“Vegan Pagan’s Prayer” in a Lovely New Anthology

For those of you who have been longtime fans of my “Vegan Pagan’s Prayer,”  I’m pleased to announce it appears in this wonderful new anthology:

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Even in My Dreams:  A Collection of Vegan Poems

‘Even in my dreams – a collection of vegan poems’ is one of the first anthologies of its kind.

With entries from over 30 vegan poets from around the world, this book allows you to explore the full spectrum of emotions experienced as a vegan. There are poems that speak with joy, sadness, despair, horror, frustration, confusion, triumph, hope, gratitude, humour and sarcasm.

“A beautiful volume of always touching, sometimes funny, and invariably accessible poems about why animals matter and why vegans stand up for them.” – Victoria Moran, author, podcaster, and Academy director: Main Street Vegan.

All profits from this book go towards the Barefoot Vegan Farm & Animal Sanctuary – BarefootVeganFarm.com

I’ve enjoyed every issue of Barefoot Vegan that I’ve read, and I highly recommend it – it’s got a more spiritual, not strictly food-focused focus than most other veg mags.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with food! Just sometimes I want to hear more about the mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of living an ahimsa-loving life.)

Profits from the anthology as well as magazine sales directly benefit the Barefoot Vegan Sanctuary, a recently-established home for animals located in France.  They’re just getting off the ground and every book helps more rescued critters find a peaceful, safe home!

If you’re a fan of mine who’s also veg-conscious, I’ve also written for another anthology, Call to Compassion: Religious Perspectives on Animal Advocacy.  Be sure and check it out too.

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Something Pretty for my Fellow Herbivores

In the midst of a bout with The Sads, I finally finished something I’ve been working on for a while – a prettier, graphic version of the Vegan Pagan’s Prayer I wrote several years ago.  It’s always been one of my favorite works of mine; it was one of those things that just came out through my hands without any effort.

Now that I’m slowly learning how to edit images and assemble new ones (purely by trial and error), I made the prayer a project to expand my learnin’.

Feel free to download this jpeg version, or you can download a pdf – send it to your friends, pin it, print it out to hang over  your altar, whatever tickles your fancy.

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The Power (and Pain) of Empathy

I thought this post needed a smiling puppy to balance out the sad.

Empathy isn’t just an affliction for psychic vampire musicians.  It’s a very real thing that strikes when you least expect it, like on a sunny Saturday morning through a window.

Every Saturday I work the front desk at Thrive fitness studio where I take Nia classes.  I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now, and it’s always a good way to start my weekend – nothing like riding the energy groove of a class full of happy dancing people to put a smile on your face.

The studio shares its parking lot with a veterinary clinic, so I often see people arriving with their dogs and walking across the narrow street from the lot to the vet’s office.  I’ve seen all sorts of canines and all sorts of humans with them.

This morning I was in the middle of marking off class cards when a luxury SUV pulled into the parking lot and all but flew into a space.  A blonde woman in her mid 30s and a typical dude-bro looking man got out and ran around to the back of the vehicle.  They opened the hatch, revealing a large dog crate.

Right away I knew something terrible had happened.  The woman opened the crate door and reached inside…then a moment later backed up, hands going to her mouth.  The husband (?) didn’t seem to know what to do, so he stood there patting her back awkwardly.

I realized I had just seen their dog die.

The woman lost it.  Completely.  Right there on the curb, she went to her knees and threw up into the landscaping, then sat rocking back and forth sobbing for several minutes.  The husband ran into the clinic and came back with a cup of water for her.  Finally he helped her to her feet, caught her when she nearly passed out, and the two closed the SUV’s door and walked into the clinic together.  He had seemed kind of helpless in the face of her pain, but once he figured out practical ways he could help her, he was pretty amazing.

By the time they came out, the woman was calmer, but she had that shell-shocked look people always get when death strikes them out of the clear blue nowhere.  They got back in the SUV and drove away much more slowly than they’d arrived, taking their dog back home.

I managed not to break down sobbing while I was behind the desk – there’s nothing more awkward than walking in on a crying woman – but as soon as I got in my car I had a brief but intense moment of weeping for the woman, the husband, and their dog.  I felt terrible, not just because of what had happened, but because I felt like I had intruded on what should have been private grief.  I tried, in my clumsy way, to send them love – love for the dog, as he or she passed; and love for the humans he left behind, especially the woman who loved him so much she broke down in the middle of a busy Saturday on South Congress.

On the outside these were not the sort of people I would ever have spent time with out in the world.  But we’ve all felt that kind of pain, that sweeping loss that washes everything away.  I found myself thinking about other people I’d seen that morning.  The lady who cut me off in traffic – what if she did that because her dog had just died and she was driving his body home to bury, her eyes overflowing with tears?  What about the weird smelling guy at the post office?  Any one of the people in the studio at that moment dancing?  I know from experience that to dance is to free stuck emotions and break up energetic stagnation, so any one of them could have been dancing out a deep wailing grief just as easily as just having a good time.

Or even when people have been cruel to me, I still have no idea what’s going on in their hearts at the time; I just know that it’s almost never about me. The woman from Pilates class who gives me the stink-eye when I arrive for Nia…it could be that she hates her body so much she can’t imagine loving a body like mine.  It could be that her mother died due to diabetes and she feels like her weight was a direct factor.  It could be her high school bully was a big girl who taught her to fear large women.  That won’t, of course, stop me from giving her the “Can I HELP you?” look, which usually earns an embarrassed retreat, but it does remind me that behind every person causing pain, there almost always is pain – a mountain of pain left to fester and rot until it stinks up everything around them.

You just never know what’s going on with someone – why they look the way they look, act the way they act.  That’s not to excuse inconsiderate behavior by any means, but it does give me pause when I get ready to leap to judgment against someone.  Just as they have no idea looking at me what I’ve been through, I have no idea what wounds they are nursing, what demons they’ve faced.  You just never know.

There’s a quote that’s been on my mind since then, often attributed to Plato but actually traceable to the 1890s and a writer named Ian MacLaren:

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Event Review: Texas VegFest 2012!

March 31 was the very first Texas VegFest here in Austin, held at Fiesta Gardens, which is right on Ladybird Lake.  I, like a lot of veggiesaurs in our fair city, was really surprised we’d never had one before – Austin is loaded with vegetarian and vegan resources.  They were certainly well-represented at the festival!

I headed out with a friend who’s a health coach, into what was outwardly a gorgeous day but was, in fact, blistering-hot because there wasn’t really adequate shade near most of the vendors.  I don’t fault the planners, though – they’ve been working on this thing for two years, and how were they to know we were going to skip right over Spring this year?  90 degrees at the end of March is positively unholy.

There were somewhere near 100 vendors and booths, ranging from local restaurants and bakeries to animal rights organizations to health and wellness services…and of course live music, this being Austin and all. My own favorite Austin Pets Alive! was there, as were Compassion Over Killing and Vegans Rock Austin.

It was really something to behold – especially since there was such a big crowd!  I’m really hoping that the turnout will make it feasible for the planners to hold one every year, although I know what a freaking nightmare that kind of thing is to put on.  I salute the hell out of the planners and volunteers.

Upon entering we received Whole Foods swag bags full of coupons, stickers, various sorts of literature on health, environment, and animals, and even a couple of samples.

There were samples galore to be had in the food booths and plenty of tasty things to buy – the most popular were of course the ice cream makers like Luna & Larry’s, NadaMoo, and our local vegan ice cream parlor Sweet Ritual.  The longest line (aside from the ice cream) was at the Daiya foods booth where they were giving out samples of the latest vegan cheeses. Several of the local veg food trucks were there.  And oh, the smells – especially the various Indian restaurants represented, including one of my favorites, Curry in a Hurry.

But the best part was an opportunity to be a goofy fangirl – Isa Chandra Moskowitz did a cooking demo, with all her wit and kitchen wisdom.  She was both hilarious and practical, and demonstrated recipes for barbecue seitan and sunflower seed mac & “cheese.”  For all that she and her partner in crime, Terry Hope Romero (who also did a cooking demo of tamales later in the day) are basically vegan rockstars, Isa was wonderfully genuine and down to earth.  I may or may not have squeed a number of times, including when she shared the scoop on her forthcoming cookbook.

One of the best things about the fest, which is a personal thing for me, was the body diversity on display. A lot of veg communities are, to be blunt, real jerks to fat people, since veganism has been touted as the new great white hope in weight loss and I guess we make them look bad. There’s also a stereotype that vegans in particular are all white yuppies, which isn’t remotely true.  Today I saw all shapes, sizes, and shades of skin, a true reflection of the wild mix of people who call our groovy city home.  Go Austin!

Really, my only complaint was the heat – I think next year I’ll try to go earlier in the day.  The speakers’ pavilion was air conditioned, so getting there right around opening time and making the rounds then settling in the A/C to listen to the speakers I think would work out better…assuming, of course, that we skip Spring next year too.

One of the major reasons I wanted to go was that I’ve been needing something to rekindle my veg passion; despite all the work I’ve been doing lately on my mental health, my dietary habits have, shall we say, sucked balls.  And balls, as we know, are not vegan.  Now I’m inspired to read some of my books again and thumb through my cookbooks…right after I finish sorting my swag.

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5 Things Make a Post

My brain is a little fuzzy this morning, and I was afraid I was going to have to bust this out:

Source: thefrogman.me via Dianne on Pinterest

 

But instead…

1 ~ I’m quite thrilled to announce that Ace will be publishing books 4 and 5 of the Shadow World series in 2013 and 2014 respectively. I don’t have titles or specific dates for either yet, but I’ve already started work on book 4.  Snoopy Dance!  (Just FYI: That doesn’t mean the series will end with book 5 necessarily; that’s just as far as we’ve got contracted.)

2 ~ As I mentioned on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve created a page in the Shadow World Extras area where I’ll list the song lyric references for each novel.  These are the original recordings rather than the cover versions I may have put on the book playlists.

3 ~ Speaking of the playlists, you can now subscribe to them as well as my Writing Soundtrack, playlists of prayer songs and (soon) favorite ecstatic dance tracks, and compiled lists of the current season songs for The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle on my profile at Spotify.  I love the music in TVD and TSC so I started compiling the songs as they’re posted each week, and I figured fellow fangirls might like them too.  And yes, the Writing Soundtrack is really what I have going in my ears while I write.

4 ~ How much do I love the new Florence + the Machine album Ceremonials? So much I want to marry it, then have a falling-out and get divorced just so we can meet up by accident later and fall in love all over again.

5 ~ Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine is doing a 21-Day Vegan Kickstart program, which they’ve done a number of times, but this time they’re focused entirely on the food of India!  Not only are a number of awesome veg luminaries providing recipes and advice, but the list includes Bollywood stars as well as other celebs of Indian descent.  I could definitely eat Indian food for 21 days…well, maybe not, unless there’s a Masala Mocha Frappuccino available at Starbucks…but I’d be way more likely to do that than to do some laborious juice and raw food cleanse.

 

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