This Valentine’s Day, I Literally Held a Heart in My Hand

This Valentine’s Day, I held the heart of a guinea hen in my hand. Organs are slippery, y’all. *insert gaggy-type emoji here*

Today, I had the opportunity to be a part of the slaughtering process on a friend’s farm. It was such a strange invitation for Valentine’s Day, I had to accept.

THIS is my life. Welcome. Pull up a chair.

Sometime last year, I was flooded with a scary bout of depression that very briefly threatened my life, and gave me a reminder of our mortality, especially mine, with the history that I have. I decided from that experience that this life is far too short to say “no” to ANY opportunities that come my way. I decided to say “yes” from now on, no matter what, no matter how scared I might be. Actually, I decided to say “yes” ESPECIALLY in spite of how scared I might be. (This is real life, y’all. Live it!) The time that has followed since has included, zip lining, paragliding, sky diving, fearlessly diving into dating, and many other endless adventures. When the new year started, I decided to take it a step further and try something new EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Today, I assisted in the animal slaughtering process.

To be honest, I’ve been teetering on the edge of vegetarianism for some time now. With the spiritual growth I’ve experienced in the past 6 months, I struggled with the consumption of animals that were hurt and traumatized prior to death. I believe that energy affects their bodies, and what we consume affects our bodies and our spirits. I believe that trauma most certainly has some impact upon us. I’ve also struggled with the environmental costs that come with meat consumption. My goal in this life is to positively contribute to the world in everything I do. I want this place to be better because I was/am here. I’ve also been squeamish about meat for several years now, which has made me wonder if I should give it up entirely. I figured today would be a good opportunity to confront what exactly it means to consume meat.

Today’s opportunity gave me plenty of time to reflect quietly. The farm I was on gives these animals a full, free life. The animals are treated luxuriously, and the slaughtering process is probably a hundred times more gentle than it would be in a factory setting. The lives these animals lived and the methods of their deaths CANNOT be compared to that of commercial farms. Let me be very clear about that. Today was an excellent chance for me to give that some honest thought. So, aside from the ethical question of whether or not to eat meat, I was allowed a chance to also consider carefully from where I source my meat.

I had friends who asked about pictures from today, but the entire process was treated very reverently, which felt entirely appropriate. I had come from visiting a Hospice patient, and to be honest, when I saw the first guinea hen die, I got choked up. It felt very similarly to when my first patient died. Someone asked me a question, and it was hard to talk clearly without my voice cracking. It is hard not to see death in any instance as a spiritual experience. Death is intense and powerful, and at the same time, it has never been something that I shied away from. If I were uncomfortable with death, I wouldn’t work for Hospice.

I was welcomed to help in any part of the process that I felt comfortable with. I helped with a few parts of cleaning after the death. I do not think that I could, at any time, become comfortable with actually killing the animal. NO part of the process felt comfortable. I started with what seemed easiest. A lot of it is a very delicate and careful process, that I feel too crippled by self doubt to try and approach. I’m not generally terribly enthused about trying anything with too much room for error.

The entire process was quite draining and overwhelming. I am still reflecting upon the experience, but I am grateful to have had it. It actually seemed like a very meaningful way to spend Valentine’s Day. I am grateful to the family that allowed me to be there, and participate at my comfort level. How I will approach meat consumption moving forward is still up for debate, and I will require more time to ponder, meditate, and probably write about the experience, so that I can see further into it and its meaning, and process how exactly it made me feel.

Where your food is coming from, and what exactly it takes to get to your table is something we all need to spend some time considering carefully. Food is not only nourishing our bodies, but also impacting us and our world in ways which we remain comfortably unaware. I’ve learned in eating disorder recovery that food is so important. It is never “good” or “bad.” It is something our bodies and our minds need, and it is equally important to consider how food might be nourishing or harming our souls as well. This world needs us to be intentional about every choice we make right now. Just some food for thought moving forward. Take some time to chew on that. ūüėČ



Farewell California, Hello Home

I’ve always wanted to live in California, and swore I’d never live in the midwest. ¬† As I get older, however, I find my priorities are changing. ¬†Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of being in a year-long season of summer, here in San Diego, California. ¬†I couldn’t be more grateful for my time here. ¬†I do believe I have been pretty spoiled. ¬†The twelve step community here is vast and supportive, probably the best in the country. ¬†The weather is almost always sunny and mild. ¬†There are constantly resources galore at my fingertips.


Coronado in all its SoCal Goodness

And now… I’m saying goodbye to it all.

For the midwest.

I came to California straight from residential treatment in Chicago.  I had 5 and a half months of treatment, and California was the place and I made a home.  I got connected right away with meetings, and built a safety net of support around me.  I have an amazing dietitian and an incredible sponsor.

As I have processed this move, I am starting to really take in all I will be saying goodbye to, and it has me asking, “is this the right choice?”

The YMCA here is incredible. ¬†With one membership, I have access to 4 different Y’s. ¬†They have classes like NIA and Meditative Yoga.

I can order Thai delivery.

Seriously, it is almost always sunny.  And I have a tendency toward seasonal depression.

Who would leave this?

When it comes down to it, California just isn’t a reasonable place to live, especially for those of us who are not gainfully employed. ¬†Becoming a resident of California isn’t cheap, gas isn’t cheap, taxes aren’t cheap.

But that isn’t really why I’m leaving.

See, two years ago today, my sister gave birth to the most adorable little guy ever. ¬†(Not that I’m biased) ¬†She and I had been marching forward arm-in-arm in the firm resolve that neither one of us would have children, and then, as if in a single day, she changed her mind. ¬†It wasn’t just a day actually, she gave more thought to it than I have ever seen a person reasonably consider such an option. ¬†She did not make the choice lightly, and I respect her for that.

meeting sven

meeting Sven for the first time

When he came along, my life changed. ¬†As I faced this baby, I faced the realization that this may be the closest I ever come to having a child. ¬†And I wanted to be a influential part of this child’s life.

As my moods and my troubles ebbed and flowed, I was almost always tangled in my own darkness. ¬†The October before I went into treatment, I missed a chance to visit my nephew due to being hospitalized. ¬†I insisted that I come see him before going to treatment and my sister told me that she’d rather I not be around him at the time. ¬†As much as it broke my heart, it was my sister’s wishes, and I respect her more than anyone.

When I was in treatment and I needed motivation, my sister and my nephew were the ones I was working to get better for.

sock monkey

my sister and my nephew

Now that I am doing well, I have the opportunity to move close to my nephew and be a full time aunt. ¬†For him, and for the new baby, who is due in August. ¬†ūüôā ¬†I get to help raise mini-feminists! Haha… ¬†Hey, they might not have listened if it came from a parent, but from a crazy cool aunt, maybe they’ll take in what I have to offer. ¬†You never know. ¬†I may never have kids of my own, but I will have a hand in raising some little beings into some incredible people. ¬†That is invaluable.

So, I’m leaving all of the conveniences that are California, for small town life. ¬†Part of it is a sacrifice, but mostly it is a privilege. ¬†I’d rather be the full time aunt, than the twice-a-year aunt. ¬†Not that there’s anything wrong with the twice-a-year aunt. ¬†But if this is the closest I’ll come to children of my own, it is best I be vigilant.

To be honest, SoCal wasn’t a great fit for me anyway. ¬†I’ve always been a country girl, so with the almost 4 million people in this county it is a bit crowded. ¬†Everyone here is skinny, and hell-bent on staying that way. ¬†Not a good place for eating disorder recovery. ¬†And really, the weather is too warm for my taste. ¬†I miss seasons. ¬†And after all, who needs a YMCA membership, when you’re chasing around two little kids? ¬†Or doing baby lifts?

I’m closing a chapter of my life and starting an incredible new one. ¬†I’m moving somewhere I plan on staying for a while. ¬†I’ve got a good 13 or so years before I’ll start considering a new home. ¬†(Teenagers are a whole different ballgame!)

I may not be employed yet, but I already have a full time job: Loving Aunt.  And I plan on doing my job most diligently, and with the greatest of care.


I Stand Amazed

Driving home from a meeting tonight, I listened to my favorite group. ¬†They’re called All Sons & Daughters. ¬†This song came on: (close your eyes and listen) ¬†

This song brings me to tears.

Part of it is the way the describe the heart ache of watching Jesus on the cross, and the way the promise of His return is the only thing that kept them holding on. ¬†I totally understand this. ¬†It automatically sends me to a place where I think about that sacrifice that He made for me. ¬†For me! ¬†How totally absurd is that? ¬†I’m not even a smudge on the pages of history. ¬†I’m just one of billions of people walking this planet. ¬†But wow, He had me in mind while making that sacrifice. ¬†He wanted to set ME free. ¬†Of course, He wanted to set all of us free, but ¬†we weren’t just faces in a crowd to Him. ¬†We weren’t just another number among the billions. ¬†He had each of us in mind on that day. ¬†And there was this pain. ¬†Can you imagine what it was like to watch Him die? ¬†How it would make your heart ache to see someone you love go through that? ¬†But they held on, believing He would return. ¬†And here I am today, holding on with the same promise in mind. ¬†I never used to understand why people would look forward to the return of Christ, but I get it now. ¬†I would be so happy to get to be near Him.

By the time the song is over, I’m so aware of that sacrifice and what it meant for me. ¬†I am so humbled by Him making the choice to make such a sacrifice to set me free. ¬†I know that everything I have, I have because of God. ¬†All of it. ¬†All I want is to be the best person I can be, for God. ¬†I can never be worthy of what He did for me, but I want to be as close as I can possibly be. ¬†I want nothing more than to be a good person for the sake of trying with everything I have in me to repay this debt. ¬†I know I cannot repay, and He wouldn’t even want me to. ¬†He didn’t do it with our compensation in mind. ¬†He did it knowing that our freedom was the reward. ¬†Can you imagine how joyous it is to see someone you love set free from the bondage of this dark world?

I give you all the glory, God. ¬†I can never repay You, but I pray you see my heart and know how grateful I am to my very core. ¬†I’m nothing without You. ¬†Everything I have, I have because of You. ¬†Everything I have accomplished, is because of You alone. I want nothing more than to know You more and live a life that gives You glory. ¬†I want nothing more than to serve You. ¬†I am forever indebted to You, and forever grateful for You. ¬†I love You with everything I have, every fiber of my being. ¬†I am Yours.

I have this ache within me, knowing that I can never repay God for all that God has done for me.  What a humbling feeling.