#healthandtheholidays

I know there are about a million posts out there about this exact topic, but I’m gonna take a little bit of a different approach to it. When we talk about “health” in our society, we are generally referring to what we look like, people always make wrong assumptions about other people’s health based on what they physically look like. You can be fat and healthy just like you can be skinny and unhealthy, there is a correlation, but being healthy and being skinny are not mutually exclusive.

That being said, the holidays are definitely a time where we indulge ourselves in the less healthy side of life a little more than we usually do. I for one eat very healthy most of the time, but on Christmas eve I will make my famously unhealthy macaroni and cheese and eat probably an entire plate of it. I’m gonna have some of my grandma’s apple pie and my aunt’s potatoes Diane, and retire into a fat and sugar induced food coma, that’s the american way. When talking about being healthy we often hold ourselves to impossible standards and that’s why we fail. We see any deviation from our planned regiment of diet and exersize as a failure and that often leads to us giving up altogether. It is unrealistic to expect people to enjoy these holidays centered around food and family with just a plate of salad, indulging on Christmas or thanksgiving does not make you a failure, it makes you human.

Another aspect of health that around the holidays can be even more important than sticking to your diet and working out, is mental health. This is an aspect of health that we generally only talk about around when something goes wrong. When someone who has been seriously failed by the mental health system in a really big way. Usually this person has found access to a gun and shoots some people and we act shocked and say “he must have slipped through the cracks”. We act like these cracks are so small and we don’t understand how he slipped, we spend a couple weeks talking about mental health reform and nothing really changes. What we all fail to realize is that in reality slipping through the cracks is easier than we think, it happens every day. One small thing that we can do for our own mental health and that of others is love and acceot each other, such a simple concept that so many people fail to grasp. Feelings of depression and loneliness are exacerbated around the holidays, times of the year centered around family are often hard for people who don’t have close family or friends to enjoy the season with. Because of this it’s important that we smile at everyone we see hug the people you love and tell them you love them every day. When you see a homeless man or woman give them money or food, or just say hi and treat them like a human being. Let everyone you see know that they are not alone, because they aren’t. Feeling like you are isolated from the rest of the world is a feeling that can ware on your psyche more than anything else. At our core we are all the same, we are all human, and we often forget what that means.The ability to feel for one another and care about one another is an important human trait that we let class, race, and socio-economic standing take away from us. We need to start defining ourselves as human before anything else, and watch how our world vies can change.

When assessing the “health” of our fellow humans, we put very little importance on mental health because the state of someone’s mental health isn’t something you can always see. Some people with mental health issues look disheveled or unkempt, we look at them and it makes sense to us, their mental health status has physically manifested on their bodies and that makes sense. The problem is that these people are a small percentage of people with mental illness. The rest of them walk among us often smiling through their depression or anxiety and trying to look “normal”, trying to fit in, trying not to let their “difference” show. When someone is struggling with demons in their own mind just one smile can make a world of difference.

We’re all fighting battles every day that no one else sees and just plain kindness can be the best weapon in these battles. One smile, one “happy holidays”, or one piece of home cooked pie can change someone else’s day, week, or life.

#journeys

Our lives are full of different journeys that teach us different things. Some journeys are geographical trips to different places and some are personal journeys that take place inside of us. However no matter what kind of journey you are taking just the word journey implies that the emphasis is on the path that you take and not the destination. In our fast paced world we put too much emphasis in the destination and find little value in the journey, what I’m learning is that the real value is in the journey and that sometimes there is no destination because you find peace in the journey.

In the past year and a half I have been on the most significant journey of self discovery that I have experienced in my short 26 years on this earth, It has even surpassed puberty and when my mother finally let me start shaving my legs at 14 years old. I can honestly say that I am not the same person I was when beginning this journey, and a year from now I suspect I may be someone new again.

A year and a half ago I decided to go vegetarian, it started off as more of a challenge than anything else, I had no political or moral cause, I was just trying to see what I was capable of. I, like many Americans, and just humans for that matter, was willfully ignorant to the ways of the corporate food industry and blindly, and happily, consumed the poison they fed me. I subscribed to the idea that what we ate didn’t matter, it was what we did. I followed the “calories in, calories out” mantra they shouted at the hilltops to keep us blaming ourselves for the sad state our our health in America instead of the miseducation provided to us by our food and health industries.

About 6 months into this journey I started to become aware of the moral and environment ramifications of our factory farming industry, I learned that everything we’re told about health and fitness is largely and lie designed to keep us consuming. The food industry, or “big food” as I fondly refer to them, is out for profit, that’s it, nothing else. I learned to question everything, even my own government because they know, legislation has been introduced to better regulate the food industry and inform the American public about what we are really consuming, but big food uses their money and resources to buy politicians so we never hear the truth about our food.

I was never one to be overly critical of the government, I think more because in the back of my mind I was afraid of what I would find, but I told myself it was because I trusted my government, what other choice did I have. eventually all this questioning of special interest groups like those in the food industry, and they’re effect on governmental practices scared the shit out of me. I started to wonder if there were other questionable practices and decision making in our government, and world that I should be worried about, and big surprise… there is, what a curve ball.

That’s what this blog is, one girl’s journey towards awareness of self, the environment, and the world. I do not pretend to have all the answers, no one does, but I think the only way for things to change is for people to start asking the uncomfortable questions that challenge the status quo and really make people think, and that is something I can do. We are living in tough times where our world and our humanity are slipping through our fingers and our hands are too numb to notice… something has to change!!!

“Free your soul… free your mind… free yourself…”