The Animals: Compromise & Divinity

All of us are inherently corrupt in some way. The world, in fact, is filled with corruption and before we ever do a thing to it.  I believe this is due to the fall of man the bible talks about.  Perhaps it is truth that once the lion lay with the lamb, everyone was dining on manna from heaven and life was sweet.  We wanted more and then all hell broke loose.  We compromise and while the laws are written upon our hearts, we war with our ego, our desires and principles.

Because of the imperfection inherent in our condition, our fault if the bible is to be believed, then the goal becomes ahimsa or causing least harm.  But we know we will cause harm.  The gas guzzler is swapped out for an electric or hybrid. Both still burn oil and create battery waste.  Some folks eat off paper plates so their dishwashing is reduced but their trash footprint is larger. So the goal is baby steps toward kindness and causing least harm, with the compassionate understanding that none of us is perfect, nor will we ever be fully enlightened on this plane of existence, but we do have a goal of it.  The meat eater pets and perhaps cherishes his cat. The vegan kills plants. I sprout stuff all week long, just to watch it grow a wee bit and eat it.  In my Hippocrates studies, I was taught that sprouts talk to each other while growing as well as pick up on the energy and mineral needs of the individual growing them, through touch.

In The Secret Life Of Plants, by Peter Tompkins, we explore the spiritual relationship between plants and man.
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In Intelligent Trees, we learn from a forester, Peter Wohlleben,  about how trees in a forest support one another and it is completely fascinating as I have always thought of the roots being their brains.  Turns out I was not far off the mark with this.

Anyone who sets themselves up as ‘better than’ is under the employ of human vanity.  There may be someone who out vegans you, someone who creates far less trash, lives in a yurt and rides a bike.  Sure there are indeed folks who do things greener, walk a lighter footpath on the earth, but the point is that all of us are here do cause harm, are not perfect and are merely learning our way back toward the lost enlightenment.  And as the fall wasn’t any other animals fault but ours, I believe it is these creatures we inhabit the planet with that aid us greatly in our crawl back to sainthood.  It is in understanding and loving them that allows us to be more patient with each other.

If you’re looking to explore a great read, check out Karlene Strange, The Spiritual Nature of Animals. 

I find love, in my current flawed condition to be nearly equal parts awe and annoyance.  Of course, the love bit wins out over the annoyance bit, but it is definitely a humbling struggle.  I marvel at the love and full-on trust bestowed upon me. I marvel at the workmanship of my creatures, how they are so perfect in form and function, so beautiful and so emotionally sweet and balanced.

Hydra & Loki, pictured to the left there, were brought into the house after our very well behaved Tiger cat passed away.  They are such a handful that I promised my husband no more kittens.  Loki, the guy sitting in the pot, is fairly well behaved and very loving.  He just cannot get it through his head what not to scratch at, such as the carpet or the furniture.  He knows better by now but just keeps at it.  I have employed sprays and he has a plethora of scratchers and toys, which he loves.  Mostly, though, he is a loving cat and tries to behave. He was really rambunctious and not much of a lover as a kitten.  But now he is very snuggly as I have taught him this.  He used to draw blood with his love bites and has now learned not to bite or to bite super softly (Good kitty). Hydra, the kitty outside the pot, is just one of the sweetest cats ever.  She keeps her claws retracted when playing, including her back legs when she is really going at your arm! And, she even inhibits her bites.  I taught her none of this.  I was only very gentle with her as I am with all my animals.  As a tiny kitten, every time I picked her up, she’d begin purring.  She wasn’t well and I had to boost her with some goats milk.  But she is also the most clumsy cat I have ever known and I have known many cats.  It’s not just about knocking stuff off the counter because that’s fun to do, it’s mostly about running pel mell into stuff and just not managing to avoid it.  We have lost thousands in all the damage, all the broken pottery and glass.  I have glued stuff down with putty, put things way high up, but she manages to break something on a regular basis. She is also first at the door to greet me home and tell me how much she loves me.

While our animal companions are very trainable (for the most part) and they love us and want to please us, we humans struggle with applying ‘human’ logic to them.   Animals do have a sense of fairness and of what is right, ethical, but it is contained within their particular perspective as first what they are (dog, cat, fish, lion, elephant, whale) and then all that is coupled with their individual personality and what has, so far, shaped their life and mindset, how each was individually socialized.  Our pets may know you leave all day Monday through Friday, for example, and they know the time you leave and should arrive back at the home, however they have no concept of why, that you may be earning the kibble wherever it is that you go.  They do, however, know where you were, based on the smell.

They know, given consistency,  when you will be leaving and arriving back home, when it’s the weekend where things may relax and perhaps they can expect dog park time or extra loves.  They sense so much from us in both our tone and body language but they don’t know that your handbag or wallet cost $500.00 and they don’t care.  They may, if you jerk the wallet away exclaiming ‘No, bad!’ that this action was a wrong choice and perhaps not ever chew your wallet again.  Or it may take several firm but gentle coaching sessions to effect that change.  Our Doberman had a penchant for underwear, left shoes and walls.  Fortunately I worked from home and could catch him enough times that the walls weren’t badly damaged and although I did go through numerous left shoes, (no idea why just the left) and a payload of undies, he finally stopped playing with ‘My Toys’ and grasped, as I kept repeatedly re-directing him to one of is, began grabbing his own stuff to play with and chew up.  Just like we get, they get bored or stressed out, smell you on the item and begin chewing.  They do absolutely care that you are upset but don’t always grasp why unless you catch them in the act, right away, and correct them.  Correcting them should never include physical violence.  And it really shouldn’t include yelling (pointing finger at self right now).  Remember that we have created ‘money’ and applied that ‘value’ to our stuff.  The rest of the world doesn’t run like this or think in those terms.   Hydra has no idea what money is or that I culled a very special collection of Mid-Century Modern tchotchkes to feather our MCM home with.  She just ploughs right through them, then comes running to me trilling when she sees that I am angry (hears me yelling) and wants to comfort me by offering up her joy and sweetness.  She is the ONLY cat I have ever known that literally comes running to my aid when I raise my voice at her.  And once, Loki looked so quizzically at me as he gently touched his nose to mine, staring into my eyes the entire time, as I ranted about something he had just done to upset me.  I guess it is a good thing they don’t fear me, so yelling aside, I do many things right.

 

 

 

Our Dobie is (mostly) very well behaved, however, he is exceedingly stubborn, ‘The most willful dog I have ever known’ as the vet put it, and is also quite demanding of treats, more food, more time, more pets, more walks, more engagement.  He can also chill as he is doing right now.  But oh yes, once I am done typing, that walk had better happen! In all seriousness, he is a very well behaved boy.  He is also very self-possessed and feels comfortable telling me exactly what he wants. He feels safe, deeply loved and knows he is a part of our family.  His sleep is untroubled except when he went through bloat surgery and whined in his sleep because of the pain.  I love our trust and how much I have come to fully know this creature that shares our residence. I also feel protected in his presence and have learned all his different bark tones that tell me if it is someone we know at the door, how well we know them or a stranger that he likes or a stranger he really doesn’t.

I really love this book, On Talking Terms With Dogs by Turid Rugaas which blew me away because I really thought I had pieced quite a bit of my dog’s communication together.  After reading this book, I noticed Rhett going first into a play bow, then looking away briefly, before making eye contact again with another pup, then repeating the procedure.  It’s the looking away bit I didn’t understand, but it basically means ‘I don’t want to fight you’  So my dog, who was confronted with this other pup that was growling and charging a bit aggressively, was essentially saying that he was here to play and did not want to fight. How brilliant!  And the other dog absorbed all that message!  After Rhett repeated the body language a few times,  the once aggressive dog went into a play bow too and looked away briefly then back etc. Game On!

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I take a lot of time to simply marvel at the animals in general and specifically at the ones in my home.  Each is a snowflake, unique and never to ever be created again.  Once Tiger kitty exited this plane of existence, that was it.  Sure there’s no shortage of cats, but I am left heartbroken.

Each animal is similar and unique.  Given the chance to shine their personality, you will find it in a chicken, a goat, cow, horse, pig, you name it.  And each one will love you and communicate with you in their own individual way.

Mathew Scully writes a compelling book, Dominion,  about the struggle we have with our own power and how we cause suffering to the animals.  A lot of what we call stubborn or not minding sometimes is simply body language.  They don’t speak English (except some birds), although they often do learn what it is we are saying to them provided they spend enough time with us to learn.  So, their way of communication back to us (and their kind), becomes bleats, sighs, screams, chortles, huffs and tons of body language.

We may believe we own a creature and perhaps under the laws in place, we do, however,  under the laws of the universe, we don’t own anything.   I can assure you that the cow, pig, dog, cat, bird you think you own absolutely do not see things in this way at all!  These creatures see themselves as individuals just as we see ourselves.  Based upon their own personality coupled with their life experiences thus far, they view you as a friend, acquaintance,  family or pack – heard member or maybe someone to fear, avoid or someone to love and to draw closer to.  They are either actively engaging you, trying to build upon or begin a relationship with you or they have given that up because of what outcome they encountered.  In giving up, they generally look away and keep to themselves. Many damaged souls are in this shape at shelters who have to learn that not every human is abusive.  They have their own thoughts, preferences, joys and pain just as we do.  Most of the communication is all in the body language and their eyes.  They want their friends, their kind, they are curious, and want comfort, to play, to engage and they definitely see themselves as a part of life and, where appropriate, they do consider themselves as a part of the team.  They get bored if there isn’t enough to do.  They blossom when they are deeply loved and cared for.  Just as we do, they bond where that is appropriate.  A dog left in the yard all day long and by himself with little to no interaction with you is very unlikely to guard you or your property.  Why should he care?  Where is his skin in this game?  But when he loves you, yes.

The Chain, by Ted Genoways, a poet, centers around Hormel and Spam and the cruel accident prone fast-paced production lines in packhouses across America.

Seeing the baby goats and calves taken from their mothers just days old is heart-wrenching.  The mothers have no idea why this is happening and are gut wrenched time and time again as we repeatedly do this on the new factory farming model.  The babies are confused innocents in all this cruelty perpetrated on them as they JUST enter the world.  Watching a baby goat with its mother, given a chance at joy, they prance around and are just so cute.  They don’t know that we are bringing souls into the world for the purposes of harvesting them for food.   In the wild, there was a bit of democracy going on, survival of the fittest.  The majority of the heard would survive if they worked at it.  We have changed the game in our farming methods where that is barely possible.  Once in a blue moon, a pig or cow escapes, it makes the news and people rally to save him or her.  But we have largely lost our compassion for these creatures and we need to change our mindset and lessen our grip on evil.

If things had just remained the way they were, say back in the 50’s and 60’s, where the animals we were raising for food were treated well, had sunshine and fields to play in, weren’t continuously raped to remain pregnant milk producers, stayed with their babies, with us taking the surplus milk, old dairy cows going out to pasture, I don’t believe this topic would have ever come up and i would never be writing this.  While killing is still killing and I believe a direct correlation to our fall, it was done at a far saner pace and the animals got to live a decent life first.  Seeing all the abuses is what turned me off meat and dairy.  I haven’t had ice-cream in 2 years.  I believe we are ruining the planet with all the byproduct waste, the rain rainforest demolition and soil erosion necessary to feed our meat and dairy wants.  Believe you me, they are wants and not needs! One lb of beef requires over 2000 gallons of water.  Folks, this is not sustainable.  Plants have more bioavailable protein than meat ever could. And you won’t suffer chronic disease by switching to a plant-based diet.  Our soul, our divinity, is crushed along with the animals spirits as lives are taken in these sped up no light zero kindness factory farming methods employed today to speed up the kill process.  The way is not perfect because we cannot achieve that here, but the way is making daily choices in our lives which cause the least harm to others.

Best Vegan Cook Books & Stocking The Vegan Pantry

 

My favorite story of starting out with this vegan thing is my chef husband coming home from work, taking a look at the kitchen island just loaded with stuff and saying ‘Well, you GOT me!  I have no clue what we are having for dinner tonight.  I had so many items, sacks, cans, bottles and spices up on top of that counter you see there, that you could not see the counter.

I was completely deer in headlights.  As my training with Hippocrates progressed, things got much easier but at the beginning, I was challenged.  I had been vegetarian before, but losing cheese made things hard for me.  What do I fix that my meat and dairy dining chef husband will find appealing?  At the beginning, I would spend 4 hours just figuring out what to make.  My complete meltdown over this, was actually the start of this blog.  I had been laid off work so I had time to both study all day and look online for the best tools to incorporate this lifestyle.  The thought was on things that made it easier so that when I returned to full-time work again, I could still maintain a mostly raw vegan plant-based lifestyle with the least drama. I have posts on best tools, blenders, mixers, juicers (see categories) But today we will focus on some fabulous cookbooks that saved my vegan arse. 🙂

The stores and many restaurants are getting far more vegan-friendly than ever before, with people understanding what vegan means and creating vegan products that are healthy and quick.  A lot of this lifestyle simply gets down to planning ahead.  And while shopping has gotten much easier, there will still be soaking of beans, or sprouts, growing wheatgrass etc.  Firstly, honor who you are, your lifestyle, but don’t be afraid to branch out a bit.  while single, I watched this old film with Jack Lemmon in it called How To Murder Your Wife.  I KNEW that was how I wanted to live and eventually met and married a chef.  He is not my ‘man’ who keeps house etc but the food!!!  I cooked something perhaps 5 times a year.  So I am not a culinary expert or one who is great in the kitchen.  Therefore, if I can do this, I KNOW that you can too!  So honor yourself and your interests and time constraints, but also try to be open to making some pantry items, especially the nut-milks because they are oh so easy and much fresher with all their vitamins and natural enzymes having not been pasteurized (cold or hot still affects the food).   And on this note I want to point out that you really want to make small batches of stuff.  We really forget that while Pasteurization kills off the natural goodness of food, the enzymes and vitamins, it also has a benefit of a far longer shelf life.  Your nut milk will last about 7 days tops.  It will get sour and you’ll be tossing it out.  For my home, that means I make 2 cups of nut milk for the week.  It is really easy to make so it isn’t much drama to get a handful of nuts out to soak for a few hours or overnight and then process them (see my nut milk recipe).  You will feel truly great about knowing your foods you prep yourself will have all of their natural vitamins and enzymes.

My Go To Cookbooks!
I have incorporated links into the book titles for shopping ease and also, as an affiliate for Amazon, I earn a tiny commission for any referrals so I appreciate your support. You don’t pay any different price, I just get a small reward for turning you on to some groovy stuff.

Firstly I love my butter and cheese.  Really not much of a milk person but do like a bit in my tea and sometimes a recipe calls for it.  Yoghurt is in a few of the recipes and in my smoothies I make so I decided to get Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry, the Art of Making Your Own Staples so that I could prep my favourite things fresh at home.  Some of these items you can find at Whole Foods or other natural grocers nearby, but the more you plan ahead, the more control you will have over flavor and quality of ingredients but also the less stressed you will be trying to find something in a store because you will own the power to make it at home.

Oh this lady is funny!  Ann Hodgman’s Vegan Food For The Rest Of Us is just great!  She had me at Vodka Tomatoes.  I am always in search of cocktail snacks beyond hummus and organic chips.  Now I am inspired!

Vegan For Everybody has mac and cheese made with a cashew base, but I also enjoy their tortilla soup and so easy to make!

Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon – I am probably dating myself here, but I have the original Betty book from my mother, from the 50’s.  So naturally, I snapped this puppy up when I saw it because that old book has been a great staple.

THUG Kitchen – You have to have a tolerance for a wee bit of potty mouth, but if you do, this book is a laugh riot as you are meal planning or in the throes of mixing, prepping and cooking.

Live Raw by chef Mimi Kirk who is 75.  Don’t think I really need to say anything else here.

Hippocrates is not big on sugar.  Sugar is an AVOID.  That stated everyone has their treats or path on this thing called vegan.  And I just had to try the cashew cheesecake…Raw Cake cookbook, What’s not to love?

 

 

Mumbo Jumbo Homeopathic & Alternative vs Allopathic (Western) Medicine

The photo is of my morning Wheatgrass shot. I get into some interesting conversations.  I believe a lot of people feel that things are all or nothing.  We choose a path, then perhaps we get a bit comfortable and get stodgy about it.   Because we are all here to help each other, I feel the mind should remain open and our heart compassionate because none of us are perfect beings.  No matter where we are in our years or schooling, we are always learning if we are moving forward.

In speaking with someone the other day in the healthcare field, I mentioned a herb and the immediate retort was ‘Oh, I don’t know anything about that if it’s not science-based, it doesn’t exist for me. everything must be proven by science.’  I gently explained to this individual that pharmaceuticals originated from the plant kingdom.  Science in fact, did not invent them.  What science has since done, and I disagree with, is synthesized and added chemicals and fillers for profit margins and patents and so, therefore, is mostly all about the money now, the big Pharma Machine.  Go to any doctor or vet, and just watch. All supplements and original medicines came from plants.  Further, the practice of medicine did not originally require a formal degree. When I began my career in telecommunications, there were no degrees in it.  Now there are. As we learn we find a way to formalize things, teach them and a way to make money at it too.  I suggested that rather than judge harshly, we consider that plants are the origin and we had the alternatives,  homeopathy and Chinese modalities far longer than we ever had allopathic medicine.  I suggested a good marriage between Western Medicine and the ‘alternative’ or as I see them, the complementary modalities.  There is absolutely a time and a place for all of it because they can complement and augment each or be used individually depending on the situation and condition.

Holistic Medicine
We hear a lot about holistic medicine.  Holistic medicine treats the entire patient, believing a dysfunction in one area affects the whole person/animal, not just that one area of the body or mind.  I like this approach because it broadens the scope to look at all things related, perhaps the diet, for example, and treats the entire being as a whole. I feel this creates wellness at the core and resilience.  Rather than treating just symptoms, we take a look at what’s happening and find out why and how we may apply treatment for whole healing.

Alternative Medicine

Now, upfront, I find this term riotous!   “Alternative Medicine” refers to alternative medical systems other than allopathic or traditional (conventional) western medicine.  What’s funny about this is the fact that these include traditional Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy,  Herbalism and Floral Essences which have been around ages longer. 

Homeopathy

This controversial 250 yar old alternative medicine has been around since the late 18th century.  A biologist, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann created it on the premise that like cures like.  Using minute quantities of a substance that would, in larger quantities, make a well individual produce the same symptoms, homeopathy provides a wee bit (the poison is in the dose as they say) to effectively rebalance the body.  Like the holistic approach discussed earlier, Dr. Hahnemann believed the body needed to be treated as a whole unit so we work with the constitution of it.  I use homeopathy on my dog as well as the whole family.  While the substances in them can be tiny, the believe this man had was that substances, when diluted, can become far more potent.

Western Medicine

Most of us are very familiar.  The standout here is in emergency work, saving lives in crisis.  (See my Canine Bloat story) The downside is that I don’t believe we need all the shots and pills big pharma is pushing.  All the way around, there needs to be far more focus on Hippocrates’ truth, which is to let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food.   We are all responsible for our health so if we aren’t eating correctly a pill is not going to be magic.  Sure, it may help lower your cholesterol but at what cost?  So much of pharmaceuticals are toxic.  And recently, I was informed that shots, both human animal and for our pets, contain toxins such as mercury in them!  Yeah, maybe skip that flu shot!

I am 57 and take no pharmaceutical drugs.  We don’t give our fur babies annual shots. And what got me on the path of NOT giving annual shots was actually Hillside Vet, where we took Ting kitty.  Ting had lost her owner and my mother adopted her.  As she lived in an apartment complex, they insisted she be up to date on all shots.  While she had actually been recently vaccinated, she came with no proof.  A vet my mother took her to, gave her the shots, all at once, right between the shoulder blades where all shots used to be administered (and where I remembered them being given as well).  Ting became gravely ill.  And she was getting not one jot better at Hillside on IV fluids, refusing to eat and stuck in a cage costing us quite a pretty penny each day.  I asked to take the cat to my home.  I gave her love, so much love and coaxed her to eat.  She finally recovered but the thing is, during this deluge of illness, the vet noted he was shocked that Ting was administered shots between her shoulder blades, at that neck scruff area and I asked why.  He explained: ‘We give the shots always in the rear leg now.  When we give shots, and the animal gets cancer from them, then there’s not much that can be done.  However, if you give the shots, as we do now, in the rear leg, then you can amputate the leg. And I just heard myself ask why on earth are we giving shots when we know they cause cancer. This is when I began self-education about better more natural healing ways for our pets and discovered  Dr. Martin Golstein The Nature Of Animal Healing which I now use as one of my references. If we know something is bad, we should stop and yet we don’t.  The practice of medicine is called a practice because we are supposed to be learning every day and applying that new knowledge, incorporating it into what we do in efforts to cause no harm.  While I agree there might be an emergency situation where you take something for a few days, etc, I encourage you to look at your lifestyle and that of your pets and determine in a more holistic way what is best.  See my other posts on pet food. Thank you for reading and I appreciate your comments.

 

 

Is Your Skincare Routine Safe?

This is me teaching a class on organic skincare and walking everyone through a yummy facial. Our AIR, SOIL and WATER are horribly polluted, as are the creatures that inhabit them.  One of the reasons to go vegan is because eating animal fats, where toxins are stored, causes you additional harm.
Plants don’t store toxins the same way animals do.  So in short, the higher you eat on the food chain, the more damage you will have.  Most of us, on some level, realize that what we eat, what we put in our bodies, is going to have an effect on us, but so many people don’t think about the toxins in their skincare routines.  Because the body absorbs at least 70% of what is applied, it stands to reason we want to be very mindful of the chemicals in our lotions and potions.

From Avon to Clinique, Borghese to Aveda, no matter where you shop,  it is very challenging to find a line that is 100% clean, let alone one product that is.  A simple word like ‘fragrance’ can mean an entire chemical laden stew that disrupts your hormones, your endocrine system and includes carcinogenic substances.
Seeing all these chemicals and their effects is what got me motivated to rep for safer skincare.

So I sell for Essante, Miessence and Bioceutica. Links are below for your shopping ease or to just take a more in-depth look.  Also, this can be a business opportunity for you too, to sell something you feel good about marketing.  (See my separate articles on the Superfoods and skincare comparisons.)

www.EssanteOrganics.com/Puretemple – Essante has a great eye cream and firming skincare treatment as well as superfoods.  This line is a mix of organic and wildcrafted.  While they have some nice skincare products, Essante doesn’t offer makeup per se’ at this juncture, however, I love their lipglosses.  Right now that is the only ‘makeup’ in the line.

www.bioceutica.com/puretemple  – Bioceutica is plant-based without the known harsh chemicals however it is not a 100% organic line.  I adore their Reverse 20 deeply moisturizing mask package and their mascara, which is keratin based and has grown my lashes out amazingly.  They also have a nice and yummy smelling daily skincare lineup that includes an eye gel with a ceramic tip on the end that feels oh so great in the morning.

http://www.miessence.com/puretemple/en/category/1/skincare – Miessence is so clean you can eat it.  100% plant-based skin and body care with a few home care products and fantastic superfoods.

Some Chemicals that you can go in search of in your home right now (and throw out!) are:
PEG –  Polyethylene Glycol, Ethylene Glycol Propylene Glycol – This chemical poison is in anti-Freeze and yet it is also in so many food stuffs as well as cosmetics.  It is even in some pet foods and treats and, recently, in some wet wipes, I bought for my cat that I had to toss out because um, cats lick their fur so why on earth would such a toxic substance be in a wipe for a cat that is known for grooming? Really, I am absolutely amazed at how many items this toxin is in.  It is used in cosmetics as it is easily absorbed into the skin, so it assists other ingredients in a deeper dive, but the cost can be damage to the liver, kidneys or your brain.
Triclosan – I ended up with this actually in an organic hand cream I ordered which did not provide me with the full ingredient list until I received the cream.  Triclosan, used as an antibacterial, accumulates in our bodies, is a hormone disruptor and can help create bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.
Formaldehyde – From detergents to hair conditioners to mouthwashes,  Formaldehyde is classified as a Category 2 Carcinogen.
Parabens –  Used as a preservative, it is a hormone disrupter shown to be a reproductive toxin in animal studies (hint…We are animals). Parabens have been detected in breast cancer tumors.

Nanoparticles – Cosmetics have come a long way.  In the past, a lot of our makeups used to just sit on top of the skin.  But nanoparticles are very tiny.  If the nanoparticle is zinc oxide or aluminum, due to such a small size, it can literally get into your body and end up going from an eyeshadow or foundation or sunscreen to penetrating into your organs.
Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), e.g. Cocamide  Monoethanolamine (MEA) Oleth-3, Phosphate, Tea-Lauryl Sulfate  – NDELA –  Nitrosamines have been identified as one of the most potent classes of carcinogens, having caused cancer (liver, stomach, bladder and esophagus) in more than 40 different animal species, including us humans.  These chemicals are reactive toward other ingredients in the product, making a volatile toxic stew.

Check out EWG which you can use as a handy check when shopping.  https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

And for those of you who are passionate about health, learning and taking the natural, alternative path, I welcome you to go down the rabbit hole that inspired me to become a plant-based lifestyle consultant and write this blog and consider studies with Hippocrates Health Institute.  You can click on the link below to get your free syllabus.  The course is not inexpensive, but I assure you it will be chocked full of information you didn’t already know (I thought I would know it all but I didn’t) and it will be life-changing.

https://op.hippocratesinst.org/moreinfo/static/34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sticks & Stones – Kindness

 

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words may also hurt me.  Most everyone has an abuse story and the problem spans the socio-economic stratosphere.  I grew up upper middle class.  We bought cars and houses and boats without loans. Now with two mortgages and a car payment, I am still in awe of this.  We had good clothes, a fine home, yummy home-cooked meals and loved each other.  This is me, my mother Frances and my brother Carl enjoying brunch at my home.

My mother was sick.  She was bi-polar and never got the help she desperately needed. As my late brother Carl put it, she was full of high demands and my brother John talked about how self-indulgent she was.  She poisoned everybody close to her, losing long-term friends who got too close to the flame.  I was adopted when my two brothers were about 12 years old, after wanting and trying for a girl baby and ending up with two adorable boys.  My two brothers and later me, all rode the roller coaster of her moods and insane put-downs and punishments. When she was upbeat, she was high on a cloud of joy, full of humour and charm and would sweep you up and along to enjoy the view from high above.  When she was up we went shopping for clothes.  Shopping was mothers happy place.  That and eating.  When she was up, things were very good.  When she was down, she was taking you by the arm and dragging you through the hellfire with her.  One thing wrong, or even perceived as wrong, and I went to school with purple, orange and red buttocks and hamstrings and a few times with her handprint across my face.  As horrifically as her hands and fists and belts could be, her words were far worse.  She deliberately kept me off keel, never knowing if I was pretty, smart, funny, nothing was ever solidly communicated because what she felt about me, and any ability I may have had changed on a minute by minute basis.  Straight answers to my questions never came forth.  The only message that I was completely and consistently told, however, was that whatever it was I wanted to do, sing, dance, play the piano, gymnastics, track, cheerleading, there was, to be quite sure, someone a lot better than me at it.  And this message is absorbed into my core being today.
What someone thinks of you can matter as much as they mean to you.  A stranger gruffly telling you to bugger off may hurt you or just blow on by depending upon the mood you happen to be in as well as your particular personality.  Someone you rely upon and deeply admire or love saying something hurtful, however,  can be an icepick through the heart no matter how stout you are emotionally.

The story growing up as a young teen (between 12-18) was that I was a handful.  In reality, all I wanted was peace.  I did no drugs, no sex, no teen pregnancies, straight-A student, physically fit, pretty and my room was always spotless. I respected my elders very much but to my mind, mother was a handful and I was so tired of it.  I couldn’t keep dates.  Guys were flat scared off by my mother.  Relationships typically ended by the 3rd date. You could set a clock. They all said the same thing.  One break up ensued after a classic chase down of the car as we sped away on our date.  My guy stared in shock into his rearview mirror and exclaimed ‘Is that your mother chasing our car?’  Embarrassing.  I knew we’d have dinner and then that would be it for us.  On a humorous note, when I married Michael, he explained to his family that I was not blood-related, having been adopted, so, therefore, did not have the ‘crazy’ gene.  Anyone meeting my mother for the first time, was schooled on this in advance in hopes they just might stick around long enough I could see whether we were a good fit or not.
One particular late afternoon, just ahead of dinner, mother was off the rails when father came home.  Dad was typically kind and balanced, metering out his few punishments with solid judgement.

I was blamed for her upset that day as she spewed venom about my severe disobedience and how she could no longer handle me so she was demanding that my father DO SOMETHING!   I found myself in the kitchen, ostensibly to help set the table as mother had asked and was immediately yanked up by my hair and swung around the room like a lasso all over the kitchen.  I hit walls, I hit the floor, I hung mid-air for minutes at a time as my father glared at me and held me a foot or so off the ground by my ponytail with one arm.  I remember the look on mothers’ face as I finally let go a urine stream in sheer fright.  Only then did she realize what her words caused, but still couldn’t see the benefit to getting some help!  I am surprised that most of my roots held up to all of that. This hair-raising incident happened exactly twice.  Years of mothers tirades had finally broken my dad down.  I could not WAIT to get out of that house! No, there is no excuse for what he did to me but the point is that we all can instigate with our words.   Words create or destroy. And the more we love the ones who harm us, the more soul-wrecking the abuse actually is.  Nobody discussed the elephant in the room after those two incidents with my dad and other than those two episodes, he was a great solid guy and the one I confided in because mother was bats and I needed help coping.  He would tell me how she did this similar behaviour to the boys but never as badly as she treated me.  He had no answer to make it stop.  When I was about 14, things were so rough. Every day I awoke and put on waterproof mascara because I knew at some point that day, mother would make me cry.  She would twist my words, make things up, accuse me of things I never did and mete out punishment accordingly. I could not even escape into a nice teen conversation with a friend, she would scream that I was talking about her.   Once when I was on the phone chatting,  she came to my room demanding I stop talking about her (I wasn’t) and proceeded to mangle my hamburger then my fries, with her hands, making them inedible for me.  I threw my milkshake at her.  Yes, I was the bad child.  But it was worth going hungry to take a small stand.  It was during that year I went to school and finally talked to someone about my home situation.  I asked if I could be placed in a new home just to finish out school because this was all too emotionally toiling for me.  I had contemplated suicide. When we all sat together at the school with my dad, he was devastated.  I really did not mean this as a personal affront to him or her, I just wanted to finish school and gain some peace.  With him so visibly upset, I caved and remained at the house.  Mother railed about divorcing him, she wasn’t happy.  She was never happy.  And shortly thereafter, dad was diagnosed with Cancer.   She stayed and took care of him. Being a homemaker all this time, she ended up getting a job at a hospital when my dad could no longer run his service station.  He died as I turned 18.

What happens in childhood never stays in childhood.  What happens in the office never stays just in the office. This crap follows you throughout your life.  Each of us is here for reasons that only we can fulfil and that only we can fulfil in our particular way.  Each of us is a unique creation.  We must be careful with our words because once uttered, they simply cannot ever be taken back.  Thoughts are energy and words are the form of them.  Have you ever thought about someone and then they called?  Thoughts are serious business.  Words can be so empowering or a waste of breath or just utterly slay someone.  Your karma.

I deal with my abuse daily.  I work through it, building myself up as I have been trained to do.  Forgiveness, and people, we must forgive, is of course possible.  Forgetting that the cruelties ever happened is not likely.  Mitigating the damage from them is ongoing.

I share my story here, and for the very first time, in hopes of helping anyone suffering from abuse.  It is never your fault, no matter how much of a ‘handful’ you may be.  But do seek help to salve your emotional wounds and become whole because the world needs you to fulfil your purposes as only you can and you must be well and happy to do that.  Also, it’s ok to love the toxic person in your life, but whether your toxic person is family or a friend, it is completely up to you, once grown and in control, whether you allow the abusive person to continue to play a role in your life and exactly how much of a role they have.  My mother died at 86 just 3 years ago.  We took many breaks from each other because of her toxicity.  From marking my wine bottles, accusing me of being gay when I have dinner with girlfriends, creating 11th-hour emergencies for me to fix, to ostracize my new would be husband, it was so much turmoil in my life.  And I could not fix her.  I got her books, I tried.  I want to point out here that I am not slamming anybody who may be gay. The point here is that I am not and my mother knew this, she was just making up cruel stories to cause harm and stress.  I am not an abuser of alcohol either, but she again made up stories.  Mother was a pot stirrer.  If she loved you, she wasn’t happy until you were miserable. I really wanted to break free but she was my mother.  As I put it to friends, if she were anybody else, she’d be flat gone out of my life.  How do I exit my own mother?  I loved her and just wanted her happy.  Only once she was close to dying did I realize happy would never ever happen here for her.  At one point she got some counselling which honestly helped…until she declared herself well and cured and stopped working at this.  I tried to explain to her that with such long-standing abuse from her family and what she continued with her children, it was actually going to be a lifelong and ongoing healing process for her that benefited not just her but was also such a huge help to anyone around her.  She didn’t believe me.  I tried explaining how she was ruinous to her own and other peoples lives with this behaviour, how I loved her but could no longer tolerate the bad behaviour.  But it was everybody else’s fault, every pain she felt, not once and not ever was it her fault.   People around me used to call her evil.  Frances was never evil.  She adopted me with full intentions of doing things better.  She taught me to be and was always kind to animals.  I came to the house completely fearful of animals,  even cats. I was fearful of everything and everyone. I had no trust, having been bounced around from home to home before I was even 3.   I believe she deeply loved her children.  She was just so damaged that she could not get out from under it. For 40 years I begged her to get help.   Now she is at peace.  She was very kind to me as she was dying and I am so thankful that I could be there and also that nothing ugly came out that I would take with me to my grave.  She was kind, called me beautiful and told me what a lovely daughter I had been.  I made the choice at 4 years of age not to ever have human children of my own.  I did not want to pass down this legacy of pain.  At one point I felt healed enough to adopt a child as I had been thankfully adopted, but it just wasn’t something my husband wanted to do when I broached the topic.   I do very well, however, with our animal children.  I have mostly handled and supported them in a balanced and loving way.  I have always worked on my temper because my mother never did.  I saw the great harm a bad temper caused.  It is all about control.  One should strive for control over ones’ self, to express in productive, honest ways, both for your own and others sake. We can all run the gamut emotionally but I always ask myself if something is worth going to battle and how far I believe I should take that battle and if I do that, what will it do, how will it help the other person, the situation or myself.  I breathe.  I do daily mediations and yoga and I tend to be a positive person naturally but I work to remain upbeat.  Mostly when people afflict you, it’s about them and not you.

Reach Out In Kindness.  You don’t always know how folks in your circle, in your office have really grown up, how their spouse may be or what exactly they are going through.  I am a huge advocate for being kind.  People who are toxic can be removed from your life or in the case of a working relationship, remain cordial but remove yourself gracefully wherever you are able to do so without it looking obvious. Fight the urge to be cruel back to someone mean to you because they may be afflicted like my mother was and truly need help.  And as personal as some comments seem to be which are made, try to see beyond them, much as you can, to the person and the moment in which they were spoken.
Take Ownership Of Yourself – I like to say that mother was a lesson in what not to do in life.  I have pretty much taken all the negative skills she taught me, like how to ridicule,  play the victim, how to slay someone with two words, how to manipulate someone into giving you what you desire and turned it all upside down.  What you say and how you say it may affect people around you, so be mindful of your tone and words. Apologize when you mess this up.  I try very hard not to take out a bad day on others.  Sometimes that means I hole up alone, but typically it just means calming myself down and being in a place where I can discuss it rationally with a friend or my husband and respect others enough not to be sharp with them when they didn’t cause my bad day.  My mother got into this thing of routinely badgering the check out people at the grocery store or pharmacy.  It was embarrassing.  I would be mouthing ‘I am so sorry’ as Frances would be just completely going off on some poor person just trying to help.  Very rarely was the check out person the actual cause of her frustration.  A grand lesson in what not to do.

Know your personal triggers so that you can try to remain calm and support yourself.  For example, for me, being adopted and abused, being told my entire life I never measured up to the expectations my mother had of me, my trigger is abandonment and not ever measuring up.  After being at Sprint 26 years I felt fairly confident that after that length of time, it wasn’t personal when I got laid off.  But at my new job,  I am always feeling like the other shoe is gonna drop any minute.   I have these self-talks, sort of like Stuart Smalley looking in the mirror saying I am good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it people like me.  I work to diversify my income stream by doing this blog, selling organic and plant-based skin and body care products, and renting a place.   But it’s whatever gets you through the day, that doesn’t cause harm to someone else.  We are all here to help ourselves and others along the path.  Cruelty is never a part of helping.

It’s Totally On You To Heal – This may sting a bit, but whatever hell you have gone through personally, all of the ownership for moving on and letting go of it falls squarely upon your shoulders regardless of what wrong was done you by whom or how long.  Get free of it and sort yourself out.  Don’t be like my mother and let abuse ruin your entire existence on this plane and damage others in the process.  Life is short so get out, get happy and enjoy it.

For your reading pleasure, I have included helpful books, just click on the titles to do your Amazon shopping.

Helpful books: 

The Book Of Joy by Dalai Lama

Boundaries by Adelyn Birch

Out Of The Fog by Dana Morningstar

Will I Ever Be Good Enough by Dr. Karyl McBride