Going Vegan

I’ve been a vegetarian for over seven years, a change in my eating habit that was fairly easy to make. Especially since the last seven years have brought many new meatless products so good they make giving up the real thing feel like you’re not giving up anything at all. But making the change to go completely vegan was more of a struggle for me.

For a long time I thought it was good enough that I ate “mostly” vegan and that the cheese pizza or grilled cheese I occasionally ate wasn’t incredibly harmful because I wasn’t eating meat. What a ridiculous thought.

Even though I’ve watched pretty much every vegan documentary available, Forks Over Knives, What the Health, The Game ChangersCowspiracy, and a few others, it wasn’t until I watched Earthlings that everything changed. I could no longer make what I thought were harmless exceptions to my diet. I was going full vegan, and I was going all the way. I bought a vegan leather jacket, as well as vegan leather handbags, and cleared my closet of anything that was a result of animal cruelty. I was thankful that my favorite pairs of Converse Cons were vegan. 

Going vegan, you are consciously deciding to no longer take part in the torture of the living beings, brutally slaughtered to end up on someone’s plate. 

Eating a compassionate diet, a diet not comprised of the suffering of any life, has helped me to find my inner calmness, even during these unstable times of a deadly global virus and thousands of domestic terrorists trying to overtake the U.S government.

As I watch these disturbing and violent clips, I turn to veganism and the vegan community to remind me that there are people who empathize with the pain and suffering of others, and are activists in trying to stop it. We need a world filled with more people like that. 

If you’re interested in giving veganism a try, since 2014 there has been a non-profit organization that encourages people to go vegan called Veganuary where people pledge to go vegan for January and longer. Veganuary | Home | The Go Vegan 31 Day Challenge

The Year We Never Saw Coming

As we wind down another year, a year I’m sure no one was anticipating when they clinked champagne glasses at the countdown to midnight, ringing in the year 2020. Celebrations erupted. It was 2020! The start of a new decade. 

There’s so much to be excited for when a new year begins. We wipe the slate clean from the previous year.  Tell ourselves we’ll do better. Right our mistakes. Change our ways, if that’s what’s needed.  The resolutions begin, and we jump into January ready to take on the new year with so much promise, so much hope.

And then Covid stops us in our tracks and changes everything. 

I thought I rang in the New Year in such a lame way. I was sick as hell. Spent the night on the couch, barely staying awake to watch the ball drop. Turns out,  being sick was the most accurate way to start the year that would be 2020.

I think about those whose lives were taken by Covid-19. What their New Year resolutions were? Did they have expectations or goals for 2020? A new job? A promotion? Getting pregnant? Becoming engaged? Getting married? Maybe someone had become a grandparent for the first time, and 2020 was going to be all about loving that new child and building memories with him/her. 

As I write this, the U.S confirmed death toll is 302,141 people. Those three hundred thousand people can no longer build memories with their loved ones, they have now become memories to their loved ones. 

No one can know for sure if those people wouldn’t have died of other reasons in 2020, but Covid made sure that they did. The horrific fact is, the dying is reportedly not even close to ending. The casualty predictions are dire. Vaccines have been approved, but many thousands will die before the vaccine becomes available to them. 

Two weeks ago, I recovered from my case of Covid-19. I was ashamed that I got it because it made me feel irresponsible when I thought I was being cautious. I’m not an anti-masker. I avoided large gatherings. But I still got it, and I can only hope I didn’t spread it to anyone else. My case was very mild. I’m lucky and grateful for that.  

As this disastrous year comes to an end, I hope for a new year of recovery, healing, and as much peace as we can achieve. 

Gautam-Buddha-Quotes-6

Photo courtesy of Scrolldroll.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is going to be a strange Thanksgiving for a lot of people. For those of us who have decided to spend this day of thanks apart from the very people we are most thankful for, I know it’s hard, but hang in there. This is all temporary and soon we will again be joining our friends and family at the dinner table, sharing good food, good conversation, and lasting memories. 

The key is to live to see another day. Survive until we have a vaccine. I write those words as I am in day 13 of having Covid. I was one of the lucky ones who suffered only mild symptoms, and during this time I’ve been thinking about all of those who lost their lives to this virus. Why do some survive while others don’t? I wish that weren’t so. 

So although this Thanksgiving I’m not with all of my family, I do have much to be thankful for. I’m still here.

Since I didn’t get to shop for my usual Thanksgiving favorites, I will celebrate and give thanks this holiday as I tear into a delicious vegan pizza. Because why not choose cruelty free when you can?

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone. Stay safe. 

happy thanksgiving 3

happy thanjsgiving 4

 

 

 

I Can’t Wait Till You’re Gone, Donald Trump

It’s been eight days since the U.S presidential election has been called for Joe Biden, and Donald Trump has yet to concede. Though the election hasn’t been certified, the norm is that the losing nominee concedes so that the winner can begin the transition into their future presidency. 

A lot is at stake during the transfer of power between presidential administrations, mostly in the national security of this country. A president-elect has to be prepared to keep the country safe during the transition, and in order to do that, he needs to know all of our threats. He needs to be privy to all classified information. He needs to see the daily presidential briefs, something Donald Trump is blocking Joe Biden by not conceding. 

Regardless of whether Trump concedes or not, Joe Biden will take the presidential oath on January 20, 2021, and become the country’s 46th president. Say what you want about Hillary Clinton. I know she was a flawed candidate, but she conceded the day after the 2016 election. She lost to a smaller margin of votes in the key states, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, than Trump lost to Biden, yet, she didn’t sue the states. Plus, she won the popular vote by over 3 million votes, yet she still conceded immediately. 

Yet, here we are. Donald Trump won’t concede because he claims to have won the election, but widespread election and voter fraud stole it from him. He has no real proof. His legal team is losing in court, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from losing his mind on Twitter and tweeting how he has won the election by a lot. 

I thought the liberals were supposed to be the cry-baby snowflakes? Donald Trump is the biggest baby. He didn’t get the name Toddler-in-Chief for nothing. He earned that title. 

This past Saturday, Trump supporters went to D.C for a Stop the Steal march, even though nothing was stolen from Trump. You have to own something before it can be stolen from you, and Donald Trump never owned this election, he never won it. 

Still, tens of thousands of people showed up flaunting their Trump merch–hats, T-shirts, shorts, flags, and banners.  But no matter how many Trump flags they wave, Trump still lost the election. That won’t change. Ever. 

His followers stood out there waving their Trump flags, while Trump played golf. He is literally on the golf course as the tense partisan divide in the country mirrors that of the Civil War, all the while a deadly out-of-control pandemic looms in the background, and Donald Trump is doing nothing about it. Except golfs. That’s what he does. 

 Donald Trump is a useless POS.  The sooner he’s gone, the sooner we can bring some kind of normalcy and decorum back to the office of the presidency. He’s been an embarrassment for far too long. The only reason he wants to win so bad is because he knows the legal battles that await him the moment he is no longer the president of the United States.

I think Donald Trump will find his legal troubles are a lot harder to fight without the Office of Legal Counsel’s protection of “you can’t indict a sitting president” shielding him in court.  As a private citizen, I hope Donald Trump will finally be held accountable for all the laws he has broken.

I think we will soon find out why he never did release those tax returns. 

I can’t wait till you’re gone, Donald Trump. And I know I’m not the only one. 

Below is my favorite parody video made about Trump and all his cronies. God, I hope this comes true. 

Rogue, A Shelter Dog

I volunteer at an animal shelter, so I’m obviously a big advocate for adopting over shopping for a pet. There are millions of loving animals who need homes. And since I have a pit bull mix who is the sweetest hunk of love you’ll ever meet, I, of course, advocate for pit bulls. 

Don’t believe everything you read or hear about this misunderstood and misrepresented breed of dog. Pit bulls make wonderful companion dogs. They love their humans and are very protective of them. They’re goofy. Love to cuddle while licking your face off. You’ll never be lonely because they follow you everywhere you go. 

There’s a pit bull mix at the shelter who I’ve been spending some extra time with. He’s going to be a great dog for the person who decides to take him home. I’ve been working on commands with him, though he gets impatient after a while because when he’s in the play yards, he’d rather play. His name’s Rogue. He’s young and has a lot of energy to exert.

We go on walks. He’s a great walking partner, although recently he got spooked by some Halloween decorations. It was quite funny. We were walking along the sidewalk and then he just came to a dead stop. I didn’t at first know why he had stopped. I looked down at him, and he was staring at something behind me.

On the front lawn of a house were huge blown-up Halloween decorations. One was of a Frankenstein-like monster and the other was of a huge black cat with a moving head. I’m pretty sure this was the one that stopped Rogue in his tracks. The cat was in attack position. 

Rogue wouldn’t budge when I tried to tug him forward. But I couldn’t blame him. If I were a dog who didn’t know what the heck Halloween decorations were, I’d be terrified too of something that looked like a giant cat. So we walked across the street and continued on with our walk.

Rogue was happy because we didn’t see anymore scary Halloween decorations. 

If you’re looking for a pet, please consider visiting your local animal shelter. And while you’re there, please don’t pass up a dog just because it’s labeled a pit bull.

The Spooky Month

Fall is my favorite season. October, my favorite month. And Halloween, my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving being a very close second). It’s not because of the candy. I don’t eat much candy anymore. It’s not even because of the costumes. I don’t dress up much anymore.

After a summer season of sweating beneath a blistering hot sun, I’m always ready for the crisp, cool weather and falling leaves that Autumn brings.

I like the month that starts the cold and gloomy season, that darkens the days at early hours and makes a person want to be inside more than outside. Lives calm down. The hustle and bustle of summer settles. The long sunshine days dissolve into short shadowy days.

The season is a reflective time. October is my January 1. My brand new start. My time to finish the story, or stories, that’s been living inside my head for too long. My time to look back on the year and decide if I’m where I want to be.

At no other time during the year am I most inspired to write than now. I can be my naturally-inclined hermit self without the weighing guilt of wasting away a sunny day. The story I’ve mostly wanted to write during this time is, of course, a scary, horror one.

I started to write a ghost story almost twenty years ago, but I didn’t finish it. I still have it, and I intend to take a long hard look at it at some point, but other stories needing my attention always seem to come first. I’ll get to it, eventually.

This month, naturally, puts me in the mood to write spooky. October is all about the spook. I watch scary movies. I read scary stories. I decorate my house, inside and out, with scary decorations. All of this because I like the scary season, yet I’ve never completed one single scary story.

My Novel, A Penny on the Tracks

 

In college (22 years ago), I wrote a short story titled, The Hideout.  It wasn’t very good, merely acceptable for a college Creative Writing course.  The characters were bland. The dialogue dragged. I told more than I showed (a writer’s cardinal sin). The story was everything good writing isn’t supposed to be, yet some five years ago, I stumbled upon the twelve or so pages, stuffed in a binder, in a bin in my closet. There were a few short stories in that binder, all equally bad. But for some reason I’d hung on to them, and it was a good thing that I did. 

After many revisions, I’ve turned that cringe-worthy short story into a published novel. The Hideout, now titled, A Penny on the Tracks, is a coming of age story that follows the friendship of two eleven-year old girls, Lyssa and Abbey, who spend the summer of ’86, mostly unsupervised, relishing the freedom in riding their bikes in the streets of their hometown, watching MTV while singing and dancing wildly on the furniture, and eating as many messy bologna sandwiches and junk food they want. 

But we soon see, despite this seemingly juvenile heaven, the girls each carry heavy burdens of their own, that come to the breaking point late in their teens. As children, the girls discover a hideout in a remote area near the train tracks, and spend much of their summer days there, using the place as a safe haven from the angst of their unsettled lives. 

Lyssa resents her single mother for not being home when she needs her, while Abbey would prefer her mother to be gone for most of the day. This provides the backdrop of their friendship and the strong bond between them. It also is the catalyst for personal discovery, sexual identity, and tragedy. 

APennyontheTracks-web
A Penny on the Tracks

 

Back of the Book

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death. 

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality. After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth. 

 

 

 

My Dog, Phil.

 

phil-sick-3

My dog, Phil, has arthritis, mostly in his right back leg. So when he started favoring that leg, I gave him an anti-inflammatory I keep on hand for such occasions. Within a couple days, the limp went away and I stopped giving the anti-inflammatories. But four days after the initial limp in his right leg, Phil started hobbling, while favoring his left hind leg. This was unusual. The left leg wasn’t the usual favored leg, and the limp was never that drastic. So I called the vet the next morning and got Phil in for an examination that day. The doctor felt a tear, but I would need to see a surgeon to confirm. In the meantime, Phil’s anti-inflammatory was upped in dosage. This was on a Friday. By Thursday of the following week, my dog was dying of liver failure.

I had an appointment with the surgeon on Wednesday (before I knew about his failing liver), and a few nights before this, Phil was throwing up and not eating. I chucked it up to the stress he must have been feeling related to his injured leg. But blood tests showed morbidly high levels of liver enzymes, and I wasn’t prepared for the call from the surgeon telling me she was extremely concerned about my dog.

Just a few weeks ago, he’d been a completely happy and healthy dog. For an eleven-year old, Phil had avoided major health issues until now. Other than the usual yearly check-ups, I’d only had to take Phil to the doctor for an innocuous eye infection and common stomach issues.  So it was crushing to accept that my dog was suddenly sick enough to die.

Phil sick

I spoke with my vet, and Phil was immediately given fluids that evening and put on seven different medications. His eyes and gums were heavily jaundiced, and it worried me. The hope was that we’d get enough fluids in his body to flush the liver. He was drinking on his own, but hardly eating, even with an appetite stimulant, but at least what he was eating, he was keeping down. Our go-to food was my mom’s homemade meatballs. Even with a failing liver, homemade Italian food was apparently hard to resist.

For the next few days, he went to the vet for IV fluids. After five days of almost no improvement, the doctor told me she wasn’t very hopeful, but if this was her dog, she’d give him a couple more days. A couple more days? Those words cut me deep. We were standing in the vet parking lot. The tears were hard to stop, though I don’t remember trying.

While Phil was at the vet getting fluids, I spent the time without him browsing through pictures on my phone, some taken at a park a mere two weeks before this happened. Those were emotional pictures to look at, because I knew the me in those pictures, with my dog, couldn’t fathom the reality that was in store in the short future.

Phil sick 5

I couldn’t stand being without him all day while he got his fluids, and I thought if my time with him was limited, I needed to be with him as much as I could. The vet agreed and she gave me fluids to put under his skin at home. You don’t go through a vein, you just stick a needle, attached to a long tube connected to a bag of fluids, in his skin. My brother did the honors of sticking him. I just couldn’t do it.

My brother loves that dog as much as I do. All you have to do is utter the word “Uncle” in front of Phil, and Phil’ll jump to his feet, tail speed-waggin’, in search of his favorite person.  It’s heart-warming knowing my dog is so well-loved by people other than myself. Aside from his “Uncle”, Phil has a “Grandma”, “Aunties”, and “Cousins” who were all concerned for him. I had so much support from my family, I never went to a vet appointment alone. My brother was with me for every one of them, as well as for the fluids done at home

Phil loves sitting outside in the grass, so we sat outside as much as he wanted. Because Phil was filled with so much fluids, he needed to go out three or four times during the night. At three o’clock in the morning one night, Phil wanted to lie underneath a tree, near the street in front of our house, his favorite spot. It was a still and cool late July night, and I sat beside him and watched him take the night in. Phil was always so content and happy being outside.

One Sunday afternoon, a few days later, we sat underneath that same tree, and I thought this would be our last Sunday afternoon together. I kept noting the time, so that the next Sunday, I could look at the clock and say “at this time last week, I was lying in the grass with my baby”. Or, “At this time, I was rubbing Phil’s stomach.” I wanted to be able to look back on that Sunday and remember how every moment was spent with him.  I was so conscious of my time with him. I suppose that’s what you do when you think you are living your last moments with a dog who is your everything.

The only other thing Phil loved more than sitting outside, was going to the park. My brother and I took him for a ride to his favorite place, and we took a lot of pictures. I hated thinking this was the end, but I wanted these days documented. I wanted to be able to look back at the possible last days of my dog’s life and know that despite everything he was going through, Phil was happy. I didn’t like thinking that way, but the vet’s words of hopelessness never left my mind, though it was hard to accept.

Still, after those “couple of days” the vet said she’d give her dog had passed, there was no doubt we were continuing with treatment. After a few more days of fluids and medication, we did another blood test, and though the levels were still high, they were lower than the previous test. And that was all the hope I needed. And when you’re pathetically desperate, as I was, all you can ask for is hope. Phil was still jaundiced, but we continued on.

About three weeks after getting the blood results that had showed his liver was failing, another blood test revealed all of his levels were back to normal. My dog survived liver failure. It is a major understatement to say that I am relieved and so appreciative to be allowed more time with my baby.

As Phil continues to age, I knew this wouldn’t be the last of his ailments, but I didn’t expect the next thing to happen so soon. The day after that last blood test, I noticed Phil’s right ear looked a little red. I thought it maybe have been an allergic reaction to something, so I left it be. But the next day it was even redder, so I called the vet. By the time I got an appointment, the infection was in both ears. A double ear infection seemed so innocuous compared to the liver failure he’d just survived, so I wasn’t very concerned. Phil was prescribed ear drops, but after three days of giving him those drops, my dog had completely lost his hearing.

I called the vet, and was told an ingredient in the drops, gentamicin, can cause hearing loss. The vet expected Phil’s hearing to come back after a couple days and periodic flushing, but it’s been five days now, and he still can’t hear his mommy’s voice.

In the last two months, Phil tore his ACL, survived liver failure, and is currently deaf. I wonder what is going through his mind. I know he’s confused, because he’s even needier towards me than he used to me. It’s as though he needs extra reassurance from his momma that he’s gonna be okay.

I haven’t given up hope that he will hear again, cuz what do you have if you haven’t got hope? If we got through liver failure together, we’ll get through this. Despite what happens, Phil will be okay because he’s loved so much, and I can only hope that he knows it.

Author, Leigh Goff, visits my blog with her new release, Koush Hollow.

This is the book you’ve been waiting for! Leigh Goff has written another fabulous story that grabs you and doesn’t let go. Koush Hollow is a definite read for all ages. Be sure to grab your copy today.

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

 How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT
This excerpt is from Chapter 1 of Koush Hollow. The sixteen-year-old main character, Jenna, seems to have a waking nightmare where an interesting creature appears, but only to her. Is it real or is it a dream?

Tap, tap.

My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.

“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten café lattes.”

“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”

She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”

My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.

“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”

I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be.

“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.

I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”

We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.

Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, will release on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Remembering Betsy

I keep a journal, and every so often I like to look back in time and read entries from years past. A recent browse through old pages brought me to a summer day in 2014. I was at one of my favorite reading/writing spots — my local Starbucks. I know, so bland, so prosaic, but at the time it was one of the places I felt creative.

I was sitting in a comfy chair near the window, reading a book, when a woman with a cane and a man, later sixties, were looking for a place to sit. There were tables available, but all seats next to the windows were taken, and apparently I was sitting in the woman’s favorite chair.

There was something childlike about the woman’s lack of inhibition, in the way she freely and unreservedly showed her disappointment at the prospect of not sitting in her favorite place. Apparently she liked sitting near the window.

The woman didn’t act in an entitled, bratty kind of a way. There was a smile on her face when she commented to the man (whom I found out later was her husband) that all the seats were taken. Though she was smiling, I noticed it was the forced, strained smile one makes while trying to make the best of an undesired situation.

I don’t remember who spoke first, her or me, but I ended up giving my seat to her, and sat at a small table close by. She was so thrilled and so appreciative, she kissed my hand and pressed it against her cheek. A sweet gesture six years ago, but horrifying to fathom someone doing that now during Covid nation. I really miss these little human interactions.

She smiled at everyone, and there was something so simply content about her that I found comforting.

We talked for a while. Found out her name was Betsy and that she had MS, which was why she needed the cane. Her husband was a retired professor, and his love for his wife was apparent in the patient way he talked to her and helped her steady the cup of coffee to her lips.

I remember fondly how my encounter with Betsy affected my day. I feel lucky to have met her and know that a person like her existed in this world. I would see her at Starbucks again a short time later, and she was as happy to see me as I was to see her. We hugged like old friends. Her husband read a newspaper as we chatted. We talked about movies, books, mediums — anything we could think of. She was so easy to talk to because she was curious and interested in everything. It was refreshing to talk to someone so open.

She made an impact on me. She gave me a memory I can always look back on and remember as being good. I didn’t need to stumble upon a six-year old journal entry to remember Betsy, but having a reason to remember her brought a smile to my face.

There aren’t many people you randomly meet in your life who six years later can still instill in you a feeling of contented happiness when you remember the short time you spent with them.

Imagine how awesome this world would be if there were more Bestsy’s out there. I hope that now, six years later, neither her illness nor life, has wiped that beautiful smile off her face.