Feline Focus

Feline Focus
My latest puma, July 2016


Beloved companion to Sarah, Nov 2015

Window To The Soul

Window To The Soul
Watercolour Horse, June 2015

Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties
Watercolour Lionesses, Nov 2012


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

Groucho Marx

Snow Stalker

Snow Stalker
Another snow leopard - my latest watercolour offering - July 2013

23 July 2016

Evolving In Circles

Wol (or Owl, for the uninitiated) safeguarding my copy of the Big Book

“a) … we could not manage our own lives.”    Page 60 - Alcoholics Anonymous basic text

Here again?  So soon??!  Yep.  I’m either full-on, or full-off, like a faulty thermostat with no temperature control: you can either have it hot or cold, but there’s no in-between.  And at the moment my mind is popping with thoughts that I want to write down.  It’s great, in a semi-exhausting kind of way.    

It’s also a bit like with buses (just to labour the similes a little longer - stick with it, I will eventually get to the point): you don’t see one that’s going in the right direction for ages, and then three turn up all at once.  Well, unless you live here in Misterton, of course, where we get one scheduled bus every two hours, so if I miss it I’m buggered.  And by the time the next one is due to arrive, I don’t want to go anymore.  Like my writing.  (Are you still with me?  Keep up: I promise there is a point.)

So, I’m a bit of a Dodo, really.  Sometimes I don’t know what I’m talking about at all.  In the post I wrote the other day (Blog Boggled) I mentioned how I had somehow expected my blogging to evolve spontaneously, when I don’t do spontaneous.  And, as a result of this misguided idea, nothing has actually evolved at all.  In fact, my blogging was almost on the verge of extinction (oh, I just realised how apt my reference to being a Dodo is!  It’s raining similes and metaphors here today.  I wish it were raining real rain ‘cos it’s bloody hot and sticky.  I hate summer).  

Now, whilst this is true (about the blogging, not the weather - though it is true about the weather as well), it dawned on me that I was making a categorical statement to the effect that I never evolve in any area, at all.  That all change I go through is more like facing a bloody (and I mean that in the literal sense of the word, not as the expletive) revolution, with me firmly on the side of the Resistance.  It doesn’t matter what the Resistance is resisting, I just naturally gravitate toward it.  At least, this is what I would have you, and myself, believe.

Turns out this is not quite true.

I was thinking about another blog post I’m considering writing, one where I kind of list things about myself that you probably don’t know, to give you a sense of who I am.  Sharing myself.  Something I thought I was doing with my blog posts, but which my friend told me I wasn’t: I was simply sharing my opinions on certain random, unrelated topics.  This, to me, is sharing.  But I got her point.

So, I was making a ‘brief’ (for me it’s brief) list of things to put in the post, and one of them was the fact that I am a vegan.  (I’d like to point out that this refers only to my diet, though I avoid using anything made from animal products as much as possible, but I still wear things like leather shoes.)  But then I was thinking about when I stopped eating all animal products, and how that happened.  And d’you know what?  It evolved over time.

And here’s the other thing about it, which also harks back to something I said in that prior post - it was never planned.  I had no goal to become a vegetarian or a vegan.  I come from a traditional Yorkshire family, who ate a traditional Yorkshire diet of meat, potatoes, and two veg.  

Vegetarianism was an alien concept to me.  I think I associated it with the dippy hippy brigade.  I couldn’t imagine how anyone could live like that.  What did they eat, other than vegetables?  (I’ve since found out that not all vegetarians even like or eat vegetables, or are healthy: they just eat the vegetarian equivalent of a junk food diet.  Weird.)  As to me, it all happened organically, as a result of the need for me to change my diet in order to recover from my eating disorder(s).  So my eating had to become healthier in order to avoid triggering my overeating.  

The page of the AA Big Book from which the quote is taken
When I initially started to address the issue of my diet, the first (and most important) thing I did was identify and remove all the foods that were a problem to me, which set off my uncontrollable eating.  This meant giving up all junk food, convenience food, and any other of my own personal binge foods (which included some things considered healthy by the general population of ‘health professionals’).  

And then I wrote down a weekly food plan, which had every meal for every day set out to reduce the stress induced around trying to decide what to eat.  I still ate meat, and dairy, but I experimented (something else I categorically state that I can’t or don’t do.  Who is this person I keep talking about?!), so I ended up using lots of stuff that are frequently used in a healthy vegetarian diet - like beans and grains.  And I found that I liked them.

It took a while, but gradually I changed over to a mainly vegetarian diet, with just white meat occasionally thrown in.  I swapped out the dairy for soya milk and yoghurt, and I had to give up cheese ‘cos it turned out to be a problem food.  But I still wasn’t thinking about becoming a vegetarian (though I had started to think about animal welfare, which had led me to buy only organic animal products) - it was just naturally happening on its own (evolution!)   

I well remember the day when I finally gave up meat completely.  I was in Tesco’s (a large supermarket chain in the UK, for those of you not familiar with it), and I was looking for my usual organic turkey fillets: and they didn’t have any.  And right then I just thought, “Okay God, I guess You don’t want me to eat meat anymore.”  And that was it.  There was no fuss, no angst, just a calm feeling of acceptance that this was the right thing to do.  

And it was.  It's been over ten years now, and I’ve rarely missed meat, or any of the other animal products I gave up (except perhaps an occasional wistful thought at the beginning).  I had naturally evolved into vegetarianism, without the struggle that I’ve heard some other people have when they make the decision that it’s something they feel they ought to do, and then attempt to give up everything at once.  I knew a woman who became a vegetarian for health reasons, so it was a decision forced on her, and she missed meat all the time. 

And as to turning to veganism, the same process occurred.  I didn’t have the goal to progress to that, it simply happened.  There wasn’t that much left for me to give up, and the last thing to go was eggs, which I finally gave up early last year, when I realised that I didn’t know where to fit them into my diet, and I wasn’t that bothered about them.  So out they went.  

I have had the occasional doubt about whether I should include them, but that’s because of all of the health stuff I’ve read over the years which say they’re good for you.  But then they also say that bananas are good for you (they’ve never seen me eat ten or twelve of them within the space of a few hours, or less), or honey (REALLY BAD for me, a true sugar addict, for whom even the supposed healthy substitutes for artificial and processed sugar trigger my craving, and are often worse than the other stuff). 

So I guess this is all confirmation that:

  • my life goes better when I let go and stop trying to manage it (plans being my number one method to which I resort in order to try to achieve this, and which I am singularly inept at constructing and following);
  • the slow process of evolution is often the most effective in achieving solid, lasting change: rather than the disruptive, disorienting upheaval of a revolution;
  • sometimes there has to be a mini revolution to change my perspective to shift me onto the right path, in order to allow evolution to continue to take its natural course;
  • just because I struggle to evolve and change spontaneously in one area doesn’t mean that’s the case in the whole of my life.  I can evolve, it's just that it's a very VERY slow process for me - like the speed at which earth's tectonic plates shift.  And if you try to rush me then I naturally revert to a state of resistance, either overt or covert.  So don't bother, 'cos I won't shift until I'm ready.

All of which basically means there’s a use for both evolution and revolution (in the right way, at the right time), which is a bugger ‘cos I want to say it’s either/or, as my personality dictates.  It’s an autistic thing.  Well, it’s my autistic thing, anyway.

So there we go.  That’s where I am - enjoying writing down and sharing my musings, rather than just having them rattling around in my head.  I hope you’re all in a good space.  I wish you peace on your journey, the guidance to point you the right way, and the courage and willingness to change direction if you find yourself going down the wrong path.

Śanti (also spelled Shanti: I'm just showing off, and excited that I found out how to put an accent on it) - Peace 

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
An experiment in watercolour and gouache

Quotes Quota

"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.

"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."

From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Copied from photograph of the same name by Roberto Dutesco

Quotes Quota

"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."

Malcolm X

On The Prowl

On The Prowl
Watercolour tiger

Quotes Quota

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step."

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

C S Lewis