A Year in Writing-2016 Edition

I started this blog on January 22nd this year.

What can I say? I had cold feet on January 1st.

I’m finishing 2016 with my 50th post. In order to celebrate this achievement and look back to this year’s writing, I picked my favorite 5 posts for you to enjoy.

Here goes in no particular order:

1- Breaking Up with Veganism

Has veganism treated you badly? Are you considering parting ways with your hard-headed guilt tripping socially inept partner?

If so, know that you’re not the only one. As for myself I’ll continue to put up with the occasional frustrations of our ever evolving relationship but a whooping 30 million adults in the US have given up. Are you one of them?

2-Finding Space for Creativity

As a kid, I spent hours pretending I was locked in the closet.

It was small with old mostly blank ugly walls. That’s what I liked about it. I had to imagine I was somewhere else or I would develop claustrophobia. There was just enough space for me to sit down with my legs half stretched out.

Truth be told, I’ve never found a better space for creativity since then.

3-What Motivational Speakers Don’t Tell You

The thing (this is the moment you’ve been waiting for) motivational speakers or anyone who gives advice on “how-to” something, never tell you is that you don’t need to listen to their advice. 

That’s it?

Are you kidding me?

No, I’m not. Let me explain.

4-If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls Everyone Would be Vegan?

I know I started a series about how I became vegan, but today I want to explore how I didn’t become vegan.

The majority of people would not become vegan (or vegetarian) if slaughterhouses had glass walls.

Footage of horrendous violence towards animals doesn’t make most people change their ways.

I applaud those who changed their ways after watching one of those dreadful clips.

I wasn’t one of them.

5-Writing with the Tide

Imagine for a second that your mind is a beach.

You sit with your ideas and your thoughts everyday in the sand.

Sometimes there’s lots of people around you, it’s noisy and you don’t get much time to consider going in the water in front of you at all.

Then at some point, it’s quiet and all you can see is the infinite mass of waves crashing into each other.

It becomes tempting to put your ideas in a raft or a boat and let them float away. See where they might take you.

I hope you had some good reads this year, from me or anyone else!

I’ll see you back in 2017 for another year of posts about life on this earth with the good and the bad that entails!

*Photo Credit: Ted Sakshaug flickr Creative Commons 2.0

How Strong Is Your Resolve?

Another year on this earth is about to end.

I don’t know how many others our specie will have.

I don’t know how many others I will have.

The older I get, the more I envision New Year differently.

I used to think I should take part in the resolution frenzy.

The truth is every day is a start to a new year.

Waiting for January 1st to go after our goals is pointless.

Deep down we all know it but yet it is so tempting to make resolutions. It’s as if the first day of a new year ramps up our interest in changing whatever it is we wish to change in ourselves.

It is the talk of the week.

“What are your resolutions for 2017?”

I prefer to ask you:

“How strong is your resolve?”

I have had lots of resolutions over the years but I was only ever interested in accomplishing things.

 I wasn’t truly committed.

The truth is, our time, my time is running out. Every year brings us closer to the one where it will all end.

If that doesn’t make your resolve strong to accomplish something you are simply not going to ever do it.

I don’t have any resolutions this year.

All I have is my resolve to do whatever I want to do every day. Today, tomorrow. Every day next year.

What do you think of New Year resolutions?

Is January 1st an important date for you?

Did you ever keep a resolution you have made on January 1st?

I’d love to have your thoughts in the comments.

*Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks flickr Creative Commons 2.0

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

When I was little I read Helen Keller’s story.

I was in awe that she accomplished so much in life despite all the odds working against her.

My favorite part of the book was the moment that changed her life.

Her governess had been tracing words in the palm of her hand for months to try to teach her the names of things around her. Then one day she plunged the little girl’s hand under a stream of water.

In that split second Helen finally understood.

The world went from being senseless and confusing to full of life and possibilities.

She could learn and communicate. She wasn’t doomed to a life of silence and loneliness.

She went on to be the first blind and deaf person to complete a Bachelor of Arts. At Harvard nonetheless. She also wrote many books and gave conferences all over the world.

Few of us have defining moments as powerful as Helen Keller’s but we all have small and less small moments that change the course of our lives.

The kinds of moments that separate our lives into a before and after.

As a writer I have always been fascinated with those events that shape us.

We come across things that come to change the course of our lives.

Events that change what we believe in and how we see our place in the world.

We don’t recognize those moments as defining while they’re happening. It’s only when we look back that we see the full extent of their impact on us.

When we try to make sense out of our present lives, we reminisce on what led us to where we are.

The only way we can define ourselves is through our stories.

It is not really what happens to us that changes us but the stories we tell ourselves.

As 2016 comes to an end we are left to reflect on the moments that changed us this year.

Now is the time where we create the narrative that is going to permeate into the new year and into our core being.

Think of Helen Keller and her Aha! moment. Was it the moment itself that changed everything or the meaning she derived from it?

Maybe it’s the writer in me but I tend to believe we are masters of our fate.

Because the story we tell ourselves is what truly defines us.

*Picture Credit: Mt. Hood Territory flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Violent Facebook Ads and Possible Vegan Craziness

Facebook is deeply stupid.

Here I said it.

(Raise your hand if you agree)

It’s been years and it still doesn’t get what target audience I am –not– a part of.

Today I hid an ad for the billionth time and I realized something.

Either Facebook is presenting violent ads all the time or I’m plain crazy.

Veganism does that to some people. At least that’s what I heard.

A raw chicken appeared in my feed. It was some cooking ad for a brand I won’t name.

I did something that most people would consider stupid.

I checked “inappropriate” for the reason I didn’t want to see it. Facebook wanted to know why it was inappropriate.

I was faced with the choice of either “It’s illegal or violent” or the good old “I disagree with it”.

In a moment of doubt I turned to my dear friend; the dictionary.

What is violent?

Violent is an adjective describing something involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

Yes, that chicken’s death was violent. It was meant to be killed and even though it’s not considered a someone, it’s most definitely some thing.

Why then did I feel so crazy for reporting the truth?

Speaking of definitions, what is craziness?

Craziness is a noun referring to a state of being mentally deranged, demented or unusual.

I know that the sight of raw meat is not normally associated with violence.

It’s not common to define such images as violent.

Maybe I’m the crazy one.

There’s a loophole that I don’t know about probably.

One in which these animals are not a thing even though they technically are.

What do you think?

Is Facebook presenting violent ads?

Am I crazy?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

p.s It’s actually rabbits in the picture above

*Photo Credit: David Blackwell flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Christmas Songs and Emotional Hangovers

We can officially say goodbye to Jingle Bells and Silent Night this morning.

‘Tis the day after Christmas. Santa’s not coming to town anymore.

I got my last earful last night before going to bed.

I’m not a fan of holiday-themed songs in general but there’s one I listen to every year at least once.

I was 9 the first time I heard it. It’s not popular by any means. Odds are you’ve never heard it and not just because it’s originally a French song.

It doesn’t really matter.

Think of a song that brings you back to the first time you’ve heard it every time the melody comes to your ears.

Think of a song that makes you shed a tear every time it comes on.

Think of a song whose words resonate in your head no matter how many times you listen to them.

Now, combine all three and you get what kind of song I’m talking about.

Besides the promise of gifts, Christmas growing up held little other anticipation. There were no big family gathering to look forward to. I didn’t have to prepare myself to answer all the burning questions about my life that well-meaning aunts and uncles inevitably seem to have. At least that’s what I imagined normal family gatherings to be like. It was something that people with real families had.

Every year, we went to church on Christmas Eve  and I got to listen to my best friend sing in the choir. It was the only tradition other than gift unwrapping that made the holidays festive for me.

She had a soft soprano voice (she still does!) and sang a solo that year.

It was this song about a sad flower left in the snow getting picked up and befriended by the narrator/singer.

I remember sitting in the back on the left side with my mom. The small church was packed with families but it was quiet as she sang.

I knew it was silly even in that exact moment but I felt it anyway; I couldn’t help but picture myself as that delicate paper flower.

My friend was singing for me.

I was embarrassed for crying in the middle of all those happy families with a cold wooden bench beneath me and the sweet smell of incense floating around but I still did.

On a day about happiness I didn’t like to be weak and admit to myself that I cared so much about her choosing me as a friend. I knew I wasn’t an unloved flower but I still felt deeply moved.

I’ve never told her this to this day but I was jealous of all the people that cared about her. She had the real family I wanted with the gatherings and games.

But that day it felt ok. Even if I was a sad paper flower left in the snow, she chose me.

I will forever be grateful for that.


This year I celebrated Christmas in the way I dreamed of back then.

When I came home I told my cat I loved him.

Then it dawned on me, I didn’t tell anyone else.

I still don’t like admitting to myself how much I care about being loved but I’m not a paper flower anymore so I can tell you all,

I love you.

Even though I don’t drink I feel like I have an emotional hangover today.

 

*Photo Credit: jbarreiros flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Embracing Off Days

I chose this picture because it spoke to me.

I felt stuck in a brain fog all day.

I wanted to be productive but I was unfocused and I just gave up.

Sometimes breathing, eating, being me is all I can do.

There are thousands of topics that I could touch upon but my heart is not in it.

So here’s to embracing my off days.


I wonder what is the best thing to do when it happens. Should we muster up all our courage to do sub par work or just give up and start up again tomorrow?

There’s a fine line between acknowledging and embracing our feelings and being led by them.

I accept that not all days can be as productive as I want them to be but doing nothing because I feel off seems like selling myself short.

Pushing ourselves beyond temporary feelings is bound to produce more results.

What we do when we don’t think we can do anything is something nonetheless.

There’s a strong wave of “let’s cut ourselves some slack” defenders.

Proponents of self-love and self-care are all about embracing off days.

I tend to fall in their camp but I don’t know if it’s always right.

I want to believe there’s some value in what I say even in my off days.

Not writing anything because I’m feeling unfocused, boring, not myself and all those ultimately subjective feelings is akin to telling myself my thoughts are not worth anything today based on an nonfactual attribution.

Where is the self-love?

What do you do when you have a off-day?

I’d love to read your insights in the comments.

Thank you for reading if you’ve made it this far!

*Photo Credit: Trevor Leyenhorst flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Going Into the Light

Yesterday was winter solstice. In the northern hemisphere it means that from this point on we are going to get a bit more light each and everyday.

It happens ever so slowly that it’s not really noticeable until spring really hits. At least that’s the way it always felt to me. Maybe the grayness of the snow  dims the effects of a few minutes of extra daylight.

It adds up overtime and life gets brighter at some point.

I’m always surprised by how the change seems to happen overnight when it actually doesn’t.

It’s hard to notice the good of a few extra moments of light in our day when our feet are stuck in the cruddy snow.

As this year is coming to a close, many of us are in reflection mode.

All the good and a lot of the bad are circling in our minds. A new start needs the reassurance that we won’t repeat our mistakes.

While it’s good to reassess our past failures or grievances to a certain degree, we can get stuck.

It’s a double-edged sword we all experience.

I spent a very long time in 2016 thinking about my failure to do what I set out to do the year before. It consumed a lot of my thoughts and it was always in the back of mind anytime I attempted to work on my goals and dreams.

I used my past inadequacy to gauge my future success.

In being so focused on not repeating my mistakes I kept remembering how I failed to do the precise thing I was actively now trying to do.

There’s a part of us that clings to the negative. Our inner critic will seize any opportunity to remind ourselves of why we are not fit to do anything.

That’s where I went wrong for a long time.

Yesterday’s solstice reminded me that long dark days come to an end.

Today is the first day of us going towards more light.

I won’t let my feet get stuck in bad memories.

Instead, I embrace the light that is going to come gradually.

One day my life will be as bright as I want it to be.

*Photo Credit: fdecomite flickr Creative Commons 2.0