Unfurling

I’ve spent weeks, months lost in an abyss of house renovation chaos, everything taking longer, costing more than I envisioned. Kinda expected really from my in depth reno experience through watching Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs every day through my pregnancy with Ted to the point where I wondered if Ted would recognise McCloud’s voice more than his dad’s when he was born :/

I’ve found myself completely sucked into every bit of it, overwhelmed with the tasks, hours spent impatiently waiting on tradespeople who don’t always show up. I’ve wondered if there’s another way to cope? Do other people manage to put all that into a little box labelled ‘house crap’ and carry on with their lives as normal or is it natural for ones body, mind, spirit to be merged indefinitely with the chaos of home; bricks falling, nails hammered, walls teared down, windows torn out, thick layer of plaster dust dropping over me every day. Is it possible for your ever searching spirit to seep out from under the dust, to visibly flow despite each loud bang, drill and shake.

The evidence points to me of the latter, I am my home and when my home is in disarray so am I. But as bricks start to be put back together, floors laid, some dusty boxes unpacked, there is some space again to remember this is temporary. We’re building a home together as a small family and it’s messy. Maybe it’s always been this messy but the physical noise and broken structures are a brutish reminder. And maybe I can exist beautifully amongst the mess. My world is a mess but I’m not. I am present, I am here.

Marie

x

P.S Writing this after spending some time in our untamed garden, under the oak tree watching a little wren going about her day. I’ve never watched one in such detail so I hope I did her justice when making my wren wall piece and wren earrings earlier this year..

Wren studs small

Wren 3 small

the pursuit of freedom..

SF group 6 copy 2

I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom recently, what it means to me, and how I can feel more of it in my life. Maybe its the pandemic restricting my movements, not being able to see old friends who live in different towns and cities to me, having extra time with toddler Ted or simply feeling ready to come out of hibernation in time for Spring that’s put it at the forefront of my mind. Maybe its at the forefront of your mind too? I’m sure most of us have a variety of reasons for not having the time we would like, or we do have the time but are restricted with what we can do with it. For good reason I know, but in my mind its worth exploring how to maximise our freedom in whatever situation we find ourselves in.

freedom. 3png

A very rich feeling of freedom came to me recently as we are in the process of selling our house and buying one with a little garden. I’ve never really had more than a yard since leaving home at 18 (or certainly not an appreciation for one) and our hopefully new house has a funny little garden that climbs up the valley and turns into the woods, and a front terrace that looks out into the thick of the trees and holds the sound of the rushing river below. Just typing this fills me with such a sense of freedom, imagining stepping out in the sunshine, feeding the birds, making rose arches and planting bulbs into cold soil in winter with Ted. To have some land to explore, to create on and to care for is deeply freeing to me. Other things that take me away from what can feel like the grind of life are walking in nature, reading alone tucked up in bed, exploring new (to me) outdoor spots/paths not far from home, painting in the evening, planning runs on different routes (and then doing them!) and a fresh dip in a cold river. All these things I came up with when I sat and thought about what makes me feel free. Of course one day I’d love a solo adventure to the Musee d’orsay in Paris or to lie on the warm sand on a Malaysian beach but really what came up for me was simple, ordinary things like walking, reading and painting. If you sit with yourself for a while, or mull it over for a few days, what brings out a feeling of freedom for you? It might be very different to me – maybe cooking, baking, calling a friend, listening to music, dancing, a workout..

daff group 1 copy

So next there’s the fitting it all in thing.. At first I wrote down a schedule for the week – when I could fit in a run, a little yoga, which evening I’d paint, which I’d go for an evening walk, which I’d read in bed. And it worked for about a day and a half. And I realised you can’t over schedule freedom, well I can’t anyway. With much initial resistance to my love of planning (control issues..) now I very much ask my body and mind what it wants on a minute by minute, day by day basis. I don’t know when I’ll next go on a running adventure but I trust my body will tell me when it’s time to feel the freedom of my body moving with the wind, feet thumping on the ground. I don’t know when I’ll next paint but I know my imagination will tell me lets collect some flowers one day and have some fun painting them later. I don’t know when I’ll next read in bed but I know my mind will tell me it’s feeling sponge like and ready to take in something new. I don’t know when I’ll next take an evening wonder but I know my heart will tell me the moonlight is calling. I don’t know when I’ll next go for a walk in nature but I know my eyes will look out the window and tell me the light from the winter sun is calling me out today.

me

Finding any time for freedom enhancing things of course isn’t always easy when you have other responsibilities and I by no means spend my days frolicking around the woods but I do manage to fit things in when I see how valuable they are to my happiness (and therefore to the happiness of those around me!). And as I focus on them more and more I am increasingly likely to intentionally spend my evening doing something that really fulfils me because I’ve now experienced how that fulfilment carries over to the next hour or the next day. Another big thing that has helped is totally letting expectations go – so if I only have 15 minutes to read while Ted is watching his cartoons then you bet I am gonna sit back with a hot cuppa and enjoy every minute. If I’m mid run and I really want to walk for a while, you bet I will slow down and enjoy the gentle pace. If I want to paint a masterpiece and part way through realise it’s utter shit you bet I will have another go, remembering it’s for fun and the French masters honed their talents for years.

SF primrose copy

So I hope you will get a chance to think about freedom, what it means to you and how you can feel more of it in your life. I’d love to know what you come up with and how you manage to introduce activities and moments into your life?

I’d also love to tell you about a being I am fortunate to know – Nicolette Lafonseca – who manages mental illness, chronic illness, a disability and owns Archie and The Rug, a website dedicated to creativity and slow living. Within it you’ll find a multitude of useful blog posts such as meditation advice for those who are neurodivergent, mental health awareness posts and a delightful amount of beautiful craft ideas.

And while I’m here – a wonderful book recommendation I’ve almost finished. ‘The gifts of imperfection’ by Brene Brown. You may already know of her work into shame and vulnerability and have heard her Ted talk. This book has been a useful guide for wholehearted living for me. And can’t wait to read more of her work. Hope you like it too.

 

Thanks all for reading,

Marie

x

keep in touch

How to empower animals.

This is a blog post for those of us who get very concerned and upset by the exploitation of animals for food, clothing, cosmetics and more. You may already be vegan, you may be working towards veganism or you may just be interested in veganism and open to discussions around it. Whatever your point on the journey I am thinking if you are reading this then like me, you too struggle coping with learning about the way animals are used by humans and what to do about it.

I am going to write a separate post on how I cope with learning about animal exploitation but one of the ways I do is to think about how I can empower animals. So this post is about that. Doing these things, and thinking about these things helps me to feel like I am making some difference to animals, even if it seems far off from solving the problem altogether.

So here we go..

1. Being vegan. Firstly I take comfort in knowing that because I have learnt about the cruel treatment of animals and I’ve opened my heart to them, learnt about how they love their babies, have life long friendships etc, that I have put myself in a place where I can remove animal products from my life. (animal meat, fish, dairy and eggs as well as ensuring my household products and cosmetics are both vegan and cruelty free) I am one less person in the world involved in their suffering. It’s a step towards the dream of total liberation, and it’s all because I opened my mind to something new and turned away from the status quo. A very difficult and often painful thing to do. That makes me feel strong, and capable and compassionate. And a mix of strength and compassion are I think, the most powerful and inspiring emotions to create within yourself to make changes happen that benefit others. You also set an example to others who may be considering veganism.

2. Respect and care for our environment alongside being vegan. Being vegan doesn’t mean you live a fully cruelty free life, nor is it possible in this non vegan, capitalist world. There’s even more we can do for animals. We can where possible, opt for locally grown, organic produce. We can buy from local businesses that care about the supply chain, who think of the food supply picture more holistically than a supermarket might. We can consider where our almonds are coming from, our soy products, cashews, palm oil, avocados.  You can also grow your own organic fruit and veg, if you have the outdoor space or access to an allotment. I say all this of course coming from a place of privilege where I don’t live in food apartheid, have a little financial stability to afford food outside of a supermarket and have access to green space. Many don’t and I fully appreciate that. My point is that there is so much we can do regarding our lifestyle on top of being vegan that helps animals by reducing our carbon footprint. E.g opting for cleaner energy, flying less, reducing plastic, growing wildflowers, feeding birds etc etc.

3. Take a consistent anti oppression approach to veganism. Consider the intersectional nature of all oppressions and that non are free unless all are free. I’m sure many of us aren’t able to become experts in every single type of oppression but we can become aware and do what we can to become more anti racist, more aware of the oppression facing LGBTQ+, those with disabilities and more. I spoke about this a little more in this blog post and shared more resources here. I would strongly recommend reading Aphro-Ism by Aph and Syl Ko. We are stronger together and when we deny the intersectional nature of other groups oppressions and only focus on animals we do animals an injustice. When we work together we not only learn from the success of other movements but encourage more people to see the intersections who may move towards veganism too.

4. Visit and support animal sanctuaries. When you visit them you tend to spend money which will hopefully go towards the animals care. You also get to see animals living in safe environments, free as much as is possible from human interference. They are places where animals can live out their lives in peace and therefore you will get to witness the exhibit of their natural behaviours. Sanctuary staff will often tell you about each animals personality, their likes and dislikes, their friendships. You get to watch humans connect with animals as individual beings rather than commodities for our use and consumption. You get to see the helpers, those that dedicate their lives to help animals, it helps you feel valid in your feelings about animal exploitation, instead of gas lighted into believing your views are extreme. It can be so beneficial for your mental health to be with animals and to fill your mind with visuals of happy animals, with whole warm bodies and beating hearts. For me personally, seeing animals living a natural life and seeing their individual quirks and fancies fuels me into action from a place of grounded strength to want to protect them instead of from a place of anxiety and desperation from seeing too many graphic images of suffering animals. It places them into a place of reverence and awe, rather than just the voiceless suffering.

5. Don’t be a saviour. It can be so easy to fall into believing you are an animals saviour. And I get it, I have definitely thought like that too in the past. And we do have a responsibility to protect animals because animals rights are not protected now. But we must also work out what animals give us or risk perpetuating the status quo belief that we are above animals in our imagined hierarchy. For myself, being with an animal, or watching from a distance, or just knowing about their uninterrupted lifestyle gives me so much joy and contentment. My nervous system calms, my heart grows and I feel really happy. Anyone who has the pleasure of living with an animal will tell you so. The dog I am fortunate to live with ‘Denny’ is a ‘rescue dog’, but sometimes I wonder who rescued who. So take a moment to recognise how you feel in their presence.. Do you feel calmer, more compassionate, more peaceful?

6. Watch your language. This is something I have only realised this year. Language is so important. Notice if you use the word ‘it’ to describe an animal. Use for example mother cow/she/he/their baby, when talking about animals with others. Avoid derogatory language like ‘pig’ to describe the police or an over eater, ‘cow’ to describe the size of a person, ‘sheep’ as followers of societies rules, ‘chicken’ as someone lacking bravery, ‘fox’ as someone sexually desirable. You get my drift. Using animals in derogatory language just adds to the incorrect assumption that we are above them in superiority and can therefore do what we want with them.

7. Spend some time enjoying what I imagine animals enjoy.. (not forgetting their enjoyment of being with their friends and family of which animals make life long companions). Tread barefoot on the grass, lie in the sun, breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the open space around you. Imagine cool river water on your tongue. Wake to the sun rising and settle as it sets. Bask in the moonlight and wait for the morning call of the birds. Ignite in you the joy of a life uninterrupted by humans. Imagine more animals living a life like that and let that propel you forwards.

8. I’m sure there is something I want to say about talking about veganism with others somewhere in my brain but can’t say I’ve knowingly had much success unless someone has contacted me giving me the impression they are open and interested, in which case the conversation has always been fruitful. I wish I could tell you the best way to speak to non vegans about veganism but I think it is such an individual thing.. for example I cannot cope with the many animal rights organisations that share images of animals suffering. That doesn’t mean I think there’s anything wrong with it – it probably works well for many people. What worked for me was seeing others around me managing veganism with ease, veganism becoming more mainstream around me, and a deep inner knowing that I was doing something I didn’t want to do, something that felt deeply wrong. When I finally acknowledged that and had the support around me to go vegan it was fairly easy to transition. I don’t have many non vegan friends who would bring up a discussion of veganism with me but when they occasionally do and ask for help I help them as best I can by sending them links to vegan nutrition info, my fav chefs, my fav instagramers and encourage them to go at an intentional yet comfortable pace. When you first learn about animal farming cruelty you want to scream into the streets at the injustices being ignored by most around you but that has never gone down well in my circle :/ . I do also however think it is important to have boundaries with those who believe you extreme and not engaging with that. It’s a waste of your time, they’re likely not in a place where you can have a discussion, and you’ll leave feeling frustrated and exhausted. So in conclusion I guess your approach to others has to be authentic to you. Maybe some days you will want to share a particularly thought provoking Instagram post, others you might want to point out to your partner exactly what that chicken went through to end up on their plate, maybe others you’ll just want to pet your dog and make a delicious vegan meal and share it with your family or friends. I’m not sure there is a right way to promote veganism, you’ve just got to be yourself.

I hope this was helpful,

Marie x

 

 

Good morning world..

“It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in the broken world.” — Mary Oliver, Invitation

Group flowers and birds 1 small

Each morning I wake I have forgotten what I told myself the day before.. that this day will be another day, another chance, another opportunity. Forget yesterday, live for today. But still I have to peel myself from my warm bed, little dog snoozing. Snuggling next to me, disturbing him at this early hour.

I creep downstairs, the fear of waking my toddler in every step on the creaky stairs. Kettle on, hot cup of tea. I sit on my favourite sky blue chair, under an old blanket, looking out the window that overlooks the valley. It’s pitch black out there, lights twinkling, but so soon the sky lightens revealing wispy white mist, a cloudy sky. I can hear a cockerel’s call somewhere in the distance.

I listen to ‘Wild Geese’, written and read by Mary Oliver, a favourite of many I’m sure. Her voice soothes me, welcomes me into the day. Her poem reminds me to live on without drama, to be, to make the most of my day, to make the most of my short time on this planet. And then I can begin, a little journalling, writing, a short meditation. Some quiet time grounded in my head and my body, before I spend the next hour taking orders from someone 35 years my junior. I need this time. It makes my day better, makes me more patient, less reactive, less internal struggles. It’s time to be before the doing begins. I always struggle to be when I’m doing.

It’s a daily reminder of who I am. Not wife, mother.. those are just tick boxes and no badge of honour without being fully present in our moments together of which I struggle believe me. In these moments I remember my love for beyond my husband, child and dog, for all people, myself included, children and animals, not just my own. All I can think of is everyone is where they are meant to be, doing what they are meant to be doing, in this vast web of life. And I feel patient, kind and understanding.

And then the call of my 3 year old beckons upstairs, yells ‘mummy it’s morning’!! And I’m whipped out of my dreamy hour into reality. Sleeping bag off, a cuddle carry downstairs as he calls it, pots on the oven top, fruit out, coffee in the pot, radio on, shrieking hurls from my toddler at his every whim. Being screamed at whilst making porridge for your little one and keeping any semblance of calm has got to be my greatest spiritual practise yet! And then finally we’re all sat down, him with a steaming bowl of porridge, me with a hot sweet coffee. 1st task of the day done. Looking out the window, talking about what’s to come. A sip of delicious coffee, a moment of quiet. I’m so happy to be sitting here with him in this moment.

I love taking time to be with myself, to be quiet, go inwards. But the day ultimately beckons with its noise, its upheaval, its rushing. The more I try to escape it the more it pushes me, pushes me. To be of this world is a beautiful thing. To be present with its ridiculousness, with its imperfect beauty, with its scowling humans, its delicious landscapes. What a world to witness, to be part of. Soaking in the love, the pain, the frustration as we encompass all of it. Each one of us lightness and darkness held together with skin. Letting the world lead us on. Being immersed in it, not running away from it. Thats where I want to be. Part of this world without being sucked dry by it. Immersed in it but not fully of it. Drenched in it but with freedom to remember who I am, who listens to the kind, encouraging and understanding voice in my head. Who nourishes that one and lets the other battle elsewhere.

a home filled with meaningful, nature inspired wall decor.-3

A brain that can never stop

 

78350513_2435070279954646_2127561906053971968_o

Maybe this title is a little misleading.. I have a brain that can never stop, envisioning, delighting in, frowning upon. But my body can stop.. yes.. I am highly skilled at relaxing in the evening, finding a familiar film, a cup of tea. I can always find somewhere to sit on our many toddler visits to the park, to the woods, a rock at the river. To shift my body into action takes much more effort. I have to trick it into exercising by promising it before a run.. oh we’ll mainly walk, we’ll listen to that audiobook whilst watching the morning light in the trees, it will be easy, you won’t need to do much.

But my mind. Wow. A barrage of thoughts. All day. Every day. The only thing that stops the mental flutter is eventual deep sleep. And then upon waking, the first flicker of my eyelid, here we go again. I can quieten it.. through meditation, moments of mindfulness. Relieving, but not easy. After a few ‘surprises’ lets call them over the past few years, I’ve realised the necessity to my own mental wellbeing to sift through these thoughts, to work out negative patterns and to break them, to work out which ones are true, which ones I truly care about, which ones to curb. And mostly I can do this now. But new things fill my brain hourly, it’s so incredibly noisy up there.

Thoughts about new things I want to do, time being the only thing that stops me. Keeping on top of my weedy allotment, my house plant friends, just enough yoga and running to keep my body healthy, the occasional freezing wild swim, to get a move on reading that pile of books, each one so inviting. Oh and my child, children – dog and human. Husband should fit in there somewhere too. And then there’s the extras, the wanting to make a new duvet cover, get back to making clothes (some nice tunic tops and loose dresses for making in would be great), painting for my newsletter, writing for here and for mental therapy, singing lessons (my dream of being a west end star could still happen you know….), embroidering birds and flowers onto the long white curtains I made pre baby. Never ending and existing to do’s thought up by my brain regularly.

You might think that’s it’s great to have these ambitions, and its true, my whole life it will be impossible for me to feel boredom. I’ve a lifetime and many more wants and dreams. But I wonder why I can’t focus on just a few and do a really great job on them. The initial excitement is there, but then something else steps in as I start making some progress. Maybe apathy? My mind after telling me what a good idea it is and I start getting into the flow, getting quieter, my mind gets left out. Starts whispering me words of discouragement, words to knock me off, telling me I have no time, no resources, I’m not good enough. Why bother. Yes, then apathy. The drive of determination halted and mind wins. Confidence shifted. Hmm, move onto the next. Try something different. Its a pattern I’ve noticed throughout my adult life. Even as a child I moved from craft to craft, but I guess then my time was determined and controlled by schooling, not much room for movement.

So I’m writing this in case you’re a little like me too.. Flitty, fanciful, curious… An imagination that whispers to you all the wonderful things you could experience and learn but a mind that holds you back with strong ropes when you get going.. Making you seem to the outside world that you are unreliable, inconsistent, fickle. So called negatives that I think are just part and parcel of many imaginative personalities. Traits that come with the territory. The trick is to somehow find some consistent focus. To recognise first the patterns of thinking that the mind repeats to you. Persuasive repetitions of the mind telling the body to quit. For the first time in my 37 years I am noticing my minds tricks and I’m starting to overcome them. What helps me and might help you too is.. when starting a working day I begin with:

  • Reading the vision I wrote for my ceramic business to remind me what I’m doing and why. Then I write down what would be the most important few things to focus on today in working towards that vision (I try to put no more than 3).
  • Then I write down 3-4 thoughts that I want to watch out for (i.e I can’t do this, no one will be interested etc..). And 4 thoughts I will switch to when I notice myself saying the negative ones. (i.e I can do this, I make beautiful pieces that people enjoy).
  • Throughout the day I check in on myself, just a few minutes each hour grounding myself, sensing my body in space, clearing my mind, noticing any thought patterns that arise.

It takes practise and I’m still testing the results but so far I am definitely noticing less negative self talk, higher spirits in general and if I do get in a slump and loose my flow its easier to come out of it.

I think to summarise, having an imaginative, flirty personality is a wonderful thing, but can be associated with difficulties focusing where you need to in order to grow. Small techniques practised consistently can really help. The people who have most helped me focus are:

  • my friend Aleksandra .. I met her here in Hebden Bridge and we both have toddlers. She is also a mindset coach. This instagram post on your vision is the tool I use every day.. https://www.instagram.com/p/CCu_i7DnxWx/
  • Every morning I look for a new Joe Dispenza instagram post and if there is an exercise I follow it. He is who I got the idea of the 4 thoughts from. There are also tons of free talks on you tube by him. This is a great one that springs to mind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8C3HZpWKAM
  • One of the few other instagram accounts I specifically look for each day is Jamila Reddy. I take notes from her posts in my journal and soak in what she has to say. It always helps.

Hope this is helpful for my fellow flitty types, would love any recommendations you have too on harnessing a creative spirit without getting lost,

Marie

x

118472571_10158738928761165_2564024243861188532_o

Join my newsletter to receive 10% off your first order, a monthly
free digital nature print, be in the first to know about seconds
and sales, as well as more recommendations for a nature, joy filled life.

_________________________________________________

Pin this image below to remember this blog for later!

me blog

Resources for anti racism, veganism and its intersections.

Hi!

I have put these resources together for those who are maybe like me – fairly new to their anti racism journey or that their veganism (plus those reducing their meat and dairy intake) has so far been limited to animal rights without considering the intersections of veganism and racism.

I began taking an active interest in anti racism in May this year with the resurgence of black lives matter following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Until this point I hadn’t taken my part in upholding racist structures seriously and I hadn’t looked into how my veganism was uninformed with regards to the oppression of often BIPOC communities and individuals. (I wrote a little on this here).

This list features some of the books and resources I have read or watched so far/am currently reading. I will add to this list as I go on and please feel free to send me any resources you would recommend I read and include too. This list is by no means exhaustive and I am very much at the start of my learning journey, one that will take me this lifetime and more. I hope they guide you towards BIPOC individuals who are driving human and animal liberation forwards for the benefit of all.

Books:

  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad. (Can’t recommend this enough, coming from someone who didn’t believe there was any element of racism in me, through Layla Saad’s exercises I have unearthed feelings I could never have touched upon otherwise).
  • Aphro-ism by Aph Ko and Syl Ko. (I am mid reading this at the minute, it discusses in great detail the intersections of racism, veganism, feminism and more. A must read if you are interested in any of those topics and how they influence one another).
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo . A beautiful fictional book about the intersecting lives of predominantly black women with differing sexualities and cultural backgrounds.
  • I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou. (The first autobiography of Maya Angelou’s life growing up as a black woman in the American South, her early years up to when her son was born).

Podcasts:

Videos:

Newsletters and patreons to financially support:

Online reading:

Instagram accounts to follow:

Organisations working towards policy change to stop meat and dairy subsidies and to support farmers into plant based farming that we can financially support:

 

Being vegan in 2020

Cow and calf wallpiece cropped 2

I have written 2 blog posts about my Veganism so far my vegan journey and coping with sadness. Since writing those I’d say my thoughts on the subject of Veganism have changed a little, expanded to care more about human animals too, especially those who are exploited in the animal meat, dairy and egg industries as well as those affected the most by climate change which is often the global south and black indigenous people of colour (BIPOC). I first began learning about these truths regarding Veganism, climate change and racism as the media attention greatly increased around the black lives matter movement following the death of George Floyd this year. As I came face to face with my own white privilege I saw how this is prevalent within my Veganism as well as every other part of my life. This led me to vegan and environmentalist black activists who taught me about the intersectional nature of race, speciesism, class, ableism, sexuality, gender and more.

Veganism is the morally driven practise of reducing animal cruelty where possible. I don’t buy or eat animal meat, any foods containing cows milk, eggs, fish or honey. I don’t buy leather, wool and buy toiletries and household products labelled as both vegan and cruelty free. I also am considerate of where my plant based foods such as soy, almonds, cashews, chocolate, coconuts and avocados are coming from and whether humans and animals are being oppressed in the supply chain despite there being no animal products in the food. This list is not exhaustive and my Veganism extends to other areas in my life where my purchasing decisions may affect the rights of wild animals and the environment too. I realise this may all sound quite complex if you are not vegan or if you are beginning your transition to a vegan diet. Rest assured this was all a gradual process for me too and I didn’t flip the switch from being an animal meat eater to being a more ethical vegan overnight. My best advice would be to just keep open to learning, follow those who practise consistent anti oppression by reading their books, online articles, social media or you tube, however you best absorb information and pay them for their work if you can (I have shared links below to those who have helped me).

Recently I am learning more about how food choices relating to animal agriculture and climate change can negatively impact the most oppressed in our society, all too often BIPOC. It is widely known that animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change. The vast amount of land needed for grazing animals and for growing animal feed markedly increases greenhouse gases, uses incredible amounts of water and destroys immense areas of the amazon rainforest through deforestation. The effects of climate change are felt foremost by the global south and BIPOC (The international organisation for migration projects that between 25 million and 1.5 billion people will have to leave their homes by 2050).

BIPOC are more at risk of living in lower income areas and food apartheids which also tend to be the ones closest to factory farms and are therefore affected most by the toxic run off from these farms which seeps into their water systems and is sprayed into the air locals breathe. Slaughter house workers are more likely to be black. The risk of physical injury through the repetitive cutting every few seconds, the recent high rates of covid in these places of work, and the alarming rates of ptsd due to the constant violence they are subjected to is part of environmental racism. It is interesting to note that in the US the largest growing group of people going vegan are black people. Which leads us to our beliefs that Veganism is a white thing. When I imagine a vegan I imagine a white yoga loving, middle upper class, slim, straight, cis gender woman and I don’t think I’m alone in this. This can make mainstream Veganism inaccessible to black people through our leaving out of black voices where we need them the most. I often hear an argument from white animal meat eaters that indigenous communities eat animal meat and therefore Veganism is classist. This argument is flawed for many reasons and lies in the white privilege of us being ignorant to the fact that many indigenous cultures have practised plant based diets, non violence to animals and a symbiotic relationship with nature for generations. Veganism is not a white idea. Whilst there are complex socio-economic layers that may make animal meat part of the diets of some of the poorest in our world, ask yourself if you are that person and whether you have the privilege to reduce your harm towards humans and animals through your food and lifestyle choices.

And if my terrible writing isn’t enough to convince you of the intersectional nature of racism and speciesism, amongst others then please head to this you tube talk by Christopher Sebastian (White Meat: How Did Animal Exploitation Become a Signifier for White National Identity and How Do We Fight It?) which discusses the whitified nature of pushing animal flesh and secretions upon society for the white mans gain whilst simultaneously oppressing BIPOC, animals and the environment.

Whilst for me just learning about animal cruelty in farming was enough to draw out my empathy and make initial changes to my diet and lifestyle (and while we’re here, just because the farm you get your milk from doesn’t take calves away from their mother for months rather than hours – female cows would naturally stay with their mothers for life.. and just because a farm allows a cow to live for longer and be grass fed before she makes her terrifying journey to the slaughterhouse and ultimately her death doesn’t make your meat/dairy ethical) these layers of intersectionality deepen the discussion and help us understand that you can’t successfully fight speciesism without fighting racism. And that by amplifying the voices of BIPOC in mainstream Veganism by sharing their work and paying them for it then we help animals, people and the planet. We are stronger together in the fight against white patriarchal oppression as anything that fuels separation will harm us all.

below are the people that I am learning from in my ongoing learning of a consistent anti oppression approach to collective liberation:

 

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/iye.loves.life/

https://www.instagram.com/brownfeministvegan/

https://www.instagram.com/xeviemuir/ (patreon in her profile for racism, Veganism and domestic violence)

https://www.instagram.com/foodempowermentproject/

https://www.instagram.com/the_christopher_sebastian/

https://www.instagram.com/soul_eubanks/

https://www.instagram.com/fulanivegan/

https://www.instagram.com/intersectionalenvironmentalist/

https://www.instagram.com/treesnpeace/

 

Podcasts:

https://radiopublic.com/the-yikes-podcast-6nKDQq/episodes

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/meatbusters/id1515218652

 

Others:

Aphro – ism – Essays on Pop culture, feminism and black Veganism https://aphro-ism.com

Evie Muir on intersectionality: https://www.brightzine.co/news/2020/6/2/lets-talk-about-intersectionality

Leah Thomas on why every environmentalist should be anti racist: https://www.vogue.com/article/why-every-environmentalist-should-be-anti-racist

Dr Ayana Elizabeth johnson on we can’t solve the climate crisis unless black lives matter: https://time.com/5864705/climate-change-black-lives-matter/

UN report – preventing the next pandemic (it’s long but fascinating) https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/32316/ZP.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

https://www.intersectionalenvironmentalist.com

Nutrition and more https://www.vegansociety.com

https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/british-dietetic-association-confirms-well-planned-vegan-diets-can-support-healthy-living-in-people-of-all-ages.html

 

Thanks for reading, Marie .

 

 

coping with sadness

This blog post is kind of a follow up to my recent post about how I became vegan. I realised that becoming vegan and my feelings about animal welfare since are so entwined with sadness and grief that it is a big subject and one worthy to talk about. And maybe it will help others, I doubt any of us are ever alone with what we feel. I also wonder if non vegans struggle with beginning the conversation within themselves about the correlation of their food choices and animal farming because the reality is so abhorrent. And so by opening up a dialogue of how to cope with learning about suffering, maybe that would help some to consider where their meals have come from and make changes that would ultimately reduce suffering around the globe.

For me making changes to be vegan were not really hard from a diet point of view. There are so many vegan options, recipes, nutritional advice, vegan blogs, instagram accounts out there that I knew I would get to grips with that in time. Although it was still a learning curve after having ate animal flesh and their secretions for 30 years. For me it was more about if I made a change to my diet then I had to look at why I was making that change. So that meant having to learn about animal farming. And although initially I only looked at it in small detail, what I read and saw was so horrifying to me it has actually erupted a lot of sadness. So going vegan was not an easy move because I had to face the reality of what happens to animals in farms, transport and slaughter houses to be able to make that choice. I was so much more comfortable in my ignorance.

And once you make that choice to be vegan you are then surrounded by people who you love and care for who continue to fund the abuse. And thats hard. Because you don’t want to upset people by telling them about the reality of what animals go through to become their food, its not really a nice dinner table topic! But you feel a disservice to those animals when you don’t speak up. You feel like part of the problem because you’re keeping quiet rather than telling the truth. Which is that animals are abused in the most sickening and abhorrent ways by us. We fund it and we ingest their flesh and their secretions. And it’s unnecessary. Although veganism is becoming more mainstream, I do wonder if more of us could live healthily on a vegan diet and significantly reduce animal abuse and climate change.

I have been vegan for 2 years and as I said I have felt so much sadness around it in that time, anger that it is allowed to happen, frustration and judgement that friends and family fund it and helplessness at what can I do about it. Towards the end of last year I was feeling so much judgement towards others that I finally realised it was an opportunity for me to address how I am processing my sadness and anger in an unhealthy way. Up until then I would feel angry or sad and either take it out on my husband or child in a short tempered way or I’d distract myself with the multitude of distractions available at our fingertips. I noticed that when those feelings came up I would hop on instagram and loose myself scrolling. Or I’d watch a film I’d seen a trillion times. Comforting and the perfect way to avoid nasty thoughts. I was completely missing the chance to find a way to process my feelings so that I could move forward and actually become helpful to animals. At that stage I wanted to donate some of my sales to animal charities but couldn’t bear the feelings that would come up when I began researching organisations. Theres no avoiding images, animal abuse stories when you are looking at several animal rights websites. I wanted to speak up more for them but I knew that would also involve more research into farming practices. And I thought I wouldn’t be able to cope with it.

Around a year ago I had begun meditating. I would practise every morning, getting up early and sitting downstairs before the house woke with a cup of tea. All it involves is breathing in and out, noticing when you start thinking about something and then going back to your breathing. And repeat. The point of it being to realise that you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts are just an amalgamation of what you have learnt from your care givers, your experiences and society. They are very repetitive and often unhelpful when they keep leading you down rabbitholes of sadness, anxiety and anger. Through my meditation I have slowly learnt (and continue to do so) to watch my thoughts rather than get consumed in them. So now if I feel anger for example, I try to watch the anger rather than getting caught up in it. I let it flow through me, allowing it to be part of me. And if I am able to watch it and not get consumed, then it politely leaves me. Like a cloud passing through me. And then I question why I felt that anger. And in the case of me feeling anger towards those who fund animal farming, I realise that my anger is actually coming from sadness for the animals affected rather than anger towards anyone. And then from that sadness I can decide what I can do about it.

In the same way, if I see an upsetting post about animal cruelty in farms or worse an image, instead of reaching for my distraction, I recognise I am feeling sad, I let the feeling come up. It either comes up as a strong sensation in my stomach, deep sadness or tears. And as I watch the sadness and allow it to be in my body it slowly drifts away. After practising this for a while I feel stronger and stronger to cope with upsetting things like animal abuse and other upsetting things I see and hear. Its gone from me feeling completely consumed and paralysed, to feeling that although its incredibly sad, whats really important is what I’m going to do about it. And that has empowered me to begin blogging about animal rights, making farm animal jewellery (I seriously couldn’t have even drawn a cow and her calf 6 months ago), researching animal charities and donating money to them. And as I practise dealing with my feelings healthily I feel stronger and stronger and my voice feels louder and louder.

Through processing my feelings it has also stripped away my judgements towards those who either are ignorant to many farming practises or who choose to continue to be a part of them. Although I know that this results in cruel treatment of animals and that makes me sad for those beings I also understand that suffering is part of our world as we know it. Whenever there is any wrongdoing in the world, there are always those who encourage it, those who do nothing about it, those who try to make changes and those who are victims to it. And there are a multitude of reasons behind each one of those. From privilege to be in a position to make change, poverty, ignorance, greed, habit, culture and so many more. My 30 years of consuming animals were definately due to ignorance, greed, habit and culture. Me getting caught up in anger and judgement will just waste my energy, and its uncompassionate to those who can’t for whatever reason make the changes I have made. Its also hypocritical to have any judgement of anyone because unless you are perfect yourself you have no right to judge someone else. And if someone was perfect, they would probably choose kindness over judgement anyway! Me judging is hypocritical of my 30 years of animal eating and any other way I have been selfish and unkind in my life. ‘He who cast the first stone’ is something I remind myself of daily.

Rather than spending my energy in judgement I’d rather spend it doing what I can to help. Even my small donations and little blogs will make some difference. And not consuming animal flesh, eggs and dairy for 2 years will have already saved lives. I’m a big believer that big changes come from our small actions and that even if governments will not choose compassion that there is so much power in us as individuals. If there is no one to fund these practices they won’t exist as they do now. The less people who buy animal flesh and their secretions the less animals that will live an existence of abuse. I remember seeing an instagram post years ago from my sister in law Jen who is a vegan ultrarunner. She had shared another of her delicious vegan meals and her caption read “if you want to reduce suffering in the world, start with whats on your plate”. I wasn’t vegan at the time but have never forgot the message that we can all make positive changes to the planet and its inhabitants.

At the minute some people seem to have lots of time on their hands and others seem to have less. There is no time for learning an extra language in this household. But I urge you to take some time to think about how you process your feelings around animals and their quality of lives in farms as a way to move into compassionate action towards eating less or none. It may help you leave a place of feeling paralysed and helpless to a place of confidence and power. If this virus is teaching us anything, its telling us that we *can* make significant changes to our lifestyles and even to the planet when we have to. That we are compassionate beings at our core.

Thanks for reading,

Marie

x

P.S My first step in learning about veganism and nutrition was via the Vegan society and I go back to it often, reminding myself of calcium, omegas, iron rich foods etc. And my favourite go to chefs are Aine Carlin , Anna JonesBosh , Meera Sodha , Rebel recipes and domestic gothess.

Feelings

my vegan journey

I thought I would share more about my vegan journey. As since becoming vegan I get asked about it a lot. And its something my own views have changed with over time. More recently I am feeling compelled to do more to help animals in need which is probably showing through my social media and ceramic pieces and I feel it may be useful to hear how and why I became vegan in case it was something you were considering too.

I grew up in a animal meat and 2 veg household. Until my 20s I doubt I ever had a vegan meal and I didn’t question it either. the ethical or health benefits of veganism never crossed my mind and I didn’t know any vegetarians or vegans. After a short career in the NHS I re trained in ceramics. During my design degree I took a trip to New Zealand with a friend and spending so much time in the countryside noticed the trucks of animals on their way to the slaughterhouses. I remember feeling so sad and sickened. My first realisation of what happens to animals so that I can eat them. I immediately attempted a vegetarian diet, failed, tried again and failed again. I failed because at that time I had a rubbish diet so a few months in each time I had strong cravings for protein and iron. I wasn’t substituting animal flesh I had just eliminated it. There wasn’t a lentil, seed or bean in sight.

A year or so later I rented a small shared studio space in Liverpool. All of a sudden I was surrounded by vegetarians and vegans. We had many social gatherings and studio events where everyone brought a dish. There was never any animal meat and the food was so colourful, fresh and varied I learnt so much about being a healthy vegetarian. At lunchtimes all my friends tucked into their delicious meatless meals and it helped me to make the step to becoming a vegetarian with a balanced diet. But I still thought being a vegan was going ‘a bit far’, ‘a little extreme’ and I was vegetarian for around 5 years.

When I was pregnant with Ted who is almost 3 I began to learn more about the dairy industry. I had never (even as a vegetarian) considered what life could be like for a cow, the demands for her milk, the demands that are so high that it results in her calf being taken from her at its birth or well before nature intended the separation. If the calf was ‘lucky’ to be female it could live a little longer than her brother who would be slaughtered very young for veal while she continued her mothers lineage at becoming a milking machine. I could no longer buy my animal products from the supermarkets and I spent time researching organic, higher welfare farms where I could buy dairy and eggs. I found a farm in Yorkshire and continued to buy from there for another year. It was more expensive so I ate less of it.

When Ted was 9 months old I no longer felt that me consuming eggs and dairy wouldn’t be affecting another beings quality of life. I remember feeling so strongly about animal welfare at that point and it was a decision made in a second to never consume animal meat or their secretions again. I learnt all about how to have a healthy and balanced vegan diet, the necessary supplements and found lots of new recipes and chefs for delicious meal ideas. But there was definately an adjustment period. I think heightened by the fact I still had a young baby. So self care was only imagined and it took some time to get on top of taking my supplements – particularly b12 (just remembering to really as I was often so tired my brain didn’t work) and to have healthy snacks rather than just sugary and caffeinated ones. It maybe took me 6 months to get into a rhythm.

Now that I’ve been vegan for just over 2 years I feel on top of it and healthy. While I decided to be vegan for ethical reasons rather than health I definately seem to have a more stable and healthy weight now. I don’t seem to fluctuate like I used to. I opt for as little processed vegan food as possible. The only animal flesh alternative I use is tofu preferring to steer clear of the processed alternatives and eat veg, nuts, seeds, grains, beans and pulses instead… for the most part… I’m not perfect. I do that to stay healthy and to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging, which may just end up harming marine animals rather than farm animals. Its also so much cheaper. And if you have a zero waste shop nearby, even better for the environment and even cheaper. Plus all the tubs and jars make your kitchen cupboards look nice ;)

When I first went vegan I was happy with being vegan alongside making other personal efforts to protect the environment. I had no cares about other peoples views, preferring to leave people to their own choices. Not even my husband’s who continued to eat animal meat and dairy. And my son who was vegetarian until age 2 (he is now vegan and thriving). But its funny, as soon as you raise the bar, you are satisfied initially and then you see the ways you could raise it further. And further. So began more learning about more aspects of farming, of sheep, chickens, fish, pigs, cows, the slaughter process, living conditions, life spans. I’ve met rescued pigs and chickens, learnt about their history and been sickened to my core at what I’ve heard and seen. I’ve also read the reasons against veganism to try and educate myself outside of my obvious emotional feelings towards animals but I haven’t been able to find anything that would make me personally change my views for this moment in time. I have gone from avid animal meat consumer to failed vegetarian twice, to vegetarian, to vegan, to animal advocate. Well I guess I’m at the beginning of being an animal advocate. So far I have hopefully saved many lives by being vegan for 2 years, through my donations to animal charities personally and through my sales. I feel in a place where I can begin to do more. I’m not sure how yet but I feel my place in the world is to be a voice for animals and to certainly support those who are so good at doing that already.

My first step in learning about veganism and nutrition was via the Vegan society and I go back to it often, reminding myself of calcium, omegas, iron rich foods etc. And my favourite go to chefs are Aine Carlin , Anna JonesBosh , Meera Sodha , and I’ve just come across domestic gothess.

Whilst this is an overview of how and why I became vegan. There has been alot of underlying sadness, suffering and feelings of helplessness under it. I’ve done a separate blog post here which is more in depth of some of my mental and emotional thoughts around the subject and how I cope with knowing what I now know about animal abuse in farms and finding the strength to learn about it and then do something about it over ignoring it. I know this is a heavy subject for many of us and I thank you for reading this far with me.

Warmest,

Marie

x

Despite it all, spring arrives

And so despite it all spring arrives.
 .
And with it blue skies, green grass and delicate blush blossom. The birds chirp well into the evening, frogs cross my path, daffodils cover the verges.
.
I find myself delighting in it whilst at the same time thinking about the NHS workers. Hoping that they too get a chance to enjoy spring. That it doesn’t pass them by while they work hard to save people. That’s my duality right now. A mix of unabashed joy of being alive in this season of new beginnings. And stomach churning sadness for those working so hard so as many of us as possible can enjoy many more springs.
.
And isn’t that life. There is no life of pure joy, of absolute perfection. There is always sadness, suffering somewhere close by. Learning to seek and embrace joy, no matter how small has got to be one of humanities greatest struggles. To find the light in the darkest moments. And if you get that far, then learning to let go of guilt when you feel happy whilst the rest of the world appears to be in pain.
 .
And its so important as without that ability you will follow the rest of the crowd straight down the dark rabbit hole. But if you keep your head, or even just the tip of your nose in the light, you’ll be able to navigate this time in thoughtfulness for others. If you are strong you will be strong for others. You’ll find energy you didn’t realise you had to give to animals and humans in need. The world doesn’t need us to just sit this out, to wait till we can get back out no different then we were a month ago. It needs us to look at ourselves and how we can come out of this remembering who we really are. Remembering that under all the nonsense we have been surrounded with our whole lives that really we are loving and giving beings and nothing else matters. That taking care of our own family is not enough anymore. That we need to take responsibility for other people’s families, for animals, and for the planet. And this doesn’t have to be in the form of big financial gestures, it may be or it might be planting flowers for the bugs and bees, composting your veg scraps, eating less or no meat and dairy, offering help to elderly neighbours, ringing a struggling friend, the list could go on and on.
 .
Spring is a season of new beginnings, a chance to look inwards and a chance to appreciate. An opportunity to clear out the old and embrace the new. If you can just keep looking up to the light.
 .
Today I’ve had some precious hours to make. And I’ve re stocked my online shop with my porcelain daffodil wall flowers. Thank-you for all your orders so far for these and my animal studs. You might have seen in my stories it’s enabled me to make donations to 2 nature supporting charities as 10% of the sales are donated. So thank-you for giving me the opportunity to do a job I love and the opportunity to donate money to help our planet and its inhabitants.
92028046_10158275004666165_6505440479096602624_n
91553099_10158251937686165_5625790701104005120_o
90665849_10158229591041165_1212675683789045760_n
Thanks for reading,
Marie
x