Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have a little saying I love to say to myself and to my friends…or anyone who will listen really. I say, “Don’t should on anyone and don’t let anyone should on you.” If someone is discussing another’s choice and wants me to agree with their point-of-view or comment in some way, I like to say, “I don’t like to should on anyone and I don’t enjoy others should-ing on me.”
Sometimes it feels like there is an awful lot of “should-ing” in the air. It all makes judging others and comparing ourselves so easy. The technical term for what it brings is what we call “yuckie energy” around our house. Truly, if you are judging yourself or others or just commenting on what someone should be doing or running dialogue in your mind that tells you that you “should” be doing something, it feels yuckie and it spreads.
Over four years ago, we made the choice to switch to a vegan diet and remove all animal products from our plates. It was scary and strange and brought about all kinds of expected and unexpected results. As I look at my life since making this choice, I notice that it was the first time I really chose to go against the status quo and make a big life change that would make some people uncomfortable. My reasons for a vegan diet are many. It started with a choice to read a book called The China Study. From that one choice, many followed. I kept researching and trying to figure out what made sense to me and what I wanted for my family, etc. I read and read and read and the reasons mounted. We jumped and went completely vegan overnight. I am so grateful!
Obviously this had a major impact on us in the nutrition department and our health and how we live, etc. What I can now see is that this choice to figure things out for myself and make the best choice for me and my family without worrying or being influenced by what those around me will think (okay, I did worry some at the beginning) changed our lives in many more unexpected areas as well. This change allowed us to embrace that practice in many more areas of life. I think this first jump into trying something so completely different from the way we used to live opened us up to life more and made it possible to make other important choices for our lives. We began making huge steps toward charting our own course.
Clearly, we’re not the first vegans and we are super fortunate to make this choice at a time when it is so easy and becoming much less out of the norm. Even in the years since we started, it has changed a lot (or maybe we did). We think its normal now. Ah, normal.
We have gone on to making many more choices that don’t fit the status quo. We chose to homeschool/unschool our children a few years ago and that one made vegan seem simple. Except, now that seems normal too. In the beginning, it seemed like explaining these choices when someone asked was important and worth the time. I would be sure to give the most eloquent, educated sounding explanation I could muster. Now, it’s just normal to me. I really don’t need to go into these choices much, except to say that we’re happy and it works for us. If people are sincerely interested or curious I love discussing all the details of both issues, but I don’t feel the need to make them interested or try to convince them of my point-of-view. It feels nice now. It feels like being comfortable in your own skin.
I love researching things, implementing new lifestyle choices, trying new things, basking in the unfamiliar…I love taking bits and pieces from all I see around me and creating my own world with my own design…some borrowed, some new, some tweaked. In the beginning of my newfound willingness to make big choices with big change, it felt like people thought I was judging their choice by sharing my own. I don’t really notice that feeling anymore. I may have felt it because I was judging on some level…it is nice to see that slip away. I remember just not wanting people to judge me. At this point, I don’t really notice any wasted energy going into worrying about what others think. I’m just being me. It feels great…not always a walk in the park of course, but it feels like home.
I love my choices and I love everyone else’s choices too. I love sharing why I made mine if people are interested, but I no longer think mine are better. I do like to encourage people to find their own way…but I won’t tell them they “should” do that. I just like to share that it feels free and wonderful! When I was a little girl, I was afraid of everything! Truly! Even butterflies! That seems so long ago. I am grateful for learning to listen to all the messages that come our way to take us from fear to love and open us up to becoming more of ourselves. Now, the thought of following along and doing things because I “should” is the only thing that sounds really frightening to me and butterflies aren’t scary anymore…they are a magical message about change!
Important note – I am super grateful to those people who feel strongly about sharing the reasons for their choices and helping others make the same ones. We all hear messages in different ways and those using their voices to bring change are an important part of how we all learn and grow. I am grateful to those that follow the message to speak loudly about certain things!!! Someday I may speak loudly about my choices, but for now, it seems my soul is telling me to quiet down and BE a bit more. Still happy to share, just in a quiet and open to life way. Actually, quiet is much more challenging for me…so it must be what I am meant to work on at this point in life.
Sending you love and wishing you the courage to chart your own path and listen to your soul…not in a “should-ing” way…just a loving way.