Food For Thought X: My Plant-Based Thanksgiving!

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This is my second year of being the only herbivore at Thanksgiving.  The first two years, I was vegetarian, so that was pretty easy.  Pass up the turkey and the ham, and you’ve got yourself a vegetarian Thanksgiving.  But after I went totally plant-based, most of the Thanksgiving dishes we’d always served were off limits.  Deviled eggs, hashbrown casserole, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, potato salad, and the list goes on.  So for the past couple of years, I’ve found veganized versions of some these things, and y’all, I don’t feel deprived one tiny bit.

We went to my parents’ house this year.  There were only six of us there, but MAN, you should have seen the spread.  I brought everything you see above, and my mom made all of their meat, a few vegetable sides, and all the desserts.  I feel like I kind of get the raw end of the deal here… I bring all this vegan stuff to share with everyone else, but they don’t have to share their meat and dairy-laden stuff with me!  haha  Although in the interest of full disclosure, I did cheat and have a piece of very much nonvegan chocolate chess pie.  I never claimed to be perfect.

So what did I bring?  Since I didn’t get a chance to get to Nashville (the nearest place that sells vegetarian roasts), I just made a hippie loaf as my main dish with golden gravy to smother it with.  This is seriously the best brown gravy ever.  The dressing was just plain old cornbread dressing, which is easily veganized from any recipe you might find just by using substitutes for the egg and milk in the cornbread and by using No-Chicken broth when you’re putting the dressing together.  The green beans are just plain ol’ green beans with a little no-beef broth powder and garlic added while they were simmering, and the turnip greens just had a splash of white vinegar and quite a bit of cayenne pepper.  The sweet potato casserole is my signature dish.  Everyone has asked me for years to bring this stuff, and no one batted an eye when I veganized it last year.  I don’t have a link to the recipe as it’s one I just have typed up and saved, so I’ll add the recipe to the bottom of this post.  The only new-to-me recipe I tried this Thanksgiving was Cookin’ Crunk’s Deviled Tofu Bites.  They were AMAZING.  It was remarkable how much they tasted like deviled eggs.  These will definitely be a new holiday staple!

Sweet Potato Casserole:

  • 4-1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, melted
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg equivalent of Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance, melted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400.  Grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish.  In a food processor, mix together mashed sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup Earth Balance, almond milk, sugar, vanilla, and egg replacer.  (I have to do this in two rounds because it won’t all fit in my food processor.)  Spread mixture into dish.  In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and flour, then mix in the other 1/3 cup of Earth Balance until mixture is crumbly, then mix in pecans.  Sprinkle pecan mixture over the sweet potatoes.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the pecan topping is golden brown.

We Interrupt Your Entire Routine, Schedule, and Life to Bring You This Puppy

Last Tuesday night, I was chilling at home, skipping a run because my hamstring wasn’t too happy with the 11 miles I’d run two days before.  I was perusing Facebook and contemplating dinner when I was alerted through a local rescue group to this little dog that was in a bad situation and needed immediate help.  Being the sucker that I am, and knowing her fate if no one intervened, I went and got her.  Less than an hour after I found out about her, she was safe and warm, dozing on my couch.

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I ain’t gonna lie.  The first few days were pretty rough on everyone.  She was scared and confused and expressing those feelings through less-than-desirable behavior; I was in tears more than once; and my two dogs were pretty frustrated, too.  Thankfully, all of that has passed now, and she has become such a joy to have around.  We aren’t planning on keeping her though.  As sweet as she is, we just aren’t where we can take on a fourth pet right now.  Rather we are fostering her.  I called on a few of my rescue friends and secured her a spot with one of their organizations.  Since coming to us, she has been vaccinated and spayed, had an umbilical hernia repaired, been treated for hook worms and whip worms, and started on heartworm prevention.  (By the grace of GOD, she was heartworm negative!)

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Now that she’s gotten used to us and built a little confidence, she’s really finding herself and has turned into quite the little clown.

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I accidentally dropped a potato, and she was ON IT… and took it directly to my crocs that I keep by the door, dropped it into the shoe, and wrestled the shoe when she couldn’t get it back out. HILARIOUS.
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“I lost my tater. I can haz another?”

We’ll be fostering her for at least a few weeks probably.  The rescue that took her in said that all of their foster homes were full and that it’s really hard to find fosters through the holidays, so I couldn’t say no.  Who could say no to these ears?

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Sami is available for adoption through Companion Pet Rescue.  Applications for adoption can be found at www.cprdogs.com.

When Dreams are Just Dreams

Have you ever had a really great dream that was so vivid and so real and made you so happy that when you wake up and realize it was only a dream that it just makes you really sad?  It happened to me a couple of nights ago.  It was so very detailed.  D and I were on a travel website looking at vacation options and we found a place in Destin, Florida (one of our favorite getaway spots), that was available for check-in the next day.  We booked it!  We were doing all this at night and only had a few hours to get everything together before we left to make the drive down the next morning.  I was calling to make arrangements with my job and he was calling his shop guy making arrangements for our business.  I called our dog-sitter but she was unavailable, so we were just like, “We’ll just take them with us!”  I was so excited because I’ve always wanted to take the dogs to the beach with us.  I was laying clothes out on the bed to pack when I was awakened by our cat declaring breakfast time.  For just a second when I woke up, I was like, “YAY, we leave today!!!!”  And then it hit me.  “No.  We don’t.”  I was deflated.  And that feeling stuck with me for several hours before I could shake it!

I’ve had bad dreams lots of times where when I woke up I was incredibly relieved to realize it was just a dream, but this is the first time I can remember it happening the opposite way.  I can’t say I like it at all.

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Till next time, Destin…

When was the last time you had a really life-like dream that had a lasting effect on you?

Tuesday Tidbits – The “New Stuff” Edition

  • New ‘do!  I used to play with the color and change it up quite often, but I’ve been the same plain brown for a few years now, only varying the shade slightly with the season.  I was totally ready for a change.  Something a little funky!  We darkened the color and added some red streaks.  I love it!

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  • “New” outfits!  I’m trying to keep the shopping to a minimum for my winter wardrobe, so I’ve been trying to put together new outfits out of what I already have in my closet.  I threw this one together last weekend and thought it was super cute–a dressy lacy tank top from Ross with an army green American Eagle button up with Michael Kors skinny jeans and knee boots.  I love putting together things that don’t really match.

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  • New restaurant!  Going out to eat as a vegetarian was no problem, but since going fully plant-based a couple of years ago I’ve found it more challenging.  I’ve been saying this whole time that I wish we had more options in this area, and then I very recently found out that there’s a vegan restaurant called Living Well only about a half-hour from here!  (They call themselves a “vegetarian” restaurant, but the owner said the only non-vegan thing under their roof was honey and that was only on-hand for people who ask for it with their tea.)  It’s been there for THREE YEARS, and I’m just now finding out about it?!  I went last weekend, and I hate myself for not knowing about it sooner.  It was AMAZING!!!  And SO CHEAP!  I had a salad, appetizer (tofu balls), and entree (roti), and my bill was $13.  I will be going back every chance I get.
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I had never heard of roti, but it was delicious!
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That salad dressing was to DIE for. I could have drunk it right out of the bowl.
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Roti
  • Off topic for a second…On my way home from the restaurant I passed this and had to stop to take a picture.  I thought it was simply beautiful.  The “southern snow” went on as far as the eye could see.

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  •  New beer!  I went to pick up some more of my favorite seasonal beer, Blackstone Brewery’s pumpkin ale, a few days ago, and this one caught my eye too.  After Leinenkugel’s fall brew flops, I was a little skeptical, but I had to try it.  It’s greatt!

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  • New iPod!  My several-year-old shuffle has been gimping along on its last leg for my last few runs.  It’s getting hard to get it to come on and even harder to make it stay on.  I can’t stand running without music (it’s dangerous to leave me and my thoughts alone together for too long haha), so I knew I’d best be procuring backup.  I know these things are pretty cheesy and old school, but if I’m gonna fall and break something or let something get ruined by rain or any of that other stuff that’s likely to happen on a run, I’d much rather it be an iPod that I bought on eBay for $40 than my Samsung phone!

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Training Recap & PFTW

This week kicked last week’s ASS!  In the running department anyway.  I totally dropped the ball on doing any kind of strength or cross-training though.  Oh well.  We can’t have it all, right?  haha

Monday – Rest day.  Nada

Tuesday – I was off work Tuesday and I had planned to cram a lot into that day, including going to the gym.  I ran 6 easy miles and I walked the dogs 2 more, but the gym never happened.  And it’s funny because as I sit here on Sunday writing this, I can’t remember why.

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – 6 miles, 3 at tempo pace.  It was FREEZING!!!!!  I went from running in a tee shirt and shorts on Tuesday to cold gear tights and long sleeves and gloves on Thursday.  Cold-weather running is my absolute favorite, but I guess I need time to acclimate to that too because I was chilled to the freakin’ bone the rest of the night.  It took two hours in my fleece lounge pants and sweatshirt with my fuzzy robe on under a fluffy blanket drinking hot chocolate to warm up!

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 6 x 400.  NAILED IT.  One of the intervals was at 5K pace, and the other 5 were well below it.  The last one was over a minute faster than goal pace.  I have no idea where that came from.  None.  Reassessing goal pace. Also, walked dogs 1.5 miles.

Sunday – Ahhhhhhhhh redemption.  Last week’s attempt at 11 miles was a disaster, and I ended up cutting it short to 9 miles.  Today i ran 11 miles, nonstop, no fuel, effortlessly, and at a decent pace.  I desperately needed that mental boost.  It was cold, it was raining, and I loved every single minute of it.  It rained the entire day, so my poor doggies didn’t get walked again Sunday.  That was by their choice though.  They had zero interest in even going outside long enough to pee.  They each held a 10-hour piss to avoid going outside.  Fucking princesses.  haha

PFTW:

Things are about to get pretty tricky because I’m losing my help at work. That means longer days and 6 days a week, but I’m gonna try my damnedest to keep some sort of semblance of a training plan.

Monday – Rest or easy spin
Tuesday – 6 easy + strength
Wednesday – Rest (It’s D’s birthday!)
Thursday – 6 easy
Friday – 6 x 400
Saturday – Spin + Strength + walk
Sunday – 12 miles + walk

And squeeze in walks with the dogs as many days as possible during lunch. This getting dark early shit SUCKS!!!

Food For Thought IX

I feel like I should put a little disclaimer out here.  Since I’ve renamed and migrated this blog, I’ve picked up a few new foodie followers.  To you guys, I say… unless you’re here to laugh at me, you’re sure to be sorely disappointed!  haha  I am not a foodie.  I am not a food blogger.  I am definitely not a chef!  I’m a decent cook if you give me a recipe though.  I can follow the shit out of a recipe.  This “Food for Thought” series is just that–me cooking my way through some of my plant-based cookbooks and sharing the good and the bad.

Swedish Meatballs from Happy Herbivore Abroad – I really have mixed feelings about this one.  The gravy was perfect, but all the recipe used for the “meatball” was cubed tempeh.  For me, the flavor of the tempeh completely overpowered the flavor of the gravy.  It took a LOT of gravy to compete with the tempeh.  I love tempeh, but its flavor was just a little too strong and out of place here.  This gravy would be fantastic with a different vegan Swedish meatball though.

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Migas from Happy Herbivore Abroad – Not a fan.  At all.  It’s similar to a tofu scramble but very bland.  The recipe suggested serving it with a side of refried beans and salsa, but I ended up mixing the salsa in with the migas just to give it a little flavor.  Won’t be making this one again.

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Mongolian BBQ from Chloe’s Kitchen (full recipe in link, and I use this recipe to make the hoisin sauce rather than using store-bought) – This stuff is the shit.  Absolutely perfect.  It isn’t a new-to-me recipe, but I haven’t made it in a long time for no other reason than I can’t buy seitan around here.  (It’s funny…I used to find seitan but not tempeh, and now I can find tempeh but not seitan.)  But I had a couple of baggies of seitan left in the freezer from when I made the roast a few weeks ago.  Chloe gets two thumbs up and a pat on the ass for this one.

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Cheesy Burger Mac from Cookin’ Crunk – Back in my pre-herbie days, before I knew anything at all about nutrition, I ate more Hamburger Helper than I care to admit.  Hey, it was quick, it was cheap, and it required no culinary skill.  Right down this busy, broke kid’s alley.  Somewhere along the way, I saw the light and realized what shit it was and started finding from-scratch versions of my favorites.  Then I stopped eating animal products, which all those dishes were laden with, and so I hadn’t made a Hamburger Helper-ish dish in quite a long time.  Until I made Bianca’s Cheesy Burger Mac!  This really was good, y’all.  It had such a satisfying junk food feel to it.  haha  I either made too much sauce or not enough noodles and “beef,” so the sauce completely smothered everything, but that was perfectly fine by me.  I’ll definitely be coming back to this one, and next time I’ll make sure I have some vegan bacon bits on hand to go with it!!!  (And file this one under the TMI category, but the quinoa shells gave me terrible gas!!!  haha  At least I assume that’s what it was as that’s the only thing I’d never tried before!)

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With a side of slow-simmered kale with Tabasco sauce–oh yeah!

 

A Little Late But… National Pit Bull Awareness Day!

October 25th was National Pit Bull Awareness Day.  It was founded in 2007 by a lady here in Tennessee as “… a day to educate and foster positive communications and experiences in the communities in which we and our dogs live.”  I have two rescued bullies of my own (Harley, the American Staffordshire/Boxer mix, and Bella, the American Bulldog/Belgian Malinois mix–according to their Wisdom Panel DNA tests!), so it’s an important day for us.  Around here we celebrate birthdays, gotcha days, and National Pit Bull Awareness Day!

I tried to take Harley’s picture to commemorate the occasion, and when I told him to smile, I got this.  haha  He’s such a smartass.  (Truth be told, I caught him a split second before a yawn, but it’s funnier to think it’s a cheesy grin.)

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Since there were no events held locally, the pups and I drove up to Nashville for Nashville Pittie’s NPBAD Pit Bull Revolution.  It was such a good day!  So awesome to be surrounded by so many ambassadors for this wonderful breed with their families.  I only snapped a few quick photos while we were lining up for the March of the Pitties parade because I saw Nashville Pittie volunteers taking pictures all over the place.  I assumed they would be sharing them, but they haven’t posted them yet.

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There were tons of vendors there giving away samples and just volunteering their time and services.  We took advantage of two awesome ones.  The first one you may think I’m a little crazy for, but I don’t care.  I’ve heard of people having this done but had never done it myself, and it was an AMAZING experience.  We had a session with an animal communicator.  Within the first minute of our session, she made me a firm believer that she was legit, and I most definitely will be using her again in the future.  The second one was a photographer.  Amiee Stubbs was there taking photos which would be free for us to download.  She posted them a few days ago, and I kind of love ours.

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That’s Bella on my right side and Harley on my left.

As the day went on, it got louder and more crowded as more people showed up and the live band started playing.  Bella has the world by the balls, but Harley doesn’t have her confidence (one thing the communicator and I talked about), and he was getting a little anxious.  We made our exit, but instead of coming home we stopped in Clarksville at their dog park.  They both loooooove the dog park  As shy as Harley can be at times, and as much as he depends on Bella, all of that completely disappears when you put him in a dog park.  It’s amazing to watch.  He’s a little social butterfly!  He plays with every dog and greets every person there.  It makes me a proud pittie momma, especially when other people there comment on him.

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When everyone was finally exhausted from the day’s fun, we packed it in and left.  Once we were headed home, I felt like it was FINALLY safe for me to drink something.  haha  I brought water and bowls for the dogs, but I had kind of intentionally dehydrated myself because when you’re traveling by yourself with dogs it’s hard to make a pit stop.  You can’t leave them in the car and you can’t take them into a rest stop, so unless you find a Petsmart or Tractor Supply or some other animal friendly place, it just ain’t happening. It was like 4:00 and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast or drunk anything all day, so I was starved and parched.  We pulled into a Sonic where I got what felt like the coldest, wettest cherry lmeade ever and an order of tots to tide me over till dinner… and I couldn’t stand to eat in front of my babies, who I was sure had worked up an appetite too, so I got them a plain burger to share.  haha!

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Once all the bellies were full, it was lights out.

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I absolutely loved spending the entire day spoiling my little furry family.  Screw baby showers and soccer tournaments.  This is my thing!

 

 

 

 

 

Training Recap & PFTW

Not my best week.  Not by a long shot.

Monday & Tuesday – Rest days.  I had planned to go to CrossFit Monday again, but when I logged onto Wodify that morning and saw the wod I changed my mind.  It was a team wod and I HATE those.  I didn’t even squeeze in a walk with the dogs after work because of the stupid-ass time change.

Wednesday – 5 x 400 plus a little bit of strength… just some pushups, core work, and squats, but hey it’s better than nothing.  That night when I went to bed everything was just peachy, but when I woke up in the middle of the night to pee, my IT band let me know LOUD AND CLEAR that it was pissed.  I haven’t had so much as a twinge out of it in a looooooong time until that night.  I wasn’t going to start foam rolling at 2am, but I hit the foam roller hard when I got up that morning.

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Thursday – Super, super easy 5 miles.  Like ridiculously easy.  I think I dozed off once.  haha  I wore my heart rate monitor again to see just what it runs on super easy effort and it was still a 166 average.  Screw it.  I’m done with paying attention to the numbers.  I’m only going to judge by perceived effort.  I may check it periodically just out of curiosity, but I’ll never be able to use it as a training tool.  Also lots of foam rolling.

Friday – Beautiful sunny 2-mile lunchtime walk with the dogs, plus abs, pushups, and squats again.  And more foam rolling.  Several times.

fall

Saturday – 5 easy.  One of those miles was done with the dogs.  I had taken them to the park for a walk and they were feeling quite spunky, so we picked it up to a run for a mile.  We did a total of 2.25 miles, then I came home and ran 4 more easy miles for a total of 5 miles run and 1.25 miles walked.  More rolling, and I think I finally rolled out the last of it.  Whew!  Nipped that one in the bud!  (I got up that morning and made the last-minute decision to run a 10K, and that didn’t exactly happen…but if you followed me on Instagram you’d already know that!)

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So. Many. Squirrels.

Sunday – Sunday sucked, y’all.  It sucked so damn hard.  The plan was 11 miles, and when I first set out I felt great, but that didn’t last long.  I brought a Huma gel with me to take around the halfway point, but I took it around mile 4 hoping for a little pick-me-up.

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It boosted me through the next couple of miles and then I bonked.  I was DONE.  I gave up the fight at mile 9 and walked the last two miles home.  I felt so defeated.  Ah well… it is what it is.  I guess I was due for a shitty run.  Onward to next week!

PFTW:
Monday – Walk
Tuesday – Strength + 6 easy + walk
Wednesday – Walk
Thursday – 6 x 600 + strength
Friday – 6 easy
Saturday – Strength or spin + walk
Sunday – 11 (rematch)

One Animal at a Time

We live in the rural south where the pet overpopulation is a real problem.  I work in a little town where the general population lives well below the poverty line, so the problem there is even worse.  It’s not at all uncommon to see dogs roaming, but Friday afternoon I saw one I hadn’t seen before.  I just happened to be looking out the front window when this little blue heeler mix limped into our parking lot.  It was obvious he was not okay, so I went outside to see if I could help.  I called to him, and he limped right up to me.  Of course, he had no collar and no identification.  He had several bloody spots on his side and on the side of his face and was obviously just exhausted.  My first thought was that he had been in a dog fight.  Me being who I am, I always have dog food and water bowls and leashes in my truck, so I sneaked him into my office to give him a safe place to rest and offered him some food and water.  He wasn’t interested in either but took advantage of the quiet office and rested while I took a few minutes to wrap up a couple of things before I left for the day to take him to the vet.

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I called the vet to let them know we were on our way.  I was afraid it would be difficult to get him in my truck since he obviously couldn’t jump.  I was afraid I would hurt him if I picked him up, but I did so as gently as I could and put him in my passenger seat.  He laid right back down and went back to sleep.

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The vet took us right back and he quickly ruled out my suspicion of a dog fight.  He pointed out what I hadn’t noticed–all of his injuries were on one side of his body.  He got the clippers and started shaving him and exposed at least 50 shallow entry wounds.

Buck shot.

This poor sweet little dog had been shot.  Thank GOD none of them had gone deep enough to puncture a lung or anything.  He was going to be okay but was in a lot of pain.  The only treatment needed was anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and lots of rest.  The meds I could do, no problem.  The rest?  Yeah, that was going to be the difficult part.  I have two very rambunctious dogs of my own.  When another dog comes over, it’s party time.  Since it would have been very difficult to keep them separated, for his safety and comfort I just paid for them to board them until Monday, hopefully allowing me time to locate an owner over the weekend.

Turns out, it didn’t take nearly that long.  As soon as I got home from the vet, I began posting his picture to local lost and found sites and local shelter sites on Facebook.  I was still in the process of posting them when someone responded with a link to a post that someone had made earlier in the day frantically looking for their missing blue heeler mix that had gotten away from them.  I called the guy and compared the pics of his missing dog to the pup I’d found and there was no doubt that this was his baby.  He was devastated to learn that he’d been shot but incredibly relieved that he had stumbled into the path of an animal lover who made sure he got the treatment he needed.  He picked him up from the vet the next morning and this sweet baby is now recovering at home where he belongs.

I’ve had my hands in local rescue for a while now, but it still shocks me and saddens me to my core to see the abuse.  There was NO REASON for this animal to have to suffer this way.  Absolutely NO REASON for him to have been shot.  There’s no reason for ANY dog to ever be shot, but my God this dog was the sweetest, gentlest dog… it makes me sick.  I know I’ve said before that maybe not everyone has a true purpose or calling in this life, but I fully believe that animals are mine.  I pray that someday I’ll be able to do more than I do now, but until then I’ll do what I can every time I can.  One animal at a time.

Follow me on Instagram @pamruns13.1 !

Insignificant

I’ve been trying to process something for a while now, and I think writing it out may help me talk myself through it.  Since my husband lost his mother in August, I’ve come to sort of a realization.

Life goes on.  No matter how hard you worked, how much money you had, how important you were, when you’re gone, you’re gone.  Your things will be sold and donated.  Your family will get up and go to work.  Your spouse will date again–sooner than you think.  Your children will miss you.  Terribly.  But even for them, life goes on.  Just as it should.

So that means for someone like me, who has no children, it’s made me realize how truly insignificant I am.  If life goes on so quickly for everyone after losing someone as remarkable as my mother-in-law, I’ll be forgotten before I’m cold.

I’m not saying all this because I’m depressed or anything.  In reality, if anything it’s right the opposite.  It’s almost liberating.  Through lots of thought and reflection, I’ve learned and come to accept several things.

DON’T give two shits about what people think of you when truthfully they very seldom do.  (I’m just talking about people in general here, not family.)  The harsh truth is that most people do not care about you and will not miss you, so why waste time and energy trying to please them?

“The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself.”  — Diane Von Furstenburg

DON’T care so much about material possessions.  They will only end up in your beneficiaries’ yard sales.

ALWAYS take responsibility for your own happiness.  Don’t sit at home waiting for someone else to make you happy while they’re out living their own dreams.  No one can make you truly happy but you.  Spend YOUR time doing what’s important to YOU.

DON’T deprive yourself now because you think you have to save for later.  Yes, it’s important that you take retirement into consideration, but there are no guarantees that you’ll live that long.  Don’t go to your death bed with a large 401K but a long bucket list.

DON’T fret over finding your life’s purpose.  You may never do that.  An extraordinary existence may not be your destiny.  And that’s okay.  So don’t waste so much time looking for the extraordinary that you miss all the beauty and joy in the perfectly ordinary.

In the grand scheme of thing, we are all so very insignificant, and to think otherwise is arrogant.  And for some reason, that realization has been so refreshing for me.  Like it takes some of the pressure off.  That person doesn’t like me?  Who cares?!  Fuck ’em!  No one will remember her in 50 years either.

From this day forward, I vow to embrace my insignificance.  The plan from now on is to live like a dog!  haha

Handle-every-stressful-situation-like-a-dog.-If-you-cant-eat-it-or-play-with-it-just-pee-on-it-and-walk-away