Tread lightly

I don’t often write about my choice to eat a plant based diet on this blog of mine but the concept of treading lightly on this planet has been on my mind for a good while and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you. It probably sounds weird to be writing about this as I’m on amazing travels around Asia but, without many dairy/meat free options here, I’m being challenged daily about my lifestyle choices.

Until recently I used to call myself a vegan. I was proud of this way of life and of being part of a community of people, but I’ve realised that I can’t truly call myself vegan because of some of the choices I’ve made recently. And I’m ok with that.

For example, I re-introduced locally sourced, free range eggs to my diet in the attempt to increase the amount of breastmilk I was creating for my son. I don’t know how much it has helped but after weeks of struggling, I feel like I am now able to provide well and I also feel morally fine about eating the eggs of chickens that are treated well. I don’t eat many eggs, but I won’t refuse to eat them.

And then there was my last minute dash around town to get the final bits for my trip. The realisation that my sandals weren’t going to last me through the journey and a frantic trip around town to get some replacement ones.

I tried on some shoes from the vegetarian shop in town and, although they looked like my usual Birkenstock sandals, I could feel that they’d slice my feet up within minutes and I didn’t have time to get my feet blistered and heal before going away the next day. And so I got a pair of leather Birkenstocks. In that moment walking away from the shop, I felt so wrong and I still do today. I feel like I’m wearing death with animal skin on my feet.

But the truth is that most people are wearing, eating, using things that cause harm to another living being. The cheap clothes that come from sweatshops, the glue made with animal products, the medicine made through the testing of animals.

So I’ve accepted that I am not officially vegan. I eat a plant-based diet and am trying to tread as lightly on this earth as possible.

On my trip around Asia, I’m eating vegan when I can and always veggie where not possible. I’m not buying countless souvenirs which will sit on my shelf or in my wardrobe and then get taken to a charity shop or thrown away. I’m considering a personal shopping ban (inspired by reading ‘the year of less’ on holiday). And when I get back, I’m going to have my old Birkenstocks re-soled so I won’t need to buy another pair in the future (or will plan in advance and try a pair of sandals from their vegan range.

I’m doing my part to make as little impact on the earth and to harm as few beings as possible. I’m not perfect and I’m going to leave some sort of mark on this planet, but I hope to be gentle, be kind and do the best I can.

Permission

To all the people pleasers, all those who live by ‘shoulds’, all those who suffer from comparison-itis, I want to share with you a technique I’ve been using which has given me freedom in how I experience my daily life.

It’s one that I often forget, but one that has helped me on a couple of occasions and has brought me much joy….and it is the phrase:

“I give myself permission to…”

I had taken last Monday off work to recuperate from my coaching course, which can be pretty full-on and was feeling a bit antsy in myself. My inner dialogue was going something like this – “A whole day off – I should be doing something with it!” and although I didn’t really want to have a busy, packed day, I was forming a list of things I could be doing.

Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t noble things that would make a difference in the world, they were things like:

All lovely things, but things that missed the point of my day off and what I knew I truly needed – recuperation and relaxation. Yet I still felt antsy until I used my magic words:

“I give myself permission to relax”

And in the moment that I said these words to myself, I felt my body let go of the tension it was holding. I was able to breathe more easily, I felt pressure in my chest ease and I spent the next couple of hours lying in bed, reading and watching some of my favourite programmes. I got out of my pjs at 3pm and felt that I had really, truly had a day of recuperation that my body so desperately needed.

These words have the power to transform so much of my experience – both at work and in my personal life. I’ve got a note on my laptop at work which outlines the permission I give myself at work:

I give myself permission to be myself, get things wrong, have fun, respect my boundaries. 

Even this morning, a day I’m taking off to spend with my friend, Nadine, was filled with the ‘shoulds’ when I first woke up – we should have the best day ever, we should make the most of our time together, we should do loads of things with the day off and it was only when I gave myself permission to do some tidying around the house, to just be myself, to go to bed early if needed so I’m ready for work tomorrow…that I felt ready to experience this day without expectation or pressure.

So give it a try if you feel so inclined…give yourself permission for exactly what you need today and see where it takes you.

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A piece of cake

I had a coaching session last night and was talking about how my life has picked up recently and how on edge the busyness is making me feel. I know, I know, I must sound like a cracked record – this issue is both a source of great contentment (having quality time with good friends) and the bane of my life as I find myself stretched past my capacity and living out of depleted energy levels.

I don’t want to live a depleted life, I want to thrive and in the session, I identified what I need to thrive in life –

  • 1 weekend a month with no plans
  • Two times during the week where I can have quiet time, reflecting by writing to you, dear one, on this blog or spending time with my head in a good book
  • Not having social plans on weekdays when I’ve got a busy weekend coming up
  • Not having people to stay during the week

So I know I’ve got a few things to do to make sure my life is able to thrive – cancelling some plans I’ve got in the week days, safeguarding my free weekends and leaving work early once a week to make space for quiet time.

In the coaching session, I shared how tough it had been for me to recently express my tiredness and distress to my husband and to hear his response – “I don’t understand why you feel this way“. In that moment of hearing his words, I felt truly alone and, if I’m honest, a bit judged by him for not being able to cope, for struggling to have enough energy to enjoy all my plans, for not being an extrovert like him.

I’m not sharing this to vent my hurt at him in a passive aggressive way. I think Gregg was just expressing himself and is unable to stand in my shoes or understand where I’m coming from. Because he’s different to me in mostly every way, and that’s part of what makes our relationship work. But it can also cause conflict and misunderstanding.

And this is where the shift came for me (all thanks to the expert coaching I received from Helen). I suddenly realised that I don’t need him to understand why I feel the way I do.

I just need him to respect me and respect my boundaries. 

And I suddenly felt excited by the prospect of living this way; of shifting from needing to feel understood to needing to feel respected.

I’m not yet sure of how I’m going to assert myself with this and I’m aware that it may not be a piece of cake to stand up and demand respect, but I’m excited to see where this new approach will take me.

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