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.

What is Happiness?

I’ve been gone for a while.

Mentally.

Pressure kept building while I did my best to ignore it.

I stopped caring.

Stopped being happy.

Then someone took a tiny crowbar and entered my heart. Suddenly there was light on the horizon instead of the dark clouds that consumed me so intensely. Happiness once again warmed my skin. Love filled my pores. I realized I still had some purpose.

Sitting in the airport yesterday, she challenged me on something I said. She always challenges me.

It’s bittersweet.

Emotional.

I told her that she makes me want to be better. But did I really know what that meant? I said that I want to have the life where I can make someone else happy.

Seems easy enough, right?

She challenged me. “So for you, being better means making the people you love happy?”

At first I thought a simple, “Yes” was the answer. But I was boarding the plane and had a few minutes to think about it.

At what point does making someone “happy” destroy a relationship? Does it involve avoiding an argument just to make someone happy? Is it conceding just to avoid conversation? Is it the irrational belief that just by saying the right things everything will turn around and be ok?

Maybe I thought so. I’m not sure.

I would be challenged on that statement too.

Getting to my seat on the plane, I understood that’s not happiness.

It’s avoidance.

I’m good at avoiding. Diverting.

I’m happy when I can make someone happy, but not because I am looking for the things that make that person happy. I want happiness to be natural.

No, I NEED it to be natural. It gives me purpose. It gives me life. It gives me love.

Maybe I can overcome my struggles.

There is hope.

Hope.

Not just hope that I can “fix” something…hope that I don’t need to try to use happiness to fix the unfixable.

Hope.