Thoughts

Nature

Posted by on Jul 21, 2017 in Thoughts | 0 comments

?Nature’s always right there just waiting to take your breath away?✨

Eyes to drink it in and I feel its presence as a joy in my chest that oozes its way out through my grin.

I can’t contain it… because it’s too big to contain.

It’s a joy that celebrates the artistry of The Divine; the preciousness of this moment and the blessed connection I have with YOU.

For I am you and you are me and we are this sunset. We are the purple and the gold and the spectrum in between. We are the mysterious silhouette, the radiant glow and how they juxtapose. We are the calm in the collection of drops suspended above and the ardor in the army below.

WE ARE THIS SUNSET
and aren’t we exquisite?!

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Flora

Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Thoughts | 0 comments

 

??????✨
Flora & fauna help me to remember the REAL world that I’m a part of.

???
This is the mysterious, the magical, the majestic jade vine… Its presence, an inspiration.
?????
ON a schedule; UNDER endless pressure; IN our cubicles; DOWN at our phones; it’s easy to loose touch. We forget our spirit-self, our playfulness & our power. We feel tired, sick and ultimately unfulfilled.
???
But then there is always nature. When we are ready to ground back into truth, nature is here to remind us of our divinity, of our resiliency and of the art that life can be.
✨??????

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Friendship

Posted by on Jan 9, 2017 in Thoughts | 3 comments

I look at my younger self and I look at my present self — from some angles I don’t see that I’ve changed at all, and from others, I’m unrecognizably different. Many of the strides I’ve made have come on the training tracks that have been my romantic relationships.

For a period of time I believed that personal growth happened solely while in isolation. I believed that getting closer to God would mean spending more and more time alone. Partly in this pursuit I turned quite reclusive for many years, operating without a steady friend-group, let alone a boyfriend. I gained a lot through this experiment, and also see in retrospect that, I did become quite imbalanced. In the end, I was to some extent, hiding from the world.

I do hold time alone as important for personal development, however I’ve also now come to realize the value an intimate partner has in this regard. They…

  • Act as a mirror. All attitudes and behaviors we observe in others also reside in ourselves. It is what we find most bothersome to be around that can point to what we are most ashamed of in our own personalities. A partner’s proximity and consistency will make it hard to escape these traits that we have yet to confront. However, if we seek to live in harmony and to work past what triggers us in another, these must be addressed. Ultimately, we can learn to see ourselves more clearly in the beam of a partner’s reflection.
  • Expose you to new perspectives. There are other ways to think about oneself, other ways to approach problems and other ways to behave in the world than what you’ve come to learn. With a partner you get an intimate exhibition of what these might be. As a result, you may develop a more efficient way of doing things, or, their contrast may help to solidify a current process of yours. What a fantastic education!
  • Provide opportunities to practice personal growth skills, like giving & receiving; and being vulnerable & trusting. They also challenge you both to stretch your patience and to assert your boundaries. In these ways you’re able to work on your flexibly and strength.
  • Keep you accountable. In spending significant time with another, the room to hide diminishes more and more. What you can no longer conceal from someone else, you can no longer conceal from yourself.

marriage couple friend love

As a child, many of my days off school were spent in my family’s living room. Nestled in the household favorite chair, draped in our token, ugly crochet blanket, and hugging my teddybear, I’d derive most of my sustenance from day-time TV. TLC ran a series documenting people during particular landmark moments in their lives. Does anyone remember A Makeover Story, Dating Story, A Wedding Story and A Baby Story?

Fascinated by this adult world I remember hearing a common sentiment while watching A Wedding Story. “I’m marrying my best friend!… I’m so in love and it’s just wonderful that I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.”

By that time I had had best friends and I had had friends who were boys, but never any best friends who were boys. And I certainly couldn’t imagine being as vulnerable as one is with a best friend, with any boy I knew.

“What a concept!” I thought.

love married friend couple relationship

Many years later, right as Youtube was emerging, I found myself in a friend’s basement, caught in a black hole of viral video entertainment. One clip featured a woman who, as gross as it sounds, was popping her giant zit while her boyfriend recorded — the both of them shrieking in disgust and laughing at the absurdity.

I know it might sound like a joke to say “#relationshipgoals,” but that was truly my response. Up until that point I’d always made an effort to keep myself just-so around my boyfriends. My outfit had to be flattering, my hair blown-out and my make-up just right. I only wanted them to see the best of me. I couldn’t imagine in a million years how I might privy them to a pimple, let alone an emotional blemish. The idea of sharing my vulnerability with a boyfriend was far beyond me at the time and I came away with the thought that, “I’d like a boyfriend whom I can pop pimples with.” More deeply – I don’t want to censor myself around my partner. I want to share all parts of me, even those I deem as unattractive, and to be met with acceptance. I want someone with whom I can share fully with in all the agonies and amusements of life.

couple relationship grooming married friend

So sometimes now my partner refers to me as his best friend. When this happens I feel my heart just melt. I receive it as one of the highest honors and see it as one of the best things for our relationship.

For all the ways in which we refer to each other, I don’t believe there are any definitions it’s possible to have a consensus on. We each have our own associations and so we each make our own meaning.

To me, many of these labels have never fit quite right. They’re either too foreign or too trite.

  • “Boy/girlfriend” seems kind of juvenile, and is certainly too conventional to be personal.
  • “Lover” sounds fleeting and solely pheromone driven.
  • “Husband/wife” sounds too institutional to represent the magic that is the union of two souls.

“Best friend” though, is something I can more easily grasp.

I do also enjoy “partner” or “soul mate” — and there are times when these feel appropriate — However, there is a simplicity and a sweetness to “best friend” that makes sense, all of the time.

love married friend couple relationship

A best friend is…

  • A choice that is harvested today, but that is rooted in history.
  • Whom to find comfort with and seek honesty from.
  • Where there’ll be as much fluidity as stability — as much playfulness as reliability.

A best friend is…

  • Whom you find joy in both conversing with and sitting in silence with.
  • Whom you want to explore inner and outer worlds with.
  • Whom you can imagine doing nothing with and everything with.

They’re who you want to be with when you want to be with someone.

 

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Continuing

Posted by on Nov 16, 2016 in Self-Help, Thoughts | 0 comments

I’m not here to act like getting out of bed every day is easy. There are many that I’d rather just cocoon up and wait — wait as long as it takes for my wings to sprout and for them to introduce my best-butterfly-self to the morning. But not every day affords this luxury and sometimes I find myself out in the world as a confused and vulnerable little larva.

And although I’m fascinated by, I’m not interested in anyone who is pretending that it’s always sunny. What I am interested in is being real and saying it’s hard. It’s hard and I do it anyways.

Why do I do it?

Maybe it’s because I’m curious… I’m curious to answer all the questions that I have; and I’m curious to hear what new questions I will come to ask.

Maybe it’s because there is a way the joyous memories of the past cast their light on the future, that i’m drawn forward.

Maybe it’s because there is a confidence that comes with seeing how the trying times have served to edify. I’ve now carved out my seat for this rewarding role of studentship.

Maybe it’s because I (and I really do) believe in magic. In the magic that is a kindred spirit; a flash of inspiration; a whisper of intuition; a surprising synchronicity; in the magic that is a moment of pure peace in a day. It’s these unplannable and unexpected drops of light by which I am nourished, that I continue to grow.

Why do YOU do it?

 

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Dietism

Posted by on Jun 2, 2016 in Nutrition, Thoughts | 0 comments

“Are you an omnivore/locavore/paleo/vegetarian/vegan/raw vegan?” There are a million ways we label ourselves and get labeled by others because of our food choices. It is this labeling that has lead to much of the tension that I’ve witnessed in my community.

I’m not 100% certain that this would qualify as oppression and for the record I certainly don’t want to give it as much weight as something like racism or sexism or adultism. I’m posting out of curiosity of other’s opinions; and also to bring light to something that has been present in my life, perhaps it’s present in yours as well?

For me, this issue has a history as far back as grade school (back before being vegetarian was considered trendy), where, because of my decision to abstain form meat, I became the subject of bullying. The following are thoughts coming from my experience as a 21yr long vegetarian, 8yr vegan and 7yr raw vegan.

 

WHY “DIETISM” MIGHT FALL UNDER OPPRESSION

• There are those who are in power → Omnivores have the majority.
I have witnessed and been subject to peer pressure from those who’d like me to eat differently.

• There are stereotypes → “All vegans are frail; all vegans are judging you; all vegans are dirty hippies; all vegans are loud activists etc.”

 

BEING ON THE RECEIVING END OF OPPRESSION AS A VEGAN

• Continually being tasked with the job of educating others… “Yes you can actually get protein from plants.” This comes in response to an institutionalized oppression → the way the public is taught something as basic as the food pyramid does not leave room for alternative choices.

• Compliments are qualified… “He’s pretty strong for a vegetarian.”

• While dining with others who are making different food choices, it’s often the case that their food insecurities come up. They project that I’m judging them. I frequently hear, “I really don’t eat that much meat, just today…” Or, “…I tried being vegan once…” Or, they make a self-deprecating comment about their plate of fast food. “You are being so healthy eating that salad.”  The subtext being, “You are judging me for eating a burger, I’m gonna make you the weird one first.”  (I’m just genuinely surprised how often some reference to my diet comes up when I don’t say a word.)

• There is a pressure to represent the best version of health. I acknowledge that I may be the only vegan you meet. This pressure is the result of non-vegans continually taking almost any issue a vegan has and attributing it to their diet, a conclusion that would not have been immediately made for an omnivore. Any health problem becomes a subtle argument against veganism. “He is low in B12, it must be because he is vegan.” When in reality ~40% of Americans are B12 deficient, and not that many people are vegan.  Observations continue – “her skin doesn’t look good; he is not muscular enough etc… It’s because they aren’t eating enough meat.”  Like any minority, it’s a lot of pressure to think that you are representing all of your people. One vegan in a sea of omnivores at a backyard BBQ is likely going to feel something to this effect. Imagine you, as a human being, going to another planet. If you’re going to be all those aliens know of the human race, you might feel a pressure to be on your best behavior.

• There is embarrassment around eating at other’s houses as it often causes inconvenience for a host. (It has gotten a lot better over the years, but a lack of vegetarian choices is built into the standard North American diet.)

• Being bullied in subtle or explicit ways. Being at the butt and of jokes.

• Lack of understanding. “Yeah I know I didn’t order a veggie pizza for the group, but you can just take the pepperonis off.”

• Seeing a diet choice as one clearly defined thing that’s been solidified and isn’t leaving room for personal choices. “She couldn’t be vegan, she is wearing leather shoes.” Putting another person into a box of which of which you are designing the perameters.

 

INTERNALIZED “DIETISM”

• Many really like being a part of a group, so much so that they wholeheartedly take, vegansim for example, on as their identity. It dominates the foreground of the expression of themselves; it becomes a community they seek out as to reinforce their persona; and it becomes a lens through which they view the world. (I believe a part of what paves this path is how often one is continually receiving labels from the outside. Being put in the same box time and time again, the subject grows to see that box as their home.)

• Within one group of eaters, let’s say vegan, I’ve observed that when members of the group make choices to try something different, and reintroduce eggs for example, there are repercussions. They are often harshly judged and even shunned from the group. It is now the vegans who have learned to occupy the role of their oppressor. They act out the ways they’ve have been oppressed on others within their group, or against others in another diet minority group. Members of the group also work to reinforce stereotypes they’ve come to believe. “If all vegans are dirty hippies, let’s judge her for wearing make-up and dressing preppy.”

• I’ve witnessed over the years that diet groups have become more and more fragmented. Where it used to be just omnivore or vegetarian, it’s now broken down into pescaterian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, paleo, plant-based, whole-food focused, locavore, beegan, vegan, high carb vegan, raw vegan, low fat raw vegan, fruitarian, raw till 4pm vegan etc. Choice is great and labels can certainly be helpful in a restaurant; but when walls go up simply to give individuals something to push up against, no-one wins. Why is this important? Because it keeps our focus on the space between, so much so that we loose sight of what is there holding us together. As long as we stay divided we stay distracted. As long as we as we seek separateness, we sacrifice strength.

 

OVERALL

• I’ve seen that diet is a particularly charged subject for everyone, sometimes to the intensity of religion or politics.

• Many of the pieces around oppression – skin color, first language, ethnic background, country of origin, and biological gender stay with us our whole lives. Food does as well, and so the stories around it become quite involved and engrained. We don’t have much freedom over if we eat, the one thing we do have some freedom around is what we eat. Perhaps that’s why this choice is such a point of sensitivity.

 

TO THE READER

• In your opinion, would this fall under oppression?

• Have you experienced, let’s call it, “dietism”?

 

vegan-blogger

 

DIETISM, A RESPONSE…

[I received many comments on this post, some of which I hope to address below. One @Friend1 in particular found herself quite triggered by this comparison. A long time vegetarian herself, she has managed to make do regardless of her food environment (coming up with creative solutions like eating chips in cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving!) She acknowledged that remarks have been made about her diet, but doesn’t report on it having a negative affect.]

Wow, thank you so much for sharing your input! I so value friends I can talk openly with and who can be fellow travelers on my thought explorations such as this one.

I totally hear you @Friend1, and appreciate your input. I can see how it wouldn’t qualify as oppression in the eyes of some, that’s why I posed it as a question (an invitation for discussion really), rather than a fact.

I by no means believe that even the possibility of the existence of dietism holds close to the same weight as something like racism or sexism. My preface was an attempt to be clear on that and to be sensitive & respectful to these more severe forms of oppression. I apologize if my emphasis on the space between was not strong enough.
Oppression is certainly an edgy topic and one that i only recently started to investigate more thoroughly. A curiosity sparked in me by a class I’m taking, in which we examined its definition. I wanted to extract the components of it and see where else it may be applicable in an effort to expose some possibly hidden ways we, as humans are holding each other back – to bring awareness to some of the barriers that are in the way of a truly loving connection between groups of difference.

One definition that was shared: “oppression = prejudice + power”. Other definitions I’ve read around the internet are pretty much variations of: “the exercise of power in a cruel manner.”

What I want to bring attention to firstly is that something as seemingly subtle as teasing might be received as cruel. Secondly, that any group who holds the majority holds a type of power – a privilege worth acknowledging. With a sense of being among the majority one feels safe and therefore free to act in a provocative manor with confidence of no repercussion. The members of this group are also not challenged to explore their own naiveness because they all share the same blindspots. They unconsciously work to reinforce the established perspective, a natural mechanism of group self-preservation.

I commend the creativity of your Thanksgiving “salsa” @Friend1 ? I’m glad to hear you didn’t find the remarks bothersome. Think though, that there were remarks/laughing in the first place, says something. That there is a convention in which the teasing of a minority is accepted, to me, that would qualify as oppression on a small-scale. I recognize that whether a remark is considered cruel is subjective. I have, in my circles heard and read of more overt cruelty directed at someone because of their food choices, perhaps this has not been a part of your world.

I can relate though with not feeling directly affected by something others feel as an oppressive force. for instance, I understand the concepts of sexism and see others who are quite affected by it. I however, have never personally felt the target of overt sexism, definitely not in a way where I have felt oppressed or endured a powerful suffering. However, just because I haven’t experienced it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in the world.

I also don’t believe acts of oppression need to be dramatic to have an affect. I see the way men are suppressed and it can be quite subtle – in the form of a passive comment, “suck it up, be a man.” We all know what that means. It embeds stoicism into the definition of that gender. The translation: “because you have a penis, if you cry, you wont be accepted.” It seems like a harmless comment, but what is the affect? > Half of our population surprising their emotions. Their resentment, anger, insecurity, confusion, build until it spills over into other relationships. The oppressed man then becomes the oppressor and acts out against his child; against females; against other races etc. He is desperate to regain power and unconsciously finds it at the expense of others. The cycle perpetuates.

I acknowledge my privilege as a white, North American, working class, educated, “religionless”, english-speaking, female and see how that has both afforded me opportunity and also kept me naive. This is likely why I was more sensitive to aforementioned expressions of dietism – because i was sheltered from more severe forms of oppression. Someone who had to endure the cruelty of unprovoked physical abuse, unwarranted arrests, denial/lack of government assistance for instance, would not pick up a rude comment about their hummus, as even a blimp on their radar.

My post was never about trivializing these atrocities. Rather, it was to highlight how the relative weight of dietism, though may be small, is not inconsequential.

The ways we interact with each other through micro-aggressions (like teasing and making uneducated comments) may seem insignificant, but, like seeds planted, if left unattended, they’ll grow; like one straw after another, eventually they’ll break through the camel’s back. And it is the small size, the subtleness of these aggressions, that are what make them so dangerous. They aren’t seen as aggressive enough to warrant attention and so they continue.

I really liked what you said @Friend2, “tolerating being ignored/discredited on one level gives people the room for ignorance to grow, because their ignorance is never questioned. … and it then grows to the proportions mentioned in your first paragraph.”
When looking at the atrocious ways humans have demonstrated oppression through racism and sexism for example, we can ask, where did this stem from? – It came from lack of awareness and lack of education. These are the same origins I am proposing exist at the root of dietism. My initial inquiry points to the next question: What if we could uncover the areas we still remain unaware and uneducated as a population and address them? How much future suffering might be alleviated? What if we could’ve made this possible before genocide and slavery came to be?  Why should an opinion or exchange have to escalate to war to be addressed?

My hope is that by being overly sensitive we can nip more potential violence in the bud.

I’m sorry @Friend1 that you are saddened by this whole comparison. my goal was to illuminate blind spots, not to cast a shadow over the suffering of another.

I so appreciate your participation and for helping me better understand this complex topic. It sounds like what we can all connect on, is that what we would like is to see, is a world more free from cruelty. I think that comes with maintaining an open mind and continuing an open dialogue. So, thank you for being a part of that dialogue.

 

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Non-Attachment

Posted by on May 13, 2016 in Self-Help, Thoughts | 0 comments

I often overhear prideful words on the subject of non-attachment.

My self-proclaimed hippy friend recently said aloud, “gross, look at that girl with the expensive designer bag. I’m not pretentious like that. I don’t care about money. I don’t shop in those high-end stores, I shop in used clothing stores.”  What she was attempting to share about was her freedom from an attachment to money, however what i heard was an example incomplete.

If one truly didn’t care about money, yes, they might shop at an inexpensive vintage store, but they also wouldn’t blink an eye over spending a larger sum of money on an item that they liked from a more expensive store. True non-attachment to money comes by maintaining an indifference to a cost – a purchase is based solely on the desire for the good or service.

In another case, a person with more substantial wealth may have attachments to their own idea of money. Though it appears that they are comfortable spending any amount on a whim, when it comes to the sale rack, something changes for them. They’ve become averse to buying the discounted item because it’s newly designated monetary value has now deemed it “less than.”

Freedom from this internal evaluative dialogue would be buying the vintage tee because it’s comfy and the diamonds because of their sparkle. That is living beyond the designated value of money and “not caring about money”

There are many sides to non-attachment. When you say you don’t care about one side, check yourself. Is it possible there is an opposing side… Maybe one that you weren’t aware of, one that you are unknowingly clinging to? Check yourself. Are you behaving self-righteously? Are you holding yourself up by the judgements you have of others?

When I hear, “I don’t care what people say about me. They can put me down all they want, I don’t care.” I’m curious to question, “Do you truly not care what people say? Check yourself. How do you react when you are complemented?” If you really didn’t care what people said you’d give this positive feedback the same zero weight as you did the negative. Ask yourself, is it that you hear others’ words, acknowledge any positive intention and then allow them to roll right off your back; or, is it that these affirmations funnel into a reservoir of pride? Do they feed an identity to which you feel attached?

When i hear, “I don’t like that – insert mainstream pop song title here -,” I want to inquire. “Is it that you actually don’t enjoy this beat, or is it just that you don’t enjoy the idea of yourself liking the song?”

Is there an image of yourself that you are too attached to to challenge?

Maybe one time, you can let yourself dance along, in public, even though it may be incongruent with the image you have of yourself.

Maybe you can release yourself, with the realization that these are innocent notes on a page, simple sound waves, valueless vibrations, that aren’t born with any inherent meaning… Maybe you can release yourself with the realization that you too are as simple and innocent. That you too have no fixed form or identity.


“I’m not vain and attached to my appearances. I don’t take photos of myself, like these other people posting selfies all the time.” Whether an individual takes one picture of themselves or 20; whether it ends up as their facebook profile pic or on a billboard; the only relevant factor is their relationship to that picture.

The amount of attention a photo receives also doesn’t reflect the humbleness of its subject. The woman next door might have an IG account with 10 followers and she could be completely consumed with her image; believing that it is the whole representation of herself. And there could be a famous runway model, with plenty of photoshoots under her belt, who is down-to-earth with few delusions about her image.

I realized a couple years ago that I was trying to fit a particular image I had of myself. In the past I’ve had times where I’ve had an aversion to being photographed – I thought of getting one’s picture taken as act of ego. I saw it as being prideful and vain. I valued humility and thought by refraining from photos I would be supporting the growth of this character trait.

The catch here was, I was caught up trying to maintain a self-image of modesty. This subconscious preoccupation kept me from being genuinely present – from simply being a part of a photograph because it was fun; from posting a picture of myself because it represented an enjoyable time; from sharing a photo of a cheesy grin because I think the world could use more smiles.

It’s sneaky, but this pursuit of the ego-free identity, actually feeds the ego!

To really be free from this trap, to really be humble, is not to not take selfies. it is to take selfies but without attachment to them. It is not to hide from a lens, but to examine what comes up in oneself when in the presence of one.

It is to have photos in one’s life, to have the presence of form, without having it be the definition of one’s being. Ceci n’est pas Kat Green.

 

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