Friday, March 16, 2012

You Are Never Alone.

Below is another fabulous guest post, one of many to come, from my insanely talented and generous hubby Steven Todd Smith. In fact, you just may find that Steve will be popping by on a regular basis at Kiss Me, I'm Vegan. And that's a very good thing!

Steve is a Life Nutrition and Vegan Transition Coach, certified in Plant-Based Nutrition and as a Holistic Health Coach.  With Ahimsa Life Coaching, Steve offers various programs to make the transition into eating plant-based and living a compassionate vegan lifestyle easy, fun, and delicious.  If you're looking to reduce your stress, manage time more effectively, or find better ways to achieve balance and other goals, you can explore your Inner Ahimsa with Steve.

It's a tough world out there, huh?  Especially living a vegan lifestyle.  So much conflicting information being haphazardly thrown from all directions, plenty of naysayers to rain on your parade... what's a boy or girl to do?  How do you compassionately move forward when there seems like there are so many obstacles that stand in the way... when there seems like there's always a more convenient choice, which may not fulfill you but will appease all others around you?  It's too easy to feel like an island in so many areas of your life.  What I want to say and what you need to know is: You are not alone.  You are never alone.

With Tulip the hen at The Gentle Barn.
The past two and a half years of living vegan and beyond has been one of the greatest journeys of my life, as I've made leaps and bounds beyond the person who I used to be.  Mind you, I'm still the same Steve, just... grown up (in age, wisdom, maturity) and grown out (in mindset, consciousness, knowledge).  Wiser, happier, more worldly, more aware.  And definitely more connected... interconnected even, directly to people of a like mind and through the ether, the universe, to others who share the same responsible, compassionate, and fulfilling approach to life that I do now.

No matter what stage of life we're in, I've learned there's always going to be a part of us that clashes with the "mainstream," with the "majority," with the standard.  And that's the part we most often repress - we take a look at everyone else around us and say "If I want to fit in, then I'm going to have to change."  And while change can definitely be for the better at times, I'm talking about a forced change away from our actual Self in this sense - "It's going to be too difficult to be mySelf, so I'll try to be someone else."  This may be done to avoid ridicule, to avoid being ostracized or criticized, to please others with unfair requests.  In any case, if it goes against the heart of who you are, of what you believe and value in life, then it becomes a choice that will only cause more pain and grief within; you are, in essence, creating a rift between you and yourSelf.  And spending your life living at odds with yourSelf is not right, not fun, and no good.

The amazing audience at Rock It Out:
A Night to Benefit NY's Farmed Animal Sanctuaries


There is good news though - you know, the silver lining.  It's what I said above, and I still mean it: You are not alone.  You are never alone.  No matter how isolated or separated you feel, there's a different reality in motion.  You are never alone.

I've had the opportunity to experience the highs and lows of feeling so alone at times and being completely supported, welcomed, and surrounded at others.  One of the lows was early 2010 - new to Los Angeles, working 5 hours a week, not making nearly enough money to get by. I would feel comfortable saying that I was dejected, depressed, and lost, not sure what direction to take my life in - or in what direction it was being taken.  I've also been surrounded by communal love and support, environments fueled by momentum and positivity, true connectedness saying "We are of the same mind.  We can do this together."  There have been three conventions I've had the privilege of attending within the past six months: two conferences for my health coaching school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and one for Tony Robbins' Unleash the Power Within.  Let me tell you: you get 4000-5000 people in one area, pulsing with energy, excitement, the drive to learn, to excel, to thrive, you become automatically supported and connected to each and every person. Whether you know them yet or not, you can immediately discover the best actions for yourSelf from this mass congregation.  I know I've left each of these events feeling more sure about what I want to do with my life, feeling more sure about my values and choices, feeling so connected to a community of people who are choosing to be their own Self.

In my improv classes that I take at iO West in Hollywood, there's the concept of "group mind."  Listening, tuning in to each other so greatly that ideas are born, connected, and weaved together spontaneously, with the promotion and support of each and every person.  Surrounding yourself with other players who want to connect with you and each other provides a place where you cannot fail - no matter what happens, someone always has your back.  Someone is always ready to continue and add on to your initiations and ideas, even if they are beyond ridiculous.  With a team behind you, beside you, and in front of you (surrounding you), you can only be confident and comfortable in each move you make, every word you say, every action you do.

While the numbers are out there, and they do say "there's strength in numbers," there is even great strength in the powerful connectedness of just a few.  To continue the growth and reach of my coaching business, Ahimsa Life Coaching, I hold weekly accountability calls with my brother-in-law, Jon (Lindsay's brother, whose posts you've read before!), fellow wellness coach and founder of YouTime Coaching.  I hold him up to the progress he wants to make, and he holds me up to mine.  With a simple support system of two, we can feel like an army of good, storming through to help anyone out there in need of health/life/performance coaching.

Farm Sanctuary's Santa Monica
Walk For Farm Animals
So yeah, being vegan in a world of non-vegans can be tough.  But I'll tell ya, you're not the only vegan - or only person who wants to be vegan - out there.  Besides the many vegans who are reading this article at the same time as you (how's that for connection?!), there's a whole world beyond that!  Just in the past two years, the amount of people who consume a completely vegan, plant-based diet in the US has doubled to 2.5% of the population, according to a recent study by the Vegetarian Resource Group. Although there's margin for error, the main point is that there has been amazing growth in this health & compassion movement, which means less vegans that are/can be alone and more vegans that are/can come together.

So what can you do if you're feeling like you're alone on your own vegan island?  You have an abundance of options:

- Join a Meetup group!

- Join a Facebook open group - I'm in several, such as Power to the Veg!, Positive Vegan Activism & Support, The Vegan Food Enthusiast

- Get close and local - find those friends/acquaintances-to-be-friends nearby with whom you can travel to veg restaurants, host potlucks/parties, and vent (when needed... and yes, it's needed sometimes).

- Empower yourSelf with education - there are so many amazing resources out there (Lindsay has a whole page on 'em).  For now, how about Forks Over Knives and Vegucated for a watch and Diet For a New America, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, and Skinny Bitch/Bastard for a read (too many from which to choose!).

- Find an expert/mentor/coach! There are so many vegans, plant-based gurus out there who would be more than happy to answer questions, guide you in the right direction.  Look around and reach out!  You can't get any closer than right here, as I would be honored to join you on your life journey with Ahimsa Life Coaching.

- Visit animal sanctuaries!  Most likely, you see less of a disconnect between humans and non-human animals than many others.  So go hang out with your fellow brothers and sisters!  Spend some time with other living creatures who appreciate and yearn for life and freedom as much as you do.  Check out FAS directories here and here for an animal sanctuary near you.

- Contact us at KMIV! We do our best to get back to everyone in a timely manner, but you'll definitely hear from us.  Email us at kissmyvegan@gmail.com.

Being alone is a choice.  It's difficult to imagine with all of the feelings that often weigh you down, and it can usually feel like the world is forcing you out. But being alone is a choice you make, and one that you do not need to make anymore. As you can see from above, there's a wealth of others out there ready to connect, ready to support, ready to thrive right alongside you.  Whether it's regarding living vegan, relationships, finances or other life issues, make the choice - look around you and surround your Self with other like-minded Selves for positivity and support. And remember - with your choosing - you can never really be alone.

For more information about Steven Todd Smith and Ahimsa Life Coaching, visit www.ahimsalifecoaching.com and make sure to "like" him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ahimsalifecoaching.

***Would you be interested in a monthly vegan community call?  A group conference call led by Lindsay and myself, where we could share stories, experiences, concerns, goals, celebrations, offer advice and information, and hold you accountable toward taking those invaluable steps toward living the most compassionate, healthy, and fun life possible?  Let us know by commenting in the comments section below!  I see Spring/Summer 2012 as a excellent time to launch into bringing KMIVers together in an even greater, more connected way!***

4 comments:

Nanette said...

Great post! A while back I heard a quote which affected me like a kick to the stomach. It completely explained the years I tried to eat like others or fit in at dinners.

"The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself." Rita Mae Brown

Myra Wolf said...

Well, that entire article just made me cry! What a secure, content place it put me. That is priceless! Love you forever!

Lindsay said...

I never cease to be amazed by you, my husband. :-)

YouTime Coaching said...

I don't believe anyone can read this post, vegan or not, and not feel welcomed, supported, and accepted. You present a wonderful concept that holds a lot of truth and honesty. Thanks BIL!