Vegan Journey Series- Susan's Story
I hope you are doing well and prospering! I'm very excited to share my friend Susan's vegan journey. I decided to start calling these the "Vegan Journey Series". I really love getting a peek inside the journey of others as it relates to vegan living. Everyone has a different path and it's fascinating to me to get a glimpse of what that is and what veganism means to others.
If you would like to share your vegan journey, please do not hesitate to contact me! I would love to hear from you! Now, on to Susan's story! I love how she so poetically and eloquently shares her personal story and I'm confident that you will too!
I don’t think I ever “decided on” plant-based living. It’s who I am. I believe I was born this way. I grew up like most people in a home where the four “food groups” made up our meals. And shoes and bags were leather… yadda, yadda. In my family, *questioning* anything was not only not allowed, it was severely discouraged. The brainwashing was pretty thorough and effective… for a long while. My parents were especially intolerant of any “inconveniences” to them, which covered a lot of territory, let me just say that.
Many, many of those things eventually went down, however it took years, decades … heck, it’s STILL going on!
Vegan is who I have always been. Looking back, it’s easy to see that. Not so easy for a child enveloped in a fog of parental troubles, abuse, distorted views and plain old over-controlling ways to navigate her own path. However, I can say that when you are introduced to or discover pieces of yourself, you recognize them on some level. At least I do. Kind of like finding gems and jewels from your own lost treasure chest. You know they belong to you when you come across them, even if you don’t know exactly where they fit yet.
When I was a child, one of my grandmothers tried to teach me to play piano. She was a musician, an opera singer, is what I was told. Trying to learn to play music was like Greek to me… (even worse, actually, as I’ll share later). Let’s just say that it did not resonate with any musical talent in my bones, probably because there wasn’t any there. (I love music. Just can’t play it.)
My other grandmother paid for me to go for dance lessons. The moment I set foot in the dance studio and the teacher began showing us how to point our toes in those (leather, most likely) little ballet shoes… I was ON it! Tap, ballet, acrobatics, eventually some jazz and hula! DANCE was definitely in my bones and my soul and my entire body… it just needed to be awakened. Dance has been a strong theme in my life that continues to this day! Another gem! Lucky me!
Academically, I was never any good at math, except for geometry and some trig. That didn’t stop me from becoming a meteorologist, however. Unfortunately, most of that curriculum was presented through the filter of complicated math equations as the language of “science”. Calculus, differential equations, advanced trig made me crazy. They made no sense to me at all. And what they have to do with the weather is still mostly a mystery to me. I got through it.
On the other hand, I knew even as a very young child (before any school) that reading was the key to everything for me. And once I got into first grade, learning to read and write was fast and very natural for me. Writing is still something that I can’t NOT do. And I read all the time. Another important jewel I was introduced to early.
I was instantly in LOVE with French my first day of junior high. (And I still am!) Since then, I’ve also studied Latin (ironically, to avoid math and science classes, which was allowed in that high school), and eventually a couple semesters of German and even Japanese in college. I continued French studies through junior high, high school and college. (See why studying Greek might have been easier for me than music?) Another long flowing theme in my life. Aptitude and LOVE of language and culture… gems I treasure!
My first college degree was in liberal arts. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I consider my political science degree to be my “real” education. My meteorology degree was simply technical training for me. This is because the first one resonated with my inner design and who I naturally am.
The *method* of teaching the second one was a lot like trying to teach me to play music. The inner connection wasn’t there. It doesn’t resonate with who I really am. (Nature, science and weather, in particular, DO resonate with me on an intrinsic level… and always have. Wrapping natural science in math formulas didn’t work for me is all.) So, the jewel is my connection with Nature. Don’t need the math for that. (Mining diamonds out of the rocks?)
I don’t know if this is true for everyone. For me, when I am introduced to another part of me that I was not consciously aware existed before, I recognize and welcome it immediately.
So it was with veganism. It was a relatively slow progression over many years to becoming fully vegetarian. (I never did like eating animals!) However, growing up on the East Coast, I could not imagine not eating seafood! Suddenly, it just happened. My husband brought home some seafood that he thought we’d both enjoy and I nearly wretched at the sight and thought of it. I had no idea until that moment how deep my vegetarianism had grown.
Finally, several years ago, I discovered Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcasts (www.compassionatecook.com) and my transition to being totally vegan was practically on the spot. Once I understood the suffering of farm animals, including dairy cows, laying hens and male chicks, my transition was rapid and complete. And my commitment to the elimination of all animal suffering solidified on subterranean levels.
Vegan is who I am and always have been. Always will be. It’s not an effort to live vegan. It’s an honor, a gem that I am extremely grateful I uncovered. I’m still finding more hidden treasure. Life is an adventure like that.
Maybe you have a similar pattern of finding your own jewels along your journey and just never thought of them this way? Finding and embracing mine pleases me more than I can tell you and makes me feel whole. Then I can turn around a give back to the work and the world that help me grow every day. How lucky can anyone be?