Food Junkies Can Be Healthy Too! It Just Takes Some Work…

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Now that I’m a little bit older and wiser than I was in my twenties, I’m all too aware how easily I can become addicted to something. Luckily, I’ve never been addicted to anything dangerous, but food has always been a weakness of mine.

I don’t know if you guys have heard, but food is DELICIOUS. You should really try it sometime.

This has been a thing as far back as I can remember and though it’s gotten much better into my adulthood, I still have my struggles. It’s not so much the act of eating, but the experience of flavor. Salty, sweet, fatty, sour, rich FLAVOR.

Amirite?

That’s the messed up thing with taste as a sense: it usually involves ingestion. Seeing things doesn’t make you go blind (just don’t look directly at a solar eclipse). Smelling things doesn’t make you eventually… uh… uhhhhhhhh…

Anosmatic!

Google FTW.

Anyway, you know what I mean. Taste, you are an evil temptress.

A deliciously evil temptress.

Surprisingly if you don’t know me and unsurprisingly if you do recovering from a food addiction relapse is all about mental fortitude. Remember, this has been a thing since childhood for me so, yeah, old habits are hard to break and all that jazz. So because I’m in this mindset of attacking life 100% (I’m not into that whole more-than-100-percent thing that people sometimes use), I made up five, count’em, FIVE rules for myself to help make this a lifestyle.

  1. My primary beverages will be water and wine, not to be confused with turning water into wine. I don’t drink wine every day, but it’s something I do with my fiancé on our days together. I can throw tea in there as well, but anything outside of that will be relegated to once every couple of weeks. WWAD?
  2. Snack foods are a Friday only thing (for now). While my fiancé and I are apart, I’m keeping snacks to my favorite day that begins with an F.Yeah, not Father’s Day. Sorry, Dad, but it’s a close second. At least it’s not Frog Jumping Day. Only suckers celebrate that.It’ll probably be a different story once we’re living together, but for now, Fridays are our day so I don’t mind being a little reckless one day a week.
  3. I’m going to eat raw at least once a week. I’m not a big fan of eating raw because I love warm food, but this one shouldn’t be too tough.
  4. The only things I’ll buy that have more than three ingredients are bread, pasta, and my Friday snacks. Is there more to explain? No? Let’s move on.
  5. Meditation is key! At least it is for me. And although I don’t really meditate in the traditional sense as much as I used to, mindfulness will only help keep me on point.

You may have noticed I don’t have much of what many might call a “diet” on my list. That’s because diets are for chumps, y’all! I’m not trying to get über muscled up like I was some three or four years ago either. This is about health and balancing it with my infatuation with my mistress, flavor.

Sweet delicious flavor.

I firmly believe that body and mind are much like chaos and harmony in the sense that they are constantly in a state of flux. For many us, chaos and harmony appear to be at odds, but a high level view shows us they’re part of the same thing because you can’t have harmony without chaos and vice versa.

Side note: I hate when people say “vice-ah versa,” but apparently that’s some old school British English at work there so I don’t have a leg to stand on.

Er… on which to stand*

It’s tough for grammar junkies in these streets.

Anyway, I think mind and body are the same as well. Let’s call them our physical and non-physical selves, shall we? Some people have strong physical attributes such as good health, muscle mass, high metabolism, etc. Others have strong non-physical attributes like a sense of inner peace, determination, courageousness, etc. Tangible versus intangible.

Makes sense? Awesome!

Okay, the balance between harmony and chaos is somehow managed by our entire realities. The balance of body and mind is up to us as individuals.

Kind of. External factors come into play, but stick with me here.

If you have the means to properly take care of your mind and body, do it. Why not, right? I feel doing so is a large part of achieving personal balance. While I’m here on this earth, that’s the goal. I’m pretty sure I have the mental/non-physical side down; now it’s time to refocus on the body/physical.

What do you do to maintain or increase balance in your life? Let me know! Tips and insights are always welcome.

Let’s do this!

Peace out, party people.

Yo Dre, Why Are You Always Talking about Changing the World?

earth

I’ve been reconnecting with a lot of friends recently and it’s been cool to catch up with all of them. As I’ve shared with them the many changes I’ve gone through over the past year and a half or so, there has been a trend I’ve noticed: people asking me why I care so much about changing the world.

Wait… wanting the world to be a better place is a weird thing? LOL.

Okay, okay, I’ll explain it like this because after a call I had with my fiancé, I feel like I finally found the words to properly convey my mindset.

*deep breath*

Much like everyone else, most of my life was spent just trying to make my way through this world. I tried to play fair within the boundaries of the rules everyone told me to follow. There were exceptions, of course, but for the most part I was just the nice guy who had to earn his confidence over time rather than having it all my life.

Actually, I started off as a super confident kid, but adolescence isn’t for the weak of heart. A brother’s confidence caught a beat down, y’all.

There was also a nagging thought I had had ever since I was a kid: I’m alive right now and one day I won’t be. I kept that to myself for YEARS because I figured I’d be looked at like a weirdo if I started posing such esoteric concepts as a ten-year-old. Still, why was I alive? Am I supposed to just live and die and that’s it?

Was I a sinner for making a joke about Jesus? I mean, it’s Jesus, for… uh… Christ’s sake. He should know I’m kidding, right?

Am I supposed to spend my entire life working and hope that I stay alive long enough to enjoy retirement? That sounds like a bum deal.

I kid you not when I say I had these thoughts and questions for the majority of my life. I felt like an effing alien because no one else I knew seemed concerned about any of this.

Andre: King of the Weirdos.

During college and afterward, I met a handful of awesome, open-minded people. Folks who are fine with conversing about this stuff. Coupled with that, I soon found out that everything for which I had ambition (a high salary, lots of stuff, a misguided definition of love) brought me temporary happiness at best and straight up unhappiness at their worst. I mean, by and large I was a happy person, but every once in a while the disappointment of not being able to swallow society’s expectations of me and the goals I was taught to have manifested itself in not so pretty ways. In short, I was lost.

If only I knew I wasn’t alone, but people who are lost rarely see the big picture.

I took it upon myself to figure this thing out. I’d love to get into the details of how I did it, but not everyone in my personal life would be accepting of the choices I’ve made even if they’ve helped me for the better. I personally don’t care about the opinion of others, but I’m not about to stir the pot unnecessarily either. That being said, I figured myself out. I figured out that I was much more and much less than what I thought I was. To be specific, I’m not special. Not as an individual at least. But I’m also much more than just a man; I’m a part of everything. Just in the same way that a blood cell is both the individual cell and the blood. I am this reality in which I exist, the individual and the collective.

It may sound crazy to people who won’t get what I mean, but stick with me on this because it all ties back together.

I found my happiness and it was pretty awesome if I do say so myself. I spent some time patting myself on the back for having the wherewithal to discover my own answers while still being open to the beliefs of others. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered not everyone reciprocated this feeling. On top of that, I was all too aware that I didn’t actually care about the fancy job, having a bunch of stuff, or many of the other things I was taught to want. What was the point? My happiness and sense of peace was far more important and I learned I could have that independent of any external factors.

So why was I still here?

This next part may sound concerning if you don’t know me at all, but I’m not about to apologize for thoughts that crossed my mind. I seriously questioned why I should keep playing this unfair game of life. You know, the one where we’re expected to follow rules that not everyone is actually following. Where people hate, murder, cheat, steal, and whatever other vile acts humanity is capable of. Why do I want to continue working at a thankless job where I didn’t agree with many principles? I already found my happiness. What was the point of continuing? None of this would help me maintain my sense of inner peace. For all intents and purposes, I would have welcomed being done with life. Not in a negative way, but more like there was nothing I felt this world could offer me and I certainly didn’t want anything from this world either. I was happy being benign, but family, friends, and the rest of society had invested too much in me already. I wouldn’t be let off the hook that easily.

Sigh…

Then a funny thing happened: I met my soul mate aka my fiancé. The story of how we met is nothing short of fate. I say that because, seriously, how it happened is ridiculously improbable (I’ll save that for another day). The point is, I found my reason for enduring a life in which I had no stakes. Soon afterward I was laid off from my job, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise despite it being an initial burden. I had the opportunity to create a life that I wanted, not one shaped by what I was taught to want. I wasn’t about to sacrifice my own happiness again.

But then I looked at the the rest of world and couldn’t help being put off by all the ills around me. Remember, I saw myself as both the blood cell and the blood. I’m both the being and the reality. Therefore, how could I just sit idly by and be unconcerned with inequality, war, discrimination, greed, etc? That’s quite the impossible task given the way I think nowadays.

We’re all sharing the same house. If I was living with someone who treated me unfairly and was trashing our home, I would probably move out or ask them to leave. I don’t have that option. I have to figure out how to coexist in this house. But I don’t want to live in a sh*tty place either.

This time there are no questions. I have to do what I can to fix this house. Not just for me, but for all the people out there who are walking the path I once walked. We’re all just trying to figure our way through this life and we’re the victims or beneficiaries of people who came before us. That doesn’t excuse crappy behavior, but I understand why we aren’t living in utopia right now; there are a lot of lost people out there just trying to fit in where they can.

And this is why I want to bring positivity to this tiny, insignificant rock we call Earth. If I have to be here I’m going to do my damndest to only make an impact that helps rather than hurts. It’s why I’m going vegan. It’s why I want to exclusively use reusable energy. It’s why I’ll always be against our current form of capitalism. It’s why I’m writing this now. Believe me when I say I love you all and I only want to see you happy too. ALL OF YOU.

But I’ll always love my fiancé more. After all, I don’t know if I’d be here right now if it wasn’t for her, heh.

Peace out, party people.

We Have More Attachments Than a Zip File………………. NERD JOKE!

shackles

You know, after going through the experience of fasting, I realized something: it’s awesome to know I can give something up. Not forever or anything like that, but I like knowing that I don’t need anything.

Nothing controls me. Or, more accurately, I don’t give control to anything, even if it’s just a false sense of control.

At least that’s the goal.

I’ve been doing pretty well if I do say so myself, but I want to take this a step further. Why? Because I have a crazy addictive personality for things I like. It’s the reason why I grew up overweight and watched television cartoons for hours on end as a kid. It didn’t help that lasagna is effing delicious and the Ninja Turtles kicked ass.

Now as an adult, I’ve adopted a more balanced mentality. I feel like I’ve got it down in a “spiritual” way (I hate using that word sometimes because it can come with a lot of baggage, but I can’t think of a better one to use), but I can still find ways to improve in my everyday life.

So starting in May, I’m going to try giving up one thing a month. I think I’m going to start off with television and movies with the exception of anything that I need for The Gibbler Podcast. After that, who knows, but this is my path to living a more detached life.

There’s a difference between wanting and needing. The line is thin, no doubt about it, but sometimes we create that line in our minds. At least I do. I did with meat at one point. Sure, I never actually made the distinction of whether I needed or wanted it, but my actions told a different tale. I ate meat like I needed it. But having certain attachments can mean willingly feeding into a system where something is negatively impacted. So yeah, this is why I don’t want attachments to rule me.

Before May arrives, I’ll share some of the things I’ve given up permanently and how I managed to do it. Willpower can only go so far sometimes; I like having a strategy. Let’s see how this one goes!

Peace out, party people.

Experiment Complete: What I Learned from My Fast

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn
Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

I finished my fast, y’all! I’m not going to lie; it was tough, but rewarding. Want to know what I took out of the experience? No? Too bad because I’m going to let you know anyway.

  1. I feel lighter. Not in a weight type of way, though I suppose a fast will do that also. I mean I feel spiritually lighter. “Spiritual” is a word that can come with some baggage, but the way that I’m using it refers to my sense of being. I feel less stressed (not that I had much) and I have a ton of energy.
  2. I have renewed clarity. I now have a much better sense of what I want to do with my life going forward. Not specifics, mind you, but a general direction. I’ll definitely be writing about this more, but my focus is to make a positive impact on this world as much as possible.
  3. Food tastes MF’ing awesome. Do you know what I first ate after fasting? Grapes. And I kid you not when I say those were the most delicious grapes I’ve ever had. There’s something about deprivation that makes you appreciate the most common things like, I don’t know, the flavor of good, natural food.
  4. I’m officially out of my creative rut. The inspiration is back, baby! I’ve been writing like a madman and I can’t wait until this book is done.
  5. My eating and sleeping patterns have been reset. I’m actually getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night and I’m now eating smaller, but more frequent meals. I think the former was brought about by the meditation as well, but I can’t say for sure.

All in all it was an awesome experience and I’m grateful for the lessons I learned. Fasting isn’t for everyone, but it definitely did a world of good for me. As an aside, I just read this awesome article on IFL Science that talks about the benefits of intermittent fasting (http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/how-fasting-might-make-our-cells-more-resilient-stress).

Kind of convenient timing, no?

Anyway, I may do this from time to time just to have a reset every now and then. Meditation, veganism, and now fasting? I’m transforming into quite the hippie, aren’t I?

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Taking a Sabbatical with a Fast

Experiment: Taking a Sabbatical with a Fast

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn
Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

I’m going to try something new this week: I’m going on a fast.

So before the cavalcade of questions regarding my health and sanity come my way, you should know something about me: I’m at a crossroads. An important one at that. At least for me it is. I’m stuck between either working to pursue my dream as a writer or go back to the corporate world to something less fulfilling.

O woe is me. I should be so lucky to have suck minuscule problems.

Yeah, I am lucky. I don’t know if I could ever forget that. Still, this is a decision I have to make nonetheless. The only thing preventing me from moving in a direction either way is fear. If I work a corporate gig, I fear I won’t be happy. If I continue chasing this dream I fear I may not be able to actually become a success because the playing field is so crowded.

So I’ve been at a stalemate. Creatively, I’ve been in a rut and I’m fully aware I’m just going through the motions. Therefore, I’m going to do what I always do in these situations: I’m going to meditate a bunch. Not contemplative meditation; I’m not going to focus on anything. Additionally, I’m going to fast.

But you already knew that.

So what’s the fast have to do with anything. Well, that fear, as minor as it is, is nothing more than an attachment. A fast for me will be a period of ridding myself of attachments. The only television I’ll be watching is the stuff I need for The Gibbler Podcast. No alcohol. No food. Any time not spent working or with my fiance will be dedicated to reading, writing, opportunity hunting, or meditation. All I need is five days.

I’m a big believer in not hunting for answers to questions. I used to hunt, but over the years I’ve found the right answers come to me as long as I’m open to them. This “cleanse,” if you will, is to help me do just that.

I’ve juiced – not the steroid type – before long meditation sessions before and I always felt the difference. A five day fast shouldn’t be too bad as long as I still get water and take a multivitamin. I’ll let you know how this one goes! Hopefully I don’t get the urge to cheat, heh.

Spoken Word Piece: I Want a Puppy

Sir Francis Pugsly

I want a puppy
Don’t judge me, pretending to be above me
All I want is a puppy, but I don’t have any money
Okay, wait, maybe I could just ask for a puppy
Somebody please, can you do a brother a favor
I swear you’d be my personal savior
If you just give me puppy
Please
With gumdrops on top; not a shot? You puppy hoarding bumbaclot
Pardon my patois, I didn’t mean to offend, my friend
Just lend me some advice on how I can attain a puppy
All I want is a puppy
Okay, fine, I’ll get a job, just stop calling me bum or slob or whatever
Let’s see what monster.com has to offer for worse or better
Cover letters, résumés, sweating bullets thank god for three piece suits at interviews
Can you spy my sarcasm?
Can I have a puppy, goddamn it?
Well, finally I’m hired, only 50 years until I retire
But in the meantime, can you guess what I’m doing with this first paycheck?
Correct!
I’m getting a goddamn puppy
Haters gonna hate, but nobody better judge me
Because truth be told, I secretly hope that he’s cuddly
I made the mistake of stating this publicly
And I was called a faggot, all because I want a puppy
Salesmen hungry for commission spot me on my mission
They say, “Hey, buddy. You got puppy insurance?”
Dog house? Versace dog blouse? No?
Step right up, if you plan to own a puppy, you’ll certainly need this stuff
Don’t have the money now? Turn that frown upside down
Better yet, forget the frown, jot your information down
Get 20% off as long as you apply for this credit card
Your puppy dog needs the finest
You want him to be happy, don’t you? Then don’t fight it
And ignore those silly terms, this ain’t for reading, it’s for signing
Well, alright I suppose, if you really say so
Maybe you’re right, I’ll sign, crossed T’s dotted I’s; How could I say no?
It’s all for my puppy
But the days are getting ugly, trust me
Even with this puppy I dubbed Sir Francis Pugsly
Because it seems all my money goes to debt
And all the money that I don’t have goes to stuff
I appear to be stuck; such is life?
No, such is the pursuit of having, stressed from work getting blasted
On Henny and Jack, double fisting with two glasses
All because I wanted a mother fucking puppy
That’s it. That’s all. But look at what this system wants from me
Why did I want this puppy in the first place?
It was simply a thought one day; I feel it was a Sunday
I was thinking it’d be awesome to someday have a puppy
Now I have a puppy and money, such a joy to be me
I know it’s a lot to ask, but I’d gladly give this puppy back
And all this other stuff for a chance to be free

Previously: Losing You

Spoken Word Piece: Losing You

Photo Credit: Michelle Brea
Photo Credit: Michelle Brea

Slowly driving down the road, I’m losing you
Beautiful humanity, insanity came confusing you
Losing you to power, choosing who can be the leader
Losing you, losing me, losing is our destiny
Losing fuel to the flames, so the government chooses our fate
Better lose the attitude before we make it police states
Fire tear gas and a bullet in a crowd, losing you
Believing in the system shows you who’s a fool
Losing you to money as a status symbol
Losing you to madness, had to crack the riddle
Losing who I was cause I lacked a little
Perspective, I heard the first lesson was
Losing you until you come back to your senses
This is senseless. Do I have a consensus?
That all this blood shedding never for a second stops losing you to heaven
If it even exists, schooling you, solved the mystery like Scooby Doo
We’re all the reason that I’m losing you

Previously: In the Key of Life