May 27, 2015

The One With STATIC.

From one of the pieces within STATIC: The Silence Issue
Papa is a Preacher suffers from my indecisiveness—mostly, that I've never really been able to stick to one definition of what this place is supposed to be. The closest I've come is to the original idea that this spot would be a place for people to stay caught up with our family as we move around from place to place.

So let me share a bit of what I've been up to. 

This past semester ended my junior year of university (I keep saying that to see if it sticks in my far I'm still having a hard time grasping that). It also gave me the opportunity to take some of my favorite classes in my writing stream, including one in which the class was solely responsible for publishing a magazine. 

Hence, a little over a month ago, the first issue of STATIC was born.

The class was a small group of eight consisting of a managing editor, visual and photo editors, copyeditors (of which I was one), marketing directors, plus our editorial mother beloved professor. We had a little under four months to write and gather content, copyedit, design, and publish our issue.
We chose the theme of silence for the first issue because each of our muses was immediately able to identify with the theme and come up with at least a few writing ideas. The pieces are all creative non-fiction and revolve around the theme of silence and how each of us interpret it in our stories—however much or little the theme may show up in the piece. 
Last month during an evening full of sweaty palms, nervous smiles, and clumsy stutters, we joined the narrative non-fiction class of which most of us were also a part, and launched STATIC by reading some of our pieces aloud. 

The entire class was a wonderful experience, and I am so proud of the work we put into it, the things we learned, and the final result. I've grown quite fond of the pieces within the volume. It was a class I had been looking forward to for a long time, so it was a blast to finally get to take it. 

I will be posting one of the pieces I wrote for the issue on the blog next week, but if you'd like to read it and the other one I wrote as well as really strong pieces written by some of my fellow writers, you can get a digital copy here

Do you revisit some of the things you worked on in school every once in a while?
Are you currently working on something for school you're excited about?
Do share!

May 19, 2015

The One With the Green Juice.

I talk about my veganism challenge in my blogpost here: The One With the Stereotype.

So here's the thing, a lack of animal products in your diet doesn't necessarily mean you don't eat unhealthy things. There are still a lot of fried foods, chips, cookies, candy, junk basically, that is vegan. Honest. Did you know even some Doritos don't have milk ingredients in them? Trust me.

So I kind of wanted to up the game a little bit. Veganism didn't translate into weight loss for me, probably because I was already living a semi-vegan life before, and because oh-my-goodness bread! In fact, I haven't weighed this much ever. And that's kinda scary.

So I want to juice a meal a day now. Starting with breakfast. I hate breakfast, but I know I have to have something. So while dinner would be the ideal meal to juice, I'm starting myself off easy.

My boyfriend, Vini, loooves juice. Complicated fresh squeezed juices and smoothies, or a single carton box of apple juice—they're all his favorites. Recently he's been advocating green juice for dinner. Most of the time I rolled my eyes and smirked while reaching into a bag of sweet and salty popcorn.

But this week I decided to try it out. We've had so many collard greens in our garden this spring, so I didn't even have to go out and buy anything. Plus, I could use some more iron and calcium in my diet. The juice is good for a plethora of things because of the dark leafy greens. It has lots of iron and calcium which is good for:

Preventing anemia 

Also, it's as easy as 1 2 3...

The apples take away the taste of the collard greens and also provide the best sweetness! It's a drink that's healthy, but actually tastes good too. So if, like me, you're not a breakfast lover, you can drink this with me instead! If, also like me, you love your snacks but want to supplement them with something a little less unhealthy (*cough* jujubes *cough*) this juice satisfied my sweetness craving too. 

1-2 of the sweetest apples you have—chopped
3-5 leaves of collard greens—"gutted" (cut out the thick part of the stems) and torn
orange juice to taste (sometimes more to the taste of your blender than your own)
ice (optional)

1. Blend all ingredients in a blender. Use the food chop setting, or pulse on slow. Add orange juice if your blender won't blend, but I suggest to put just a tad and be patient and wait for it all to chop.
2. Strain your juice if you're picky like me. If you don't mind the fiber, drink it all up! It'll be even better. 
3. Bottoms up!

As always, let me know what you guys think and if you tried it!

The One With the Stereotype.

If you've been following me on Instagram for a while, you know that last summer I took on the challenge of eliminating animal products from my diet. I have been a vegetarian my entire life, but I felt the need to step up my game a little. Because I could. Because my body craved it. Because it felt right and the right time.

I've always staunchly believed in vegetarianism, but the full elimination of all animal products was a bit harder to fully understand. Mostly because we grow up believing things like, you have to drink milk in order to get sufficient calcium. And because cheese tasted really good.

Also, the vegans I had met weren't always the nicest individuals. 

But I've always known the health implications of eating animal products. I've always known it was better to avoid it altogether. But ignoring these thoughts wasn't an issue. I can't hear you over this piece of scrumptious four cheese pizza! And if I could, there was always ice-cream to shush my conscious out.

But then last year a few little things started coming together. I met vegans who were nice, respectful and non-judgemental. They weren't hippies, or solely salad munchers. And I realized, veganism doesn't mean the stereotype. I could define what being a vegan was for myself. 

Then I chose to write a paper on vegetarianism for a philosophy class. While doing my research, I realized that there was no excuse for me to not go the extra mile. I studied the implications of eating animals and animal products on, not only human health, but also the animals themselves, the environment, and the workers in animal product industry.

During this time, the local newspaper published a piece on one of the local dairy farms in our area. Someone had videotaped one of the dairy workers beating the confined cows with iron beams. Of course, the situation was taken care of, but the news spurred my dad to also consider where our food was coming from. We would talk it over, and I'd tell him about my research—about how even the legal ways hens and dairy cows are kept cannot be considered humane. And we agreed that the cows, even when not being beaten, were not kept in a healthy and just environment. 

It was already a fact I knew, but my research solidified it even more—if you do it right, veganism doesn't deprive your body of essential nutrients. You need to be smart, of course, just like you do even with a carnivorous diet. But all of the food pyramid can be obtained through natural foods.

So we decided we'd take on this challenge together. We made the decision to stop buying or cooking anything with animal products. I decided to set some amendments for myself, because I knew the minute I stated I could never have something, my stubbornness would kick in. 

So I decided that 
1. I would never deprive myself of something I wanted to eat (if at any time my body [not mind] craved something, it was possible to make an exception). 

2. I would not make things inconvenient for hosts/friends/travel (it would be better to break my diet than to offend hosts or friends; and if during travel nothing vegan could be found I would stick to vegetarianism).

It's been almost a year. There have been times when I've had something I probably shouldn't have. But things that I never thought would be possible have happened. I don't crave cheese, in fact the smell of cheese on a cheese pizza is honestly a turnoff. 

I used to have constantly plugged sinuses, but combined with consistent exercise and the lack of dairy, I've been able to stop taking my steroid filled medication and no longer have trouble sleeping due to blocked airways on a regular basis. For me, this was huge!

I don't know why I'm sharing this with you. Probably because it's part of my journey and so it's important. I do know what's not the reason I'm sharing this. I do not want to tell you you have to do this. Do I believe everyone could benefit from it? Yes, absolutely! But I understand not everyone agrees. It will be so difficult for many people. For me it was easier—many vegetarian meals are vegan already. Plus, my family stopped drinking milk over a decade ago, and I've never enjoyed the taste of milk since. Also, my mother is allergic to eggs, so I've been cooking without them my whole life. But the things that made it the easiest for me was my conviction that it was the right thing to do—right by me, by the animals, by the environment.

I'd definitely encourage you to do your own research on it, especially vegetarianism. I'd encourage you to take it slow, know how you adapt to different things and make it easier for yourself. I'd like to help. All my recipes on the blog are vegan, and I will be posting more on here soon. If you're not at all interested, I'd still urge you to stick around too! You never know when a recipe might inspire you to get cooking too! 

Thanks for letting me share.
What do you think about veganism/vegetarianism? 
All respectful opinions welcome!
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