit up McDonald’s for that quarter pounder meal post workout because hellllooo, I just ran 5 miles. I never had it all together at once. Until now.

I find now I am aligning all my aspects of life in the right direction. I am learning how to direct focus in multiple directions of my life, not just hyper-focused in one aspect of life. I am learning to value a full life, over ignoring everything else while mastering one piece of my puzzle. I am learning how to exercise patience, discipline, and use logic and reason along with my emotions. I am learning how to master what I need in order to attract that which I want into my life. Personally, professionally, things are all happening as they are meant to, which happens regardless.

I have been writing again, and looking for greater opportunities professionally, along with stretching myself personally through my writing as well. I have been exercising regularly. I may not be working out as much as I was before, but I am making a part of my daily routine again. My diet has never been cleaner. I am vegan, as well as sugar and wheat free. I feel good, strong. I have never been able to focus on multiple aspects of my life at once, and now I am juggling all the balls at once. It is not the scary, daunting task I felt it was before.

My PTSD symptoms have lessened a great deal. I still have anxiety triggers, but overall, I cannot remember the last time I was truly triggered. I am opening myself up personally, dating, and making sure I am open to the people the universe presents in my life. I am working on my mental health more so now than ever before in my life. Mind, body, spirit, are all finally syncing together. If I can do this, anyone can do it. But how?

For me, the key was setting small goals, in many aspects of life, and writing those goals down on paper. By setting smaller, easier to attain goals it was easier to accomplish my goals and see some forward motion almost immediately. As I saw myself progressing, I developed more faith in myself to make those decisions I once found difficult and terrifying. Through building trust in my gut, trust in my ability, I have been able to finally believe I am capable of achieving my dreams.

I began to increase those goals, adding more aspects of life, and more ways in which to quell the anxiety this new thinking drummed up. I utilize meditation, yoga, relaxing music to keep my brain at ease and open. I listen and accept myself. I have chosen to love myself, rather than criticize myself and tear me down. In the words of Dr. Phil, “No one will treat you better than you treat yourself. You teach people how to treat you.” So if you treat yourself in a harsh, unforgiving, unloving manner, you will remain unloved. You will remain in pain and rejection.

By accepting yourself and loving yourself right where you are, right here today, that is how you accomplish your dreams. Set some small, easily attained goals, and work towards them, celebrate them once you achieve success, and set some more. Write them out so you can see it on paper, so you can cross it off the list as you accomplish things. Take the tornado of thoughts out of your head and write it out. You will see how much it helps make sense of the chaos. You will see how much you can focus on things once they are on paper and not just taking up space and energy in your mind.

Make YOU your top priority. Whether or not you have kids, a significant other, or whatever. If you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot take as good a care of those around you. Teach people how to treat you, by making your health and well-being your number one, by putting up boundaries to protect yourself and your energy. Selfish is NOT a dirty word, it’s only negative when it’s not balanced with selfless. They are yin/yang to one another, and we need both! Choose YOU today! Start right now, wherever you are, and start NOW.

No Sugar, No Flour, No Problem…Almost.

Today begins Day 4 of my journey to being vegan, no flour and no refined sugar. I know what you’re thinking, and no, I am not certifiably insane, or starving. Actually, I am eating quite a lot, tons of fruits and veggies, whenever and however often I want. That’s the beauty of this lifestyle, you can literally eat whenever you want. I am having some other issues though.

First, it’s really difficult to maintain my focus when I am the only one in the house on this journey. I do not impose my eating habits on my children. They are all open to making their own decisions, as long as we’re not talking cake for breakfast, candy for lunch, and cookies for dinner. Each of my kids has a different personality, and while I encourage them to be healthy, and choose 90% healthy options at the grocery store, they still have free will. So if they want to be meat eaters, I cater to that. If they want to eat dairy, I cater to that. As long as no one has an allergy or aversion to something, if they like it and want to have it, it’s okay.

For the most part they are really healthy eaters. The 7-year old needs a little more encouragement to make the healthier choices, but hey, she’s 7. I will say she is really excited to try brussel sprouts, not sure how excited she will be after she actually tries them, but I love her enthusiasm regardless. My older two, 16 and 14 years old, are still navigating their way through the food world. They want to be vegan, or at least vegetarian, but they really love eating junk food when hanging out with their friends. Plus, they do actually get made fun of for eating healthy by some kids. While we’re at home we eat pretty darn healthy. While they’re out in the world it sometimes goes to hell in a handbasket. It’s okay though. They’re figuring it all out in their own time. I am really proud of them for even caring about food at their ages.

The other issue I am finding with this new routine is that I have a headache. For approximately 3 days now I have had a headache off and on. The first two days it was constant. The last 24 hours it has faded into something that comes and goes. It is a dull throbbing headache. I did some research and found there is an actual withdrawal process when you quit sugar (which includes white flour). It is as if I am a drug addict coming off my addiction, which seems so strange to me. I know it is not quite as severe, or immediately deadly as an addiction to say heroin, but addiction to sugar is being studied greatly.

Today, as it is Spring Break this week, we are going out to have some fun. We are going in to D.C. to a museum or two, and going to be out and about in the sugar-laden, meat eating, dairy obsessed world of bacon we live in. It will be a great test for me. I have faith that I can maintain, especially with my kids there. Something about being accountable to the interrogation of a 7-year old is motivational in staying the course. I think I would rather endure waterboarding than that anyway.

So bring it on, sugar detox! I am ready for your shenanigans, your headache is no match for me. I will meet you with extra water, more fiber, and flooding my day with fun and good memory making moments with my kids. Your dopamine medling is not wanted here!

I will be adding another blog about the dangers of sugar soon! I will also begin adding food porn of what the heck I am eating these days. I warn, if you are thinking of going vegan, while it is a great lifestyle, it must be done correctly to ensure you receive all the nutrients your body requires. I will be doing a blog on that as well.

Spring Not Much Break

This week is Spring Break for the kids, aka littles, aka minions. While I would love nothing more than to whisk us all away for a great vacation full of fun activities, lounging beachfront, and all the food we could stuff into our faces, it just is not happening this year. I do want to give them a fun week though.

So far we have planned some museum visits, some park time, and maybe a hike or two. My oldest has to work towards the end of the week, and technically, I am working all week. The delicate balance of motherhood always feels like a tightrope act with no safety net. I am sure some of their friends will return with talks of trips all over the place, and I just hope that my three enjoy what we can do this year.

Parents often get caught up in trying to provide their kids with the biggest and the best, and not just in vacations, but in everything. I really do find the old adage to be true, kids want us, their parents. Our children want our time, our attention. Our children want to know we are present, and the location is a bit less important. While it would be fun to be able to take them on some awesome vacay, and spoil them rotten … in the grand scheme of life, our time together is more impactful on their lives.

Spending time with kids at the park, hiking, or finding the hidden gems in your area are great ways to take advantage of your staycation and still have fun. Reader’s Digest put together this awesome bucket list for all 50 states. Find your state and explore what it has to offer. Feel free to add to the list in the comments. It’s always fun to share new family friendly ideas which everyone can enjoy.

Coffee Love….

aroma-background-black-1415555

With a name like Coffee Mama, it is no surprise that I love my caffeinated deliciousness in a mug. I like to vary my coffee choices often, but I always go for the bold. I run on high octane and will share my favorites with you. I will also share all things coffee here. You’d be surprised how much goes into making a great coffee.

Coffee Talks…And Talks…And Talks..

Coffee mug mockupEvery day this week I have cried. I have lost a good number of my VA clients due to them leaving the main company I contract for, my oldest child likely has Lupus, and now my mother is not speaking to me. Just a few items on the laundry list of reason why I have shed umpteen million tears this week. What are the sayings,

“God never gives you more than you can handle.”

And the ever popular…

“That which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

Let me just say this, I will be bench pressing a couple Buicks later, and I WILL be charging to watch. Hey! I must earn that lost income back, somehow right? During therapy today, I dumped all this crap in my therapist’s lap, and then sat back waiting for the pearls of wisdom to ooze from his well-trained psyche. He yawned. No, I am not kidding…he yawned. Apparently, I was boring him to sleep. After he recovered from his near-nap tiredness he gave me some half-assed recommendations for increasing my work, but nothing overly tangible or actionable. More like, hey, you might be able to increase your business by more self-promotion.

I left feeling both better and worse. I felt better because I had a huge brain dump and getting all that out just felt better. I felt worse because I have no solutions for anything. Don’t get me wrong, I never expect him to solve my problems, but he is usually efficient at helping me help myself. I feel like I was left blowing in the wind out here. I told him the problem with my self-promotion is that my self-loathing always gets in the way…. he laughed. He thought I was joking, but I was not. Ultimately, he said he could help me with that, but again, no actionable items were offered. I know you are probably thinking at this point I need a new therapist…hmm. I do need to work on self-promotion, and possibly through doing so, I will stop a bit of the self-loathing thoughts that spin on the hamster wheel inside my brain.

As far as my kid’s health, really, only time, and more doctor’s appointments will tell. It is VERY likely that she has Lupus. I should probably treat her as though she does, do the diet changes, and whatnot. Hopefully in a month when we go to the rheumatologist they miraculously tell us she does not! At least this way if she they confirm she has it, we will already be adjusted to the dietary changes necessary and be working towards controlling flare-ups. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that she has it. I just need to come to grips and keep it moving.

My mother has not spoken to me since Friday, and I have no idea why. She was very aloof when I texted her on Mother’s Day and did not answer when I called her. I told my therapist I have too many issues going on right now to deal with this passive aggressive bullshit. I am taking a mental vacation from her, until she gets over whatever it is she is upset about or decides to call and just talk about it. She knows everything I have going on now, and if the silent treatment is what she feels is appropriate, then silence she will get in return. I have no patience or time for cutting off communication. I tell my kids, my friends, family, significant other, I NEED words.

Wednesday afternoon, and I have two more days just to this work week alone. I am exhausted, mentally and physically. I need a drink…. of coffee. Do people without PTSD suffer from the amount of mental discord I do? I often wonder this. If I did not have PTSD, would I react the same way? Could I have been one of those people who is happy-go-lucky and just lets things roll off their back like water off a duck? I cannot even fathom what that would be like in my life. I have trauma after trauma, and I cannot even fathom just letting it go. I would love to, don’t get me wrong, but this is my norm.

Did I mention my 6-year-old brought home a picture that has me worried about her mental stability? Yeah, well, she did. She is scheduled to see her therapist tomorrow. Her teacher gave the students a page that said,

“What CREEPS me out is…”

The sheet had a place for them to write sentences and a place for them to draw a picture of whatever creeps them out. Now, at 6 I would think about things like spiders, snakes, clowns, Barney the dinosaur. My child, she said death. Yes, DEATH! My brain took a while to digest this, as I swing between a few emotions. On the one hand, I was thinking how mature she is, because that would be an adult answer. But then, I kept wondering how much fear she has inside that she even THINKS about death, like AT ALL. I decided to ask her about the picture. Boy was THAT a mistake. She became very upset and tried to throw the picture in the trash. It was as if she thought this would make it go away and I would totally forget about it.

I think if we had not endured the verbal, emotional, and mental abuse we had during the first 6 years of her life, I would be more surprised at this paper. But, because I know what she has been through, because most of it was aimed at me by her father, I honestly think this is somewhat “normal.” You know, a normal reaction to a totally fucked up situation. I will find out tomorrow because I am bringing that thing to her therapy session.

Up to Thursday now, and after dropping off my middle, and sending my oldest to school to at least complete her AP test, I start getting ready to take the youngest to her therapy appointment….but wait! A call from the high school, oh fanfuckingtastic. My oldest has passed out right before the test and I will need to come pick her up. Sigh….I was in the shower, literally, one leg in, one leg out, and now…my whole plan has been shot to hell. I hurry up and finish, getting myself and the youngest ready much faster than I had anticipated. I scoot over to the high school, pick her up, and head out to the counseling appointment for the youngest…which is 45 minutes away. On the way I call and make an appointment with our family doctor for the oldest, who has now passed out 4 times in 6 months. Thankfully, during the appointment we learn the reason for Death….apparently she has been watching too much Life….the show on Netflix all about nature and the cycle of life. Thank goodness, it is just a normal reaction to something. Oh yeah, and her therapist actually suggested I get her IQ measured, because she feels she is really advanced intellectually. Finally, something I actually enjoy hearing!

Appointment over, grab dog food on the way back home because I actually remembered we were out, and we get home just in time for our family doctor to call me and tell me to take the oldest to the emergency room for an evaluation. Ummm…excuse me?? I now grab the middle kid from school, run home to leave middle and youngest home while I take oldest to the ER…this was so NOT in my plan. Three hours later, we are discharged with instructions to follow-up with our family doctor…say what? UGH! So first thing tomorrow I get to call and make an appointment with our family doctor, again.

We are relaxing, FINALLY, and unwinding from our hectic, crazy day. My oldest leashes up her massive pup, and goes to take him outside. The moment she opens the door, insanity ensues. The shepherd from upstairs was coming down, and going past our door the very second my kid opened it to go out. The dog lunged at our dog, with my kid right there in the middle. She did the very best thing she could, she slammed the door shut, our dog inside, psycho dog outside. I jumped up and she was already crying and upset from what just happened. I went outside to see the dog and owner still walking away. I waited…stewing. When she returned we had a chat about what happened. She apologized and took ownership of her dog’s behavior, THANK GAWD. She said since she was pregnant about a year ago the dog has been protective, but only when on leash, and only against other dogs. We agreed to be mindful of when we each walk our dogs, and she apologized again. I wasn’t thrilled, but I don’t want to go to jail, so I’m certainly not gonna push the issue….

Every day things like this happen in my life, and I cannot determine if I am special, or if this is just life. It is all I know, but I feel like those around me, for the most part, do not have the amount of drama and trauma in their lives that I do. I feel like I know people that lead happy, peaceful lives in their middle-class suburbia, and not just on Facebook, but actually lead them in real life. I don’t know, my life need a filter… or ten. Can’t wait for next week….not.

What Nobody Tells You, But You Really Need To Know…

 

A newborn baby

Ever notice how becoming a parent not only opens you up to an entirely new universe, but also shows you how full of crap people are as well? Yeah, I know you know. When I was pregnant with my first child, all the moms I knew that breastfed made it sound like breastfeeding was such a natural, easy thing that just happens. Once I had my daughter, I quickly came to realize either I was already a horrible mom, or these women had mislead me to a degree. After 100 different positions, nipple shields, and cabbage in my bra, she and I got the hang of it. It was the beautiful experience they all said it would be, but it was a bitch getting there.

People also go on and on about the terrible two’s…but no one tells you to watch out for three-nagers. My girls were angels at 2 years old. I thought I had made it home free, until 3 came along. All this talk of, “no,” and my personal favorite, “why?” Everything was WHY WHY WHY. Because I said so, that’s why! OMG, I sounded like my parents, and then it all made sense. I spent a year, three times over, explaining with age appropriateness why we did everything we did, from pooping in the toilet to breathing air. WHY WHY WHY me?!?! Because I am a parent, that’s why. Nobody warned me about three….and I do wanna know why.

Things were smooth sailing for a while there, and I got cocky. I thought I had this parenting schtick down pat. It was then that it happened. It happened all oops upside my head too, my oldest became, a teenager. I am not sure when exactly it happened because she was 7, I blinked, and then she was a teenager. Makeup, boys, sports, and now…driving. Someone get me off this crazy ride. My oldest two are now BOTH teenagers, both girls. Yes, I have all girls, and yes, we are cyclically aligned with the moon and the stars. It is a wonder we each survive month to month. I must be doing something right.

Nobody warned me the issues that teens face these days. I mean, you see it out there online, but often it seems unrealistic and fake newsy. But I am here to tell you, online bullying, predators, and the whole kit and kaboodle are real, very real. We have to walk this tightrope of allowing independence and hovering with protective might. I swing back and forth between wanting to lock my teenage daughters in a closet, and wanting to send them to live with the traveling circus. My kids rarely get into trouble and for the most part, are fine, upstanding members of society. I just want to protect them from those who are not.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I read all the books, made note of all the advice, and listened to everything my mother guilt tripped me about. I thought I was prepared. But just like war, nothing quite prepares you for parenthood. Although, I do think some more realistic examples could be provided. I see some of my friends and family on social media, and I think, “wait, Joan’s life is a hot mess, how does she look so together on Facebook?” Or I see an adorable picture of my friend’s kids, and I ask her how she got them to sit so nicely, only to find out that was 3 hours and 55 threats into the photoshoot, and she had just threatened them with losing all their electronics. Only to get a split second where the photographer was able to snap one single photo in which they did not look completely possessed.

I wish parents would share more of the true stories. I think we could all commiserate and sing Kumbaya together. It isn’t about failing, it’s about persisting. I was proud of my friend for hanging in there, and claiming her one picture worth of glory. But share the war story, so we can all know it is not JUST US, and we do not sit around questioning….WHY??