Why are we defined by food?

I am not a vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, omnivore, fruititarian, ovo vegetarian or paleon. I do not do ‘diets.’

I do not define myself solely based on what I eat and I find it odd that people appear confused when I order a vegetarian or vegan meal. It does not fail that when I order food (because I do not order meat dishes when I eat out) that I am asked ‘oh are you a vegan/vegetarian?’ The question I can sometimes understand if the chef wants to be extra sure the meal is prepared properly, perhaps. However, people seem slightly confused when I tell them I’m not, but I enjoy vegan meals.

Overall, I have only ate land animal meat about 3 times in the past 5 weeks, I eat lots of fish. I much prefer to not eat meat, I enjoy a diet high in plant based foods, I also can live without dairy. I do not go to the extreme for myself and label myself with any food type eating label.

My husband and I have had a few conversations lately about vegan diets and why those who are vegan are so passionate about it and when it’s discussed or advertised at booths there is such a push to ‘go vegan.’ For some people it is a true passion for them, which is amazing; however, I think the huge push and need to label a person based on what they eat can put a wall between themselves and those who eat differently from them. Those who eat meat regularly, in my experience, become defensive or cannot phathom the idea of living without meat. I often here the exact words ‘I could not live without meat.’

I mean, really, people could live without meat. Psychologically, the ‘need’ for meat is actually the need for protein. Our bodies crave certain nutrients, we need water, fiber, protein (I won’t go into lengthy specifics.) And our brains associate that need with the foods it knows.

My goal with food is to nourish my body while enjoying what I eat; while also always remaining aware that food serves a purpose and that that purpose is not solely pleasure. In our house we also tailor our meals to a variety of food preference. My middle son, age 9, does identify as a pescatarian as he loves animals and wants to become a marine veterinarian and save and take care of animals. He is also 9….. It has been 9 months since he has decided to eat pescatarian and in that time he has ate chicken maybe once a month or less. We tell him it is ok, we tell him he can still try things or when food choices are limited it’s ok to eat a lean protein source to balance his blood sugar…which is so crucial to anyone, especially kids. We don’t want him to feel like he failed because he nourished his body. Our youngest has severe acid reflux which means certain foods are limited, if I categorize what I eat, it would most align with a mediteranian diet, and my husband and oldest enjoy eating meat. That means we eat a lot of vegetarian or vegan based meals. Or cook several types of protein each night or allow our kids to feed themselves a nutritional dinner as they would pack a lunch for school.

Being open to a variety of food choices has expanded our palates, our food experiences, has drastically reduced the amount of meat as a household that we consume, slimmed our grocery bill and our bodies are healthier for it. I no longer crave meat and my husband craves it much less.

I think more people would be open to trying new things if they were not tied so tightly to a label. I also wish their was more focus on not even the portions of each food type our bodies need as the USDA so strongly advertises (I will say it has gotten better; however still specifies foods based on certain food type preferences) but the nutrients themselves and why. Along with educating people what foods meet each nutritional need.

Finding a balance between nutrition, food and what our current habits are is huge if people are wanting to make a change for any reason. And that does not have to mean going all in or making no change at all.

Advertisements

Expectations…..

I am not sure what adulting and parenting is supposed to really look like, what is ‘normal’ or should be expected, if it’s normal to feel joy and devastation within a 30 second time frame, to feel defeated by kids one day and the next day feeling like super mom….. all while getting 20 minutes away from bedtime to have the ‘super mom’ feeling deflated. Not a pinhole in a balloon deflated, a fork stabbed in a balloon deflated.

Recently I had a day that I did the full blown working mom role, up early, 30 minutes of yoga, made myself a clean breakfast, got ready for work, kids ready for school, off to work early, a full day of work, while running home for lunch to let the puppy out, then running to the store, grabbing kids on the way home, finally getting home at six, making s’more party mix for school birthday treats, shark jello (gummy sharks in blue jello, pretty big deal in this house since the kids never get gummy treats) made a batch of pierogi for ‘childhood favorite food’ Friday potluck at work, load of laundry……. kids to bed.  I loved my day, it was fun, good, accomplished. But then I wonder why I feel so quickly emotionally defeated the moment one little thing goes wrong.

I’m pretty sure it’s normal for many things to not go as planned when you have kids. But, as it turns out, I do not handle that well and I do not handle misbehavior well (not even misbehavior, just kids not being adults, because…. they are not adults), some days I feel like I could go from feeling ecstatic, happy and calm to ready to cry within a matter of seconds.  I can’t really pinpoint when things got to this point, but I feel it came somewhere along the way that my expectations got increasingly high. I have noticed that overall I am a happier, nicer mom since we have made huge life choices; ridding myself of emotional exhaustion and negative influences has been a life changer, but our life changes also come with higher expectations.

What I do handle well is control, I love control… and success. I love being at work and being accomplished at home and having everything done just as I like it to be, on my schedule, so that I can enjoy my kids without having everything else hovering over me. The problem is that it is just not realistic all the time. I know this, I know that my expectations bring disappointment onto myself. And I know that when I’m so stressed and spending my time cleaning and more cleaning rather than playing with my kids or just ‘letting it go’ I am missing opportunities.

The disappointment that comes from expectations is the downside.

Their are however, benefits to expectations. Expectations hold my boys accountable, teach them responsibility and help them to set standards that will help them through school and life. Expectations keep me on my toes, I thrive on goals, standards and accomplishments. Without expectations, ‘accomplishments’ would be merely moments, with less significance, celebrations or feelings of conquer.  Expectations give me standards for my life, for what I am willing to sacrifice and for what value I hold in myself.

It takes balance to gain from expectations without letting expectations wear us down or leading to disappointment. A balance I am working on so that they can continue to help my family to thrive.

 

Looking Inward

pexels-photo-235310.jpeg

I wonder how often people look at themselves, not simply in a mirror, at their achievements or what they’ve acquired. Actually, inward, at their beliefs, at their actions, thoughts, personality, character….. I’ve had a post sitting unpublished for about a week now, while in re-reading it I haven’t wanted to publish it. Events that have happened over the past few weeks have led me to reflect and look inward.

What do my writings say about me, what do my words show those around me, what influence am I having on people and what influence do people have on me. A few months ago I was asked why I was seeking a new job opportunity and I was told I gave one of the most thought out responses, which incorporated the thought I put into my goals, my kids, my family, my emotional well being. Over the past several years I have reflected on how my job influenced me and affected my emotional health, which influenced my relationships and my parenting abilities.

Now, where and what do I have left to reflect on? Me, my personality. I have been thinking why do I have the personality and characteristics that I have? What influences me, what am I surrounding myself with?

I have realized down to the words I say how influenced I can be by those around me. I realize how important it is to surround myself with people who will bring out the qualities in myself I most enjoy, the qualities my kids need and the qualities that bring other joy. I don’t like how easily I can be influenced by others. I’m not sure if it’s being easy going, just going with the flow, if it is that I don’t have the confidence in myself that I think I do or thought I did or if I am too much of a people pleaser.

It has been a year since my last ‘one word.’ The one word that started my writing, ‘radiate.’ I am not sure how well I did with that for each of the 365 days. I do know I made a lot of positive changes over the past year and I have more yet to go. I think my ‘one word’ this year will be ‘gentleness.’ My goal is to react with gentleness with my kids, husband and all those around me. To speak with calmness, patience and sincerity. Looking inward, I want to focus on my family, faith and health.

#myoneword ~ Gentleness

To want…

‘It is permissible to want’ ~ David Foster Wallace

pexels-photo-246521.jpeg

I picked up a book today, ‘If You Left’ and following the dedication to her husband, read the quote ‘it is permissible to want’ ~David Foster Wallace.
To ‘want’ it seems can be quite controversial. What one wants another may find trivial. What one finds trivial another may find a luxury, a blessing, valuable.  What one believes they should want or not want can be based on religion, what they feel they deserve or don’t deserve.  It may be based on their likes and dislikes or trying to fit into what they think they should like or dislike.
Some feel guilt over having nice things when others struggle for the basics. Some define their success on their ‘wants’ and the conquering to achieve and acquire those. Some want, but never achieve it. Each person may want to fill different voids, to validate a feeling, emotion, to compensate, to help others, for success, for pleasure. Some may value work over leisure activities to obtain what they want; while others may long for what they want and sacrifice their own wants for their kids, for their family.
It is not often I hear a quote, phrase or word that stands out to me. This quote did, instantly I liked it. I liked it because I have gotten to a time in my life that I am confident in what I want, sometimes that means sacrifice, sometimes that means forming my own beliefs from what I was taught, sometimes that means re-prioritizing how I spend my days, moving my family, switching jobs, evaluating what I am surrounding myself with. To achieve the things I want I know I need to surround myself with the environment to foster my wants, the people I am around, my surroundings, the attitudes, the vibe, the atmosphere. My personality naturally feeds off others. I can say that I have experienced that ‘negativity feeds negativity.’ I have focused the past few months on molding my life to foster what I want, for me, for us, for them.
It is permissible to want and I fully intent to enjoy it….

Some pursue happiness; you create it.

Some pursue happiness; you create it.

Fortune cookies sometimes have pretty good insight. As I read this one I could quickly say this is true for me. People complain about not following through with their resolutions, being unhappy in general, or searching for happiness. Making and searching for happiness are two very different things. Searching for it is longing for something that may never come. Making it happen is taking life into your own hands. 

Reading this I was especially reflecting on this past year as we were eating Chinese on New Year’s Eve. My husband and I have both noted that this past year was great for us. I think it has been the first year in our lives where we have fully taken every situation and made it what we wanted it to be. Every opportunity, choice, decision, big and small I look at my overall goal and our families core values, that I am sure I have referenced before, ‘comfortable home, education and cultural awareness.’ It has simplified life, if soemthing that comes our way will not promote those things, we chose an alternate path to meet our goals. 

I have never been one for resolutions, which to me probably helps our success. If I am ready to make a change, waiting for one day of the year to do it, will not foster long term results. Making, creating and choosing what fills my life, fosters happiness. 

Reality

Pulling in the driveway to my 50s cozy home, playing games with the kids in front of my fireplace, driving through downtown each day on the way to work, listening to planes fly over at night, waiting for trains, work, homework, dinner, bathes, games and movies and bed…. My daily reality. Some may cringe at the thought of some of those things; I however, smile each time I see downtown, hear a plain, the train whistle. Curled in bed with my husband each night we are so content and happy, yet sometimes it still feels unreal. Most of the time it’s just normal, my daily life, I don’t think about what it used to be, rather I am living in the moment. But there are moments, which are quite frequent, that I still get giddy, filled with a rush of excitement, pride, satisfaction. All at the thought, the reality of my life. 

It is such a freeing feeling to be living my reality, as it was once an image, an image that was more of a what if, something that seemed unreal, that it wouldn’t, rather couldn’t be a reality. The thought of making it happen seemed unrealistic, impossible, up and moving a family of five, jobs, schools, homes. It seemed like we would be stuck… perhaps we would be content, but content can be mundane. I think contentment can eventually lead to an inability to accept change. Or perhaps content is what we tell ourselves to hide the fact that we’re settling. 

I know I am no longer settling. I love feeling relaxed to be in my own home, not trapped, I love having the freedom to experience new things, trying new things. I love that I get excited to spend time with my kids and my husband, that we enjoy each other. That my kids are flourishing and growing….. I love that I am writing to the sound of the train, but yet silence. 

That I am living my reality.

Accepting Insight From Others..

This week I started my new job. Naturally, that brings excitement, in the past nerves, but this time I didn’t really feel that, it brings new energy and motivation, changes, eagerness and determination to succeed. I experienced a whole variety of emotions. The first few days are of course, well first days. You don’t know anybody, awkwardly walk around because it’s not yet “my space,” no clue what is going on really, where things are, what is expected. This for me is not comfortable, I like control… and I like to really know what I’m doing, feel assertive, confident and not only meet, but exceed expectations. In this process, for me, the only way I can describe it is that sometimes my brain hurts, or I feel happy inside, but I am focused and processing so I can come off as unhappy or blah… So I’m told…. I did not realize this as much until my husband pointed it out to me. He said, you are a pretty negative person, it seems like you look for the bad in things. Once again, I am reminded how I have become somebody I don’t want to be and have not always been. I do not dislike my new job, nor have I complained about it, but when I am asked about it I state facts which are well facts. Which does not show how much I am loving my new job. But his comment/observation, caused me to look at myself and determine why I was presenting in one way and feeling another.

This is where all of my feelings listed above come into play, a new job is mixed emotions. I was happy to take this insight and check myself to be sure I am displaying how I am feeling.

At the same time, I think it can be hard for people to accept that we as human beings can have multiple feelings about the same thing.  We can be happy and sad at the same time, we can be excited and still worry and be focused and not jumping for joy.  We can also protect ourselves from disappointment by putting up a little bit of a wall to try to normalize what is going on, to not allow feelings of impulsivity to take over our lives and to gradually ease our way into new situations. Feelings of one extreme or another, non stop can be pretty exhausting.

Another part of me knows that over the years I have become more negative than positive. I believe I have posted about that before, it is a daily struggle, so it seems.  I do feel that I am getting much better with it; at the same time I work hard not to dwell on that fact that I have negative thoughts. Stressing too much over my thoughts and changing them is also exhausting.

So what do I do about it..

I am continuing to focus on living in the present, I am willing to accept insight about myself from others, because their feelings and perceptions, no matter what I believe, are completely valid to them. I value insight from others, more from the people I care about maybe than strangers, but it helps me to be a better person I hope. I wonder how much other people are willing to accept or value insight from others. I feel that chances are if other people are seeing something that you don’t, it is worth taking a look at why. Maybe it’s them, but maybe, we can learn and grow.