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A new year, a new start.

12 Jan

I haven’t blogged much in the past month or so, for a few reasons. I won’t go into all the details, but I’ll fill you in on a few. The word perfectionism has been thrown around in my head for the past few years, but I never truly understood it until recently. Blogging is a dangerous tool for me, because it allows me to project a perfect life, a perfect me. I never lie in my blogs, but I’d never share the bad stuff in my life, and the absence of bad is good, all good = perfection. Also, a huge part of my blog was on the vegan diet, and as a perfectionist, I always want things… Perfect. The only thing that I can control 100% without any fear of change is food, so veganism allowed me to be 100% perfect at something, and I got a lot of power out of that, in a twisted way. Anyways, I had this breakdown where I realized I’m either passionate about something, or completely passive about it, and I just wanted to be MODERATE! I began to think that I didn’t even know how to think! Etc. All of this led me to therapy, AND I can honestly say it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Before I go into what I’ve learned through therapy (that really has changed me!) I want to write a quick side note. On CBC radio a few weeks ago they were doing a documentary about 20-30 year olds living at home. According to their statistics 1 in 4 20 somethings living in canada are living at their parents homes rent free. Now there were a number of economic reasons as to why these twenty year olds couldn’t afford living on there own, but one social change reason really stood out to me. Three or four decades ago the self discovery stage of young adults was between the ages of 15-21. In these years, the teenager would find out who they were, what they liked, what they wanted, and would start to carve out a path for their lives. Today the self discovery stage is from 15-30 years old! Now by definition, the self discovery stage is quite a selfish stage. When you’re figuring out what you like, what you want, what your plans are, chances are you don’t care at all about what’s going on in the rest of the world, let alone your own family, but as humans we all need a little time (emphasis on little) to figure out who we are before we set out to live it. In the past few years, I’ve been quite self absorbed, and very inconsiderate of the people around me, all for finding out who I was, and I feel like I’ve learnt a lot of lessons, kind of got a grasp on what I’m about, but man, I’m ready to move on. It’s hard always thinking about yourself and learning lessons, lessons usually have pain involved. I feel like this counselling that I’ve been going through sort of caps off my self discovery stage (which is fitting as I’m getting married this year!!!) and allows me to move on, validated as a creative person, but also passionate for other people, the planet, and not just myself.

After a week or two of tears, and not really knowing what was reasonable or unrealistic, my mom brought home a counselling pamphlet from her work. She gets free counselling for herself and anyone of her children until there 21, so I jumped on the offer. I called and was able to set up an appointment with a counsellor the next week. What I’ve gone through has been so powerful and validating that I’d recommend it to anyone going through there self discovery stage that just wants to know a bit more
about who they are before they move on.

My therapist took an in depth look at who I was and started to point out to me where I felt defeated, where I felt good, how I liked to thing, that other people didn’t necessarily think that way etc. God is amazing because my therapist not only has a similar brain profile as me (a brain profile outlines where your strong and weak points are in your right and left brain, I’m very right brained (creative and an introverted social, with a low analytical score in the left and a high organizational score in the left… Anyways) but she’s also an art therapist, and has the same spiritual beliefs as me (Christian). It’s been amazing to work with her. I’ve really been able to see more of who I am as an artist, and see my perfectionistic tendancies as just that, I can tend to be that way, but I don’t have to be, I have to allow myself to make mistakes, and not hide them, because I’m human, and all humans are flawed.

It’s been an incredible and exhilerating experience.

I feel ready to move on, and excited about life. I’ve written 2 new songs since December, gotten 6 new piano students, crocheted numerous scarfs, and written a rhyming childrens story, and it’s all from realizing how my brain works! It’s amazing!

As far as veganism is concerned. I gave up right as soon as I discovered that maybe I was only vegan because I could be perfect at it, but there was still a part of me that couldn’t eat pigs or lambs, because they were too cute. Then shortly after Christmas I felt like I’d rather just be vegetarian because I really believe in the health benefits of not consuming animal protein, and I love not eating other creatures.

So that’s a bit about whats been going on.  I’m going to be starting another experiment that I’ll be blogging about in the next couple of days which I’m rather excited about!

Peace.

It is what it is, and try not to be so anxious.

14 Dec

I’ve noticed that I tend to build up scenarios in my head and then get dreadfully anxious about them. For example, I get the idea in my head that someones going to get upset with me when I am two minutes late, then once I’ve got that in place, I start getting super anxious and worried as to what that person will think of me for being late, how they’ll treat me… etc.  Why can’t it just be what it is.  I’m late, and nothing I can do will change it, so why am I worried?

I often think about how I left Vancouver, and get anxious about that.  IT WAS TWO YEARS AGO! Why can’t I just let it go? It is what it is.

I slept in today when I wanted to get lots done, it is what it is.  I don’t have time to get depressed about it, so why bother?

I forgot to buy a new piano book for a student, but I printed out some Christmas music for him, why worry? It is what it is.  Nothing’s going to change.

I think living this way could drastically lower my risk of heart attacks in the future.  I’m usually so high strung, so worried, anxious, and erratic, but it is what it is, I just need to let me brain walk away from things.

moving on.

30 Nov

For the past few weeks I’ve been struggling with something.  I’m trying to move on from depression and perfectionism, and live a normal life, whatever that is!

For the first week I sorta felt like I had just been diagnosed with a fatal disease.  I kept thinking, “the way I’ve been thinking my whole life is wrong!!!! So what am I supposed to do?  I can’t even get up out of bed, because however I run my day will be the wrong way…” yada yada.  That frozen state of being is all part of perfectionism and depression though.  You  don’t want to do anything wrong, so you don’t do it at all, and then you get so depressed about not doing anything that even the simplest tasks, (ie taking a shower) become monumental.

For the past two years I’ve been sort of in this vicious cycle of obsession, perfection and depression.  I become obsessed with the idea that I can perfect something, I can be the perfect bible college student, I can be the perfect artsy girlfriend, I can be the perfect Vancouverite, I can be the perfect piano teacher, I can be the perfect visual merchandiser, I can be the perfect student, I can be the perfect vegan… and so on.  Then I set ridiculously high standards, making to-do lists that are incredibly detailed and comically  unreasonable.  Crafting this list takes about an hour, which is silly, because I’m wasting time just creating the list!  Then when I set out to do it, I get the first few things done, am dissatisfied with them, and quit.  I do this for a few days, weeks, months, until I just stop.  Then I get depressed.

In this period I don’t want to wear any clothes that are uncomfortable, the only food I cook is simple and salty, I don’t make my bed, I let dust pile up everywhere, I make excuses for why I wasn’t productive, and I watch the calendar pass by.  It’s hard, and it’s disgusting to be there, and I sit there until I become obsessed with the next perfect thing.

The next week after I discovered all this stuff, I didn’t do much.  I set pretty reasonable daily goals, but still could feel myself routing back to my old way of thinking.  I did however go to a therapists appointment, and she was remarkable.  She opened my eyes to loads of things I hadn’t known, or seen with my previous thought patterns, so at least that was encouraging.

This past week though I really feel like I’m coming up and out from drowning in depression.  When I’m depressed I feel like the smallest things are huge!  Emptying the dishwasher feels like a huge chore, and usually much more than that (cleaning wise) just seems colossal for one day.  I had a dream the other night though, where I was emptying my dishwasher while talking to a friend, and it took three minutes, and it was no big deal.  It really stuck with me.  I could do these tasks and not have to dedicate my day to them, they could just be a small part of them.

Since that dream I’ve been way more conscious of how long these little chores ACTUALLY take, and it’s really small!  It’s awesome!  I feel like whenever I see something untidy, I can just tidy it up, and it won’t take any time at all! Now maybe this is coming out of depression (it feels like it could possibly be) or maybe this is just growing up, I have no idea.  The feeling is like night and day though!  Before taking out the vacuum felt like a huge ordeal, and now it seems like a quick fix for a messy floor.  It’s exciting.

I’ve realized and noticed a few other new things too which are exciting and I have another therapists appointment on Thursday, so I’ll probably realize a whole lot more then!

It’s so encouraging and empowering coming out of this, becoming the right brained person that I am, and learning to rid myself of my legalistic left brained tendencies… they don’t mesh well 😛

Take a deep breath, have a glass of water, and move on.

Peace.

humility and having a “post to blog” kinda life.

22 Nov

This is sort of a humiliating post to write, but I’m going to start with a dream I had, and work from there.

Two nights ago I dreamt that my fingers started to get smaller.  Not smaller in length, but in width.  It was slow at first, just a couple of fingers looking a little bit thinner than normal, then my rings wouldn’t fit, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Then the next time I looked down at my hands, all of my fingers were the width of a standard pencil (that’s really small) and they were incredibly weak.  I couldn’t grip anything, or even feed myself.  It was pretty scary, and I tried to hide them as much as I could.  I wore long sleeve shirts that I could let drape over my hands, and I wore gloves however painfully large they were. 

Then it gets creepier.  I started to notice large sists on a few of my fingers, and I started picking at them.  Underneath the skin, I saw that my fingers were growing several new fingernails.  I was officially scared now.  My thumb on my right hand had so many fingernails that I couldn’t bend it.  The nails started at the base of my thumb and worked all the way to the top, all the way around my thumb.  Strange.

Finally (this is still a dream by the way.. my fingers are fine) I went to the doctor.  He took one look at my fingers and said, “you have a deficiency, and your fingers are trying to strengthen themselves by growing extra nails.”  What?  I freaked out at him, “how could I have a deficiency? I’m vegan! I only put healthy foods in my body? What do you mean?”  Then he said, “it’s not the food, it’s the controlling nature you have with food.”

He sent me to live with my parents again (I had moved out in my dream) and she had to cook for me and watch me at all times, as if I was anorexic or something.

Weird right?

It was one of those dreams that you wake up thinking about, and go about your day thinking about.  What does it all mean?

Okay, so here’s where humiliation comes in, well part way.  When you post about everything, and are really vocal about your convictions, and then you change your mind about some of them… well the easiest thing is to just not post about them.  Automatically your brain starts thinking, “well if I said this before, and now I say this, people will think I’m a hypocrite…” etc.  I don’t want you to think I’m a hypocrite, but just know this is completely honest and it’s really hard for me to write.

So, in the car on my way to work I was listening to a sermon (I don’t go to church because I work on Sundays, so podcasts of sermons on weekends are sort of like mini sermons) and he was talking about the leader who asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus responded by saying that he had to keep all of the commandments, and the teacher said, “well I already do that, is there anything else?”  This is where Jesus answers that if he has kept all the commandments, then he must now sell all of his posessions and give the money to the poor.  The story ends with the teacher leaving upset.  

Most of the time when this passage is preached on they talk about how hard it is for rich people to get into heaven, because our hearts are so invested in our stuff, but Bruxy (the pastor I listen to) took a different angle.  He said that it’s not just money, it’s anything that we have to die to to follow Jesus.  Now I grew up in  church, I’ve heard the die to your self sermon more than a few times, but this time it hit a little closer to home.

Bruxy asked his listeners, “whats your death issue?”  Whats the issue that you will die if you keep holding on to it?

Immediately my dream with the fingers came back into my mind, and the doctor in the dream telling me that it wasn’t the food I was eating but the control I had over the food.  “Control,” is the word that stuck out for me.

Being completely honest, I really struggle with perfectionism.  I’ve pin pointed that a lot of that comes from me telling myself when I was really young that if I didn’t want to get in trouble, or be humiliated again, then I had to vow never to do anything wrong, or embarassing again.. which grew a perfectionist spirit inside of me.  Anyways, perfectionism comes through in my day to day life in the control I have over issues.  I’ve never been a really moderate person.  I either tell myself I’m going to read 40 books in two months, and do it, or don’t read at all.  I’m very, very healthy, or I eat no vegetables at all.  I’m either counting calories, or denying their existence.

I’ve often used the excuse that I’m just not good at being moderate, but is that healthy?

So what I’ve found is that with being vegan, I really love the challenge, I love knowing that I can do it.  I love finding new ways, and keeping to something, it gives me a sense of worth.  It’s something tangible that I can control.  I am very good at controlling what goes in my mouth and what doesn’t if I have very strict rules set up.  It’s funny because most people hate dieting situations like that… but I love it.  It’s like I thrive off of knowing what I’m not having and knowing that I control that. Weird.

So my first idea was okay, lets see if you can have a healthy relationship with food, but right away my brain went into control mode and started thinking of ways that I could control that.  Setting up food rules that hold absolutely no water (I can eat eggs once a week, cheese when I’m at restaurants, nothing too fatty, no fast food, limit sugar, whole grains, sea food…etc) just so I can control it.  It’s like I’m afraid that if I don’t have all of this control that I’ll just fall off the deep end.

It’s creepy when you start to see things about your mental self that might not be so healthy.

It’s hard to post this because I’ve been so vocal about being vegan, and now I’m saying, maybe I wasn’t so healthy, maybe a little too obsessive, etc.  But like I said before, I have to post it because, I don’t want to take the easy way out.  If I post about the good stuff, I’ll post about the awkward stuff too.

Hopefully in the future I can get over this and become more moderate.  I would love to have a healthy relationship with food, and other hobbies in my life, one that wasn’t completely obsessive, or completely passive  but just in the center at a moderate level.  I’ll keep praying.

Oh yea, one think that kept coming to mind was that I thought of being on a missions trip in Mexico, and the only food they had there was food I couldn’t eat because I was vegan… would I eat it anyway?  Is it wrong not to?  Is it wrong to think that that might be wrong? It really hit me.  Food isn’t all that important.  Being healthy is, but it’s not healthy to let being healthy consume everything that you are.

Hopefully that makes sense.

Peace.

the best humus recipe ever. hands down.

11 Nov

I’m planning a vegan dinner party tomorrow, and I’ve been blogging about it all week, but I thought I would start cooking tonight, and getting some stuff done that I won’t have time to do tomorrow.

I’ve made little menus for each person, I’ve come up with the best centerpiece ever (which I’ll post a picture of tomorrow), and I set to work making the humus and the tofu marinade.

Once I was finished the humus (which I’m serving with flax seed crackers tomorrow) I tried a spoon of it, and then another, then another, and then I had to stop.  It’s amazing!

Here’s the recipe:

15oz chickpeas
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tahini
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
Dash of cayenne
Lots of pepper
A little salt

Put all of this into a food processor, and don’t stop blending until it looks like amazing humus!

The tofu I did in the “breast of tofu” marinade that I blogged about earlier.

I’m very excited to see how it goes!

Peace.

The experimenters.

10 Nov

I feel like there’s a whole new generation of scientists, but they don’t have to have degrees, or even have gone to university, these scientists are social scientists! I’m so excited to see so many experiment blogs! Weight loss experiment, vegan experiment, local eating experiment, walmart boycott experiment, living off the grid experiment, communal living experiment etc. It’s so cool to see so many people trying different ways of life on for size and then publishing their progress day by day in a blog! I love it.

Anyway, I guess you could still call my vegan thing an experiment. I’m trying to see how healthy I can get, how delicious the food can
be, if I lose any weight, if I don’t get the flu this year, if I feel less lethargic over time… Etc. And it’s still exciting most days.

Here’s my to do list today based around the vegan dinner party I’m having for non – vegans, oh but first I’ll tell you the menu I’ve
planned!

Appetizer: lime and black pepper hummus with flax seed crackers
Soup: organic aged red miso
Main: dragon bowl with sprouted whole grains, carrot, kale, chard, beet leaves, home grown bean sprouts, and a Dijon dressing.
Dessert: chocolate peanut butter pie (yum!)

everything I picked I’ve made several times before so I don’t have any cooking disasters!

Here’s the to do list:
– shower and get ready for whatever life throws my way today
– sort laundry and get it started
– empty the dishwasher
– vacuum and dust the tv room, hallway, and stairs
– go grocery shopping for: chickpeas, limes, green onion, kale, apple cider vinegar, fresh parsley and dill, silken firm
tofu, and hemp milk
– come home and prepare tofu marinade and start the marinating process
– make the hummus and refridgerate
– visit with a friend and swap vegan recipes
– teach piano
– visit with my sister and brother in law!
(oh and I want to fit a walk/run in there too)

It looks busy! We’ll see if I can get it all done!

Peace.

How it was, and how it is.

10 Nov

For the past  couple of days I’ve been digging into some memories of my past and seeing how they’ve shaped my life.  What I found was incredibly discomforting, but I’m hoping that it is going to help me get better.

A couple of days ago I was reading a Douglas Coupland book called, “Life After God,” and the way it’s written was terribly honest, and bleak.  For some reason this inspired me to write about my past with the same honesty and bleakness.  A lot of memories aren’t fuzzy and warm.

I started writing about times when I was five when I was humiliated, alone, embarrassed, in trouble, etc, and I was shocked.  I’ve thought about these moments in my life quite often, but never deeply, let alone writing them out.  I started crying well writing, and I realized that these memories may have gone a lot deeper than I thought.

There were several times when I was super young that I remember thinking to myself, “I’ll never be humiliated again,” or, “I’ll never get in trouble again,” or, “I’ll never make a mistake again,” which are horrible promises to make to yourself, because you set yourself up for incredible failure.

I listed the things that I thought were failures of my recent past, and a lot of them could be thought down to my fear of humiliation, getting in trouble, or making mistakes.  I hope this makes sense :S but I feel like knowing this, and being able to work through these things, I might be able to get over my fear of messing up.

I feel like my artsy side has really suffered because of my fear of failure, and I really want to pursue it without worrying about what will happen.

What will happen if I’m not afraid of failure?

I’m inspired and excited.

Peace.

P.S I highly recommend reading the book as well.  It’s really interesting and beautiful.