Time for (another) Change: Goodbye Animals, Hello Plants

I love me some meats.

I would not be unusual to start off the day with a chicken fried steak (with gravy of course) and three eggs. Follow that up with a massive cheeseburger for lunch and then grill a nice fatty 16 ounce rib eye for dinner. A big bowl of ice cream as a dessert chaser.

Just typing that menu sounds delightful.

Yesterday I became a vegan.

Yes, THAT vegan. The type of vegan that has a bunch of memes like:

Yesterday I went cold turkey…or cold tofurkey…I’m not really sure yet how to speak like a vegan…lol

vēɡən/ veg·an

noun

1.

a person who does not eat or use animal products.

“I’m a strict vegan”

adjective

2.

using or containing no animal products:

“a vegan diet”

So no more meat, dairy, honey…anything that comes from something with a face, I think.

I suppose the question I’ve gotten the most from people is, “Why?”

Understandable.

First off, we watched that Netflix documentary What the Health. If you have seen it you were probably as disturbed as I was. Sure, there were things that were definitely…umm…a little over the top and overacted. There have also been plenty of articles debunking some of what was presented.

Regardless, what it did do was open my mind to doing my own research on the health benefits of a plant-based culinary lifestyle.

Based on the menu of my lifestyle I mentioned earlier, it should be clear that I am not healthy. The timing was perfect since I had to go to the VA and have some new labs tested, so I figured I could try this for four weeks and see if there was a difference. Four weeks should be manageable, right?

The first thing my physician said was four weeks wasn’t going to be enough time to see a difference in my lab results, so now I had to try this 180 degree food change for six weeks.

When my lab results were back, I’m a mess. Super high cholesterol and sugar. High risk for every side effect you see on those late night commercials.

Except for having an erection that lasts for more than four hours.

So, the path has been set. For at least the next six weeks it’s all plant-based foods.

I’ll post some of the recipes we make and some of the vegan products that I found to be enjoyable. I will also talk about the detox (if I have it), and how I’m feeling, including weight loss and other side effects I have.

I’ll also be sure to respond to any questions that get sent my way about how I’m doing, so don’t be shy about commenting.

I hope to post each week, maybe more, maybe less.

How’s that for commitment?

The Maze

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately.

Ok, more than a lot…

I sometimes feel like I am in purgatory. Not heaven, not hell.

I sometimes get to touch heaven. Taste it. Embrace it. Let it envelope me. Let me enjoy it.

Relax.

Avoid the chaos.

But my life rides on a pendulum. I am only there for a brief moment before I begin the long, agonizing ride back.

My past haunts me.

My present mocks me.

My future is a tease.

I am “starting over” in life. I never spent time thinking about what that meant until recently.

Starting over.

Examining your past. Looking at what you bring to the table. Realizing what you damaged.

I have painfully come to the realization that my accomplishments in life have been small.

Insignificant.

If I had to write down a list of my accomplishments I would not get far past “being a father.”

I get by.

I got by.

And now I have entered a maze. There is the light at the exit, but my past has created the walls.

They are thick.

They are tall.

I can’t see over them.

They have no cracks for me to peek through.

The walls are my past. They keep me trapped. They lead me to dead ends. They tease me with different entrances.

But they always take me back.

For a brief period I see my heaven. I feel the love. I feel the caring. I feel the emotions. I can see such a wonderful future. I think I may finally get there.

But it is short lived.

I return to the chaos.

My pendulum descends.

Tired.

Sad.

Anxious.

Depressed.

Lonely.

My heaven is strong. She is patient. She understands. She gives me hope. She surrounds me.

Can I escape my walls?

 

Smiling Inside

I’ve been learning a lot about myself lately. It’s amazing what you can learn when someone is suddenly paying attention and challenging your ways.

Last week I blogged about happiness and hope.

Happiness is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately…mostly because I have been happy.

A few years ago I went to a comedy club with some friends. When we left one of them asked if I had fun. I said that the comedian was pretty funny.

“But you didn’t even laugh.”

It dawned on me that I’m not very good at showing that type of emotion. I could really find something to be funny, but I would laugh inside.

Just like if I saw something worth smiling, I would just smile inside.

I didn’t have that physical release.

Why?

I think it could be that to show that emotion would be to open myself up too much. I like my masks.

They keep me safe.

Whether I have my earbuds in with no music; pretend talking on the phone; wearing sunglasses on cloudy days; or sarcasm, I use them all.

I’m good at deflecting a conversation to something else.

But that has been changing.

I have found someone where I want to laugh out loud.

I smile all the time – with my mouth.

When I say I’m happy, I’m not deflecting to avoid the truth.

She tells me almost every day that I deserve to be loved.

I’ve had a difficult time accepting that; but really, don’t we all deserve it?

Don’t we all deserve to be so happy that we can actually show it?

Right now I will smile for real just by reading a text. I even “lol”. Sometimes there may even be a snort mixed in there.

That release has been good for me.

Good for my soul.

I’m not coming out of my shell; I’m just enjoying the turtle life more.

Skipping Funerals

There are many things that my wife, the hippy, does as an extrovert that I just don’t understand.

Last week there was a fatal crash in town where a teenage female lost her life.

Tragic, no doubt.

I didn’t know her, nor do I know any of her family members that I know of.

She was the daughter of a friend of a friend of my wife. My wife had never met her. May have never met her parents either…she’s not sure. But when the name was released, my wife went into full emotional crisis mode.

She was calling up friends of hers to let them know the news. She was trying to find out when the funeral was going to be. She was doing everything someone would do who had ties to the family.

But she really doesn’t.

And this is not a unique circumstance.

She attends more funerals each year than I have attended in my entire life. It’s not that I don’t care; I just don’t want to go to a funeral for someone I don’t know. They are sad enough as is.

Plus, being the introvert I am, I don’t want to have a conversation begin with a family member or someone who truly cared for and loved the departed where it becomes obvious I didn’t know them.

I am uncomfortable attending birthday parties for people I don’t know. I am uncomfortable attending weddings for people I don’t know.

There should be no doubt that I would be uncomfortable attending a funeral for someone I don’t know.

Instead I will be leaving work early to pick my son up from school since my wife will be going.

Reflecting on the “what ifs” in life

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After a week in Washington DC, and then a week in Dallas, I decided to take back-to-back four day weekends.

It was VERY needed.

Too many after-hours “get togethers”, hot temps, high humidity, and airports.

One thing that I completely enjoy living here in Montana is the ability to go fishing for some massive trout.

Fishing is an interesting activity, especially when doing it by myself. Each day I spent at least four hours out on the water with nothing to do but think…and recharge.

After the mandatory thoughts about if my bait is still on after casting, do I have enough leader, is it the right bait, and if I should put on bug spray, my mind started wandering to more reflective thoughts.

Mostly I spent many hours thinking about “what if”.

Having just recently turned 42 and dealing with depression, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my life, and how it would have been different with some of the decisions I made through the years.

Probably the most important decision I made early on was to join the Army. I joined the summer of my senior year in high school, mostly because I really didn’t have any plans for when I graduated. I wasn’t the best student, and honestly I never really considered what was going to happen when I was no longer in school. College wasn’t an interest, but neither was working in fast food.

It’s hard for me to imagine my life had I not joined. The Army allowed me to travel the world. It allowed me to see how my life growing up was really sheltered to the struggles people in other nations suffered. This was way before the Internet age, so the only real knowledge I had about poverty and suffering was the commercials about the drought and starvation happening in Ethiopia. That was basically it.

I knew nothing about Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, or any other war-torn country. Terrorism was something that was happening in Ireland. Racism and gangs were newspaper articles.

But much of my time reflecting on the “what if” goes back to the day I decided not to reenlist. Where would I be in life had I decided to stay in? As much as I struggled in High School, once I was out I became a sponge for knowledge. I re-took my ASVAB and scored very high. In fact, when it was time to reenlist the recruiter told me that I could have nearly any job I wanted in the Army and could choose whatever base I wanted.

I was seriously considering becoming a combat photographer. But I was too young and dumb and figured I could just get out and become successful wherever I landed.

It was a major wake-up when I landed here in Montana with no skills, no job, and no money.

That was 20 years ago.

A lifetime ago.

Where would I be had I stayed in?

We have been in war forever. People I served with have died in battle. Would that have been me too?

Would I be married? Would I have children?

I know that I wouldn’t have the son I have now. Wyatt is the most important thing in my life. Yes, he even rates above my wife. That may sound harsh, but it’s true. I think she would say the same about me.

That’s one thing that I always thought about in the movie “The Family Man” with Nick Cage. He ends up with the woman he should have, but the children are not there. Yes, they will probably have them, but would they be the same?

I always think back to that time in life when I made that big decision. Many times I think my life may have been better, but a major piece would be missing.

I think I made the right choice.