Friday, December 16, 2011

Epipheany in Suburbia

When I leave Vegas to come back to Washington state, what I am really doing is re-entering my old life. For those of you who know me at length, you know this is hard for me. It is like trying to put an oval peg into a round hole - doesn't quite fit perfectly (if at all!). As I have grown increasingly self-reflexive this year, I have questioned things about myself such as gender roles and my religious/irreligious faith, but it wasn't until an unplanned T-ball game in the rain with my best friend's child that I had a major break through about the factors that influenced how I arrived at who I am.

It is about 11:30 AM, and I am sitting behind the fence on this cold and rainy day wishing I had remembered to pack warm clothing.  I am watching some of these children trying to pick up bats while others let baseballs roll through their unsuspecting legs.  Moms are in a miniature dugouts while dads are on the fields trying to coach the kids. And lets talk about the dads. There are no middle-aged, over-weight, balding men. Nope. They seem to be handsome, athletically-fit, patient men.  Immediately, my skin begins to crawl, but why? Why had I rejected this life?  Why does the thought of remaining a perpetually single urbanite seem that much more appealing that this?  And then I realized why.

It wasn't that I immediately rejected this life. It was that this life rejected me. Where was my good-looking, Nordstrom-clad husband?  Where was my king crab? Oh, I had a husband in this life but one that I selected based on wanting to fit in with my Christian friends; one who lied directly to my face to get me down to the alter.  He was imitation crab when I wanted to real thing.  But the real thing I never got. There would not be weekend shopping trips to REI or someone bringing me Starbucks in bed. There would not be play-dates, piano lessons, or girl scout meetings to attend.  There was no family to pray with and no partner to help with the dishes. These metro-sexual, Chi-using, well-dressed, good-smelling, professional men didn't want me.  So I decided to reject the rejectors.

I rejected the idea of traditional marriage; the one where my husband is first in command. I rejected motherhood; men can walk away unscathed - well, watch me do it.  I rejected traditional gender norms and fundamental Christian family beliefs.  And when I decided to allow myself to transgress these norms - I finally got to know who I am.   I am a strong, independent woman.  I am a learner. I am someone who is comfortable living outside of the box, on the peripheral from most of my friends.  I am someone who makes my own path.  I am someone who has been rejected by people who I make uncomfortable. Do the things I accomplish remind you of the life you wanted but didn't have the guts to have. I think it does. Easier to push me away then take responsibility for yourself.

I love who I am. It took awhile to get here, and either you love me or you leave. There is no third direction. I had faith in God for this lifestyle I so desperately wanted. God and suburbia decided I wasn't worthy of this life. But some of my friends say "Keep your faith in God. He will provide." Ha. Faith in God, no. Faith in myself, yes. I have provided for me. I have given myself the life I love. My fate is going to be produced by my work not God's flippant will.  Those who rejected me, those who saw an old friend as God's best for their lives and didn't give me a second glance - THANK YOU. You did me a favor. Those of you who will never read this but might hear about it through the grapevine - the same ones that are "relieved and happy" to have been deleted from my life - Thank you for the rejection. It has made me who I am today - one smart, driven, kick-ass girl. In the end, I wouldn't change a thing. I get to do what I love every single day. How many of you can say the same thing?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Recovery

I thought I was going to die. This is the honest truth. You might think I would have chose to prepare for the 5K I ran on the morning of Thanksgiving 2011, but I didn't. I didn't...much. I did purchase proper foot attire and started running around the track on campus but then I discovered spin. I love spinning. Spinning kicks running's ass. It just does.

I did, however, run my race. And I did not die. Surprisingly. I ran my first 5K coming in at 40:11, placing 340th out of 412 and 33rd in my age group. I also decided to sign up for another 5K. Some might say I am a masochist like that.  I just can't help but to want that feeling back; that feeling of accomplishment, of knowing that I can do something I never thought I could do.

  These are my friends and colleagues Anna and Tyler who ran the race with me. We each finished, Anna coming in 1st, Tyler 2nd, and me 3rd. It doesn't matter to me who finished in which order. What matters is that I finished. I had never set a PR before so I figured I was a winner just by showing up.

Onto Dinner! Anna graciously opened her home for our Vegan/Vegetarian Thanksgiving potluck. Below are some of the delicious food we were so thankful for!

 Cranberry, Apple, and Walnut granola Crisp (Above)
 Roasted Harvest Vegetable Couscous (Above)
 Pictured above is Brussel sprouts with Tempeh Bacon and Vegan Stuffing
 Anna's Amazing Avocado salad
 Also pictured here is homemade cranberry sauce and vegan balsamic mashed potatoes.

All in all, it was a wonderful holiday spent with people I love very much. This was my first year engaging in a vegan tradition where I didn't say grace to my invisible sky daddy but rather expressed what I was grateful for to the people I was grateful too. Is there some mystical force to whom I should pay thanks? I don't know. What I do know is that if I spend all day thanking some unseen, improbable force and not engaging with the people who touch my life on a daily basis, how thankful am I really?  So during this holiday weekend, let me take a moment to thank each of you who look at my blog, comment on my blog, and those who will do so in the future.  I <3 you all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Deciding to go Vegan

Most people do not make major lifestyle changes at the age of 34. They just don't. But I did. And even though I am just a few month into this change, I often sit back and wonder "Why didn't I do this sooner?"

Sure, it is convenient to take the easy road - not watching what you eat, not exercising, etc. Who doesn't love to just sit on their asses and eat some Sonic? But that comes at a price, one that is often unseen.

My ten year old daughter lives with her dad. She informed me this summer that she no longer wanted to eat meat. I was not surprised; she really has a heart for loving animals. But...she is a growing kid and needs certain levels of vitamins and nutrients for her development. So, like any good researcher, I went to the Internet. I researched what being a vegetarian would entail and how I can make sure she is getting enough of what she needed. As my summer closed and I went home to Vegas, something surprising started to happen. I began to eat more vegetarian as if to support my daughter from 1,700 miles away. Then as school started up, more and more people in my department - people I respect and consider 'friends' - began eating vegan. I thought that I could never do it because, let's face it, sometime I think cheese and butter are the greatest things man has ever come up with...I mean, after the wheel and fire, of course.

One night I am out to dinner with a few friends. We hit up this place called Bar & Bistro in downtown Las Vegas. Unbeknownst to us, the chef had just released their new vegan menu (which is phenomenal BTW). I didn't eat vegan that night but that was the night I went vegan. We ordered a small vegan dessert to share - a chocolate cake with ice cold rice milk. I don't particularly eat sweets all that often but I took a small bite of cake and a sip of the rice milk, and I was SOLD. I did not realize how yummy non-dairy substitutes could be. In the next days I began exploring other vegan options and found myself loving the alternatives more than I loved what I had been eating all this time. I slowly began transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. Additionally, I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and that cemented my change.   

I am not a vegan out of ideology or for political reasons. Some friends tell me I am not a big 'V' vegan but rather a little 'v' vegan, and I am OK with that. I give myself permission to not eat vegan on occasion, and I still wear leather.  This is about health. This is about me making a change in my life that I should've made a long time ago.

I also began working out. Running, spinning, Pilates, Yoga, and weights.  Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day 2011, before we sit down to our vegan/vegetarian potluck, my friends and I are running a 5K. It is my first one. If there are no subsequent blog posts, assume I died.

All in all, what matters most at the end of the day is that I: (1) LOVE my life; (2) LIVE my life; (3) VALUE those in my life; and (4) HAVE GOTTEN OFF MY ASS TO MAKE A CHANGE. It may not be perfect but it is mine. We only have this one, finite life to live. Live it and love it like there is no tomorrow!