The art of picking yourself back up and moving forward

Everyone’s been there at least once in their lives. You’ve had the phone call that nightmares are based on, hit the point in your life where your problems have piled so high you can’t see past them, or experienced a disappointment in life so great it’s as if your world is crumbling down around you. These horrible  moments in life are unavoidable, inevitable, and soul crushing. They swoop in, often unexpected, and like a tornado they leave a mess of destruction and devastation in their wake. And as anyone who’s experienced these moments knows, it can be one of the hardest things to do to pick yourself up and keep going.

I get a piece of news like this recently. I surprised even myself at how powerfully the news hit me. Sure, I’ve had bad news before, but this was the worst. This was it. My world was over and it felt like someone sucked the life right out of me.

In the aftershock I found myself sitting on my couch, clutching my knees to my chest for any kind grip on reality I could muster, and crying uncontrollably. I sat there drowning in my emotions for so long that my dogs gave up trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I was so heartbroken that I couldn’t see what kind of future was left for me. It sucked.

I tried to hide it at first. I’m a really private person, which is why some people I know were surprised I started a personal blog at all. I don’t even post very personal things on my Facebook! (Cute animal videos and pictures of my dogs are about as personal as my Facebook gets.)

But when it came down to it, when I was slapped in the face with such a heart wrenching life-plan changer, I did what any reasonably private woman does. I said “I’m fine” and kept going. I functioned like a perfectly rational looking human for the next hour. I walked my dogs, welcomed my boyfriend home, and went to the kitchen to start dinner.

Que the second wave.

I don’t know how long I sat there. I don’t know how I went from reaching out to open the refrigerator door to sitting on the wood floor of the kitchen, back painfully pressed against the refrigerator in the same knee-to-chest position I pretended I wasn’t in earlier, crying. That’s where my boyfriend found me. And it wasn’t until he came over, asked me why I was on the floor, peeked down to see tears streaming down my face (again) that I even realized I was there. The past few hours were a dream-like blur.

We sat there for a while, me sitting on the floor and Jonathan sitting across from me quietly. When he asked me if I wanted to talk about it, and all I could do was shake my head so as not to let the sobs threatening to break free come forth, I realized how not “fine” I really was. Even his small jokes weren’t enough to pick me up.

It took several more minutes and understanding reassurances from my wonderful boyfriend before I could get up and get moving. It took several more weeks before I could consider myself fully recovered from the initial shock, disappointment, and aftereffects of that event.

So in the past month I have been, getting sick from anxiety, accepting what I could not change, and dealing with getting better and moving forward in life. And that’s where I am right now. I’m fully ready to pick up the pen keyboard again and get to sharing with the rest of the world.

I think what really helped me pick myself back up was my rock of a boyfriend and the knowledge that when you feel like the rest of the world just crumbled around your feet – it hasn’t. If you just take one deep breath, and walk outside you’ll see the rest of the world is carrying on and, since you’re still apart of the world, you will carry on too. Time heals everything and the open wound that is crushing you today will get better with time as long as you allow it to.

So I’m back to kicking butt, living life, and enjoying the little things. Welcome to the next chapter of my journey.

April @ fitandfancylife Signature

How to handle going vegan when the rest of the world “can’t even”

How to Handle Going Vegan When The Rest Of The World "Can't Even"

To anyone not brought up vegetarian or vegan, the shock your lifestyle choice sends throughout the universe may be hard to handle. After all, you are now the leper to all your meat and dairy loving peers who “can’t even” imagine life without dead flesh and titty milk.

You have declared open season on yourself. For the rest of your life, so long as you abstain from meat and dairy, other people will comment on, make judgment on, and challenge you about what you eat. Were you ready for that? Did your reasons, whatever they were, for turning to this lifestyle include hardening yourself against the opinions others will have about your choice for your diet for the rest of your life? Mine certainly didn’t.

I shouldn’t complain, I had it easier than most. I’ve never really liked meat. I almost always refused to eat it as a child, told friends’ parents I was allergic to it growing up, and pretty much avoided it my whole life. Before I decided to openly cut meat out of my life, it was easy to avoid the elephant in the room that the word “vegan” seems to be. After all, who’s going to force you to eat anything you simply don’t like?

How wrong I was. From the moment I associated myself with the “v” word, the world flipped. Friends and family members had a big problem with my diet and still see fit comment on it regularly. While neither my friends nor my family were very subtle about their opinions on my lifestyle, my friends at least try asking questions and trying to work around my “new” way of eating. My family on the other hand saw this lifestyle “change” as open season for debates, endless unsubstantiated facts they “read somewhere,” and the distinct feeling I look protein deficient and pale. (For the record, I was actually closer to being protein deficient before I gave up meat and lived off spaghetti, cheese-less pizza, and Caesar salad. Also, I usually pale. That part is probably true.)

Through trial, patience, lack of patience, and acceptance I’ve learned a few things about how to handle going vegan when the rest of the world “can’t even” deal with your lifestyle choice.

Study your shit.
People are going to challenge you. People you’ve known your whole life, and some you just met, are going to think they know more about your health and diet than you do. Be prepared with facts and rebuttals on demand. If you’re an ethical vegan, study up on animal treatments and laws around the world. If you came to the lifestyle for health reasons, you better know all the facts about how meat diets and veggie diets affect your health. Actually, you should probably know your shit on all aspects and health effects of a veggie diet regardless.

Understand you are not the only one adjusting to your lifestyle.
Your friends and family have grown accustomed to your quirks, behavior, and diet. While it may seem to be a logical change for you to go from eating whatever to having dietary restrictions, it may not be for those around you. Give them time to adjust to your new eating habits. It might be a little stressful for them to try to figure out what you can and can’t eat, when you eat, and especially how much you eat. Change affects everyone differently. Answer their questions, try to ignore their “facts” about your lifestyle, and remember that they’re only concerned because they care. I still struggle with this one from time to time, and that’s okay. You don’t have to be infinitely patient, just enough to cut others some slack.

Be the planner.
It’s time to be the event coordinator of your social situations. Believe me, it’s awkward for everyone involved when you go out to eat with your friends and the restaurant has no meal options for you. This is where your inner event coordinator comes in. There is no longer an option to answer inquiries on where you want to eat with “wherever”. Speak up. Take control of your social life by suggesting safe restaurants, vegHead-friendly activities, and even cooking at home. If these options feel too burdensome, then at least eat beforehand or bring snacks.

Learn to cook.
If you’re new to a vegan diet, or even a vegetarian diet, it will be beneficial to know how to cook. Eating all your meals from restaurants gets expensive quickly, and eating only pizza and boxed macaroni and cheese is an easy way to pack on pounds. There are thousands of YouTube videos, blogs, and recipe websites to feed you for the rest of your life. Don’t let a lack of kitchen experience hold you back, because there are recipes for novices and experts. Take advantage of these resources; your budget and belt will appreciate it.

Let in and let go.
People that live their lives differently from what’s considered normal by society are always subject to curiosity and even contempt. Remember why you chose to switch to this lifestyle, and don’t walk through life with a chip on your shoulder. You may grow and evolve with age, but you’re still the same bag of bones you were before you gave up meat and dairy. Embrace the change. Remember your friends and families love your vegHead ass and will accept you. If they don’t embrace your lifestyle right away, they will in time. Remember that there are meet ups and festivals where you can connect with others who follow this lifestyle. You don’t have to go through life feeling as if there’s a separation from the rest of the world. There’s someone who understands behind this article, and I can probably relate to your journey. If not me, there’s someone else out there that does. Remember that you are not defined by what you do or do not eat. You are a unique individual made up of a complex personality, belief system, and preferences. Don’t get sucked into thinking “you are what you eat” is a literal statement; you are so much more then what you eat. I know it can be annoying to deal with questions and opinions against your lifestyle choice. Again, you don’t have to be infinitely patient with people, just enough to give them the patience and consideration you would like in return.

Switching to this lifestyle is different for everyone, some find it easy and others struggle. If you found a different way to deal with a world that “can’t even” handle your lifestyle, if you found this article helpful, or if you never experienced any turmoil in going vegHead then let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Do I have to become an activist to be a Vegan or Vegetarian?

activistYes, that’s right, you do have to become an active activist to be a vegan or a vegetarian. Burn your bras, ladies! Always have an arsenal of red paint filled balloons to throw on random passersby wearing fur. If you see a small child walking their toy poodle you better release the beast and preach the absurdity of leashing a wild animal while simultaneously urging the little beasty to leave its tiny oppressive human and run free (but also away from traffic). VegHeads unite!

And now back to reality for a bit. To answer this questions seriously (because I was kidding in the previous paragraph), you DO NOT have to become an active activist to be a vegan or a vegetarian.

What do I mean by active activist? Well there are two definitions of the word “active,” one that’s the typical idea of actively active and another that’s more passively active according to the all-knowing Google. The more actively active definition means to be engaged in action; characterized by energetic work, participation, etc; busy. The actively passive definition refers to being in a state of existence, progress, or motion.

So the way I see it, by simply deciding to go either vegan or vegetarian, you are automatically a passively active activist. You are in a state of existence, progress, or motion against the cruelty of animals by making the choice to not support the meat, leather, and dairy industries yourself. You can stop there. You don’t have to do anything else, because you’re already saving lives.

If you do want to become an active activist, by all means go for it. Do the research on animal cruelty and nutrition, fill your Facebook page full of anti-animal abuse photos, give only vegan recipe books and Vitamixes to your friends and family for holidays and for God’s sake don’t wear fur. (Because you look ridiculous dressed up as Sasquatch.)

I don’t consider myself to be an active activist. My family, friends, boyfriend, and co-workers do not listen to me preach about animal cruelty and why they should become a vegHead too. Why? There’s 3 main reasons for this.

  1. While I love the little beasties of the world, I also understand that people have to make up their own minds about this lifestyle. Deciding to go against every “fact” about nutrition you were lied to about taught is a huge decision. No one should feel pressured to join any cause. There’s thousands of articles, videos, eloquent public speeches and advertisements in the world exposing animal cruelty and promoting a vegHead lifestyle. People know what’s going on. We live in a world of endless answers at our fingertips, so anyone telling you they don’t already know what’s going on with animals is lying. If after all these resources thrown in their faces people still choose to turn a blind eye and support these industries, they are a lost cause. I don’t like wasting my energy and time preaching to the self-inflicted deaf.
  2. I am not entirely eloquent when I speak. I’m short, have a high-pitched voice, and turn really red when I get into headed debates. Not many people can take a combination like this seriously, which is why I started a blog instead of a YouTube channel.
  3. I’m a Christian (surprise!) and fully believe in preaching by example. I want people to see how healthy I am, how much energy I have, and see how much peace of mind I get by not eating meat. Then I want them to be damn jealous of me. When people see all these great affects from my lifestyle I want them to want the same thing for themselves. I think people learn the best by seeing first and then doing. Isn’t that how we all learned in school anyway? Aren’t you more likely to want to wear some crazy fashion trend your close friends and family are into than the uniform you’re forced to wear at school? Hell yeah.

You won’t ever see me throwing paint on fur-wearing pedestrians and there won’t be any articles on why meat eaters should convert or die on this blog (unless it’s an article about health and I’m talking about actually dying from clogged arteries, etc.).

This lifestyle blog is about as actively active as I get with my activism. You don’t have to start a blog yourself. If you are thinking of making the choice to stop eating meat, but don’t want to be an active activist for the cause, do not let the idea that you need to be that way deter you from this lifestyle. There are far too many people turned off from this lifestyle by the elitist, snobby, rude stigmas that vegans and vegetarians are linked to. As long as you want to go vegHead, do it. You do your part and let the rest of the world catch up to your awesomeness.