Not so okay veganism

Vegetarians make some people feel uncomfortable.  Vegans make many people feel very uncomfortable.

I’ve had an interesting day.  I’ve turned down work because I don’t feel I can freelance (albeit briefly) for a company that makes its money selling animal products, and I’ve returned a pair of bloody gorgeous shoes, because, well, they are the outcome of a bloody process.

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I’ve also had someone declare I’m a hypocrite because I have leather products in my cupboard.

And I’d agree.  It is hypocritical to refrain from eating all animal products and yet still have a leather belt.  The thing is, for me veganism is a process, and a new one at that.  I’m not about to throw away any animal products I’ve accumulated over the last 15 or so years of consumerism – that  feels entirely wasteful and disrespectful.  I am however going commit to not buying new leather belts and shoes and handbags,  or leather wallets, or cars with leather seats, or any of the other animal-sourced merchandise abounding the world over.

The honest truth is that this is the hardest thing about being a vegan for me.  Not giving up cheesecake and milk chocolate; no, it’s the shopping.  I like shopping. I have a career in fashion and I love clothes.  And shoes.  And watches.  I often get swept away by aesthetics.

The other truth is that as uncomfortable as my dietary choices make people feel, they make me feel a lot more uncomfortable.  It’s hard to discern when enough is enough; whether it’s fair for my omnivore boyfriend not to have meat in the fridge, when worrying about where my food has been grown, where my clothes were made, how heavy my carbon footprint is, and whether my cosmetics (and medication) are tested on animals is going to tip me over the edge and do my head in.  This is often the case.  How do I reconcile my desire for certain things with their potential moral load?

It’s also uncomfortable to make people feel uncomfortable.  Social situations become a minefield and I’m quizzed often and usually to the point of exhaustion about why I eat the way I do.  It’s uncomfortable to know that people are wondering what the hell they are going to feed me at a dinner party and it’s a complete pain in the ass when a coffee shop doesn’t offer soya milk, not to mention the absence of vegan dishes on most restaurant menus.

The crux of the matter is that no-one enters into veganism lightly, and certainly not to make you feel uncomfortable about your own food choices.  Any discomfort is entirely your own.

Body Worlds

Over the weekend I went to Sci-Bono to have a look at the Body Worlds exhibition. It was quite extraordinary – a whole universe within each of us.

There’s a moment of the ick factor knowing the bodies were once real people, and then just pure wonder at the magnificence of the human body, the intricacies of the systems keeping us moving, thinking and feeling, and the importance of ‘using it or losing it’.

I was again reminded of the reasons I practice yoga (which I from time to time forget after practicing pincha mayurasana again and again for months on end ;-)).  A strong, flexible body (and a strong, flexible mind) will go a long way to easing the path to old age.

I’m finding getting older quite a tough thing to deal with, an adjusting and readjusting of my sense of self.  The twenties are filled with feelings of immortality, brazen youthfulness and incomprehension of years passing and the body changing … until suddenly you notice a wrinkle that doesn’t unwrinkle.

It’s such a small portion of our lives that we spend young.  Here’s hoping though that with the help of yoga, I’ll spend a large portion of my life feeling youthful.

 

Body Worlds

Detox/retox February!

I’ve been detoxing for the last two weeks.  It was actually really manageable (read: I wasn’t hungry and didn’t feel deprived or even a little bit sad).  I did however spend an inordinate time in the kitchen cooking and washing dishes, feeling like a much less sexy version of Nigella.  I’d suggest the broccoli soup, lentil and sweet potato stew, broccoli and chickpea salad, oat and banana pancakes, and insist upon the blueberry and mint smoothie and mango and tahini smoothie.  Delight.

My chocolate and caffeine cravings didn’t really abate though and I do find a very early morning practice a thing of wonder when I’ve got a shot of espresso in me.  Hello focus.  Hello energy.  Hello prana.  So, you could say that I’m re-toxing (and this guy is in my kitchen’s future).

2013 has so far been a whirlwind – new job, new adventures, a feeling of things falling into place (and a whole new life in a matter of days!) – and my ever present anxiety kept at arm’s length, despite some considerable change and stress.  My ball juggling skills are at an all time high (and my to do lists at an all time extreme length), but my goals to keep some perspective and not think too far into the future seem to be mostly intact.

Deep breathing.

Blueberry/avo/mint smoothie

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Summer loving

There’s very little that beats a proper beach holiday, especially one spent with your family on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast.  My childhood was spent in Natal – the Drakensberg, Ballito, Southbroom – and there’s something about those long, steamily lethargic days, palm trees, breezy sugar cane, occasional shoes and a wide assortment of creepy-crawlies that makes for a true mind/body break.

After the yoga/sea swimming/pool swimming/book reading/afternoon napping routine I established, I feel like I might have a handle on 2013.  The overarching theme of my 2012 was ‘anxiety’, deeply coloured chartreuse.

2013 will be light, easy and the colour of drizzly Zinkwazi sunsets – stimulating, diverse work, health, love, a lot of humour and perspective, continuing bravery, some exotic travel, and steady, seamless flow. I’m ready.

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Don’t let the door hit you on the way out

2012.  Not my favourite year.  Not many people’s favourite year.  Roll on 2013.

I enjoyed 2011.  It was tumultuous, but I felt like I came into my own, discovered myself again, got a little braver and faced up to some loss.

2012 was a slog.  I feel like I had to face ALL of my stuff, ALL of the time, backed up by a voracious pace of months speeding by, deadlines to meet, events to attend, hearts to mend and self analysis to see to.

In terms of the ‘wasn’t all bad’, I did finally stand up from backbends and drop back by myself (buoyed up by some heady love hormones which kicked the Jaws theme tune I’d been hearing for months in the teeth), buy a Gregor Jenkin table (which makes my eyes glad), see Scandinavia, practice with David Swenson and Laruga Glaser, and have many moments of happiness with my many dazzling, funny and wonderful friends, including getting lost at OppiKoppi for 7 hours and sleeping in a drunk stranger’s tent (which was a frozen, dusty hell at the time, but hilarious in hindsight).

I also then had to face some startling disappointments, deal with some overwhelming anxiety and contemplate depression (and my various feelings about being “depressed”) for the first time in many years. Some boredom-induced creative block, and some information overload and what must be over-stimulation ADHD, left me high and dry and unable to write, with just a deep down rage on the simmer.

I’ve also become extremely time sensitive with age – when I was in my 20′s months would pass with me feeling love sick and heartbroken.  Now I feel like there is no time to waste being sad … that doesn’t mean though that I’m not sad – I’m just more aware of time passing, days disappearing, with me feeling bereft in the ‘prime of my life’.  Added to this I’ve also become more aware of my body changing as I head into my 30′s, triggering more feelings of clocks ticking time away.  Tick tock.

In closing I’m hoping the Mayans were right.  Bring on a consciousness shift.

 

Ashtanga bootcamp

I’m aware of the oxymoron.

But still.  The month of July sees my once-weekly ashtanga students challenged to a month of a dedicated (6 days a week, less moon days) ashtanga practice.  And because they are competitive, achiever types, a ‘bootcamp’ challenge seemed like the right thing to do to get the end result of a committed self-practice … Machiavellian yoga?

Okay, and it’s a little about me too.  It’s winter: cold and dark.  I needed some motivation to get up in the morning.  And a daily adjustment in supta vajrasana.  

They’re half way.  And it’s amazing to watch as the layers begin to peel back … falling down the ashtanga rabbit hole :)

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Things I learnt this week

  • Jo Malone Wild Fig and Cassis is flipping intoxicating.  I’d jump straight into bed with me if I could.  Really.
  • I have my backbends, but now I’m terrified of losing them.  Like really scared that I just won’t know how to stand up or drop back any more.  Poof!
  • Yoga leaves no room for wool-pulling over my own eyes.  I’ve had an anxious, distracted week and that anxiety and distraction has not dissipated while hanging out in kapotasana … in fact, it’s heightened to the point where I’m in child, on my mat, wondering how on earth I’m ever going to get up.  Through yoga I’ve become so aware of where my emotions sit in my body – twitching feet, aching nausea, restless tossing and turning at night, and gnawing anxiety in my belly.  Yoga forces me to deal with everything I feel, immediately … sometimes I’d rather eat a slab of chocolate and drink alcohol, but mostly I’m glad that I cannot duck and dive facing my stuff.
  • There’s nothing like family to make you examine your beliefs, prejudices and issues.
  • There’s also nothing like a pretty, waif-like blonde, studying mathematics masters (and getting 100% for all her exams) to make you question your own judgemental jumped-to conclusions.
  • Tea solves many problems.

And finally, some Easter humour:

Hello weekend.

xx

Coming down

I’m very keen on long weekends.  I look forward to them for months.  And then I get a Friday and a Monday off and I sink into putty-like depression.  It’s the being thrown right out of routine that does it I think.  And perhaps the sugar overload.  And red wine drinking.

Easter was spent on a lovely farm in Dullstroom, eating, drinking and talking myself into a state of shut-down.

On the plus side, the pomegranate rice dish I made was delicious and had meat-eaters queuing up for seconds.

Now just to get back into my work week.  I think I need an evening ashtanga practice and this:

Looks delectable right?  Find the recipe here.

Fast and furious (kind of)

It’s funny how a fast works.  Day 1 is easy peasy.  Day 2 is hell.  And day 3 is still pretty hellish, but manageable.  And on all 3 days your relationship with food, and thus your body, is exposed.  It’s a highly uncomfortable process.

I’ve just finished a 3 day juice fast.  Today I break the fast, and let me tell you, breaking a fast is about as interesting as being on a fast.  It’s hard to decide what I feel like eating – the past three days I’ve wanted tea and biscuits … a lot.  But now I’m not sure what the hell I feel like eating.  My stomach feels tender and everything I place in my mouth is contemplated; which I guess is the point. 

I also am very much aware of how I distract myself from myself with food; how food is both a reward and punishment when I’m feeling miserable, and a trip to the kitchen cupboard is a nice way of circumventing painful and/or stressful thoughts. 

Since a teenager I’ve had a complicated relationship with food (pretty much the status quo for every woman in the world).  It’s certainly become less complicated the older I’ve become, the more therapeutic processes I’ve committed to, and the more yoga I’ve practiced.  But drinking juice three times a day and nothing else (except water) is one way to bring yourself face-to-face with your food desires and cravings,  and how you are feeling when you have them (and how you feel when all you can have is a cucumber, carrot, celery, ginger and apple juice … not happy is the answer!).

It’s also a good way to really appreciate the effect food has on the body.  My practice this week while fasting has varied from elated, to dismal, light and fantastic, to light-headed and weak.  And so as I slowly start adding variety, whole-foods and protein back into my diet, I’m going to watch what happens to my morning practices.  What we eat is so very many things – comfort, culture, social connection, reward, desire, loneliness, heartache – but mainly its fundamental to how we operate in the world, and the quality of our experience therein. 

Fuel, plain and simple.  But then there’s nothing plain and simple ever, is there?

These two blogs make my foodie, fast-breaking day.  Enjoy.

Thanks for coming November

This has been a week I’d rather forget (and believe me, I’m all about seeing patterns and learning from them, etc, etc, but damn the last 7 days have kicked my ass!).  In fact November (I usually love November as it’s my birthday month and indicates all sorts of much anticipated things like summer holidays, beaches, sea swimming and sleeping in late), has been a month from hell.  Really.  November 2011 almost had me in the ground (or at least on some serious coping medication).

And the last weekend in November pulled out all the stops and said: “Hey, bitch, you are 30 and awesome and everything, but for fuck sakes can you please sort your shit out!”  Take three ex-boyfriends, one foot-in-mouth friend, too much wine, some insane blasts from the past, a long-desired unrequited flame, a bad case of an inability to say ‘no’ and some wild hormones, and you have the following:

  • Exhaustion on a very basic level (and finally making some decisions because something had to give)
  • A realisation that even when money is good, toxic work environments contaminate your soul (and may led to homicide)
  • Ex-boyfriends arriving in your space literally one behind the other is something to take note of.  Some represent a youthful love that has a special place in your heat always, but is so very far removed from who you are now; some represent something you’ve always wanted, never had, and on reflection may not want at all anymore; and some just leave a bitter-sweet taste in your mouth and a desire to shake your head and shout “Really?! Really?!”. 
  • Being on The Pill is not a joke and the beginning of that journey shouldn’t be taken lightly, because: goodbye contraceptive pill, hello mad moods and a body in turmoil. 
  • When I am unable to practice every morning, I need to reassess.  When I am hating practicing, my body hurts all over and I keep hitting snooze, taking a few days off is ok.
  • Thank God for the lightness of retail (thank you Anthropologie):