Disagreements, Disappointments, Devotion, Delays & Drinks

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“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

……….quote by Maya Angelou

Last week didn’t really go according to plan in many ways, however, as I write, I feel a small sense of achievement, some sign of validation that the last few days have not been fruitless!

I was conscious of a wave of hesitation as last Monday approached.  I knew I had a busy week ahead of me and greeted this is with a mix of apprehension and uncertainty that I wouldn’t usually feel. I generally thrive on being active and busy, although over last weekend I had no energy and didn’t feel enthusiastic about the week ahead.

One of my greatest disappointments in life is when I have planned how a day or an occasion is going to be and for one reason or another, it doesn’t pan out the way I had envisaged. This is what happened on Saturday, when one unintended event led to a chain of unforeseen events, which in turn led to my lack of enthusiasm for the week to come…and it all started with a walk and two strong willed individuals with very definite ideas on what they wanted from that walk!

“Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in proper figures.”

……….quote by Joseph Addison

I wanted a brisk, energetic, calorie burning walk to replace my daily “rug” (somewhere between a run and a jog!) which I tend to take a break from at the weekends, husband was hoping for a more gentle family orientated walk that I would generally be pleased to be part of after a week of hour long “rugs” but I had a reserve of energy that I wanted to make use of while out with my family!

A daily walk or “rug” is mandatory in this household because our Companion Doggies demand it!!!! Our Beautiful Rescue Pals bring us So Much Delight and Joy and without them we’d all feel lost and lonely.  We now have 3 Furry Friends although I tell people we have 4 because up until late 2012 we did. Losing our Old Boy was a devastating loss. The Brewster was 19 and he and I had been together before the rest of my family came along. He had been with me for almost half of my life and had been a constant companion through many ups and downs.   The Brewster had been in husband’s  life for nearly 18 years and His passing was definately one of the catalysts for husband’s  breakdown.  Husband felt emotions that were alien to him.  Although he loved and loves our Companion Friends, up until then, he liked to tell himself that they were dogs and perhaps believed himself to have an emotional detatchment from them. However, when Our Old boy passed peacefully, we were both with him and I know now that Husband felt emotions that were alien to him and that he had always suppressed. When people suppress feelings all of their lives, it is almost certain that they are going to reveal themselves at some point. This point will generally be when life becomes too unbearable and the individual reaches crisis point and these suppressed feelings will project themselves as a Breakdown.

“ Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our life whole”

……….quote by Roger Caras

Husband has never been a particularly emotional or expressive man apart from with me. Our relationship is and has always been intense. He was an old soul on young shoulders and I was a lost soul, stuck in an unhappy marriage. Our paths crossed, we came together, and nearly 19 years later, our relationship is still as intense as ever although we are now relaxed and confident in our union!

“love one another, but make not a bond of love:
let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.”

……….quote by the Prohet Kahil Gibran

(This was a reading at our HandFasting Ceremony)

So when I say that husband is not particularly emotional or expressive apart from to or with me, I believe that to be because of the intensity of this partnership. With me, he has always been extremely demonstrative and emotionally vulnerable, to the point where I have at times felt suffocated. When Husband suffered his breakdown, he could no longer hold his emotions in and they came flooding to the surface as they do for anyone suffering from this kind of emotional crisis.  The point when I really understood that husband was ill was when He “admitted” to other people that he wasn’t coping. This started with the Doctor, then our Friends and Family. Up until then, Husband had only ever been a stoic, passive and somewhat indifferent man. He had never really shown any emotional attachment to anyone or anything apart from me, our daughter and my son, and he had certainly never shown any kind of vulnerability to anyone other than me.

Suddenly, my strong and together husband was an emotional wreck who I couldn’t leave on his own and we had to open up our lives quite literally to our Friends and Family who took on shifts to look after him as I attempted to retain some sort of normality by going to work to look after other people who needed me, and to protect my daughter as much as possible from the very dark cloud that descended on our house.

There were moments at this time that I experienced those destructive feelings of jealousy. Our little Family of 8 (I include our Companion Furry Friends here!) especially Husband and me, had always been an Extremely closely knitted Unit. I wear my heart on my sleeve but husband definitely didn’t and doesn’t, and the only person who he trusted and opened up to was ME. Suddenly, here he was being open and vulnerable to Our Many Concerned Friends and Family, and I was resentful. Here was my Ego rearing its ugly head again. My pride was damaged. I couldn’t cope and look after husband all on my own and had to hand some of his care over to Other Wonderful, well -meaning Individuals, and in doing this, I also handed over his vulnerability and need to be looked after. We had always looked after each other, We hadn’t needed anyone else and now husband didn’t mind who was looking after him, as long as they were understanding, caring, helpful and willing to listen.  I had to practise a lot of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on myself at this time as my mind was running away with some completely irrational thoughts generated from the insecurities that husbands’ illness had bought out in me.  I KNEW that he was not ill because of anything I had done, I KNEW that I couldn’t have prevented it, I KNEW that it was nothing to do with me or our relationship, and I KNEW that he still needed me but insecurities that I didn’t even know I had, came out to haunt me. Challenging those thoughts was necessary to enable me to continue to be able to provide continuous and understanding care and attention to husband, and over time they subsided and, in fact, I became stronger and more confident in our relationship. That strength continues today. 

However, I do feel very lucky to have training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I believe that without this training, It would have much MUCH harder for me to understand what husband was going through.  There were things he said and did or didn’t do that I found hard to understand but because of my background in CBT, I could recognise where these behaviours were coming from. I’m  not saying we wouldn’t have survived without my training, Love is a Powerful Tool after all,  but I am sure that those Dark months would have been even gloomier without my knowledge of CBT. 

“Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy – in fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the other.”

quote by Robert A Heinlein

So, our walk on Saturday was NOT Harmonious as I hiked the long way round at Full Pelt, expecting to meet husband and daughter at a crossroads where our paths would meet as they took the shorter and slower route. However, it became evident when I did meet up with husband that he wanted to walk WITH me.  As I mentioned above, the intensity of husbands need to be with me and his emotional vulnerability can sometimes feel draining and on Saturday, I wanted to walk the way I wanted to walk and compromise by meeting up with husband and daughter at intervals! I know now, as I probably knew then, but wanted to ignore it so I could do what I wanted (selfish?) that husband was feeling anxious and needed what to him, is my reassuring presence.  I was happy to give that, but on my terms over the duration of our walk. Unfortunately, we disagreed on this and our walk became a disappointing occasion with my poor daughter trying to understand why her normally amiable and chatty parents were annoyed with each other!

This set the precedent for the rest of Saturday as I felt aggrieved and perplexed, and although husband and I muddled through the day on talking terms, we were obviously both feeling rather annoyed with the other one!

I had been looking forward to last weekend as I had no particular plans and was looking forward to spending some quality time with my family and attending my daughter’s schooI production. I  felt frustrated that husband had, how I saw it, and possibly still do, made it seem like I didn’t want to be with him simply because I wanted to walk a little faster around a longer route. This exasperation then permeated our moods for, at least, the rest of the day. For me, the most disappointing occurrence of last weekend is that my daughter got upset which makes me feel very guilty! When there is discord between us, husband tends to feel unsettled and stressed which brings a palpable tension within our home, and that can transfer itself onto the rest of us.

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”  

……….quote by Voltaire

As I have mentioned before, husband is very demonstrative and loving. He would do anything for us and in return, he also NEEDS a lot of shows of affection from me. Such is the intensity of our relationship! However, I am not always inclined to be affectionate, ESPECIALLY after a disagreement, unlike husband who likes to resolve our issues and move on as quickly as possible.  Maybe it’s stubbornness, perhaps it’s pride (that bloody ego again!) but I am unable to let go of our difference of opinions as quickly as husband if I have strong views on a subject.  This will manifest  itself in me not really feeling like being particularly affectionate which in turns hurts husband. It’s not that I’m being detached or cold towards him, it’s purely that I don’t feel like being particularly expressive because, unlike him, I need time to process the reason for our disagreement! Give me a few hours and I want to jump on him again and give him that huge hug he needs, but I can’t do it on demand, I’ve got to WANT to do it. 

“There is no intensity of love or feeling that does not involve the risk of crippling hurt. It is a duty to take this risk, to love and feel without defense or reserve.”

……….quote by William S Burroughs

(As it is, Thankfully, we disagree very rarely. However  there is a Huge issue between us at the moment which we fervently disagree on. We understand each other’s views on the subject but that doesn’t make it any less of an issue and one which is going to become very apparent and cause some huge waves over the coming months, as it has over the past 2 years. It is very much linked to husbands illness and I will have to tread very carefully and navigate the storm very carefully.  I will be writing about this over the coming weeks and months as it is going to be a very pertinent and emotional issue for me.)

I’m not complaining here, I know how lucky I am to have a husband who does WANT to shower me with affection almost continually, and I believe that after the emotional rollercoaster of the past years, he, too is stronger and more confident in our relationship. However, it can still be frustrating when husband feels such rejection because I don’t also shower him with tactile affection 24/7! I feel about him as he feels about me, I just don’t show it in the way he does and this has always been and will probably continue to be an issue in our Union!

Last Saturday, husband was evidently suffering from anxiety which wasn’t helped by our different views of what we wanted from our walk and the resulting disharmony it caused.  We were probably both more tetchy than usual and doubtless this had an effect on our daughter.

She is very much like her dad in that she likes to be completely on time for everything, if not a few minutes early. I am completely the opposite and am always running late and don’t like to be early because I feel like I could have been doing something else in the time I am waiting! I was late getting ready to take her to the school production where she had to be an hour before. It must be so frustrating being a child who has to rely on adults for transport, and totally frustrating for my daughter with her sense of urgency  to have a laid back mother with almost no sense of urgency!

“I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them.”  

………..quote by Edward Verrall Lucas

On reflection, I can see now that after a week of late rehearsals and school productions, my daughter was extremely tired. I also know now that I wasn’t actually very well and this was why I did in fact take too long to get ready. I had the start of a week of stomach cramps although when preparing to leave to take my daughter I was trying to ignore the pain which was actually hindering me from making any decisions! This in turn made me more irritable which I projected onto a weary, waiting and anxious young lady whose father wasn’t being particularly sympathetic as she sat with him in the car.

Although we weren’t even five minutes late, by the time we arrived, my poor daughter was, very unusually for her, in tears. She rarely gets upset and she and I never fall out despite our obvious time differences!  However, in the car, when I should have just kept quiet, the guilt I felt about upsetting her, meant that I spent the journey trying to make up for my lateness by convincing her that it didn’t matter if she was 2 minutes late! Safe to say, this did not help the situation!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them
feel.”

………..quote by Maya Angelou

As Saturday evening progressed and we watched an excellent school production of Beauty and the Beast, my stomach cramps and accompanying backache became such that I soon conceded that the rest of the weekend was going to be dominated by not feeling too well!

And this turned out to be true for most of last week which meant that I missed the first meeting of the local Vegan/Vegetarian group that I am a founding member of.  However, apart from that disappointment,  I was able to see all my Befriendees and every moment with them totally negated  any discomfort I was in. We made Lovely Vegan pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and the team meeting that I was dreading on Wednesday evening, ended up being fairly enjoyable! By Thursday I was starting to feel brighter. On Saturday and Sunday (Yesterday)  husband and I went for a hand in hand walk with our Doggy Companions. Our Daughter joined us yesterday after feeling unwell on Saturday and we had that Family Walk that eluded us last Weekend!  The main event yesterday is that it was my Son’s 19th Birthday and the Sun Shone and it was actually ….Warm!  I made a delicious Vegan chocolate Brownie Birthday Cake, and we all went for the 1st outside drink of the year at the local riverside Pub where we sang Happy Birthday and ate Cake!

So an unplanned week of unexpected events finished with warm Sunshine, Chocolate Cake and a Family outing to a Pub for a Sunny Sunday Drink.

All’s Well that Ends Well!

.……….quote by William Shakespeare

Special Gifts

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Be a Rainbow in someone else’s cloud

………………..Quote by Maya Angelou

I believe this quote to be one of those simple sayings that, if we were all able to do, the world may be a kinder, more gentle and peaceful place.

I am lucky. I get to practise being a rainbow most days and today was no exception.  I am a befriender to people who have been diagnosed with Early Onset Dementia.  It is a real privilege to be able to support people wherever they are on their journey and to provide flexible and responsive care that is appropriate to each individual.  It is not always Easy of course, and being a rainbow when I’m feeling low and distracted with my own worries can be a challenge. However, my thoughts rarely stray so far away that I do not stay painfully aware of the massive difficulties faced on a daily basis by those I have the honour of spending time with, and their families.

I never Ever fail to be astounded and in awe of the remarkable individuals I get to spend my days with. I know some very strong People who are incredibly resilient and display such admirable attitudes in the face of adversity.  I have revisited many life lessons from my Friends suffering from Dementia. One of those lessons is Gratitude. Gratitude for each day I am given to make the most of my life.  For many of the individuals I spend my days with, making the most of every moment they have is now the most important aspect of their lives.  Unfortunately for most, their path is irrevocable, and their future is uncertain.  For them, making the most of their journey has become absolute because at any given moment, all they are guaranteed of, IS that one particular moment and the same goes for all us.

One afternoon a week, I spend a few hours with a particularly extraordinary Lady who rarely fails to make me feel guilty for any ungrateful or complaining thoughts I ever have.  She has a strong faith in our connection with All Matter, and that faith ensures that she believes that the Universe will look after her. Even when life is throwing her all kinds of obstacles, she has this unshakable belief which helps her to cope.  What is significant is that I have witnessed that the Universe does, in fact take care of her! Now, call it what you will; luck, being in the right place at the right time or coincidence; whatever it is, Things have a habit of falling into place for this Incredible Lady and I believe it is the strength of her faith and her positive outlook which do indeed conspire to guarantee that the Universe does in fact, protect and nurture her. 

Her unshakable belief and my own observation of the calming effect this has on her has influenced me to be more accepting and to understand that if something is meant to be, it will be.  Having a Positive Outlook, finding the stars in the dark and the silver lining in every cloud is not always easy, but it is an attitude that ensures a more joyful existence.  Time is precious for my Friend. She doesn’t have time to waste being negative or worrying about the little things.  Life is a gift and She doesn’t intend to waste it!

Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.

………………..Quote by Laozi

I spend another afternoon during the week with a Colourful Gentleman who has taught me my biggest lesson. I say my biggest lesson because it is a skill that I am continually working  toward being able to do.

 Being Positive and Grateful are skills that, although I am guilty of abandoning every now and then, I find come naturally.  Learning to have optimism and Gratitude can take time when you have experienced Negative events and difficult situations. Over the years, I have evolved from being an unhappy being to someone who enjoys life.  I have had to work hard on changing my attitude and beliefs in order to develop a Sunny outlook rather than a bleak one.  Having a Loving and supporting Husband helped a lot, but ultimately, it has been down to me to challenge myself and change how I think about things.  It is why I trained as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and why I chose to pursue the line of work which I do;  supporting people to find another way of seeing things and to change negative ways of thinking and Mindtraps .  I can offer that support, because I know it works.

However, the ability to develop the skill which my colourful gentleman is able to display so easily and effectively isn’t something that is coming naturally! I am going to have to put a lot of work in to be a shining example of this particular attribute!  My man really is a rainbow in other people’s cloud, and he has absolutely No idea! Not because he has dementia, but because what he does just comes so naturally, he isn’t trying!

This is all the more fascinating because this individual has faced and continues to face the most difficult situations over his lifetime. He has overcome terrible trauma and incredible hardship. He has overcome more adversity than most. Any Challenges I may have faced during my journey completely pale into comparison compared to the trials and tribulations of this Gentleman.

So, what is this remarkable talent that I wish I had?  It is the ability to engage in conversation with everyone! When we go out, This man attracts smiles and warmth because he has no problem talking to people. Now, I am a pretty social gal, but I generally don’t just initiate conversation with anyone. If someone initiates conversation with me, I would never hesitate to engage with them but it is rarely me who makes that first move. I observe with admiration,  the manner with which my man is able to draw people in with his good humour and sunny disposition. I can only hope to learn from him.

His attitude to life is relaxed and carefree. When I tried to put my finger on exactly what it is that makes him “appear” so cheerful and good humoured, I realised it is because he has No Hang Ups. Although he is dealing with a debilitating disease and every day is a struggle beyond the comprehension of those of us who do not have to deal with memory problems, he displays absolutely No bitterness or hostility, and is in fact, completely the opposite;  approachable and open minded.

Although I would regard myself as quite confident and Easy going, I am not able to just approach people and start a conversation. This is because I have that particular hang up that many of us perhaps do and that can act as a major obstacle to forming new relationships or damage existing ones; The Ego!   I wrote in my last post about the challenges I am facing in some my own existing relationships.  My Ego, my pride has been wounded because My Friends won’t agree with my Vegan Values. If I don’t do something about that Ego, I risk alienating myself and entering into conflict which is completely counterproductive to the Vegan Philosophy of Compassion.

Ego was also one of the factors that contributed to Hubby’s breakdown. He was not able to let go of his ego for fear of people seeing any weakness. That pride meant that he lost the ability to say No to anyone when they asked him to do something. When someone, anyone insists on saying Yes to any Request , that individual will inevitably crack. No one can maintain such high expectations. It’s not that those people making the requests are being particularly ignorant, they are just unaware that the individual in question is already snowed under with requests and unable to let his ego admit defeat.

I don’t believe that our ego is one specific thing.  It is actually made up of many different beliefs that a person acquires over their life. For me, it appears when I feel that I need to defend my Vegan beliefs, For Hubby it would materialise when he wanted to show that nothing was too much for him.

My man has No ego, instead he has a great attitude. He is accepting and understands that his attitude towards others will determine their attitude towards him. I am afraid that my Friends have heard my words but they have heard my defensive attitude more which only serves the Vegan Cause Negative points.

Here, I must give an example of that attitude which demonstrates more than I could describe in words what I am writing about:

Every week we go to a small café in the town he lives.  Every week there is generally someone sitting on the comfy sofa which My man likes to sit on and every week, he goes up to the person or people sitting on the sofa and asks if he may also sit there. Well, this would be my  stumbling block! What if they say No to me? I would be embarrassed, My pride would be wounded and I would probably become defensive and slightly angry. These feelings would then probably sit with me and have a negative impact. But no, my man always asks and has NEVER been told No. On the Contray, He is always welcomed to sit with the present occupier! However, if he was told No, he would take it on the chin and find somewhere else! He wouldn’t have an issue with it!

“If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that… I believe in what I do, and I’ll say it.”  

………………..Quote by John Lennon

So, the 2 of us sit down, generally with people we don’t know and somehow, my man will generate conversation among us.  This is completely natural, he doesn’t try and fit in with anyone, he just talks about what he wants to talk about and every time, our accidental companions will join in!

I feel that I need to point out here that my man has a VERY individual look which makes him stand out from a crowd, I am often aware of people doing a double take. This makes it all the more remarkable that he is able to draw a crowd of people from all walks of life into conversations about anything and everything!  I can find myself sitting among strangers with whom I would never normally encounter and with whom I may have absolutely nothing in common, apart from an attitude which at that moment is Open and Welcoming, having a good old laugh! … And it is all because of this particular individual who has a marvellous gift for making people feel  connected!

He has this amazing positive attitude that has a domino effect and is a catalyst that sparks these extraordinary results!  I can only hope that one day I may have this very special gift.

“Make your ego porous.  Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing.  Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.”  

………………..Quote by Rainer Maria Rilke

After everything he has been through on his journey of life, he understands only too well that we only have but one chance at making the most of our voyage on Mother Earth’s unpredictable seas, and living it with an open mind, grace and good humour will ensure the ride is as peaceful as possible!

To repeat a quote that has already appeared in this short lived blog, and again by Maya Angelou:

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style

The Power of Belief

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Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings

………………..quote by Elie Wiesel

I’ve been feeling low lately.

It is nearly 2 years since the start of a very challenging time in my relationship with Husband as I wrote about in my last post. My heart does not care to remember this moment in time, but my brain insists on recalling those dark months.  I have been experiencing waves of anxiety as my head imposes these memories on me.  I do not intend to, nor indeed could, erase these events from my mind. What we went through was a huge chapter in our lives and one from which many lessons were learned,  however, the memories of these difficult days are making me feel uneasy and unsettled. Husbands vulnerability and fragile emotional state are still so palpable and much of the time, I feel I am walking on egg shells, watching and waiting for a relapse.

I know my anxiety is incomparable to the anxiety felt by Husband and this awareness helps me to stay strong and be emotionally accessible for my husband as this is key to his recovery. However, today  I am resenting this challenge.  I don’t want to have to be strong for Husband and there have been  times when I want to shut down and feel sorry for myself rather than be there for Him. I want him to be strong for me and look after me.

As I wrote about in my last post, this is the selfish and jealous attitude that I am so detesting  in myself. My Husband is a wonderful man who adores his family and would do just about anything for us; Of course, this is the approach to life  that made him ill; Always doing everything for everyone else, always shouldering the responsibility. Never listening when I asked him to slow down and listen to his body and mind, also giving him warning signs that he needed to take a break.

The dynamics in our relationship is what has changed since Husband’s illness. Where he was always in control, I now have to share this responsibility. Where he was the strong character, who so very rarely showed any signs of weakness , so I now have to be.  Where he always could make me laugh, Now I  need  to find the humour in difficult situations.

Husband is here for me at the moment as I experience this low mood, but I cannot project my emotions and feelings onto him. I want to be a support to him, not a burden. In turn, this realisation creates resentment which only serves to increase my low mood!

Resentment also comes from not being able to enable people to understand how it feels to be a Vegan Animal Rights campaigner  in an indifferent and cruel World. This is another source of my depression at the moment. Husband, although Vegetarian, does not share all my values and beliefs although he tries so hard to understand them.  When he tries to console me and pleads with me to speak to him because a problem shared is a problem halved,  I don’t want to because Only someone who feels as strongly as I do can begin to understand the Pain In my heart and the screaming in my head that comes with the knowledge of Human Indifference.

These are times when I want to shut down and feel sorry for myself and want only to communicate with people who feel as I do! This presents challenges of course!

I have a responsibility first and foremost to my family, my husband and children. I have to stay strong for them. I cannot afford to become so dragged down by the hopelessness of what I know to be true. At times I feel overwhelmed by grief, but I have to find a way of not allowing those feelings to affect my role as a Vegan wife and mother because that is what I am first and foremost. This is where I am at the moment, struggling with the unbearable sadness I feel but not wanting  my family to be affected by it.

There are very few people in my immediate circle who feel as I do, so there is not a lot of opportunity for immediate communication, however, being ProActive helps me to find an outlet for my frustration and sadness. Getting out and about, leafleting and sharing Delicious Vegan Food stops me from becoming a depressed recluse, at risk of alienating herself from non-vegan/vegetarian  Friends, who have so many other qualities that I value and who I need in my life.

These Friends who do everything they can to avoid me talking about My Vegan Belief and Animal Rights. Somehow, It makes them uncomfortable and at times they become defensive, throwing out the same tired  & boring old arguments against the Vegan Diet. Friends with whom husband and I went out recently for Dinner at an Indian Restaurant. I am the only Vegan, Husband is a Vegetarian, Everyone else is a Meat eater.  These occasions happen very rarely because I find it very difficult to sit at the same table as someone who is happy eating the flesh of a dead being.

Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask. ” How are you”? have the nerve to sometimes answer truthfully. You must know however, that people will start avoiding you because they, too have knees that pain them and heads that hurt and they don’t want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you”

………………..quote by Maya Angelou

However, it was the birthday of a good friend, a friend who has been so important in the life of myself and Husband, never more so than over the past year when we have been offered so much support.

As I mentioned in my last post,  Husband has changed in some ways since his Breakdown and one of these changes has been an increased Social Anxiety.  Looking back, he was never really comfortable in larger social situations (another reason why occasions such as group dinner dates happen rarely) but he was good at hiding it and pretending that everything was OK

However, Husband was keen to go out with this group of friends because he Values their place in our lives so much after the Love and support they gave us during some of our darkest days. Without them we would have struggled so much more.

It is rare to see Husband look forward to going out and being with people and I wanted to support him in doing this. It is nice to see him positive. Hence I found myself surrounded by plates of dead flesh. Not Feeling hungry but needing to be polite I ordered myself Vegan Curry. Everyone thought my Vegan Curry looked Delicious, and thankfully, I was able to share most of it away! I used the opportunity to gently point out that they had all enjoyed my curry which had No Animal Products in it.

At the end of the meal, the bill came, and was divided between all of us.  Husband paid our share.  Since then I have carried bitterness of paying for other people to eat the flesh of tortured beings, and drink alcohol made from their body parts. It just reminds me that I live in a society that contributes to suffering on a scale that cannot be quantified, and is ignored so that Human beings can enjoy the taste, of what they call meat.

This experience has made me realise that this group of friends don’t really respect my Values and beliefs, hence making  me feel alienated from them. I am in danger of cutting myself off from friends who have been important in my life and without whom,  life would have been a whole lot emptier. This causes so much conflict in me because I feel so angry and disappointed towards them.  It is this conflict that contributes towards the Unhelpful thought patterns I have been experiencing recently, causing Negative energy to radiate from me, risking me making my family also feel miserable

To help me process these feelings, I had a long talk with a friend who has gone Vegan because I took her to see “The Peaceable Kingdom”.  She helped me to organise my feelings and gave me another way to look at it.

Helping people to open their hearts and minds to a new idea means I must open my Heart and mind and understand that  I  cannot change minds;  But what I can do is encourage my Friends and wider Circle to explore new perspectives from which a shift in consciousness can come. Change is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight; But I need to  believe  and hope, that, with raised awareness, my Friends and wider Circle  will be given the power to make informed and kinder choices.

When I am ready to spend time these friends again, I need to hold onto this thought and use it to guide me and give me the strength to not feel intimidated or guilty when I talk about what is important to me. I must find a way of speaking about my values which is gentle and non-confrontational and does not build resentment in either myself or my Friends.

Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.

………………..quote by Elie Wiesel

And Just as I must hold on to this hope for change among Friends, I must also hold onto the hope that Husband will continue to recover,  and that one day soon, Life will resume an easier and more comfortable  pattern filled with the laughter and carefree attitude we both enjoyed not so long ago.

http://www.peaceablekingdomfilm.org/

Surviving and Thriving After Meltdown.

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Well, it has been a LONG time since I tapped out my emotions here in blogger land for a myriad of reasons. My journey has been rather an Adventure over the past 2 Years, full of Mountains and Valleys, Deserts and Floods, Sunshine and Rain! As much as I enjoy writing and find this to be my most Creative and Fulfilling way of Expressing myself, It’s not always easy to set aside the time to sit and write in a way that, for me, is presentable enough to publish on the World Wide Net!
Instead, I have been jotting my thoughts and feelings down into my good old fashioned Diaries, in a way that really only make sense to me! But those scrambled words and sentences have helped me process my state of mind and helped me as I have navigated through the stormier waters!
I have altered the subtitle of this blog to reflect , more, ALL I value in life; I want to include in my header those beings who have played such Huge roles in helping me through a bumpy ride in my journey and Continue to be a Pivotal Part of my Life, and without whom, life would be emptier.
Valuing Veganism as a belief system continues to be my Driving Forces and I strive to remain consciously aware that my Daily choices be a reflection of my Deepest Values: Kindness, Respect, Compassion, Courage, Vision, Integrity, Commitment and Concern for others.
This isn’t always an easy thing to do However. I’m Completely Far from Perfect. There are aspects of my personality that I don’t like and I’ve spent much of the past year or so feeling sorry for myself, feeling Cross and Irritated, and worst of all, feeling ….Jealous!!! I am ashamed to admit this publicly but I want to write in a way that is honest and authentic and, without fessing up to experiencing this unhealthy and unhelpful Feeling, I can’t write with integrity.
I’ve come to learn, however, that this instinctive feeling is purely because my ego has been dented and is a reflection of the insecurities and inadequacies that I have, although after making it through the fog of the last 2 years, I would like to hope that some of that insecurity and feeling of inadequacy has been resolved. I do feel stronger and I don’t feel resentful anymore. In fact, I feel more Compassion and Love than ever, even if it is tinged with a little impatience every now and then!
It is Love that has enabled My Beautiful Immediate Family and I to surf the waves of emotion that have washed over us this past year, leaving us now feeling that we are floating on a calmer sea….And it feels OK to finally be writing about this so publicly, because a nearly 2 years have passed since those first ripples started to emerge!……..

I first noticed an undercurrent that something wasn’t right 2 Springs ago (around the time of the last entry ) when My usually Very reliable, mentally & physically strong and Always dependable Husband started to show worrying signs of an unusual thinking pattern. I remember the 1st time when I really began to realise that I couldn’t understand or answer his questions. Until then, I hadn’t really felt concerned and generally felt able to support and advise him, a lot in part, I believe because of my training as a CBT therapist, working with many individuals experiencing negative and unhelpful thought pattern.
We were outside in the garden, The Spring Sun was giving a strong indication that Summer was just around the corner, and being aware that husband had been a little on the quiet side that day, I asked him if he was OK. The response that followed felt a little unsettling as he proceeded to tell me that he was struggling to understand what his purpose was and why he was here.
For many of us, this is a question that we have probably asked ourselves many times, and for the lucky among us, we have found an answer. I am still learning and understanding my purpose here on Mother Earth and I have done a lot of soul searching in my life to get me to a place where I finally feel found and generally at peace but goodness knows there are days when my peace is shattered and I feel completely lost!
Husband had talked about these feelings before, he had often made reference to the question “why am I here” and I had done my best to encourage him to understand that we are all here to “change the world for the better in our own small way”. When I write that now, it feels so patronising and ignorant because I now know that Husband was teetering on the edge of a Very High Cliff and just about to freefall all the way down. So, with my unhelpful response, he suppressed these feelings for the rest of the Summer, pushing them to the back of his mind and he carried on with the life he knew and believed to be the path he ought to be following and I hoped that He would maybe take some time off to rest, perhaps go and see a doctor, life coach, or even a Spiritual Therapist/Healer who could expand on my simple answer to his question. He did none of this, and in true stoic Husband fashion, refused to believe that he was becoming unwell and buried his head deeper in the sand, staying later at work and taking more on.
As the Sun set on Summer, we were heading for an explosion of Autumn colours which was to shake our stable and safe lives to the core. In the Late Autumn of 2012, the light and warmth of Summer was abruptly bought to an end as an unfamiliar atmosphere descended on our home. Although there had been signs of what was to come, No one could have prepared us for the tornado that was about to tear through our Very beings….Overnight.
Husband had a break down on a Saturday night when we were on a rare trip out to the Cinema. This manifested itself in stages; first he had to pull over while driving us there and asked me to take over the driving. I started to feel some concern as this was completely out of character, but wanted to keep everything as calm as possible by avoiding drawing attention to this unusual behaviour.
He had gone pale and looked very frightened and described having thoughts that he didn’t understand, and feeling out of control. This “out of control” feeling was to be his overriding emotion for the next few months.
Of course, neither of us, at this point knew what was happening and we went to the Cinema as planned but Husband was unable to sit through the film and we left as his mental distress started to really take hold. I drove home by which time, He was clinging to me, asking me not to leave him, acting and looking terrified. Neither of us slept that night, husband because he couldn’t free himself of the thoughts that he described as being like a swirling swarm, and me because I was absolutely stunned at what was happening to the strong and together man that I had known for 17 years.
When my husband picked up the phone to his boss on the Sunday morning and, for the first time in 12 years, told him that, NO, he wasn’t alright and was suffering from terrible anxiety and fear and couldn’t come into work tomorrow, the floodgates opened.
Husband had admitted that he wasn’t coping. He had said it publicly and now he didn’t have to fight anymore to be the strong, capable one who always said Yes and would do anything for anyone. He had been strong for too long and his strength had finally given up on him.
He did not find it easy to admit that he couldn’t cope and this contributed to his illness, certainly for the 1st few weeks. He wouldn’t allow himself to believe that this could happen to him. He felt weak and ashamed. He couldn’t hear us tell him that it wasn’t a sign of weakness to admit that he could no longer go on shouldering so much responsibility, more that it was an indicator of the inner strength that he still had that would help him in his recovery.
The next months were as dark and gloomy in our household as they were outside. The rich, Autumn Colours gave way to a bare, naked and sad looking landscape as Nature sang her swansong and leaves fell from the trees to a ground where the plants had retreated and died. The dark nights and cold days replaced the warmth of the Autumn Harvest and we experienced the transition from Light to dark all too painfully.
A year and a half on from those early days, when we were dragged down into the deep dark sea of a Nervous Breakdown, I can start writing again. Life has resumed some kind of natural rhythm and I can find time to indulge my creative outlet.
I hope that the process of writing will subdue the recent flashbacks that have been haunting my dreams, making me wake up feeling anxious and confused, perhaps, because Husband is currently experiencing a bout of the anxiety and sleeplessness that is never far away.
Well Over a year on, life is very different than it was before Husband’s breakdown. He changed career and is a much happier and more fulfilled person. There is still a long way to go on his road to recovery and we both believe he will be working on it for the rest of his life. If he doesn’t, he risks becoming unwell again. However, if you asked him now, he would say he is about 80% recovered which is a statement that he believed he would never be able to say at the beginning of 2013. When you are going through the Mental and Emotional Torment of Breakdown, it feels like you will never get better.
The last 2 years have not been an easy, although I didn’t realise it at the time! It’s only on reflection that I can see the pressure pot was growing! Much of the time, I have felt as though I am walking on egg shells and there is no doubt that I do not have completely the same husband as I did before. But for what I have lost, I have gained a deeper connection and understanding of and with Husband.
As Socretes said, No Human Condition is Permanent and as we move towards another Spring and the earth asserts it’s need to move on as colour starts to reintroduce itself to a rather brown, wet and muddy landscape, I have never understood this more profoundly!

An Ode to Family & Friends

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Today is Father’s Day.

Image courtesy of CCTV for all Slaughterhouses

Feelings of Melancholy and Regret. A Heavy Heart and Hope for New Beginnings.

Reflections on A Refusal to Accept and Appreciate A Daughter’s Needs and Desires.

Memories that Awaken Mournful Senses and Low Spirits.

An Unsettled Mind. An Unsatisfied Heart. No Closure. No Resolution.

Family are Not the Friends you’d Choose for Yourself. It’s True.

But Deep in my Soul, I know the Family that I spent my Formative Years with, have a part to play in the Person I’ve become.

If only they could see that the Person I’ve become isn’t so Different from them.

We are So alike them and I. 

It is the Cultural Norm, Force of Habit & Resistance to Change that Perpetuates this Void, this Uneasiness, this Refusal to try and Understand.

If only they could Respect my Alternative Views.

My Radical Sense of Self.

My Freethinking Ways.

MY VALUES & BELIEFS.

If Only they could See that I have My Integrity, I am Connected to Me & My Soul is at Peace.

If Only they knew that All this is Because, Despite All the Heartache & Pain

They gave me the Strengh to Stand up for what I Believe to be True, Honest & Right.

They Care Deeply for Others and Spend their time Giving to those in Need.

That’s me too. So Why can’t we give to Each Other?

The Family I have Built Around me Acknowlege My Deepest Feelings, My Guiding Principles, My Complete Convictions.

They Inspire and Support me in My Cause and from them I find my Strengh.

My Friends and Family of whom I don’t feel Understood but Feel a Desire from them TO Understand. I want to say this…

I am Sorry for the times when I am Uncommunicative and Distant.

I Apologise for acting like a Social Recluse & Loner.

I Acknowlege I can be Tunnel Visioned, Guarded and Stubborn in my Outlook.

I Confess I can be Miserable and Unresponsive.

I Aspire Not to Demonstrate Any of the Above Negativity.

I Strive to Wake up & Smell the Roses, to Re-Enter the Loop of Friendship.

All I need is for You to Truly Understand WHY I behave in such Ways,

Once I KNOW you DO, I will also KNOW that you Respect my Unshakable Belief in Compassion for ALL EARTHLINGS.

And if you RESPECT & ACKNOWLEDGE my Compassion, Will you too Not Open your Hearts & Minds to the Reality of Life on Earth for Your Fellow Relations

Will you Allow yourselves to become Aware of their Needs and Dependence on YOU, US.

Will you Wake up to Also Consider that your Actions have Far Reaching Consequences for YOUR Future Generations

Will you PLEASE just Widen YOUR Circle of Compassion to Include ALL Animals, Not just of the Human or Pet Sort.

You Cannot Continue to listen to Me but Continue to do Nothing. That makes you Complicit in Suffering & Brutality.

Please See me as that Person who dedicates what time she can to Allieviating Suffering and Raising Consciousness.

Understand me as the Person who is the Change She Wants and Needs to See in the World.

If you Understand me as that Person, then you will Understand that My Way of Living and Being in this World seeks Only to Add More Love and Create less Fear.

I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. ~Ettiene De Grellet~

And I hope you will Join me on the Journey so I can Share it with All those who Mean so Much to Me.

Your Continued Ignorance will Only Serve to Create the Rift that Threatens to Engulf My Friendships.

You Are my Friends & Family because on so Many Levels,  You and I are Alike. We Wouldn’t have Found Each Other otherwise Or We would have left Each Other behind.

I want to tell you that I Respect your Views but I cannot Respect Choices that Reflect the Imprisonment, Fear, Pain and Murder of YOUR Animal Citizens.

Virtually every atrocity in the history of humankind was enabled by a populace that turned away from a reality that seemed too painful to face, while virtually every revolution for peace and justice has been made possible by a group of people who chose to bear witness and demanded that others bear witness as well. ~ Melanie Joy.

I will ALWAYS Love you but I Also LOVE All my Fellow, Defenceless & Helpless Animal Relations who do Us No Harm and have No Power of Resistance,  who are Unable to Defend and Protect themselves.

My Friends and Family –  You have a Voice. My Animal Friends Don’t and that is Why I choose to Be theirs.

I Choose to be a Living Protest for the Protection of all Those I share This Planet with. My Choices reflect My Deepest Values..

Follow me, Don’t Just Respect and Listen to me. Animals & Humans Suffer alike. Both are Citizens of this Earth, Both have a right to Freedom, Family & Life. Violence against both causes the Same Pain.

All Life is Important. All Feel Fear, Pain, Love & Bereavement. All Life should be Valued & Nurtured. We Are All Animals and we are ALL someONE, not someTHING.

Image courtesy of Evolve Campaigns

My Family and Friends, If you have Listened to Me, If you Understand what drives my Sense of Purpose, You Have to Take Action or You Will Continue to Take Lives.

Veganfly Aspirations

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Being Vegan is so Much More than  Just a Word to describe me.

It represents how I feel about Animal Rights, Animal Liberation and Animal Welfare. It is my Badge of Honour that I wear with Pride and describes my Committment to Saving Lives, Reducing Suffering and Making a Difference and Contributing to Positive Change.

Since I became Vegan, I feel Honest and True to myself and My Animal Kin. I Feel More Spiritually Connected to Mother Nature and the Universe.

I have thought about writing a blog for some time. We’ve all got a story to tell and I have been taught so much by listening to other people’s stories. I have met so many people with fascinating backgrounds and incredible tales of survival. I have learnt humility and gratitude from these passionate, strong, determined, tenacious and motivated individuals.

So, here I am, taking my first amateur steps in blogging land, and hoping that what I have to write may inspire someone in the same way that those people have touched me and helped to shape the person I am now and the person I strive to become.

If I was asked what Animal I would most Identify with, I would think of the Dragonfly & I would call Myself a “VeganFly”!

The Dragonfly perfectly represents the wonder of our world with it’s elegance and loveliness. The Dragonfly represents change and our ability to strive for self actualisation and find the deeper meaning of life through a spiritual awakening. This is something I aspire to keep doing. I believe that we must go through several growth experiences in life before we experience our true purpose and get to a place of inner peace. We have to make life happen, things won’t happen to us unless we are proactive in enabling them to happen. We have to keep moving forward if we want to achive our goals, and hopefully make a positive statement on the world and effect real change.

The Dragonfly also reminds us to live in the moment because it lives as an adult dragonfly for not more than a few months. Therefore it has to mature and reproduce in this short space of time. Living in the present, rather than the future means we will appreciate what we have in the moment rather than always looking for something more. By living in the moment, you stay aware of who you are, where you are, what you are doing and what you do and don’t want. This is a skill we can all benefit from in our busy lives as it allows us to make informed choices on a moment to moment basis and if we do this, we can avoid regretting our decisions.

As you may have read in my Last Post, I have been struggling with the Different Attitudes of my Friends and Families who do not Share my Vegan Values. For the survival of my Friendships, I must become a “VeganFly” so I remain in the Present instead of Predicting the Future or Resenting the Past.  By Living in the Moment I can appreciate What I have, Who I have around me and Why I do what I do. By Living in the Moment, I can Believe that there  is hope that Attitudes of those in my Circle May start to be challenged and that Change is Possible.

I believe that through our own force of will and intellect, we chart our own path through life. By making the right choices, we can all be predestined for something great. It is our own free will that mucks it up. Sometimes we can be yanked dramatically off this path by fate, chance or coincidence; The people who intersect us on our path can change what our fated destiny is for better or worse. One event might be the catylyst for a thousand other things. However, if we take the opportunities life gives us and use them to our advantage, I believe pretty much anything is achievable!

“The point is, Not to survive, but to thrive with passion, compassion, humour and style”

……………………….. Maya Angelou

I am all too aware however that there are too many people for whom the above statement really can’t be applied. In this global village that we live, there are people fighting for, not only their civil and political rights, but also their economic, social and cultural rights. There are people for whom the basic right of a drink of clean water is denied to them, and for whom, opportunities are non exsistent. I live my life feeling guilty that, by a error of geography, I live in a country where, in the most part, there ARE opportunities, even though, for some, they will have to face more challenges for these occasions to present themselves.

I will have reached Self Realisation when I have done something Great that will have an impact on the earth and it’s inhabitants. Something that will have Positive Conseqences for those people who do not have the opportunities that I have been so blessed with, and for the Animals who are at the Total Mercy of HumanKind

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud, do not complain, never whine; Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity”    

………………….  Maya Angelou

Acceptance & Tolerance

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Well, here I am 4 posts into my ValuingVeganism Blog. Blogging and Keeping up a Community FaceBook Page is extrememly Enjoyable, Feels WorthWhile but is extremely Time Consuming!

Over the last year, since my fire has been re-ignited, I have become increasingly Radical about my Animal Rights Crusade. I have met some Lovely people on the Journey so Far and Hope to meet So Many More Like Minded Friends.

Unfortunately, I have started to neglect my Old Friends as I become More and More Fervent and Passionate about what I feel I Have to do.

This has started to have a negative effect on me recently as I have needed Old Friends who know me but, because they don’t share my Passion on Animal Rights, because they are not Vegan & not even Vegetarian, I have slowly been pushing them away.

On Reflection, my actions are due to feeling Unsupported and Disillusioned as I saw No Change in Attitude in those around me. They Listened but they didn’t take Action & maybe I have Unconsciously pushed them away in my Frustration and Annoyance that those closest to me Cannot share these particular Values of mine.

I feel so Strongly about being Vegan and why I have made this choice that it’s hard to accept that Wonderful Friends who I have been through so Much with, With Whom I share so many Other Values & Beliefs, cannot Join me on this journey.

Today, I need to change the Attitude I have developed towards them. I need to challenge myself because if I don’t, I stand to loose ALOT of Love, Support & Friendship.

I have spent alot of time Making New Friends who DO share my Vegan Values & Beliefs. However many of these New Friends, are, in fact Virtual Friends though Animal Rights & Vegan Communitiy pages on FaceBook.

These “Friends” are Fantastic and I have learnt so much and developed a Wonderful Support Network of people I can share my Pain and Incomprehension with. However I need my “Real” Friends also because, even though many of them don’t necessarily share my Vegan Values, They do understand me. Of Course they do,  if they didn’t, I wouldn’t have become Friends with them in the 1st place.

So Today, I am going to Heal the Rift I have Created because I need my Friends. I need their Support even if they won’t convert to Vegetarianism or Veganism.

And what I need to remember actually, is that in the last 3 months, I have actually influenced 1 Friend to go Veggie, and another is considering going Vegan.

I Need to remember my Successes, NOT my Failures!

As we All do in the Animal Rights Movement…. Negatives will ALWAYS outweigh the Positives; Failure will ALWAYS outnumber the Successes;        But as long As we continue to recognise that things are Changing, however slowly, we can build on our Momentum and Pull Together for Greater, More Powerful Change.

Raising Awareness and Education is the Way Forward for Me and I will continue to Do this, but I must not Loose my Friends along the way and I must not Loose Sight of the Fact that I am, in fact, Raising Awareness among my Circle, which I will not be able to if I continue to push them away.

So today is about appreciating what I have. What Enables and Encourages me to Enhance the Quality of my Life because If I am Happy and Strong, I am a Much Better Friend & Advocate of both My Fellow Human Beings and of My Fellow Animal Relations.

Life is full of ups and downs and we are facing challenges every day. It is how we approach and deal with those problems that determines whether they have a positive or negative impact on our lives.

So, here I am sharing with you some Recipies for Happiness, Encouragement, Positivity & Hope

  • Walk for at least 20 mins every day and SMILE!
  • Sit quietly for at least 10 mins every day
  • Write down a list of your goals each night for the next day. This can help you to feel organised which frees you from that feeling of not knowing where to start!
  • Listen to relaxing music, it is good nourishment for the soul
  • Dance!
  • Live the 3 “E’s” – Enjoyment, Enthusiasm and Empathy
  • Tap into your Silly Self and make your kids laugh!
  • Read thought provoking, interesting and life changing books
  • Look at the sky at least once daily and appreciate the majesty of the world that surrounds us
  • DayDream!
  • Eat more Plant based foods
  • Eat less manufactured foods
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat dinner as a family and make a toast every day to something good that has happened that day
  • Try to make at least 3 people laugh every day
  • Don’t spend your precious time immersed in negative thoughts or things beyond your control. Instead, concentrate on what you can change. It is better to invest your energy in the postive present
  • Life is a school and we are here to learn. Problems are lessons that come and go. What we learn from them will serve us for the rest of our lives
  • Always eat breakfast to give you energy to face the challenges the day may bring. FOOD IS MOOD!
  • Elimate clutter in your home and let a new energy enter your life
  • Smile and Laugh More Often
  • Do not let the opportunity pass to Hug a Friend
  • Life is too short to waste time hating someone
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously, No one else does!
  • Make peace with your past, so as not to ruin the present
  • It’s not neccessary to win every argument. Assertiveness is about being heard not gettig what you want.
  • Don’t compare your life with others. You have no idea of the highways they have travelled during their lives. Walk in their shoes before commenting!
  • Nobody is responsible for your happiness except yourself
  • Remember that we have no control over what happens to us, only what we do
  • We cannot change how someone else behaves, only our reactions towards them.
  • What others think of us is not completely under our control. We cannot be liked by everyone!
  • Learn something new every day, a new word, a new fact, a new activity, a new song etc…
  • Appreciate your body, it’s marvellous
  • Remember, hard times WILL pass. Situations WILL change
  • Stay in touch with Friends. They will always be there for you.
  • Reject everything that is not useful, beautiful or amusing
  • Don’t loose time. We already have all the things we need
  • Don’t be afraid to Cry. BE EMOTIONAL, it’s good for you!
  • The best is yet to come

  • Do something for someone EVERYday
  • Each Day, before going to sleep, Acknowledge something postive that has happened that day  
  • Remember, we have too much that is good to be stressed

  • Your health is your most important gift. Look after it
  • Don’t miss the Beautiful
  • Enjoy the voyage. There is only 1 chance to be successful
  • Life is beautiful, You must appreciate it as much as possible
  • FEED THE BIRDS!
  • Have a wonderful journey!

Help & Hindrance

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Last night I watched a thought provoking episode of Natural World which aired some months ago.

Silky Sifakas (picture from National Geographic)

Although I love Nature, Wildlife, the Environment & ALL Animal Kind, it is rare I watch programmes about them because we don’t have a TV and because I get distressed when I see the cycle of life take place before my eyes, even though I know it is a completely Natural Process and As opposite as posssible to the Terror and Humankind inflict on their Animal Relations.

image courtesy of League against Cruel Sports

image courtesy of National Geographic

Once upon a time, I went to Zambia. I was lucky to go but it was also a difficult decision for many reasons. However, go I did, only for two weeks and it was maybe one of the most intense experiences of my whole life.
I met passionate environmentalists and conservationists and wondered why I hadn’t chosen this path for myself.

I was enthralled by the magic and beauty of the Zambian culture and, of course the Wildlife.


Without going into the story behind this trip, I wanted to touch on this experience because during mytrip to Zambia, I went out on to the National Parks and Game Reserves and witnessed the wonder of the Natural World for myself.


It was awe inspiring and took my breath away. I could barely believe that I was there. I felt like I was in another world, I felt overwhelmed but also as if I belonged.


So, I came home and as the memories faded I started to acknowledge that my experience would have been very different had I witnessed the cycle of life right in front of  my very eyes!
The strange thing is, that when I was there, I didn’t even consider that I might see a kill or an injured animal. The magnificance of the landscape completely overtook my senses and I could only see the wonder and beauty. Thank goodnesss!
If someone offered me the chance to go on safari now, I would turn down the opportunity because I am very acutely aware that I was incredibly lucky not to witness any bloodshed. I was completely naive to the fact that it was out there and could have revealed itself to me at any time. But it didn’t and I believe it wasn’t meant to. I was only there to witness the glory of the Natural World, not the goryness of it. My  Earth Mother Spirit, was watching out for me.

I am Vegan because images of Cruelty, Bloodshed and Killing distress me So much….But I acknowledge that Nature is Cruel because it has to be. It doesn’t sicken me like the knowledge of what My own Kind does to it’s Fellow Relations, but it does Upset me and if I can avoid seeing it I will.

However, as much as I could avoid looking at images and watching Film of the horror inflicted upon Animal Kind by Humans, I don’t because it is these images that continually remind me why I am part of the Animal Rights Movement. I NEED to keep reminding myself of these because it it this knowledge that Fuels the Fire in my Stomach to give as Much Time as I can to the Cause. These images are completely Unnatural and Need to be shown and seen. Animals hunting prey to survive is a Natural Process, sometimes Cruel and Upsetting to see, But NATURAL. They NEED to Hunt to Survive. We Do NOT need to KILL to Survive.

image courtesy of Animal Aid

…………..So Last night I watched Madagascar, Lemurs & Spies which told us about the complicated life of the Silky Sifakas and the fight to preserve this endangered species of Lemur.
There were no difficult to watch scenes as far as the animals were concerned.
It was difficult to watch however because it was essentially the story about how humankind is ravaging our planet.
This story concentrates on the  pillaging  of Rosewood and Ebony trees in the protected rainforst national parks in Madagascar. Many of these trees are centurys old. The illegal logging is destroying diversity, Flora and Flauna unique to Madagascar. This is the food of the Silky Sifakas which is why these lovely creatures could never survive in captivity because their diet is so Unique.
Madagascar has great biodiversity. Three quarters of the 200,000 species found there, do not exsist anywhere else, however, with the illegal logging, a large number of the large species are now extinct and more that  80% of the original forest cover has disappeared.

Madagascan Rainforest, Picture from National Geographic

In 2009, loggers took an estimated 100,000 rosewood and ebony trees out of the forests after a coup which saw an already  poor country plunged into a political and economic crisis.
These trees are so heavy that it takes many men to pull them down to the river and then another 5 -6 trees have to be cut down to float one of these trees down the various rivers to the production sites. This has led to extensive deforestation and the loggers set up camp deep in these forests which means they kill and eat the forest animals including the various Lemur Species.

Logged Rosewood, picture from National Geographic

The programme told us about the efforts of two men, a passionate scientist who has dedicated much of his life to protecting and studying the Silky Sifakas, and an Undercover Detective from Washington, to expose the illegal logging trade to ensure the long term survival of these beautiful primates.
As I watched this programme, my attention was focused on this struggle between destruction and survival and I was so aware that this was about a group of individuals with a conscience  trying to do the right thing, resisting a group of individuals with no conscience, doing absolutely the wrong thing.
And I found  myself appreciating that our societiey is made up of those that fight for justice, freedom and awareness, and those who are or choose to be ignorant and continue to destroy, devastate and wreck. I became aware of the eternal struggle between good and evil.
These two men and their teams faced great personal danger to expose this illegal trade and bring it to the world’s attention but they did not let that distract them from their ultimate  mission to save the precious rainforests and wildlife of Madagascar.
I have such admiration for Inspiring Individuals such as these passionate activists. People who truly stand up for what they believe in and put their beliefs into action. I watch their stories and am in awe of their dedication, steadfastness and resolve to bring about change. I have nothing but respect and love for their determination and passion.

Dr Erik Patel,  Picture from BBc website

But as I watched this programme,  I felt sadness that there is a need for individuals to continually fight against the wrongs done by other individuals and I wondered why there is such disparity between our values.
If I didn’t have to work, I would use the time to learn and what I would like to study is Social Sciences. How does society shape people?  Where do our Values and Beliefs come from? How are differences and inequalities produced? How is society shaped not just by humans but by material objects and the environment? How are we connected and disconnected from each other and how do we see each other and others?
There is a Social Psychologist called Johathan Haidt who studies how and why we evolved to be moral. He believes that by understanding our moral roots, we can learn to be civil and open minded. He says that we are not purely selfish and that most people long to overcome pettiness and become something wonderful.
Two of his quotes which I think fit perfectly for this post is:

 The most powerful force ever known on this planet is human co-operation – A force for construction and destruction

If our goal is to understand the world, to seek a deeper understaning, our general lack of moral diversity here is to make it harder. Because when people all share values, when people all share morals, they become a team

One of the reasons I found Jonathan Haidt is because I was looking at his TED talk on Religion, Evolution and Self – Transcendence.

I am interested in Transcendence – the belief that we can expand to identify with all humanity and other aspects of the world beyond the body. In doing so, we transcend conditions of seperateness and isolation, which are the source of much misery and angst. By recognising the Inherent Unity of all Exsistence, we experience subsequent feelings of Belonging, Oneness and Peace.

I wish that these loggers could relate to this Transcendent Sense of Self because maybe then they would care for the protection of free nature as the protection of themselves.

Are not All beings on this planet, structures, who are sustained by an influx of Matter and Energy that starts at the sun and is channelled throuogh plants, up food chains to us. Therefore, any seperation in time or space between us and the Natural World is a projection of the mind.

So this post is about How humanity can Help our relationship with the Natural World and Our Fellow Relations or completely Hinder it. How a group of like minded individuals with the right beliefs can make a difference when opposing a group of like minded individuals with the wrong beliefs but how it is a constant battle. All of us in the Animal Rights Movement will Identify with this Battle.
Although I have a Transcendent Sense of self with Mother Earth, I have a long way to go before I can expand my sense of self to identify with those ignorant individuals that plunder,destroy, kill, hurt and ravage our Natural World and Fellow Souls.

What I do understand is the power of money. If you are poor and need to feed yourself and family, if you are fighting for survival then the lure of $1 a day to cut down trees in a protected rainforest, even if you know it is illegal, must override any part of your conscience telling you it is morally wrong.
What I do understand is that if you fear for your life because you have become entangled in a situation which feels dangerous to leave, then you  may stay in that situation rather than be brave and speak out against it.
What I do understand is that we in the western world are aware of the environmental damage we are wreaking on our planet. We have been blessed with an education and given the opportunity to observe individuals with good morals and values who are  raising awareness of our impact on the environment.

Many of us choose to listen and make changes to our lives to effect better outcomes for the earth.

Some of us however, choose to remain ignorant and lazy.

What I do understand is that, For those loggers who are living in one of the world’s poorest countries where 70% of the population suffer from malnutrition and where there is little education system, poverty, fear and ignorance is the driving force behind their actions. So I can begin to transcend the feelings of separateness I have from them so I can challenge my anger and frustration at their actions.

I Cannot however, understand why the educated, intelligent business men at the top of the chain continue to authorise action which they know is morally wrong and illegal. THey are choosing to be ignorant.  They have the information, They know what they are doing is wrong in every way for every reason, but they are greedy and power hungry, selfish and egotistic.

I Feel Frustration & Despair at those around me who Continue to fund the Cruelty to Their Fellow Kind just for the taste of Flesh. Ignorance and Selfishness Fuels this Behaviour.

It is these individuals who drive the force of Evil that the Forces of Good continue to fight.

The story of our Madagascan Lemurs does end on a happy and hopeful note though.
The efforts of our Scientist and Detective resulted in the biggest importers of the Precious wood, Gibson Guitars, being raided and thousands of pounds worth of wood seized.
This had an immediate impact on the illegal logging trade in Madagascar. The illegal logging has greatly reduced and for now, the Silky Sifakas are safe again.
This was truly a story of how Hope, Belief, Determination, Dedication, Passion and Hard &Dangerous work, led to a Positive and Favourable Conclusion.
It is a story of Good overcoming Bad!
It gave me hope!
May we all continue to have hope and stand up for what we know is wrong.

Culture of Compassion

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I am challenged  Regularly about my Decisions to become Vegan and to Spend my Spare time, Campaigning for Animal Rights.

Picture Courtesy of Animal Aid

Just the other day, Someone very close to me implied that I should be more concerned with Human Rights and what is happening in Syria right now.

This Cut Deep and Hurt me. I explained that My Compassion is Not limited to Non Humans but that I have chosen to be an Animal Advocate because Our Fellow Relations are totally at the mercy of the Human Species and are unable to organise themselves and raise awareness of their plight on their own,  so I choose to be their voice.

Picture Courtesy of CCTV for all SlaughterHouses

Many People believe that we, in the Animal Rights Movement, should be Investing our Time & Energy into saving Humans rather than Animals.

Appauling Suffering is being endured daily  by Humans all Over the World on a Vast Scale.

Appauling Suffering is also being endured daily by Animals All Over the World on a Vast Scale.

The Difference is this….. The Suffering of our Fellow Relations does not receive the News coverage that, quite rightly, the suffering of Our Fellow Brothers does.

The PETA film…”If SlaughterHouses had Glass Walls” does not receive National Press coverage. If it did, surely, there would be a Huge Collective Understanding of why the Animal Rights Movement exsists.

However, the Truth hurts, and that hurt causes people to become Defensive and Complain, as recently demonstrated by the footage of day old calves being shot in Channel 4’s “Jimmy & the Giant SuperMarket. This received over 50 complaints about these “harrowing” scenes, even though I’m sure many of those complaining were meat and dairy consumers for whom the knowledge of where their food comes from was just to difficult to acknowledge.

It causes less headache for those in the media, who have the power to show the Truth, to shirk from the responsibility to avoid the repercussions that doing so would bring.

picture courtesy of CCTV for All slaughterhouses

And it is easier for those for whom the Truth  is a Truth too much, to remain Ignorant.

picture courtesy of CCTV for all slaughterhouses

I hope that in time, My Friends and Family will learn that my Compassion for Animals is driven by my Desire only for a Kinder World where I feel I can belong because, in a world that inflicts such unkindness, cruelty and Pain on it’s inhabitants, I find it hard to belong.

Picture courtesy of CCTV for All Slaughterhouses

I hope that I can join  the millions of other Animal Right Campaigners and Activists across the globe to spread the message among my immediate community that Life is Life and we ALL have a right to live it, No matter what our Species.

Picture courtesy of CCTV for all SlaughterHouse

I feel total Incomprehension and Indescribable Distress at  the Greed and Indifference of my Fellow Humans, that makes the lives of so many of our Fellow Souls, a living hell. It is this Pain that Fuels the Fire in my soul which strengens my resolve daily to keep going with  my Crusade even in the face of apathy and unwillingness to Listen.

Picture courtesy of CCTV for all Slaughterhouses

And Even though, there are times when I Feel like nothing is Changing, I remind myself  that I am  making ripples within my Circle. I know this because 2 Friends have gone Vegetarian and 1 is thinking of  going Vegan since.

And when I feel Utter Despair at the Pictures and News about the Cruelty Humanity inflicts not just on Animals but on it’s own kind I have to remember that where there are negatives, there are far more positives. Where there is Evil, there is Far more Good.

Picture courtesy of CCTV for all Slaughterhouses

My Advice to anyone who Feels the same as I do at times is to Look for the positives in your life. Acknowledge what you have Achieved and what you continue to Achieve. Live each day as if it were your last and Find the Energy to Do One thing Daily to Make A Difference, However Insignificant you think it may be. It ISN’T. Instead it IS Another cog in the wheel of Change. Enjoy every moment because in any given moment, that’s All you have. Embrace those little things that cause you to be grateful, there are so many. Remember that for every mean and ignorant individual, there are far more of us that are good and striving for change. Find your solace in all of the above

picture courtesy of CCTV for All Slaughterhouses

Here is an Example from my own life that shows Why I know that Good will Overcome Evil and That We Will win for All Our Brothers and Fellow Souls…………………………………………..

Last night, we had a knock at our door. It was the lovely local lollipop lady. She had bought a pile of dolphin momentos for my daughter who she knows loves dolphins and when her daughter was throwing out a load of dolphin pictures and posters, she immediately thought of my daughter.
This lady is one of those people who you want to be around all the time. She is selfless and dedicates alot of her time to making the local school children feel special and valued.

Last night was just 1 of many acts of kindness that she plays out every day.

This is the true picture of  human nature. The atrocities that we hear about and that so many of our fellows have to bear witness to are committed by the minority.

Human nature is by default, kind, generous, compassionate, good, caring and respectful. That is really who we are and it is important not to loose sight of that.

We mustn’t forget that For Every Person we help see the truth, Many Animal Lives are saved and that is WHY we Campaign, Crusade, Raise Awareness, Educate, Blog, Facebook and Demonstrate.

And to those Friends, Family and Individuals who challenge my Beliefs and Values……. I am VEGAN for a Healthier, Kinder, More Compassionate & Sustainable Future. For YOU, YOUR CHILDREN, YOUR GRANDCHILDREN, AND ALL YOUR FUTURE GENERATIONS………Maybe you Should Consider it too?……………….

Picture courtesy of CCTV for All Slaughterhouses

VEGAN VIRTUES

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To go against the Dominant Thinking of your Friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform

…..Quote by Theodore H White…….

How did I decide my Values? How have I come to be here writing about them? And Why would anyone want to read about “My” Beliefs?…

What makes me so important? Why am I assuming that the virtues by which I live my life should make for a readable blog?

I Don’t.  I’m here because I have a hope that one day, our Fellow Relations will be able to live alongside us in Harmony & Peace. I Need to Believe that one day, Humanity will share an understanding & sympathy with it’s Fellow Beings, regardless of Species & the Cruelty & Killing will STOP.

There is a Christian belief that if someone is damaged, frustrated, offended or oppressed, everyone’s humanity is diminished.

I believe this is absolutely TRUE, but I would change this belief so that it reads not someONE, but ANY LIVING BEING.

My Spririt is certainly dampened, saddened & desperate by the knowledge that I share my world with humans who can inflict inhumane atrocities, barbaric acts of violence or Needless Cruelty on both their own Brothers, Sisters & Children and on The Fellow Souls that share our Planet.     

Picture Courtesy of Animal Aid

    I am ashamed, destroyed and disgusted that I am part of the same species of de-sensitised Animal that  tortures, maims and Kills needlessly and without provocation, simply for taste, trophies, clothing, medical research,  bloody stupid ignorance, Pleasure and because we believe we are the dominant Species and therefore we Can.

Picture Courtesy of Evolve Campaigns

Well, we seem quite unable to be able to adapt to change. We are unwilling to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

Why?………….Here are a few of the excuses I have heard.

What Should I cook? How will I get my protein? I’ll have to take vitaman supplements. I won’t be able to eat out. I’ll get ill if I don’t eat some meat. It’s not good for me. We are born Omnivores. We are the Hunter gatherers, we’re supposed to kill Animals and eat them. (?!)

It’s much easier for people to stay ignorant. Most of us are aware of the harsh reality of factory farming, but choose to ignore it for the sake of an easy life munching on a steak.

As Michael Pollan, author of the book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” says:

“eating industrial meat takes on an almost heroic act of not knowing“.

If we were asked the question “if you had a super power, what would it be?”, many of us would probably say that we would wish for world peace.

However, a great many of us deny that peace to the living beings we share this planet with. We take the life of other senient beings for their flavour and the the belief that by experimenting on them, we can find a cure for disease or  the solution to a dirty oven.

Picture Courtesy of Animal Aid

We make choices every day. What to eat, what to wear, where to go, who to see, when to be somewhere,  what needs doing……

Life is about striving to be the person we want to be and recognising that the choices we make will cause a ripple effect not just in our lives, but in the lives of others, humankind and animal kind, and to the natual world and our planet; If our choices are based on knowledge and fact rather than routine and the status quo, we can make them with a clear conscience.

Picture Courtesy of CCTV for All SlaughterHouses and Evolve Campaigns

I make my choices based on my Values, some that I remember always having, & others have become important and absolute because of how I have felt in my journey through life. I believe that Feeling is the language of the soul. I believe that if we want to know what is true for us we need to Look to how we’re  feeling about it. Hidden in our Deepest Feelings, are our Highest Truths.

Picture Courtesy of Evolve Campaigns

My Deepest Feelings are of Intense Hurt & Sadness, Incomprehension & Disgust, Pain & Heartache…. because of the way Human Beings treat each other and other Beings.

My Highest Truth is Being Proactive in doing my little bit to achieve Change for a Better, More Peaceful & Kinder World

Picture Courtesy of Evolve Campaigns

The people I meet every day,  through my work, and my friends and family inspire me to live my life according to simple values. I do this by trying to  follow these simple rules: ( I am not always successful)

  • Appreciate  the simple things in life
  • A freedom from material desires
  • Avoid waste
  • Teach economy to my kids
  • Avoid greed, fear and peer pressure
  • Generosity and Sharing
  • Putting others first with kindness, openess, purity and without expectations and conditions
  • FOLLOWING A VEGAN LIFESTYLE.

I believe that last Value of Choosing a Vegan Lifestyle emcompasses all of the Values Above…..

I appreciate The process of growing my own Food which is one of the most Basic & Simple & Oldest Forms of Lifestyle.

Picture Courtesy of Openhandweb.org

I Try not to “want” for “things“. Instead, I strive to “want” for positive Change in the World and to find a way of achieving that desire.

Picture Courtesy of Butterflyist.com

I strive to Follow the 3 “R”‘s of Reduce, Recycle and Reuse and Following a Vegan Diet and having 4 Rescue dogs ensures that I NEVER waste food!

By Higlighting the reason why I Follow a Vegan Lifestyle daily as often as they will listen (!) My kids are aware of that In the UK alone, 70% of all agricultural land is used to as pasture to feed animals whereas a veggie Britain would require less than half of this.

Greed & Fear Project Negative Energy onto those around us. I only have a Desire for Less Cruelty and Hope for More Understanding. I don’t react to those who believe that a Vegan Diet is harmful, but I AM proactive in promoting my reasons for being Vegan.

PIcture courtesy of PETA

I surround myself with likeminded Friends and Individuals so it is not hard to Feel Generous, Want to Share, Feel Kind, Want to Express my Feelings and Be Truthful and Pure with them. It is not so easy however, to Feel and think like that about those other Human Beings who inflict Pain & Suffering on other beings.

Instead I strive to Keep Raising Awarenesss and Promote Education so  that 1 day, those individuals WILL learn AND understand that their ignorance can no longer be tolerated.

WE ALL HAVE CHOICES TO MAKE, WE CAN STAY IN THE OLD WORLD WHERE ANIMALS ARE TREATED SOLELY AS OBJECTS TO SATISFY HUMANS, OR WE CAN LIVE BY A NEW ETHIC BASED ON RESPECT AND COMPASSION FOR ALL THOSE WE SHARE THE PLANET WITH.

PIcture Courtesy of CCTV for All Slaughterhouses

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