Growing Up, Not Apart

I liked her room better than mine. She hated the red floor with its weird mosaic but I found it original and nice to look at.

I can still picture the two-toned blue walls and the bird tapestry.

We spent so much time in there together, dreaming, talking, envisioning the lives we would have as grown-ups.

I don’t remember what we imagined so I can’t say if any of it came true. Except for one thing.

We saw our friendship existing outside of the confines of our young naive years.

If we planted a tree the day we met, it would be tall. Old and solid.

People say that relationships are like plants, they must be tended to and given regular attention to make them grow.

We never really talk about what we’re supposed to do once the plant gets enormous. Once its foliage is rich and vibrant, its flowers blossoming.

Childhood friends are special. Not only are we rooting ourselves in this life on earth as we grow up to discover it but we go through it together. We chose to plant our feet on this soil with this other person. We come to share a common grounding in life. We support each other for years and one day we realize the roots we made for ourselves on this planet are interwoven.

If our friendship is a plant, then its roots are definitely tangled up together deep in the earth.

What we see above the rich soil is nothing compared to what lies below.

Our roots may be intermingled but it doesn’t mean the tree will flourish forever. Leaves turned brown overtime, some fell to the ground. Over the years we’ve trimmed some branches. Others grew out.

 It’s crooked and an undisciplined mess of greenery but it’s alive and standing.

Somehow we made it happen.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have the courage to take care of it as long as I live but when I look at it, tall and majestic, I know I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s one of those trees that always provides you with shade when you need it, whose leaves swishing in the wind make you feel peaceful and quiet inside.

And most importantly, if you climb on its branches you can see the stars up close.

 

*Photo Credit: Bruno Cordioli flickr Creative Commons 2.0

17 Years Old Vegan Activist Rachel Wojciak- Feature Fridays

 If you had asked me a year ago if I thought I would be doing everything in my power to fight for those who are voiceless, I would have told you that you were insane. However, today I spread the vegan message through my two Instagram accounts, @hclfrachel and @rachelwojciak, and I make YouTube videos regarding veganism as well (the channel is also named Rachel Wojciak). I donate to animal sanctuaries that have rescued animals from farm factories and raise awareness about the cause through peaceful protesting, such as wearing shirts advertising veganism in public. My message is currently reaching around 2,700 people, and I wish I had a voice large enough so that the whole world could hear me. However, when I started my vegan Instagram back in September, I never thought I would gain over 100 followers, so there is hope!

I fell in love with nature when my father and I took hikes and went camping as a child. Those memories are still present in my mind today, and I am grateful to have had an upbringing where nature played such a profound role in my childhood development. I have loved animals for as long as I can remember, and I even wanted to be a veterinarian when I was 3. After discovering the vegan lifestyle via YouTube, it simply didn’t make sense to me anymore to continue on consuming meat and dairy. I loved the animals far too much to cause them any more suffering and pain, and I wanted to put a halt to the destruction our planet faces every day.

So, I made the switch over to veganism back in September! While there are endless health benefits to a vegan lifestyle, such as the 38 pounds I’ve lost, the decrease in migraines, my acne vanishing, never being sick, etcetera, the most rewarding benefit has been my life coming full circle. I now finally practice what I preach, regarding love and peace. I can say I love animals and truly live a lifestyle that proves it, not otherwise. The love that developed for Mother Nature as a child has matured greatly, and this lifestyle is a reminder of that every day. All of the lessons I learned as a child finally add up in an honest way living this lifestyle.

While I am a much happier person vegan, being vegan in a world filled with so many non-vegans can be quite discouraging. My parents are not vegan, my boyfriend is not vegan, no other individual in my high school is vegan. It can seem so overwhelming to be part of a minority that receives so much hate from those who don’t understand the lifestyle. With that said, my message to any other individual who is new to the vegan lifestyle or who is currently struggling with this problem is to stay positive. While there are so many heartbreaking atrocities to be depressed over, crying is not going to promote any change. Besides, there is so much to be hopeful for!

While the number of animals slaughtered every day for human consumption is staggering, it is important not to be discouraged by it. If you are reading this very article, you have already discovered veganism in some way shape or form! That in itself is progress. Us vegans know for a fact that millions of other individuals would not continue to consume meat and dairy if they knew what went on in terms of producing it, so all we can do is spread our knowledge regarding factory farming and the vegan lifestyle. Unfortunately, not everyone will transform into a vegan overnight, but that is to be expected. As long as you have brought up the topic of veganism with an individual, you have planted a seed of thought in their head. Odds are even if they don’t transition over to a vegan lifestyle, they will certainly look at meat and dairy products in a different light.

Other than staying hopeful, my other big pointer would be to spread the vegan lifestyle in a positive and loving manner. Lead by example! Some vegans struggle with turning away individuals from this lifestyle, simply because their method of spreading information is too aggressive. While your heart is in the right place, it is beneficial to check if you would appreciate somebody presenting this information to you in the way you are delivering it yourself. Be a positive example for veganism! Lead by love, positivity, patience, and kindness. While it may be frustrating at times, don’t be discouraged by others and their excuses not to transition over to a kinder lifestyle.

Overall, stay positive! While there is an overwhelming amount of information to be depressed about, just remember all of the new individuals who discover veganism every single day. The world certainly is changing, and the vegan message is spreading. The animals need us and the planets need us, which is why I will never stop fighting for this cause, and I encourage you to do the same! Veganism is not something to be ashamed about because it is not openly accepted by others. Do what you know in your heart is right, and don’t back down because this lifestyle isn’t the popular opinion. I am so blessed to have discovered this lifestyle, and I will continue to fight for it every single day. The animals and the planet desperately need us, and I will always make sure that I’m doing everything in my power to protect them and to put an end to the destruction of these beautiful souls and this beautiful planet.

*Photo Credit verkeorg Flickr Creative Commons 2.0