Perennial rushing is toxic to the body and mind. Find moments of silence and contemplation where you can just be. Create margins of sanity. Practice the defensive art of scheduling breaks and vacations.

Day 68 of 101 days of blogging. I am listening to this one like none other.

Ryan and I are in Minnesota, with friends and family, enjoying a wedding tonight. I am hoping to find many moments during this next week in Minnesota of just “being,” finding myself caught up with many moments of silence and yet many more moments of great conversations and stories with family and friends.

Before I slow down, I have to share with you another #gutsy story. You are going to love her!

Meet Vanessa Sain-Dieguez….

When Sarah asked if I’d like to participate in her “Gutsy Girl” series – I was flattered, but immediately felt inadequate. I’m not gutsy. I’m not a big risk taker, I’m not the fittest of my friends. I’m not the person that goes out hiking or running marathons on the weekend – I’m, well, normal (or do I mean boring?). But still, I figured, when you’re given an invitation you should think twice before turning it down. I told Sarah the only thing gutsy about me is I’ve adopted a vegan diet.

THAT is gutsy!” she replied. (SKH Note: I meant it, too. It is totally gutsy!)

So here I am, writing to you about what makes me gutsy. Truth is, as I sat to write this I realized I am more gutsy than just adopting a vegan diet. I just tend to be hard on myself. I’ve moved more than 9 times, having to start over during all cycles of life. I took a job that was beyond challenging, wasn’t sure I could do it (happy to report, I CAN!). Married the love of my life despite all kinds of crazy obstacles. And then there’s that vegan thing. So yeah, not too shabby, I’ve got a little gutsiness after all.

Embracing a vegan diet has changed me more than I ever thought it could. It goes way beyond just omitting meat products in my diet. I started this journey with a 30-day vegan challenge. My best friend was nearing the end (though I didn’t know it was the end) of her three year battle with breast cancer. Diagnosed stage 4, I watched her go from the most vibrant, happy, loving person to a very sick, scared, and literally bruised woman. It was too much to bear.

One of the last times I was with her, we were at her house and she had “Crazy, Sexy, Diet” on the coffee table. I began flipping through it and ended up buying it later that night. I became engrossed in that book and what followed was a non-stop information-gathering mania that has yet to cease. Cancer can be prevented by diet? Say what? I saw what my friend was going through, what her family was going through. And I remember thinking to myself, if I can in any way avoid this ugly disease, and have my family avoid this pain, I’ll do it, no matter what it takes.

Don’t get me wrong, those first 30 days were no walk in the park. Anyone trying to omit anything from their diet can sympathize with the cravings and exhaustion that can follow. But after about 3 weeks I felt really great. By the time I hit 30 days, I didn’t know for sure what to do so I just kept going. Over a year later, I haven’t looked back. Sure there have been times I’ve been tempted to call the quits. But I’m proud of myself for sticking with it.

The real testament to my diet came this summer. My mom and dad were adopting many of my habits. Slowly but surely they were giving up dairy, meat, and trying to cut down on fish. They were making real progress. Then my dad, at 61 years young, had a massive heart attack and died instantly on May 4. Out of nowhere he was gone. Turns out he had 80% blockage. But there were absolutely NO warnings – he passed every stress test, every exam with flying colors. He was the most fit person I knew. Again, I turned to research – how could this be? Sadly, my fears were confirmed: Diets that include animal products are likely to cause disease. That was it. That sealed the deal for me. I have no desire to go back to my former ways of eating. I’m committed to staying on this path and one day, raising a family on a vegan diet.

I’m careful to say I’ve adopted a vegan “diet” because there is a lot more that goes into being vegan than just what goes on your plate. But even just changing what I put on my plate every day has changed my whole outlook. I like to think I have more compassion. More curiosity. I’ve certainly become much more creative in the kitchen and connected with people I never would have otherwise. I have more energy day to day (say goodbye to afternoon slumps!) and while I was once plagued with colds and flus of all kinds – I’ve only been sick once the past year! (for traveling as much as I do, that’s a pretty big feat). My family and friends have started to ask questions and adopt parts of my new lifestyle which gives me energy and vigor. It’s fun to challenge the status quo and end up better on the other side. Here’s hoping it remains this much fun forever, but I am not worried. I think I’ve got a long, healthy future in front of me.

Cheers to your greens and being gutsy!

By the way, Vanessa is also the Director of Social Media Planning & Integration for Hilton Worldwide. She is awesome and smart. You can find her blog musings here!

Tomorrow is day 69. Topic:

Connect with a Community

Love your guts,

{Join in the 101 Days of Blogging at any point}

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