I Can & Can’t Always Get What I Want

I know I get answers to the questions I ask the universe.  I’ve also learned that I can get in a dark space when I can’t get what I want.  Like a toddler, only I’m having the ongoing tantrum in my head.

A few months ago I had a lot of questions around my body, and building muscle on a plant based diet.  I began to question in myself my value systems – do I value a healthy, disease free body or a lean, muscle body?  Do I have to choose one or the other?

Plant Based Muscle
A great book that taught me how to put on plant-based muscle.

Then voila I meet Aryana, then the Vegan body builder, then Aryana lends me a copy of the book Thrive Fitness: The Program for Peak Mental & Physical Strength Fuled by Clean, Plant-Based, Whole Food Recipes by Brendan Brazier (fellow Canadian!)

The book was awesome and really taught me how a plant-based diet could support my healing, workouts and desired body type.  I got to the recipe section and was so excited to see that he had recipes for pre and post workout fuel.

But then… BAM!  My heart dropped.  I’m in Vietnam!  I don’t have access to Maca, protein powders, and the other power foods that he lists in his recipes.  Suddenly I felt powerless.  And this sensation gnawed at me all morning until

My mood that day matched the sky.

I realized in the afternoon that I was feeling quite down.  And my root thought was “no control”.

After sitting with this for a while, I remembered something that Shawn-the-body-builder told me at the Vegan restaurant.  He detoxed and cleansed his body for quite a while and lost a lot of weight before he regained strength and was able to get stronger than ever before.  Plus put muscle back on.  He had to break down before he could build up.  This really resonated with me that now is my time to heal.  And later I can explore muscle.

Plus there are always two sides to that want coin.  Here I am in Vietnam at a time where I truly need to be.  I have access to constant sunshine, the meditative ocean, and maybe most importantly – the cheap, healing local fresh fruit and vegetables available only 5 minutes away at an outside market.

In Canada, I will not be by the ocean or market, but I will have access to these recipe ingredients.

This has been another lesson for me to be present and grateful for what I do have today.  It’s what I’m meant to have.   And when I get back to Canada, I will have access to what I’m meant to have there.

I need to flow.  I can always get what I want.  If I ask for help with the right questions, listen to the answers, and then be patient.  Oh man… that patience thing… gimme gimme!!

“You Don’t Have Depression” According to Vietnamese TCM Dr.

So, I loved working with Mr. Sau but the pricing of his herbs were really high!  About $25 cdn per 2 days of herbs or so.  In Canada, I’d pay about $70 for a month’s supply!  (To give you an idea of interesting costs here, a full dental cleaning in a modern office is $6, to get our cat spayed $2, a meal $2-$4).

The Vietnamese people as so kind, and Mr. Vu told me about a local herbs shop where I could get what I needed a lot cheaper.  So off I went on my e-bike to find the shop!

When I got there, I realized we had a translation problem.  So when the shop owner asked me “what your problem” I pulled out my cell phone and trusty Google Translate, and typed in “I have depression.  My head is sad”.  He looked at me so funny!  Then typed back “you can do more”.  Then he said “exercise”…

When we both realized that this form of translation wasn’t going to get us very far, I called Mr. Vu to come meet me at the shop.  When he arrived, he asked me what I told the shop owner that my problem was.  I showed him my phone.

He got so frustrated at me!  He said “this is not what you have!  You have blocked energy!  If you really feel that you have this depression then you go to the hospital and the doctor will give you pills”.  (It’s true, that’s all they do).

While it was not fun to call in a favor, then waste Mr. Vu’s time with

Friendly TCM herb shop owner.

my lack of listening skills, I’m really glad he spoke up with emotion.  It drilled it home to me that in Vietnam, depression isn’t a thing.  It’s a western term.  I immediately apologized, then payed attention to the facts and sensations in my body.  I re-framed why I was there in terms of my symptoms:

“I have a headache, my eyes feel sunk in my head, I’m weak and I have no energy for myself or anyone else in my family”.

I was then whisked to the back area where my pulses were taken by the shop owner, more questions asked (yep!  Libido still at zero!) then I was given a weeks worth of herbal formulas for $12 cdn plus some fresh ginger.  Ah, that’s better!

Herbal powder, herb balls and fresh ginger. $12 cdn.

Ok, lesson learned.  I don’t have depression.  I have a mixture of symptoms that I need to heal.  Thanks Mr. Sau, Mr Vu and the really nice man at the herbal shop!

My Lessons

  1. Pay attention to who you meet.  Say hello, ask questions and listen.
  2. Life is up and down.  Healing is up and down.  The most amazing treatments and healing sessions may have the lowest post-lows as your body cleanses itself.  Healing my depression brought out low energy, headaches and more depression. Just sit with it, have a bath, go for a walk, nap, read, …watch a funny movie.  It will pass.
  3. Change is a marathon, not a sprint.  Be easy on yourself. Try things. See what works for you and what doesn’t.
  4. Have questions and feel stuck?  Write them in a journal and ask for the answers.  Then pay attention to who you meet, what information comes to you, what thoughts or images you recieve etc.  And these often come when we are calm and quiet.
  5. Life is an opportunity to practice.  And there’s no such thing as perfect.
  6. Some foods, Vegan or not, cause allergic reactions.  I CAN NOT HAVE GLUTEN. Makes me crazy irritable and brings on my depression. (I haven’t tried this yet, but you can get a report on what foods improve or harm your gut microbiome at Viome.com.  I can’t wait to give it a go once I’m back in Canada).
  7. Try to let go of “stories” that your brain comes up with.  Instead, let your brain focus on facts and body sensations as they are real.

The Fear

At this point fear started to creep in around the thought of eating Vegan, and turning away from meat and dairy.  The really deep seated, uncomfortable sensation that you are going down a rabbit hole and you can neither dismiss everything you are learning, but neither can you go back.  

The biggest fears for myself and my partner Anton were around eating with friends and celebrating holidays.  Ham or Turkey at Easter and Thanksgiving.  Christmas dinners.  Burgers and rib bbq’s in the summer.  Would we now be considered weirdos and cause discomfort in the whole family?  Would we actually enjoy eating a vegan or vegetarian diet?

While I can usually go for quite a while on a new way of eating, Anton had a quick fear to come up around missing out on tastes and textures.  And foods that were common and a comfort for him.

Another big question for me was around my body image and body type.  Most vegetarians or vegans I have met to date did not appear to have much lean muscle mass.  Over the years, I have enjoyed building muscle, feeling strong, and having a leaner build. Was it possible that the body was capable of eating a plant based diet, AND having a strong, lean body?  Another question for the universe that I hoped I would find answers to.

Despite this gnawing discomfort, I had all these new questions and I wanted to learn more.

I’ve also learned from many people in my life, that all of our emotions really come down to two emotions when you ask yourself enough questions:  Love and Fear (Check out The Work of Byron Katie) .  So as with other fears in my life, I choose to move away from all these fears, trust that everything is going to be fine (as everything really has always been fine!) and keep moving towards the foods, people and experiences (including eating experiences) that make me feel love and loved.

 

The People I Attracted and Felt Heart Connections With

This was a big “What the??”  The people I began to meet and connect to (you know the ones, they feel like instant friends) were either Vegetarian or Vegan. Why is THAT? What’s the connection there?

Sara was the first connection I made.  She is a mama to 2 thriving kiddos, a vegan chef, yoga teacher and the administrator of the International School in Hoi An.  (We did a school visit just to check it out and our daughter immediately said she wanted to go there. What? You mean we might live here for a bit? ) 

Sara has a great partner Dane (prounnounced Dan-eh) who is also Vegan and enthusiastically shared his story and resources (Check out the Resources Category).  It was Dane who encouraged me to write this blog and share my story.  I will forever be grateful to him and his support.

It was really neat to see how their whole family is thriving on a diet that I always thought was really weird and “out there”!

Janie and Peter were next, and their two beautiful girls.  Janie is Vegetarian, and curious about Vegan.  And she has been a lovely support, and smiling face on my journey.  So understanding, open minded, and quick to ask me how I’m doing.  Love.

On another day, my son and I decided we wanted chocolate.  So we biked to the health food store and shared a delicious, nourishing bar.  We met Aryana, her husband Aaron and bubbly 4 year old daughter. Guess what they were eating? Chocolate.  (Ha ha!  Coincidence?  Nope!  Love it!)  Their family is vegan, from a line of shamans and healers, and they all have this vibrancy about them.  In particular, I noticed Aryana has really glowing skin, clear eyes,  a radiant happiness and whole body smile. Like she’s holding in a delicious knowing or secret. Hmmm? How is she like that?

March 2018 Update:  being open to who comes into my life, and taking the actions to engage with them really makes me feel vibrant and in flow with what’s happening around me, plus in alignment with what I’m meant to learn.  These experiences alone grant me all three of my current soul’s wishes!  Sweet!