Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.
Judy Garland (1922 -1969)
Looking back over what I have written recently, I think I come over somewhat self-assured and almost a little smug.
I must emphasise right here and now, I am NOT smug(!) and really hope I don’t come across as such. I have read blogs in which the authors really do seem to have near perfect lives! Lovely Families, Great Kids, Wonderful Friends, and to top it all, plenty of time(!) but my life is certainly not that content or pleasant on a daily basis. I hope this blog will document my reality in a way that is authentic and truthful. If I cannot write with authenticity, I am not recording a true record of my journey. I want to write honestly and if I ever come across as smug, then I am not doing that!
Although I am lucky enough to have fantastic family and friends, there is no way that life is fabulous and Problem Free, Far from it! Even with a great support network, things just don’t work out that way, well, not for me anyway! My transient journey through this world takes me through many landscapes, not all of them easily to navigate, and just when I think I have found myself, something appears on the horizon and challenges me to take a slight turn of direction!
I talk a good talk, and hopefully write in a way that is understandable and emphasises my Passions, but in no way am I the ever Compassionate, Always Kind, unmaterialistic person I wish I could spend my days being!
About all you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you. Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won’t like you at all.
Rita Mae Brown
I am frequently Moody and Difficult! I quite often feel unwell and I regularly feel very antisocial! I am not the Glowing picture of Health that seems to be the representation of Vegans who I see interviewed in magazines or blogs! I eat a healthy balanced Vegan diet, jog regularly and get plenty of fresh air but I struggle with low mood, frequent physical health complaints and PMS like you wouldn’t believe! I read so many interviews where people who have switched to a plant based diet extol the virtues of their lifestyle because they have never felt healthier, never get ill, their skin glows and they’ve never looked so good! None of that relates to me! I Love being Vegan, I wear that badge with pride, but it certainly hasn’t rid me of all my health issues!
And I do like ebay FAR too much! Browsing 2nd hand shops for Unusual & Vintage Clothes is not just a hobby, it is an obsession! I don’t NEED any more clothes but I just can’t help myself! When we need items or furniture for the house, I always seem to veer towards the more expensive products! Yes, it’s that consumerism and materialism that I hate and talked about in Finding A Way through the Darkness that I all too willingly enter into when it comes to how I present myself! I feel it is a rather despicable and greedy aspect of my personality. But I am aware of it and do acknowledge it and I am slowly changing. Perhaps I can write about this challenge to change this part of me as I continue this blog!
So, yes, thank Goodness for my Understanding Family and Friends. They have not only travelled my Vegan journey with me, they put up with all my unlikeable traits and it is probably testament to how Solid and Strong our relationships are, that I am still in their lives and vice versa.
There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.
Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)
Far from other people being defensive when I advocated veganism as a lifestyle choice, when I first became Vegan, it was me who was on the defensive all the time! Always feeling as if I had to defend my choices! This made me quite introverted and rather sullen and probably not particularly pleasurable to be around! I assumed that people, friends, family were unwilling to listen to me and saw them as the enemy, apathetic and selfish. I felt unsupported and disillusioned. Of course I know now, that they were willing to listen but they didn’t want to be dictated to or given all the gory facts by the radical fanatic that I had turned into! Their systematic and intensive social conditioning was deeply ingrained and not easy for them to challenge. I didn’t understand that at the time, I assumed that once given the facts and figures from someone they knew and trusted, they would automatically want to make changes. They didn’t and I felt alienated from them.
What is real Endures, it is as true of Friendship, as other kinds of Love.
I sought out like minded Friends by joining Facebook and local activist groups. I wanted to be with people who shared my Values and Understood how I felt. However, although I did meet many “Virtual” Friends and a few “real” people, I soon realised that Facebook was not a healthy medium for me. Looking at distressing pictures and entering into endless conversation with strong minded people did my emotional health no good at all. I actually became ill and ended my relationship with Facebook! I did, however meet some real Like Minded Friends whom were a real source of support and advice in those early days and are still in my life. One Friend in particular has become, as my teenage daughter would say, my Newest Best Friend! With Kay, I run our local Animal Aid stalls and library display and it is Kay who I email and text when I am in the doldrums about life! I can always call on any of my Friends when I feel like this but it is only Kay who truly understands WHY I feel the way I do.
Make new Friends but keep the old, those are silver, these are gold.
As I have become more comfortable and confident in my Vegan skin, so I have become so much more relaxed and accepting of the differing attitudes and beliefs of Friends and Family and they too are also so much more accepting of me now that I am no longer on the defensive. I have no need to be. My Friends and Family are compassionate (as are most humans) and do listen. People listen to and learn more from ideas that reaffirm their existing views.
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.
My Values shape every aspect of my life and they determine how I behave and what I practise. Living the values that encompass a Vegan Lifestyle is what I strive to do every day, and although I DO live a Vegan lifestyle in as far as my diet, what I wear, what toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning materials I use, I cannot admit to always feeling, or being completely selfless towards my fellow human beings! But although I don’t always get it right, Compassion is what drives me and after so much time of being bitter and defensive, I have at long last, become conscious of the need to extend that compassion and understanding to my Friends and Family; to let go of the resentment that was threatening to engulf me; and to recognise that each and every person is a unique product of their own life experience, but that underpinning their deeper consciousness there is, for most humans, compassion, kindness and a desire for peace. Most people love animals and would not want to be part of a system that treats those animals with such cruelty. Referring to that animal connection can engage people and get them to open their hearts and minds to reason.
Being kind, free of all expectation is the language of True Love.
It is more difficult to talk to people, including, perhaps especially, Friends and Family about the needlessness of Animal Experimentation. This is a subject that needs a lot more in depth understanding and knowledge before people are willing to challenge the status quo. But I will talk about that in another post.
As I talked about in my last post, our values shape the way we treat each other and the world we live in. We share them with others and become better people as we learn to be more understanding of one another. I described how my meat eating friend of 53 years is now beginning to think more carefully about what she consumes and how it affects her health and I know this is a direct result of the time we have spent together. It isn’t hard to make decisions when you know what your Values are. In return she has shared her values of patience and courage and helped me to find and work at those virtues within myself.
Life isn’t about Finding yourself. Life is about Creating yourself.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)
Today I appreciate what I have. Life is full of ups and downs and we are facing challenges every day. It is how we approach and deal with those issues that determines whether they have a positive or negative impact on our lives. The difference in me now, to back then is that I don’t react to those who believe a vegan lifestyle is pointless or that a Vegan Diet is Harmful. Instead I harness that frustration into being pro-active in promoting my reasons for being Vegan and I recognise my successes rather than my failures!
As we All know in the Animal Rights Movement, Negatives may outweigh the Positives; Failure may outnumber the Successes; But we recognise that things are changing and by building on that Momentum, we can Pull Together for Greater, More Powerful Change among our closest social circle, Our wider Society and Our Global Community!
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
Mother Teresa (1910 -1997)