It’s hard to believe that I’m starting the 6th month of the LIFE Project!
Six months of walking 10K steps per day, meditating for 60 minutes, reciting my Sanskrit mantra, my affirmations, reading a book of the month and doing the monthly challenge.
It’s a lot. I won’t deny that. There are days when I really feel the pressure to get everything done – and still remember that this journey is about being intentional and mindful.
But no good change comes from being in your comfort zone, I have found.
This project has already changed my life – forever.
Five Months of the LIFE Project
Five months in, I’ve gained some deep insights. I’m learning a lot about myself and what I’m capable of.
More than that, I’m finding that I am really mindful in some moments, and I completely forget about my own mindfulness in others.
I feel more in shape and have more energy than I think I ever have.
I find that meditation allows my brain to slow down – if but just for an hour a day.
I’m pushing myself to do things I never thought I’d do: trying the vegan thing, getting rid of 200 or more pieces of clothing, walking everywhere, building connections, changing my mental chatter, and publishing.
Maybe I thought I’d eventually publish, but I knew if I was accountable to people, I’d follow through. I do not like letting people down.
Summary of August – Publishing and Editing
I can say I fulfilled all the requirements for August.
In the last month I…
- published the Tree of Life (TOL): A Personal Development Journal
- decided NOT to publish the paranormal fiction novels
- so that I could publish the TOL journal, I needed to do massive amounts of editing
- read “The Alchemist,” “The Little Prince,” and “A Wrinkle in Time”
- participated in a spending fast
- did vegan recipe research
- and continued with the core part of the LIFE project: meditation, mantras, affirmations, journaling, and 10K daily steps
Here are some little fun anecdotes from the last month:
- I didn’t publish the paranormal fiction novels in favor of writing flash fiction. I find it’s more fun and I’d like to compile those stories of inspiration into a possible book. I realized that so much work and marketing go into another whole identity (my other pen name) that I just don’t think putting resources into that would be wise at this time.
- It might have been 31 August, but I DID get that journal published. I worked on editing it for several hours most days.
- I read “The Alchemist” in about two days at the beginning of the month. “The Little Prince” took about a week, and “A Wrinkle in Time” took me all the way up to 31 August to finish. My favorite of the three was “The Alchemist.” The other two had inspirational elements, but I found that though they were well-written and had unique storylines and perspectives, I just didn’t find the transformational inspiration I was looking for like I did in “The Alchemist.” THAT is such a powerful book!
- For the spending fast, I purchased pretty much only what was needed. I did get a chai and a green tea latte on two occasions, but I could classify that as a need: staving off dehydration. Oh, and I met with visiting family at a local pub for drinks. Otherwise, there was no clothes-buying, restaurant-going, or buying of any material goods besides groceries. Evaluating need vs. want can be pretty powerful.
- Vegan recipe research enabled me to start on 1 September with a pantry-full of vegan items purchased at the grocery store during the month of August (more on that below).
- On the day of the solar eclipse – 21 August – we hiked nearly 8 miles (and 20K steps) to find the perfect spot. I had four full bottles of water with me, plus rain gear, a lunch for two, and a light jacket. I pulled my right thigh muscle bad enough that I had a noticeable limp for 4 days. To that end, I had to use up some time in my LIFE days supply. All totaled up: 3 and 2/5 days used. I had to rest my leg, though. With each day I rested it, it felt ten times better, so I know it was the right thing to do. Eucalyptus and Peppermint essential oils really helped, too. (My device never registers the first day of the month – no idea why.)
- I DID NOT edit my travel journal from July, but I wasn’t sure I would have time, anyways. Now I’m thinking I’ll just publish a cohesive whole book at the end of the project. Any paramount objections?
You already know the big intention for this month: 30 days of going vegan. I’ve been building up to this since the start of the project, slowly incorporating vegan-type foods into my diet.
Granted, I was eating eggs and cheese all the way up until 31 August. I’m a little nervous about that.
But, on 31 August, I made this great-tasting southwestern tofu scramble for breakfast and using turmeric made it seem a lot like eggs, and I was happy. It was incredibly good and lasted for two breakfasts.
People have asked why I’m doing this particular challenge this month. Other than needing time to build up to it, I’m doing it for the following reasons mainly:
- I couldn’t kill an animal myself. If I can’t do that, what gives me the right to eat one that someone else killed?
- I watched a video a few months ago about the state of the agriculture industry in the United States. Granted, this doesn’t include small family farms that believe in the humane treatment of animals, but I want to test myself and see if I can NOT participate in this terrible system. After watching that video, I cried until my eyes were so red and puffy, I could barely get through the rest of the day.
- Eating a plant-based diet is one of the best ways to “go green” – it’s much better for the planet than raising livestock. Less smelly, too.
- I think that as a result of all my meditation, I feel an acute awareness of suffering – much more so than I ever have. I’ve heard it said that many Buddhist monks become vegan for this reason.
“We need to consume in such a way that keeps our compassion alive,” [Thich Nhat Hanh] stated.
“And yet many of us consume in a way that is very violent. Forests are cut down to raise cattle for beef, or to grow grain for liquor, while millions in the world are dying of starvation.
Reducing the amount of meat we eat and alcohol we consume by 50 percent is a true act of love for ourselves, for the Earth and for one another.
Eating with compassion can already help transform the situation our planet is facing, and restore balance to ourselves and the Earth.” – Thich Nhat Hanh at One Green Planet (retrieved 3 September, 2017).
Let me be clear about something: these reasons – IN NO WAY – make me want to stand on some proverbial sanctimonious pulpit preaching about the virtues of being vegan. A. I do not want to be a hypocrite – I was eating meat on and off up until a year ago. B. Food and eating are as personal to people as religion and spirituality are, and people get extremely defensive about their eating habits.
I noticed this when I first started telling people I wanted to do this challenge. Not just one person, but EVERY person I’ve mentioned this to (who is not vegan) has felt the need to be on the defensive – no matter the way I say it.
I’m no judge here. I do not judge anyone for their life choices (well, consciously anyways…I suppose we all have our inherent things that we can all be judgmental about) unless it hurts me or other people. For me, my life choices extend to not wanting to hurt any animal, as well.
Besides, my own wonderful husby is an omnivore and we’ve even talked at length about how easy it is to sound “preachy” when it comes to plant-based eating. What can I say? The man likes his bacon.
Will I share with others that I’m doing a vegan challenge? Yes, but only when it’s relevant. I’ll also share about my plant-based eating experiences here.
As a funny side note, my poor mother-in-law is completely beside herself as to why I would do this. I have to give her some slack: she’s an octogenarian, almost a nonagenarian. She eats meat every single day with every single meal and as done so for 88 years. I can’t expect her to understand why I’m nutty (in the “I’m consuming a large amount of nuts and grains this month” sense – ha!).
I’m very much a live and let live kind of person. If you crave being an omnivore, then great, that’s your choice. I won’t judge you for it.
On to the fun stuff!
My Vegan Staples
As I got ready for September, I began taking an inventory of all my favorite veggie things I’ve eaten in recent months. I went to the grocery store and stocked up on them. They include:
- coconut milk
- soy milk
- black beans
- garbanzo beans/hummus
- regular potatoes
- lima beans
- veggie crumbles
- veggie patties
- sweet potatoes
- vegan butter
I’m learning how to acquire a taste for regular mushrooms (but chagas? I’ll have a cup of chaga anytime!). I’ve been coming up with different recipes.
Now, while I do love a good meal, I don’t love the time it takes to make them. Enter the slow cooker. Sometimes I have two of those things going in my kitchen. I have a small one and a large oval one. They do all the work but you still get wholesome food. A win-win!
In the coming weeks, I’ll share about my favorite recipes. So far, I have been loving the salads I’ve made, my favorite snack is pretzels and hummus, almond milk ice cream is sinfully divine.A simple meal like edamame, quinoa and sliced homegrown tomatoes is just pure bliss.… Click To Tweet
I’m already noticing how this challenge has made me really think out of the box with new ways of cooking meals. It’s really fun!
Other September Intentions
Instead of reading a “real” book (though I probably won’t be able to resist reading some sort of personal development book), I will be pouring over vegan recipe books.
I have a couple checked out from the library:
- “The Vegan Slow Cooker” by Kathy Hester
- “Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore: Dinner for everyone at the table” by Anna Thomas
Plus, I’ve found some incredibly useful websites with truly delectable recipes.
You may know that sometime in May, I started writing a haiku a day. I never made this a specific intention because I knew I’d be traveling in July and if I ran out of time or a charge on my phone while trying to compose a poem and then share it, then there would be no pressure to do that along with all the other requirements of this project.
To that end, I have tried to write a haiku a day and they have been getting quite the response over on Twitter. I love writing them, then creating a pretty image to go with them, and it seems that folks enjoy them, too.
That was the premise behind creating that survey a few weeks ago to determine what to work on next. Most folks voted for a haiku coloring book.
So, for this month, I will formalize that process: I’ll continue writing haikus and posting them over on Twitter. But, I want to write lots more just for the coloring book – haikus of the inspirational variety.
So, that’s what I’ll be doing: haiku writing and drawing coloring pages and bringing the two together. I may also have to pick up the art of hand-lettering because typing the words in after doing an organic drawing seems a little robotic, but we’ll see how that works out.
The target is to publish at the end of October, but it might go into November with the publishing process.
It’ll be interesting to see how I feel health-wise at the end of September. I felt pretty incredible at the end of June with all the water drinking.