Schedules, School, and Social Un-recovery

Okay, so I haven’t written because I’ve been too busy (and too tired) to write. This is me letting you all know that I’m alive, I still exist, and no – my brain hasn’t exploded…yet. Because introverts just LOVE (insert complete sarcasm here) to be so busy they don’t have time to recover from social engagements, I’m packing my schedule so tight I don’t know how I get enough sleep at night. This in turn is making me feel even more drained…although I do my best to hide it.

But! The wonderful world of massage is kind of my saving grace. Although it means working 6 full days a week, plus at least 6 extra hours in the evenings, plus studying and finding time for Legoman, I haven’t yet regretted the decision to go back to school. Massage feels like my calling, and it’s actually something I’m apparently good at – says all of my clients. (Trust me; my ego isn’t big enough to spout that on my own). And yeah, being a student isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it’s fun – most of the time.

So I do have all of you on my mind, and I do want to be able to write extensively later in the month, but the next 2 weeks are going to be so busy my head might actually do a complete 180. I didn’t realize how much I would miss my blog world until it dawned on me that I’ve been away for an entire month. A month of complete silence on my part, and a month of not having time to sit down and read some of the blogs of my favorite online friends – for that I profusely apologize. I hope your March goes well. I hope you’re out there following your dreams. And I hope to get time to sit down and write my arse off to you soon.

Sleep…My Drug of Choice

Is there anything better than sleep? Does anything feel quite as terrific as after a good night of sleep? Six months ago I started struggling with this beautiful, necessary function of our bodies. For six months I’ve been fighting for it, praying for it, taking all natural supplements to help me get it, even getting desperate for it. I was, in essence, a sleep junkie. And whenever I could get my fix I couldn’t wait for more.

Insomnia ruled my life. I would be up at 11:30 almost every night making something to eat. I know, 11:30 doesn’t sound too late. But when I had to be up and going by 5am, it was super late for me. I would be able to finally close my eyes, exhausted, between 1am and 2:30 am every morning. I was gaining weight. I felt cloudy all day long. There would be times that I would fall asleep at my desk, I was so desperate. My temper was short and I was fighting depression along with everything else. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t see past my exhaustion. Even driving was dangerous because I’d often get so sleepy at the wheel that my eyes would start to close. There were a few times I actually started to doze.

And here’s where veganism quite literally saved my life. It’s been two and a half weeks since I went fully vegan. I know, not a long time. But everyone has to start somewhere. For the last week, I’ve slept! No help needed. No more St. John’s Wort (it honestly smells like cow dung), no more praying I fall alseep. No more crazy dreams, no more trying to MAKE my body go into unconsciousness. I’m free of insomnia, I’m free of depression, and I feel better than I have in six months. I’ve even lost about seven pounds! I’m winning and I’m never looking back!

Have you ever had to deal with a problem in an unconventional way? What steps have you taken to overcome what you thought was going to be a lifelong issue, only to defeat it? Let me know in the comments below.

From Omnivore to Herbivore

I love, loved, and practically had an affair with cheese. I’ve been drinking cow’s milk since before I can remember, and ice cream and I have a special relationship. My grandparents owned milk cows at one point, so I’ve had it practically straight from the cow itself. I’ve also tried goat’s milk – that was an interesting strike to the senses. Turkey and chicken, steak and eggs, hamburger, hot dogs, and fish – I ate them all.  I was an all-American kid that way. And growing up I had helped butcher chickens on my grandparent’s farm. I was privy to the process of skinning and dressing a deer. None of this was new to me.

I had started cleaning up my diet, a lot, about two years ago. But of course I still had a little of all of my favorite foods. And to be honest, there were times I craved nothing except for some kind of meat. (Internal signals anyone??)  So when I made the decision to go vegan, you can imagine the surprise of my friends and family. Of course, I had done a vegan cleanse for about a week a while back, but that was just to re-balance myself, really. And that week had been one of the hardest of my life. Granted, I had made it much harder than it needed to be, but you can see where I’m going with this.

I want to say it was about a year ago that I watched Food, Inc. That documentary woke me up. It put it right in my face – the meat we’re getting at the store today isn’t the same meat I helped with as a kid. It’s not from the happy chickens and cows I remember growing up. For a few days I can honestly say that the sight of meat wasn’t exactly appealing. But after a while I did what we all do when we don’t feel ready for change: I shoved that information into the back of my head.

These last few months have been months of educating and learning; months of growing and evolving for me. I have changed my mind about a lot of things I had thought were set in stone. I have woken up to things that I cannot fall asleep on again. As I started my journey into the all-natural, organic, and minimalist worlds, I started becoming concerned about the fact that I still had no real idea of what was in the meat I was eating. I would look at chicken breasts and compare them in my head to what I knew they should look like. I wouldn’t go near pork anymore, and I started questioning what kind of beef I was eating (TMI: I hardly ever ate beef because it gave me intestinal gas).  And that led me to two more documentaries: Earthlings and Vegucated. Just a warning for those who are prone to queasiness: Earthlings is NOT for the faint of heart. I have a pretty tough stomach, but even I couldn’t bring myself to finish that one. After I really had my eyes opened to the meat farming practices in the US, I just couldn’t justify my eating habits anymore.

That’s not to say that I think vegan-ism is for everyone and that I’m demanding that those around me jump on my bandwagon, I’m just saying that it’s a choice I’ve made for myself. It’s actually a funny experience watching people react to the news that I’ve decided to go mostly vegan.* And I’ve given the same statement so many times in the last few days after someone feels like they have to justify themselves to me: “It’s fine if you want to continue eating meat, I’m not saying you cant. I’m just saying this is a choice I’ve made for myself.” I know I’ll have to put more thought into the foods I eat, the places I eat, and the way I eat – but for me, that just makes it more fun. I love the fact that I get to try out new recipes. (I also found out that bread baking is an art form, and I’m NOT good at it….yet).

So here’s to all of our new adventures – May they be many and exciting – in the upcoming year!

*I do still eat honey because of my sensitivity to most other forms of sugar – but I only eat it raw and from sources I trust.

It’s So Close to Christmas

So holy crow, it’s only 3 days until Christmas. This holiday is not really one of my favorites. But as I sit here listening to James Radcliffe’s Invocation, I’m starting to reflect on what I’m teaching Legoman about this season. I’m thinking about what I was or was not really taught about the celebration of Christmas.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about the religious implications of Christmas. I’m not talking about the lack thereof, if that’s your thing. I’m not even talking about the pagan traditions that are also a central part of the western Christmas. I’m just talking about the actual spirit of the season. The giving, the receiving, the entitlement that I see becoming more and more a part of the American holiday. I wasn’t brought up to think much about whether or not we, as kids, deserved presents on Christmas day. I’m not slamming my parent’s at all, it just wasn’t a big conversation we had ever had as children.

What am I talking about? I’m not even all that sure, to be honest. This is just something that started eating at me last night. Legoman lost his first tooth yesterday and he made a comment right before he went to sleep that had me immediately correcting him and then reflecting on that small snippet of conversation half the night. Now, before I relay the conversation for you, I want to make one thing clear: he doesn’t really believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny. This kid is logical to a fault. And I made a promise to myself when he was born that I would never lie to him. When he asks me point-blank whether any of those characters exist in real life, I give him the history behind each of them and explain to him that although they aren’t actually real, the spirit they portray most certainly is. The spirits of giving, hope, renewal, and radical imagination are all very, very real – and that he should keep a hold of them his entire life.

So this is how it went: Legoman: “I hope the tooth fairy gives me $20.00.”

Me: *Snort* “The tooth is not going to give you $20.00 for a tooth, love.”

Legoman: “But she has to, it’s my first tooth.”

Me: “No hun, if you get money for your tooth, it’s a gift. You don’t get a gift because you lost a tooth. You might get a gift because you took good care of that tooth, but if that changes, next time you may not get anything.”

**Disclaimer: For his first tooth, he did receive his favorite candy bar and $1.00 – as a treat. This will not be the norm.

I thought about this conversation for a while and I came to this conclusion: I will not teach my child that just because he loses a tooth, it’s Christmas, Easter, or even his birthday, that he’s entitled to receiving gifts. Those are things he has to earn throughout the year, and those privileges can be pulled if he doesn’t act like a decent human being. Those are not things he is entitled to, those are not things he should expect if he doesn’t treat his world and the people in it with the respect they deserve.  On the whole he is a great kid, and I normally don’t have many issues in this department, but should the day come that I do, he’s aware that the outcome might be no presents for this holiday or that. I am also teaching him that giving really is more fun than receiving.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. And I’m not into the whole: blow vast amounts of cash on these gifts. The gifts I give are meant to mean something to the receiver, something special. But we don’t, nor have I ever, thought that more is better. On the contrary, meaning is more. And although Legoman might only receive two or three gifts from me personally, these are things I know he would enjoy immensely and that will last a while.

The Nightmare Before Christmas 5

On another note: the one thing I really do love about Christmas is one of my favorite movies – The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s been one of my favorites since childhood and this Christmas I am introducing Legoman to it for the first time. He will be a Harry Potter, Tim Burton, Indie music kind of kid. There is magic in the world and I plan on introducing him to some of the heroes of my life that brought the magic alive.

Life News Flash

Okay, so I’ve been downright neglectful lately, I am aware, and I apologize. This is going to be (hopefully) a quick update in what’s going on around me lately.

My biggest success: Finishing my application to the American College Massage School. I’ve actually just signed the paperwork and sealed the envelope. I want to dance for joy and hyperventilate at the same time. I know, this is a shocker. Ashley, nervous about starting a new adventure? Ashley, the adventure craving secret gypsy? Okay, so I’m being a little sarcastic towards myself. So new things alternately thrill and terrify me, that’s a good thing right? So there’s that in the career department.

In the life department: Insomnia has been conquered! Well, mostly. The introvert that I am is reigning supreme at the moment, and I’m taking a small break from my social scene. I’ve had quite enough bar hopping adventures lately to fill my yearly quota, thank you very much. And since I am recovering from a 3 month battle between me and my own body over sleep, the yoga and meditation are on a break. I’ll probably start them up again next week.

There are some other things in the works right now and I’ll spill those as they come up. I’m planning on being much more active and much less self-centered for you all very soon. I plan on incorporating some blogs about all natural healing, environmental issues, and some renegade animal lovers that have stolen my heart. There are a few projects that are special to me and I can’t wait to share them with you all.

Until next time!

I Believe…This might turn some against me.

I work in an industry that promotes consumerism and the right of the wealthy, for whom else can afford the products we design and sell? No one except those with money (unless of course we feel the need to donate a product for a specific cause, which my company does actually do quite frequently). But my job does not define me. My job is not me. I actually work in an industry I do not believe in. Why? Why would I allow myself to be used in this manner? Why would I accept a paycheck for doing something that doesn’t fulfill me? As of this moment the answer is shallow, and it is deep: the money. But that in and of itself is not a moral issue. The use of the wealth or lack thereof that you are given for your time is the moral issue. I have to pay the bills just like anyone else. But I also have dreams, wishes, and goals. But those things do cost something, and so I have to find a way to fund them. I too, want to be able to do something more with my life, and someday I hope to get to the place where I can do it full time. But right now, I must take what I can to survive.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is just because you’re stuck in a situation you don’t want to be in doesn’t mean you need to despair about it all the time. I am not only my job.

I am naturalist; I am a believer in the power of meditation, the strength of yoga, and the balance of nature. I believe that plants and animals have souls – otherwise how could they worship God – that being of all things spiritual? I believe that modern technological advances can help us clean up the mess we have made of this planet. I believe nature is best left alone. I believe that God made this planet perfectly, and we’re here taking advantage of and ruining that perfection. (I include myself in this belief. I am a part of the problem. I want to be a part of the solution as well). I am a believer of self-education. I believe in the power of books, and the ideas that weren’t originally my own embedding themselves into my life. I believe society is failing itself, but that we can turn ourselves around. I believe, at the same time, that there are people who are trying to turn our social structure and social norms around. I believe that love in every form should be embraced, and that all people are allowed to love in the way they see fit, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. And even if I don’t practice them myself. I believe in the power of giving and the power of love. I believe in a great big God. I believe in all things beautiful. I believe that equality, no matter your social standing, skin color, or any other difference you embrace, is a basic human right. I believe that clean water, food, and freedom are also basic human rights. I believe that alternate energy solutions should be embraced, funded, and allowed to flourish without government interference. I am a lover of wind and an embracer of rain. I believe the Earth is a living being, and we should respect her as such. I don’t believe that taking substance from the Earth is wrong, but I do believe that hunting just to kill, fishing for a prize, and wasting natural resources – or polluting them – are horrid practices. If you are a hunter for meat, a fisher for sustenance, and a planter for food, you are my friend.

If my beliefs make me a radical, extremist, or mental, I embrace those labels as well.

I am not just one thing, but many. I do not believe in only myself, I believe in the natural and spiritual worlds around me. I believe good and evil do exist, and that love is the cure of all evil.

Reconnecting with My World

So the last month has been a crazy maze of being too busy to think, too down to engage, and too bored to care. I let myself become a hermit, and I let myself disconnect with the world around me. I’ve had writers block, creativity block, and just a block in general. Being honest: I spent the entire day in bed one Sunday doing nothing but watching t.v. and eating at regular intervals – that’s not me! I’m the go-getter, I’m the doer, I’m the project maker and completer. Looking back on that day, I still cannot believe I allowed myself to become that person, but I do believe it was needed.

We all have dark days. We all have a pit we fall into. It’s not weakness to allow yourself to wallow in those dark places. It requires strength to be able to acknowledge that you’re there. I’m there right now. I’m slowing pulling myself back into the light, but right now I’m there. Because of my personality type I might be more susceptible to falling into my darkness, but that doesn’t mean I’m not capable of walking back into the light.

So I’m encouraging you today to recognize that you have a dark side. Recognize that there might be periods of time that you allow yourself to fall into those dark, lonely places. It reminds you that you’re human, and you feel a myriad of different realities. Embrace all of you, not just the surface of yourself. Only then will you know true wisdom.