I’ve been weird for a really long time.
My friend, Rebecca Gott, and I were reading (well, trying to read) Practicing the Presence of God and The Way of Zen back in 8th grade in Kansas City. At seventeen, I took up yoga. Back then, people confused it with yogurt, and both were suspect. I became imperfectly vegan when my daughter was born. We had a home birth and homeschooled so she could travel with me on speaking trips. She saw the world, met the Dalai Lama, and a New York Times reporter once referred to her as “preternaturally self-possessed.”
Now, society is changing and I seem less weird than I used to. I knew it was coming about ten years ago when my mother confessed, “We used to think there was something wrong with you – doing that yoga and eating that tofu. But now my doctor is telling me I ought to be doing it.”
And just a couple of weeks ago, at a French restaurant, a friend asked if there was cream in the tomato soup. “Yes,” the waiter replied, “but our butternut squash soup is totally vegan.” He pronounced it right and nobody made a joke about Vegan being the next planet over from Vulcan.
It’s great to see my passions becoming (almost) mainstream, especially as I assess the benefits I’ve gleaned from my decades of a different-drummer lifestyle. In broad strokes, the three choices that have contributed the most health, peace, and grace to my life thus far are:
- Believing in Something Bigger. See, I didn’t say “God” – some people have a problem with God – but I did capitalize Something Bigger so you’ll know that I mean something BIGGER, i.e., God. Or Spirit. Or whatever you want to call it. It’s certainly possible to live successfully without this, until you come upon a crisis or an addiction or a major loss, which most people do. A connection to a Higher Power got me through my parents’ divorce when I was nine, my husband’s death when I was thirty-seven, and the compulsive eating that had ruled my life for many of the years in between. These days, I spend a lot of time talking to God and talking to people who are trying to live with God, by whatever name they choose to call It. Each one of them inspires me. Even when they fall short, they stand tall.
- Attachment parenting. I didn’t know anything about kids when I had mine, so I started reading and learned that everybody had a different idea. “Let her cry/bring her to bed … feed on a schedule/feed on demand … Go back to work in six weeks/Could you make that three years?” To keep from making myself crazy, I soon gravitated only to those writings that made sense to me at that deep place where mothers have figured things out for millennia. I resonated with “attachment parenting,” the bring-her-to-bed/feed-on-demand philosophy. I went to La Leche League, which is the motherhood equivalent of training with Bela Karolyi.. I figured out how to make a living as a freelance writer so I could stay home with my daughter. The upshot was, ultimately, I got to write lots of books and reach lots of people and go on TV. I felt like Clark Kent: I was a stay-at-home mom who sometimes got to fly first-class and ride in limos.
- Eating plants. Or, I suppose I could have said, “not eating animals.” I’m from Kansas City, like the steak. And believe me, I ate my share. But I stopped once I got it that I couldn’t dig into a steak or a hot dog or broiled salmon without a living creature having been killed to provide it. I didn’t know then about factory farming, veal calves being torn from their grieving mothers, and mama pigs in farrowing crates so they couldn’t roll over or turn around. I just knew that I couldn’t personally kill a creature that wanted to live so I could have my choice of entrée, and I couldn’t expect some poor immigrant to do my killing for me for minimum wage. I agreed with Isaac Bashevis Singer who, when asked if he was vegetarian for his health, said, “I do it for the health of the chicken.” Even so, this choice has given me gifts: perfect cholesterol and HDL/LDL and all the rest, despite a two-sided family history of heart disease. I eat delicious food and all I want, and yet that weight issue I struggled with for nearly thirty years has been a non-issue for a whopping quarter-century and then some.
I’m grateful to be living a hand-picked life. It’s meaningful and exciting and I haven’t been bored since before disco died. If you’re weird, too, but you love it, and you believe the world is better because you’re here doing what you do, allow me to take the role of my mother’s doctor and assure you: today’s weird is tomorrow’s dazzling. Open your heart, and then follow it. Stay true to that, and the adventures you encounter will amaze you.
Victoria Moran is the author of twelve books on vegan living and practical spirituality. Her latest is The Good Karma Diet: Eat Gently, Feel Amazing, Age in Slow Motion. She is still trying to find her middle school buddy, Rebecca Gott, who moved from Kansas City to Nederland, Colorado, in the early 1960s. If you know Rebecca, please be in touch.