Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Why Being a Vegan Sucks!!!!(Or so I thought)

As anyone who knows me, knows by now, I gave up animal products a couple of months ago. They all know it, because I can't shut up about it. 
I'm not preachy, more like feigned humility; "Oh, I don't care what anyone else eats, this is just a choice I've made for myself". In a way, it's almost worse. It's like pretending to be humble, all the while pointing out why I'm different(I seriously can not believe I turned into one of "Those" people)...
Long story short, I watched the movie "Cowspiracy", and that was it... I was done eating animals.
I am 52 years old, and have spent a life time making quiet fun of all those grain eater/tree hugger types, only to become one of them. 
I tell myself, that I won't get all smug about it, like the herbivores, but truth be told, if "smug" came down like rain, there would be some dude somewhere, building an arc and gathering animals 2 by 2. I have no idea, how people can even stand to be in a room with me.
So... Why does it suck? Well for starters a relativity nice person like me, can turn into a self righteous windbag(In more ways than one... Let's just say that Broccoli is not my friend).
Add to that, I'm the only Vegan I know, so I have pretty much alienated myself from friends and family.
I'm never ever going to eat food again, that I didn't cook for myself or order in a vegan friendly restaurant. It goes without saying that "dinner invitations" are now a thing of the past.
Sure, I can still order my coffee at Timmies, but coffee without cream sucks, and yes, Starbucks does offer non dairy "milk", but let's be honest, Starbucks coffee taste like bath water, and is more expensive.
Christmas is coming up and my poor family is all freaked out about what to feed me(My suggestion that I will just make something and bring it along didn't go over).
I have an awesome amazing girlfriend, who is one of the best cooks I know.... Which is utterly wasted on me now, and suppose we got married? How would that even work? Oh, Let's just cook individual meals for ourselves for the rest of our lives(Oh Yay!!).
AND My favourite 3 things to eat in the world, My Gf's Mac and Cheese, Cinnabon's and Krispy Kreme doughnuts and forever lost to me.
I know I will find new favourite foods, but tonight, I'm just a big kid who wants his blanky. 
It's funny, I didn't do it for my health, I'd seen "Vegucated" and "Forks over Knives", and knew all about the health benefits... I just didn't care, I was happy in my little life. Sure I was feeling the effects of a life time of personal food abuse, but that was just the price we pay for eating the way most of us do. It was all of the other reasons, the environment, world hunger, animal cruelty, that convinced me to make the switch.
Even though it wasn't a "health based" choice, I have to admit, that I have never felt better in my post 25 year old adult life. I'm losing weight, I don't hurt as much(intense body pain was becoming so familiar that it was "The norm"). I have a lot more energy. It's only been 2 months, but I feel 15 years younger.
Before, I had heart disease and diabetes to look forward to(I have a family history of both), Now.. Who knows? I'm not a doctor, but I feel, like I'm getting healthier by the day.
Would I go back to the carnivore I was? I truly hope not. Even tonight in my state of crabbiness, it's not really the foods I miss, but having such a huge thing in common with everyone around me. It's kinda lonely. Most of my friends are cheering me on, but I miss being "part of the herd", and I'm not really a pretentious blow hard, but I feel like I am. I don't miss bacon, but I miss being part of "The bacon generation".
I am learning how to cook all over again and that's actually a lot of fun. My beautiful vegetarian daughter taught me the basics and I make it a point to learn a new dish a week. Last week it was mushroom gravy on home made fries(Because, life without gravy is just not a life :-) This week, I think it will be loaded baked potato soup.
And then there's always the nice surprises, like learning that Oreo's and Cap't Crunch are vegan friendly.
All in all, the "V" lifestyle is actually, ok, even fun. It's just, I always thought the hard part would be missing the food, but our culture puts such a social emphasis on what we eat and how we eat it, that really, what I miss the most is, just being part of the gang.

How's that for "Food for thought"?

Peace Kiddies 


I wrote this about a month ago. Let me tell you what I have experienced in this past month.
I have had such amazing support from Family and Friends... That Christmas dinner with my family, that I was so freaked about was just a lovely afternoon, my Brother actually made a Quinoa  vegetable stove top stuffing so that I could have some. Friends at work keep bringing in things for me to try, like Vegan French Toast, and baked goods without any animal products in them.
I have learned how to makes some delicious meals, that I can not wait to get home to eat. My Girlfriend even found a recipe for a desert in case I am battling a sweet tooth. My Mother discovered TVP, and excitedly bought me some, even my Daughter and Ex Wife made me a Vegan Chile that was simply delicious 
And at no time have the health benefits, been more obvious than last night when I had to shovel snow for the first time this year... Last year, I always shoveled in the dead of night, because I was embarrassed at needing a break every 10 mins.... But last night, I went through that snow in under half an hour, and then took the dog for a walk after... And I was feeling AWESOME!!!!!.
When I originally wrote this I was feeling lonely, being the only Vegan I know... A month later, physically I'm feeling Amazing, and emotionally I have felt so much kindness and acceptance from people with no real reason to be that nice to me.... 
As for lonely, I've never felt so much a part of everyone around me like I do now, and as for missing my favourite foods? I am developing so many new faves. that put my old ones to shame. :-)

So if you are at that point, where you are feeling isolated and wondering why you began this journey..... Just wait Kiddies. It doesn't just get better, It get's AWESOME!!!!

Peace Kiddies, and Thank You :-)  {{Hugs all the way around}} 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The World can be a mean place, but we don't have to be.

Lately, the news has been full of human cruelty. There are those who would spread fear and hate by harming innocents.. There is a word for people who walk that path, but I won't dignify them with a label, even a bad one.

Like most people, I've been talking to others and reading social media, to get different perspectives. I even read the words of one individual who's solution to it is literally nuking those who believe differently than him.
I've watched people on Facebook "defriend" and block those whom they considered friends, because they have different views of recent events(It's usually one with a kinder view deleting those with harsher ones)
I spoke to a man who's solution was/is loaded firearms in his home, just in case something happens here. This is a nice man, just scared. I asked another person who has family in Paris, if his family was safe and fortunately they are, even though they live blocks from where so much tragedy took place.
He is one of the nicest people I know, but the look in his eyes when he spoke of recent events was fear and hopelessness. He said; "We are powerless, and there's nothing we can do to protect ourselves".
That look in his eyes has stayed with me for days, and got me thinking of what I can do in the face of so much hatred, fear and violence, how do I protect myself and the ones I love?

I guess, I could have loaded weapons in my house, or I could discriminate against those who believe differently than I do(just in case)... I could panic when I get on the bus, and see someone dressed differently than me, or even be rude and disrespectful to them, because they are somehow "different". I Could do all that and more, and just maybe, I would be safer.

I would not however, still be ME! I would be someone else, a darker crueler version of "me", and that may make me safer, but on the other hand, I don't really believe I would be worth saving. I would have in fact, become part of the cruelty in the world that I am so against. Effectively, the damage to Me, to who I really am, would be far worse in my opinion than any one could do by physically harming me.

So instead, I choose a different path, one that values the essence of who I am, more than the physical person that is me.

I Choose to Love, and Hug with my whole heart, so the people in my world can feel it.
I Choose to show the people in my life how important they are.
I Choose to as much as I can, have a few extra loonies in my pocket, so when the man on the street corner asks for change, I have something to give him.
I Choose to buy an extra jar of peanut butter and drop it in the food bank hamper.
I Choose not to live in fear, but instead to live in kindness.

I make these choices and more, because I know something that the dark forces in the world do not. I know that Kindness and Love Always wins... Even if I'm not around to see it, even if it happens in my Children's life time, or my Grandchildren's..  

And in the end, whether I live to a ripe old age and pass in my sleep, or that's taken from me in some act of violence, "They" will not have won because my essence, my soul, or whatever you choose to call that force within us, will still be intact, it will still be "Me".

And THAT is a trade off that I can live with.

Peace Kiddies 

PS, a kind friend allowed me to use her painting for this entry, you can find more of her work at selfproclaimedmuse.com

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Today, I am most grateful for Family :-)

I've been thinking about family and what it means to me.

It started today with someone saying that they get to spend Thanksgiving Day with their "work family". It totally changed how I saw going to work, which until that moment was more like;"I have to go to work on Thanksgiving", with my mental focus really being on what I would be missing out on by going to work(Mmmm... Turkey hehe).

Thinking along those terms, I became aware and very grateful, for not just my Family, but my Families.

I have my three children, who are my Family, they are the most important three humans in my world. They are amazing and brilliant(fortunately they get their brains from their Mom :-) and awesome. Each of them have made me proud in their own way, and continue to do so. I even have an ex wife, who, while the whole marriage thing may not have worked, gave me these amazing children and will always be family.

I have this incredible girlfriend who practically makes my heart melt every time she smiles.. We've been dating for about 2 1/2 years, but truth be told, she's been family for around 5, and her awesome daughter, who has no real reason to be nice to me, but there it is, she's family too.

There's my extended family.. My Mom, Step-dad, Brother and Sister, and my 4 way cool nieces and nephews. They see me at my best and my worst, and love me anyways, and I am blessed to have each of them in my life.

I have family that I don't see very much, my Father, his wonderful wife, and a step brother with a wonderful wife and awesome kids of his own, and a couple of step brothers out west that I haven't seen in years and years, and yet, they are family.

And yes, I have a work family too. Tracey and Tabitha, Theresa, Linda, Lilly, and now Paula. To be honest, they are the ones I see more than anyone.. They are the ones that hound me until I see a Doctor when I'm sick, who surprise me with my favourite treats, and show kindness whether I'm having a good day or a rough one. They just do so many things to show they care, that of course they are family.

Today while I was thinking about family, I realized, that while I have my "blood family", which no one could ever replace(we only get one Mom for example, no one on earth can replace that, so treat her right :-), family can also be all those  people in our world, who love us, care about us, and sometimes put our needs in front of their own. When you break it down to it's bare bones.. Family is Love.

So for everyone of you who are my family, blood or otherwise, Today, I am most grateful for YOU!! 
I may not have a lot of money, but I am indeed a rich man, and you my Family and Friends who are Family are the treasure that makes it so.

Peace Kiddies, and Thank You :-)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Happy Pride week Kiddies :-)

Pride week is almost here in London Ontario.. With that will come celebrations in the form of art, music and of course a big parade. Inevitably there will be grumblings about... "Why don't I get a week for "straight pride". To which I usually reply, "Oh because we have struggled so far to win "Straight Equality"?"..
Maybe if it was called something different, people might not question it as much... What if it were called; "Courage to Be LGBT" Week? Because that's really what we are talking about here... Just plain courage. 

I remember when I was a kid, hearing of a gay man, who was hung to death in Florida, for no other reason than his sexual orientation.
I decided to ask the keeper of the sum total of knowledge for the human race(AKA: Google)...  When the last time someone was killed just for being Gay.... I thought I would have to go back a bit to find someone... Turns out, I only had to search to April of 2015(That's right... THIS SPRING!!!) His name was Ron Lane, His big sin? He approached someone thinking they were gay as well... He was not and Mr. Lane paid for that error with his life.

In 2011, 20% of all violent crimes(U.S. Stat) were hate crimes against LGBT individuals. 

Until Yesterday, when I did my research, I really believed that for the most part, the violence was behind us... Not so, Not even a little bit.

Most of us, will never know the fear of having to get on with our day, going to work or play, leaving the safety of our homes, not knowing if today is a day when we will run across someone who is intolerant and violent.(And before I'm corrected, I am aware that people of different races can experience the same bigotry). 

That being said... It does take pride to celebrate who you are and courage? Courage like most of us will never need, to come out together in camaraderie and Brother/Sisterhood and CELEBRATE! To Stand together and say collectively.. We Are Not Going Away, and We Will NOT change... We Love who we are!!"

There is so much to celebrate this year, and let's do just that. Let's celebrate, let's sing and dance, let's hug.. and Let's rejoice that things are just a little less scary than they were last year.. Let's Hope that next year will be less scary still.

And to my LGBT Brother and Sisters...  Shine On!!!!  And have an Awesome(and so richly deserved) week!!!!

Peace Kiddies :-D

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I have an opinion

I have an opinion. Sure, that might not be "Stop the Presses" news, but it is mine. I formed it with information I have recently seen, mixed with thoughts that I have formed throughout my life time. The way I grew up affects that opinion, the Church I have always gone to is a factor in it, plus 100's of other factors that I'm not even thinking about.

The fact that I have this opinion is really not that interesting at all. What is interesting is how others might judge me because of it. Actually, my "opinions" are the very least of me... and on the 1-10 scale of importance rates somewhere in the -7 range.

The reason that opinion isn't important is because it is not action, it is just a thought, one that I might choose to share or not.

In my day to day life, I work in a nursing home with people with Dementia. I do what I can to make their days better. I have mopped the brow of a sick person, I have held someones hand and sang softly to them, as they passed from this life to the next. I have 3 wonderful children, an Amazing Girlfriend that I love who also has a daughter that I would be honoured if she were one of my own.
I have bought lunches for random homeless people who needed a meal. Given money to charities and volunteered with high risk youth.

If you knew me, you might even like me... However, if my opinion was different from yours, it is quite possible that it would nullify any positive feelings you may have had about me.

It makes me ask myself, why are we so threatened by different thoughts and beliefs? The thing is, opinions change, all the time.

I know this Man, and have for most of my life. His opinions about most of the things I find important, are the exact opposite if mine. He is quite vocal about his opinions... And if I only told you what those were, you might not like him...
However, this same man is one who is always looking for opportunities to help his fellow human(or animal). Last summer when strong winds knocked a tree over blocking my Dad's entrance, This Man, was the first one there... In fact, I think maybe the only one. He spent his day cutting up and removing that tree, so an old man(my Dad) could come and go and he wished.
I can't even count the times I know of where he has gone to help someone in need. Always with the same smile, warm hand shake and a friendliness you can't help but feel.

He is one of the kindest people I know, And our opinions on many things are polar opposites.  

We are in this amazing time in history, there are so many wonderful and long over due changes that are finally happening and it's great. However, everyone will not feel that way. There are bound to be many thoughts, and many opinions.

Here's the thing though, Just because someone disagrees with us on different issues doesn't make them a bad person. In fact, who knows how their opinion(or ours) will change in the coming days months or years? But if we react to that opinion with unkindness and venom, if we nullify their "goodness" in our minds because they feel differently than we do. Then, doesn't that make us the bad person? 

Just something to think about.

Peace Kiddies 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

More Unsung Heroes

Working in a nursing home, I get to meet all sorts of cool and interesting people.
For the purpose of this entry, I'm going to classify, the folks that live there.

-There's a lot of really nice people, who have pretty much been abandoned there in Long Term Care living.
-There's those with "Special occasion" families.. They come Christmas, Easter and Birthdays.
-And for the very, very select few... They have significant others who are there for them still, every day. 

These Men and Women are my Unsung Heroes for today.

There's the Doctor who comes in 3 or 4 times a week to feed his wife who has Dementia. After dinner he takes her out of the dining room, sits holding her hand and talks to her.. Even though she can't reply and likely doesn't understand him.

There's the Man who comes in every day at 3, takes his wife for a stroll in her wheelchair, feeds her dinner then they watch TV together until he goes home around 8ish... She also has dementia and probably has no idea what is going on, but he does it anyways.

Last on this very incomplete list is a woman who used to come in every evening to spend it with her Husband. I worked on that floor for 3 or 4 years, and she was always there every evening, until he passed away.

I'm not criticizing families who don't have that kind of time, or have things in their lives that prevent them from being there as much as they'd like. 
I am however, celebrating those few who do what they need to do to be with the person they love.

I was talking to someone once who resented one of my "Unsung Heroes", for doing what they do, because they didn't have anyone like that.

My thoughts and what I told them is this. It's true that most of us will never have anything resembling someone who cares that much about us. But we can still appreciate and admire it when we see it elsewhere, just like a sunset or the scent of spring in the air. I've never owned an ocean, but I can still admire it's beauty.

So to these, and the many other Unsung Heroes who visit their Husbands, Wives, Parents and Grandparents (and in a few cases, Children), and still insist on being part of their lives... 

Thank You for your quiet Awesomeness, You are an example to the rest of us. :-)

Peace Kiddies 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Unsung Heroes

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. If I asked the average person who their heroes were, they would likely regale me with names of Athletes, maybe some movie stars...Followed by Solders, Police, Fire and Ambulance and others who keep us safe and free(Yes, I know it should be the other way around). 

Today though, I was reminded that there are some Heroes, that just don't get the recognition they deserve..  So this is me, getting the ball rolling. There will be no names, but they will know who they are :-)

My Heroes today are;

The Young Person, who had so much anxiety about finding a job, that they would actually feel ill just dropping off Resume's... But tonight, worked their very first shift, on their very first job. You! Are my Hero.

Another Person, who last year spent so much time in the hospital for an eating disorder, but now has a job, has been accepted at school, and is doing great.  You! Are my Hero.

How about the One who, even though, deals with anxiety, and almost constant physical pain, still chooses to focus on others, whether it's feeding the homeless, helping those in times of grief, or advocating for proper resources for mental health.  You! Are my Hero.

One More;

The person who has dealt for years with depression and anxiety that Doctors have so far been unsuccessful in treating. Yet, they get up every day and go to work. They They take care of their family. They may now and then give up for a day, but the next day, they get back at it. You! Are my Hero.

The fact is, we all know "Unsung Heroes", but unlike the celebs or the Guys and Gals in uniform, most of them we don't recognize. However, if we think of the ones we are aware of, it gives a bit of a picture of how many are out there.  

They are an example of perseverance, of courage, and an unbeatable spirit, And courage, my friends, is courage. Whether it's walking onto the battle field, or walking into a burning building, or taking those first steps out of bed in the morning, when you are so scared and want more than anything to hide under the covers... 

They say; "The Answer starts with me"... So I'm going to start to make my Heroes Unsung no longer.. But wouldn't it be cool, if the answer started with you too :-D

Peace Kiddies 

Friday, February 13, 2015

How a Piece of Chocolate Cake Made My Day

Life in Average Joe land has been pretty interesting lately....Like everyone else, it's had it's ups and downs. Today however, was a day off of work and there were plans for Pj's and Netflix with my Awesome daughter... Not quite what happened though. It started with  a bank error that required me to trade my warm home and Pj's for my grown up clothes and cold bus ride to the bank. Which truly was almost the perfect ending to a week that had me dropping or breaking everything I touched(a bit of a draw back working in a Nursing Home) and just the day to day stuff that tends to bog us down. 

How does the chocolate cake come in? We're getting to that. 

After I left the bank, rather stressed but glad everything was resolved, and calling my Daughter, I found myself in my Favourite Cafè, where I spotted the Amazingly decadent chocolate cake pictured above... Now, if you know me... You know, that I don't really eat chocolate cake much... In fact, my lovely girlfriend makes the only one I like, but I was thinking that maybe I'd make an exception for this one. 

I waited in line, behind 2 people.. One man, obviously some kind of professional and  another gentleman who appeared to be as homeless as they come. Guess what he wanted? Chocolate cake, but when he went to pay, he was short a couple of bucks... The cashier was explaining this to him when I signaled to her to just give it to him, and I'd cover it.

I'm not trying to blow my own horn, People do that kind of thing all the time... However what I do want to say is, I felt Great... Not a small thing, because I walked in there grumbly and stressed. One act of kindness changed all that. Sure it made him happy, but it made me feel amazing.

I started wondering why so many pass up opportunities for kindness... I have heard people say that they are too busy, or too stressed, but I would argue that if a person is too busy, it's probably day to day grind stuff and likely isn't anything that will bring a lot of joy(Except if you're too busy tanning on a beach somewhere, then I guess you're excluded from this :-)  Busy and Stressed sucks, I'm sure everyone can agree with that, but what if the cure doesn't come from pills or medicine, what if the cure is simply reaching out and showing kindness to someone who needs it? 

I have always known that I felt better when I do nice things, but I have never fully appreciated until today how huge a mood changer it can be....

The selfless thing to say would be... "Be Kind, The World needs more of that".... But really, now I'm saying... "Be Kind, Do Good, sure the world will benefit, but not nearly as much as you will".

But don't take my word for it. You'll never know for sure until you try...

Peace Kiddies :-)