Friday, April 25, 2014

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I’ve always been curious about that phrase. I know the basic meaning of it, which is pretty much “do what you said you would” or “prove that you are telling the truth”. Right? 

(I actually googled it just for kicks and I liked one of the responses I saw: "It means anybody can talk about it, but if you really mean it, put something of value on the line. Like placing a bet on who's right about whatever it is you're talking about at the time. Essentially, "prove it!" ". So says LindaPam on Yahoo Answers from 6 years ago.) 

Anyway, I was just thinking about that the other day and then my brain spiraled around to a different meaning for that phrase: what you put in your mouth (eating) is what you are paying for. I mean, “duh”, right? Obviously.

I found this on Pinterest and I was like "Yup, that's my brain"

My mind kept rolling this around and around, eventually landing on the conclusion that money equals support. We buy things because we like them and as a result, we support that company. It’s not what we usually think about when paying for something, but it’s true. I, however, have also done the opposite where I support a company because of what they believe in and therefore choose to purchase their product.

For example, I used to be a big supporter of Dove beauty products because of their commercials promoting loving your body in any shape or size. And I liked their two-in-one shampoo and conditioner because I’m lazy when it comes to washing my hair. ;) Or I used to be. These days, I don’t NOT support Dove, I just have other issues that I choose to support.

Since becoming vegan, I have been doing my best to switch my hair and beauty products to more animal and environmentally friendly products.  Let me tell you, as a person who likes routine and consistency, this has not been easy. Of course, it wasn’t an instantaneous event. I didn’t just dump all my hair products and makeup in a trash bag, throw it away, and then buy all new stuff. First of all, I can’t afford to do that. And secondly, I don’t believe in wasting. Ever. So it has been a slow process where whenever I ran out of something, I would just do my best to find something that fits my new needs and requirements.

Instead of Aquafresh toothpaste, I now use Tom’s of Maine, which I do like. As for my hair stuff, I have mostly turned to Lush Cosmetics, which is an AWESOME company that uses all natural ingredients without harsh chemicals, no animal products or testing, and they are also largely made by hand by a real person. Whenever I buy something, there’s a sticker that says “This product was made by so-and-so on (this date), best if used by (this date)”, and I like that fact that it expires. Things that are shelf-stable forever and ever and ever make me nervous. Like Twinkies.

Many of their products are also vegan. Yay! And there happens to be a shop in the mall right by my apartment, so if I ever do go to the mall these days (rarely), it’s usually there because I’m out of soap. The products I have come to love are:

I love Juicy Shampoo

 Veganese Conditioner

R&B Hair Moisturizer

This helps tame my frizz. Mostly. : )

And then I switch up which chunk of soap I buy once a month or so. 

They have a good variety and you just have to ask them to cut off as much as you need and you pay for it by weight. A 4 or 5 oz piece lasts me about a month. One product that REALLY didn’t work for me was solid shampoo. 

It’s one of the first things I tried at Lush, Jumping Juniper shampoo in the form of a bar, like soap. Supposedly, you can just lather it up and then work it into your hair, but I guess I just have too much hair because it never seemed clean enough. Now I use a liquid shampoo and it’s just perfect. Live and learn. : )

All of these products are expensive, compared to other brands, but even with my limited funds, it’s worth it to me. I use them very sparingly and make sure not to waste even the smallest sliver of soap. Just stick it to the new bar! : )

I want to support a company that helps a vegan lifestyle, fights animal testing and makes a real effort to be kind to the environment. These are things that have become important to me.

I’m sure some believe that I’ve just been “drinking the kool-aid” and followed in the footsteps of other “radical vegans”, but it just all makes sense to me now. I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. ;) But seriously, I’ve come to realize that we don’t HAVE to put animal products in beauty products to look good. We don’t HAVE to eat meat, dairy, and eggs to enjoy a meal. We don’t HAVE to wear leather or fur to be fashionable.

That gets me to my next point: things I can no longer support in good conscience.

Leather: I’ve never really been “fashionable” and I’ve really only come to understand what looks good on me within the last few years. I still generally choose jeans and a Graphic t-shirt on casual days, but one item that has stuck with me over the years is a black leather belt that I remember buying with my mom at Wilson Leather at the outlet mall in Park City at least 10 years ago. It’s still in amazing shape and it now serves as a reminder of my weight loss in reference to the number of holes I had to tighten it during that time. It also serves as a reminder that leather and cow hide is a huge business on its own, and not a “by-product” of the meat industry, as many people believe. The meat, dairy, and leather industries depend upon each other, which I didn’t fully see until I learned more as I did research when becoming vegan. Do I still own and wear that belt to this day? Yes. But like I’ve mentioned, I don’t like to waste, nor do I have the money to replace it, and I will never purchase another leather belt again. Also,I will just say that I don’t think I have ever owned anything with “real fur” so that never was a draw for me. Also, ew.

Milk and Cheese: I LOVE CHEESE. Honestly. This is still true, despite the fact that I haven’t eaten it in almost a year. Trust me, I know how hard it is to give it up. It was made a little easier when I noticed that it made me really sick almost every time I ate it. However, I didn’t stop eating it because I stopped liking it. So just keep that in mind when I say that you CAN live without cheese. I promise. Cow’s milk? I had stopped drinking it when I became vegetarian, actually. I discovered almond milk and never looked back! IT TASTES LIKE MELTED ICE CREAM. Especially the chocolate, which tastes like Rocky Road. No joke. There are really good cheese alternatives these days, too. I use them sparingly, but it does hit the spot sometimes. Milk comes from cows, obviously, but most people are severely undereducated when it comes to the realities of the dairy industry. We all would LOVE to believe that female “Happy” cows spend their time grazing in a grassy field and basking in the sunlight all day, only stopping to trot in to the big red barn to be milked by a loving farmer once a day to avoid their udders from bursting. It’s a pretty picture, I know. I really wish that were that easy. Maybe there are a few farms in the world that really are like that. I don’t know. 

My core issue with where milk comes from in reality is who it is intended for. Shockingly enough, it’s meant for baby cows. I know, right? Seems like common sense, but once again, we have come to believe that cows can just produce milk forever and ever and ever without it being pregnant and that they MUST be milked or they’ll be uncomfortable or burst or whatever.  That’s not how it works for mammals, is it? A female human only lactates when she has a baby to feed, right? Yes, lactation can be extended for longer periods of time, but eventually, the milk will stop. Cows are the same way. Bottom line: female cows are artificially inseminated (by hand, mind you. Ew.) resulting in milk for humans and a baby cow that is removed shortly after birth. Newborn females are given the same fate as their mothers and the males are sold for veal, kept in tiny crates, and only live a few months. Once the mother can no longer give enough milk, they are useless and are sent to slaughter. It’s the absolute truth. And as a female, the manipulation of the reproduction system, shackling and caging of such kind creatures, and the treatment of living beings like machinery really bothers me. I couldn’t do it anymore. I can’t support the dairy industry because I know it’s wrong.

Eggs: These were the last food item that I "gave up". Not because they were my favorite or anything, just because milk had made me sick and I stopped eating it because I actually don’t enjoy feeling yucky. I knew after that that eggs were next. It was a logical progression. I never loved eggs themselves, really. I would have scrambled eggs maybe twice a month and egg salad once every other month. As a baker, though, eggs are an integral part of the process. Or so I thought. The more research I did and the more recipes I found, I realized that there were other options. I like options. And also, I love to experiment in the kitchen and try new things. It’s been a challenge, but I am loving these new products and possibilities that I’ve found. For example, did you know that ground flax seed mixed with water can replace eggs in banana bread and other baked goods? Whaaaat. I know, that blew my mind. Also there is a product called Ener-G found in the baking section of the grocery store, it’s a powder that when mixed with water can also be used to replace eggs. It’s so awesome. I’m telling you, the possibilities are endless. 

As someone who was TRAINED as a baker to use eggs, milk, and butter, trust me: change is possible. My family was a little skeptical at first when I would bring a new experiment over, my dad sometimes asked if there was anything “weird” in it. And granted, I did put zucchini in brownies once. They were delicious! ; ) But for the most part, they love what I make now! Or at least willing to try it. Not every recipe or alteration works, but that is true of baking in general. It just takes a shift in thinking and a few new ingredients and voila! Vegan dessert. Amazing. Eggs were another thing that I never thought much about. I mean, chickens HAVE to lay eggs, right? They don’t have to die. Eh, well, yes and no. Out of all animals used in the food industry, egg laying chickens get the worst treatment. Crammed into tiny cages with up to 8 other chickens so they can’t spread their wings, beaks cut off so they don’t peck each other, their feet cut by standing on the wire bottom of the cage. Awful. And they live significantly shorter lives than nature intended because they become useless once they stop laying eggs. Another example of exploiting the female reproductive system. Nope. I no longer support the egg industry. Can’t do it.

Sorry, I couldn't stomach searching the google images
for a picture of meat. I'm pretty sure you can 
imagine it yourself. 

Meat: Obviously, I stopped eating meat when I became vegetarian almost 5 years ago. My vegetariAnniversary is coming up on May 3rd! Man, how time flies. And look! I’m still alive!! I’m sure many people are shocked that I found a way to live without meat, but it can be done, I assure you. : ) Once again, I didn’t stop eating eat because it didn’t taste good. It just wasn’t worth it anymore. I’ve already mentioned the fates of dairy cows, their babies and egg-laying chickens, but did you know they have genetically altered certain female chickens so they can’t even lay eggs? They are called “broilers”. Their sole purpose is to grow as large as possible, as quickly as possible, so they can produce large chicken breast and drumsticks and buffalo wings. That’s just crazy to me. The chickens grow so large and so quickly that their legs can’t even support them. It’s not natural. And pigs, wow. Have you ever heard of the term “gestation crate”? They are about the saddest, meanest contraptions ever. The pigs can’t even turn around in them and the larger they get, the less they can move so they end up just laying on their side for the rest of their lives. Only used for making more little piglets, exploitation of females seems to be the common factor. It’s not right. Clearly I haven’t supported the meat industry for years and I have never, ever regretted that decision.

There’s so much more to say, but I will leave it at that. I now know where I want to give my support. I hope you might give it some thought and consider where your money is going.

If you doubt anything that I have said above, you are welcome to watch this video below. Honestly, I have done so much research and reading that I don't have specific sources anymore. I've only stated what I know, but here is proof. It's tough to watch, but honestly? If you can't stomach these images, then there might be a reason for that. Think about it. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I've been thinking lately about my body. I know that sounds weird or conceited or....something. But I mean it in a good and healthy way. I think.

But seriously, there have been many things lately that have made me realize how much I can do with the body I have been given. Does it do everything I wish it could? No. But it does everything I need it to. And more than I even thought.

I don't think I'll ever be a runner. In my head, I'm a runner, but my body disagrees.

Ballerina? Gymnast? Figure skater? Probably not. I've pretty much let those things go. Except when it comes to Olympics season... *pines to wear glittery outfits*

Anyway. I've learned how much I put my body through lately.

Like hauling my butt all over England and Wales, along with too much luggage, on often sore feet every day for 2 weeks. And I loved every minute of it.

Like working 8-10 hour days on my feet every day after said trip while semi-jetlagged. Accomplishing that and catching up on everything was nothing short of a miracle.

Like doing repetitive motions all day for the sake of a fancy VIP dessert, leaving my already weakened hands and wrists feeling like aching limp noodles. They've recovered. Mostly.

Like pushing it to the limits with frequent yoga sessions, which I now love and crave.

Whew. And that was just in the last few weeks. My body was able to do all that and I am extremely grateful. I truly have been blessed and I am trying my best to keep that in mind in my lower points.

I can walk. I can run (sort of). I am perfectly capable of fulfilling all my duties at my rather physically-demanding job. I can hug my family whom I love. I can see, hear, sing, speak, smile, and I see now all these things are a gift.

One last, more sobering reason for my collection of thoughts. I was driving down the canyon late after work and yoga today when I saw at least 6 cop cars flashing their lights on either side of the canyon road. Next I saw the beige-ish 4-door sedan sitting on it's roof by the side of the road, broken glass scattered everywhere. I don't know if anyone was injured, but I suspect they may have been.

Not long after that, I turned off the canyon road toward 9000 s and as I approached the intersection at Wasatch Blvd, I saw a Silver pickup truck sitting in the middle of it. Then I saw the bicycle on its side in front of the truck and a half dozen people huddled around a figure on the ground. I suspect that  a bicyclist vs. Automobile accident had just occurred minutes before. The girl at the wheel was clearly sobbing and the police hadn't even arrived yet. Two lives changed forever in a split second.

Will the bicyclist ever walk or bike again? Will that girl live with the guilt the rest of her life? Can a person walk away from a roll over accident unscathed? I don't know if I'll ever get these answers. Thankfully, I was just a bystander, but it made me realize how fortunate I am.

Those affected by tragedy today will be in my prayers tonight. Count your blessings. I know I am.

Friday, January 31, 2014

It Can Be Done. Believe it.

I like to think that I'm capable of anything I set my mind to. My own insecurities and occasional negative mentality is what usually stops me. I'm trying to give myself more credit these days, though. I can do it. I just need a challenge. A little push.

I've proven my negative thoughts wrong on many occasions and I'm so glad that I have.

"I can't."

"I could never do that."

"I don't have the strength or the will power."

"I don't know how."

"What will others think of me?"

"What if I fail?"

So what if I do? So what if I fail? Not trying is so much worse because then I always wonder.

I'm more sure of what I'm capable of these days because I've tried. I've done well, I've done not-so-well, and in many ways I'm still learning and growing. But I just don't want to be too afraid to try anymore.

Do you ever tell yourself those things? Does it keep you from taking that step?

I hope not. I hope your inner self is kinder. And I want you to know that YOU can do it. It bums me out when awesome people say "I could never do that". Yes, you could. I KNOW you could. It may not be easy. It may take time. The result may not be what you expected, but a lot of times that's a good thing. You may surprise yourself.

I know I have.

I can write every day for a month just to prove that I can.

I can do yoga in public, not just in the privacy of my own living room.

I can go out and meet people who I might have dismissed in the past.

I can go to a foreign country for the first time. (England! 4 days!)

I can put myself out there and occasionally get shot down (still working on that one in a more recent manner).

I can let go of things that are good for things that are greater.

I've found things and projects and causes that are worth it.

I've discovered so much to be passionate about.

Make it matter. Let it in. It can be done.

Believe it.

More to come... (which will hopefully put this post in context)   :)

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

2014? Let's do this.

Yeah, yeah. It's been a while. My words, all of them, were being used elsewhere for the month of November, which I will explain later. And then the holidays and BAM. Here we are. January.

So. It's a new year and stuff. Pretty smooth transition, actually. My New Year's was pretty much uneventful, but eventful often tires me out, so that's okay with me.

Let's reflect, shall we? I vaguely remembered writing a blog post in early 2013 about some improvements and goals I had in mind for the year, so I read through it and....I kinda think I might have sort of accomplished them all in a way? Granted, there were only 5, but still. Here's how it went down:

1. Move out---->  Done! : )

2. Start my Own Business---> Done...ish. There is still a lot to take care of to make it official.

3. Accept Myself---> That's an ongoing project, but there has been significant progress this year.

4. Eat Healthier and Exercise Regularly----> I have actually done pretty well with this.

5. Letting Go---> Again, an ongoing project, but progress occurred.

I had forgotten all about that post, so I'm feeling pretty good about the progress I made. So let's do it again, huh? Here we go in no particular order.

  1. Finish my NaNo story (explained below).

  2. Get more serious about yoga, possibly including *GASP* doing it in public. Scary.

  3. Get more involved in my ward. Oy.

  4. Make a serious dent in my To Be Read pile. And attempt to not add to it. Heh. 

  5. Change my hair. Something different, just for fun. Haven't decided on what.

  6. Make my business official and kick it into high gear. 

  7. Take control of my finances. 


  9. Do something in regards to my dating life. Which may involve actually trying to meet people. 

 10. Simplify. Read "The Joy of Less" and get rid of unnecessary stuff.

Yeah, I decided to up the ante a bit. Trying to push myself a little more. : )

But seriously, looking back, I did a lot of things that I wasn't sure I could do in the last year. Here's a few of those things, some of which have been mentioned above but I'll elaborate a bit:

  -move out of my parents' house and move into my own apartment, which I LOVE. I've truly been able to make it my home. Even renewed my lease for another year.

  -discovered that dairy no longer loved me like I loved it and we finally parted ways, which led me to....

  -becoming fully awake, allowing compassion to be my guide, and became Vegan. Cheese really was the only thing in my way. I mentioned that I was leaning toward going vegan in my last year's resolution of eating healthier, but that darn cheese. Once it started to make me really sick, that was the push I needed. And you know what? I don't even miss cheese. Seriously. Really. I love love LOVE being vegan. One of my best decisions ever!

  -drove to Berkley, CA, with my younger sisters to see MUMFORD & SONS IN CONCERT!!! One of the best nights of my life! It was truly incredible and I can't even describe how great those 4 men are at playing music. Loooooove them.

Don't mind the photobomber. She asked for the pic
so I sent it to her. People are weird. 

  -went swimming in the ocean for the first time and then consequently got sand EVERYWHERE and ended up with quite possibly the worst sunburn of my life. Not awesome.

  -kept up with yoga, practicing just at home 3 or 4 times a week, and I've really improved. It feels SO good and I really notice a difference when I go a few days without. Related note, I was looking at yoga pins on Pinterest and poses to help a person do the splits caught my eye. That has never been my goal in yoga, but I recognized a lot of poses that I already do regularly. And you know what? I tried it. I can almost do the splits. WHAT. I have NEVER been able to do that. Ever. And that's without even trying. Whoop! : )

  -participated in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, aka NaNo. Meaning I wrote 50,000 words in the shape of a manuscript for a novel all in the month of November. It was pretty nuts and like I mentioned, it took ALL my words. No more words for blogging. But it was a great experience and proved to myself that I can do it, when pushed. I didn't finish my story, and honestly, I haven't written a word for it since the 30th of November. SO. MANY. WORDS. Wow. But I won! I did it! Proof:

  -bought a Christmas tree of my very own! I prefer real ones, although the vegan side of me wonders if it's wasteful. It smells amazing in my apartment, though! And the tree industry is actually sustainable, so. ; )

  -became more DIY and self-sustaining by doing things myself! Like making my own bread, pan spray, and almond milk, also buying in bulk and cooking at home 95% of the time to save money. I'm also trying to grow a balcony garden, although my avocado and celery plants are currently living inside right now cause it's friggin' FREEZING outside.

Left is celery, right is avocado. 

  -tried so many new foods, it's insane! Many people think being vegan is limiting, but it's really not. You just have to get a little more creative, and I love a challenge! : )

  -plan a trip to ENGLAND AND WALES that is happening in exactly a month!! A few more details to secure, but my passport is on its way! YES!! I'm so stoked. :D

Well, it's getting late and I'm starting to lose my train of thought, so I better wrap it up. Turns out 2013 was a pretty great year for me. A lot of growth and learning.