Don’t Follow That Chicken

I saw a t-shirt this week that read:

I want to live in a world where chickens can cross the road without anyone questioning their motives.

That sounds nice…except I think sometimes we need to question why, if only to help ourselves. After all, you wouldn’t want to follow a chicken if it’s on the wrong path, now would you?

With Angie still in Texas and my relatives visiting from out of town, this has been a very trying week. I’m not complaining. I refuse to let anyone steal my sunshine, but even so, it has been difficult not to crumble or explode at certain times – especially when you are constantly bombarded with other people’s “expert” opinions.

On money…

On what to eat…

On consumerism….

And my personal favorite, on food waste…how is it even possible to be pro-food waste anyway???

Caught on tape! You never know when someone will be playing with their camera.

Though I can’t fathom locking a child (literally) inside the house 24/7 so they aren’t kidnapped, chopping up a 12-year-old’s food so she doesn’t get cut using the knife, or telling a 14-year-old to get the brush so I can comb his hair before we go out, did I say anything about my uncle’s stellar parenting skills during his visit? Nope, not a word. Did I call his kids little hellions when they walked across my mom’s couch in their tennis shoes and chipped her 30-year-old maple coffee table throwing a cell phone at one another? Nope, I did not (though my mom did have a few choice things to say).

I don’t agree with the way my uncle is raising his children. I think it’s wrong and I truly believe they are missing out on the joys of childhood and learning to do things for themselves. But it’s not my circus and those aren’t my monkeys!

My opinion is just that – mine – and it will serve no purpose in sharing it with someone who did not ask for it. It will, however; serve a huge purpose in my own life. Having opinions (or making judgments) about what’s wrong in the world around us is how we ensure that we live our best life. And really, our lives are all that we can control anyway. It’s important – in my opinion – to question the way in which others do things, to sort out what feels right (or wrong) in our hearts, and choose our own direction based on those observations.

I share our choices (and the reasons behind them) here on this blog. I don’t feel the need to pull out a soapbox when guests are in town and wax philosophical on the state of the world. But maybe I should. It really is hard sometimes not to say something, especially when you’re digging through the garbage to fetch plastic water bottles for recycling because your out-of-town guests refuse to use the bin next to the trash can. Or when you bring fresh corn, tomatoes, and peas to dinner and it gets shoved in the refrigerator in favor of frozen French fries. Or when you watch your aging mother do 2 loads of someone else’s laundry every day because one outfit is not adequate to make it through a day of watching TV.

Or maybe I really should have spoken up when my uncle told his son that I was a Communist because I don’t eat meat. At least I could have corrected him – that would be a vegetarian, Cuz.

Like I said, it was a trying week and I’m glad it’s over.

On the morning that they left, my mom called to say that my cousin said to tell me goodbye and he loved me. Of course, my heart melted. I am human and deep inside I know that they are not bad kids. I know there is hope for them yet and I know this because of something my cousin said one night after I left. He told my mom that he liked having me around. When she asked him why, he said, “Because she’s calm.”

It really is true; you never know who you’re setting an example for.

I could have easily gotten into an argument with my uncle. He likes to agitate people, including his own kids, to the point that he provokes an argument. He and my mom argue all the time. But I chose not to. I find his behavior unacceptable and I choose not to repeat it. Does that mean I wasn’t frustrated? No. Does it mean that I didn’t want to say something? Sure, I did. Being calm isn’t always easy. Not responding to a bully isn’t either. But in the end, it’s what I can live with. Being at peace with myself and my actions if more important than debating someone else’s opinions. (And let’s face it, that’s like beating your head on a brick wall anyway. If our own opinions are unlikely to change, why expect someone else’s to?)

So, what does all this have to do with chickens crossing the road again?? Nothing really. I just liked that t-shirt.


Overwhelmed with Food [Waste]

At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing…

I’m sure you know how that statement is going to end. Often in life we endeavor to do something we think is good or right, only to have it end up backfiring on us. That’s what happened to me this week with food.

My uncle and his kids are in town. Still bored, in case you were wondering – even though they went to the Grand Ole Opry and the Wilson County Fair. But before I fall down that rabbit hole, let me get back to the subject at hand – food.

As my relatives were coming into town on Thursday, they stopped at a BBQ restaurant to pick up a family meal to bring over for lunch. The meal consisted of a whole chicken, several sides, and bread. When I arrived that afternoon, my mom had packed up the remnants of the meal for me to take home. She knows how I feel about food waste and had at some point told my uncle if there was anything they weren’t going to eat, save it for me.

Now, as a general rule, we don’t eat meat. On occasion, we make an exception, when not doing so would hurt someone’s feelings (particularly my mom, who has a very hard time standing at the stove and every effort she makes to cook, is done with love) or when the meat is raised by someone we know. However, I thought – no harm in taking this leftover chicken. I can make a pot pie and freeze it for the next time our niece comes over. So, I put the chicken in the fridge to deal with later.

The next day, I came home with half of a leftover pizza – with meat and enough cheese to cover 10 of our homemade pizzas!

The following day, a handful of pizza rolls and chicken tenders, a spoonful of mac ‘n cheese, 2 sausage patties, 3 stale donuts, a cup of fresh corn and ¾ of a canary melon.

And yesterday, a seriously half-eaten ham sandwich, slathering in mayo. What on Earth am I supposed to do with that?

For a while, our refrigerator looked like a dumpster. I wish I’d had the forethought to take a picture, but I was too busy agonizing over what to do with all the food.

One the one hand – I didn’t want to waste it. There’s already enough food in our landfills creating ozone-depleting gases and I certainly don’t want to add to it. On the other hand, if I were to eat this stuff, I’d be sick – physically sick and sick with myself for putting things into my body that aren’t good for me. It took nearly 3 years to embrace a mostly plant-based diet and frankly, I don’t want to go back. Call me crazy – most of my family does – but I don’t want to eat processed foods or fast foods that sap me of my energy, clog my arteries, and fill my body with chemicals.

I even tried to find a happy medium. I pulled the meat off the pizza and heated some of it in the oven for lunch one day. The grease bubbled up like lava and yet I tried to choke back a few bites, but I just couldn’t do it. You may think this is silly, but I literally felt my heart sink as I tossed the pizza in the trash – along with its Styrofoam container (which could be a whole other blog post in itself).

In the end, I decided that this was not my waste. I did not buy it. I did not create it. I cannot feel responsible for it. It doesn’t matter that these folks are my family, it’s no different than a stranger handing me half of a Big Mac. I wouldn’t even hesitate before throwing that away. It’s ridiculous to think that the solution to ending food waste is to simply have someone else eat all the things that other people don’t want. Yet, that’s kind of what I was doing…

I ate the corn and since I’m not a fan of canary melons, I made a video on what I did with it (which will be posted to our YouTube channel later today). I threw away the rest of the food – even the chicken. And I have no regrets.

The way to end food waste is to take responsibility for our own actions – to not buy things that we aren’t going to eat, to practice portion control, and plan meals. We can educate others, but we can’t take responsibility for their choices.