These last couple of months have challenged me to define what being on a rollercoaster means to me. Since I last wrote, I was invited to be a writing juror for the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards, went through the absolute worst psoriasis flare I have had in years which caused me not to be able to travel to see my family over Christmas, chopped off a great deal of hair, as a wellness experiment for a new doctor was advised to eat meat again, banish soy and remove grains temporarily after 4 1/2 years of a plant-based diet, delivered a keynote speech for the awards and asked to teach for a couple of organizations.
While some of those things I absolutely love (hello haircut, writing awards keynote and teaching), dealing with a flare after months of progress and medication was tough for my psyche and eating meat again felt like an abandonment of my lifestyle and and created a small disconnect with my husband as we no longer eat the exact same meals. While none of that seems earth shattering, I have to be careful not to minimize my feelings, constantly seeking to compare my woes to others whom I perceive to be in much worse situations.
If I fall for the trap of comparison, I fail to do the one thing that is a catalyst for healing: Acknowledge the pain. It’s beneficial and it is healthy for me to acknowledge how painful it is trying not to scratch my skin, bloody sheets and clothing, reinstituting the daily sweeping of my dead skin from all over my home and being robbed of the joy of seeing my family on Christmas day. It is beneficial and healthy for me to acknowledge how awkward and uncomfortable it is to cook separately from my husband and eat animal products again as have always been united in how we choose to nourish ourselves.
I also need to acknowledge it is beneficial and healthy to look for the highs and not to dismiss all the good news even in the midst of the pain. I read and viewed writing and art that inspired me to work on my next project, I attended the grand opening of the first Black-woman owned bookstore and wine bar in my city and I never have to worry about the people in my life trying to dismiss me or drown me in the turbulent waters of toxic positivity when I need to speak my truth.
I acknowledge the pain, the pleasure, the heartbreak, the hope, the disappointment, the glee, the inspiration, the frustration, the light and the darkness.
I believe if I accept that the rollercoaster is inevitable but not insurmountable, I’ve accepted a truth that will guide me the rest of my days.
Last week Hubby and I went to Charleston, SC for vacation. We walked around the French Quarter including the City Market and talked to vendors. We lounged lazily in our beach chairs and splashed in the warm waves at Isle of Palms beach, visited a delightful farmer’s market in Mt. Pleasant and ate at a couple of delicious plant-based restaurants.
When we came back to our room in the evenings, we made no apologies for simply wanting to power all the way down, connect with each other and fall asleep guessing who won Chopped. We slept late, let our skin drink in the sun and didn’t think of work.
On the way back, I knew I was going to miss being away on vacation but there was something else I was going to miss: how engaged I felt.
While I was walking along the beach, I listened to nothing but the water, the conversation and laughter of passerbys. At one point, Hubby and I were standing in the ocean and it started to thunder. I waded out as far and as fast as I could to have one last moment before having to leave. That moment almost seems nondescript but there was a desperate quality to my run. Even as I sit here now, I can feel the weight of the water on my legs.
We talked and sang (badly) the entire way home. As much as I enjoyed Charleston, it was clear to me it could have been almost anywhere because I allowed myself to get lost in my time there. I allowed myself not to seek constant distraction.
I have days where I have nothing new to say, either about my writing or my health. I struggle with not wanting to turn the health portion of this blog into a weight loss blog. I don’t know think there’s anything wrong with them. Actually, I love reading about other people’s weight loss journeys or watching the occasional weight loss transformation YouTube video. I wanted this to be a space where I could focus on overall health and writing updates but it was brought to my attention that perhaps I am not sharing anything new with my readers in regards to my weight loss.
You all know that I am plant-based, read about (or even tried) the recipes I’ve shared and that I’ve had successful and unsuccessful bouts with raw veganism. But I have purposely shied away from numbers here.
I know part of it is because I don’t want to be perceived as yet another fat woman documenting her weight loss journey. There is an active perception a fat woman’s idea of ultimate success is a rail thin body and I do not want to perpetuate that notion. That is not all of who I am or any of these women in this fight seeking support and/or accountability from their readers. Please believe I know at the end of the day, my perception is the only one that truly matters.
I am at a crossroads right now where PCOS, anxiety, psoriasis and fibroids are demanding more action from me than ever before. I have said before I won’t feel settled or at peace until I know I’ve done everything I can as consistently as I can and used every tool at my disposal to address these issues.
Maybe part of that is laying it all bare here. I will figure it out.
I’ll take it one step at a time. Taking it one thing at a time.
I would love to know what your take is on this post. Please share your thoughts in the comments!
I was feeling pretty tired and then just plain under the weather today (is summer almost here yet?). That was why I was especially happy that Hubby was off and felt like trying a new recipe: Mushroom Stroganoff (Vegan). He found the recipe on onegreenplanet.com.
Here is the recipe:
8 ounces uncooked ribbon noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour, divided
2 cups beefless beef broth or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms (half Portobello and half White Button mushrooms), cut into large 2-inch chunks
I recently decided that I will spend from September 3rd-October 3rd eating raw foods and journaling everyday. On the 4th of October, I leave for the Digital Storytelling Workshop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. By that time, I want to feel mentally, spiritually and physically prepared as possible for the experience ahead of me.
Today, I was listening to a man who has been water fasting for over 40 days now speak about how he feels that we take on the characteristics of the things we eat. His statement was reminiscent of the age old saying “You are what you eat.” What struck me was the calmness in his tone as he recounted how he was reacting (or not reacting) to others in typically stressful situations. He feels like water–going with the flow without rising to anger or panic.
Even though I was raw throughout the month of July, I didn’t document how I was feeling each day. I want the next 30 days to stand out in my memory and the best way for me has always been to write it down.
I also want it as a record for all I have to be grateful for…the physical and the mental results.
Hubby and I spent the weekend in Baltimore. We had the pleasure of attending Vegan SoulFest 2018 and visiting with friends. Yesterday, they took us to a lively farmer’s market in the city where we purchased (among many other things), oyster mushrooms. I have had them in restaurants but never cooked them myself.
We ended up using a recipe from liveeatlearn com and I can’t wait to try it again.
Here’s the recipe:
4king oyster mushrooms*
2Tbspextra virgin olive oil30 mL, divided
Shred mushrooms.Preheat oven to 400 degrees (204 C). Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Using two forks, shred the stems and caps roughly into pieces. Set on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake: Drizzle with 1 Tbsp of the oil, paprika, salt, cayenne, and garlic. Toss around to evenly coat the mushrooms, then bake for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are a bit crispy and brown on the edges.
Sauté: Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a large saute pan over medium high. Transfer cooked mushrooms to pan and add BBQ sauce. Stir and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until mixture is thick and fragrant. Serve warm on sandwiches, nachos, salads, tacos…or whenever you eat pulled pork!
We chose to serve it on a wheat bun with my husband’s version of deviled potaties. Definitely looking forward to eating this dish again.
For the next 5 days, I have decided to return to eating raw vegan. Let’s just say I went off the rails during vacation with my vegan cooked foods and kept it up for a few days afterwards.
I usually like to make huge salads for dinner while raw and seek a recipe from the internet or something store bought for the dressing but tonight, with inspiration from recipes I’ve seen online, I decided to go ahead and make my own.
Here’s the recipe:
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of raw cashews
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon of juice from olives (you can even throw in a couple if you choose).
1 tablespoon of spicy brown mustard
Blend together and enjoy this creamy dressing with your veggies!
For the past few days, Hubby and I were in Florida to celebrate our anniversary and to visit family. Our schedule was jam-packed but we did make time to stay spend a morning at Ft. Lauderdale beach and go to South Beach. I fell in love with the water, as in kicked off my sandals, hiked up my dress and waded straight into the warm clear blue. After a long walk, we made it to be to Tap Tap, a famous (and delicious) Haitian restaurant in South Beach Miami. We indulged in Diri Kole, plantains and legim (vegetables). I forgot to ask if there was a meat-based broth they cooked anything in but it was wonderful. I especially loved the decor. There were murals everywhere, a lovely and vibrant tribute to the people, music, rituals and food of Haiti.
I also found out that I have the opportunity to go to two events over the same weekend in different parts of the country the night we left. One event is a known. I know (and am excited about) the type of people attending and the speakers. My second choice is full of unknowns and whether or not I deem the experience a success, I have no doubt I will be pushed to grow as a creator and a writer.
I have been told and have told others if you have the choice between two choices like that, you go with the unknown.
I understand part of life is about stretching yourself in order to know who you are and what your limits are.
I hope what I choose allows me to find out more about who I am and what those limits are for me.
This past Saturday was our 6th anniversary! One of the ways we celebrated was trying Nu Vegan Cafe. It did not disappoint. I hadn’t indulged in any cooked food since June 30th and this meal was well worth the wait.
I had “chicken drummies” with macaroni and cheese and broccoli and hubby had General Tso’s with rice, string beans and some of the most delicious cabbage I had ever tasted. I am so happy to report they knew how to season their food!
We even tried some of the vegan cornbread which is not to be missed! I had to slow down as my body was not used to eating cooked foods again. So while we did go back to try their brunch on Sunday (french toast was everything!) we will have to slow down as I am back on mostly raw foods. Make no mistake, we will be back. I still have so much more left to try!
I wrote a post months ago about having to say no in order to say yes to myself. Well, I am doing it again. I have been working extra hard lately and tonight, I will nourish myself and rest. I also thought about something special to share. I have made many vegan dishes–mostly cooked but several raw vegan. I had many favorites like African peanut stew, Raw No Bake Brownies, Vegan Shepherd’s Pie, Sweet Potato Enchilada Bake, Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo and Raw Taco with Cashew Sour Cream.
I look back and think how proud I am that I pushed myself to find and cook these recipes. I didn’t just rely on salads (but I have made plenty of those!). I can’t believe it took this long to become more creative with my cooking but mostly I am grateful that I used this as a way to take better control of my health.
I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings as I start to prepare more raw meals and watch food play a much bigger role in my healing.