Confessions From A Vegan

There once was a time when I was relentless in my pursuit of perfection. A sparkling and stain free stove, a crumbless kitchen counter, clean bathroom mirrors, and bare floors that left no dust or particles on the foots’ bottom.

Impeccability on this level was too much to maintain, but it took me years to learn what and who was really important. The approach was stupid, and I am still trying to determine why “perfection” was such a priority for me.

I have felt for many years that in high school, I underachieved at everything I did.  I was an okay teenager but never really pushed myself hard at anything.  For most of my life, I blamed the adults (teachers, coaches, and advisors) for not seeing something in me that I did not see in myself. They should have pushed me, but they did not. I blended in a predominately white school with only two black teachers, neither of which I had as a teacher.

My guidance counselor never hid her lack of interest in my academic progress or achievement. I’m confident that Mrs. C.  had distorted views about the potential of most of the students who looked like me. How do I know? We talked. Like an over-copied handout, the sentiments were regularly used, and the similarities in stories align perfectly.

My parents got a free pass. Mother, one of 13 was dirt poor. She and other siblings quit school to work. During my high school years, she returned to school to obtain her GED. Watching her study was motivating. She encouraged me to do my best and to finish school.

“Get your diploma because you won’t be able to get a decent job without it.”

My dad came here on a boat from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although he never earned his diploma, he was a teacher of hard work. “Doing my best” was excellent advice but I needed a more detailed narrative on what it looked like and how to do this…especially when my teachers had little expectations from me.

In my early 20’s when I thought that immediately after high school, I should have gone to college and believed that I should be further along in my career. When I was overlooked for a promotion because I did not have a college degree, I felt inadequate.

Perhaps the idea of perfection as an adult offset my underperformance as a teenager.  Every task that I completed would be perfect or as close to perfection as possible. I was always the model employee. I was the front desk clerk who never had a drawer shortage. The VIP Agent who never messed up a customers’ accommodations. At home, the linen was correctly folded and stacked. The list goes on.

Today, I’m the happy imperfect vegan.

Yesterday (Sunday) we celebrated a milestone birthday of my cousin. We enjoyed brunch at The Cheesecake Factory. Hmm mmm.

The night before brunch, my final thoughts before going to sleep was The Cheesecake Factory’s menu!!  Now ain’t that some ish? I didn’t toss and turn. I wasn’t stressing or anything. Ahem… I was planning!

Well, peeps, all the planning didn’t make a difference.

I read through the menu. I contemplated an old favorite.

I even thought about this blog, my Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook pages. What am I gonna say? The truth! I am human! That I decided to do me.

Without guilt or shame, I ordered a Cajun Shrimp and pasta dish. It was delicious!!!

I came to terms with ordering and eating the fantastic dish with this thinking:

I am not a perfect Vegan.

Life is short, don’t deny myself of a dish that I really want.

This is my second cheat and the world has not stopped revolving.

I am a human being.

We falter.

Why does eating shrimp & pasta have to be a falter?

Change takes time.

I am a Vegan student.

Only eight months have passed.

I need the protein.

Looking at the plate made me grin. My face should’ve cracked! I was doing the right thing.

I live authentically.

My experience may help others.

The study of health behavior includes research on numerous behavioral change theories. Some of the contributing factors to successful changes in our behavior include our environment, community, family, work, knowledge, support, and finances.

Even if you have all the factors aligned, change occurs in stages, and it takes time. Change is hard, but you should keep trying.

Your goal may be to quit smoking, to learn to meditate, lose weight, start exercising or like me become Vegan, regardless the change in our behavior will not happen overnight. Having an understanding of this process can alleviate some of the stress. James Prochaska’s Readiness for Change Model is used widely in the field of wellness. His concept may help you to achieve goals related to modifying your behavior.  Below are the stages:

Six Readiness for Change Stages.

  1. Pre-contemplation – Lack of awareness; unconcerned; a person has no thought of changing. Ex: A cigarette smokes who has no desire to quit.
  2. Contemplation – The Person, begins to consider change; ambivalence. Ex: Cigarette smoker thinks about quitting but has not taken any action.
  3. Preparation – Person begins to explore change possibilities. We get ready for a change by gathering information about the subject and gathering resources. Ex: Cigarette smoker talks to their doctor about methods to quit smoking, talks and seeks support from family and friends or obtains medical assistance such as a patch.
  4. Action – Person takes action. Ex: The day the person chooses not to smoke a cigarette
  5. Maintenance – Person works at maintaining change. This is me. Lapse and relapse occur at this stage. Ex: Smoker experiences a relapse and takes a few puffs or smokes an entire cigarette.
  6. Termination – The new behavior is now part of your life. My goal! We engage in the new practice with little effort and without much thought. In other words, the new behavior occurs naturally.

If you are in the process of some type of behavioral change, can you identify which stage you are in? Being aware of your current stage may help you to understand your actions.  Working with a wellness coach will help you to move through and complete the steps.

My point here is to support you in the change(s) you are trying to make in your life. I relapsed and wanted to share this with you.  You might also relapse, and I don’t want you to beat yourself up about it.

Continue to surround yourself with people who encourage you; that’s why I’m here. Stay on your wellness train, it may be hard but please don’t give up.  If you’d like to talk, email me at tanyafcain@gmail.com

Happy Day!


I Underrated Anonymity

By now, most of you know that I moved from up north to down south.   For the first time in my 52-year life, I surged from familiar to unfamiliar.  From safe to vulnerable. Wase and mapquest are my new besties!

The constant noise of nearly everyone knowing me (and my family) and visa Versa has stopped. Before, I could walk out of the house with a bag on my head, and someone would inevitably recognize my heavy voice, my quick stride, my child or my car. As outgoing as I am, at times it was bothersome.

The constant and sporadic early morning, late night and occasional holiday phone calls for hubby’s excellent handyman skills have stopped. He is the kind guy who is often taken advantage of.

Then there were the desperate calls for emergency financial relief, sometimes for thousands of dollars. We didn’t know that we were Bank of America!

Our home, nicknamed “The Resort” by friends was also viewed by a few folks as a hotel. We had ongoing requests for live-ins. We needed a “No Vacancy” sign on the mailbox.

We started out as teenagers with nothing. We worked hard and have accomplished much more than we envisioned for ourselves at age 17 and 19.  Some people felt entitled to our prosperity. I cannot imagine what celebs have to contend with. We are caring and generous people but at some point, have to say no and people must find solutions to their problems from within and not from others.

The pleasure and relief I’m experiencing from the shenanigans may come across as selfish, but it is refreshing. I completely underrated anonymity.

The distance between what was home and what is home confirms the integrity or the lack of in many of my relationships.

Unreturned calls and messages, unresponsive and shorter text messages also bring further clarity, and it’s okay.

I am not referring to the frequency in which I talk to friends and family but more about the quality of our conversations. My best friend of 39 years has lived all over the world. The infrequency of our discussions never negated the quality of our relationship. We did then and still, today can pick up right where we left off and, regardless of distance, we’re always there for one another. Another bestie and I chat nearly every day.

With any big move from one space to another, we go through the process of decluttering and purging. In packing, we sift and sort through furniture, clothing, books, cookware, etc.., and chose to rid of select items. With relationships, the process occurs autonomously over time–some sooner others later, but the course is a natural occurrence in human behavior.

Greater solitude has emerged in my new environment. Every morning, nearby church bells ring precisely at 9. Some mornings, I awaken to familiar church hymns from childhood. It’s pleasant. I smile. When I sit on my front porch neighbors who drive by and whom I don’t know smile and wave.

The noise has stopped and I think better.

I can focus more on what really matters.

New goals. Yearly. Monthly. Weekly. Daily.

Quality over quantity.

In a good way, I am experiencing a great deal of discomfort in many new settings. Everything about my environment is unique. Pumping gas. Finding my favorite produce in new grocery stores. Locating the best physicians. Exploring the plethora of malls in Georgia.  Navigating traffic from hell and–rediscovering shortcuts.  Stepping onto high school grounds that are more like SJ college campuses with populations exceeding 3,000 students per school.  These experiences are forcing me to live more consciously. My visual and auditory senses are heightened daily like never before.

In no way am I suggesting that you move to a new state, but I am encouraging you to break free from your comfy circle.  Leap into a new and uncomfortable sphere and do that one thing that you’ve been afraid to act on.

Maybe it’s a career change you desire.  Perhaps it’s going back to school.  It might be making a big move. Don’t be afraid.  Lean into the “it.”

If moving happens to be that thing, don’t be afraid.  If you have a particular state in mind, visit and explore the area. If you’re uncertain about where you want to move, visit the cities or states that interest you. Do your research. Look at the economics, the climate, the job market, the schools (if applicable), housing, crime rate, and any activities that encompass your interests. Develop a strategic and well thought out plan to make it happen. I wish we had done it sooner, but I think the move occurred when it was supposed to.

In SJ, I was busy all of the time. Running here. Racing there. Over-committing. Just doing way too much. We sometimes confuse busyness with productivity. They are not the same.

When I slowed down, I realized I needed to make changes in my life. The clarity I’ve gained from our move inspired and helped me to adopt the vegan lifestyle. A few years ago, I tried Veganism but was unsuccessful. Now in five months, I’ve pulled myself away from chicken, turkey, seafood, and dairy.

I haven’t perfected the lifestyle and have caved into seafood on two or three occasions, but I am moving steadfastly forward. I felt great before, but I feel even better now. Vegetables have always been a part of my lifestyle, but I’m eating even more plants now, and it agrees with my body.

So what does all of this have to do with wellness?

Everything!

I’m reading, believe Bigger by Marshawn Evans Daniels. One of her quotes particularly resonated with me.

“Entering your purpose will first require an exit.”

I believe in the notion that everyone has a purpose for living. Furthermore, I see a connection between living with a purpose and experiencing wellness as a way of life. On our journey, both are present; one cannot exist without the other. We travel similar processes to uncovering purpose and to seek wellness.

In her book, Daniels talks a lot about God purposefully disrupting our lives. When you think of the word disrupt, you probably think of a force stopping or interrupting you while in the process of doing something.

Daniels suggests that the disruptions are “divine intervention” which can ultimately force us to leave a phase or place in our lives and enter another.

She writes, that disruptions:

  • Interrupt belief patterns
  • Recalibrate our faith
  • Detach us from the part of ourselves that is incapable of entering a bigger future
  • Create split-rock moments are catalyst to awaken us (Read the book!)
  • Help us to do away with an out dated self image, to retire an antiquated outlook
  • Realign us, elevate us and propel us to become a strong version of ourselves.

Y’all, her book is loaded with gems! Get a copy.

Since moving–and even with having an organized plan–I have experienced disruptions, but I did not recognize them or label them as such.

Rather than resist and react to the disruptions, I am learning to accept them (even previous ones) for what they are and to receive God’s wisdom to enter my purpose. You see, I had this plan regarding my next career move all mapped out, but I left God out of the equation, so Devine intervention is triggering changes.

My heart is open, and I am even more excited about the future. I no longer expect certain things and have embraced expectancy. Thanks to one of my favorite Podcasts, How Does She Do It, I know the difference. If you want to understand this, listen to the brilliant episode!

My purpose here is to encourage you to be fearless and to embrace change in your life.

The worse won’t happen, something better will. 

Change is part of your wellness journey. Wellness is not a destination and there is no finish line.

Stay encouraged.


12 Steps to Replace Fast Track Promises

Promises, promises, and more promises. Assurances that you will become a better you are the claims made by companies who shall remain nameless. But you know who they are.

Pay us “X” amount of dollars monthly and we’ll do the work for you!

I read three different plans on one company’s site.

  • Basic daily plan of $10.18 per day… that’s $3,715.70 annually
  • Core daily program of $11.07 per day… that’s $4,040.55 yearly
  • Uniquely yours daily plan of $ 12.50… that’s 4, 562.50 per year

I searched another business. If you join “today,” the one-time enrollment fee is slashed from $99 to $49. You then pay a $19 monthly meal plan. After that, you’re hooked for about $20 per day, which amounts to “around” $7,300 annually! Get the heck out of here!

From a monetary standpoint, my question to you is, are you financially stable enough to afford the fees for the rest of your life? Does the diet plan align with your financial goals?

I get it. It’s tempting because it appears to be more straightforward than the “other” route.

The lure to unpack the product of a poor diet, lack of physical exercise or the side effects of medication or a physical condition is tantalizing. You want it off and off now.

Marketers play on your frustration and eagerness to find results with catchphrases:

“Rapid weight loss.”

“Fast track to weight loss.”

I decided to write this piece because, in addition to seeing a family member’s kitchen full of this stuff, I’ve also had several people ask my opinion about these type of programs. Taking photos of the packaged food was something I could not resist doing.

Can you imagine buying these products for the rest of your life? You’d probably get tired of eating this stuff anyway. The person who was on this particular plan lost 25 pounds in six months. Eventually, she went off the plan and attempted to maintain on her own. She was unsuccessful, gained the 25 pounds back and then some. She is not alone. I am not saying it’s the same for everyone but what I am getting at is that if you don’t do the work, no program is going to work or last.

 

Marketers know you want it badly. The truth is NOTHING fast, quick or rapid will sustain you for a healthy lifestyle.

My problem with these programs is that, as long as you buy the meal plans, you lose weight. But when you discontinue the plan and try to do it on your own, you fall short.

You fall short because you relied on someone else to do work for you that you needed to do for yourself.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Sure, you see big-name celebrities with deep behind pockets endorsing the brand, but with each ad, their pockets get deeper. Cha-Ching! $$$$$. Most celebs can afford the long-term financial commitment. Can you? I’m just sayin’… Evening setting the money spent aside, how healthy is pre-packaged food? Perhaps you might supplement with fruit, but it’s still packaged. IJS.

I encourage you to invest your time and your money into educating yourself on how to adopt a restorative life by making informed decisions that improve your overall health and wellness.

  1. Gauge your physical health. Make your annual doctor appointments (Dentist, General Practioner, OBGYN, etc..) and discuss your blood work and exam results. What’s right and what’s pressing that needs your immediate attention?
  2. Assess your mental health. Problems such as Depression, Anxiety & Panic Attacks, Eating Disorders, Bipolar Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychosis, Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, etc..) can keep you from living your best life. Your mental health deserves the same attention as your physical health.  Don’t be afraid of seeking help.
  3. Size up your support network. Who are the people in your life? Do they encourage you? Who puts you down or laughs at your ideas? Commit to making the necessary changes by letting go of the toxic people in your life.
  4. Set goals. (SMART) – Not a new concept nor is it my idea, but it works.
    1. S – Specific
    2. M – Measurable
    3. A – Attainable (Action-Oriented)
    4. R – Relevant or Rewarding
    5. T – Time-Bound or Trackable.
  5. Learn how to read food labels. The internet has endless resources. How many servings are in that bag of chips or cookies you enjoy?
  6. Research the ingredients in your food. Again, hop on the net. Educate yourself and understand more about the food (or chemicals) you eat.
  7. SLOWLY modify your diet. Incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats (if you eat meat). SLOWLY reduce your sugar intake. Drink more water and fewer sodas, juices, and alcohol. Purchase less processed foods and eat cleaner. If you want apple pie, bake your own, and you control the ingredients instead of buying processed food full of preservatives, sugar and other chemicals.
  8. Evaluate your physical fitness regiment. Do you exercise? If so, what do you do and how frequently? Are you getting the results you desire? Why or why not? If you do not exercise, why not? How can you change this? What are your fitness goals? Whatever you do, add strength training/weight training to your program. With a solid nutrition plan and a consistent strength training program, you will get maximum results.
  9. Engage in self-care. Do something for YOU such as a massage, a short or long getaway, skydiving, Floatation Therapy, or something else you’ve been dying to try.
  10. Survey your finances. If you’re overwhelmed with debt, seek financial counseling. The problem won’t go away on its own. Take action to stop nagging phone calls from bill collectors.
  11. If you have a significant other, take a measure of your relationship. Are you happy? If so, fantastic! If not, it’s time to explore why. Ask yourself the difficult questions. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Is counseling the answer? Get the ball rolling.
  12. Explore your career. Are you happy or satisfied? If so, awesome! If not, set fear aside. Consider your interests and explore your options.

The idea is to unmask the root of your issue(s). Quite often, the problem isn’t what we think it is. If you take a 360 approach to your life and visit all aspects, you will uncover underlying issues that have kept you bogged down and going in circles.

This post is longer than planned but it is also an excellent roadmap to jump-start you on your road to wholeness. There is NEVER a quick fix to ANYTHING.

Consider high performing athletes. They don’t arrive at the top of their game overnight. Years of training, overcoming injuries, self-doubt, and naysayers pass before they reach the top of their game.

Our journey is no different.


Believe In Fresh Starts And New Beginnings

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

– George Bernard Shaw

Only two days after arriving in Georgia, I was giddy with excitement. We found ourselves walking around in amazement at Avalon in Alpharetta. Honey child!! I was flippin’ happier than a pig in… Well, you know the saying.

Avalon is a “luxury” residential community built in the heart of an eclectic outdoor shopping plaza. Resting atop Gap and other stores are brick and modern stucco condos with wrought iron enclosed balconies. At a different stage in my life, I could see myself living here.

Public shopping areas are litter free and have the ambiance of urban living but without the hassles of city life.

Plenty of diverse eateries offer indoor and outdoor dining and are conveniently located throughout the shopping center. I feel like an advertisement for the plaza, but I’m trying to give you a sense of what the place feels like.

Anyways, the need for a change of address stationery motivated me to visit Paper Source. PS, a small, cute, and fun store specializes in stationery but also sells cards, wedding invitations, inspirational books, customized items, DIY supplies, and more.

Habitually I am attracted to books, mainly positive, self-help, and inspirational reads. I’m always working on myself, so if someone has gems to share, I want in!

So here’s the interesting piece and the purpose for this post. A force leads me to the store. Then my eyes lock in on the book, believe.

belive.jpg

I have to tell you, with a title like believe, there’s no way in hell that I’m not going to snatch the book up and take a peek.

Although I did not look at the first page, I quickly scan and immediately recognize that the book was placed right there for me.

I realized that at that very moment, I stood exactly where I was supposed to be. I am 100% satisfied.  How did I know?

Whelp. Read the first page that I turned to?

fresh starts.jpg

See! I told you!!

As I said to you in an earlier post, we have to LISTEN very carefully to the voice of the spirit. Messages from the universe and (God) is always timely.

Over the past year, I made a myriad of changes in my life and, in the newness of my current situation, God wanted me to know that I am on track, rest easy, and to continue to move forward.

Becoming more transparent in my writing is a goal, so to keep it 100% with you, I’m telling you straight up that I rarely attend Sunday services. However, I believe in the spirit of God and a higher universal power.

If you feel stuck in adversity, consider the fact that, you are reading this post at this precise moment, and this is no accident.  Today you were intentionally guided to reading this post.

Believe in fresh starts and new beginnings and understand that only you can launch the change in your personal and/or professional life that you desire. The day I started this post, my cousin’s facebook status read,

“If you want your life changed, you have to change your lifestyle.” CS

You initiate the change by working only on YOU not by working those around you. My advice is the following:

  • Find a quiet place where you can sit alone, even if it is only for 10-15 minutes. Do this every day. Your designated quiet time can be in the morning, afternoon, or bedtime. What is important is that the time works for you.
  • Withdrawing from all of the external noises frequently will provide an opportunity for you to clear your mind.


Image courtesy of Project Happiness

  • Familiarize yourself with meditation. Meditation requires no major tools or supplies. Some find that certain items such as a blanket, a block, a pillow, candles, or incense are helpful.  Nora Anderson describes meditation as a process as a “concept to stop the mental dialogue so that you can be without thought.”
    • Why meditation? Meditation can relieve stress, calm the mind, reduce anxiety, burnout, improve productivity, and more. Be open-minded and try it. Like everything, it takes practice. At first, your mind will wander all over.  Thoughts of the day’s task will come to mind, and you will have thoughts about your pets, your kids, work, dinner or something else. Just know that all of your random thoughts are normal.
    • There are also many guided meditations apps to assist you.
      • My two favorites are:
    • I have been using the Relax & Rest app for a while. It may cost $1.99 or something similar. The Calm app is new to me, but I love the variety of audio and visuals.
      • I like the apps because once downloaded on your Smartphone, you can discreetly use them anywhere at anytime. Keep a set of earbuds handy.
      • Stressed before a meeting… Got your feathers ruffled at work or you’re stuck in a traffic jam…. tap on the app and do a quick 10-minute session. It is an ideal way to gain clarity and to refocus your thoughts.   No matter who you are, everyone experiences moments of frustration, disgruntlement or irritability but the trick is to have a plan/routine/system to get you back on track.
  • Once you begin to create a space of solitude for yourself, you will start to gain clarity and can focus on setting new goals. To monitor your thoughts, keep a small journal or notebook nearby.   You will have many, and you’ll want to capture them all on paper. Of course, you can always use an app to organize your thoughts. I recently starting using Trello and I love it. If you are confused about the app, go to YouTube, and you will find all the help you need. I use Trello for personal and professional purposes.

Okay! I have gotten a little off track but felt like I needed to give you that information. I hope that it helps you to grow and to continue to work toward becoming the absolute best version of yourself.

Thanks for passing through!

Peace!