I’ve been bogged down lately…
…with parenting, housekeeping, animal care taking, cooking, work, and the overall constant arrival of new problems & projects (car troubles, roofing issues, fridge leaks, etc) and social events (birthdays, showers, holidays)! There’s so many obligations and so little time for writing and building this blogging career that I so desperately want to do. And guess what? Business is booming. I’ve already surpassed my 2015 financial goals for this hobby blog.
Do I love it? Almost all of it. I could do without screaming children, dog hair, whiny cats, an aggressive rooster, babysitting troubles, messy kitchens, home & car maintenance… But I wouldn’t want to give up my sweet baby snuggles, tickle times, cat purrs, long country drives delivering mail listening to podcasts, coming home to chickens running to greet me from all areas of my yard, discovering & cooking with new Indian or Thai spice combinations, and watching The Walking Dead or other apocalyptic tv series with the hubby.
I’ve been listening to a ton of educational podcasts at work. I drive for 3-6 hours at a time so I make use of my time and multitask. I would LOVE to drop everything and return to school full time. Learning is simply a passion of mine. Since that’s impossible with an unfathomable amount of student debt and lack of time, I listen to podcasts and audio books that help expand my mind and call it good. I learn while making money! My favorite podcasts are various NPR shows, TED talks, blog support shows, self help shows, and most recently voice lessons. Yes, I started taking voice lessons at work and it’s awesome. I belt out cruscendoing scales, short and long accented scales, and other voice training techniques… Last time, I gave myself a jaw massage while driving. I have yet to receive weird looks! 😉
I even catch myself listening to both deep analyses of national issues like Obamacare and out of the box scientific shows like the history of life on Earth. Did you know that paleontologists are working with other scientists to selectively breed a “chickenasaurus”? A chicken dinosaur. They are pretty sure it will happen super super far into the future.
All of these podcasts trigger a million different thoughts, which is why I’ve felt bogged down lately. I want to write and explore different topics in fuller depths. I’ve felt so overwhelmed lately that I have been keeping my blog posts short and sweet with giveaways, product reviews and recipe creations. Those are definitely important to me, but I also feel extraordinarily better (mentally) when I am able to get my thoughts out of my head and placed on paper… or on the screen. So for this post, I want to briefly touch on some topics that have been lingering in my head over the past few months.
Let’s start with a downer and move on to more positive things later.
I’ve been depressed for essentially my whole life… Not really, but kinda. By depressed, I mean I am just not as resilient to life’s pitfalls as I thought I was. I’ve always been known to set high expectations for myself and it takes awhile for reality to set in long enough to put the hard work into acting out my goals. Parenting makes personal goals harder and pushes them back in importance regardless of how much I want to fulfill the goals. Therefore, I feel depressed often. Sometimes, the depression really sets in and I can go weeks or months waking up feeling hopeless, miserable and just sincerely not knowing how I will be able to combat the day.
That has resulted in me going on and off anti-depressants. I was on mind-numbing, problem-ignoring anti-depressants for over a year. I recently went off them this past summer and am only now starting to feel a bit of leveling from the flood of emotions that hit as the numbing wore off. I’d like to write more about creating positive mindsets, using natural remedies, and dealing with past triggers appropriately to help combat depression. Can I just say that mindfulness is really important when it comes to living peacefully?
I was recently recommended a book called A Shortcut to Success by Bob Huttinga PA-C that actually helps you learn ways to release old, outdated memories that hold you back, clarify your goals, and think correctly for the future. Bob Huttinga is a Physician Assistant and a Certified Natural Health Practitioner in Lakeview, Michigan, whom I actually met with recently for advice on certain health concerns. I intend to write more on that too.
This year, we created our first epic garden that didn’t turn out so epically due to poor soil quality and a lack of organic material. I’ve been focusing on what to add to the soil to boost the quality without purchasing products (cow manure, organic plant fertilizer, etc) from the store. We have plenty of our own sources: dead leaves, pine straw, food scraps, egg shells, chicken manure, sheep manure, and dirtied straw bedding to mix together and create something beautiful! Of course, all this is only thoughts and we have yet to prep our garden for winter. Luckily our compost heap is a baking and mixing properly and our animal manure stock is high, so we are off to a good start!
On top of creating quality soil, I want to learn how to grow everything our family needs to sustain ourselves throughout the year. One day, I’ll become a master gardener volunteer. It’s a big deal. For now, I’m also exploring different organic gardening techniques and tricks (crop rotation, plant companions, homemade fertilizers) to grow more produce without chemicals.
Deeper thoughts. I’ve been wondering if it is even possible to sustain yourself on a vegetarian diet without help from local grocery stores and online sources. Can I grow enough beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables and simply enough nutrients to sustain my family’s health and energy? I’m a member of the Homestead Blogger’s Network and those people are awesome at creating self sufficiency and working with local communities to provide all their needs. I learn so many gardening and home remedy secrets from them and also share some of my own.
But is it even necessary to be self sufficient? I can order specialty spices, herbs, plant-based meat substitutes online. I can go to local stores to find produce and specialty products grown in tropical or different climates than Michigan. If there ever comes a time when I am unable to do that, then yes, it’s beneficial. But right now, we are not living amidst a zombie apocalypse and we have the luxury of choosing the types of food we want to eat. We have the option of buying plant based food from other communities. (I say plant based because we don’t eat meat… and if you are buying meat from a distance, those animals suffered far too much for your pleasure.)
Organic gardening seems to be a more economical and healthier option for our family. This year, we only froze green beans and carrots and ate a handful of fresh snow peas, zucchini, cucumbers, radishes and tomatoes. Every year, we will only get better at gardening. I am slowing sharing our gardening journey as it progresses.
I always need something to obsess about, so instead of moving out of Michigan (which has been on my mind for 9 years and potentially a major cause of my depression), I turned to healthy eating & animal welfare. I’ve always wanted to be a vegetarian and I’ve always been an animal lover so it wasn’t really a conscious decision. It happened naturally after having already started cooking meatless meals occasionally and then watching Food Inc. Bam, no more meat. Easy. No regrets.
Over a year has passed since our family switched to a more plant-based, meatless diet. Since I’ve always worked part time to stay home with the kids, I’ve been our designated in-home chef. And because I research nutrition and experiment with food often, I was the primary decision maker in our family’s diet change. We all ate meat prior to the transition and my husband still eats meat outside of the house occasionally, but overall we have decided to raise our children on vegetarian diets and exclude meat from our house. If our children want to change their diet when they move out, so be it, but the best way to teach is to lead by example.
Also, it is important to note that change is difficult. If you grow up eating meat for 20, 40, 60 years, there is most certaintly going to be some form of difficulty in your transition. My issue was simply “What are we going to cook next?” Others may crave meat, but still want to skip out for moral reasons.
Deeper thoughts. Outside of the general negativity towards vegetarianism, I find myself questioning my pursuit for this cause often. Why should I spread awareness on animal cruelty in our food system when there are children starving around the world? Shouldn’t I care about the suffering of children over the suffering of animals? Is the mere discussion of consuming animals in order to protect their feelings and save them a first world problem? Shouldn’t I be happy by the abundance of meat (…despite how it can be very detrimental to our health and environment)?
I read a really great article a couple days ago called Animal Feeling. It doesn’t really focus on animal feelings but more the philosophy behind why it’s okay to help in one area that’s seemingly less important than another. She says that if we wait until one problem (human starvation & thirst) is eradicated before we move onto something else (vegetarianism), the animal welfare issues will never be addressed because somewhere in the world people will always be starving (corrupt governments, poor harvests, homelessness, etc). It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help people who need food & clean water assistance if you can, it just means that you shouldn’t avoid helping in areas like animal welfare and corrupt food systems if you are passionate about it. All causes are important and interrelated. A prime example would be that if one person cut out meat, it could free up the water needed for 445 people. Don’t even get me started on how much grain farm animals consume. If we ended animal cruelty in the food industry and focused on organic harvests, we could actually donate more food to those starving at significantly cheaper costs.
All my pets have unique personalities. I think it would be fun to share a post of all their personality profiles. Definitely going to do that soon. But to go deeper, I really want to learn more about animal intelligence and their ability to feel pain and emotions. I’ve already read dozens of articles this past year on various farm animal social relationships, emotions and tendencies. Specifically, I want to figure out how to make a non-animal lover see value in a chicken. They aren’t just stupid, brainless beings to abuse because we don’t understand them. Ask any hobby farm chicken owner and they will probably tell you what a joy it is to spend time with chickens. My favorite thing about them is how they like to follow me around like a string of baby ducklings… I’m their mama chicken I guess.
What kind of relationship are humans supposed to have with animals? I’ve listened to a couple podcasts on the human-animal relationship based on culture and religion. It’s interesting how extreme the differences are regarding the treatment of animals between various religions. In my heart, it’s as simple as acknowledging the fact that animals are living beings like us. Humans are animals too. We all want to live and exist without suffering and abuse. Right? Is it my place to end their life just because I can and am apparently higher in intelligence? I don’t think so.