When you hit caring-overload

When you hit caring-overload
December 20, 2016 Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

wow, I’ve been feeling heavy this morning… This year has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, hasn’t it? or maybe a train wreck…

My mind has been a big jumble all morning (hence this post is a bit jumbled, and epically long…)

I’m sitting here, cross-legged on the floor, still in the clothes I went running in this morning. Watching the wind blowing trees around outside my window. Trying not to cry. Fighting the feeling of helplessness that I sometimes slip into, despite my generally optimistic nature.

I know that lots of people, including maybe you, follow me for that generally optimistic nature. To inspire with happiness and healthiness. But I also think it’s important to share the down times every so often, to keep things real. To acknowledge the sadness and anger that inspires the positive things we do.

The video I posted this week was about getting ready for questions you might face if you’re a vegan at the holiday dinner table.

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(I briefly discussed one question that seems to come up a lot – about that person who tried being vegan, but had to stop because their body “craved” or “needed” meat. As a nutritionist, that story always makes me angry… though as an uber-polite Canadian, I rarely engage with people one-on-one about it, only if they are really interested in discussing it…)

After filming that, I watched a video for a song by an Inuit throat singer that was produced by one of my heroes in the environmental movement, the David Suzuki Foundation.

I had to watch because I love throat singing, it’s beautiful in its simple raw expression. But of course, this video wasn’t just about throat singing, it was a message about our planet.

After watching it, I wrote this, which is probably more of an honest statement than the conflict-avoiding one I said in my video (though I still stand by that version, because I think the holidays are more about enjoying time with loved ones than forcing an issue):

“I feel that throat singing has evolved perfectly, from a way for women to interact and play while men were out ice fishing and hunting, to an art form that can so effectively translate the exact thoughts going on in my head… People ask why I chose to be a vegan. It’s not a choice. I call it my choice, like in my video this week, so they don’t feel like I’m pushy, but there is no other viable option without my brain exploding… even with that, brain explosion becomes ever more perilous with each passing year of too-little action from major governments and corporations. Dammit. I started writing this wanting to be a little bit funny, but I can’t maintain it. It’s just too serious. I feel grateful that I can donate to the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace International and The Nature Conservancy to help them do the important work to try to protect our increasingly fragile planet.”

I wrote that bit about being vegan because the author and artist wrote this:

“Enough of hurting the planet. People ask why I chose to be an activist. It’s not a choice.”
~ Tanya Tagaq

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It’s hard to be the kind of person who cares too much. You don’t have a choice, right? When you’re aware of the issues and consequences of your actions, beyond yourself, it’s a moral obligation.

It hurts to care about things that are so difficult to enact change beyond myself. Why do I have to think about how far the grapes travelled to get to the grocery store, when no one else seems to? Why do I have to think about the amount of methane released, rainforest destroyed, water used and polluted, animal suffering, slaughter, and all the rest in a single hamburger vs my veggie burger, when others don’t think even once?

Now, lots of others DO care. I’m not saying no one else does. But it’s not always apparent, and we each care about different issues. So someone else might not care about grapes, but they care very deeply about equal rights and are putting their energy and effort into working on that issue.

Pop quiz: How many times in the past few months have you found yourself thinking (or saying) wtf?
Me: way more times than I could begin to count…

Everything I read or watch seems to show me more and more inequality, exploitation, violence and unchecked anger and ego.

It’s hard, when you care so much, to be ok with how much lack of caring and outright cruelty there is in the world.

You can wind up in caring-overload. And it’s hard to handle it, when you have to go through your regular daily life.

What can we do in the face of all this?

Being able to do work that can inspire people to eat more plants and less animals (which has a monumentally huge positive impact – click to read some stats), and committing to donate 5% of the registration for the programs I offer to charities doing important work for the health of our planet, people and animals is maybe the only thing that keeps me sane.

In my life, I’m always trying to do more and be better – not for myself, but for the planet, for animals, and to create an example of how it’s possible to do better. I value my health not because I want to live to be 105, or because I want to prove that I can avoid heart disease or cancer (which I am highly likely to get, by the way, no matter how well I eat and live).

I value my health because it allows me to do more, to have more of myself to give, and to enjoy the beauty of life.

That’s why I value your presence in my life.

Even if it seems distant in the online world, I know you’re there. Listening. Asking. Commenting. Sharing. Even though I can’t reply to every email or comment, I hear them. And I know you share at least some of my views, some of my passion.

Each time I see an email letting me know someone has signed up for one of my programs, whether it’s $1 for Baby Steps, or a meal plan or cooking class or workshop, I close my eyes and send out a heartfelt ‘thank you’ and a virtual hug to that person for investing in their own health, in our planet, for supporting my work so that I can continue doing it, and for allowing me to donate to one of those organizations on their behalf. I do this every single time. I hope you feel it.

And if you make vegan meals, even some of the time – thank you.
If you try to reduce your use of plastic, of creating waste, of using fossil fuels – thank you.
If you donate your time and/or money to protecting those in danger or without a voice – thank you.
If you take the time to show kindness to your fellow humans and animals – thank you.
If you keep doing the little things even when you know you can never be perfect – thank you.

Thank you for being a peaceful warrior for this planet, for those animals, for our future. You are part of the reason this world is still a beautiful place. Your presence in the world, caring alongside me, is what gives me comfort when I feel overwhelmed.

I don’t know about you, but I could use about a million hugs right now. So I’m sending out a million virtual hugs, cause that means I get a million back simultaneously 😉

If you feel inspired to send your own donation (which makes great gifts for the people in your life who are like me and really don’t want stuff, they just want to help heal the planet), here’s a list of a few of the main charities I donate to: Giving Back

Or if you want some gift ideas for things that are vegan and/or help reduce single-use plastics, here are some of my ideas: 15 eco-vegan gift ideas under $20

(The travel spork, which is last on that list, is probably one of the best gifts I have ever received. Well, that and my heated yeti slippers… which keep my feet warm without cranking the heating up in the winter. But I’m pretty sure they were more than $20…)

Now… off to finally have a shower, and rinse off the heavy feelings. And then make some tea and savor some dark chocolate ginger thins, before heading out for an evening with some girlfriends.

Thanks for listening, thanks for being there, thanks for doing what you do to make this world a more beautiful place… you give me hope.

I haven’t yet set my intentions for 2017, but I’m looking forward to a wonderful year of possibilities.

xo Heather


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