First of all, I need to express my thanks to everyone who still continues to read this blog and thank you for those of you that are joining me on my other blog/online store. That site is where I post recipes on everything Jodi and I make and I talk about what we use and share workshops, q and a’s and all that stuff. Here is where I am trying to focus on just my personal ramblings, as usual.
For everyone who has ever taken the time to write me with your genuine words of kindness, thank you. This is the one place I can actually say brings me a lot of hope in humanity, by reading the emails and comments that I get from you lovely individuals that connect with me, if only by screen. If I’ve ever missed responding to someone, I’m sorry! I try to respond to EVERYONE despite my little time I have, so if you haven’t heard from me just give me a little knock.
Ok. Let’s continue on.
If you haven’t heard by now, I made a free mini guide and published it over there on A Dream Lived Greener. You’ll see that you have to stick your e-mail in, and of course everyone’s knee jerk reaction is to avoid it, which I get. I’ll be honest here, it’s only for me to know how many people are actually interested (because I want to give more FREE things), not because I care to send newsletters to people. Gasp! What?! I don’t want to spam you telling you to buy things? No. I don’t. Weird right? Anyway.
Once you input your email, it goes to my MailChimp and the place where you enter your email gets replaced by the download link to the free guide. The download is almost instantaneous and all you have to do after to ensure that I will never, ever send you emails is to go to your email you gave me, find the notification that you’ve subscribed, open it and click ‘unsubscribe’. Easy as pie. A free guide for nothing and I won’t be sending you newsletters. All of the internet marketers are cringing as I type this and shaking their heads at me.
So click the image if you want it – for those who are new to zero waste or interested in it, baby steps are best.
On to the rambling.
Summer solstice is right around the corner. June 20. The first time in 70 years that there has been a full moon on the same day as the solstice, when the sun stops in the sky and gives us the most sunlight in all of the year. A beautiful day to celebrate and give thanks and the time of year that marks the season of strawberries.
I wanted to write a little list of things that I’ve learned in the last little while or share things that I’ve done to kind of get you up to speed to where I’m at right now. A mix of work life, minimal life, vegan life, zero waste life, mom life, gluten-free life and just, Life. I am a whack load of weirdness and I am loving experiencing the discovery of my self. So here goes.
1. My son is growing up way too fast.
It’s true when they say time flies. For all the times I had said no to carrying him, I didn’t realize I’d miss it. These days, as fast as he wants me to pick him up, the “put me down” is even faster. The minute I realized this, I thought to myself, NO! It can’t be happening already… but because of it I try even harder to relish the moments of cuddles, hugs, pick me ups and “I want mommy love” because I know and see that much like the other phases, this too will pass.
2. Being a Vegan is easier than I thought. When it’s just me all by myself.
What isn’t easy is how to navigate with my son who insists on eating meat (probably because his Dad is a happy meat-eater), how to be with an omnivore partner and how to eat out at restaurants. It seems I can never get it right and surprises always happen. Thankfully, you my dearest readers, share with me wonderful advice that helps me. And much like zero waste, I remind myself I’m still new and have a lot to learn.
What I also didn’t realize is how big the resistance is with some of the people that I’m closest to. But I have been listening to the Joyful Vegan podcasts with Colleen, (again thank you readers) and it has helped me immensely to just have compassion in my heart and to remember that my purpose is simply to become the best version of me and to follow what I feel is right in my heart. Like zero waste, my goal is not to force anyone to change. My goal is only to become better than I was yesterday and to spread love and awareness while having compassion in my heart.
I never would have thought the “block” from my mind would become free and that my love for a cow, a pig, a chicken or a fish would be the same for me as a cat or a dog. Little did I know it was happening all along. I’ve never been strong enough to go to zoos. I can barely stay in pet stores, especially when I see birds trapped in cages. My heart still hurts when I see roadkill. So it seemed only inevitable my mind would shift eventually. These days, I’m just not strong enough to eat any kind of meat. I don’t want to bring any sort of violence into my life. I don’t want to be a part of any kind of suffering or abuse to anyone or any creature.
Up until today (after watching this video with Dr. Melanie Joy) I used to wonder how to navigate my son’s desire to eat meat and his insistence on it, but this video has helped to give me a little bit more information and a clearing understanding of why we don’t question why we eat some animals, but protect others like cats and dogs. It makes me more confident about wanting to talk about veganism with him and give him the answers as to why I just won’t order him any type of meat, dairy or egg dish at restaurants again. And regardless of whether he chooses to eat meat when he’s not with me, I must always remain open in my heart and love him and others close to me unconditionally. Not long ago I too ate meat, eggs and dairy without asking myself why.
3. I am aware that my body hates gluten.
Zero waste life resulted in me having a healthier diet, but it also made me incredible aware. That’s always been a part of my personality. To seek out what is true for me and to become more aware. In this process I am becoming better at listening to my gut. Sometimes I still don’t listen and actively try to ignore it (like today I had kettle cooked chips), but for the most part the inner voice is too loud and my stomach is just too important to me for me not to listen.I went off gluten for a few weeks and recently went to the doctor to do some tests that have begun and will continue in progression for probably the next few months until the final stage where I see a gastrointestinal specialist.
In the meantime, I have to consume a little bit of gluten and during this time, because I am aware of the effects it has on me, it makes it easier to be… easier on myself. For anyone that experiences symptoms of gluten sensitivity, you know what I mean. Although my intuition, stomach and mind know that I do have a sensitivity, it is my responsibility to make sure that I have no life threatening illnesses or intestinal damage and just get my whole self checked out.
You can bet as a vegan, adding gluten-free to that list when eating out is a huge challenge, because it’s not just not avoiding wheat-based foods, it’s a whole list of chemicals that I have to avoid, although I avoided most before realizing I had a problem with gluten. Most restaurants don’t know this and some just don’t care to and purposefully serve people gluten, which is scary.
You can understand my STRONG desire to make everything myself and avoid eating out. And my strong desire to start a vegan and gluten free cafe here in Ottawa.
4. I haven’t decided if I’m actually putting my son in school.
I registered him in an alternative school, but now that I may be moving I won’t be in the district for it. People often tell me that it’s hard to homeschool and I gently remind them that I have technically been doing it (by choice) because I am self-employed. I spend the majority of my days with my son and do my work at night because I always wanted to stay at home with my son. Is it hard? Yes, but for me, it would be harder to go to a job I hated every day and pay for daycare. And while school is technically free, there is a lot about the system I don’t agree with.
What about the curriculum people ask me? How will he learn? You’ll have to be on top of that, they say and make him learn every day. Until I learned about Unschooling, I had a bit of a panic attack about this but then realized that we’ve been unschooling. My son is four and he knows the letters in the alphabet, practices writing them, is interested in math and adds with his fingers and knows a little geography because we talk about where I was born and look at world maps, just to name a few “subjects.”
Do I believe that traditional school can be good for some kids? Yes. Especially for those that do not have safe environments at home. When I was growing up, I escaped through school and even though I got bullied every day, in my mind it was better to be at school than be at home. School can also be great for people that don’t have the capacity to teach their kids at home, who’s first language isn’t English or for those that don’t have the income to do so. As a single Mother, most would assume I wouldn’t have the capacity to do any of this. But I have been doing it. And I’ve become really great at managing my time and my stress. I wouldn’t have learned how, if I hadn’t been doing it full time for the past three years.
I live a modest and simple life and try to avoid spending money on things I don’t need. Which brings me to my next point.
5. I’ve been saving money.
Not having a traditional cell phone plan in six months, I have saved approximately $400. Not to mention that I’ve spent more time in the moment and not staring at my cell phone. Saving money has become a fun game for me and I know I’d save more if I stopped having lunch meetings. To give myself an idea of what I saved, I created a chart to breakdown what I spent before going zero waste and what I spend now. Red is before zero waste. Purple is after. While this list does not include everything that I make and buy, I’ll give you an idea here. Things to add would be cleaning products, make-up products, hair care (I never buy anything anymore), garbage bags (it doesn’t exist for me) and so on.
Now when I want to buy anything, even if I pay with credit card, I already have the money to pay it off right away.
This isn’t to say that I don’t still spend without thinking. I mean, I buy my music and one day I spent $60 on it just through iTunes. I’m just becoming more conscious and my goal is to pay off my current debt (which is now at about $3-4k) and continue to save more money and be better with managing it. I have specific jars or accounts that my money goes into for education, charitable donations, my home build, contingency money, travel and play – and I tell myself I have to spend all of the “play” money.
When I first left home at 14, I had an empty bank account. When my marriage ended, I had $200. At 30 (almost 31) I’m sitting comfortably. I’ve come a long way but my relationship with money has been a difficult one, so not only do I now make money a fun game, I also spend a lot of time telling myself positive affirmations about wealth and changing my entire mindset about it. Money is a tool and I can help a lot of people with it. Have the affirmations been working? Yes, definitely.
I’m going to leave it here for now as reading long blogs can get tiring.
As with anything, there is a lot more in life to learn and discover but the biggest journey for me has always been deep within the Self. At the beginning of the year I marked in my calendar four specific “Thinking Days” where I evaluate my goals and reflect on how I feel as a person. Today is another one of those days. It’s when I ask myself questions and see how I am doing as a whole, things like:
What have I been doing that makes me feel as though I am becoming a better person? How have I changed that I have become a better Mother? What can I do differently? How can I help others? Who am I really? Am I happy?
Someone once said to me, “you’ve changed.”
Well, I actually hope so.