Relief

I’m part laughing to myself writing this – as soon as I took the pressure off myself and said that I wouldn’t be writing to you until my Christmas break, I have something that I want to get off my chest…the relief I’m feeling about Jenson’s feeding.

I’ve been fretting for a while now that he isn’t eating enough. He just doesn’t seem that interested in a lot of food and isn’t fitting into the pushed mantra that he should be eating three meals by now and two snacks.

We’ve seen a nutritionist partly due to Jenson’s vegan diet and partly due to the small variety of food that he’s eating…and it’s been on my mind more than it should.

Why won’t he eat?!

In my head, every other baby I know is eating. I see babies stuffing their faces with roasted vegetables, full-blown meals and fruit pieces when Jenson is just not there.

He eats a massive breakfast and then picks at this and that throughout the day.

It had got to a stage where we were almost forcing food into him (despite the alarm bells ringing in my head that this was not respectful to him as an individual) and were putting so many thoughts on him:

  • He is mistrustful of the new food we’re giving him
  • He’s holding out for sweet food
  • He isn’t open to trying new food
  • He’ll never get better at eating

But then a few things happened.

My good friend, Charlie, recommended a book called ‘My Child Won’t Eat’ which has been so interesting and a real relief, talking about the realities of childhood eating.

She shared with me that eating is not always easy for her with her son – making me feel not alone in this.

Another good friend, Jess, talked about how her son doesn’t fit into the NHS approved regime. She’s spoken before about how her son loves pasta (something that Jenson has no interest in) and I’d envisaged him eating it by the bucketload and eating everything in sight while I’m at it. It turns out that it’s not the case – he’s a bit particular too.

I suddenly felt not alone and saw the ‘three meals and two snacks a day’ exactly as it is – a framework, a guideline, a theoretical model which will not fit every baby.

What a relief!

And so I’m sharing this for all the mamas and papas out there who are maybe worried about their baby’s weight (or future mamas/papas) so you know that you’re not alone if you go through this.

Sorry, not sorry

I’ve been reflecting over the past few days about the blogging I’ve been doing. And quite honestly I’ve been worried that I’m turning you off me by writing about things that are tricky and hard for me.

I’ve been stumbling through motherhood, grappling with who I am in this new world which seems to be turned on its head. I’ve been questioning who I am, what my purpose is, whether I’m in the right place.

There have been moments of lightness – when I reflect on Jenson or how far I’ve come. But moreso there have been shadowy dark posts where I pour out my uncertainty to you as I tentatively take steps forward into who I could become.

And I fear that this is too much. That I am too much.

I worry that you will think I’m breaking (I’m not). I fear that you will think I’m getting things wrong (which is very plausible in this new territory of my own personal development where I feel lost most of the time!). I’m confronted with my messiness, and that makes me feel uncomfortable.

But as I write this and get all my fears out in the open, I remind myself that I primarily write this blog for myself. It’s a safe, beautiful space where I can reflect, digest, process and come to my own conclusions about my experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think about you. I hope that you will find something of use in my words. I hope that the things I write will resonate with you, dear friend, and perhaps give you a new perspective on life. I hope that, in me sharing my own journey, you might feel less alone on yours.

And so I’m not going to hold back. I’m going to keep things real and continue writing what needs to be written for my own good.

Sorry, not sorry 😜

Airtime

I have a principle that I incorporate into a lot of the group work I do. It’s called ‘managing your airtime’. It’s a request for people to become aware of how they show up in the group setting. If they are someone who talks a lot, I invite them to perhaps hold back slightly and let other people take more space in the conversation. If they’re someone who finds it difficult to speak up in a group, I invite them to perhaps push themselves to speak up a tiny bit more; to participate as fully as they can.

It’s an interesting concept for me to ponder on as I’m someone who tends to either speak up too much or not enough.

If I’m with people I feel truly comfortable with – my sister, super close friends, my husband – I can speak a lot. Chloe, my sister and Gregg, my husband can attest to this. With them I can talk and it’s really hard to become conscious of this in the moment in order for them to have space to show up.

It’s also true when I’ve got a role to play in a meeting or feel I have authority at work because of the role I’m in. Again, I have to be mindful to not take over and monopolise the conversation so that other people have the space to express themselves.

But I struggle to show up when it involves me becoming vulnerable with others (a topic I wrote about in my post yesterday). To feel safe, I shrink back and take more of a listening role, allowing other people to fill the space. But I’m trying to change this – keeping the principle of airtime in my mind is helpful to remember how I want to show up in conversations.

Airtime is also a concept that is serving me when I think about what needs to change in me internally. You see, I have a number of internal sub-personalities that show up a lot in my life with a critical voice (bear with me, hopefully you won’t find this concept too weird!). Here are some of the key players:

  • My inner mean girl who disparages me and is critical of my physical appearance.
  • A shy, scared part of me that is constantly trying to make me feel safe by becoming what I think other people need me to be in any given situation.
  • The discounter who tells me I’m not able to feel any negative emotion (angry, sad, discouraged) because other people have it worse than me.
  • ‘Not enough’ who, when I’m in a situation where I need to have expertise (when I’m coaching or in serious work meetings), makes me feel that I’m lacking when I don’t have all the answers or when I don’t feel like I’m the finished article.

I also have a number of internal sub-personalities that show up with a more nurturing voice.

  • The witness who I heard on my way to work the other day and reminded me to be kind to myself (you can read about it here).
  • My core which makes me feel powerful, strong and capable of anything when I tap into it.
  • The protector who shows up when I’m on my knees with overwhelm and tells me to cancel everything and do what is needed to take care of my mental health
  • My badass side which speaks up with attitude and pushes for what I want.

So what do these have to do with airtime?

Well, in my coaching session yesterday, I realised that the critical voices currently take a lot more airtime than the more nurturing ones. They tend to rule the roost when it comes to my internal dialogue. This isn’t always the case; more and more I find myself able to hear from the more nurturing voices, but this isn’t always the case I know I could do with hearing more from these gentle, kind internal voices.

I’m aware that I want these voices to have a more balanced airtime ratio.

I recognise that the critical voices serve a purpose of keeping me safe – they think ahead to see any risks that I need to prepare for, they make me aware of what I think I need to do to get people to accept me. But I don’t need to hear from them as much as I did in the past because I’m changing as a person.

I no longer feel the need to be constantly safe, I long more to be free. I don’t want people to like me because I comply to what I think their ideal ‘me’ is, I want to give people the opportunity to like me because of an authentic connection we’ve made (or to choose not to like me because we haven’t clicked – that’s ok).

I’ll still need to hear from the critical voices in order to think ahead and be prepared for what might be coming – tough questions I might get asked in a meeting, thinking about how others will best receive information I”m presenting to them. So I’m not trying to silence and repress them, I just want to find more of a balance.

And so in the coaching session, I stilled myself, gathered all these voices together and asked all them collectively to become aware of their airtime. To perhaps hold back or speak up. And I’m going try to stay mindful of their airtime in the coming weeks so that I can find greater balance in my life.

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Being real

I was looking forward to my coaching session this morning to explore how I can be more myself in the workplace. I’m aware that so often I pitch myself as ‘happy Amy’, ‘helpful Amy’, ‘glass-half-full Amy’ when that’s not what is truly going on for me. And while I don’t want to leave myself unfiltered at work to berate the lack of sleep I have, how I feel frustrated by X, Y & Z or be unconsciously careless about what I do share, I’m questioning the lack of realness in the workplace and am feeling uncomfortable with how little I show up authentically in order to feel safe.

This thinking started since I’ve been running a training session for managers in the workplace. It’s the one thing at work that I’ve actively disliked doing, because I feel like I’m constantly questioning myself about whether I’m enough, what people think, how I can get people to like what we’re teaching. Being like this, whilst pretending that everything is ok, keeps me safe, but it’s arduous and I’m not myself as I teach it. I’m an overstretched, overwhelmed, overcompensating version of myself and as a result, for the two weeks that this course runs every month I am exhausted to my bones. It’s been a struggle because I’ve not let myself be truly myself.

It’s not just me going through this too. I think people don’t feel able to show up fully in the workplace. For example, I was really saddened by a colleague of mine saying she wouldn’t sing in the work choir because the group is going to do a Christmas carolling session at each of our work hubs and it wouldn’t be professional to do this around colleague who she might be taking through a disciplinary or performance management process as an HR professional. I understand the tension but surely she’s allowed to be herself whilst also having a serious role to play at work?

I found myself sense-checking a blog post I wrote for work in which I shared that I’ve struggled with eating disorders and suffer to this day with anxiety. It felt uncomfortable to share this on a public blog read by a number of my work colleagues because I associate any mental ill health in myself (and others , if I’m honest) as weakness. This perception of weakness makes it hard to feel comfortable being real at work and, in the same way, it also feels weak to be vulnerable at work; to show anything of myself which isn’t 100% positive or professional.

So what have I done in the past? I’ve shied away from being vulnerable and in doing so have sacrificed showing up as my true self. And while I didn’t talk with my coach about how I’m going to make changes to be more vulnerable at work, one thing came out for sure – I’m no longer comfortable living behind a mask.

It no longer feels right.

Staying safe at the cost of my authenticity and vulnerability feels too restrictive, almost like I’m in clothes that are too tight for me. I want to take them off…but I also know that I can’t strip myself of these clothes in one go. Change this deep doesn’t work like that.

Instead I’ll need to summon the courage (along with a bucketload of patience for myself) to take off these ‘clothes’ bit-by-bit, experience-by-experience. I’ll need to remove being seen as bulletproof, always right, constantly competent, unable to be bruised and step into conversations that talk more about people than processes, more about hearts than heads, more about feelings than facts. I’ll need to be enquiring; to question assumptions about how we’re unable to be our full selves at work.

I’ll also need to hold this desired way of being with humour and grace. Knowing that I’ll fall down more times that I’d like to admit. Knowing that there’s no fixed end point to this way of being – there’s just more experiences of sharing fully of myself.

I feel excited about the potential of bringing my full self, being vulnerable and authentic, to the workplace. And while I feel like I end more posts than I’d like with the words ‘I can’t wait to see where this takes me’ they are true. I can’t wait to see where things go from here!

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Sanding away

I’m going to be honest with you about how I felt this morning – I was bereft. I sat down outside on the cold concrete floor and wept as I mourned for myself and all that I’ve lost since becoming a mum.

As I write this a few hours later, I know that what I experience is first world problems. I’m not wanting for food, safety, shelter or water – my life is pretty sweet. But in that moment, life felt very bitter and I want to share my experience with you, dear friend.

I cried for not being able to sleep as I used to, for not feeling free to have a late night with friends in case Jenson wakes up to play in the middle of the night (as he has done twice since we’ve been on holiday), for not being free to drink and make merry without compromising my breastfeeding (a choice I’ve made but one which comes with a price), for not being able to have hours writing and reading and dreaming and planning in lovely coffee shops as I used to, for my body not being my own, for my time not being my own, for having to succumb to the wiley needs of a nearly nine month old who wails in consternation if he’s not able to get what he wants. Oh how he wails and how tedious it gets at times.

And for not having the energy to put on the ‘I’m fine, all is good!’ facade when my resources are nearly gone but I’m surrounded by people. A facade that allows me to push on when I’m tired, to be sociable when I need time alone, to push down my needs in order to seem easy and fun when I feel exhausted and drained.

And when I realised this last truth – that I’m not able to pretend to be anything other than I am – I was able to see how this experience of motherhood with Jenson is sanding away my rough edges. It’s holding me accountable for what I want to be, but struggle so much with.

Authentically me.

I want to be able to say ‘I’m exhausted, I’m going to bed‘ even when others are staying up. I want to feel free to curl up in a corner and read even when most around me are enjoying being sociable and chatting. I want to feel free to be nothing other than what I am.

But yet so often I soldier on, follow the crowd, join in even if it’s not what I want. There’s probably a mix of FOMO in there, but more often this behaviour is driven by the part of me that is like a little girl just wanting to be loved and accepted and feels that the only way for this to be the case is for me to be acceptable to other people by mirroring their wants and their desires instead of following my own.

The sad thing is that none of the people I count as friends put this pressure on me. It’s my own pressure I feel. I’m sure they’re glad when I do stay up late or go for walks with them etc., but their world doesn’t revolve around me stepping in line with them and they’re not bereft when I hold back and don’t join in with whatever group activities are going on. They love me for me.

And so while I may have partly cried this morning for the struggles I face as Jenson’s mum – lack of sleep, feeling stretched beyond my limits, being forced to find patience beyond that which I didn’t know I had – I’m also thankful that this experience with him is constantly reminding me what is important.

Finding my voice, accepting myself as I am, living life on my own terms.

And for that, my boy, I’m eternally grateful.

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Commitments

Happy Sunday everyone! Life feels a little bit unordered as I’m staying in beautiful Wales (photo below!) and so I’m not really that sure what day of the week it is and am enjoying living life without constantly looking at the clock, preparing for the next day or squeezing in bits of time for Jenson, Gregg or myself alongside work and house stuff.

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I thought I’d share with you today the three things I’ve committed to do over the coming months and years. It’s nice to share these commitments with you, dear friend, so that I’ve got a greater incentive to keep them up. I hope they’ll be good food for thought for you too!

Speak my truth

The first one is a commitment to speak my truth. Even when my voice shakes or I feel petrified at speaking up, I’ve committed to speaking up more about what I need or my thoughts about something. It’s led to some really interesting, wonderful results:

  • Telling my dad that I was exhausted and needed his help when him and my mum came to stay. Instead of pretending to be superwoman and focusing on them having a lovely time with Jenson, I reached out and he supported me by coming over early when they stayed to hold Jenson while I could rest and just potter around for a bit.
  • Saying to the people who we are staying in Wales with, who I don’t know very well, that I was going to have an hour tucked in bed, reading. Usually I would feel obliged to socialise, to check that everyone else is having a great time to the detriment of my own needs. It was lovely to have some time of rest and warmth in bed and no-one seemed to mind – it was my fear of what they’d think of me that was stopping me getting what I needed.
  • Voicing to my manager about how I feel caught between my role and my status at work sometimes. Her response, that I should keep on going as I was, means that I feel more at ease day-to-day and less preoccupied by my fears of treading on her toes as I’m ‘below’ her but often work at a higher level.
  • Speaking up about the direction of my role at work has led to some really interesting conversations about the future. It feels great to speak up and potentially be the creator of my own destiny.

Connect to my heart

Since I had the realisation that I struggle to love myself, I’ve been trying to connect more with my heart centre, where this message came from. I purposely want to quieten myself to listen to the wisdom of my heart more often and so I’ve committed to doing this regularly. I’ve got plenty of time to do this as I rock Jenson to sleep in the evening. All it takes is slowing my breathing and stilling the chattering of my mind so I can hear what my heart is telling me.

  • That I am enough just as I am
  • That all will be ok
  • That I am worthy of love and acceptance

Words of love that nourish my soul.

Power

I don’t know if I shared this with you, but I’ve also realised how much I give away my power to people. Not my power at work or at home that I have due to status as professional, wife, daughter or sister, but my internal power which is my anchor. The sort of power that you can feel in your stomach area that you use to stand strong and that you might muster before an interview or a situation where you need to bring it.

During a recent coaching session I realised how much I gave my power away and so I’ve committed to doing that less. Being less agreeable, apologising less (when there’s no reason for saying sorry), stopping myself from trading my power for others’ approval.

I’ll perhaps write about this more in the future, how I’m keeping my own power instead of giving it away.


So there you are – the things I’m currently committed to working on. I’m aware that these areas are long-term, stumble-and-get-back-up-again, tricky stuff. They’ve been with me for so long – giving away my power, ignoring my heart and staying quiet but it doesn’t mean that they have to be with me for the rest of my life.

So here I go, starting now and keen to see what the future brings.

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Creator of my own destiny

I had another amazing coaching session yesterday morning with my coach. Honestly, if you have something you want to make progress on, I’d really encourage you to get a coach. I can do a free coaching trial session for anyone interested or can link you up with a coach (potentially a free trainee one) if you think that we know each other too well and you wouldn’t feel comfortable working with me. But I’m not here to talk about coaching…I’m here to share what happened in my session. So here I go!

I’ve noticed in myself that I have a propensity for taking on too much of other people’s stuff. With almost a saviour complex (albiet a well-meaning one), I often feel responsible for other people’s happiness. From trying to avoid my parents having arguments when I was younger to taking on responsibility for people enjoying themselves at social events, to trying to bend myself in half to get people to be happy with what I do at work. It’s how I’ve always been.

I want to change but don’t know how.

When talking to my coach about this situation, I couldn’t see how I could be anything other than the two polar opposites that I described as this:

At one end, caring so much that I take on everyone’s stuff and at the other, not giving a damn about anyone or anything. 

We talked about the assumptions I make – that people want to be rescued, that it’s my responsibility to change stuff, that people aren’t able to make changes in their own lives…and it surfaced a thought I’ve been having for quite some time about how so much in life – our education, job hierarchies, the way society works – seems to breed a false impression that we are unable to change our own lives.

You’ve probably known people who hate their job (or you may recognise this in yourself!). They find it boring or think they’re underpaid or are frustrated by it on a daily basis. But they don’t do anything about it. They stay there stuck, moaning, unhappy, resentful of what they have to do.

But it’s not like they’re imprisoned in their job. They could do something to change their situation. They could look for a new job, talk to their manager about changing some of the things they do, start proactively changing how things are done, volunteer to get involved with other stuff at work to mix up their day, cultivate gratitude for what their job does give them (a pay-check, stability, nice co-workers, ability to pay rent/buy food for their family).

I’m not saying this from a privileged place, never having been unsatisfied at work myself. I know how hard this can be. I’ve been stuck in a job for what seemed like far too long whilst I searched for a new one that suited me better. It sometimes seemed agonising but I kept on looking, got some coaching to figure out what I wanted to do, kept on applying for new roles and, in doing so, I took control of my own destiny.

It paid off when I found a role – about six months down the line – that satisfied me more than I could have ever imagined.

In the same way that I did, I believe we can all take charge of our lives and shape them to our liking. We might not get there perfectly every time because of our circumstances (my new role didn’t pay more but was more mentally satisfying) but we can take small steps to improve where we are with every aspect of our lives – our relationships, health, work, money.

We are the creators of our own destinies.

And that is when inspiration struck me and I could see the middle way which was not taking on responsibility for other people’s happiness nor hardening my heart to others. In the following two phrases I outlined how I want to live my life:

I want the best for you and I know you can go out and shape your own life. 

I want the best for me and I know I can go out and shape my own life. 

It brought me such clarity. I want the best for others but my job is not to shape anyone’s life (not that anyone has ever told me they want me to!). My job is to shape my life.

With this knowledge I feel freer, less burdened and hopeful for myself and others. We all have the ability to take steps towards creating a better life for ourselves. It’s up to each and every one of us to look for opportunities and seize any chances that come our way.

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Tender

I shared with you recently about a lot going on in my life. Connecting so strongly with the grief in my heart, feeling the call to more, returning to work after the life changing event of becoming a mum, learning all the lessons in store for me about mothering my beautiful, spirited son.

I was lying next to him tonight, feeding him and missing Great British Bake Off (thanks, my little joker. You knew I was wanting to watch it, I’m sure!) and once I accepted the reality that I was going to miss it, I stopped fighting the frustration and tapped into what I was feeling.

And here’s what I felt – a tenderness inside me like a bruise.

Being bashed around so much with exponential personal growth, changes to everything I know and the uncertainty and unpredictability of being a mother and not knowing what the future holds for me.

I am tender and a bit battered and a bit bruised.

There’s no denying how I feel – if just is. And there’s no real changing what’s going on for me – it’s my journey.

What I do know is that I need to show myself kindness and gentleness. I need everyone around me to show me the same gentleness and kindness too as I live this season of my life.

I know if won’t always be this way. But it’s this way at the moment.

There’s no great reveal or revelation about what I can do about where I am. But just expressing it – sharing it with you, dear friend – lightens the load and helps me walk the path that I’m on right now.

It’s not the easiest of roads but I’m sure it’ll lead to somewhere great.

Why don’t you let me love you?

I want to share something with you today which was a really powerful experience. It happened when I was being coached this morning as part of my fortnightly commitment to being coached myself. As a coach, it’s something I think is really important for me to do. To practice what I preach and get support to reflect and continually grow and develop.

This morning I was talking about how I sometimes feel so frustrated to still be on this journey to ‘enoughness’. Still, 20+ years into discovering how I might feel fully enough, fully acceptable in myself I feel that I should be there by now. I should be able to feel grounded and accepting of myself, regardless of what anyone else thinks about me. I should know that I am enough. I should know in each and every circumstance that I am worthy of love and acceptance.

But I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made great leaps in this area. I’ve stopped people pleasing so much and am now aware when I choose to engage in this behaviour. I’ve learnt to pay more attention to what is going on with me than what I think other people are thinking about me.

And yet I feel that I’m still not quite there (and sometimes feel that I’m far away from being there).

It makes me so frustrated.

I was talking about this with my coach today and we decided to spend some time tapping into my heart about this subject. Because this frustration seems to come from my brain. The part of me which says ‘you’ve worked on this for so long, it should be fixed‘ and ‘you’ve read so much about this and know the theory, why aren’t you able to be fully accepting of yourself all the time?‘.

So I stilled myself and asked my heart what was going on and I sensed that deep inside me is the longing to rock and cradle myself just as I soothe and cherish Jenson, my son. I saw this deep part of me singing Marvin Gaye’s ‘how sweet it is to be loved by you’ to me. I felt the possibility of boundless safety and security and love.

And then a great wave of sadness and grief washed over me and I heart these words –

“why won’t you let me love you?”

I felt such sadness for the angry words of criticism I speak over myself. I felt grief for the judgement I put on myself for my size, my shape, my body. I felt loss for the disregard I have for my feelings and my experiences. And I cried for myself in that moment.

Why won’t I let myself love me?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself all day and I’ve been imagining what it might look like to let me love myself and I’ve felt what I can only describe as a blossoming of my heart and an awareness of what looks like to love myself as I’ve gone through my day. I wanted to share this with you, dear one, in the hope that my revelations can help or encourage you too:

Running late for a meet-up with a friend, berating myself for being over 90 minutes late due to Jenson’s nap, I knew that loving myself meant taking deep breaths and appreciating the view of the sea I was cycling past to get to herself instead of having a mental stream of anxiety and annoyance at my shortcomings.

It meant having an honest and open conversation with my husband about something personal I’ve been grappling with for a while instead of holding it in and shutting him out. Because I was worth him hearing what’s going on for me.

As I saw my body in the bath I shared with Jenson tonight, I knew it would mean seeing myself with such love and joy – the same way I feel when I see my son, roley-poley body and all. Knowing that my body is just an encasement of something much more – my soul, my essence – and letting my love for the ‘more’ fill my heart to the brim.

There is the possibility of such joy, such acceptance, such peace if I let myself love myself. This feels like a path I want to walk, a future unfolding within myself, a journey to letting myself love me.

And I hope, if you grapple with any of these things I’ve mentioned, that you can start loving yourself for you too.

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Speciesism

The first time I heard the word ‘speciesism’ I was a few years into being vegan (albeit a very ‘off-and-on-the-wagon’ kind of vegan). I thought it was a bit ridiculous.

Speciesism: the practice of treating members of different species as morally more important than other species; and the belief that this practice is justified.

I believed that animals were in a different category to humans. Less developed, less intelligent, less important. I was vegan because of the environmental impact of meat/dairy production and also because it was a diet that suited me well. Veganism had moved my relationship with food from an up-and-down rollercoaster to one of nourishing myself with lots of whole foods. It suited me and I finally came to a place where I was no longer yo-yo-ing between 4 different clothing sizes and body shapes over the course of a year. Veganism had helped me to find a kinder way to eat for myself.

But this belief, that animals are in a different category to humans, has changed for me.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a bananas animal lover. I think puppies are cute and Planet Earth was an amazing view into nature which filled me with awe. But I couldn’t think of anything worse than having a house full of hairy, smelly, loud animal creatures (I have my own already with Gregg and Jenson 😜).

However, I can see speciesism in action more and more…and I think it’s destroying our planet and causing such pain and suffering.

We’re destroying our forests – home to countless animals, birds and insects – so that we can have more stuff. More of the food we want, more stuff, more land. It’s rarely considered that this isn’t just our land – it’s the land of these animals too (cue me feeling like Pocahontas!).

We use animals for the testing of cosmetics, household cleaners, food additives, pharmaceuticals and industrial/agro-chemicals because their pain and deaths are not important. We could use more human cells or cell lines for testing – which would ultimately be more effective, but this would take investment and currently animals are the easier, default choice for many. A choice that brings suffering to around 115 million animals per year.

We have practices for getting milk which are, to me, inhumane. Repeatedly impregnating cows and separating them from their calves often less than 24 hours after the birth to get as much milk for ourselves as possible. A practice that leads to obvious distress from both mother and baby. Hearing the cries in a recent film I watched (called land of hope and glory) was truly disturbing to me when I considered the pain I’d have gone through if Jenson had been taken from me on day one and only brought back once a day to be fed.

But it’s a cow, not a human, so it’s ok?

Being driven by the ‘need’ for affordable meat, eggs and dairy to the point where our farming practices often cause animals to suffer during their lives. The boy baby chicks who are ground up alive in their first moments in this world because they have no worth to us – they can’t lay eggs and don’t plump up nicely to be eaten.

They have no value?

And the slaughterhouse practices where the turn around and churn of animals is so quick that often animals aren’t stunned properly and so are conscious when their throats are cut and as they bleed out.

Our desire for meat is more important than their death?

I suppose that ultimately I don’t want another creature to die in order for me to have something enjoyable to eat. The mistreatment of baby cows so I can have milk in my coffee. The painful testing of animals so I can enjoy a better mascara. The death of baby chicks so I can have cheap eggs.

And as I write this, I can hear others speak about the medicines that are only available because of the animals that have been tested upon. And not all animals are treated as described above. Some farmers treat their animals with love and respect before sending them to be killed. Some calves have more time with their mothers.

And what’s the other option? Cows, chicks and other animals not being born because we no longer need them? Yes. That would be preferable to animals experiencing pain and suffering during their short lives on earth.

We use animals as a commodity, when I believe we are morally no more important than they are. Just as I believe that men are no more important than women. Just as I believe that caucasians are no more important than people of black or ethnic minorities.

And since I’ve found my eyes open to this truth – that we are equal – I understand vegans who can’t stand to sit around a table laden with meat and dairy products. Not because of being righteous and self-satisfied smug buggers who want their way or the highway. Because when I look at meat sizzling on a barbecue, or when I see cheese, milk, cream, I see the suffering that these products have come from. I can avert my mind from it, but it’s getting harder and harder to do so.

And so I’m sharing my thoughts with you, dear friend, even though I might lose some of you as readers if you disagree and are affronted by my opinions. Because it’s too important for me to ignore. Not to divide me from you, but to start a conversation. To hear from you. To ponder on what I’m seeing and explore what this might mean for my life.

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