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Make mine a ham sandwich

14 Aug

Um while on the idea of ahimsa (do no harm) I just had to tour the idea of vegetarianism. I have been a flip flopper for over 20 years. More veggie than not, but honestly it has been relationships that caused the scales to tip in favor of the fleshy variety of sustenance. Recently, I was very non nonchalant about it claiming that I was a vegetarian only because my teacher, Jasmine, requested that we do it during yoga school. But of course after this flip comment, I was given the real deal challenge.

Picture this, Glide Memorial Church (side note, if you do not do service work, do it here, NOW, it will change your life), preparing food for thousands, I am put on meat duty. I joked with my friend Alli about how it was perfect that it was me and not one of our classmates. I was, of course, being a recent meat-eater, of stronger mind and constitution. I made it through the 50 lbs of sausage. Though with each casing pop, I was a little more put off. But then, out cam the ham. I don’t know how much I chopped but I am sure it was over a 100 lbs and it had tendons and muscle fibers and like when I was a teenager refusing to prepare chicken, I could imagine the animal that it came from, but worse, the smell did me in. 100 lbs of ham, processed, oh god, how.

So the visceral nature of the experience of course reinvigorated my commitment to vegetarianism, though not because I love pigs or cows or chickens. I mean don’t get me wrong, I do realize that they have feelings and souls. It’s just that even while being a hippie I am also a bit of a pragmatist, and I do think that there are instances when meat consumption is appropriate. In the US, by me at this point in my life, that is not one of them. HEAR THAT BEFORE YOU COMMENT. It’s actually a little science. I was reading Whole Living Magazine yesterday and they had an article on holistic dentistry. The short of the long is that an acidic body creates an environment for decay. Human bodies are made more acidic by the consumption of dairy products, alcohol, sugar, and you guessed it meat. You are basically asking your body to age more quickly with eat piece of flesh you put in to it. Wait, what?

So by being a vegetarian I can, do less harm to the planet, do less harm to living beings and do less harm to my own body. I am in. What tipped the scales for you? Or are you still thinking about it?

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Sometimes I do flip off the Prius driver

10 Aug

I can fight. I’ve worked for the city of Chicago and the city of San Francisco. I do community organizing. I have a chip on my shoulder about privilege. So I can fight, and I do fight. But for some reason I had a bird in my ear. In my yoga class at Flying Yoga in Oakland, yesterday during bow pose, my teacher just sorta whispered “what would happen if you didn’t fight?” After being a little bit, “oh yeah, easy for you to say, you can bend your spine in half miss dancer lady.” I thought, “ok, Gretchen, what if I don’t fight.” And I breathed, and my chest expanded across my shoulder blades. My legs pressed back against my hands, I ascended (and I didn’t cry).

This morning, as I was trying to print out documents at 7:50 am when I had to leave at 8:00 am. I remembered that the driver was not installed on my computer. It was a freaking mess, I was so close to yelling at my partner. I thought, what would happen if I don’t fight? Answer: no crying and I left at 8:03. Walking into Pete’s for a much needed cup of coffee, with 10 minutes to spare before my first meeting, I saw a line snaking outside the back of the store. No fight, really? Ugh. Left with 4 minutes to spare, no gnawing in belly and arrived at my meeting on time.

No fighting for me has it’s roots in the idea of ahimsa, or to do no harm. It is the place that yoga starts. And it is really really hard. Who doesn’t want to flip off the road-rager cutting across three lanes of traffic on the bridge, or the snotty retail clerk that insinuates that you are fat, tacky, and poor (no, really, happened) in the first five minutes that your in the store? How can I practice ahimsa with my constant conditioning to combat lack of access and unbalanced power dynamics? To start small and with the things that I can control, like whether on not I fall apart when my computer is on the fritz or I can’t find my keys. To decide in the moment if I can make my day better, or better for the people around me.

Of course, sometimes, no, I do flip of the Prius driver with the co-exist bumper sticker, that can tell by my haircut that I am from the mid-west. I mean really, how can you tell, do I really drive that slow? And, you NEED to tell me?

Wait sister, we are in this together, thanks for letting me know that I screwed up your day, I am sorry but thanks for the opportunity to remember that I don’t have to throw it back at you. Thank you and have a great day (today, I actually meant it.)

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