March 23, 2009

Strength From Within.

I am often faced with challenges that shake me to my core, and force me realize the strength I have inside myself.

I have more often then not thought of myself as weak. As not able to handle conflict, struggle, challenge. As a quitter ... running when things got tough. Now, I can't tell you WHY I've felt that way about myself. I can't think of a single time that I ran when things got tough. I can't think of a time that I was unable to work through conflict, struggle, and challenges. But all the same, I've viewed myself as weak for a great majority of my life.

3 1/2 years ago I was faced with the biggest obstacle in my life. I wanted to run ... I wanted out. But, I didn't. I thought "running away is easy, sticking around to try and work through this - on the off chance that we make it... that takes courage". I stayed, and it was in that decision that I had felt real pride in myself for the first time! Although that same decision also has me feeling, at times, ashamed, weak, pathetic, etc, etc, etc ... it is a decision I will never regret. The feeling of pride was strong. It was the catalyst that lifted me up out of my severe depression and self hatred. It was the step up I needed to see myself through a new set of eyes. It changed my life entirely!

I am a strong a woman! I have a strong heart, a strong mind, and strong capable hands that are able to help my family get through the darkest of hours. I am emotionally reactive, and often don't believe in myself, but when I'm able to step back, breathe, gather my thoughts ... I know I have been faced with so many challenges because I'm fully capable of steering through them. I am!

There are some that aren't at the same point in their lives right now. I am specifically talking about my husband. A wonderful, wonderful man that has lost his way. While, from the outside, it looks as though I am getting a bum deal, and should just cut my loses (how much can and should one person take... a very valid question and worry), from the inside, I can't help but think perhaps we were brought together by fate (and not in the christian godly sense, mind you ... soul mates, perhaps? been here done this before? I don't know) because I AM able to endure. I am able to see past the initial hurt and betrayal that I feel, and look deeper. See the desperation he's living, feel the screams for help, and know that I am fully capable of taking it on. I am able to pull myself together and let my strength lead the way.

I don't know what I'm going to do... but I do know that I have enough strength, courage, and willingness to do what it takes! Whatever that is.

March 19, 2009

The Great American MEATOUT is upon us ... are you up to the challenge?!

“There’s a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals, in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side. Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to consider the miserable life of the pig—an animal easily as intelligent as a dog—that becomes the Christmas ham.”

The New York Times Magazine
“An Animal’s Place,” by Michael Pollan, 11/10/02

In celebration of the 25th Annual Great American Meatout, the worlds largest and oldest grassroots diet education campaign, taking place tomorrow (March 20th), I decided to blog about Veganism! Now before you high tail it up to that lovely red X at the top right corner of your computer screen, hear me out...

I'm not one of those radical vegetarians that think it's my job to "turn" the rest of the world by any means necessary. I'm not a crazy whack job that stands outside of burger joints throwing "blood" at everyone eating a Big Mac while screaming "MURDERERS". I wont shun you if, heaven forbid, you don't hold the same values that I hold. But, I do feel it's part of my responsibility to help raise awareness about Vegetarianism/Veganism as pertaining to animal welfare, our environment, and the health of humanity.

On the animal welfare/right front, here you go... PETA TV: Meet Your Meat I highly encourage everyone to take a look at this video. I don't care if you watch it thinking "Hmm, maybe this will change my mind about eating meat", or "Hell, this isn't going to change a damn thing about anything, F*** the Animals". Just watch it. Raise your awareness level. Without knowledge - what are we really?

On the environment front... some information I gathered from another site (html..)

Global Warming

According to Dr. James Hansen, 'Father of Global Warming', animal agriculture is the number one cause of global warming, it is the 'cow' in the middle of the room of the environmentalists
Also according to Dr. James Hansen, carbon dioxide accounts for 9% at the most. Methane (from animal agriculture) accounts for about 50% of global warming
Methane is 25x more potent a global warmer than CO2
Methane takes 9-15 years to disappear, CO2 takes about 110 years to disappear - what does this mean? Veganism could save us.
Nitrous Oxide, also a product of animal agriculture, is 300x more potent a global warmer than CO2
King Charles estimates we have about 100 months before the climate is unlivable, some experts believe we have as few as 2 years

Feeding the World

Animal agriculture takes up 70% of the Earth's areable land
30% of the total land mass of the Earth is being used for animal agriculture
The grain it takes to fee 100 cows is enough to feed 2,000 people
If every meat eater of the world cut their meat consumption by 10%, there would be grain enough to feed all the starving people in the world
About 2 million tons of grain are produced each year, and only about 10% - 20% of that total goes to human consumption.


A year of the standard American diet uses about 11,000 gallons of oil every year. In comparison, driving a Prius for a year uses 5,000 gallons of oil.
Animal agriculture takes about 70% of the world's fresh water, and most of the rest is polluted.
The average meat eater accounts for about 400-500 gallons of water per day
Ecology and Energy
Each burger equates to the demolition of about 50 square feet of rain forest
There is 20 million acres of deforestation each year
1000 species go extinct each year
Organic farming requires 37% less energy

Weather and Other

Level 5 hurricanes have significantly increased
According to King Charles, the water level has gone up one meter. Some experts estimate water levels of the world could rise 70 meters, which is equivalent to a 10 story building
50% of antibiotics made go to animals, which in turn goes into what's left of the water
One pig farm produces as much extretement waste as New York City
Fasts of 7 days or longer cause one to lose their cellular memory for meat and dairy --> easier to go vegan
Bottom Line: What we eat literally affects who lives or dies on the planet, the health of the people, and the health of the planet.

On the health of humanity front, along with the above "feeding the world", it's really very simple. Meat causes disease in the body. Eliminate meat ... eliminate disease! Sound too easy? Well, some of the best things comes in small packages. Of course you need to make sure you're eating a well balanced diet... but it really is just that simple.

If you're not sold on jumping on the vegetarian/vegan wagon right now, that's ok. Life is a process. In order for that process to progress, we need knowledge. By reading this blog, I'm hoping your knowledge and awareness levels have increased, if even ever so slightly. If so... that's progress, and you can't ask for more then that!

Except for right now, because there is one more thing I will ask of you - haha. No matter where you are in your "meat beliefs" ... join the world tomorrow (March 20th) for one day of meat free existence. Just ONE day!

Change Your Diet - Change the World!

March 4, 2009

PTSD, TBI, and MORE ... oh my!

Where do I begin?
I mentioned a few blog posts ago about the possible devastating news pertaining to my husband. I'm finally going to expand on that post, and go into more detail.

My husband was part of the first forces sent over to Iraq during the onset of the war. He was only there for a couple of months before returning home... we were VERY lucky in that regard. However, it seems that just a couple of months was enough time to cause some serious issues that we will be challenged with for the rest of our lives. He came back a changed man. Changed in many ways. Not so much the typical vision one sees when thinking of a PTSD soldier "All bitter and mad at the world. Closed off, shut down, and giving up on life". He's not like that... he's just, different. Not the man that I met, fell in love with, and married.

At first, we both figured it would take a little time to re acclimate back into "real" life again. So, we were patient. Just waiting for things to return back to normal. Normal never did come back to us. He has been seeking help for PTSD for quite a number of years now, and it isn't really helping the issues! He quickly became very depressed and self loathing, not knowing why he couldn't fix himself and help his family. His depression lead him on a very self destructive path, and in doing so, he made some huge mistakes at the expense of our family. Which, of course, lead to more self loathing and destruction.

I have tried my damnedest to not give up on him, on us, on our family... which has been no easy feat. More times then not I had a blueprint to the front door, and was ready to split faster then fast! But, we have held onto each other. My husbands want, desire, and willingness to acknowledge these problems, and seek help for them is what keeps me here. He's a great man!

We have been seeing a marriage counselor for almost a year now. This new counselor mentioned the possibility of TBI (traumatic brain injury, aka - brain damage!) a few months ago. Honestly, it wasn't something we had ever thought about. In all Nicks years of counseling for PTSD, it was not something that was ever mentioned to him. Very odd, indeed, to never hear it mentioned as a "possibility". We started researching it. He was never IN an explosion while over there, but he was very close to a massive explosion that caused all of the soldiers standing there to lose their footing, become disoriented and nauseous, and may have even caused some black-outs (though, he can't be entirely sure. Memory loss is a big problem of his now). So, there it was, the *maybe* answer to all of his symptoms. His neurology appt is in a couple of weeks. It was supposed to be yesterday, but we had to reschedule. We may have more answers after that appt. Though, from everything we've read and have been told, there is no definitive test that will accurately say "yes, it's TBI" or "no, it's not TBI". So, who knows.

So, we have been faced with the very real and scary possibility that my husband has suffered brain damage. Un-fixable, irreversible brain damage. On top of the possible TBI diagnosis, He has been diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and has anger management issues. He has very recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and idiopathic hypersomnia (all sleep related, in that, he can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, doing anything). He is also in occupational therapy for memory loss (he has a really tough time remembering things, especially things that he and I talk about. We communicate up the yin yang about our issues. Lack of communication is definitely not a weakness in our relationship. We talk and come to solutions/ compromises... but a day or two later, the same issue will resurface because he'll have completely forgotten the previous conversation. Even when talking about it again, nothing will "ring any bells" or "jog his memory", it'll be like he's hearing it for the first time). It's devastating to know that he will never again be the man he once was. As strong as I am trying to be for him and for our family, and as selfish as this may sound (my husband IS still alive, after all), I have been grieving the "death" of the man I fell in love with. It's a horrible reality to be faced with.

On the other hand, it has given me more strength to fight! It has given Nick more strength to fight! It's easier for us to remain optimistic when we know what it is we're dealing with. When we know that things aren't getting better not because of us not trying enough, or not caring enough, or not giving it our all ... but because the challenges we face AREN'T going to get better. How we react to those challenges, THAT'S what can get better. Restructuring our lives to met the challenges, that's what can get better. The issues, the problems, the challenges ... it seems like those are here to stay. We have to welcome them... learn to live with them.

Part of me has really struggled with releasing this information out into the blog universe. After our recent bout with DSS, and the hell my family went through because of a judgemental reader (dss really did treat us like complete SHIT!), I thought long and hard about whether or not to post this (which is why it has taken me this long). But, in the end, I'm a blogger. Always have been, always will be. I can't let the simple mindedness of one person change who I am. This is me. This is my family. Yes, we have struggles ... but who doesn't. We are filled with problems, but we are also filled with love, with compassion, and with a desire to weather even the toughest of storm ... together! You can't really ask for more then that, can you!