VEGAN: A Love Story (so far)

blog, food, personal

I’m pretty sure that I have not mentioned that over the course of my short 25 years on this earth, I have been an on and off vegetarian. This on and off thing has been happening since I was about 7 years old and lasted until now. It all started when I was at a friends house for dinner after a long day of playing outside and her mother, a horrible cook I found out, made fried chicken that was just calling my name.

I bit into a wing… my favorite piece. I expected it to be just so crunchy on the outside, so delicious through and through. Instead, I bit into it and got a nasty burnt taste. Oh yes it was crunchy on the outside, golden brown on the top but pitch black and ashy on the underside as if it had been forgotten about at one point in the process. Then I felt all of my insides rushing into my throat as I looked down and saw my bite marks.

Blood.

Raw chicken meat and blood rushing out of it onto my plate.

I grabbed my napkin, so grateful that I did not swallow it, and spit it out politely. I sat for awhile in shock staring at my plate, said I had to go home, and called my mom. I whispered to her what had just happened to me while I was alone in another room of my friends apartment and she told me I did the right thing: don’t eat it. come home.

The image and feeling of disgust of that moment never left my mind and it was that moment that sparked the thoughts of If I am supposed to eat meat, why then, am I so disgusted and told to run away and reject it if it is in it’s natural state? All bloody and raw. As a big animal lover, I knew good and well that animals would love their meat exactly like that. I saw it happen plenty of times. Something was wrong.

My first vegetarian stint lasted about a month in my young age. The next stint didn’t happen until a Mcdonald’s food poisoning incident that happened at age 10 from 2 cheeseburgers and a strawberry milkshake. A very memorable projectile vomiting filled day followed up with significant weight loss, stomach ulcers, and lots of milk of magnesia. I was in constant pain and couldn’t keep anything down for the entire summer therefore I refused to eat anything that wouldn’t taste at least halfway decent coming back up. This vegetarian stint lasted 2 and a half years until I entered high school. I wasn’t vegetarian again until I was about 19 years old and simply remembered everything I had gone through with food in the past as I was eating some form of chicken. By that point I had food poisoning from Mcdonalds two more times, food poisoning from a canned chili once, and witnessed my mother having food poisoning from bad ground beef in her enchiladas. My chewing slowed, I swallowed forcefully and pushed my plate away obviously traumatized. Vegetarian again for 2 years.

Since then I ended up being pescetarian, then plant-based with the occasional big burger, carne asada taco or seafood gumbo around the holidays, to full on meat eater, fast food junkie (mainly taco bell) back to vegetarian. It was a journey and still is.

Then over the course of this year, I had  more of a desire or natural urging for me to stop consuming animal products altogether. I reflected upon my relationship with food over my life time and took note of all of the food poisonings, the bite of bloody chicken, all the stomach ulcers, doctor visits, the psoriasis, the eczema, fatigue, stomach pain, constipation, laziness, depression. And I compared that to how I felt during my vegetarian stints : Beautiful golden brown clear skin, normal weight, energetic, happy…regular if ya know what I mean.

Documentaries like VEGUCATED somehow came into my life as though placed strategically by the universe and I began my Vegan transition immediately. I told myself to not be too attached to the outcome or to my failures if they ever happen and for close to a month now I have been in transition not knowingly consuming anything containing animal products.

My love for cooking was rejuvenated with this change and my excitement for trying new things is insatiable. I’m always researching new things, reading up on other vegans and reading tons of labels at the grocery stores. So far my diet consists of lots of whole fruit (always my favorite thing ever) smoothies which are sometimes green and sometimes not. vegan chilis, vegan tacos, pastas and the good ol NOOCH, or nutritional yeast, which I just got introduced to and absolutely love. People say give your taste buds time to adjust to it but, honestly, I bought some on Saturday, put it on my pasta that night and have been in love with it ever since.

To aid in my transition, however, I did buy some vegan mock meat burgers for whenever I am truly craving that meat taste. I had one out of the four pack of Boca and was turned off by exactly what I was craving. It tasted like meat…bleh. It’s not exactly a waste as it does serve as a reminder of why I decided to try a vegan diet but I was slightly disappointed that it may, in the long run, end up in the trash.

Like most vegans, I believed that cheese would be the hardest thing for me to give up and I also believed that since I am the only person I know who is vegan or even vegetarian that it would be hard but it doesn’t seem as hard as I thought. I’m grateful for the ability to buy my own foods now that I am an adult and to have a supportive partner who is trying with his whole heart to be at least vegetarian. We don’t keep meat in the house unless it is for our two dogs who we refuse to feed a vegan or vegetarian diet (it seems unnatural, they are carnivorous to the max by nature).
My boyfriend does occasionally buy cheese for the house but I have no urge to use it when it’s around. The smell of meat doesn’t lure me in like it used to, if anything I get a sick feeling once I smell it: bacon cooking, ground beef, cutting up chicken and eggs etc for my dogs (yes I make my own dog food, I don’t trust anything else).

So in this short time being vegan I have noticed a few things including more regularity in my digestive system, so much more energy, more positive thoughts, and I have been feeling a much deeper connection with the world around me and other life forms: animals and people. My weight is back to normal from 135lbs to 127lbs. Another change is that I seem to want to eat all day every single day!

It’s almost like there’s no longer a 3 meals a day thing. I’m always eating something whether I’m snacking on grapes, eating bananas, drinking a smoothie or two, eating vegan chips and hummus (I absolutely can eat this all day so I try to be careful), vegan spaghetti, or lots and lots of vegan tacos filled to bursting with sautéed veggies, peppers, rice and beans of my choice. Roasted red bell pepper hummus spread on the bottom of the tortilla, romaine lettuce and fresh avocado slices to top it off.

It’s such a satisfying diet, so much flavor, and I feel like I can eat so much more and feel so much more energetic still than I did on a standard american diet which often left me lethargic and sleepy.

All of my energy has inspired me to pick up blogging again, fitness, more holistic approaches to my own health care and of course exciting new vegan snacks I’m dying to try like Quinoa crisp chocolate bars and Coconut chips.

I would love to connect with other vegans and vegetarians for inspiration so If you are one, I’d love to follow you!

Hey Guys! I am alive + 2015 Goals

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It has been a long while it seems since I posted last. Both a lot and nothing has changed since my last update but it is safe to say that I am in a perfectly contented and happy place and it feels good to finally be back. The best part of the changes I have been making in life has to be the art of non attachment. The reality is that I don’t have to force myself to do things that I simply am not passionate about which would ultimately end up being loads of trash for the readers I do have out there.

I am not here to bore you guys nor am I here to bore myself. I’m totally not about that life.

I am back to work as a pastry chef. Am I happy about it? Yes I guess. For now, I have absolutely no complaints and I look forward to going to work most days. However, in conflict with this I have started my official transition to veganism which completely goes against what I am doing for a living but I am dealing with everything day by day.

The vegan transition is going very well. I am stoked every time I have to cook. I search through all kinds of recipes, and have been trying all kinds of different foods and I have ultimately been enjoying food even more so than I did before. My health so far has been better although it has only been a few weeks since the change and my energy and positivity has been way up. I’m enjoying how much more deeply connected I feel to the universe, people. and all living things since I have woken up and become more conscious of how my personal choices impacts the world around me.

Going hand in hand with this change in lifestyle came a very much so unintentional internet break where I had no desire to connect with anyone that wasn’t in my immediate life. All of my social media was neglected and forgotten about and right now it still is. I became very reserved in my actual life not wanting to do anything social. I sort of just wanted to stay in, read, watch movies, play with my dogs, and enjoy my relationship for the past few months. Through this break I decided that I do still want to connect but I want to only put out things that can positively affect other people. I don’t want to complain about my own life, talk about what’s going wrong in the world, become preachy or do anything else that wont be beneficial to my readers.

I want to update my blog on a regular basis with my lifestyle changes, encouragement and positive lessons that I am learning along my own journey. I want to share my art, talk about personal finance (which may seem out of place now but is very much so an important factor in my life that I take very seriously). I want to share more about my vegan transition, travel, goals, recipes, fitness and everything else I consider an important part of living a life of vitality.

Come the new year, I really want to continue making transitions towards entrepreneurial endeavors. Even though I may be working for someone else for however long it takes, I feel it is all worth it once I am able to make investments into what I really want to be doing for myself. I’ve been playing around with the idea of video blogging for a few years now but have been having trouble over coming my shyness and fear of judgement. We all know the internet breeds negativity and bullies among unknown pixelated characters who are watching us but I believe that all of the inspiration coming my way is leading me to the mentality of “do it anyway, or regret it later”.

This year I bought myself a  very nice DSLR camera along with a MacBook Pro both of which have been collecting dust since the rain started falling. It was a huge investment so I need to really execute all of my ideas and projects that I have been brainstorming during my hiatus.

Also in 2015 I want to save even more money, travel to a tropical place, make friends (this is a big one since I am definitely the type of woman who enjoys her own company more than anyone else’s…. not in a negative way I just generally get drained by the energy of other people and the constant compromise of what to do, when to do it, and how). I do believe making friends is key to leveling up. Networking is everything so leaving my own comfortable bubble has to be done. Besides, a girl sometimes need a group of people to be wild and free with. It’s all about making the RIGHT KIND of friends : the kind that doesn’t drain me, but only adds to my energy and throws fuel to my fire.

Turning 25, Travel, and other things.

art, blog, food, love, personal, photography, Uncategorized

 September 16 marked my 25th year on this beautiful planet. I’m probably one of the few who sees getting older as a huge blessing and proof of favor of the universe. Dirty 30 is around the 5 year corner and I do hope I see it. I will make it beautiful. Along with 25, a few other changes took place at the same time. I quit my job as a pastry cook…kind of. I’m still freelancing with the company. I jumped head first into my photography, networked, met a lot of really cool people and yes, my relationship of a year and a few months ended on good terms.

Where I will be living is now up in the air and a steady source of income has yet to be found. Am I scared? No. I am doing ok. Thing’s always work out.

imageAbove is a shot of my birthday drink that was recently introduced to the SkyCity menu for the fall season called the Autumn blossom. Very citrus-y and kind of tart and strong. It was ok, I finished it. Eating at the Space Needle was the most perfect birthday gift I could’ve given myself and it was nice to cross an event off of my bucket list at 25. Although the food itself was less than stellar and way overpriced, the experience alone was worth every penny. I just wished I would’ve stayed for dessert. I ordered the crab cakes as my appetizer which were awesome and the Seafood Boulliabaise as my entree. I’m sure if the flavor of my meal was better, I would have ordered dessert but since it wasn’t, I saw dessert as a waste of $20 or $30 more dollars.

 

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When I travel, I prefer to do as the locals do. It’s a great way to save money and get the full experience of the city. Not to mention, meet cool and sometimes strange people. I took the train everyday on a $5.50 day pass, got off and on as often as I wanted and walked everywhere with my handy gps for back up taking amazing shots of the city. I found amazing hole in the wall restaurants, had random adventures getting lost, and met and ate with the locals.

And of course a city isn’t a city without it’s street performers to bring it to life. So many talented musicians and singers on Pine street, 5th avenue and other pieces of Downtown Seattle playing for coins and smiles. Some to pay the bills and others to fund their treks around the globe. I spotted a kilted bag pipe player playing songs to fund his trip to Brazil.

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The street art of Seattle added to the entire experience. Here’s a quick glimpse of one of the many pieces I Loved.

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City travel isn’t city travel for a a photo girl like me without capturing a light trail or several. Here’s a shot on East Pine Street overpass after eating the best mexican food of my life over at Fogan’s Cocina Mexicana… When in Seattle, go to East Pine Street and eat there. Trust me. Order the Tortilla Soup. It is the best I’ve EVER had. And yes I live in California.

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And here’s me on the first day of age 25. Quick tip, avoid a section of China Town near Jefferson street… unless you love Crack and Heroine culture.

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A Picture Perfect Night

blog, personal, photography

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Last night was an amazing experience. A group of photographers here in Sacramento put on a free lighting workshop and my mentor was one of the hosts so naturally, I was invited to take part. A few hours before Showtime I simply was not in the proper frame of mind to do anything. Thoughts swirling of how I’ll make money after quitting my job, what I’ll do next, and lacking confidence believing I was not good enough to become the photographer I want to become.

Was I making a huge mistake?

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Needless to say, I went anyway. If nothing else, I would at least be distracted from my own negativity and will have the opportunity to practice, gain more mentoring and networking opportunities. Im all too glad I pushed myself to take this step.

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Here is my favorite shot from last night with Model Alexis Pinkney. She was absolutely brilliant. I couldn’t have picked a better person to be my very first model to shoot.

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After the shoot, I came home to see a lot of the event’s attendees posting their favorite shots of the night and by then, my confidence waned again. Jeez, I have no photo editing software, I obviously didnt use the same settings as these guys. Was I doing it wrong? What if I post and the model hates it and asks me to take them down. My style is so different from everyone else, what if no one likes it? What if no one gets me?

After worrying more, getting the shakes, I literally went and transfered the images to my phone since that was the only way I had to edit photos and adjust the levels that needed adjusting. After a swift kick in the ass by my boyfriend who said, “Shut up and just post them!” … I shut up and posted them. Hoped for the best.

Bam! More opportunities opened up. The response was overwhelming by the model, her family, my mentor and the photo group. I got so overwhelmed and my heart fluttered. The models mother messaged me offering more opportunities and told me much she was blown away that I had captured Alexis the way SHE actually sees her.

I couldn’t believe it.

I began to think, at 2am while I was running around jumping for joy at all the response, that What if i hadn’t taken the plunge? What if I hadn’t saved up and shelled out $1200 on equipment? What if I had listened to my negativity and turned down the opportunity to be mentored? Turned down the opportunity to participate in last nights workshops while I layed around trying to sort through my swirling thoughts?

None of this would have happened. No new doors would have opened, I would have learned nothing new. And I never would have known I could affect people this way at such an amateur level.

I can’t wait to see how much further I can go. How much better I can get. I have no doubt that Ive made the right decision.

Taking Hold of a Love of My Own.

art, blog, love, personal, photography, Uncategorized

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This day was truly amazing.

Once you find a group of like-minded people, it seems as if everything you’ve always wanted your world to be has finally, out of the blue, become.

Finally, here were people who saw the world in many of the same ways I did. Finally people with the same vision and purpose. Finally, people out to inspire themselves and others. People who wanted to open the world up to people who could not or would not open it up for themselves. Like minded photographers who didn’t mind, and actually enjoyed, talking 8 hours to get from Old Sacramento to Downtown sacramento which is truly only a 5 mile walk or less. Stopping at every sight, halting for each other, sharing in each others vision. Taking our time. No, we weren’t in a hurry. We were doing exactly what we set out to do and time was not a factor. This is life for us. This is what we want to spend our time doing more than anything.

That slow 8 hour 5 mile walk was full of inspiration and every moment we paused in time was destined to create inspiration within others and to possibly even uplift ourselves.

This photography walk with my amazing mentor (Van Halen up there) and other members of the Sacramento photo community really solidified what I believe to be my life’s  purpose. This is what I have been craving for quite a while and despite never being able to afford the equipment that I needed to make my dreams a reality, I never gave up studying and shooting on my own with whatever I had.

my first camera was a tiny little blue keychain camera, super cheap, that looked like a toy (and probably was). I received it for I think Christmas one year as a child when I was bugging my mother for a digital camera. Naturally that went no where. I don’t even believe it was possible to retrieve photos from the camera or if it was actually even snapping shots but it didn’t keep me from pressing the click button whenever I found something amazing to show the world.

From there i went to numerous cameras. Disposable cameras, Kodak EasyShare, Sony point and shoot, cell phones, and a cheapo bridge camera that I vowed would be the last piece of shit device I would spend money on. I would buy what I wanted to really enhance and show what I wanted to show.

Even though the best camera a photographer can have is the one that is readily available, I also knew that in order to truly get what I meant to capture in the way I wanted it to be captured, I had to make the investment. And once that investment was made, my entire world opened up and I was welcomed with open arms to the best community a photo girl could ask for.

The photo walk showed me that if I had my way and if the world was perfect, this is all I would be doing. This is all I WANT to do. To open the world up to others, inspire, express myself through my own art and to capture seemingly ordinary moments and mix them with magic to tell a story without words. To make a positive impact on both myself and others.

This is what I have been in love with for my entire life.

Manifest Slowly

art, blog, culinary, food, personal, photography

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This week I had a ton on my plate including my usual graveyard work schedule, a last minute Mickey Mouse specialty cake (I’ve never done a specialty cake before so that required a ton of research) and my first meeting with my photography mentor and photo group which was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! 

A dream come true actually.

It is Friday, which is my Monday and honestly, I haven’t had a true day or night off this week. Yes I am stressed, and per day I’ve been running off of  4 hours of sleep to complete 13 hour days to get everything done. The feeling of accomplishment, however hasn’t exactly turned out to be satisfying. I still feel extremely stressed out and sleep deprived. Stress has been turning my dreams into nightmarish circus rides that leaves me waking up abruptly in tears and cold sweats. Safe to say I need to find a legit way to maintain my stress level.

Everything this week work wise has been great.

Sometimes I forget my own talents when I am focused on my stress and negative perceptions of myself. I don’t think other people realize how much their “likes” and words of praise and encouragement means to others. Sometimes that “omg that”s amazing” is all I really need to keep going because often times before I hear that I am seriously doubting myself and getting caught up in my own feelings about what I could have done to make my projects better.

The photos shown are just a small snippet of my first experience with a macro lens. My photo group was so great at mentoring and teaching me the ins and outs of my camera and they had plenty of lenses and equipment I hadn’t previously heard of that they allowed me to play with. This macro lens significantly increased the effect of flower shots. I created a morning macro series for my personal instagram because looking at these photos truly brightens my own mood everyday and I feel it is up to me to share it with others who may also be feeling down.

At the end of an 8 hour day of shooting, we all sat down to dinner at an amazing Thai restaurant in downtown Sacramento called Ma Jongs. At the end of the meal, a member of the group passed around fortune cookies and we took turns reading them aloud.

Mine said, “You are doing well in your business.”

I quickly chucked it to the side as trash . I don’t have my own business, so obviously at the time I had nothing to relate it to. One of the O.G mentors told me sometimes fortune cookies are simply good for wisdom only and not exactly telling you your future which is usually how I look at them anyway but…. business?

Then today I realized that, hey. I am doing well in my business.

This week has been hell. No sleep, lots of side projects, stress and changes at my job, research, and investing every penny and ounce of time I had to spare into climbing the necessary steps I have to take to reach my ultimate goal : to work for myself.

Sure I have not reached that goal yet and I am probably quite a ways away but I am indeed doing well when it comes to accomplishing it. I’ve been planting seeds, investing in myself, getting up and DOING as opposed to sitting on my ass THINKING about it and dreaming. All of the ups and downs, successes and failures, losses and gains, tears and smiles, racing thoughts and organizing can only be just a glimpse into what it really takes to be a one woman army.

I’ve learned where my passion truly lies. Within all of these projects I’ve learned what makes me happy and what doesn’t and what types of things I really DON’T want to do or deal with even if I am good at it.

And it’s simply put that I have to go through all of this to prepare myself for all that I’ve been asking for in my life. You can’t get to number 10 without going through steps 1-9.

And the fact of the matter is, I DID IT! on my own.

Yes, I stuck to my guns. I planted those seeds. I bit off more than I could possibly chew but I made it all happen. I didn’t back down from ANYTHING I committed to. I learned and accomplished so much more within these last few days than I have in any classroom anywhere and I shocked myself.

That was all I needed.

A 3 year Dream Manifested

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For 3 years this has lingered on my wishlist. In 2011 when it was almost $1000 i could not afford it. This year i saved and saved and saved some more with this in mind. On monday I shelled out close to 1,000 on my canon, plus lenses and other equipment and was so completely happy.

It came today on thursday at 4pm. After waiting around the house all day so i wouldn’t miss it (it required a signature), i decided to take a quick shower. Its very hot here in northern califirnia so naturally I was sweaty and gross.

And surprise, while i was wet and naked the ups man finally decided to show up. Hearing my dog bark, i hopped out the shower, threw some clothes on while still wet and ended up chasing him down the street. Luckily he was still on foot.

But, I recieved my dream today. Opened up the box with my heart all aflutter and began dancing around the house.

Now as the universe conspires to give me all of my desires, i was put into contact with a mentor the day i ordered my camera (literally right after) and he contacted me today before the delivery and taught me alot and is just as excited as i am although he is way pro and is making a living as a freelancer. We r going shooting next Wednesday and words cant described how pumped up i am that everything is happening so fast.

Put out there the things you want and do it. Dream and do and youll never believe the things that will start falling into place. Take the plunge! With me being completely unhappy at my job and literally on the verge of leaving, i made this investment a priority. No, not putting it off any longer. I may hate my job, but im still a dreamer. When i leave my job, I wont be able to afford the investment in new ventures. The time was NOW. It always is.

After all, if a person wont take the time and resources to invest in themselves, how can one expect anyone else to?

Take as many steps as you can on your own and the rest will fall into place. Nothing happens over night.

The Foreign Exchange Live in Sacramento!

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I went on a solo concert mission to downtown Sacramento to see one of my all time favorite bands The Foreign exchange.

A friend I had known online for years gave me a heads up about it as she lives in my city. I took the last minute invitation and went solo. Later on meeting up with her and another one of her friends and having a fantastic time. The show was way beyond worth the ticket price and me and the whole crowd did not want it to end.

I learned very very young that the best way to miss out on the great things in life is to always rely on someone to be by your side at all times. When you have the freedom, time, and money to do what you always wanted to do or see what youve always dreamed of seeing, go for it on your own. You’ll meet great people along the way and have the experiences of a lifetime…. In comparison to pouting on the couch as life passes you by.

Amazing show.

Finding Peace and air In Lake Tahoe

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A much needed get away happened this weekend in honor of my first anniversary with the boy. This also happens to be my longest and happiest relationship. Yes, Im an amateur.

We coasted up through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Lake Tahoe to experience a new place, new scenery, warm waters and the cleanest air ive ever had the pleasure to breathe . I swear you never realize how much pure shit you are breathing in on a day to day basis living in cities until you travel up to the mountains or to low populated areas.

Yes, this is what air is supposed to be.

Travel, even overnight weekend trips like this, always makes it easier for everything to click into place for me. Everything goes into perspective and I reach a certain amount of clarity especially on the return home.

Getting away and enjoying that ounce of pure freedom and discovery is liberating. I experience myself at my happiest and realize it is possible. My happiness is meant to be, and all of the stresses I left back home are not worth it and the toll it takes on my mind.

The stress comes from unimportant things. My life is the only important thing and my most prized posession and I have to continue to live it to the fullest and not plague myself with all of the What ifs.

I have to have faith and keep in mind that life is a constant cycle of change. I feel as if at 24 almost 25, Ive lived many different lives in many different places and horrible situations ive gone through seem like impossibilities that happened a life time ago. They no longer matter.

Ive grown into someone I never thought I would become, drawn to things I never imagined I would be into. And surprisingly, I’ve been led into my happiness blindly and without planning.
And even though it may not measure up to the lives and interest of most of my peers or understood by anybody i consider close to me, I feel that this is for me. And I know that I have indeed found the secret.