Monthly Archives: September 2011

What’s in a name?

Growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, The Simpsons was a big part of my world. Simpson’s quotes are still thrown around by most people I know. The title of this blog is from the episode when Lisa Simpson decides to be a vegetarian. I didn’t think much about it the first time I saw that episode, I might have still been eating meat then. The first big family dinner after I stopped eating meat though, my cousin shouted across the table, “Hey, Sarah! Are you going to marry a carrot?” I’m sure I laughed it off. But 16 years later, I feel like I finally understand Lisa’s response. In fact, if that line is ever said to me again, I would proudly answer, “Yes, I AM going to marry a carrot!” To me, it epitomizes the misunderstanding that exists between those who eat meat, and those who don’t. It is a defence mechanism to make a joke out of something that may be scary or hard to understand. All in all, when it comes to food ethics, everyone ends up feeling judged and defensive, it’s just that there’s a lot more people who eat meat than people who don’t.

Vegetarians and vegans are strangers in a strange world. We choose to eat the way we eat. It is not (usually) an allergy, or an intolerance (although after not eating dairy for awhile, I can safely say that my body doesn’t like it very much anymore!), we choose to eat this way, a fact that tends to confuse or even offend those who eat meat. For me, not eating meat is easy, explaining it to others, is complicated. It can also be lonely and confusing. I want this blog to be a venue to discuss the issues that come up, share ideas, experiences, and recipes and really start an open and honest dialogue about, as Michael Pollan puts it, the omnivore’s dilemma or our choice. Since I do have a full-time day job, I will start by posting once or twice a week. I welcome comments on anything I post, but no more judgements or harsh words please, we all get enough of that out there in reality.

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3,000 Down Dogs

This weekend I completed my first two days of Yoga Teacher Training at Upward Dog Yoga.

Let me start at the beginning. I took my first yoga class probably somewhere around 2004 (thanks, Karen!), and while I liked it enough, it felt pretty new-agey, the sort of thing I was maybe supposed to laugh at like self-help books and saxophone music.

I spent some time out west, and heard a lot more about this “yoga” thing. It stopped seeming weird but being the couch-potato that I am, it seemed inconceivable that I could do something so active on any sort of regular schedule. Then when I was job-hunting around 2006, I ended up working reception at a yoga studio for the summer.  Still, I felt like an outsider. It was a struggle for me to get to a class (even though they were free!), and when I did, I felt like I was the worst person in the room, out of shape and un-coordinated. Sure, I’d walk out of a class with a yoga high, but I would go into class on a low, when I went at all. Yoga fell off the map for me for a while, and then when I started experimenting with raw food, I signed myself up for a 3 month unlimited membership at Santosha. And all of a sudden the yoga world opened its arms to me and gave me a big big hug. I suddenly got it. Yoga makes life better. I started feeling more flexible, I was going to advanced classes, and not caring if I was off-balance or couldn’t “bind.” I got out of my head and into my body, and I loved it.

The problem, as always, was that I couldn’t reconcile my yoga self with my party-girl self. I couldn’t very well make a 9:30am Saturday class if I’d stayed out at a bar until 4am the night before. Party-girl kept winning that battle, and Yogasarah pouted quietly in the corner.

Two things happened this past winter. One was that I signed up for a one-month unlimited Moksha yoga pass, and I actually went at least 3 times a week (thanks, Sam!). I could feel the detoxifying effects. If I ate something bad (pizza, poutine, a chocolate croissant), or did something I shouldn’t (drink/smoke too much), I would wake up in the middle of the night bathed in sweat (tmi?). My body started to get pretty direct with me. My body liked yoga and really disliked bad stuff.

I had also joined a new gym around that time, and I actually felt like I was getting a bit stronger. I could keep up with the instructor, I was actually excited to go to classes, I found I could get out of bed easier in the morning – and trust me I am NOT a morning person – and I had more energy at night. I also had an influx of money (thanks, Public Service Union), and almost without thinking about it I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training.

Of course, a lot of thought did go into it. I wanted an extended program, not a 3 week, or even 3 month deal. I wanted something that I could see myself progress over. There are a lot of bad habits that I need to fix, and that’s not going to happen over night. There was also no way I could do it every weekend. I know me, and that would be a recipe for burn-out. Sometimes it can take me half a day to clean the bathroom, if I didn’t have a free weekend every now and then, my life would fall apart. I wanted a studio that would focus on all aspects of yoga, philosophy and history as well as the asanas (physical). Upward Dog met my criteria and my first class was on Saturday. So far, I’ve already met some nice people, and my mind has been sort of blown by how much more there is to yoga than I thought. I also love how yoga connects to food. I’m going to learn all about “ahimsa” or non-violence, and how that relates to a vegetarian or vegan diet. 

Right now my biggest take away from the weekend is that we already know everything there is to know, it’s just that we forget that we know it. Learning is remembering. It is already inside us.

Yep, I feel like a new-age hippy-dippy. But the amazing thing is, I don’t care. And that, I believe, is step one of any transformation.

YTT over-view:

I am excited for: Meeting people with like-minds; finding some discipline in my life; seeing the world differently.

I am scared that: I will lose interest and drop out half-way through.

I am conscious that: I have a feeling that The Husband is worried that I will change and not love him anymore. I’m trying to explain to him that a happier me = a happier him. He will also be my teaching guinea pig. I have a feeling that scares the sh*t outta him.

My body feels: Sore arms! I did maybe 3,000 downward dogs.

I am eating: Really lightly. Banana w/peanut butter for breakfast; herbal tea; veggie/rice stir-fry and Mary’s crackers and hummus for lunch; raspberries and an apple for afternoon snack, and I’m thinking some sort of quinoa/beans/salad for dinner.


Epiphanies

I had two epiphanies. One happened last night while I was in the bathtub at 11pm (way too late on a work-night), after having drank 2 beers and 3 glasses of wine (WAY too much on a work-night!), while nursing my aching uterus which was housing a two-week early period (WAYYYY too early, hormones!) and it dawned on me…why am I fighting my body? My body knows what it wants. My body has never let me down before. I need to start supporting my body instead of having arguments with it all day long and well into the night (especially on work-nights when the neighbours stop by, apparently). So I had a little conversation that went like this:

Brain: Wow Body, I just realized that all you want is for me to love you and respect you.

Body: No sh*t, Sherlock. I can do amazing things for you, if you would just TRUST me!

Brain: But I’m so scared! What will other people say? What will other people think???

Body: For a brain, you are so stupid. It doesn’t matter what other people think, as long as we have each other! We need to get on the same team here, because without each other, we are nothing.

Brain: But if I’m totally healthy, I’ll be all square and lame and BORING.

Body: You know what’s boring? The conversation you have 10 times a day that goes: Oh boo hoo, why do I feel so poopy? Why am I not happy? Why am I so tired? Why do I suck so much? That gets boring, old friend. And you know what, if you get healthy, you – brain – don’t change. I – body – do the changing! So you just need to trust me and let me do my job. Can you do that, dum-dum?

Brain: Huh. I had honestly never thought of it that way. We could help each other out…

There was a hush in the bathroom, the leaky tap dripped a bit. Brain and body were quiet.

Brain: Okay, I’m in. I’ll make sure to always check with you before I do anything that could affect you, and I will try to remember to respect you, and I will try to remember that when I respect you, you can support me, and that’s how we’ll live happily ever after!

Body: Thank you, that is all I need.

And I got up this morning and made a green juice. It was too spicy (an entire bunch of swiss chard was probably unnecessary), and it could’ve used an apple or too, but my brain knew that my body would like it. And it did.

The second epiphany was that this blog ain’t gonna start itself.

–Sarah