Searching for Happiness

Three days into my new, more normal meal plan and I have already started to have doubts. Thoughts of reverting back to my old ways. My brain keeps replaying the shocked comments I received from everyone over the summer when they noticed how much weight I had lost. I am afraid of what they think now that I’ve definitely gained most of it back already. (I refuse to weigh myself anymore for my own mental health, so I can’t be sure.) I don’t know why I care what anyone else thinks though.

At the time it seems impossible to forget, but I have to keep reminding myself now that I wasn’t happy then. Those comments meant nothing to me. I was a little hurt by them to be honest. No one seems excited or happy for me. They looked at me with concern. And I was embarrassed to be looked at at all. I didn’t know what to say, and I was surprised. I still didn’t think I looked much smaller. I certainly didn’t think I looked better. And most importantly I wasn’t happy. Not at all.

My brain has always told me that if I can make myself perfect and beautiful, that I will be happy. I thought foolishly that maybe once I showed myself that didn’t work, I would stop insisting upon that notion. Yet it persists. Maybe my mind just needs something to latch onto. After all, I don’t know what would truly make me happy.

I have felt numb for such a long time now. I don’t mean depressed or anything necessarily negative. Just numb. Nothing. Lack of feeling. I have many small pleasures and moments of joy here and there, but nothing has the ability to deeply move me anymore. It seems like I feel more alive in my dreams now. And part of me is happy with things staying this way. I may not feel much passion or excitement, but nothing hurts me either. And I am so afraid to hurt. I guess I’ll just keep drifting for awhile.

Photo by JESSICA TICOZZELLI on Pexels.com

Free Vegan Resources

Even after six years of veganism I am still finding new and exciting additions to my bountiful collection of resources. This past week I have stumbled upon two that I just can’t help but share with everyone I can. The first one I found accidentally as I was looking into details of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell for a co-worker of mine. This individual despite being certified in nutrition and fitness training for some reason believes that cholesterol does not make someone any more likely to get heart disease!

This continues to astound me so I suggested he read The China Study because despite not having read it myself, I knew that it was the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and strongly advocated for a whole foods, plant-based diet. After only a few simple searches I was able to discover that there is a PDF of the entire book available for free online! Click the link to check it out. While I doubt my coworker will take the time to read it, I have been reading it myself, and have learned a lot so far. Although years of arguments with non-vegans has taught me that solid evidence and facts and peer reviewed research is still never enough to convince someone of something they are determined to deny, it is still a helpful tool to have if you do happen to find someone who is interested. It makes it even more accessible when you can find this type of information for free from such a credible source.

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The next incredible resource that I came across this week is perfect for those that hold the mistaken perception that veganism is expensive and difficult to manage. I was looking for a free plant-based meal and workout plan in order to help me get out of the plateau I have reached in my fitness journey. While I have yet to find exactly what I was looking for, I did find an incredible vegan meal plan that could greatly benefit others. I hadn’t ever even heard of the website Plant-Based on a Budget before. It would be a wonderful resource for anyone dipping their toes into a vegan diet. This site gives you a full month of meals including recipes and shopping lists all for free! (There are some you can pay for, but the link is to the free version.) You are even able to choose a plan based on how many people you need to feed. I could hardly believe something so helpful had been right under my nose this whole time.

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I have shared both of these websites on my Facebook page in the hopes that those too timid to attempt a vegan diet before will be emboldened by this new information. I have certainly grown a lot since I first transitioned to this lifestyle. Instead of flaring up arguments with aggressive, impassioned proclamations, I’ve learned to just live by example and share information in an open and compassionate way in the hopes that those who are ready will find it helpful. I’ve learned that there is always more to learn and discover even six years in.

I am continuously inspired by the ever-progressing availability and amount of information there is about veganism. Things have changes so much since I began this journey. Each day the choice becomes easier and easier for others to make. I truly believe that the only possible future for humanity is a vegan one. I hope we all get to see it.

Bullet Journaling: October

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I am happy to say that 2017 has been a very productive and transformative year for me. I finally feel like I am steering my life towards the things I’ve always wanted. I attribute this change in character and consistency to a new phenomenon I stumbled upon called bullet journaling.

This is a type of journaling that allows you to have freedom of form, flexibility, and creativity while still maintaining a semblance of structure. Bullet journals (bujos) most importantly allow you to keep a sense of cohesion in your life. No more rewriting the same goals and ideas over and over again intermittently in different notebooks only to close the cover and blindly step back into the same routines that have been failing you thus far.

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I began my bujo last April, and at this point, I can honestly say that I plan to keep it up for as long as I am able. Keeping a journal in this form has allowed me to keep track of and keep up with my long-term goals. As I mentioned, I used to write down the same few abstract goals dozens of times only to come back to them months later not knowing if I had made any progress at all or even what that progress would look like. It has been incredibly fulfilling and self-affirming for me to be able to quantify my small successes each day. If you suffer from low self-esteem like I do, a bujo can definitely help you notice how much you actually are accomplishing. This, in turn, can give you the confidence to break out of a cycle of self-doubt and achieve more of your goals.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably already fretting about the possibility that you may see that you are not making progress on a particular goal and how that will affect your frame of mind. However, I have found that even in this instance a bujo can be helpful. Instead of seeing this lack of progression as a failure, it can stimulate you to make some changes. Is this goal really important to you? Should you drop this goal in order to focus more energy on more meaningful projects? And if this goal really is something you want to work towards, can you break it into smaller, more easily attainable goals? Don’t let this type of realization discourage you. Let it inspire you to try something new.

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In addition to tracking goals, bujos can include a myriad of other aspects such as: scheduling, habit tracking, studying, grocery lists, doodling, and anything else you want to keep track of all in one convenient location. As you can see from the photos I took of my October spread, I generally use mine to track daily habits and mood, set monthly goals, record my finances, plan my weekly meals, and record what I eat and do each day. But one of the best parts about bullet journaling is that you can change the layout and setup any time you want. Each weekly spread can look different depending on how busy you are or how your feeling that week. After evaluating how your spread worked for one month you can easily revamp it to better suit your needs for the next.

Bullet journaling can also have the added bonus of allowing you to begin to notice patterns in your moods and behaviors. If you see that you were feeling particularly down a few days or one particular week in the month you can look at what else was happening and be better prepared in the future to avoid situations or habits that produce negative emotions. You may, however, start to notice yourself becoming more happier in general. According to Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness, planning and making goals for the future actually increases feelings of happiness and contributes to a positive sense of well-being.

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There are endless amounts of videos online demonstrating how to set up your very own bujo along with inspiration and ideas to add your own special flare that keeps you coming back each day. I hope that this format of journaling benefits your life as much as it has benefited mine.

Happy Journaling ♥