Welcome to April! My March challenges (not buying myself anything and oil pulling every day) were the most boring ones so far this year. I’m glad I did them, but they didn’t spur all that much personal growth. It was nice to take a break from buying myself anything, but once I was in the habit I didn’t even really think about it. The only thing that was tempting in the second half of the month was the new Lake Street Dive album, because it is not available on Spotify. I usually don’t think twice about purchasing new music, but it was easy enough to wait a few weeks. Oil pulling was also easy once the habit was established. I unfortunately forgot 3-4 times, but I’m pretty happy with remembering to do it every day for the majority of the month! It would have been sweet to be able to say that I was 100% successful, but 87% will do. I can’t say with certainty that my oral health is improved as a result of the oil pulling, but I definitely don’t think it hurt!
I decided that for April I wanted to do another food/lifestyle challenge. I was so excited and proud of myself for completing the 10 day blood sugar detox at the beginning of March that I decided to further explore how dietary changes would contribute to developing mindfulness. Therefore, in April, I will be vegan for the entire month. I am extremely excited about this challenge, because being vegan is something I’ve thought about at multiple points in my life but have never committed to. A month will be a great amount of time to understand what it takes to be vegan, and how my body reacts to animal products (or lack thereof). Today, on the third day of the month, I feel that I am already beyond my biggest challenge. I went away for the weekend to visit friends from college, which required finding food on the road, eating out, and drunk snacking. In order to set myself up for success, I brought some groceries with me including bread, bananas, peanut butter and some nuts. It turns out peanut butter and banana sandwiches are a fantastic late night drunk food. It was even relatively easy to order vegan food when we went out to eat! Starting vegan month with this trip gives me confidence that I will be able to tackle the other challenges I will undoubtedly face in my efforts. I am excited to learn more about what it take to be vegan, and how it makes me feel.
In doing my research I have come across a few interesting caveats of veganism that I had never thought about before. I was unfortunately sick and on antibiotics last week, so looked into the use of animal products in common medications. It turns out a lot of medication either includes animal ingredients, or is tested on animals. I took my antibiotic anyway. I am going to do my best to avoid consuming any foods with animal ingredients, but I will not be quite as strict as some vegans who will not consume things that are tested on animals, or that rely on animal products in the creation process (even if there are no animal ingredients in the final product). A lot of brands of beer, for example, use gelatin or isinglass as part of the clarifying process. For some vegans, these beers would be off limits. I will not be quite that restrictive, but I would like to learn more about the foods, ingredients and processes that use animal products in various ways. My favorite thing about this challenge is that it will include a lot of reading. I have wanted to learn more about the meat and dairy industries for a long time, so I am looking forward to being able to use this vegan diet as context for further research.
I am very excited to say that I am also doing very well at some of my more general goals this year. I have been pushing myself by going out and meeting people more, doing more of the things I love, and I have also been better at keeping in touch with folks that I don’t get to see often. Perhaps as a result of my focus on mindfulness, or maybe because it’s getting warmer outside, I am filled with a restless energy that I can’t seem to shake. I have so much on my mind these days, and I think it is a result of being open about who I am and truly listening to and developing myself. Recently, I have been uncomfortable sitting still. I do not want to waste any time knowing that there are things I’d like to accomplish. I am excited to embrace this new energy and see where it takes me.
I can’t help but feel that this restlessness I am experiencing comes as a harbinger for some bigger changes in my life. I have recently been thinking a lot about my old gymnastics coach’s constant reminder to avoid complacency. He instilled a drive in me that is resurfacing in a big way. I have been thinking a lot about the ways that people become complacent in their jobs, their habits, their lifestyles, and I do not want to get too comfortable. I loved having athletic goals to strive for, but until now I have not pointedly focused on big goals in my career/life. I am starting to think about the ways that I can change that. I am looking for more ways to be challenged, continue to develop as a person and contribute to the world. The biggest issue I face at the moment, which is something that I believe a lot of people will experience (or have experienced) at some point in their life, is that I’m not quite sure where my niche is. For now, I am volunteering, meeting people, and generally exploring more, looking for the things I am most passionate about. I have been developing a serious passion around identity, lifestyle and LGBTQ+ these days, so perhaps my personal interest and experience in these areas will lead me down new and exciting roads when the time is right. I am giving myself time to think critically about where I am and where I’d like to be, so that I can be truly mindful when I make important decisions about my future.
So, also, on completely different note, I have blue hair now. It’s only been 2.5 days, but I will certainly be writing about the experience once I’m further along in it. So far it’s been pretty fun. The last time I dyed my hair I vowed to never do it again…but never say never. It is just another way to have some fun, push myself out of my comfort zone, and experience something different. I may not always be in a situation where I can have blue hair, so I’m doing it while I can. And I’m loving it.
Now for a bit of reflection. The first quarter of this year has been monumental. The month-long challenges I have attempted thus far include: adding in working out four times a week, meditating every day, oil pulling every day and taking away alcohol, sweets and buying myself material items. These challenges have varied in their success and level of difficulty, but they have all helped me push myself in new directions. While the challenges have been a wonderful, fun framework for self exploration and mindfulness, the biggest changes this year have come from writing about my experiences. Reflecting on mindfulness in all aspects of my life has changed the way I think and make decisions. I am excited to continue to push myself through these challenges, in my daily life, and in my writing. I have been more vulnerable through writing, but also in my relationships, in my social life, and with myself. I have been blessed with amazing friends (old and new) and family who have helped me on my journey by asking questions, joining me in challenges, and offering suggestions for other ways that I can explore my interests! I am so grateful for any and all input. Please continue to reach out!
So, that’s all for now.
Will you join me? If not, how are you going to challenge yourself this month? I implore you; it is fun, enlightening and extremely gratifying. Get into it!
Thank you. I love you.
Have a wonderful month!