Sick of Self-Care

Acts once performed with the intention of loving kindness
have become just additional burdens of mindless routine
every little task now resonates with resentment
self-care disfigured and transmuted into self-harm

Somehow I turn even healing practices into poison
to punish myself for not meeting my own expectations
what is there inside me that turns self-love so sour?
why doesn't putting in the work work for me?

Tools I was told would transform me if I was patient
were twisted into weapons of perfectionism
just more masochistic mutations of all the miracles
I used to think would some day save me

I'm so tired of this futile self-improvement project called me
the pearls of ancient wisdom I've turned to soot within my fingers
the internal pressure of trying to get better is
the terminal illness of my inner-most essence
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It Doesn’t Feel Like a Choice

Can a broken brain really fix itself?
maybe it requires a lot of help
but how can you seek out something
you're already certain you don't deserve?

I've tried relentlessly to turn
the tides of my mind toward the sun
but the familiar shore of rage and despair
is magnetic as it resists every effort

It's gotten no easier to resist this automatic
under toe of self-defeating thoughts
when it pulls my head below the waves
so swiftly and with such strength

Self-love practices that once felt like salvation
have turned sour under the miasma of this mind
shame and disappointment have piled onto the
frustration of not being able to be different

I had really hoped that it was a choice
that I could decide to feel better
but now I doubt that it's fully true
there are more factors to change than sheer will

It feels like an attack to keep hearing it's up to me
when I've been trying my very best
but it's still not enough to get by
I guess I should be glad it worked for a little while

Animal Spirit

the body loves me
even when I don't love it
this animal spirit inside
is fighting tirelessly
to keep me alive

Intricate networks
of blood vessels and veins
muscles and sinews
and breathing stardust
cleverly conspiring to keep me safe

I poison its efforts with casual harm
cutting and gagging and straining its limits
imperfection is not justification for punishment
blinded to the enormous, exhausting efforts
of a body trying its very best

This quivering creature that cradles my soul
only craving compassion and care
the bare minimum of reciprocation 
for non-stop, selfless service
offered in a myriad of unnoticed ways

I cannot fault it for not following vanity
and dangling me just above death
to fit in a smaller dress
it doesn't understand that desire
true love is keeping me healthy

The fierce physical innocence of this form
continues to create blood and breath and bone
to buoy me forward in this life without thanks
the precious animal that is also me
doesn't deserve such callous disregard

The mind and the body are wards of one another
it's time my mental faculties begin
carrying their own weight in the ways
of consistent loving-kindness
for this creature doing the best it can

You Deserve It

Holding back the happiness
has become a form of self-defense
a suit of armor inlaid with spikes
stripping the soul of all color

A perversion of pleasure
believed to be undeserved
the conviction that hardships
will hurt worse with contrast

Let your heart lift with the certainty
that there are no prerequisites for celebration
the spirit is free to sing at its leisure
relinquish the reigns of self-affliction

Wrap your heart in layers of joy
so when the rain comes, as it must
you will have a safe harbor of happiness
to sustain you from within

Don't ever feel you must deny yourself
life's most simple, innocent delights
don't leave your soul to starve
without its natural nourishment

I promise you've already earned
your small share of sunshine
don't waste your life wondering
if you are worthy

You've won the lottery of merely living
each automatic breath is a reminder
that you deserve to be here
and thoroughly enjoy it whenever you can 

Slow Descent

Someday not far off from now
this body will truly fail me
when that day finally comes
I'll wish I had forgiven it for
all these small imperfections

I'll wish I had been kinder
and offered compassion
to the many parts of me
that make me cringe
just to acknowledge

I'll think more gently about
the things that now seem unacceptable
about this ever fading physical form
it's hard to face the fact that
future changes will all be for the worse

All the more reason
to not waste this glorious season
of youth spread before me now
to not spend one more summer
ashamed of my soft tummy

I already look back and wish
I had loved myself more freely
and lament all the energy I've spent
disowning and being disgusted
by my own body

When the winter of my life arrives
how can I hope to embrace my decline
and not crumble with every new crease I find
when I've been unable to enjoy myself
even when I was at my very best

I want to be grateful for what I have now
so I don't discover someday that 
the treasure I've lost slowly through the years
was one I never knew the true value of
until it was all gone

Forgive

Fall is a reminder
to forgive ourselves
for our failures

The inevitable plunge
after a season of fiery energy
the slow decent into old age

We cannot always hold ourselves
to the standard of our best days
the winter will come again

And it's okay to rest
it's okay to stumble
and go backwards

There is no shame
in still loving yourself
after your worst mistakes

Don't be afraid to offer yourself
the sacred medicine of self-love
it's not reserved for perfection alone

You won't be spoiled by
your own positive regard
during the dark night of the soul

There is strength to be found in forgiveness
there is grace that blooms from the rich soil
of having faith in yourself

Severity will not serve you
rigidity will leave you broken
let your inner gaze be soft

Gather up the lessons learned
and save them for future opportunities
life is abundant with second chances

Take Your Medicine

Silence is the medicine
so desperately needed
in a deafening world of noise
the earth is always waiting
with gentle tea leave tonics
to soothe an aching heart
rough, strong branches
to support your tired limbs
soft, sweet smelling grasses
to cradle a head made heavy
with over stimulation
invite in the fearful feeling
that rises suddenly inside
at the thought of slowing down
prove to yourself
that the world keeps spinning
when you completely stop
rest is the only remedy
that can refill an empty cup
taking a break seems impossible
when you need it most of all
this is your permission slip
to settle into stillness
and reconnect with
the almighty ebb and flow
of ever-present earth energy
pulsating beneath your feet
you deserve to take deep breaths
and sprinkle your days with
compassionate commas
and plump, perfect pauses

5 Unexpected Benefits of Going Vegan

By now I think most people are familiar with the major benefits of transitioning to veganism. Many, like me, are initially drawn in by promises of weight loss while still eating large quantities of food. Then they wind up staying for the animals and the myriad of other bonuses you notice along the way. Other people do it to be healthier in general or to contribute less to the destruction of planet Earth. There are tons of posts out there that will tell you about the same handful of positive changes a vegan diet brings into your life. After being vegan for over 10 years, I’d like to shine a light on the somewhat stranger, less discussed benefits a vegan lifestyle offers.

One: Level Up Your Cooking Skills

I hate to cook. Or at least… I used to. Now although the amount of time it takes and the mess it makes frustrates me from time to time, I can’t help but get an immense sense of satisfaction from the incredible, healthy dishes I’ve learned to throw together so easily. In the beginning the increased necessity for cooking your own meals may be daunting to new vegans. In a small area like the one I live in, going out to eat every night or buying pre-made vegan food items isn’t really an option (even if I could afford it.) I can’t just go to the deli and buy a rotisserie chicken for dinner when I’ve had an unexpectedly long day. On the other hand, I honestly have no desire to let others make my food. They simply don’t do it as well as I am able to now. I’m quite surprised and proud of my newfound cooking ability and can genuinely say I prefer the meals I make at home over the expensive vegan restaurants’ dishes. If you’re interested in the types of food I prepare, you can find links to all my most used recipes in this post.

Two: Expand Your Food Repertoire

After ten years of hearing, “But what do you eat?” I’ve grown quite perplexed by the question. Imagine trying to answer that as a non-vegan. Am I supposed to list dozens of food items and meals? I eat so many different things! I feel like simply responding, “What do you mean?” I once heard someone on a podcast who explained it perfectly. How many different meats are there really? Maybe three or four that people eat regularly, then cheeses and milk. That really isn’t much variety. On the other hand there are thousands and thousands of different plant foods available to us to eat. Non-vegan meals now look quite sad and tan-colored to me, very bland and unappetizing. Since going vegan, my experience with new, interesting, and exotic foods has expanded beyond the wildest dreams of the normal, American meat-eater. I’ve tried dishes from many different cultures, mastered the art of utilizing spices, and tasted fruits and vegetables I never knew existed before! I assure you I eat a more exciting and varied diet than any non-vegan I’ve ever known.

Three: Bye-bye Common Cold

While I had a vague awareness of this before, the Covid-19 pandemic really brought it to the forefront. I think we’ve all gotten a bit more paranoid around anyone who seems to be sniffling or coughing in the last few years. What’s surprised me is just how often everyone I know experiences cold symptoms like these. It’s almost as if everyone around me is perpetually ill. There are people I’ve noticed who are literally always congested, dripping from their noses and eyes, and have a cough that won’t quit. And these aren’t people with long Covid. Many of them never got it to begin with. Hopefully I won’t be jinxing myself by saying that in my ten years as a vegan, I’ve never gotten sick. Seriously. Not once. And before you go attributing this to luck or good genes, I used to get sick all the time. At the very least, I could expect a few days of serious battling with a stomach bug every year and being plagued by the pesky common cold every fall/winter. I never even realized how badly my body felt at a baseline level until I went vegan and experienced real health for the first time in my life. I thought regular sickness was just how life was supposed to be. I’m here now to tell you, it’s not. Veganism is your ticket to not only long-term health, but daily wellness.

Four: Faster Recovery Time

Not only does a vegan diet prevent you from feeling achy and sluggish after a big meal, it also helps your body recover more quickly from a workout. A vegan diet contains absolutely zero cholesterol, so the heart benefits are usually a big focus. But in addition to a stronger, healthier heart, the rest of the body’s abilities are also bolstered by eating plant-based. I can’t help but laugh when I see fitness bros proclaiming vegans are weak and can’t build muscle for lack of protein. Not only are there world-class, record breaking athletes that are vegan, the diet is also a great help to the average fitness enthusiast like myself. You are not only just as capable of building muscle, but the process will be much less painful. Inflammation in the body wreaks all sorts of havoc, but it also is the culprit when you notice sore, tired muscles after an intense workout. While I still get a satisfying sense of soreness from a challenging leg day, my body recovers and replaces those aches with new, stronger muscle tissue much faster than it ever did before I went vegan. If you’d like to learn more about the effects of veganism on athletes, I’d recommend watching The Game Changers. Or you can read about this specific aspect on their website.

Five: Brain Fog Finally Lifted

Before the pandemic, this aspect of veganism was also a bit harder to explain to people. With so many long-covid patients reporting the now common term of “brain fog” I feel I have a better chance of helping people understand what I mean. It’s been so long, I can’t really remember what it used to feel like inside my head. Still I’ve never forgotten the experience I had after about a full month of vegan eating. I woke up one morning and everything just felt clearer. It’s hard to describe exactly. I’ve always said it was like a cloud had lifted off of my mind. I could think faster, more coherently, more easily than ever before. It’s not like I had been struggling or anything. I had always been a straight A student and prided myself on my above average intelligence. Even so, this was something different. Almost like I had been carrying a heavy weight that was suddenly dropped, allowing me for the first time to move at my full potential. When you and every one you know have been living in a perpetual state of mild illness, you don’t really understand what it means to truly be healthy and well, physically AND mentally. But I promise you, give it a month, even if just as an experiment. You’ll be blown away by what you discover.


I hope that this has given you a bit more insight into the nearly infinite reasons to go vegan. I’m sure there are many more that I have accidentally overlooked, but these five are the ones I’ve been thinking about lately. I’m no saint. I went vegan in the beginning for selfish reason, not for the animals, as I wish I had. I’m hopeful that personal gain will be a motivator to other people as well. Regardless of what aspect of veganism you look at, there is some incredible benefit to be had whether it be to your health, daily lifestyle, cognitive function, the Earth, or the animals. Please consider giving yourself, everyone else, and everything on this planet this amazing gift.

My Temple

This body is not an ornament
or a toy to break and replace
it is the holy vessel that holds me
and tethers me to this world

A useful container that houses the soul
perfect and precious because it is uniquely mine
the one thing I fully own, my true home
the most important gift I could be given

How ungrateful I've been for
the mortal flesh that supports me
my personal window into reality
an unconscious effort that keeps me living

Belittling all that this body does
based only on shallow self judgement
centered around outward appearance
as if that even matters

The frightened animal form
my consciousness has been assigned
to protect and take care of
offering only criticism and neglect

May I be a better steward
to this living temporary temple
and learn to speak to it with gratitude
and soft caresses of loving kindness

Pulling Away

If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.

Dalai Lama

It feels like this sentiment has received a lot of backlash in recent years. People are offended when you suggest their lack of self-love somehow eliminates their potential to love other people. This quote is at the back of my mind a lot and I’ve thought about it in different ways at different points in my life. I believe both perspectives have validity to them. I don’t think it’s impossible to have love for other people if you don’t love yourself. I know the love I receive from the people in my life often makes it more possible for me to show myself love and compassion. But I don’t think that was ever the message trying to be conveyed. The message to me was that you can’t love others fully or as much as you would be able to if you loved yourself.

Relationships of any kind are very difficult for me. I do think it stems a lot from the way I love myself, or rather the way I don’t love myself. Throughout my life, all the relationships that have stuck were with people that are extremely open, loving, caring, and communicative. These people are the easiest for me to connect with, because I feel safe with them. And I guess to a certain extent, maybe they have the self-confidence and self-esteem to not take it personally when I am in one of my anti-social moods.

I’ve recently noticed how a lot of my other relationships break down over time. If the other person is not always openly expressing their good opinion of me or how much they value me and our friendship, I slowly start to convince myself that they don’t care about me. Because of this often mistaken perception, I pull away. They notice me pulling away, so they pull away. My suspicions are confirmed, and the friendship/relationship is dead. Without the presence of a palpable and verbalized unconditional love, I don’t ever feel secure enough to maintain a relationship with someone.

This stems directly from the way I feel about myself. I don’t believe I deserve friendship or love. It makes more sense to me that someone wouldn’t like me. I seek out cues to reinforce this belief whether they are there or not. It takes a LOT of weight and evidence in the opposite direction for someone to counterbalance my negative self-perception. Which can understandably be an exhausting dynamic for anyone without the predisposition to interact that way.

This is what I think it means when someone says you have to love yourself first. No, I’m not incapable of having meaningful, loving relationships. I’m fortunate enough to have several that I deeply value. BUT I would be available for forming close bonds with many different types of people if I had a higher amount of self-worth. My self-loathing makes it far too painful to be vulnerable with anyone that I’m not 100% certain will receive that vulnerability with positive regard and support. I’ve already rejected myself to such an extent that seeing that reflected by another person, whether real or imagined, is unbearable.

I don’t think you have to love yourself to love other people. But it does make it a hell of a lot easier.