I think this is a great article!

Dragonfly Energy

I’ve been drawn to dragonflies for some time now, perhaps because I love rivers and lakes and these peaceful creatures are mesmerizing as they flit and skimmer across the water.   They have brought me great peace, and even their life spans symbolize change and transformation.   The first year or more of their lives, they live in the water as nymphs.  When they metamorphose into the flying creatures we recognize as dragonflies, they live only a few weeks.  I like to compare this pattern to a person who has spent her whole life working her way to her truest path and then finally has the strength and means to express her purest nature.   Even if for a short while, this person will flit and skim across the days of her life, inspiring those around her to live joyfully, as well.

According to Jessica Palmer in her book, Animal Wisdom, in…

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The End of The Broken/Fixed Clavicle Bone Vegan Project

Pete has reached the end of his vegan journey.

I’m sorry to say that he has gone back to eating meat and cheese for the time being. He’s insisted that he must eat up the meat and cheese that we have in our house. He says it would be wasteful to throw this food he’s already paid for away. Anyone want some free food? You don’t have to make a donation to any cause. I will even bring you the food!

Pete says that once the meat/cheese laden food is gone he will resume his mostly-vegan diet. Pete can see doing this for moral and compassionate purposes regarding the animals. I believe my internship at Mercy For Animals and also my vegan journey has helped him along his journey to get where he is today. If you’ll remember back when I went vegan, this was the man that told me, “I certainly hope you don’t stay vegan. You’ll never be able to go out to eat anywhere.” I think it’s safe to say Pete has been proven wrong!

I’ve never told anyone this but I’ll tell you now. I liked the vegan diet when I tried it as a project for my blog but I was on the fence about staying with that lifestyle choice. To go from eating meat, dairy and eggs one day and to drop it all the next is a pretty big change. And if you think about it, doing it in only one week is a huge step. It was the words that Pete said to me about not staying vegan that pushed me over the fence. So I have Pete to thank for my veganism and where it brought me. My journey through veganism to now becoming an animal rights activist has been a great one and I have Pete and his challenging words to thank for it.

I’m glad that Pete got a chance to try eating for a week without any meat or cheese. It opened his eyes to the struggles I sometimes face at restaurants. It also forced him to do some label reading to see what was really in his food.

The best part of the project for me was at the very end when Pete went to Costco on Saturday while I was at the Renegade Arts Festival. I came home and he said he had some surprises for me. He said that he found three vegan things at Costco: fruit snacks, pasta sauce and some designer potato chips. Then he broke down and told me he ate ALL of the samples. For Pete’s sake he ate everything! And he enjoyed it of which I’m really glad!

 So there you have it: another successful project completed. The subject will eat up all of the leftover meat in the house and then will resume a mostly vegan diet (some cheese will be included apparently). I’ll take that….for now.

Sara Sawochka

The End of The Broken/Fixed Clavicle Bone Vegan Project

Pete has reached the end of his vegan journey.

I’m sorry to say that he has gone back to eating meat and cheese for the time being. He’s insisted that he must eat up the meat and cheese that we have in our house. He says it would be wasteful to throw this food he’s already paid for away. Anyone want some free food? You don’t have to make a donation to any cause. I will even bring you the food!

Pete says that once the meat/cheese laden food is gone he will resume his mostly-vegan diet. Pete can see doing this for moral and compassionate purposes regarding the animals. I believe my internship at Mercy For Animals and also my vegan journey has helped him along his journey to get where he is today. If you’ll remember back when I went vegan, this was the man that told me, “I certainly hope you don’t stay vegan. You’ll never be able to go out to eat anywhere.” I think it’s safe to say Pete has been proven wrong!

I’ve never told anyone this but I’ll tell you now. I liked the vegan diet when I tried it as a project for my blog but I was on the fence about staying with that lifestyle choice. To go from eating meat, dairy and eggs one day and to drop it all the next is a pretty big change. And if you think about it, doing it in only one week is a huge step. It was the words that Pete said to me about not staying vegan that pushed me over the fence. So I have Pete to thank for my veganism and where it brought me. My journey through veganism to now becoming an animal rights activist has been a great one and I have Pete and his challenging words to thank for it.

I’m glad that Pete got a chance to try eating for a week without any meat or cheese. It opened his eyes to the struggles I sometimes face at restaurants. It also forced him to do some label reading to see what was really in his food.

The best part of the project for me was at the very end when Pete went to Costco on Saturday while I was at the Renegade Arts Festival. I came home and he said he had some surprises for me. He said that he found three vegan things at Costco: fruit snacks, pasta sauce and some designer potato chips. Then he broke down and told me he ate ALL of the samples. For Pete’s sake he ate everything! And he enjoyed it of which I’m really glad!

 So there you have it: another successful project completed. The subject will eat up all of the leftover meat in the house and then will resume a mostly vegan diet (some cheese will be included apparently). I’ll take that….for now.

Sara Sawochka

The Mercy For Animals Internship: Week 1

Week one of my four week internship is nearing completion. I’ll admit it’s been a very stressful week with Pete breaking his collar bone and having to take on a lot more responsibility at the house things have been very stressful.

Here are some of my duties at Mercy:

1. Leafleting when I’m in the Chicago. Leafleting is passing out informational brochures to people on the street in a selected location typically with good lighting and high foot traffic.

2. Scanning articles on the newspapers for Letter to the Editor responses. I check out Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Reader and The Red Eye in Illinois. I also check out NWI Times, Post Tribune, Journal Gazette, South Bend Tribune and Indianapolis Star scanning the news headlines/stories for anything MFA could react to.

3. I check out google alerts on veganism, vegetarianism, Mercy For Animals and animal cruelty for articles written by online writers and blogs for articles to comment on to get MFA’s name out there. I comment as a citizen and not a MFA intern. I direct people to ChooseVeg.com and MeatVideo.com and make quick comments on their applicable posts.

4. I was assigned to a project where I’m helping Phil who is on an outreach campaign against Walmart’s cruelty towards mother pigs in gestational crates. I google vegan and animal right’s groups in a particular city and send out emails to those groups telling them when Phil will be in their area and that encouraging them to come help out the protest.

5. I go to fairs on the weekends and (wo)man the MFA table along with other interns and volunteers.

6. I get to hang out with Oliver, the office dog on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I go into the office.

This is what I’ve been doing so far and will be doing this weekend. It’s been a full week! I love every minute of it. One thing my mentor/supervisor Mikael constantly tells me is to stay balanced. He says if you don’t take care of yourself then you can’t help the animals and he’s right.

One thing I did with teaching dance was I put every extra ounce of time I had and gave it to my students. I would say I would come in and teach every Saturday when I really had no desire to do that. I felt like I gave so much and never got any appreciation back. This is different because it’s a selfless act. I know that even if I put in 5 minutes a day an animal will be helped somehow, someway, somewhere. I can make an impact and difference because I want to.

If you want to see what animal activism is all about I highly recommend either this 20 hour per week part-time internship or simply volunteering a few hours to leaflet or table at an event. MFA couldn’t exist without their interns and volunteers.

I’ll be at the Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park in Chicago from 10:30am-3:30pm this weekend helping out at the MFA table. Please come join me and volunteer if you wish. I’d love to see you there. Animal activism is a great way to make a difference in an animal’s life and whether they have one or not.

I’ll admit that the internship being in Chicago is just amazing. I love the drive and seeing city twice a week. The office is right down the street from Trader Joe’s and very close to The Chicago Diner!!! If you’ve ever had their mac n cheese or shakes then you know what I’m talking about…delish!

It’s been a great first week! I’ll post on my progress next Friday for week two!

Sara Sawochka

What It’s Like to Take a Pole Dance Class

I know you’re thinking one of three things right now:

1. She takes off all her clothes and swings around on a pole. How could anyone talking about such an inappropriate subject on a blog?

2. Pole dancing is so cool. I wish I had the courage to take a class like that.

3. I want to take a pole dance class but I don’t know what they do in the class and if it would be appropriate for me.

To start with the clothes do stay on. However, I do wear a leotard and a short pair of workout shorts. You really need your skin to help you stick to the pole to do anything basic. You don’t have to wear a midriff top to start however the more advanced you get it would definitely be helpful. If you have a problem wearing shorts and a tank-style top then I wouldn’t recommend a pole dance class.

Now to address the inappropriate subject: I get a lot of reactions when I tell people I’m taking a pole dance class. It’s like they think pole isn’t real dancing. I’m here to tell you that it is. It requires a lot of athleticism, core and overall body strength plus grace. You need to be strong to climb up the pole and have a strong core to do the aerial tricks and the grace and knowledge of dance helps with body awareness. You need to know where your body is and where all the parts of your body are at one time when you’re taking a pole dance class.

Now the best part of taking: it’s so fun! Don’t be embarrassed to take this class by yourself ladies. Get some confidence. No one in my class knows another person in the class yet we’ve all made friends and encourage each other along the way. So the excuse of “I can’t sign up because my friends won’t sign up with me” is bullshit. Sign up and go. You’ll regret not signing up. You’ll get a great workout and work muscles you never knew existed.

Here’s what we do in the class: we start with a warm up (crunches, shoulder and neck rolls, etc.) to get our muscles and core warmed up. Then we stretch to get everything loose. Next we do our warm-ups on the pole itself to get our forearms, biceps, triceps, shoulders and back warmed up. Then we usually practice our spins on the pole like the fireman spin, the carousel, etc. After spins we usually practice climbing the pole to get up to the top. I’m can only do one climb so far. The goal is to do the crucifix where you do one climb, wrap your legs around the pole to hug it and let go with both hands so you and the pole are vertical and you are hugging the pole. After climbing we will practice handstands and inversions. Then we usually work on our pole dance routine to put everything together. Any dancer will tell you that an amalgamation is a great way to practice everything you’ve been working on the class. The repetitiveness reinforces everything you’ve been learning to memory. Routines are very helpful for any student. When I leave class I’m sore and have had a great time.

Will your significant other think this is sexy? Yes. Pete thinks this is sexy. It sure doesn’t feel sexy being covered in bruises and looking at myself in the mirror struggle to climb up the pole!

I’ve learned from taking this class that I really do still love dance. It’s nice to get back into it in a way that’s vegan (no suede shoes) and is a totally different workout than what I’m used to. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut of going to the gym or going for your daily run. It’s a great way to break out your shell. You’ll even get marks or bruises to show your right of passage into the pole world as you break your skin in on new pole moves.

Remember…what happens on the pole stays on the pole…and the bruises will show up tomorrow morning!

Sara Sawochka

Bleeding Love

What would you do if your dad called you “a whore”? What would you do if your mom called you “his prostitute”? These are my parents. So what would you do? Would you shuck them from your life or would you try and get them to love you again no matter how much they criticized you and hurt you?

Here’s what I’ve done:

When I first started dating Pete this is what happened they called me his whore and his prostitute. There was something about this person that they’d never met that really bothered them. I sought my parents’ approval fiercely as a child. I define myself as a child from birth until the age of 30. That’s how long it took me to grow up. It wasn’t until my parents and I had a horrible fight at Christmas 2011 that I decided to find a better life for myself which was one without them in it. I deserved better than what they could give me for my own mental health.

At age 31, I’m finally coming into my own. I was 23 when I started dating Pete. We’d been dating for three months and we moved in together because my parent’s gave me an ultimatum: break up or get out. For the first time in my life I made my own decision. I moved out. Pete and I haven’t had the easiest relationship. We got married and life is much better for us now than it was back then. Our relationship has grown stronger. But it’s gotten stronger as I become my own person and not a reflection of my parents.

It’s an exciting thing to be grown up and to make your own decisions. It’s an emancipating feeling to know that they can’t control me anymore. I will always love my parents and think of them. I’m grateful for the life they gave me. I will still send them birthday cards and Christmas cards to let them know I think of them.

One day will come when they will not be here anymore. I will bleed love for them. I bled love when they called me a whore and a prostitute. When the day comes that they pass away, I will bleed love that they are gone. But I will bleed love because I truly love them no matter how much they’ve hurt me. I’ve let them go and they’ve let me go.

When I got a text message for my 31st birthday this year with no card or phone call I realized that they were truly out of my life. The odd part of it is that I didn’t bleed love. I expected that’s what would happen and moved on. I’m no longer their daughter. They don’t see that they have a daughter despite that I still see them as the parents who I once allowed to control my cognitive and emotional behaviors.

Bleeding love in my eyes means to cry. I will not bleed for someone who doesn’t bleed for me.

When I was bitten by a pit bull last year, something my psychologist said to me 7 years ago rang so true to the bite and also to this situation. She told me to think about an open wound and how vulnerable and weak it is at first. Then think of the wound after it has healed. What is the strongest part of the skin? The scar is. The scars my parents have left me with have made me so strong. For that I have to thank them even if I don’t have them in my life anymore.

If something like this happened to you, would you bleed love and move on or just stay where you are keep opening the wound? I did both. Moving on was much better for me.

Sara Sawochka

An Interview With A Vegan (with a Fixed Clavicle Bone)!

Here’s an interview with my guinea pig for my 2nd vegan project:

Sara Sawochka: How do you like your vegan project so far?

Pete: It’s interesting. It’s doable. I don’t know if I could go long-term with it and make it a permanent thing….at least not yet.

Sara Sawochka: What’s the most interesting factoid you’ve learned being a vegan this week?

Pete: Nutter Butters are vegan. It’s a scary but interesting. Also I learned that Whole Fruit Sorbet is made with GMO high fructose corn syrup.

Sara Sawochka: What’s your favorite blog post that Sara’s done so far on the vegan project?

Pete: The Hot Vegan Night in Noblesville and Happy Lunch on 9/1/2012

Sara Sawochka: Do you notice a change in how you feel ethically towards animal rights after being a vegan for nearly a week?

Pete: I’m maybe a little more conscious of it.

Sara Sawochka: What’s the best meal you’ve eaten so far as a vegan?

Pete: The meal Elizabeth Howell made for us. That was the best!

Sara Sawochka: What made you decide to go along with Sara’s plan for this project? Did you have any objections? Did you have a choice?

Pete: I didn’t really have much of a choice. It wasn’t the best time to do this project in retrospect. I needed someone willing to prepare food for me for the next two weeks and she was willing to prepare vegan food for me. I had non-vegan food setting around the house that is going to go bad, but I decided to go full throttle with the project: all vegan food all the time!

Sara Sawochka: Will you stay with the project or will you go back to being a non-vegan or a vegetarian?

Pete: I’ll go back to being a non-vegan for a time to eat up the non-vegan food we have for financial reasons. Why waste perfectly good food? It’s already been produced and those animals have already died to make the food. Why waste it? I’m not like Sara Sawochka and could just give it up cold turkey and get rid of the non-vegan food. Once that food is gone I will re-evaluate my decision to be a vegan or non-vegan if I can eat a healthy and enjoyable way on a budget. I may be a GMO vegan but that may be better than not being a vegan at all.

Sara Sawochka: What food would be the hardest to give up if you became a vegan and why?

Pete: Specifically cheese and more generally dairy like ice cream and milk. Meat wouldn’t be that hard except every now and then I think I’d have a craving for it.

Sara Sawochka: Thanksgiving is coming up and you’re the chef. What food will you cook for Sara on Thanksgiving for dinner? Will you eat that meal with her or will you have turkey?

Pete: Of course I’ll make a vegan meal for her. I’ll eat elements of the meal with her. I haven’t completely decided on what I’m going to do so this question is hard to answer for me. Tofurkey anybody?

Sara Sawochka: No Tofurkey Pete!

Closing thoughts on the interview with Pete from Sara: Like this post if you think Pete should stay vegan!! Make comments to encourage him along. We know he wants to. I can see him on the ledge hovering and he just needs a good shove over into vegan-land.

Sara Sawochka

The Fixed Clavicle Bone Vegan Project Has a Recipe For You!

Zesty Adzuki Bean Salad! Recipe is courtesy of Whole Foods.

I made this for Pete today since he’s still having some pain. This turned out to be really good. It lives up to it’s name: zesty. It’s easy to make too which I like. Whole Foods had all of the ingredients. You should be able to get all of these (or substitutes) at your local grocer store:

1 1/2 cups dried adzuki beans
1/4 cup arame sea vegetable
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons of canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 1/4 cups of finely chopped basil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of tamari
1/4 cup of lime juice
1 cut of sliced green onions
1 cup of grated carrots

Place beans in a large bowl, cover with water and set aside to let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain beans and put in a large pot with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, 45-60 minutes. Drain and rinse gently under cold water. Set aside to let cool completely. Meanwhile, soak arame in cold water for 15 minutes, drain and rinse well.

Put oils, ginger, garlic, basil, vinegar, pepper flakes, tamari and lime juice into a large bowl and whisk to make a dressing. Add cooled beans, arame, green onions and carrots and toss gently to combine.

Note from the chef (me!): I made the started soaking the beans around 10:00 am until 7:00 pm at which time I cooked them on the stove for about 55 minutes. From there I rinsed them and let them cool. The cooling process is quick when you rinse them in cold water so they do not need to set out long to cool. I put mine in a tupperware container and put them in the fridge until morning. The next day I assembled the rest of the ingredients and also soaked the arame. It was easier for me to do it in two steps and over two days so I didn’t feel like I was a slave to the kitchen. This is about as easy as it get folks. If I made it then I know you can make it.

I hope you enjoy this recipe courtesy of Whole Foods. It is delicious and very zesty with tons of flavors mixed in for your palate to discover!

Sara Sawochka

The Vegan Project Vending Machine Follow-up

I posted The Broken Clavicle Bone Vegan Project Surgery when Pete had his surgery. Lots of people grab food from vending machines while they are waiting for their friend or relative to have surgery. What’s tough about vending machines if you’re a new vegan is all of the ingredient lists are not facing you so you have no clue if there are animal byproducts lurking in your food until you deposit your $1.00 and the food falls into your hands.

In my post I took a picture of the vending machine and said that the Oreos were vegan. Here is the follow-up information on other products I thought might be vegan but turned out not to be:

1. I checked out the Austin Zoo Animal crackers and those are not vegan because they contain dairy.

2. The Gardetto’s Original recipe snack are not vegan as they contain non-fat milk.

3. I checked the ingredients on the Planter’s Fruit and Nut Trail mix and that is vegan.

On a good note, my vegan friend, with an alias of SH Smile, verified that Nutter Butters are vegan. I don’t like peanut butter that much so that product was unfairly not even on my radar. I apologize to people that do enjoy peanut butter. You have SH Smile to thank for pointing out that Nutter Butters are vegan.

If you’re going to hit up a vending machine anytime check out the Oreos, Nutter Butters and fruit and nut trail mixes. Those are safe options!

Sara Sawochka

Sara Sawochka

Sar

The Fixed Clavicle Bone Vegan Project’s Happy Lunch on 9/1/2012

Pete’s vegan project is coming along nicely!

I went grocery shopping for US yesterday. Usually I shop for me and Pete shops for himself. Since Pete can’t shop and we are doing the vegan project while he’s injured I was able to buy food that, ethically, I agree with buying. This project initiated because I was going to be Pete’s nurse-maid while his shoulder heals and I won’t touch meat. Even before I became a vegan I wouldn’t touch meat.

Here’s Pete’s lunch on 9/1/2012. Who says vegan food can’t be fun and smiley?

Smiling vegan food! A vegan PB&J with potato chips and carrots.

Here is what Pete had to drink that he requested from the store: vanilla soy milk. I tried to get something close to whole dairy milk that would be similar in flavor but couldn’t come up with anything. Pete despises the taste of skim dairy milk and likes the richness that whole dairy milk. I thought if I got him a sweet plant milk that taste would make up for the lack of fat. It didn’t go over so well…even in a Jack Daniel’s glass!

Even in a Jack Daniel’s glass, this was not a hit!

Here was Pete’s dessert. I got two of these coconut milk ice creams. I got the mocha almond fudge below and also a peanut butter and chocolate swirl. Pete had the peanut butter and chocolate swirl and said it was good but that the texture was slightly different than dairy-type ice cream which he was used to. I think, given time, he could get used to it!

I had mocha almond fudge for dessert and it’s awesome. Pete had the peanut butter and chocolate swirl and said the texture was different than dairy ice cream but this still tasted pretty good.

For breakfast Pete had the usual smoothie and for dinner he had an Amy’s Roasted Vegetable pizza (no cheese). YUM! I had one too. Just a note: you can eat the whole pizza if you feed the crusts to your dog. If you eat the crust, you will have leftovers if you eat this pizza alone. Pete had three leftover pieces. And I had none (Mr. Biggs, my dog, got all of my crusts)!

That’s yesterday’s report! Enjoy! Today you can look forward to a post later about Elizabeth making vegan food for us. She is a friend from church that calls Pete Mr. Poop. I’ll tell you more in the next post. But she was kind enough to make us some vegan food today. We are going to pick up the food so Pete can meet Elizabeth and also so I can see her adorable baby!

I love the smiling vegan food. Don’t you? Haha!

Sara Sawochka