The Mistake I Made with My Grieving Friend

Dear diary,

A friend of mine share this really great article on Facebook the other day called:  The Mistake I Made with my Grieving Friend by Celeste Headlee.  Enjoy it here.

I feel like my husband makes this same “mistake” with me when I share my feelings about loosing my father last year.  He tries to help by telling me about his feelings when that happened to him, when all I really wanted him to do was just listen to me and acknowledge my feelings.  In anger, I have told him:  “hey I am not talking about you here, please don’t turn this around like that”!  Not saying that his emotions and experiences are any less important, but at the time, I really needed him to be focusing on me.

I know, I too, have done this in the past.  I felt like I was “connecting” with who was talking to me and had no idea that I was just uncomfortable with the topic at hand.  Now that I understand what it is like to grieve, I feel I can also better understand how to be more empathic to others by being a better listener.

Sometimes you have to come full circle to connect.

~an enlightened, american, Vegan




The sun will come out tomorrow

Dear diary,

It has been a very long time since I have added an entry here.  Too long.  Well life sucks sometimes and it gets in the way of doing what we “should” be doing.  This post just wasn’t going to cut it on my “sweet” sister site, so here we are and hopefully this will be a good place for me to drudge through this drudgery…..

My husband and I went to see our therapist a couple of nights ago.  He was concerned with my current “mental state” and we wanted to share some of the struggles I had been facing.

“I think you are depressed” is what she told us.

Great, just fucking great.  I don’t have time to be depressed.  But our therapist basically told me I need to find time to allow myself to be depressed.  I was told that I shouldn’t make any big changes in my life for at least another six month (because on top of being depressed, I was still in the grieving period of my father’s passing back in July of 2017).  And to add a cherry to the top of this crap cake, she said a lot of people in her practice were also suffering from SAD this year.  SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a kind of subcategory of depression that tends to affect people at certain times of the year (mainly in the fall and winter).  Austin has had what I would call an unusual winter.  Lots of days that have been colder than normal, even some snowfall, and not so much sun.  I am very familiar with SAD but on the opposite end of the spectrum.  I feel like it usually affects me in the heart of summer.  Having spent over 20 years in Arizona, I am not someone who particularly likes the heat and by August I usually find myself depressed and irritable towards those long dog days.  I want nothing more for fall to come and for hoodies and hot beverages to seep into my soul.

The summer of 2017 was already very depressing for other reasons and now I have this to continue to deal with.  It really fucking sucks too.  I just want to feel like me again.  I want to enjoy running and even working again.  But instead I like to layer up, get into bed and snooze or spend hours surfing Facebook, all the while, asking myself:  “why I am wasting my life away with this nonsense”?  Or worse yet, sometime I hit Amazon pretty hard hoping to find some”thing” to fill the hole in my present existence.

Most days my mind is pretty foggy anyways.  I find I have a hard time concentrating (it took me like 4 times to just spell “concentrating” close enough for the spell check to figure out what the hell I was trying to type) and I get very frustrated with myself at work and even at home with my family.  Work has been very accommodating with allowing me to take time off during the week and just kind of float around and rest my mind.  My family somewhat understands.  My husband wants so badly to just be able to “fix” my issues but is learning that what I really need is for him to just listen to me and cuddle with me whenever necessary.  My mom I’m sure would be supportive IF I really let her in and told her how I was feeling.  I choose not to because, right now she is facing her own grief period and probably a bit of SAD as well.  She lost a husband of 44 years and is now living in brand new state with weather that she doesn’t agree with at all.  She doesn’t need to worry about me as well (even though she worries about everything anyways).

I have been reading and listening to podcasts a lot more lately.  Lots of self-help crap so that when I do burst out of this emotional fart bubble, I will hopefully have a good grip on what I want to do with my life going forward.  One thing that I can say about death, is it really gets you to look at your own life (and the wasting of it) a lot more closely.  I’m hoping that the second half of 2018 will look a lot different from the first.  I really want to make some changes.  I live more intentionally, instead of just going through the motions each day.  Ryan and Josh from The Minimalist have been helping me understand more and more just how to do that and I have discovered many great books that have “f*ck” somewhere in their title, to be great motivators too*.  Go figure.

So yeah, this sucks and I’m so ready to be over it.

~ a depressed, american, Vegan


* Books:

  1. “Fu*k it, Do what you love” by John C. Parkin
  2. “The Subtle art of not giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson 


Never goodbye… I will see you later.

Dear Diary,

Richard Neal Dennis was my father.  He passed away at 5:22am, today, Friday July 21st, 2017 after a short but aggressive battle with cancer.

Part of me died today.  A part of my heart will forever hold a spot for my father.  My daddy.

You only lived 27 days after your diagnosis.  Not even a full month.  But you were so brave about it all.  You never let mom or I think you were scared.  You answered all the questions we had and the main thing you were worried about was whether or not mom and I would be ok.

We will be ok daddy.  I promise you that.  We will live on and carry you in our hearts forever.  And I promised you that I would do something great in your honor.

You told me to use my words to tell the world about everything that is wrong with our “healthcare” system and how our government fails us every time they allow big agriculture, dairy and pharmaceutical companies dictate what we should be eating or what is “healthy” for us.  You paid the ultimate price for years and years of lies and false information.

Please give me a sign while I try to figure out what to do in the future.  You always believed in the little guy and I am going to be a small fish swimming in rapid, deep, and uncharted waters.  Guide me with you light and love.  I will always be watching.

Rest in peace daddy.  I love you and I will see you later.  8-7-41 to 7-21-17

~a heartbroken, determined, Vegan

A potato in a bubble

Dear Diary,

Today I actually went out and did somethings that were a little out of my bubble.  I say “bubble” because I have realized that for about the past two weeks, I really haven’t been doing a whole lot more than going to work or being at home with my husband.  On the weekend we did go out to eat dinner but that was really our only “outing” besides grocery shopping.  So back to bursting my bubble…

I finally got over to the new gym down the street to see about getting a membership.  I used to be a big gym rat and was at my last gym for a little over 3 years; up until all my races ended in the spring.  After doing a second half marathon and several other 5ks and 10ks I took a break from the gym.  Then as the temperatures started to rise here in Central Texas I stopped running outside as well.  So basically I became a potato in my bubble.  But I remembered how good it felt to work out and to even just run on the treadmill.  So after putting it off for weeks, I finally went and got myself signed up.  But I felt weird doing it.  I was scared, in a sense, to commit to it.  I had to convince myself that working out again would be a good stress reliever.  In my head I knew I was doing the right thing but it felt weird to be going out and doing something normal when everything else going on with my family felt anything BUT normal.

After I left the gym, I texted a friend to see if she would mind if I came by for a visit.  Her and I run together a lot and we actually met at my pervious gym.  I hadn’t seen her in probably three weeks to I was glad to have a chance to catch up.  When I got to her house, another friend of ours was there as well and they started off by asking me how I was doing.  I don’t remember how it got onto the topic of my father but I explained his situation, along with how my mom and I where handling it.  Of course they said all the things people say when they hear bad news and offered any support they could, but it all just felt weird.  Then while I was there, my mom called and she sounded like she was almost going to have a panic attack at the grocery store because she didn’t know what she should get for her new, plant-based, lifestyle.  I went into the other room to help her out and calm her down.  When I came back into the room with my friends they had been carrying on about cooking and drinking tea and just everyday stuff.  That all felt strange as well.

I feel like the rest of the world just keeps spinning even though my personally world is trudging through some pretty messy shit.  I felt like it was hard to just “people” today.  Like I just wanted to go back home and then go to work and then come back home again after that and so on and so forth.  To get back onto the hamster wheel of my life.

I guess it’s the not knowing what could come the next day that makes it so hard to break that cycle.  My father got moved into a rehab facility today and from what my mom reported back, it doesn’t sound too nice.  There was a lot of confusion on what my father could or couldn’t eat.  My mom missed the new patient/family orientation and has to wait to go to the one next Thursday.  So for a whole week we are not really sure how everything is going to work.  She did talk to a couple of people there to get somethings sorted out but some of them didn’t seem to have all the information she was in search of either.  She told me the place looked very depressing and like it was someplace to take people to die, not someplace you take people to get better.  She was very depressed and distraught herself.  It was hard to hear her so upset.  And it is exhausting at times to hear her so worried.  I feel bad for even saying that because I have it a lot easier here then she does.  I just have to wait for the daily updates but she is the one living through those updates and then having to relive them to tell me about them.

The whole situation is terrible at times.  I was talking with my husband tonight and I was telling him that for right now, I’m glad that the last memories I have of my father was when he was still at home and more himself.  He has not been well for sometime but he was still managing to get around.  Now he doesn’t even sound like the same person.  He has a hard time doing the smallest of tasks, like feeding himself and his short-term memory is not what it used to be.  He told my mom the other night that he thought it was time that they let me know that he has cancer.  He had no idea that I have already known that since the first day he was at the hospital almost two weeks ago.  He just forgets the little day-to-day things.  He can remember lots of things from before he was in the hospital and before his surgery but anything that has happened after he gets confused about.  Things just don’t seem like they are getting better.

We are defiantly not in the business of “health” care in this country.  I am having less and less faith in the whole system the more that I know.  We have no idea what could happen if he just can’t get better; if he is not strong enough.  My mom certainly can’t take care of him by herself and she has no idea if Medicare pays for after care like that.

It’s just a big mess.

~a MAD, american, Vegan

The C Word

Dear Diary,

I never really gave too much thought to cancer until now.  I mean I was doing a lot of things in my personal life to make sure I could prevent myself from diseases that are fueled by the foods we eat like, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and of course cancer but I wasn’t focused too much on one or the other.  I just knew, with what I had learned over the past 4 years, that I wanted to do whatever I could to have a good fighting chance again any and all of them.  It wasn’t until most recently, when my father was diagnosed with colon cancer that more of my focus and anger went to “The C Word”.

Now, I’m sure part of this is a coping mechanism, but I have become almost broader line obsessed with knowing everything I can know about cancer, cancer prevention, and cancer treatment through the foods we eat, the products we use and the lifestyles we live.

The C Word was a great documentary that covered all of the above.  It is primarily about a woman who had suffered from breast cancer and how she wanted to find a different way to treat and prevent it from coming back.  She learned of the studies and writings of Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, the author of Anti-Cancer, and made it her mission to meet him and hopefully get him to agree to making this documentary.  Below is just a sample of the things they touched on.  I would highly recommend it for anyone who has dealt with cancer themselves or with a family member, as well as anyone who currently hopes to never have to cross paths with cancer in the first place.

-After tobacco companies had lost the war over if they should be labeled as “causing cancer” they turned to a new tactic, they started to invest billions into the foods we eat.  In 1985 tobacco company RJ Reynolds bought Nabisco Foods and Philip Morris bought General Foods and a short time later also bought Kraft.  This merger made them the largest food producers in the North America.  Old addictions started to fuel new addictions.

-In 2011 big food companies, including Coke and Pepsi, spent over 27 million lobbing politicians.

-There is no regulations by the FDA of what chemicals can go into household products or beauty products.  The cosmetic companies literally fund their own testing, so who knows what they are reporting.  We are the industry’s own personal test animals.  (Check out an app to test what is in the products you are buying called EWG’s Healthy Living).

-The amount of stress in our lives is the silent additional cancer causer.  Cortisol and adrenaline have the power to turn on cancer cells and help them spread.  So just as it is important to eat the right foods and exercise, it is important to relax and reconnect with ourselves and others.  As human beings we need a sense of connection with other humans.  In order to feel meaningful we need to feel like we are apart of something bigger.  That we are all connected.

Cancer sucks.  Being lied to sucks.  Being poisoned sucks.  But feeling helpless is even worse.  Do the research and light your own path.

~a MAD, american, Vegan



Is there anyone out there… cause it’s getting harder and harder to breath?

Dear Diary,

Today’s anger meter has been in the red zone.  I talked to my mom today.  We talk just about everyday, sometimes even twice a day about how my dad is doing.  He is still in the hospital recovering from surgery.  He has to “get better” so that they can start chemo to kill all the cancer that still remains inside of him.  It’s funny how you have to get well enough, to then have your whole body poisoned, in order to “cure” you.  But at this point, it is, what it is.

Today was the first day that he could have food after not being allowed to eat for over a week.  This is where things begin to heat up.  The very first meal they brought him consisted of a BEEF filled sandwich of some sort!  My mom and to flag down the nurse and explain to her that they don’t eat red meat (they are not vegan or even vegetarian but haven’t eaten red meat in over 3 years).  She kind of looked at my mom like she was crazy and then said she would bring him something else.  The something else consisted of a cold-cut TURKEY sandwich.  It just keeps getting better and better.  Then when they were discussing what he would like for dinner and breakfast the options seemed a little “off” there too.  They were offering a lot of foods high in sugar.  My mom and to ask again if they were aware that he was also a diabetic?  They said there was no note of that for the staff preparing the meals.  How the FUCK, do you not have note of a DISEASE, that a person has, that is trying to recover??  How can you expect to get someone “well enough” for cancer treatment when you are feeding them the SAME DAMN FOODS that over time, put them in the hospital in the first place????  I just cannot, in my right mind, understand.

I wish I was there.  I wish I could talk one on one with his doctor and try to come to some agreement of what would be best to be feeding him and what isn’t.  I wish I could SLAP THE SHIT OUT OF some of these people.   I understand that they have a lot going on and a lot of people to look after but certain dietary needs should not be over looked in my opinion.


I am now 37 years old.  Up to this point, I have never really known “what I want to be when I grow up”?  I have always had great jobs and moved up the chain of command pretty successfully at each one.  But none of them were ever my passion.  I have no idea where to even start but I want to do something…… anything….. so that others in similar situations do not have to feel so alone and so angry.  I want to help spread the word about the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based, vegan lifestyle.

I know this is going to be a huge undertaking.  Like I said I have NO IDEA of where to even start.  Should I go back to school?  Should I write a book?  Should I volunteer?  Blog more?  Take an internship?  NO IDEA.  I just know, that if I don’t do SOMETHING I will feel like the loved ones in my life will have had all these struggles and future struggles in vain.  I feel so helpless right now and I can’t spend the rest of my life knowing I didn’t try to do anything.  It saddens me to say that it might be too late for my family, but if I can help others to understand, then it will be worth it.

If anyone reading this, can offer any advice of a field/cause that they feel would be a place to start please comment.  Sometimes it takes a village.  

-a MAD, american, Vegan

The Meat Lobby

Dear diary,

Today I watched yet another documentary about the harmfulness of consuming meat and meat byproducts.  It is called The Meat Lobby and it was a new release today on my FoodMatters streaming app.  By the way, I was literally pissed off after watching only the first 5 minutes of this film.  I hope it makes you angry too because if you are angry you are more likely to be open to change.

I think a fire has been lit under me when it comes to attaining as much information as I can about the risks of eating these harmful products.  Seeing a family member with cancer will change a person.  I hope that by trying to further spread the word, even if I only get through to one other person, I might have saved someone from going down a dark hole caused by a lifetime of bad choices.

Here are some highlights from the film that stuck with me.  I have also cited some facts to  further back up its claims:

-French studies show you can turn on cancer cells from eating processed meats that contain the additive sodium nitrate (E 250).  The use of E250 in pork, is literally just so that the ham will be pink in color.  If pork products are only injected with salt, they will turn grey when cooked and therefore be less aesthetically pleasing to consumers.  So the demand for processed deli ham to appear pink in color is literally causing colon and rectal cancer to be one of the most deadliest cancers in Europe; and in the US it ranks 3rd  in most new cases, and only 2nd to lung cancer in deaths.  To see the complete US rankings of cancer types according to the NIH click here.  Then click here to review how the US government Code of Federal Regulations clearly states that it is ok to have traces of E250 in consumable products.  And finally click here to check out one of many stories links the two together.

-A resent study in France showed that after a control group ate a diet heavy in process pork products, pre-cancer cells were founds inside the host.  They took fecal samples from the participants and mixed heathy human cells into the sample.  Those cells showed signs of turning pre-cancerous within a half an hour of being in contact with the digested pork in the fecal sample.  The nitrites that are injected in the pork, react with the meat proteins, transforming them into nitrosamines which cause human cells to turn cancerous.

-In 1970, the use of  sodium nitrate (E250), was going to be banned in the USA after a large-scale study requested by the government found that nitrates caused cancer in rats but the big meat companies spoke up.  The meat counsel showed that their profits would fall if nitrites were banned (because no one wants to eat ham that isn’t pink but they would rather eat un-natural pork instead) and cause great heart ships to those companies involved, so the government backed down.  Then to seal the deal, in 1980 when Reagan took office, he appointed the president of American Meat Institute into government office.  I have literally been doomed since I was born….  every study going forward was figuratively thrown in the trash.


-Susan Preston-Martin did a study on hot dogs and childhood cancers in the early 80’s (here is a sample of that study).  She found the same correlations that many others before her had found and were silenced.   Kraft Foods, the owners of Oscar Myer hot dogs, looked to its owners Phillip Morris (until 2008), to protect them.   Phillip Morris protected Oscar Myer the same way they protected their own tobacco products.  Phillip Moris created “doubt” in order to keep hot dogs on the plates of American’s.

-Many unethical scientists play along with the meat institutes because they get funding from them.  They get paid behind closed doors from these lobbyist to make what seems to be truth out of lies.

-David Klurfeld is the head of the US Department of Agriculture.  Klurfeld has attempted to debunk credible research that the World Cancer Research Fund found on the correlation that nitrates were linked to causing cancers.   He was funded by the meat industry to do this.  Why would I want to believe him?  Just shows how the government is in bed with the highest bidder at all times.  How can you give an unbiased report on anything when you are sleeping with the enemy?

-Tyson makes over 41 billion a year.  They make this money by providing affordable, yet deadly meat products to the masses.  In my opinion, they are the equivalent Philip Morris by knowingly providing such horrible products. 

-There are over 800 substances that are banned by the state of California.  Products that contain these substances cannot be sold there or need to be clearly labeled.  Surprisingly (or not really) nitrites are not included on this list.  The lobbyist have made sure of that.  All the studies and peer reviews, that the state of California requires for substances to stay off that list, have been provided by scientist that are  working in some way with the meat industries.  I’ve visited CA many times and noticed these labels and thought they were crazy.  Now I feel differently and wish that more and more states, and the government, would adopt such strict rules and oh yeah, include the damn nitrites!

These were just a few great points this documentary reported.  Most of them I already had an idea about but I am still surprised by how deep our government is in bed with the meat and dairy counsels.  It makes me sick.  It makes me want to move.  We are supposed to be the greatest country in the world but our government is literally allowing big business to poison its people.

Do the research for yourself.  The truth is out there.

~a MAD, american, Vegan

Start now

Dear diary,

This was something that I heard today on The Minimalist podcast.  As soon as I heard it I knew I wanted to share it here.  Their special guest, Patrick Rhone said:

“Every moment is a fresh opportunity to make a new start.”

~a MAD, american, Vegan

The miles between us

Dear diary,

Cancer sucks.  It really sucks for the person who has it obviously but it also sucks for their loved ones.  I was talking with my mom and we were discussing the “worse case scenario”.  I know that must sound horrible but it is a very real conversation that has to be had.  We don’t know what could happen tomorrow but it helps to know that you both are on the same page.

My poor mother was actually worried that she would lose her house and not have any money and be alone.  That floored me.  Just the thought of my mom thinking that way made me so sad.  In my own mind, I too had thought about what we would do.  I told her that my thoughts were.  She would have to sell the house (it is almost paid off) and we would use part of the money she made and part of my husband and my personal savings and by a bigger house (we currently live in a small condo) that we could all live in.  Maybe something with a detached guest house or a tiny house in the yard for my mom to have her own space.  She was sobbing on the phone and asked me:  “you would do that for me”?  Of course we would do that for her!  She is my mother, literally our only family (my husband doesn’t have any family and I am an only child and so is my mother), why wouldn’t we help her?  I told her it would actually bring me great joy to have her living in the same state as me and even more so the same city!  I also said that if dad pulled through this, I wished both of them would move here and we could help take care of them better.  She is much more open to the idea then my father, but sometimes going through a traumatic life event has away of changing a person.

It’s really hard being 1000 miles away when something like this is happening.  My mom is doing her best with everything.  She tries to remember everything the doctors are telling her so she can keep me informed but it’s hard.  She is also trying to keep up with her everyday “normal” routine so that this all doesn’t completely consume her.  She wants to start to making changes in her diet and has thrown away a lot of junk food at home.  She is worried that when she goes to the store she won’t know what to replace those items with.  I bought and sent her a Instant Pot so that she would have a tool that would make changing her diet easier.  In time I do want to come visit so I can show her what/ how to cook healthy, easy, plant-based meals.  She is worried because she is not a “cook” but I told her neither was I and you just have to learn as you go.  I’m still not a “cook” per say, but I try to make easy meals with everyday ingredients.  It doesn’t have to be complicated to be healthy.  She is really trying to do everything right.

Thank you mom for being so strong.  I love you.

-a MAD, american, Vegan

I’m scared.

Dear diary,

My mom texted me today.  She said that, my dad says, he’s feeling better.  The nurse however told her that he is very weak.  Well that’s just great.  He hasn’t been allowed to eat anything since he was admitted on Friday.  When he came in on Friday they said he looked very pale and possibly septic.  His blood pressure was very low.  I told my mom it’s like a big catch 22.  They told her he can’t have anything to eat (besides IV fluids) until they can tell his bowel is working.  But he can’t get stronger if he can’t eat.  I just don’t understand.  I don’t understand how seemingly starving someone is going to help them get stronger, get better?

I’ve had so many feelings I have been working through in these last couple days.  Sometimes I don’t feel anything at all; like it’s not happening.

Sometimes I get so angry.  I want to just be mad at everything.  I want to yell at everyone around me that continues to eat animal products.  I want to ask them if they really want to wind up like my dad?  Sick and dying so that they can enjoy the cheese that they “just can’t imagine giving up”.  I want to yell at the doctors for not doing more.  I just want to scream as loud as I can.

Other times I feel so sad.  I was out on my balcony this afternoon and looking up at the passing clouds and birds.  I was wondering if heaven really exists?  If my grandparents were really up there so that my dad wouldn’t be alone if he died.

Then I thought about dying.  Is it scary to know you couldn’t be dying?  Does my dad say he feels better because he really doesn’t feel anything at all?  Is he maybe ready to go?  Is he scared?  Does he feel alone even though my mom is there?  Does he really even know what is going on?  My mom said despite everything that his mind is still sharp.  He is having a hard time talking because his mouth and throat are so dried out.  Is he lost in is his own mind?  Kind of like when a someone is paralyzed and can hear everything around them but can’t respond?  I wish I could know.

I will admit, dying scares me.  Not the act of it, but maybe more so the act of living.  Is this all I’m really here for?  To live and watch others around me die?  To experience pain.  I mean, I have experienced many happy times as well but when the hard times are happening is when I tend to think about whether it is all really worth it or not.  My cat, Raspberry, whom I had for 13 years had to be put down in April of this year.  It was so painful.  It hurt so bad to have to say goodbye to her.  I have actually been wondering if the “higher power” took her from me just to prep me for what could be ahead?  I still miss her.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like to miss a parent.

We don’t have any children.  We also don’t want any children.  I have never really wanted any my whole life.  In away I’m glad that I won’t have to cause someone else this much sadness when it is my time to go.  I mean I hope someone will miss me.  But I am glad that no one will miss me as much as a child will miss a parent.

~a MAD, american, Vegan