Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Getting fit at 45

Having been vegan for over a decade and not being a smoker or a drinker, many times I live in a fantasy world and think that I am a very healthy, athletically fit, person.

I can go to my gym and lift a lot of weight, hop on the bike for miles and miles, and feel that all is good.

Then I got a trainer.

Reality check. You mean that once you have lifted a set you don’t go talk with someone for 15 minutes, get a drink, talk some more, walk once around the track, and then consider another set? The further reality is that gym time, like most of my life, is social time.

One hour. Non-stop. Many different excercises, including several that I would NEVER consider doing on my own.

Balance? What is balance? Balance is when you keep one foot on the ground, lift the other, and at the same time lift a weight above your head. All while not falling down.

All along I thought balance was making sure I didn’t work too much and spent enough time with Mike and the furries.

I decided to get a trainer when I realized that many times during my workouts I could only go so far, and, especially with cardio, I would get winded quickly.

I had NO idea how difficult working with a trainer and learning about exercises that will not only make me look a little healthier but actually make awesome change in my body would be. I read on Facebook all the time about friends and family doing marathons, triathalons, 10K’s, etc. No thank you, I’m healthy and really don’t want to break a sweat.

And the truth is I don’t want to run a marathon. Yet I do want to be able to run a mile or two without having to have my doctor on call.

My veganism only goes so far. And although this will be an entirely different post, even though I am vegan doesn’t mean I eat healthy! OUCH! Another difficult realization.

I don’t think you need to get a trainer to become more healthy. It was a great choice for me as I have never been trained in working out and I have learned so much. And I have only had three sessions so far.

Where is that Mighty-O doughnut?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gay (and Lesbian) in the US military!

As many of you know, the devastating policy that excluded gays and lesbians from serving in the US military for decades ends today. The so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is now officially dead. This is a huge day for me!

I served in the US Navy from 1984 - 1991 with reserve time going through 1994. I am very familiar with the policy meant to keep gays and lesbians from serving.

I remember the investigations and the harassment.

I remember the suicides. The fear that one had been "found out".

I remember only wanting to go out with other military people who were gay so not to have to worry about being exposed by someone not in the military.

I remember the humiliating courts martial and Captain's Masts.

I remember constantly having to change (and remember) pronouns.

I remember walking by a gay bar overseas and not even daring to look in.

I remember the violence by word and by fist. I remember going one hundred plus miles to go out to a gay bar so my license plate wouldn't be written down.

I remember the pure bigotry and the hate. "You fucking faggot!"

I remember knowing in my heart that one day this would end. That it would just have to end.

It's gotten a little easier for some since I got out. I think it all depended on your command. But now it's a bit easier for many, and at least, even if one wants to stay closeted, they are safe with their job if they are "found out".

The bigotry will take a lot longer to go away, yet this is still a HUGE deal. Inside I am totally stoked. Outside I know the fight for equality is not over.

Will you celebrate with me?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vegan at the Sustainable Living Fair

As many of you know, Mike and I have a little vegan company called Cruelty-Free World. We set up at festivals, farmer's markets, holiday gift markets and fair-trade shows and sell our vegan goods and cookbooks. Then we donate the profit to animal rights and human rights groups. We always try to carry the coolest vegan bags, purses and wallets as well as our favorite vegan cookbooks.

The Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins, Colorado is always one of our best times. This year we came up on Friday to set up early and meet other vendors. We are so grateful to have our dear friends Christa and Dave in Fort Collins, who open their home to us.

We began our Saturday with several wonderful folks from the local vegan group, Fort Vegan, who loved our array of bags and left with several cookbooks. We met April who we had connected with on Twitter (and added her blog, Epicurean Vegan to our resources list) and she brought us vegan cookies! What a great group of people. We especially love selling vegan cookbooks (as opposed to passing our veg starter kits which we do) as when someone buys a cookbook they make an investment and they will most likely use it at least once.

Throughout the weekend we have a lot of conversations around veganism and animal rights, and are able to help people who have never cooked vegan in their lives (on purpose) pick out a cookbook that is best for them. The vegan community is alive and well in Fort Collins, and they were so wonderful to us. On Sunday we even got a plate filled with vegan coffee cake that didn't last long!

We also spend a lot of time with the usual anti-vegan banter. That's where our love shines through. Especially with the guy who told me they were the opposite of where we were as they are chicken farmers. I told him that we all have more in common than not and him and his wife actually hung out for a few minutes. And Mike's great conversation with a cattle rancher, who left with a veg starter kit. My hope is that the way they think about vegans and animal rights people changed for the better and perhaps one day they'll take a good look at their chickens and cows. It is so easy to quickly slam people, yet as a voice for the voiceless I don't like that way.

The vendor food at the Fair this year was better than last year. Several vegan options including vegan sweets! vegan doughnuts on Sunday. On our way to the Fair Sunday morning we dropped by Mugs and they made us AMAZING vegan breakfast burritos with vegan sausage. The people who run this Fair have always been so kind and welcoming to Mike and I, and we have always loved being here.

The best meal we had over the weekend was at Nyala Ethipian Cuisine! WOW! I was blown away by all of the flavors and the owner came out and offered some of what she had made herself for her lunch which was a tasty tofu dish. This is a not-to-miss place whenever in Fort Collins! http://www.nyalafc.com

Local fairs and festivals are great places to promote veganism. More to come on that. We'll see you next year at the 13th Annual Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wedding rings & vegans

How important is a wedding ring? Does it really matter? After all, our marriage is not legally recognized in 44 states as well as on the federal level. In many realms we are called sinners, sodomites and abominations.

As I look at my wedding ring my eyes get watery thinking of my husband. Thinking of the hard-core love I have for him, our family, and the life we have created. Thinking of the gratitude I feel every day to be his husband. I think about the day we walked into a jewelry store and discussed the rings we wanted to exchange at our wedding. And the day we picked them up! The day I put Mike's ring on his finger is a day I will always remember.

On a daily basis I am reminded that there are people who feel strongly against Mike and I, and our relationship, and certainly our marriage. Today I read a Facebook post from a fellow animal rights activist saying that he respects gay folk but not what we do (I am generalizing his post). He posted on the page of an animal rights group, who then deleted his post. Whether his post should have been deleted or not might be the topic of another blog post!

I wanted to respond to his original post (we know of his post based on other posts) and let him know that I respect his views on animal rights and that I don't really care about his views on my relationship, let alone the fact that I even exist! I have heard ALL of them. I don't necessarily believe one is hateful when expressing them (a point brought up in this same grouping of posts). I guess it's how one expresses their message more than what the message is. I have met wonderful people who in their hearts believe that my marriage is wrong.

As veganism grows, as more and more people embrace compassion with their food choices, the movement itself becomes more diverse. And yes, that includes the presence of even more people who are, for whatever reason, anti-gay. (Not to say that there haven't been anti-gay folks around before now!) Just to be clear, as loving as I try to be towards all, if you believe that as a gay married couple Mike and I deserve less from any government level of benefits then I consider you to be anti gay. I don't care about your reasoning or what book you read to "support" your being anti-gay. We deserve the same as any heterosexual married couple, pure and simple.

Within animal rights and veganism, it all comes down to being a voice for the voiceless. Those beautiful creatures who suffer every day need our voices. If we look at each other as equals and not try to lessen each other for any reason, then our voice will be louder and stronger.

Thanks for reading! If you're in Colorado and coming to the Sustainability Fair in Fort Collins this weekend we'll see you there. Booth 429!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Want to try veganism?

As many of you know, Mike and I own a business called Cruelty-Free World. It's a very small business. We find awesome vegan products and the best vegan cookbooks and sell them at local festivals. Then we donate 100% of the profit to animal and human rights groups. We love it and are in our fifth season.

Next week we travel to Fort Collins for one of our favorite shows, the annual Sustainable Living Fair. We love this show. And we love Fort Collins.

One of the newest books we'll be selling is Colleen Patrick Goudreau's newest, "The 30-Day Vegan Challenge". What a great book. Colleen wrote it to be supportive to those jumping into veganism (my words, not hers!). With this blog we have promoted Meatless Mondays and have let y'all know why we are vegan. Now we want to invite people to try veganism. By this I mean we want to invite you to take a vegan pledge. One week? One month?

Are we crazy? Some of you might be thinking this. And we do realize that some of our readers are already vegan. You can pass this invite to friends of yours who are not vegan. And if you don't know anyone who is not vegan, then it's time to increase your social circles!

Veganism rocks! I love being vegan. And you too can participate in this amazing lifestyle!

If you're going to be at the Sustainable Living Fair, come check us out and sign up to give veganism a try. You have nothing to lose, and, in my opinion, so much to gain. If you want more info, you can order a vegan starter kit from the main page of our blog. You can also check out the many links we have listed on our blog. We have some excellent folks linked from the resource section, you should definitely check them out. What I have found is that there is no shortage in support for people wanting to check out veganism.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for thinking about veganism and/or promoting veganism.

Your local shelter needs you

Meet Gypsy! Gypsy is a sweetheart. She is one of thousands of animals who need a home today. When I first met Gypsy at The Max Fund Shelter in Denver you could not see her eyes and barely could see her nose. Her hair was so overgrown that you couldn't see her face. The mats on her feet were almost all two inches wide and her ears looked triple their size because of her mats. When I opened her cage to show her some love she trembled as I picked her up.

This week she was spayed at the shelter and by the time you are reading this I will have had a visit with her. (well, I have visited her twice now!) She still shakes. You can just tell that she was accustomed to being on someones lap all day at some point in her life. Now she is terrified and in a cage.

But she can see. And she has no mats. This is because I met her and had the time to groom her.

NOTE: I am in no way a professional groomer. Ask anyone, including our companion dogs. Yet I felt I could at least clean her up and remove all the mats. Mission accomplished.

No matter where you live, no matter how busy you are, no matter how many causes you are involved in, no matter if animals in shelters are "not your thing", you can make a HUGE difference in an animal's life with very little time. An hour a week can mean the difference between a terrified animal and one that feels a little better off. It can mean the difference between getting a walk or no exercise at all. It can mean a clean cage right after an incident and them waiting till someone else notices that they are lying in crap. It can mean the world to shelter employees who day in and day out rock it for the animals and many times don't have enough time, money, resources or help.

You can find a shelter online or in the phone book. Give them a ring or swing by. My experience is that many things can happen once you offer to volunteer:

They will say they do not need volunteers.

They will not return your phone call.

They will send you a list of the volunteer training schedule.

They will say thanks so much, and here's broom.

They will ask you to foster an animal.

And so on.

In the ten years I have volunteered at The Max Fund, I have had many amazing experiences. I have looked at other places to volunteer but have always come back to wanting to volunteer for The Max Fund. You can find the shelter that fits best with you and your schedule (and your belief system). Keep in mind that you may not always have great experiences and that the shelter may not meet your expectations all the time. I have to constantly keep in mind that I am there to serve the animals, and nothing else matters (aside from any type of cruelty towards those same animals).

My point is that I may not dig someone on staff, I may not dig their policies, I may not dig their adopting system and I may not dig their euthanasia policy (if they have one). Yet I am there to clean a cage, to take someone on a walk, to brush a cat, to cut out mats, and most of all, to love. Yep, I want as many of those beautiful creatures to know they are loved. My favorite times are taking one of the animals out of the cage, going to the play room, and just totally loving on them. Regardless of their circumstances, you and they will feel loved for that time.

And please keep this in mind. I looked all over for statistics on how many animals, dogs and cats, are euthanized in the US every year. It looks like the number many groups use is 3.7 million and that is from 2008. That's 3.7 million in one year. I definitely realize that there are many conversations going on about what to do about this number. While those conversations are happening, we can support the animals by volunteering at our local shelters.

I would love to hear about the shelter you volunteer at!

As always, thanks so much for reading!