Volunteering at Animal Sanctuaries

So as most of you know, I am vegan. Not plant-based (vegan DIET,) but vegan. I have nothing to do with the exploitation and torture of animals. (No animal meat or products, as well as no animal clothing like wool, leather, or fur, and no products that are tested on animals.)

I feel like part of the vegan journey involves meeting some of the animals you save daily and helping them and their caretakers. That is why I decided to volunteer at some farm sanctuaries. The first one I went to was located in Silverton, Oregon.

It was a little bit of a drive as I live in Portland, but it was well worth it.

So, me, my mother, and sister drove all the way there, and embarrassingly, we were a bit late. (My mother is slow at getting ready…) The owner welcomed us kindly and showed us around. The farm must have been more than 20 acres. It was beautiful. They had over 10 goats, many chickens and roosters, turkeys, cows, a cat, and ducks.

My family started off helping muck out the stables and replacing the floor with fresh hay. It was a little difficult for me because I have bad allergies, but it was so worth it to see how happy the ducks were when they got to go into their new and clean room. I also collected the duck eggs from the ground and we placed them into a bucket. I will state here that I’m not sure if they sold the eggs or threw them away, but from the looks of it, I think they were selling them. While I am in love with this sanctuary, as a vegan, I will state that I do not support that. Not just because it’s “cruel to the ducks” but because it is cruel to the consumers. Eggs, as most people know by now, are not healthy, in fact they contribute to obesity and heart disease because of the high amount of cholesterol.With that being said, I do not support the selling of eggs, especially if this is a vegan sanctuary. (The animals were saved from the meat, dairy, and egg industry, and the owners are vegan.)

After that, I washed some feed bowls, and then we were free to pet and play with the animals. It was incredible being so close to the animals. I just felt such a connection as a vegan. I felt so proud to say that I am helping these animals, and that because of vegans, animals are cared about, and worth something.

I also got to be about 3 inches away from a turkey that was supposed to be for Thanksgiving dinner. It saddened me because seeing him in person was so touching. He was absolutely beautiful, and the fact that somebody wanted to harm him was beyond cruel. They kept making a “thumping” noise in their throats to get my attention. It was adorable.

Lastly, my favorite part of the visit happened. I told one of the owners that I read on their website that they have cows and a bull. I politely asked if I may see them, because my absolute favorite animals are cows. She said, “Of course! Just call Hershey’s name, and he will probably come to you.” We walked over to the cow pasture, and there he was. I was so happy to see him. Hershey was rescued from the dairy industry. He was ripped away from his mother at birth so that humans can drink his mother’s milk, and he was to be sold for veal. Luckily, a kind-hearted soul purchased him for $7.50 and sent him to the farm sanctuary. Hearing his story, and seeing him in person really changed me. I was so proud to be vegan in that moment. He slowly walked over to us after some coaxing, and we fed him some hay from his trough. Hershey had the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen. I was so happy.

I went home feeling positive and proud to be vegan.

The next week, I decided that I wanted to check out another animal sanctuary in Oregon because it was so much fun. I found another one located closer this time, in Newburg, Oregon. I RSVPed and went there the very next day. I was, once again, amazed at the beauty of the countryside. It was around 30 acres, which was so great. This sanctuary had goats, cows, chickens, turkeys, geese, alpacas, a peacock, and some sheep. We arrived, and it was a bit hot that day. We were greeted by a very kind woman, and she showed us how to rinse and wash the feed bowls and pools for the geese. After doing that for 30-45 minutes (in the extreme heat might I add) we were free to pet and socialize with the animals. Of course, I had to go see the cows. My sister and I walked over, and we were greeted by some beautiful bulls and a few cows. They were all right in front of us, eating at their trough. I grabbed some food and started feeding them, and I pet them. They were so sweet. I must have spent 20 minutes just petting them when I realized I was the only one there. I bid farewell to the cows (reluctantly) and then walked over to where my sister was petting the goats. On the way there, I saw silky chickens for the first time. And they were beautiful! After socializing with the animals for a while, we finally went home.

Today I was supposed to go back to the Newburg sanctuary, but I had a ton of work to do so I decided to stay home. My sister and mother are there having fun while I write this.

In the end, I found new meanings to my life, and the joy that I felt seeing and helping these animals cannot be explained, although I tried. If you are vegan, vegetarian, or willing to learn, I highly recommend you look up a local sanctuary. You definitely won’t regret it.

Thank you for reading.

Living in the Present

I will admit, it’s hard not to think about things that happened in the past, or things that will happen in the future. That is something that most humans think about in our society. However, not only do we think about the past, we dwell on it, and let it take over our lives at times.

For example, something might have happened in the past to make you really angry, and you just couldn’t ever let it go. You dwell on it for months, years, maybe even decades. Sometimes, that memory can be so strong that you just never forget about it. The memory can be a good or a bad thing, or a bit of both. If somebody that you loved died, you might dwell on the past, thinking about their life and the memories that you shared together. It can be really heartbreaking to dwell on past memories.

It is not always so easy to forget about the past. A woman who is raped can almost never forget what happened to her. She can be traumatized, and scarred, and it is all because of that one memory.

However, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to dwell on the past, but don’t let it take over your life. I cannot speak for men and women that are raped, and I cannot speak for somebody who is dealing with a death of a loved one, because honestly, I know how hard it is to forget about the past. But,  we must move on. We are humans, and we choose our emotions, however hard it may seem. We have the ability to move on, or live, stuck in the past.

We can choose to turn our lives around. We can choose to make a change! As much as I sometimes resent the human race, I will admit that we are quite powerful in that way. Humans can be brave, and honest. Humans can be strong, and pull through. We all have the ability to be who we want to be, so we must live in the present!

In the end, the present is all that you have. Every moment of every day is right in front of you, and we must grasp that time and use it wisely. Do not waste your life in the past or in the future.

I feel very upset seeing so many people so stressed and depressed and I just want to say this, so this is post is for the people who dwell on the past or future.

Thanks for reading.

 

Why You Should Meditate

I’ve heard some people say that meditation is not for everyone, but I’d like to just disagree. I truly believe that everybody should meditate, regardless of religion, occupation, gender, social class, etc. We are all people, and we all need to give our minds a break.

Think about it this way. At every single waking hour of our entire lives, our brains are rapidly thinking and processing information. We are even thinking in our sleep (dreaming.) Our bodies may be resting, but our minds aren’t.

Why is this important? When your brain is constantly thinking, it can tend to work to hard, causing stress and anxiety. Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce your stress and anxiety. Scientists have also noticed that a person who frequently meditates has more gray matter in their brain. How amazing is that?

I meditate to release stress, be in the moment, calm down and relax, and sometimes, to connect to God on a spiritual level. There are many benefits to meditation and many reasons to do it. Every time I feel angry or sad, I just meditate, and all of those negative feelings literally wash away. I feel like I just woke up, and I am at the start of my day again.

One of my favorite meditations is chakra meditation. (And no, it is not just for hippies.) Chakra meditation is a type of meditation that balances your chakras. You have seven chakras in your body, all serving different purposes, and when they are clouded with negative energy, they tend to produce negative affects on your life. No, you will not be perfect if you do this meditation, but it can create more positive energy that flows through your body.

Doing the chakra meditation was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I don’t know what it was, but while meditating, I felt as if I was in a different dimension. I wasn’t sitting in my room, I was in the clouds, I was in space, I was one with the universe. I definitely recommend you try it. There are many guided chakra meditations on YouTube. At the end of the meditation, I opened my eyes, and for a moment, I had forgotten where I was. I felt like I was refreshed and vibrant. I don’t know if I’m being dramatic right now, but it was definitely a feeling that’s hard to describe.

Lastly, meditation made me a better person. Meditation taught me how to control my anger and sadness, and it continues to help me grow as a person.

Thank you for reading.

My Religious Journey

Today I wanted to make a post about religion (yet again.) This post was inspired by my good blogger friend creativenessnevergetsold.wordpress.com, otherwise known as Kaitlyn Rose. Her blog is great and she is a very talented writer.

I made a post similar to this a while ago (Titled Religion versus Spirituality) and I thought I might update this. I’m just going to put this out there that I am not religious to this day. These are just my experiences.

I (like Kaitlyn,) grew up in a religious family, though they were accepting if I chose not to be religious. I grew up thinking that I was Christian. I believed in God, prayed at meals (mostly), prayed to God at night, and joined the Christian club at school. I grew up basically Christian, though I didn’t exactly go to church all the time.

As I grew older, I prayed less, and basically stopped thinking about God totally. I still knew he was there, and I reached out to him in difficult times, but I wasn’t exactly religious. I noticed myself becoming stressed, depressed even. At this time I was a young teenage girl, lost, and trying to find her way. Somewhere she fit in.

I am thankful that my parents didn’t force me to go to a specific church, and I’m glad that they let me figure out religion on my own. They were a little biased, but not once did they force me to believe in a certain religion.

I later discovered Buddhism online, and decided to look into it. After researching, I decided to follow the Buddhist lifestyle. Many people think that Buddhism is a religion, and some, like the Chinese or Japanese, consider it a religion, but I follow The Buddha’s word, not the religion that believes in reincarnation, karma, etc. The Buddha’s main message was not religious at all. Like I have said, religion is when you believe in something, but Buddhism is not something to believe in. It is a philosophy.

So, after discovering Buddhism, and after some more researching, I became agnostic/atheist. I’m not exactly sure what I would call it, but I think the logical side of me took over, and said that God probably doesn’t exist. There is no proof, blah blah etc.

I think this is where God comes in. After a while of being atheist, I realized, I can’t act like this. I can’t pretend to believe in something I don’t, and I knew deep down that God was still with me. I guess I didn’t want to admit it, but I never truly took God out of my heart. (Cheesy alert)

It’s quite hard to explain how I can be so logical, and at the same time believe in God, but the answer is quite simple. My soul belongs with God, and since I am a very spiritual person, I felt my soul connect with God. Once I realized this, a huge cloud was lifted from my eyes (spiritually) and I felt alive.

I now want to discuss that I do not believe in the Christian god. Some people may be thinking that I follow Christianity, but I don’t. Obviously there is nothing wrong with Christianity, but like I said in another post, you don’t need religion to be happy. Atheist, Agnostic, spiritual, etc. All of these kinds of people can be equally as happy as Christians. The reason I wasn’t happy was because it wasn’t for me. I actually don’t believe you NEED God in your life to have a happy life. That is kind of offensive to atheists and non-believers if you ask me. Actually, many religious people can be very depressed, and religion may not truly help them.

Religion is very important to some, and the truth is because people want something that will always be there. Humans, money, and items are changing frequently, but a religion in your life stays the same. This is why religion is important to many. They have something to reach out to when there is nobody else, and they have something to rely on.

I don’t mean to offend religious people, but I am super happy without an organized religion. I feel as if I don’t have to conform to a certain set of guidelines, especially if I don’t truly believe in them, and I can be free in this life.

I don’t believe my God gets angry, gets sad, or upset. These are human emotions, and to me, God is not human, nor does he carry any human characteristics. God is a spirit, God is the universe. God is everywhere at the same time. God is in the trees, the wind, the rain.

I don’t believe in heaven or hell, and for a while I believed that there was only heaven because no one is truly evil. Something always made them that way, etc. But now I believe that there is no point in thinking endlessly on where we go. We will never truly know. It would be nice to have a heaven to go to when you die, but it seems superficial to me. I think that there is a possibility that there will be a land beyond Earth, where your soul reconnects with God and loved ones, but I’m not sure if that’s heaven. Heaven (to religious people) is a reward, and I’m not sure how or why humans would get this reward. What about animals? Where do they go?

I’m upset that humans seem to focus on themselves alone, and MANY religious people view animals as lower than us, (which is honestly disgusting,) but I can’t help that. Humans are humans. Selfish, greedy, and not trustworthy. Maybe that’s why I don’t think there’s a heaven. (No offense, humans don’t deserve it if they torture animals…)

I also get kind of angry when parents raise their children THEIR religion, without giving the child much choice. That child then gets the idea that this is the one TRUE religion, and that everyone else’s is wrong. They never get to experience other things for themselves, and kill me for saying this, but that’s probably why the largest religions have such a high population…

My main message that I want to convey is that I am happy being spiritual, and I wish more people were, but obviously I can’t do anything to change that.  I wish everyone would challenge themselves, challenge your religion, ask questions, and think to yourself why that is. Don’t blindly believe. Unless you want to stay in the dark. (Ignorance is bliss.)

These are my personal opinions, and I don’t mean to cause offense to anybody. I made this post for people who are struggling with religion or if you want to know about people like me, who are happy without an organized religion.

Thanks for reading.

Happiness

Thought of the day: I noticed quite recently that I have been a lot more mindful, positive, and happy. I tried to figure out, why? My friends are almost nonexistent, at least, I never have the time to hang out with them, and I am in my house/library/coffee shop all day, so I don’t really socialize.

I noticed that through meditation, mindfulness, and my spiritual awakening, I have realized the true beauties and meanings in life. I have realized how shallow I was living. I have finally woken up, broke out of my “social media and shallow ideals” bubble, and enjoyed the true gifts of life.

 

And man does it feel great.

Why I Follow Buddhism

For a long time, I struggled with religion and spirituality. I grew up “Christian,” (not quite because I didn’t go to church but I believed in the Bible), then agnostic, atheist, and now I am believe in God, and I am also Buddhist.

I have seen all sides of religion, from the theist side to the atheist side, and whenever I see them bicker, I usually never agree with one side. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen both sides so I know how both of them feel.

However, one day I found zenhabits.net from searching about vegetarianism, and I found out that the author was Buddhist. I began checking out books, researching, and finding the meaning of Buddhism. Buddhism helped me in many ways and aspects of my life. It made me realize the suffering in the world. It made me realize that I have the power to change. It made me realize that I do not need to participate in suffering. (Meat industry.) Buddhism made me go vegetarian, and eventually vegan, so I am so glad that I got to find out about this positive and warming lifestyle.

For those who don’t know, let’s first clarify what Buddhism is. Buddhism originated in 563 BC from a man who lived in Nepal, and not just any man, a rich prince. His name was Siddhartha Gautama. He was a prince born to the many treasures that many people couldn’t afford. He had never seen or heard of suffering before. He lived in a life full of paradise.  After he went beyond the palace gates, he discovered the truth. He saw death, he saw sickness, and he saw suffering. He was shocked, and he wanted to find answers. After years of meditation and various ways of living, he became enlightened. After this, he became known as The Buddha, or the enlightened one.

Buddhism teaches a few main things. First, to lead a moral life, second, to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and lastly, to develop wisdom and understanding of the world around you. Buddhism is not a religion, it is a philosophy.

It can be called a religion, as some people do consider it one, but the definition of religion is “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” The Buddha was not a god. He was a normal human. He is not worshipped, although Buddhists respect him.

The Buddha’s main teachings were the Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path. Here they are below:

Four Noble Truths

  1. Life is suffering. Life consists of pain, diseases, death, and negative feelings.
  2. Suffering is caused by craving and hate. Getting what you want, and desiring many things is impossible and it will never make you truly happy. You must find happiness within yourself.
  3. Suffering can be rid of and true happiness can be obtained. True happiness does not come from objects or desires, and if we lived by every moment, instead of dwelling on the past or relying on the future, we could see that.
  4. The Noble Eightfold path is the path that ends suffering.

The Eightfold Path

  1. Complete or Perfect Vision: right view or understanding
  2. Perfected Emotion: right thought or attitude. Act from love and compassion.
  3. Perfected or Whole Speech: clear, truthful, and uplifting communication.
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Complete effort, energy, or vitality: direct your energy towards healing
  7. Right mindfulness: be mindful of yourself, your feelings, your thoughts, your actions, and people
  8. Concentration or meditation of the mind

These are just translated, and if you want more details, you can go here: http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/8foldpath.htm

 

I follow Buddhism because it is a philosophy that is positive, and promotes integrity and kindness.

What is being mindful?

Want to know something many Americans lack? Being mindful. Question of the day: how mindful were you today? First of all, what is being mindful? To me, being mindful is living in the present. You are not thinking of past events, nor are you planning future events.

I will be honest. Being mindful is hard. You tend to let your mind wander. Our brains are complex, fascinating things, but they can be quite annoying when you want to be mindful.

I am mindful in daily life by admiring nature. To me, nature is one of the most beautiful things that life has given me. I often practice mindfulness in nature when I wake up in the morning. It can be pretty chilly, but that’s not why I’m there. I’m there to soak in my surroundings; enjoy the gifts of nature. The sounds of the small birds chirping, the smells of the fresh, crisp morning air, the feeling of the cool breeze against my face.

What do I think about? Everything that’s in the present. I notice how small and cute the birds are. I notice how blue and clear the sky is. I notice the shapes of the leaves on the trees. I interpret what I see how I want.

After this, I like to meditate. I like to get my mind in a positive mood for the day. I don’t want to worry about school, my homework, my tests, college, etc. I don’t want to think about what to eat for breakfast. I just focus on my breathing. I count my breaths, and when I feel ready, I open my eyes, ready for the day ahead of me.