Master of Anxiety: I am the Ocean

I graduated last week! I now have a bachelor degree in psychology. The past three years have been hard. The past three weeks might have been the hardest. I decided to start my master with a clean slate. However, with the amount of baggage I have, or well, anyone has, you can't just start over. So I changed my plan and decided to do some digging. What baggage should I take with me and what should I leave behind? And could I actually do that?

A REALLY BIG shout out to Adriene from Yoga with Adriene, she was a huge help for me. I did Revolution last month and it helped me so much. I lost 5 kilos, which is a nice extra, would anyone be interested in losing weight with yoga. I should also mention, being vegan might have also helped. But it wasn't only physical. It was also mentally letting go.

I think all college students will feel with me when I say that I had my fair share of break downs. Those moments when you just really can't keep going, that state of being frozen. That's how it felt for me. Being frozen, in front of a rushing train and sometimes actually feeling it crushing me. One of the reasons why I was offline for so long was also because I couldn't share my story. I'm still not ready, but I want to share this: in my first year I was in therapy. During the day I studied about mental illnesses and their treatments, in the evenings I learned how real they are. In my second year I stressed so much that I couldn't do anything during the summer, because I was so tired. I enjoyed looking at the trees on the mountain, with my brain turned off. My third year was a bit better, because I knew how close I was to losing it again. I did my best to avoid stress, but sometimes you can't avoid certain things. Last week when I finally got my diploma, a huge weight fell from my heart, my mind and I felt free.

For a moment. Because my master was lurking around the corner. First I wanted to know why on Earth I signed up for this. The reason behind my stress was never learning, it was all that came with it. Second, how could I handle those things now? Again, Adriene helped me big time with that, yoga has wonderful tools to keep you going, in a balanced way. Also, to question the things you do, to be mindful about how you go about things with your body and mind. So how was I doing? If you would have asked me that a week ago, I would have said: I feel amazing. I feel in control. And then BAM this anxiety kicked me in the butt again.

Today was the first day of my master and I slept maybe 4 hours last night. I just couldn't get my mind to stillness and calmness. To give an example what kind of things I can worry about at 3 in the morning: "What if there are not enough chairs in the room? Will I have to stand the whole time? And how will I take notes without my laptop then? What if they just send me away because the room is full?" Seriously. Ridiculous.

When I woke up, I decided to take the mantra "I am excited" for today and did a great yoga flow just to try it out. I noticed that my fear was more present than my excitement. I was really excited to go to uni again and learn new things, but somehow my fear of not having a chair and other unreasonable things were stronger. Then I came up with a new mantra: "I will be the master of anxiety." That's how I left home this morning. I would not only be the master of science, but also the master of anxiety.

I had a wonderful day! The problem was, which has been similar for years, instead of acknowledging my anxiety, sometimes I push it aside and tell myself I'm fine. Which doesn't work. It just makes the anxiety build up and make it so strong it kicks you in the butt. At the end of the day, my anxiety won. I got a headache, I got very tired (something I had last year as well, it makes doing anything useful really hard and painful) so I decided to retreat. Observe and learn. If I want to become the master of anxiety, I should learn more about it and apply my knowledge in other situations. Of course I've been trying the last three years as well, but anxiety is like the ocean. Sometimes it's all calm, other times the waves ruin whole cities. And even when the water is calm, if you throw a stone in it, you will see the ripples. In this example, if I'm the ocean, anxiety is like rocks. One little rock can cause a whole flood. And as much as I want to, I can't control those stupid rocks. But, I do realise that I am bigger than them. Expecting a month of yoga to make all the anxiety go away is like expecting a six pack after one sit up. However, I believe that with some work, I'll be able to control it better. At least, I have to believe in that, right? For now, I'll just keep breathing and keep my head above the water. Observe and learn, instead of Ignore and accept.


One month vegan!

I started eating vegan just a bit over a month ago, but decided to post this only today, to make sure I don't count those few first days when I might have cheated by accident. What I mean by that, is that when you decide to go full vegan from hamburger-with-mayo-and-cheeese eater, you might not even realise how many products contain animals.. Those first days were hard, not only because I realised I had to stop eating a lot of great things, but also because I realised that by eating those products, I was hurting nature. You could call it a really bad case of cognitive dissonance: I reaaaally wanted some cheese, but I really did not at the same time.
Knowledge is power. I looked more deeply into things and day-by-day, that made it easier to make the right choice. I don't think I could eat cheese now. Definitely no meat.
Yesterday I was buying pasta and I realised that while most of them don't have eggs, there was no tagliatelle without eggs. As a beginner vegan, you do question your decision in such a moment. But this experience, it's all about being conscious. I held the tagliatelle for a while, realising more and more that I would probably couldn't enjoy it with a conscious mind, with awareness about the abuse a poor chicken goes through to lay that egg. Then I put it back and looked through the shelves. There are so many other options.

Really, there are so many options. People sometimes wonder what vegans eat. I also did. The first few days of being vegan was also more saying no to bad things and eating very little for me. Simply because I didn't have the right options at hand. Again, as I did my research (and as my hunger grew) I found so many amazing, delicious dishes! I still keep finding new things everything I go to the store. And if you think you will miss meat and cheese, yes you will. But there is plant-based "cheese" and "meat". In all the forms your heart desires: hotdog, hamburger, mozzarella, you name it. I was really happy when I found out about those things, but that happiness wasn't really true. Those things do taste maybe even more like chicken than real chicken, but when you look at the ingredients, even if it's all plant based, it's not the healthiest out there.. So, I'm trying to eat plant-based meat as little as possible (it's really not hard if you are eating conscious and think about all the bad stuff that's in that piece of "meat").
So what do I eat? Whole foods. Those are food with which they didn't temper before putting them on the shelves. They didn't go to a big factory and get mixed up a few times to make them look better and taste better. I have to be honest, I'm still working on finding out what is really good and what's not. But one thing I know: nature is giving us so many great things, which taste already amazing, we just have to take a moment and realise that we don't need extra sugar and fat and salt. It is good as it is.

Here is a selection of what I've been eating this past month. :) 


first time out!

This post is about going to restaurants. In the past, I would go to McDonalds at least once a month. On other occasions we would go to a fancier place, but usually, as a student I would cook at home. Actually, at one point I got so comfortable at the Mac, that I would go alone and just sit there, eat like 5 hamburgers.. Or a happy meal!

But, that's all behind me. I was a bit scared of going out to a restaurant as a vegan, because I don't want to be that pain in the ass, sitting there and asking questions and having all kind of special requests.. So I have to admit, the first time I went to a restaurant, I went to McDonalds. They have a vegan veggie burger (not everywhere tho!). In this case, I just ordered something from the menu, it tasted like McDonalds, addictive and everything.. So you know, this doesn't really count.

Then, it was my sister's birthday and she really wanted to go to Very Italian Pizza. I did my online research: no vegan options on the menu. I panicked. I love going to restaurants, get something amazing cooked for me, but now it was no fun.. I decided to call them and ask if they could make a pizza without the cheese, then I could eat a veggie pizza! They were really kind, so I was looking forward to eating out again. We got there, I told them I wanted the veggie pizza without the cheese and... no problem! I was also a bit questioning what a pizza would be without the cheese, but it was amazing! I had no troubles with melting, hot cheese, haha. Or you know, when the cheese takes all the toppings along and you're left with an empty pizza. None of that! So it's actually even practical.

My advice for scary bunnies: do your online research, if that doesn't work: call. If it goes wrong, you can always hang up! (I seriously had that thought).

Honestly, I'm a scary bunny again, because I'm going to an even fancier restaurant this weekend, where they have "traditional" meaty options.. and I couldn't get a hold of them on the phone yet. So, we'll see..


Movie review: okja

This okja thing appeared on Netflix and it looked so childish. Then, all of a sudden I got a positive buzz from my vegan friends on facebook: you have to see okja, it's a beautiful movie! Oh well, why not?

Let me say this first: I cried for 30 minutes after this movie. It is so moving. It is so true and sad.

If you haven't seen it yet, you also might not get what the whole buzz is about, so let me explain. Okja is a movie about a super pig, who grows up in the mountains with this cute little girl. That's how the movie starts off. You still don't get why this movie is great or cool, right? I didn't get it either. I thought it was about the great pictures. Until sh*t gets real. The true story that this movie wants to tell you is about the food industry. How animals are handled before they end up on your plate. And also, where they really come from. It gets so real, even though it is about a super pig in super unreal circumstances that it just hits you: people are horrible creatures and they are capable of doing unimaginable things to other creatures. Okja might not be real, but cows on steroids are very much existing.

I think the great thing about this movie is that you don't even see it coming. My sister walked in my room asking if there was any violence in the movie, because she doesn't like that and I told her: "No, this is about a funny super pig!". Then, after the end I went to her room, crying and told her that she should skip this one if she doesn't like the truth. Some people might truly not get the point of this movie, but a lot of us will. And they will be touched.

Would I recommend this movie? Yes. But I'm giving you a warning: it will leave you thinking and very, very sad.


Super easy vegan chocolate chip cookies!

Most recipes contain dozens of ingredients and I can imagine that vegans do have those at home, as a newbie, I don't. Also, as a student, I don't. But, because I really wanted to make some cookies, I decided to simplify the recipe and make chocolate chip cookies with what I have.
The result? Everyone loved it and it was all gone in no time!

Here is my recipe:

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Start with:
- 1 tablespoon ground flax & 3 tablespoons water (let this rest for a bit so it takes up the water a bit)
- 60 gr vegan butter (most recipes have some specific butter, I'd say anything will do. Use whatever you have, as long as it's healthy :) )
- 150 gr sugar (here you can again go fancy and use brown sugar or whatever, I used plain sugar..)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix these with a mixer.
And then add one by one, in this order the following:
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cacao powder
- 180 gr flour
- 100 gr chocolate (I used dark vegan chocolate)
The original recipe said you can add almond milk if the mix is falling apart, but I didn't need that. This should be just fine. Make cookies and place them on a baking plate. Bake them for 12-13 minutes at 180 C. They will feel really soft, but if you take them out and let them dry a bit, they become perfect.

Enjoy! :)