Opening my eyes to change

It’s funny how I ended that last post with, “be the change you wish to see in the world, but also, be the change you wish to see in you… ” With winter fully in effect here in Leadville, I feel new changes coming along with the new winter wind.  Last night my husband and I watched the most amazing documentary. Racing Extinction on the discovery channel, and it literally spoke to us. It was about the vast amount of animals that already have and are on the brink of becoming extinct… All too fast and right before our eyes.  It made a comment about the people who are sitting with their backs to reality and with their eyes half shut, simply saying, “well, we’re fucked” and not doing a damn thing while we are walking this earth.  ….I hate to admit it, but that is us. Was us, until now… Honestly I generally take the ostrich approach when it comes to watching the news and following all of the grave things happening to our earth and our people, and our animals.  I put my head in the sand and pretend no one can see me, as I don’t see them… I don’t like to know about all of the awful things that happen in the world when I feel I cannot help make a change.   The news is sad, and I usually am left feeling helpless and slightly depressed.  What has our world come to?

One man on the show, I think he was a National Geographic photographer, but I’m not 100% sure…. Anyway, he mentioned that Its almost like we are in the time of dinosaurs before extinction but are closing our eyes to the vast number of animals going extinct in such short amounts of time… Literally right before our eyes. If we opened our eyes and hearts to new ways of living than we might be able to do something before its our bones of humanity that are the fossils found in the next age of earth… One day when cockroaches rule the world and we humans have completely depleted our time here on Earth.

That being said… Drum roll please… Starting Jan 1, 2016 we’ve decided to give it a go. Open our eyes and no longer live as a detriment to the world in which we live.  We are going to completely change our lifestyle, our eating habits, and become 100% vegan.  I’m not making a promise for my entire lifetime, but rather introducing this way of life into mine for 30 days at the least.  Hey, it’s a start. We all know that the quality of all mass produced foods is less than desirable and actually quite sickening when you allow yourself to open your eyes to it.  Sure that crispy chicken sandwich from Wendy’s sure does taste delicious, but that’s because it’s filled with hormones and chemicals to ensure it will taste exactly the same every time.  They claim it’s all natural, but the mass amount of chickens being slaughtered so inhumanely…. It makes me sad.  (I don’t mean to call out Wendy’s, but as a spicy crispy chicken lover it’s one of the first things in my diet I am saying “sayonara” to.

I graduated from Bridgewater College in Virginia.  A beautiful small private school in the Blue Ridge Mountains, unfortunately for all of the BC students it was down the road a bit from a Purdue chicken plant.  I can still smell the putrid fumes  from the plant, I still remember seeing the truckloads of chickens on the highway, so packed full that sometimes you would see a stray chicken, literally on the side of the road that was left off, or pushed out of the truck.  Why did the chicken cross the road? To get as far away from that damn chicken plant as fast as possible! Haha..

Per @thelushscoop (an Australian based vegan culture and lifestyle magazine) the meat and dairy industry are one of the number one contributors to climate change.  “And studies have shown that the water needed to produce a single hamburger is equivalent to showering for two entire months” the lush scoop.  YIKES! I cannot continue to learn these things and then life my life blindly.  I want to be present, be aware so that I can teach my son how to live fully and with his eyes wide open.  So here we go, a new adventure, a new way of life.  A task which may seem so small to some but is completely daunting to me… But we live and we learn and I feel I owe it to myself to give it a go. I’m going to be documenting this journey as I go and I am excited to see and feel everything this change might bring to our lives.. And I’m excited to share this journey with you and others.  This is our Earth that we are lucky enough to roam and live, it’s depleting right before our eyes.  I believe we can make changes to ourselves and the world we live in.  This is my way, what is yours? What are you doing to help ensure that our future generations will have a solid way of life, and a beautiful Earth to explore? We have to start now. It’s not going to be easy, that’s why I’m opening up and sharing this journey with you.  It’s going to keep me accountable and continue this journey… Here we go!

“The mountains are calling and I must go” John Muir

I am beginning with a journal entry from 2 months ago… hey, better late than never right? I wasn’t ready to publish all of these thoughts, and share such intimate details of my life, until now, and I’m still a bit hesitant.  But time has shifted and I feel I need to share my stories, my experiences with the world, other mamas and women who may (or may not) be going through the same struggles or whomever decides to read this… please be kind. These words are my own. Welcome to my world and the thoughts inside this crazy little mind of mine.

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It’s 4:31 on a Thursday afternoon and I’m feeling nostalgic. Not just the, I’m gonna look through old pictures kind of nostalgia, but a deeper kind of nostalgia, reflecting on my journey as to how I got to where I am today.. I’ve been feeling somewhat down today and I just finished a 2 hour walk and that has helped to take myself out of a bit of darkness.  I walked swiftly, feeling lighter with every step.  The sun beat down against my back and I welcomed the strong breeze whirling around me keeping the temperature at around 65 degrees. Perfection. The longer I walked, the better I felt. I lost myself and quieted my mind within my beautiful surroundings and gigantic mountains… Who else can step out the door and be staring at the highest mountain peak in all of Colorado? The Sawatch range which includes Mount Elbert and Mount Massive are literally in my backyard.  As I walk I notice that the trees are so bare as the leaves are dying quickly and fall unto he ground.  It’s officially the second day of autumn, but living at 10 thousand feet, our fall comes early and ends quickly. I’m already anticipating our first snow, wondering just when ‘the freeze’ will arrive.

I’ve always been a mountain bound soul and for the past 3 years I have been living my dream with the love of my life, Michael. He is my true north, my best friend, my everything.  Ill spare you of the lovey dovey details of our long companionship and skip straight to our wedding in September of 2012. That is when our Colorado mountain adventures began (just 2 months later) as we packed our life into our Toyota Tundra and little Honda Civic and hit the road (mind you, with 3 dogs in tow). 30 hours and way too many fast food stops later… We arrived to our new home, a tiny mountain town called Red Cliff. That’s right, we survived the drive through Kansas.  No offense to any Kansas dwellers, but there wasn’t much to look at, and nearing the end of a long 2 days in the car I was feeling anxious to see the mountains.. Or anything for that matter.

Within those 3 years we moved 4 times… Checking out the entire Vail Valley from Gypsum to Eagle, to where we are now, Leadvegas. I mean, Leadville.  Enough was enough and we were ready to plant our feet.  After looking at literally 30 different houses, we found one near Turquoise Lake that just felt like home. And voila, we became homeowners.  (Again, I’m sparing you of the strenuous process that it took in order to get this house, the whole home buying process was absolutely rediculous for us and was one of the most stressful things we had to overcome, but I digress…)

So here we are, living at altitude, and adventuring on the top of the Rockies. Feet planted into the beautiful town of Leadville and I’m still madly in love with my other half.  Somewhere along the way we opened our hearts even more and welcomed our first baby boy into the mix of our lives.  We always talked about having a baby, gave it a go for a few years and were initially unsuccessful like so many others out there desperately trying to grow a family.  It’s not as easy as Teen Mom makes it out to be… I’m not sure what it was, but 4 months after buying our house the stork finally delivered.  I thought I knew love before, and then I looked into the eyes of our son, Atom Lee Batz.  It’s amazing seeing those 10 little fingers and 10 little toes and seeing half of you and half of the love of your life in this one incredible being. I felt like the grinch as I felt my heart grow…

I was a working woman throughout my entire pregnancy and worked up until the last week before I delivered, I wanted to work right up until my due date, but a nasty date with influenza b quickly changed my plans. Michael and I are normal people; we are by no means rich, living somewhat paycheck to paycheck like so many others enslaved to ‘the man.’  Luckily, we had been saving diligently and were able to come up with a small nest egg before our son came.  It was our intention to use this for renovations to our home, vacation, a rainy day, that sort of thing.  I had all the intentions to return to work and be a working mama.  I even made arrangements with day care and tried to prepare myself for the working world.  In my neck of the woods I received 12 weeks maternity leave, only half of which was paid. Not the greatest scenario, but I was grateful.   Little did I know how fast that first 12 weeks would go…. A few weeks before my return to work, daycare began calling me to schedule details of exactly when I was going to turn my little nugget over to these strangers. I began having anxiety attacks with the thought of leaving him, with the thought of having someone else provide daily snuggles and kisses, with the thought of someone other than me raising my child… Again, my husband and I are by no means rich, we worked the daily grind for just enough to cover our basic needs with a little extra every once in a while… But the anxiety grew and grew inside me.  It just didn’t feel right. I knew I needed to bring this up to my husband, who I thought would be so against the idea of my staying home with him and not returning to work. I learned that my assumptions were wrong and he too agreed he did not want our son in daycare at such an early and fragile stage of his life. Now what?

We crunched numbers and did all the necessary research to ensure we weren’t going to drown in our bills. The situation wasn’t ideal, but we believed we could make it work with necessary cuts to anything extra we had in our lives.  We sold one of our cars, we got rid of television and cable, we changed our internet carrier and bargained a cheaper rate, lowered every possible expenditure we could, we even changed our eating habits and cancelled our door to door organic delivery we received every week… So the decision was made and I explained my decision to my employer (who was actually accepting of my decision, which made me feel even better as I did not want to burn any bridges). So now here we are, I snuggled Atom and reveled in the thought of being home with him day in and day out. I was ecstatic, we were going to make this work. Stay at home mamahood, here I come!

The first few months were amazing, I delivered in April so I was able to enjoy Colorados beautiful summer with my nugget.  We walked and went outside everyday, I definitely know I have a little mountain man.  He is so much happier outside! Everything was sunshine and roses… But then one day Reality hit and our nest egg began to dwindle… Quickly.  At least we have it, we kept telling ourselves… And our dreams of hardwood floors and renos swiftly went out the door. I luckily have an amazing, hardworking and dedicated husband who pushed himself to make his next career move… Long story short and a few interviews later, he did it. He accepted a job opportunity that put us in the position we would have been in if I still worked but had to pay for daycare, we could breathe again knowing we could stop emptying our nest egg.  And I could begin to truly enjoy my role as a stay at home mama.

Fast forward to a few months later, I am still so incredibly joyful and feel so lucky that I am able to be the sole provider of my son during this precious time.  Atom literally grows with every waking day, he is growing right in front of my eyes and I feel to blessed to be able to witness it. It’s been about 6 months into my SAHM career and I’m starting to feel “it”. “It” being what everyone whispers about, what I’ve read about, what I am now experiencing. Isolation, loneliness, exhaustion…

Its something no one wants to talk about. It’s such a weird teeter tottering experience, knowing how grateful I need to be with the fact that I can stay home with my little one… But the truth is, it’s hard.  My days off are non existent, I work round the clock (I’m still exclusively breastfeeding, so the little guy needs to eat every few hours still, and prefers to get the majority of his nutrients at night. The days and nights are long, but I continue to out one foot in front of the other and I press on with my To Do list.  Daily interaction with other adults is minimal and I’m starting to feel my friendships take their toll as there just isn’t enough time to take care of them.  After the house is cleaned, dogs are walked, brushed and fed, groceries are bought, dinner is prepared, all on top of taking care of my precious infant, oh and myself and my needs. I’m taking care of everything the best I can…. I’m exhausted, the sun sets and I do it all over again, and again, and again.

Warm and wise words were spoken to me from a complete stranger as I’ve found a huge community of other SAHMamas on Instagram. She said, “it’s not natural to mother alone without your village, but so common in this day in age. A good time to reflect and grow but also to endeavor to free yourself from the mind and be present” her words resonated with me as I realized one thing I needed to do again, is find my voice.  I was beginning to feel lost with things I felt needed to be done on a daily basis.  But I realized I needed to let the dishes go for a minute and focus on me, to breathe, and to reflect my mind into something positive, and just for me.

So here we are, my hands are working in ways they haven’t in a while.  My adult words are flowing again and I’m beginning to find my voice. I’ve decided to get up earlier (before Atom is up and wants to play and have books read to him) to utilize this time for myself. I’m redirecting my thoughts and reflecting my past, but attempting to be present.  I’m excited to ride this journey and see where I will be in the next 6 months.  A bittersweet symphony, that’s life.