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Health

Happy Monday everyone! I know it’s not Monday but it was a long weekend here on PEI, so today is definitely monday-y!

Last month I wrote an entry on exploring a world without meat. It was probably a bit random given this is a personal finance blog most of the time. 😮 Today marks 1,440 hours (thank you phone timer! haha) , or approximately 60 days since choosing to go animal-free.

We didn’t start off totally 100% committed to being vegan, at least I didn’t, but it has turned in to that and as days pass by it has turned into that there is just no other choice for us – environmentally speaking, health reasons, compassionately…

Tom’s doing it for health reasons, I’m changing ways for ethical AND health reasons. I spent one day working on a battery-cage chicken farm when I was 11, it was absolutely awful… it took until age 33 to stop eating chicken.

I made it! Crispy tofu with teriyaki soy & green onions

Things I’ve learned

  1. Animal products are everywhere, it’s hidden in everything and that is completely unnecessary! Dairy-free creamer that contains milk-protein? What? (And that’s perfectly allowable apparently?!)
Non-dairy you say?
Sodium caseinate… a milk derivative. Oh.. you lied? Ok!

2. I have (had) an unhealthy dependence on cheese, only after about 45 days have my cravings for cheese dissipated. I ate way too much cheese and have never been able to do the whole moderation thing with it. I craved the fatty, salty stuff. It also tended to make me terribly bloated. I’ve tried a couple of non-dairy cheeses made in my town and they’re pretty good! I’m not committed to a dairy-cheese-free life just yet, I think it’s perfectly possible to have some cheese from a local farm. We have family friends that farm, they love their cows and treat them well – I mean they do die in the end but I don’t think it is inherently wrong to eat an animal.. I do think how things are done and how the stuff ends up in stores is very very very wrong so I choose not to partake in THAT any further.

3. Spices! Recipes! Baking! Cereals! I have done SO MUCH learning! I’ve tried so many new things I otherwise would have. Even IF this ends up not being a forever-change, I will have a ton of new ideas and a very much expanded spice cabinet to come along – which is also awesome for my finances; homecooking = money saved. 🙂

Peanut butter brownies; absolutely amazing, totally vegan; courtesy of this gal

4. Health… I feel fantastic, I’ve lost a couple of pounds without trying. (some reading suggests that vegan diets naturally reduce the amount of calories eaten per day without purposeful calorie restriction) Tom says I look about 5-10 pounds lighter, he also feels great. I never get that ‘heavy’ feeling after a meal anymore. All purely anecdotal.

I was trying to find some scientific studies on this for ya’all but I’m feeling fairly lazy and felt this gives a good glimpse of the benefits of going vegan.

I’d offer you a brownie in closing, but we already at them all. Toodles!

On December 21st, the day me and Tom returned from our around the world trip we decided to adopt a vegetarian/vegan diet, or, rather in the time leading up to our return date we gradually grew more familiar with the idea and chose our return date to start as it would be convenient to do with the fridge empty and most animal products used up before we left on our trip!

The reason for the whole idea is that while in Thailand we spent three weeks eating very little meat as we were living out of backpacks and going from hotel to hotel, and no dairy as it is CRAZY expensive over there… We were already expecting this as we spent some time in Thailand in 2017 as well but it surprised both of us – and we didn’t realize until close to the end of our time in Thailand – that we hadn’t had any “gut-issues” for the entire time we were there… We ate a ton of stuff, home made pancakes, way too many coconuts, smoothies, fifteen billion pineapples, bananas, crackers, cookies (cheapest thing at 7/11…. ya gotta do whatcha gotta do), jackfruit, more coconuts, rice and vegetables, vegetables and rice, nuts, veggie soups, noodles etc. We consumed almost no dairy, almost no meat products and exactly zero cheese until about our last day when I couldn’t take it anymore and NEEDED to buy some.  🙄

Tom has had some issues with bloating, gas, feeling uncomfortable and so have i. It surprised us that we felt so different, and it was just so OBVIOUS (in a non-scientific way) that we decided to try going veg when we came home. The decision was cemented by research on cholesterol, heart issues, (for him) and reading and learning more about the ugly side of the animal industry. (for me)

It’s been kind of a long time coming for me. I’ve never been a huge meat eater, it started around the time that I moved out at age 19, grocery shopping for meat is.. bleh, it’s expensive! And sort of continued from there. It’s never hugely appealed to me, I’d love a nice steak once every half year… or a salmon bagel every few months and at home we would mostly eat chicken or turkey once or twice a week tops. Over the years I gradually ate less and less beef and pork, while still indulging in copious amounts of bacon… I still love bacon, it’s so delicious! What is not delicious however is the industry behind it or the cholesterol deposits in my galbladder causing gallstones.

As of today, we are vegetarian-almost-vegan, we have not consumed or purchased meat or any animal products and byproducts since December 21… Actually since the morning of December 20th as Dec 21st was spent flying and eating fruit. Heh! We still have some cheese around the house, which is probably my biggest downfall… I LOVE cheese, I am Dutch, i grew up on that delicious salty creamy goodness!

Tom is having a pretty easy time of it, the only “problem” being that we are needing to learn how to cook new things, use spices, new recipes… and being HUNGRY and eating A LOT of vegetables. I’m a volume eater so I don’t exactly mind that. 😳

Anywho, is this a recipe blog? Who cares! One of our first forays into more home cooked stuff without animal products were the above crackers, with a few modifications. They were great!

Original recipe can be found here

 THE SESAME CRACKERS

  • 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour, 1/2 cup white flour
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder for fluff
  • ½ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil – cut into flour like butter
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons water, as needed

Roll it out, pizza slice into squares, triangles… whatever you fancy and bake 15 – 20 at 350 (if your cast iron pan is hot, about 15 is spot on).

Please share with me your vegan recipes! I need more food.

There are quite a few thoughts running through my head these days. I’ll be starting to gather things soon to do my tax return for 2017 and with that I’ll tally up all my income and expenses and, as I have been doing for many years, make an estimate of what I will earn and owe for taxes in the coming year.

I’ve been thinking of what I want to achieve in 2018 and honestly I’m at a bit of a loss on what to do this year, I need to and want to change a few things.

2017 was a year of many highs and lows for me.

I scored a full-time job after a long time of looking.

I made huge financial progress.

I also got a brick wall in the face when after an abnormal pap in March I got sent for follow-ups in May and ended up having a procedure/surgery at the end of June on my cervix to remove pre-cancerous cells as I had high grade dysplasia. (A LEEP). Think of it as slicing off a bad mole, except in this case on your cervix, with a very sharp wire. One of these days I’ll do a write up on that whole adventure; I was the first woman at my local hospital to have (I had to battle off four nurses) this procedure fully conscious as I refused general anaesthetic (supported by my doc who thinks its a waste of resources and not necessary) (I also had to refuse IV and a pregnancy test, a wheelchair and a bed, I had a great time that day :p) As of today I’m okay, I don’t have cancer, its unlikely I will get cancer, I’m scheduled for a second followup this month and after that will be monitored fairly closely.

LEEP’s have a near 90% cure rate and so here’s hoping I stay in the 90% for the rest of my life. Then again there is also upward of 37%, depending on what you read, recurrence. It’s unlikely I’ll get cancer… but it’s also possible I’m the 10% and I’ll have to have another procedure if the infection persists and I develop further precancerous changes or cancer… which can affect fertility… and I think I want kids, but they also don’t appeal to me very much, but I might run out of time? How do I reconcile those feelings? During my follow up pap it did look like there was another area for investigating and I’m waiting for results now.

The whole ordeal has been incredibly stressful, it still is, I’ve bawled my eyes out about it quite a few times. I had to deal with all these appointments and phone calls while starting a new, stressful job where I never quite felt like I belonged. I had side effects (pain) half the months, every month after the procedure until mid-December until I finally healed. I felt exhausted and I felt like I was drowning, my coping mechanisms of eating well/being active failed and I gained somewhere around 15 pounds. I didn’t have time to focus on myself because my time was spent working Monday to Friday and any time not spent working was spent on my relationship, eating, and sleeping AND managing my other side hustles. I worked 50-55 hours per week while trying to fix my body and high stress levels, mostly caused bu the 50-55 hours spent working per week.While I was able to get away for two long weekends, most of the rest of my weekends from May till October were spent 50% recovering from the week and the other half a mixture of catching up on other responsibilities and pleasure. Without dropping a ball, any ball, it was hard to focus simply on healing myself.

All of this has led me to evaluate what is and what is not important to me and how I possibly want to direct my future, and 2018.

Before I started my term job last year in May, I formally resigned from the family cleaning company that I ran/helped run/then owned for quite some time. Out of my family I am the only one remaining to keep the company going as it is, I no longer officially work there and no longer perform duties, people have been hired to replace the shifts I used to work. I do still take care of the paperwork here and there and ensure the back end runs smoothly: There is no one available to take over the bits and bobs I still take care of, like managing the bank account.

Furthermore one of my side-hustles in the summer has been commissioned sales on seasonal rentals, I rent out properties for a fee. I’m going into my fifth year doing it and it has been a nice source of a few thousand dollars every season. I’ve also for the past four years cleaned cottages on weekends. Side hustle X (which I’ve never discussed here)(not this blog)(no its not camming) earns me some money on the internet. In summary, I currently have not one but five potential different income streams in addition to the small bits of interest I now earn on my savings and various investments. In 2017 all these came together to earn me much more than ever before. It also took a lot of work.

As most of my jobs and hustles are mostly from spring through October, right now I am until about the end of April, formally unemployed, allowing me time to think about how to proceed. I was told to likely anticipate being offered the term job I had last year again.

Tom is debt-free, as am I. Tom owns his home outright. He has more savings than I do and some passive income to sustain himself, which pays the few bills there are, along with any money earned doing some side-hustles.

Before we left for our around the world trip he quit his job, permanently, finito. I also have recently given up my apartment and no longer have rent to pay. This puts me (well, both of us) in the extraordinary position of having incredibly low living expenses for the foreseeable future. I didn’t particularly enjoy my term job and mostly took it for the money. I need to consider whether I want to return there, and collectively my family and I need to decide whether we completely wind up the family cleaning company at the end of the year. (Which means loss of back-up job security for me, but also potential loss of jobs for several employees, how do you make that decision?) I have many sources of income and they have certainly been helpful this year in getting ahead, but I also can’t do it all and it certainly hasn’t made me any happier or healthier trying to do it all.

Early retirement has been something on my mind much more lately. Financial independence has been my goal, it has been the entire goal of my financial journey to date. I always envisioned myself however, earning much more than I have and doing things very differently, five years ago I would have imagined having a much nicer house. These days, I’m not so sure I want to own any house at all. I also always envisioned reaching this huge amount of money to sustain myself. But perhaps that isn’t necessary at all, either.

Having even this short amount of time off work has made me realize I very much value having the flexibility to arrange my work as I please. It feels much more natural, I feel more useful to my family and friends, I feel like I actually have time to do things and volunteer somewhere and make a difference. I’ve learned that with the whole vagina thing, having time to breathe and just spend reading and biking, being outside, is valuable to me. Having to show up to work, day after day, while still in pain from having my cervix sliced, sucked balls. (Can I get props for balls and vagina in a sentence and non-porn related?). Being able to say hey, today I don’t want to do that because I need to take care of myself? It’s a freedom I will only have if I continue on the path of doing my own thing.

I don’t enjoy dragging myself out of bed for an alarm clock to a job I don’t particularly enjoy and where I am not particularly valued for my strengths AND weaknesses.

But how do you let go of the need to supply, the need to save, the desire for financial independence?

I need an aggressive savings rate to be able to reach financial independence because I am not there yet. But am I willing to do what it takes to get there if I have to repeat 2017 for quite a few more years? Is it worth it? Can my health handle this? What is going to happen with my darn lady bits this year… am I going to heal or is this going to progress? Or is it enough now, is it enough to supply my needs and continue to save but much less aggressively, to focus on living now without needing big income to supply my needs, trusting that God will continue to bring opportunities to supply my needs.

I suppose the only reason I cannot yet let go is that I’m afraid it’s all not enough, that there will be no job, that I’ll lose all my savings, that I’ll be back to square one.

The reality and much more probable is that I’ll be fine, I can say no to the job and yes to my body and my health.

And somehow I need to reconcile these feelings to make sense and to find peace.