Plant Based Bullying

Lately, plant-based eating has been growing on the internet. From blogs what I eat in a days videos many people are choosing to go plant-based. I am actually considering starting on a plant-based Journey going into next year, however, I have found one draw back of this movement. “Bullying” is the problem I have found. Now I use the term loosely, as these aggressive stances on plant-based eating pose no real threat aside extreme annoyance. I am talking about those who say things like eating meat is murder or would you eat meat if you saw the name and picture of the cow on the package of ground beef you by at the grocery (yep saw this one on FB).

To me plant-based eating is probably the easiest on the body and the best way for me to abstain from processed foods. It is that simple. I am not on a campaigning to stop the slaughter of animals and believe it is ludicrous to tell a natural omnivore they are doing something morally wrong by eating animal products. Ironically a large portion of veganism today is artificial with so many people flocking to “not cheese”, “tofurkey”, etc. Even many of those who stick strictly to non-processed plant food would find it near impossible to be plant-based prior to modern times.  Think about it, when many in previous generations were farming for food there was not such a large variety of plants to eat. We must remember what we see in the grocery store is not natural. All of our ancestors where subject to eating the plants and/or crops that could grow in their respective regions. No one was making smoothies comprised of fruits grown all over the world or able to make/buy tofu on the regular. So chill with the judgemental tone about Bridgette falling off of the wagon again”.  Bridgette is following her natural inclinations and you are sitting on the high horse of modern grocery isles packed with a diverse array of plants out of reach less than a century ago. I know for a fact the butchering techniques of my African ancestors were not pretty so why is it wrong now.

I guess my point is the advancement of technology gives us more and/or better options, not the right to try to force others into unnatural states of eating.

 

 

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The Tale of the “Bad” Ex

A while ago I was speaking with a co worker and she brought up several of her, “bad”, exes as she often does when speaking about men. About half way through the talk I began to realize she assigned each and every one of her exes the blame of ruining their relationship and concluded they all had negative impacts on her life. What is sad is that this is a common feeling amongst adults who have been around the dating block a bit. I believe this is very flawed and dangerous thinking. Now let me start by saying I am no relationship expert, in fact I am divorced. Nevertheless ( Yup…skipping right over that to my enlightened point) I feel that I took away and learned a lot from my relationship with my ex. I recognize (formerly amidst much anger and frustration) there many things she said to me and pointing out in my life that have been of great benefit to me.

I honestly believe that no matter how a relationship ended (cheating, abuse, etc…) we have the opportunity to grow immensely. You see even if all of your exes were truly bad, that tells you something about yourself and the pattern of choices you make. All five of those, “bad”, guys did not come without red flags and if those girls keep taking all of your money you should probably stop leading with that aspect of your life. To me (get ready for a typical male comparo) ut is KIND OF like buying or leasing a car. With each subsequent vehicle choice you learn things to watch out for, features that work well with your lifestyle, and things that are more fashion than function in your daily driving.

This is just a short and simple post, but I feel a valuable reminder for us not to fall in the subtle pitfall of electing ourselves blames less post break up. Honestly if you are always blameless, you will indeed always be the victim. Now go on, test out my unfounded theory. Really think about past relationships as you meditate, sit in bed, or let that fresh break up settle in. It is okay to be angry. In many cases anger (temporarily) prevents us from allowing the person to do additional harm by coming back to the scene of the crime. Nevertheless we must determine whether some of the hurt was self-inflicted or could have been avoided by us studying past situations we been a part of. Anyway I hope this post finds you well and growing.

The Khaki Observer

The Fluidity of Youth

As of late I have been a bit bummed with the realization that my 30 plus year old body does not bounce back from anything as gracefully as it once did. Lack of sleep shows relatively easily under my eyes and exercising has started to bring about aches that were once (at least I believe) not possible to name a few. Now I know this is due in part to getting older, but the more troubling cause is my sedentary lifestyle. As much as I do not like to admit it, this problem is in large part my fault. I live a more comfortable life which demands less physically of me. My body has therefore detuned itself and actively seeks to stay out of motion. I no longer walk halfway across campus to play racquetball with buddy or run and gun as server/bartender in a swanky retirement community. I now reside at a desk on the second floor with an elevator and no real demand to raise my heart rate. I say all this to tell you that socially people are the same way. Sadly with age it seems we tend to march to our corners in life awaiting death with a few like-minded friends and some family to boot.

Recently I was looking at some old college photos (with great sadness…I’m old!) from fifteen years ago when I had an epiphany; I do not know that the people smiling and laughing in these photos could even stand in the same room together now. It is not that any of us have become ultra radical or anything, it is simply the fact that youth brings with it a certain effortless fluidity and diplomacy that we let die as we age. You see my university was a private one with people from all parts of the country and other countries. We were all there for various reasons with one thing in common; we were young. I was a theology major from the south and did not care that the non-religious volleyball player from Calfornia was like, “let’s grab a bite to eat”. I was down, even if she drove like a maniac who had never seen an open road.

The commitment to going to, “our corners”, in life as we get older is complete trash. If you are consistently exposing yourself to new things, ideas, and ways to be in life, you can preserve that effortless fluidity and diplomacy.  Now I am not advocating having no morals or beliefs; I am simply stating life is better when you are able to enjoy a dynamic range of settings and people. You can walk into rooms with less anxiety and you begin to see people you have little in common with or do not naturally gravitate towards ingratiating themselves with you. You are not going to become the best friends with these individuals, but what is wrong with seeing people smile more in your life. The other day at work these two ladies in their fifties were ragging on me for sitting away from them at another table in our breakroom(in my defense I needed to make a call). I was pleasantly surprised as we were not a, “natural”, pairing and these women were reaching past our obvious differences to invite a guy (black, single, no kids) to sit with them who mistakenly sat at their table a couple days prior. I just love the fact that our initial interaction the first day left no space for, “fences”.

An example of a failed opportunity on my end other example was with a man I bought a cell phone from on craigslist at 7am in the morning. He was a retired non black person and as I pulled away I felt disappointed. I did not have to be at work immediately and in that moment I felt as though I should have sat with him and ate breakfast. In our brief interaction, he asked me what I did for work and mentioned he was retired. I am more than sure I could have taken some real wisdom away from having breakfast with that man. We even joked a bit before the meetup, but I was tired and a bit of a coward that day. On another occasion, I bought a phone (yes I have a phone problem) from a firefighter and upon arrival at the station they invited me to sit and eat with them. Of course, I declined and regret that moment too. In these instances, I missed opportunities for learning about other walks of life and potential growth as an individual. Opportunities such as these are priceless (not to mention free) and should not be squandered.

I admit being open can be a bit unnerving, but consider the fact that you have already done it when dealing with/being around family. Often times adult family members really do not really have much in common and/or posses a wide range of personalities?  Yet we find are able to find pleasure in those differences. Think of that uncle who brings the spice to family gatherings you do not have. I will save that family aspect for the next post, but will close saying that I am not asking you to replace the lettuce in that salad you call life. I am simply asking you to try mixing in some sunflower seeds or bacon bits to liven that ranch and lettuce combo up.

Are Diets Really Bad?

How many times have we been told diets are bad? In my unqualified opinion, I believe this is an oversimplification. You see diets are like accelerating in a car. You cannot keep it up forever and it is most demanding on the engine of the vehicle. Many people say diets are bad because they cannot be continued long-term, but that is not the point of a diet. You do not accelerate indefinitely, in a car because you will eventually get your desired speed and maintain. This maintenance takes less effort than acceleration/dieting. The same way car does not have infinite power for continuous acceleration, we humans have a finite amount of willpower to exert in a diet plan. This limit is called a redline.

With getting healthier being your destination there are stages you must go through to get to, “healthy”. Take a space shuttle for instance, getting to off the ground and miles into the sky it requires the powerful thrust of stage 1 rockets. Maintaining this level of thrust is unnecessary over time as the weight carried into space gradually decreases as does resistance. When you diet often times you are at or near a standstill requiring much thrust to get that initial momentum. It is completely natural for willpower/drive/thrust to wain when you get away from that hefty starting weight, ultra high blood pressure, high-risk diabetes etc. Results lessen the burden you carry and you can decrease effort to avoid burnout. Just do not stop.

With all this being said in my personal life I have found planned stages (with room for adjustments) to be key, as the absence of stage two and three, “rockets”, means you will plummet back to your death or near death. Having a plan for when you can introduce more calories, carb, or fats and decrease your exercise requirements will transition you from a diet to a lifestyle.

What You See is What You Get

duo 4

What you see is what you get means the person you are in a relationship with has the value you perceive them to have. Please allow me to explain. I was watching a clip from the Steve Harvey show on the internet and he jokingly told the ladies to never say they have had more than four sexual partners and if they can get away with it two. He later went on mention it is none of their business and I agree.

You cannot tell by the,”feel”, how many people someone has been with and it really does not change who that person is in front of you. Think about it, had you not known what would be different about your relationship? There would absolutely nothing different. The argument that too many partners lends to poor decision making would have weight if you had not already deemed that person relationship material. If your relationship is still fresh then you may need to have a conversation about where that person’s head is now and their overall view of sexuality. Do not just have a knee-jerk reaction and punish someone for their past when you have used good judgment and found they are good/sound person today. A person is not the sum of their past mistakes or regrets. All of what that person has become through continuous learning and growing is what you are getting.

Please understand I am not coming from a place of having slept around at all. My view on this matter stems from a mistake I made many years ago. Before I get into that, however, I need to convey the fact that it is important to be honest when asked. If your relationship is not to a point where that person deserves an answer then decline to provide one. They may walk away, but you did not have much invested anyway.

Growing up I did not date at all (saving that for another post…virgin, not kissed etc..) and when I learned my very serious girlfriend had fooled around with one guy previously I told her I felt like a had a brand new car and just discovered some damage (or something to that effect). I do not recall saying that (conveniently), but certainly remember that foolish feeling I had. At the time we were serious enough to have just spent Christmas up North with her parents. I very much regret my reaction and apologized multiple times after that. My statement was devastating for her to hear. Nevertheless when I watched that Steve Harvey clip, I had to check my head space for remnants of that flawed way of thinking.

Ever a Work in Progress,

The Khaki Observer

Service What You Cannot See

grandma

I was speaking with a disabled veteran at work a few days ago and he said something that stuck with me. He was speaking about the difficulties of having a service dog and people not being able to immediately discern his need for one. He mentioned that people most often think of service dogs as belonging to the blind and do not consider how many veterans of  America’s most recent combat endeavors are in need of service dogs. Our conversation began because of several employees’ mishandling of needs as a disabled veteran. In our conversation, I never asked why he needed the dog, but I agree with his assessment of how people see service dogs.  His point about more veterans having them and experiencing discrimination lead me to recognize we Americans need to recallibrate our understanding of service dogs. This needed recalibration is also a reflection of how people today must consider other unseen ailments of those around them.

So many people today are suffering from mental illness and physical sickness that cannot be seen. A quick scan of the news gives us examples of several well-known stars who have committed suicide seemingly out of nowhere. This nowhere we speak of was seen by someone.  Honestly, you do not have to fully understand someone’s condition to be a listening ear or positive presence to break up the spell of lonliness someone is going through.  Little things can make a huge difference in another person’s life. For instance, one day a co worker/friend ask me to help her find a scale in our building one day at lunch. I obliged, we found the scale, and she ended up being too heavy for it to weigh her. As we returned to work riding in an elevator I apologized that we failed in our mission. She then looked at me, smiled, and said it was not all a failure because she got to spend time with me. I honestly was guilt struck at that moment because I was actually frustrated that day and wanted to sulk at my desk or in my car for lunch. I cannot tell you how many times I have learned weeks later that something I did meant a lot to a friend, family member, or acquaintance.  I do not say this to toot my own horn, but to convey the fact that everyone has the power to influence others positively. It may not just be one cup of coffee to that person, it could be the one part of his day he gets to spend with someone who is not going to jump down his throat because of a bad situation he is in. You may be that one customer whose complement pushes her to apply for that promotion that belongs to her. In my own life I sometimes feel like the biggest failure and then I spend time with a friend or family member who looks at me like I ten times the man I am. We all have that power; the power speak to/interact with someone as if they are (and they are) greater than the sum total of their latest failings or current illness. Although you can not see it, know you are needed.

I will leave you with a personal story. I had an uncle that fell ill with cancer and within several months of its discovery he died. In that time I meant to visit him, but I kept putting it off. At the time I was dealing with some depression and was not interested in going anywhere or being around anyone. When he died it hit me hard and I knew I was wrong to have put off visiting him. Nevertheless his funeral came about and I went. He was my grandmother’s oldest son and my dad’s oldest brother. Not even a month earlier my grandmother’s brother had died and I wondered what kind of condition she would be in. While I was walking around the outside of the church I heard my grandma shout, “Khaki Obeserver”, and with a smile she hugged me and told me how handsome I looked. Ladies and gentlemen, it was still a very sad day, but what she said was very impactful. My grandmother in all her suffering treated her boneheaded grandson in such a loving way I will never forget it. Now even in my own day to day personal, “sufferings”, I try to be present to support those around me in their unseen struggles with smiles, lame jokes, and all the dorky demeanor I can muster.

 

Ever a Work in Progress,

The Khaki Observer

 

A Difficult Discussion about the Livable Wage

hooding!!! 010 duotoneI have a difficult time with discussing the idea of a livable wage and its common association with the minimum wage. In America, I strongly disagree with gripes stating that one cannot live on minimum wage, for the most part. You see I believe the minimum wage is for those individuals who are not living fully independent of their parents or those working an additional job to supplement their main source income. Just because someone has three children to support does not mean a company should have to fork over $20/hour for someone to perform a fairly basic task. Families should not and cannot be supported reasonably by minimum wage jobs. Those considering starting families must consider the types of employment their skillsets afford them and plan accordingly. Children (outside of rape situations) do not just happen to people and take a considerable amount of financial resources to raise properly. Saying minimum wage should be higher to support a family whose size is disproportionate to the head(s) of household’s earning potential is borderline a form of welfare. Now I do understand earning potential can be etied to the state of the economy, however, in today’s society we have to escape the mindset of the “factory job for life mentality”.

Many businesses today are increasing technology, forming mergers, and making other moves to decrease and/or optimize their workforces. In light of this rapid changing Americans must insulate themselves with more education and skillset development in order to support themselves with gainful employment. Divorce is on the rise threatening many Americans financial stability as well. Better education and skillset development helps in the cases of divorces and break up as well.

To give an example my ex wife and I got married at 26 and decided to wait to have children (thankfully) while I paid down my student loans and got further along career wise. I ended up taking a second job at Target and working overtime at my full time job. This increased workload along with some monthly bonuses allowed us to get a good financial footing. We made a tough decision that many people would not make and my wife at the time led the charge.  Ladies honestly you are the gatekeepers. No one can predict a breakup or loss of employment in many situations, but you have the power to say no sex or not without strong protection or not until I see you bring home consistently good income.  Men be sure to be able to take care of yourself before you take risk with others, please.

In closing, I will leave you with this unsolicited and somewhat graphic picture. In my married life a medical predisposition prevented us from using birth control, so I suited up every time from virginity, packed the spermicide, packed the clothes for my second job in my car three to four times a week, and have never been *hungry”. Be responsible people.

 

*Hungry is not an admission to absolutely never being broke or behaving stupidly on some occasions 😉