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A year and nine months ago I made the switch from omnivore to herbivore.  The transition was a grueling process.  While I continued to eat milk-based products, I gave up eggs.  I learned a lot about food along the way.  For example, eggs and other animal byproducts lurk hidden in foods that one would think are entirely non-animal. A case in point: castoreum is an ingredient used in many raspberry and vanilla products.  It is made from the oil that beavers produce in their nether regions (i.e., beaver butt juice). This additive may be cleverly disguised as “natural flavors” in the product’s list of ingredients.  Not something I wanted to think about when drinking a vanilla crème soda….

It took several months to figure out what to eat and what to avoid.  Eventually I managed to get the vegetarian thing on automatic.

Now I’m facing another vertical learning curve with food. A few weeks ago I went to the doctor because of a couple allergic reactions I was having.  One reaction was to poison ivy and the other was to “God only knows what,” according to my allergist.  He wasn’t too worried about the unidentified allergen because it responded well to Benadryl. However, I found out while I was at the doctor that I’m vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficient.  And so the vegetarian saga continues. My doctor prescribed prescription-strength vitamin D and a weekly shot of B12.  I’m not crazy about the idea of taking vitamins; I’d rather get my nutrients from the food I eat.   And the thought of having to get a weekly shot of a vitamin didn’t work at all in my head.

“Can’t I just go sit in the sun and drink milk?” I whined.

As it turns out, I’d have to drink about four cups of milk a day to get my RDA of B-12. That’s way more milk drinking than I’m willing to do on a daily basis.

I reluctantly agreed to take the vitamin D on a short-term basis, but I said heck no to the weekly B-12 shots. Realistically vitamins, enriched soymilk, and fortified cereal aren’t viable options – I don’t like any of these things well enough to eat them on a regular basis.  Red Star Nutritional Yeast – too complicated.  I bought some three weeks ago and have yet to use it.  I need something motivating that I’ll actually eat. So I’m back to doing food research.  It turns out that shellfish are one the best food sources for B12.  Three ounces of oysters provide over 1000% DV of B-12. I’ll be adding a smidgeon of oysters to my weekly diet until I can figure out a better solution.

Any vegetarian readers out there who can offer up some ideas? How are you getting your B-12?


This time last year I was trying to figure out how to be a vegetarian and documenting my trials and tribulations in obnoxious detail.   Although I had been working at it for five months, by May 15, 2011 I had only made it without meat for two consecutive weeks (Enlightenment Day 125).

A year later, I’m happy to report that I have finally got the vegetarian thing on automatic. The hardest part of the conversion was dealing with hamburger cravings, especially in the summer when all my family’s gatherings traditionally revolve around eating them.

The media successfully made hamburgers much less appealing to me recently with the “pink slime” reports.  Apparently, 70% of beef products in our country contain this additive which consists of various cow parts glooped together and then gassed with ammonia to disinfect the concoction.  Yum!

This isn’t brand new news…we’ve known about this at least since 2009.

And the beef industries comeback?

“Beef is beef.”

…Yes, thank you…I’ll have the veggies.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

~~ Rumi


The Sights of Spring in Memphis

You must ask for what you really want.

backyard flower-joy bubbles over

The arugula planted in the fall has edible flowers.  What a surprise!

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.
-Henry David Thoreau

Some things you can learn by listening and talking. Others you can learn by quietly observing. And then there are the lessons you can learn only by doing. The lessons learned by doing are often the hardest kind to explain. I can spend all day telling you how to ride a bike.  You can tell me what you learned from my lecture.  You can watch me ride around and see that it looks easy.  But until you get on a bike and pedal for yourself you will never fully know the freedom of wheeling through time and space on a joy ride.  To know that experience you must leave your mind and become a citizen of your body. You must learn to trust what the body already knows.  You must be willing to concede some degree of control. It’s a process that takes practice.  Each time you waiver, each time you fall and get back up to try again your body learns. The vestibular system, with its coils and circles, makes the right minute adjustments without your direction.  Proprioceptors in your muscles learn the right patterns necessary to propel you forward. These systems and others learn to coordinate and become fine-tuned, but only through the practice. You just have to try. Learn by doing. Let go of fear, embrace trust, and you will find balance.

We ought to dance with rapture that we might be alive… and part of the living, incarnate cosmos.

~D.H. Lawrence

The following video fills me with unabashed joy.

More on the awesome dancer above, may be found here: Dergin Tokmak

I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.

~Friedrich Nietzsche

Hit the play button before reading on.



You are going to die.


(Morbid much?) 

Sorry, but this is Reality and Truth

 Your time is limited.

Each second ticking by on that clock is bringing you closer to your last breath.

It is bringing you closer to the death of those you love. 

 There is absolutely nothing you can do to change this simple fact, so now is the time to deal with it.


What is important?

Having six pack abs?

Racking up trophies and awards?

Updating your “status”?

Writing that next blog? 

Investing energy in that grudge you are holding?


Do not walk away from this question: 

What matters most?



Now, what exactly are you going to do (or not do) about it?

It is possible for a person to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively with a clear head and a positive sense of relaxed control.

–David Allen

Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.

–Zen Proverb


This past semester I have taken a whole new “zen” approach to my work-life. While I am still doing the academic equivalent of chopping wood and carrying water, I am doing it a lot more these days with a smile on my face and mind more focused on the present. Some good books and a few well-designed apps have facilitated this process. I will tell you all about the apps later.  For now, here are a couple of the books.

This fall I read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
by David Allen (recommended by The Couch Manager).  The organization methods in this book are helpful in creating a system that captures your projects, plans, and ‘todo’ lists in such a way that you can, well get things done more efficiently and with less stress.  It is not a particularly thrilling read, but I am here to testify that if you implement the principles, it works.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)
by Timothy Ferriss (another recommendation from The Couch Manager) is both practical and thrilling.  It has influenced my thinking about work, particularly in the domain of mobility.  I travel regularly between two states, so I need the ability to do what needs doing in an organized and efficient way wherever I happen to find myself at the moment.

Ferriss is, in a word, pragmatic.  I like that about him. His book offers a wealth of information, tips, and tricks to get your work-life manageable and automated so you can free up your mind (and time) to accomplish more of your goals.  He explains that one key component of this process is “cutting out counterproductive distractions by eliminating artificial needs.”  Those artificial needs will, of course, differ for everyone – from updating your Facebook status several times a day to checking email hourly, etc.  Once I realized for myself exactly how much time was wasted on digital distractions, I tweaked my own routine considerably.  I took his advice and began processing time-sapping things (e.g., email) in batches a couple times a week rather than daily.  The benefit here is that it saves time and keeps the mind focused. One caveat is that it may irritate students and colleagues who check their email every five minutes and expect you to do the same. It is a risk well worth the benefits as far as I am concerned.

Another tip he suggests to free up time is “outsourcing” portions of your work-life. Outsourcing is all the rage these days according to authors like Thomas L. Friedman (The World is Flat) and A.J. Jacobs (The Guinea Pig Diaries). While I appreciate and admire the work of these fellas, I decided to blaze my own trail here to keep more in line with my budding ‘buy local’ value system and to take advantage of my existing resources. Thus, I decided to in-source instead by making more efficient use of my indentured servant.  She’s rapidly developing mad Excel skillz while helping me becoming increasingly organized. Next week we take over the world! (in a very peaceful, zen-like way).

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