I used to be beautiful – tall and slim, long, red, wavy hair, clear blue eyes – and so full of fear of what that would attract.
I spent 12 years in Catholic school, being told how ‘sinful’ I was for even thinking I looked good. We were told that anyone attracted to us because of the way we looked was likely evil and would definitely harm us. The female body was something to hide, something to be ashamed of. I even remember one elderly nun telling our class that if we were caught in the shower, naked, when the house caught fire, we best allow ourselves to burn rather than be seen in that state. I did not grow up in a Middle Eastern country. My country was not ruled by the Taliban. This was the United States of America, yet it wasn’t much different than what we see today and criticize others for.
So yes, I was afraid of being seen as beautiful. Worse than that, I didn’t believe the men who told me that I was. I was sure they were lying to get what they wanted. I was a mess when it came to intimacy.
In my late teens I had a job working downtown in a big city often until after dark. I took the bus, and when the weather was wicked with temps below zero, it was miserable waiting outside. So I would seek out any place I could to warm up while I waited. One such place was a small record shop. It took so much courage to walk into this tiny shop knowing that the men who ran it, not much older than me, would immediately start making comments, ‘what was I looking for’ (wink, wink), ‘I’m sure we’ve got what you want’ (grin), ‘you look really cold – we can warm you up’. HELP! I could hear the voices of the nuns in my head, ‘better to get frostbite than to flirt with these boys.’
Where was my voice? Where was my power? This is not what I came here to be – fearful, hiding, embarrassed by my body, my wild hair, my feminine energy.
As I think back now on the emerging woman I was, it is with sadness for so much time wasted in fear and hiding.
Even in my marriages I never truly believed that I deserved to be loved. I found myself hiding so much that my body changed and took on layers of ‘hiding energy’. So many of us do this. We silently plead, ‘don’t look at me’, ‘don’t see me too closely’. We show only the parts of ourselves that we think will be approved, valued and hide the rest. We lose ourselves as we strive to be what we believe the other wants. It becomes our first nature to put ourselves second. We believe what others tell us and we tell ourselves this is all we deserve.
Today I find myself alone for the first time in my life. No husband or children to take care of. Only me. It’s been interesting to experience what taking care of me feels like. It’s such a new feeling. There is freedom. There is discovery. There are also those times when is would be so great to share all of this with someone close. Then there is the hardest part – falling in love with myself. Do I deserve to be loved? Is it truly possible to love all of me?
What I know to be true in the deepest part of my soul, is that every cell in my body longs to feel love. Every cell in my body is eager to be exactly what I would like it to be, and love is the key. Love is the fuel that ignites the fire of regeneration, self-expression and vitality. Love of self creates the undefinable but incredibly powerful force in each of us that attracts all we desire in this life.
We can not get this force from anyone or anything outside of us. It must come from within. When that fire is ignited and burning strong, we are powerful beyond measure. I believe this is why so many of us were taught self-loathing by those in power. They understood and feared what we all could become if we learned to love ourselves and honor our beauty, our power, our Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine energy.
Today, as I walk this new path, I am learning to truly see myself and love what I see. I’m not that same young girl, nor would I want to be. I am wiser, more confident, more aware and so grateful for all that I have created in this life – all the lessons I learned – all the experiences – all the love.
I know I’m not finished. I look forward to what else I choose to create. My wish is that every young girl on the planet can know that she is beautiful, know that her beauty is part of her power, and recognize the Divine Goddess energy in herself. She can then use that energy to create more love here now.
My reasons are personal to me - or so I thought at the time. Then I discovered that quite a few others experienced the same thing.
I have always known that I am sensitive to the emotions of those around me. Maybe a bit too sensitive. I feel their pain as though it is happening to me. Over time I have been able to shield myself a bit, but it's still there. This morning, watching just a few minutes of the news about Kobe, his daughter and the others in that horrible crash, my heart started hurting and it was hard to breathe. I had to turn it off. I had to come back to myself, get grounded, remember that these beautiful souls - while no longer in body - are with us always. Breathe.
So what has that got to do with giving up meat?
It occurred to me one day in meditation that the anxiety, even unfounded fear, that I had experienced most of my life was not mine. It was coming from the animals I was eating every day.
What? How is that possible?
There is science behind this. It has to do with hormones which are directly related to emotions. Imagine you are a young steer and life has been pretty good - all that grass and sunshine. You know you are one of the lucky ones. Then one day you are forced into a big box - crowded with all of your fellow steers- and you are moving. You don't know where or why so anxiety starts to build. Stress hormones are released into your blood. The box stops moving and you are moved into a crowded pen, and you smell fear. The stress hormones build. Then you smell something you can't really identify. It has a powerful energy of not only fear but panic. You also start to panic. What is happening? Why? The stress hormones are flooding your system - then it is over.
I apologize for the graphic nature of that last paragraph, but for me it was a huge awareness that I was consuming flesh that was full of these stress hormones. I was basically eating a big dose of hormones packed with the fear, anxiety, even panic of the animals on my plate.
So here is what I discovered 3 or so years ago when I first gave up meat and dairy. I started to sleep better. I had fewer nightmares. I woke up feeling lighter, a bit more hopeful.
At first I wasn't sure of the correlation, so I would experiment. Eat some chicken or beer and see how I felt. Yup. The stress came back - even to the point of panic attacks. Now I understood where those panic attacks, that I had experienced so often throughout my life, were coming from.
So that's my first reason for becoming vegan. As I learned more, the many other reasons made sense to me as well.
For example - did you know that there is lots of research linking a diet of meat and dairy to heart disease, auto-immune disease, diabetes and so much more?
Please take a moment to listen to this doctor's personal story. Then share it with people you love.
Thanks for reading this far. I would love your feedback, what have you noticed about how your body reacts to foods?
If you want to know more about switching to a vegan diet, I am happy to help.
much love ~
Over the last 30+ years I've been gathering tips to help my family live a healthier life. I'll share some of those here with you and welcome your ideas as well.