Thursday, 7 April 2016

Rising Strong

"The bottom line is that we need each other. And not just the civilized, proper, convenient kind of need. Not one of us gets through this life without expressing desperate, messy, and uncivilized need. The kind we are reminded of when we come face-to-face with someone who is in a deep struggle."
~ Rising Strong

I'm currently reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown and BOY is it a goodie! I've been reading it on and off for the last two months or so - I tend to get really into a book for the first half and then life gets busy and it gets pushed on to my bedside table for a few weeks and then something comes along in my personal life to launch the book back into my field of consciousness again. When I re-picked up this book again yesterday I thought - YES! Why did I wait so long to keep reading this? This is ground-breaking!
With books like Rising Strong and Daring Greatly we need time in between chapters or paragraphs to process. Some of the ideas presented poke me to directly look at my own behaviours and habits and reactions and thus we need time to unravel and maybe journal or simply sit with what that stirs up within us.

The quote above is from a chapter which really struck a chord with me - "Easy Mark: Rumbling with need, connection, judgement, self-worth, privilege, and asking for help". In this chapter, Brene talks openly and honestly about her own personal stories with such vulnerability that, as a reader, you want to take that leap of honesty about yourself also - it's magic :)

She mentions that under times of stress as a way of managing anxiety we all have patterned ways that we will go to- some of us over-function and others under-function.
"Over-functioners tend to move quickly to advise, rescue, take over, micromanage, and basically get in other people's business rather than looking inward. Under-functioners tend to get less competent under stress- they invite others to take over and often become the focus of worry and concern. Many of these behaviours are learned and line up with the roles we play in our families. It's not uncommon for firstborns to be over-functioners."

Although there have been times in my life where I have experienced both over-functioning and under-functioning as a response to managing stress and anxiety, I'd say I'm mostly on the over-functioning team (yay for being firstborn!) And there are definitely times in my life where I have taken on the co-parent role with my sibling and parents!

When moments of stress and anxiety hit us like a tonne of bricks what is your instinctual response? Do you immediately grab a pen and paper and write a list of all the tasks you think can be done to restore "order"? Do you run inside your home and sit there until someone rescues you from the pain?

Both ways of functioning in the face of anxiety and fear are forms of armour to protect us. If we stay busy we won't need to feel the pain because we are 'helping' to make it better. If we don't do anything and just lean on everyone around us to fix everything, we won't need to feel the pain either.

As Brene talks about, we need to view both of these with vulnerability as opposed to judgement. If we judge ourselves or someone else judges us for having this immediate response then all that will happen is that we retreat further into our holding patterns. Having vulnerability in times of doubt and fear and pain requires IMMENSE courage and strength. To sit in the moment with the people around you and open up honestly about what has unfolded and the uncertainty of the situation ahead - that's mammoth! And then to ask for help from those people around you - that's even more scary! But it's also liberating and freeing and an INCREDIBLE asset to learn.

One of keys Brene mentions and that really struck me as something we don't value enough is the capacity to RECEIVE that help. Until I met my husband I wasn't very good at receiving help, in fact, even now I still have to check myself! Two years ago I thought I would be able to plan a whole wedding from the other side of the country all by myself and come out smiling - HAH! Nice try Allyce! Fast forward to a month out from the big day - I'm having a complete emotional breakdown trying to be in twenty places at once and still adding more tasks to my never-ending to-do list. And I'm extremely organised person - I didn't leave anything to last minute, so I thought I could handle it all by being prepared. But I forgot one important thing - to ask for help and more importantly to be willing to RECEIVE that help. Because there wasn't a shortage of helpers - I had so many gorgeous friends and family contacting me asking how they could help every single week! But I thought that if I asked them I would be inconveniencing them and knowing they were busy in their own lives I didn't want to burden them with my worries and tasks. Because it was MY wedding - so shouldn't I be able to handle all the stresses myself?

"We don't have to do it all alone. 
We were never meant to."

When I had that breakdown moment I stopped and took a good look at what I was attempting and what I was creating. And with advice and prompting from my gorgeous mother - I reached out and asked for help. I made myself open to receiving that help from my family and friends and I trusted in them and their abilities. And it was the BEST thing I could have done. Having all of them so intimately involved meant that I created a lot of beautiful memories and experiences but also that the actual day itself went off without a single hitch! I didn't have to worry or stress on the day because I knew I was supported by everyone around me. It was so scary for me to admit to them that I didn't have it all together and that I didn't have all the answers but there is no way the end result could have been so wonderful if I had simply forced my way through alone with my pen and to-do list as my only buddies.

"In a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, asking for help can be shaming if we're not raised to understand how help is human and foundational to connection. We can encourage our children to ask for help; however; if they don't see that behaviour, they will instead attach value to never needing help. We also send strong messages to the people around us, including our children, friends, and employees, when they ask for help, and in return, we treat them differently - as if they are now less reliable, competent, or productive.
We accept our dependance as babies, and ultimately, with varying levels of resistance, we accept help as we get to the end of our lives. But in the middle of our lives, we mistakenly fall prey to the myth that successful people are those who help rather than need, and broken people need rather than help. Given enough resources, we can even pay for help and create the mirage that we are completely self-sufficient. But the truth is that no amount of money, influence, resources, or determination will change our physical, emotional, and spiritual dependance on others. Not at the beginning of our lives, not in the messy middle, and not at the end."

If you haven't already, I wholeheartedly recommend buying a copy of Brene Brown's Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. My copies have scribble marks and turned down pages all over them :)

If we can take the leap into vulnerability and show our true selves to those we trust and love in our lives, then we can learn that important capacity to both give and receive help. I truly believe it makes both all the more sweeter - once we allow ourselves to be truly loved and appreciated and supported, then our capacity to do the same for others increases tenfold. And maybe we have to keep reminding ourselves of this over and over again for the duration of our life but if we have people in our lives who can help us recognise those moments and remain supportive then it's way easier than going it alone!

So jump in. It's scary to take the first leap but it's beautiful on the other side :)

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Travelling with a plant based lifestyle - how to????

I've been following a plant based lifestyle for 9 years now and as I am constantly travelling for work, one question I get asked almost daily is - how do you stay a vegan away from home?

And it's a good question!

When we are at home with our fully stocked fridge, favourite cafe down the road, a car, and convenience plus it is relatively easy to get exactly what we want when we want it. But what about when you're in an almost third world country, without your fridge, car, safety, where the locals don't even know what vegan means?

It's always a challenge, but one you can totally rise up to! It's really about being super prepared before you go. More on that in a moment :)

And plus, it's a great chance for us to stop and take stock individually of how much we rely and depend upon the 'conveniences' of home. There's often times when I am travelling in non-western countries where I find myself getting sooky over not being able to get a green juice or an almond milk cold brew coffee... and it's important to ask myself - am I able to survive without those things right now? Yes Allyce. Are there options available for you to just make the most of what you actually have in front of you right now instead? Yes Allyce.
Reality check! I am super lucky to live in a beautiful country like Australia but these people who live in this country I am a visitor in are also lucky! They have their own beauty and positives to offer and they may be different to what I am used to or expect but it's so important to make the choice to allow yourself to discover the positives of this new country! If we always focus on and wish for what we don't have then how can we discover and find joy in the new?

That being said - if I arrived in a new country with absolutely no snacks on me and I couldn't find some plant based foodies easily then I would be a super grump and it then becomes that much harder to be open to the new and exciting discoveries!

I have a few tips and tricks to share that I have learnt over the years to make the initial transition stress free for you:

  • Before you leave research the area close to your accommodation for supermarkets, cafes, health food stores, and restaurants and make a list or bookmark folder of them. Some good phrases to search are: "whole foods" "organic" "health food" "vegan" "vegetarian" on google maps or in your search engine with the area you are staying in. I have a bookmark folder on my computer for every single city I've travelled to so that if/when I revisit I already have my recommendations from the last time I went and don't have to search again!
  • Bring ALL THE SNACKS. Before you leave stock up on essentials that are liquid free, and can be easily transported in your luggage. My favs are: chia seeds, green powder blends, plant based protein sachets, nut and seed mixes, some of my fav dark chocolate, rolled oats, organic soup or noodle packets, herbal and green teas, and protein or superfood bars. Make sure you pack them in zip lock bags or in sealed containers to prevent spillage. It's not unusual for my luggage to be 1/2 clothes, 1/2 food haha but then I'm prepared as soon as I land and just focus on having fun in my new destination rather than stressing about what I'm going to be able to eat as I settle in.
My haul from Healthy Options in Manila :)
  • After you've settled in, source out a supermarket or health store and stock up on things you can carry with you or have in your hotel room to snack on so you never have to be stuck in a state of hunger with only rice as the only vegan option - oh the amount of times I've eaten watermelon and white rice as breakfast in Asia HAHAH. Sometimes I am in a taxi for an hour just to find an organic store but it's super exciting once I get there and I do a big shop so I'm set for a good week or so and don't have to travel there again.
  • Be gentle on yourself - if you have to eat a little of something you usually wouldn't back at home but you're with awesome people and you're enjoying your adventures in a new place then just do it! At the end of it all - having fun and loving times with the people around you trumps everything else. It's never worth stressing yourself out with an anxiety attack over having some egg in your vegetable stir fry. (Trust me, I've been there too). Just do the best you can! It's only temporary and your mindset around what you're eating is the more important than what it actually is ;)
    •  If I'm going to a country with a compromised water supply I take some travel probiotics before I leave and while I'm over there. I recommend Ethical Nutrients Travel Bug. I also never go anywhere without my ArmaForce! It's wonderful at boosting your immune system at the first sign of a cold or a flu. Bringing over a green blend with spirulina, chlorella, and reishi or chaga will also keep your body fighting fit with all of the good things if you are having trouble finding fresh food.

    • Breakfast can sometimes be one of the trickiest meals especially if the people you are travelling with aren't plant based and want to have breakfast at the hotel. That's why I love having some oats, chia, and plant based mylk on hand. I soak the chia and oats in the liquid overnight and then the next morning I bring my oats combo down to the breakfast buffet with me and add some nuts, seeds, fruits etc and I have a beautiful filling and nourishing breakfast with minimal effort and stress!

    Overnight oats a la hotel style!

    So it's about maintaining a balance of being prepared, and also open to adventures and travelling to find what your new destination has to offer! And plus, the one day you stumble upon an unexpected vegan delight or green juice will mean it is the BEST tasting one you have ever had because you appreciate it even more as you journeyed and adventured to find it!!!!!!

    Embrace who you are :) I love living this plant based lifestyle while travelling and when people ask me about it both them and I learn something new while we chat about it. So just be you and enjoy the freedom in that!

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    About Me

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    My name is Allyce and this is my lease on life! 
    I live a plant based life full of music, yoga, laughter, sunshine, and chocolate!
    My job as a performer takes me to many wonderful places around the world and I'm on the journey to share my experiences and findings with all of you as I travel as a plant-based yummy yogi. Let's create the life we truly want to live - one full of awareness, acceptance, responsibility, love, and gratitude.