In the Fish Bowl

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I wrote this in April 2014:

I think what I am loving the most about being vegan is the way it has been helping me find my voice. Having the courage to really commit to my deeper values in the face of disapproval from others is making me bolder. It’s hard to believe how far I have come in such a short period of time. A year ago I would never have dreamed of ever being so vocal, especially about a topic that makes me stand out like a sore thumb!

I’ve been working on resolving an internal conflict between the emerging activist in me and the empathetic, unconditionally loving ‘live and let live’ philosophy that has served me so well over the years. To be honest, I used to think activism was a dirty word, so it’s a very strange experience to start becoming one, and it hasn’t been easy working out how to settle this new identity into my broader sense of self.

I was working with a client today and explaining to her that when we develop a new personality facet, it needs to compliment our existing sense of self… not replace it. I’ve been very sociable lately and it has been lovely to get myself out from behind the wheel of my own mind and into the world, because it has given me a chance to watch myself in action… and be pleasantly surprised. While I might be taking action to raise awareness in the world around me, when I am in social situations my usual empathic acceptance of others kicks in to gear. Phew! I’m still me!

For example, I went to a BBQ for a friend’s birthday…. a friend who is a big meat eater. I was so delighted when his beautiful partner (also a big meat eater) went to the effort of making me a vegan dish- I felt so loved! That really helped me get past the first uncomfortable settling-in moments. I squirmed a bit when a massive bowl of crab was set down on the table in front of me, juices spurting everywhere, and I was on the verge of dry-retching when the BBQ kicked into gear. It’s been a very long time since I’ve smelled cooking meat and it isn’t pleasant. I’m proud to say my husband caved in and moved away from the BBQ before I did. I found some lovely flowers (I can’t spell their name) in their backyard that had a strong jasmine scent and I picked a small branch to put in my hair, over one ear. It worked really well as a scent-screen, effectively blocking the smell of the meat and the cigarettes.

I also squirmed a bit at all the swearing, drinking and smoking… again, not a scene I’m really familiar with any more, but it didn’t take me long to settle in, strike up some conversations and make friends. I especially enjoyed talking with the loudest, toughest lady present. She had a fascinating life story to tell and I loved her rebellious and resilient capacity for survival- very much reminded me of myself as a teenager.

One of the highlights for me over this past month has been the mutual support between myself and my friend Jenni, who went vegan at the same time I made my deeper commitment (deciding to get rid of leather, silk etc). When one of us is really struggling, the other does a pep-talk and we get through it in one piece. For both of us, the struggles have all been about other people and what is happening in the world around us. Embracing the vegan lifestyle is easy and joyful in and of itself… it’s just those awful moments when you realise all your friends are getting excited about how wonderful butter is, or when one of them posts something truly offensive about bacon. Ewww!

Another highlight was spending time with my daughter and her boyfriend. They went vegan last year and I was really rapt when we went shopping and I realised they were fully vegan…. no feathers in their pillows please! I’m wanting to find out from them what documentaries they watched that helped them make the decision to go vegan. I vaguely remember them talking about it and I’m loving every bit of research I can get my hands on. My daughter has been a big influence in my life when it comes to my vegan journey. I feel as though I have simply followed in her footsteps at times. Sometimes I feel sad, because in spite of my naturopathic training, my supposed intelligence and my gift for research, I thought she needed meat to be healthy, and I didn’t give her an opportunity to go vegetarian when she was younger. It’s not that she asked to go vegetarian, its just that I feel I should have raised it with her and asked her if she would like to… even as a young child she felt uncomfortable eating meat. I guess I feel like I let her down and I should have known better.

Anyway, enough with the melancholy. When I was with my daughter in Melbourne, we discovered Lord of the Fries. It was funny because we all had different reactions. All of us were delighted to see vegetarian food becoming mainstream, but my son-in-law was in seventh heaven because he had finally found some junk food he could eat! He was so happy that I almost got a shock when I bit into my burger and all I could taste was mush! I guess it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten something like that and my taste-buds have changed. My daughter wished she could take it home and add some fresh lettuce to it for some more crunch and flavour. I was thinking that too, but even then I think it would still have been a bit too bland for me. Didn’t like the chips either! I guess I’m a salad girl now. I was so happy to come home to my vege patch. The snake beans are scrumptious!

I stayed with my brother in Melbourne and was happy to see the kids snacking on veges and fruit. I coped well with the meat and dairy around me in their house, and the only really bad day I had was a kind of triple-whammy, where first my brother asked me to buy him 2 litres of milk, then we went to the butcher and then the pet shop. I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose… all very innocent- just normal life for him. I don’t think he realised how much I was struggling. If those three consecutive events had been spread out over a week, I would have been fine, but one after the other had my stomach in a seriously tight knot for hours. The worst part was the pet shop. I never liked going to them even before going vegan and my two pet-hates (haha get it? I’m so funny!), are birds in cages and fish in fish tanks. Just my luck he was buying a new fish. Sometimes it sucks being an empath and having a too-good emotional imagination. The idea of being a fish swimming round and round in circles in a glass bowl makes me feel claustrophobic. I didn’t know where to look or what to say!

Anyway, it’s over now and I’m home again! Love Om

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