In my last blog I talked about my New Years intention and my plant based lifestyle, so I figured I would unpack my choices of words, because words are important.
Since the day I set my intention I’ve reflected on the words I use and ultimately the way words are used generally and how they impact my/our lives. Lots of people end up making ‘resolutions’ for the new year, but for me that word just seemed too loaded, almost suffocating, it’s a word that for me left me thinking even if I try my hardest there is potential to let myself down, you hear the talk of people ‘failing,’ their resolution just a memory (failure and success a whole other pair of words for discussion!) Intention for me was still a commitment, but a commitment that was gentle, not judging or guilt laden, it was a respectful attitude of heart and mind based upon my reflections of my lifestyle and it’s impact on creation. My intention was basically, something I try to live by anyway but want to do so more consciously, and that is ‘to do no harm.’ I didn’t want to laden myself with prohibitions that put a cloud over me, I wanted to be mindful and conscious in my decision making. If for whatever reason I had chosen to do other than my intention I didn’t want to have to then deal with the idea of ‘I’d let myself down’ or ‘I’ve failed’ I wanted to be in a place of forgiveness and allowing myself to be at that time and to then be able to extend gratitude to myself for the opportunity to reflect on than moment, if that makes sense.
When resolutions and commitments are made, particularly around the new year, I think that the part of the process that is missing is the journey to the decision and so it becomes simple a choice and I think so often choices become burdened with and reduced to; can’s, can’t, should, shouldn’t etc. I think the most important part of decision making is the how it is made. We can, in my mind, do it mindlessly because we think it is just the right thing to do, but then what are the foundations of that decision? The alternative, for me, is to make a decision mindfully, creating solid foundations for the decisions I make and creating a safe space to venture into the choices that are ahead of me, ensuring that there is no harm to self, such as a great big dose of guilt should I make a decision contrary to my intention! The journey is always important, even in making a decision.
Along with my New Years intention I made the conscious decision to participate in FebFast, fasting from alcohol for the month of February. The consciousness of the decision has made it fairly easy – look I enjoy a plant based glass of red! But just over half way through I’m beginning not just to look forward to the end but reflect on does there need to be a definitive end? How healthy is my relationship with the fruit of the shiraz vine? Is it about ritual? I’ve created a new one in it’s absence maybe that ritual will win over? Potentially this is not a forever decision, but the journey has been good food for thought.
Plant Based Lifestyle – I spent, like many girls and women, most of my late teens on a diet, then I dieted after my children, restrictions, restrictions, again can’t have, mustn’t have. I’ve been a vegetarian for many years, I used to call it a vegetarian diet, a decision I made based on the welfare of animals but also in more recent years a decision based on sustainability of our planet – so many people eat so much meat and fish, our planet is paying the price, not to mention our health. This year I decided to take up a plant based lifestyle, not a vegan diet. Vegan and diet are words that unfortunately seem to be laden with negativity. I have tried, pretty much, every fad diet on the planet, every single one telling me what I can and cannot eat. As a vegetarian I chose to eat plant and dairy based foods, now I choose plant based only, the difference has really being the mindset shift, I want my food choices to have longevity and for them to be choices made mindfully, with compassion for myself and the planet. Diet, for me, conjures up for me, words like; can’t, don’t, shouldn’t, bad and I’m sure there are so many other negative words, whereas lifestyle reminds me that there is real purpose in my choice. I am not simply aiming to drop a few kilos, I am aiming at creating a sustainable, healthy and enjoyable relationship with food. The by product of this choice is that I am creating a sustainable, healthy and enjoyable relationship with the planet too. On occasions when the word vegan is used, you can see peoples eyes gloss over, the internalised sigh of ‘shit, here we go!’ I came across it enough as a vegetarian, so it’s quite recognisable. Then conversation will start with ‘why?’ I’ve begun to share why and then the defences are up, the reality is I have no desire to ‘convert’ a person to anything, but if you ask, I’ll share, If I inspire, then great, but all decisions need to be owned by the person making them, otherwise we get back to the question ‘what is the foundation of the choice?’
Diet, although I realise that it’s meaning isn’t about a quick fix weight loss, does seem to carry that baggage with it and as such I think as human beings we just want the result and then try to get back to our lives as they were as quickly as possible. The shift to lifestyle, for me, is a reminder that this is about my life, my health, my decision to do no harm.
Since 1st Jan I’ve heard ‘oh but you can’t have…’ yes actually I can, but I’ve made a conscious decision not too (I even found out about the free pass for febfast but my decision was conscious, mindful and purposeful, so no free pass!) Since setting my intentions I have found my choices to be very liveable, because they are conscious, mindful and have purpose and meaning for my life, also, I believe, because I haven’t laden myself with prohibitions I am not finding myself feeling tempted in any way.
Generations are changing, but resolutions will continue to be made and diets will continue to be participated in. Some more food for thought, there are corporations extremely happy to buy in and exploit. Jan 1st, resolutions are made to loose weight, get fit and a whole bag of other ‘must give up, must take up’ decisions made – in the back ground there are corporations waiting in the shadows with a new diet, a new pill, amazing gym membership opportunities, all very happy to take money from people knowing that for some it is a ‘knee jerk this is what we do at this time of year’ decision.
I guess the bottom line is mindfulness, because when we begin to practice mindfulness and reflect on decisions our language may become healthier and less negatively ladened. Our choices become healthier because foundations are firmer.