Online diary: thoughts about being a vegan human, yogi, and musician

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I was recently out to dinner with some loved ones (all omnivores) in a hip, busy new restaurant in a midwestern state. There was a cauliflower steak with mediterranean orzo on the menu. I asked the server if it was vegan and was assured that it was. When all the food arrived, my plate definitely had cheese alll over in it. I had to send it back — much to my dismay because part of why I am vegan is to not waste food (I’m sure someone in the kitchen ate it). The gathering got quiet and super awkward. When my food finally arrived 10 minutes later, there was the cauliflower steak with a blob of white rice on the plate. Nothing else. All white. $17. To fill the void I said, “I know you all think I’m crazy, but I’ve been vegan for 6 years and just don’t want to kill things.” More silence (more on this later!) A few minutes later, someone dear to me starts talking about how they are a member of a CARNIVORE CLUB at a butcher shop, how they “save big if they buy big.” I excused myself, went to the bathroom, and bawled my head off.

I’ve been vegan coming up on 6 years. Veganism means choosing to abstain from consuming or supporting animal products including meat, dairy, poultry, and fish, purchasing leather goods or other clothing & accessory items that have animal products in them, and taking good care to make sure that my products are vegan and not tested on animals.

During this time, I’ve run a marathon, opened and closed a yoga studio and continued to teach yoga throughout, completed 300 additional hours of yoga teacher certification, traveled to Bali and India, recorded and released a few albums and did a bit of solo / duo touring around the country, and have stayed / stabilized at my current weight in a healthy BMI pretty range much the entire time – definitely not wasting away. My energy stays consistent to fuel all of my work and activities and my relationship with food went from disordered (struggled with some binge / purge behaviors in my young adulthood …) to pretty loving of my body and my diet.

My reasons for transitioning to veganism are a trifecta: for the animals, for the environment, and for my health. During the winter of 2013, I geeked out on numerous documentaries that both terrified and saddened me regarding the state of the planet and the horrors of factory farming. Also for health reasons – how living a plant based lifestyle can be very anti-inflammatory which is great for recovering from exercise (i recovered quickly from my marathon training!), great for heart health, good for the skin and bones.

Back to the dinner party

So there I am, a 38 year old woman, bawling in the bathroom about my seventeen dollar cauliflower steak … but really I was bawling with the conflict of 1) how can I not stand up for myself 2) why don’t restaurants get it? train their staff about these things? 3) why did i speak in such a shaming way to my loved ones, as they are all eating dead animals? 4) why did someone start talking about a carnivore club just moments after i announced that i’ve been vegan for 6 years? … There is some deep psychological stuff going on here, or maybe it’s just the elephant in the room and someone was looking for something to talk about and that was the first thing that came to mind? Regardless, it is SO clear to me that this lifestyle is super important to me and I have to find ways to be stronger about it, and present it in the loving and beautiful way that I feel about it.

Veganism is not doom and gloom

There are many protesters and activists (thank you!) who fight for animal rights front and center. I protest animal cruelty with what I buy or don’t buy, with the music that I write, and also weave ahimsa into yoga classes that I teach. When I owned Imbue Yoga Studio we hosted Plant Based Yoga classes – a yoga asana class followed by a compassion meditation (tonglen) and then a vegan potluck. Ahimsa means non-harming. When paired with Satya – truthfulness – it is sharing a compassionate truth. The truth is, there is SO much suffering and harm done in the current state of our food system. How can we be compassionate when faced with so many horrors, both in the animal and the human world? And yet how can we tell the truth about it, while still honoring each other?

When I say to a table of people eating meat that I don’t want to kill things, there is some shaming going on. Yes it is bold, and it gets people to think, however those people also might want to kill me. How could I have handled that better? I’m going to talk to my therapist about it … I want to be a light and an example of fun and love and health when regarding my veganism. I want to show how easy it is to do this. But I also hope for people to consider where their food is coming from, and all that it takes to arrive on a plate, in a leather belt, in a down comforter, in a bottle of lotion.

And yet I also have compassion, as I was not fully vegan until I was 31 years old. It was a long journey of learning for me, and it is still unfolding … and I’m proud to be me and I don’t need to go cry about it in some restaurant bathroom. WOW!

And so, I would like to share some resources!!

The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine has some great vegan kick-start resources. Download recipe and meal plan ideas here!

A typical day of eating in my world looks like this – a few sample meals:

  • banana or apple + peanut butter or oatmeal w/ maple syrup + soy milk + hemp or chia seeds
  • salads with kale, peppers, tomatoes, avocado, nuts, beans like chickpeas or black beans
  • burritos with tons of beans, maybe a nut based cheese, onions, guacamole, salsa, rice … or a curry with potatoes, tofu, broccoli … or vegetable stir fries with seitan (wheat gluten / mock duck) and rice or quinoa …

Some cookbooks that I love are Eat Feel Fresh by Sahara Rose, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone (yes, the actress!), Mistress Ginger Cooks by Mistress Ginger / Justin Leaf, and so many more are coming out allll the time. Minneapolis is SUCH a hotspot for plant based eats, too. If you live here or are visiting anytime soon, check out Fig + Farro, Trio Plant Based, J. Selby’s, Vegan East and some other spots that aren’t totally vegan have wonderful options: Pizza Luce (their rinotta for pizza is SO YUM), The Howe, and many asian restaurants have vegan options – get tofu or mock duck and you are golden.

Happy Cow is a great app / website for finding vegan spots wherever you live. And Barnivore is great for finding vegan alcohol. Yes, sometimes egg whites or fish bladder are used as filtering agents. WUT NOW???

What to wear to the show

I used to love leather boots and jackets. Over time, I felt terrible about it. Wearing a dead animal around felt like such a heavy weight to me. I now even seek out vegan running shoes. How weird, that even running shoes wouldn’t be vegan!

I just did a purge of some lingering items and they await for proper burial and release in the garage, waiting there like sad ghosts. Some of you may agree and some may disagree, but rather than give away the items to goodwill or pass along to friends as I used to do, I’d like to have a ritual to honor the creature in a big ceremonial fire. So, if you’re having a fire soon, let me know. It may seem wasteful, however to wear these items means to perpetuate the use of animals for clothing — people might like what you’re wearing and want to go buy it for themselves and demand creates supply and then more beings are harmed in the making. There are so many cruelty free designers of shoes, clothes, bags, and gorgeous things. Here is a blog about 10 of them, including Stella McCartney.

What to put in the rider

Here is a fun blog about How to survive tour as a vegan musician by Chris Rookie. I’m just about to talk to my manager about updating my rider to include things like no bottled water or single use plastic items like plastic plates or forks, as well as providing vegan snacks like nuts, fruit, clif bars, hummus. When I tour I always bring food. Pack a cooler and have lots of those previously mentioned items on hand. Checking those apps like Happy Cow and Barnivore help with dining out and vegan booze.

How to carry on with love

I’m in recovery from trying to make everyone like and love me. Hence the shame and running for cover when faced with conflict. Hence pouring my heart into art because I need a platform to express it since I sometimes haven’t been able to speak for shyness. It is a privilege to have the options in the United States of America to speak our truth, and to have choices – SO MANY CHOICES of what to eat, what to buy, what to wear, and who to love. I am grateful every day for this freedom. Because I have so many options, I choose to do the least harm. I want to do this without shaming people, I want to shine light on dark truths to ultimately lift us up into a more compassionate, cruelty free world. Thank you for reading. Thank you for moving in any direction that leads you towards less harm, more compassion, and more love for yourself, your neighbor, and all of the beings winged, four legged, finned, and feathered. Namaste!

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Courage to be you

I recently reached out to friends on social media for blogging prompts. What follows in the coming weeks will be responses to all of those amazing suggestions & questions. THANK YOU!!! I plan to release a blog every Monday or Tuesday. Fingers crossed for consistency! Here goes nothing / everything! Please enjoy with an angsty rock soundtrack 🙂

“I find you to be inspired and self motivated to just walk through life and take on new challenges.  How do you do that? I’d love to know your inner process because I’m sure it takes courage to be you. Share the courage with the world!”

I’d first like to respond to this delightful and — dare I say — flattering question with a quote by Brené Brown:

Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

I often don’t feel very courageous … or even strong. For much of my youth / young adult life I felt vulnerable, swayed by peer pressures and the insecure desire to be liked. However, looking back, above all I have followed my heart and its yearnings, sometimes to my detriment.

A privileged, middle class white girl growing up in small town midwestern America to parents who are still alive and together, my childhood was somewhat provincial, safe, and supported. We never moved when I was growing up. I think that this stable background really did set me up for feeling safe to act out my heart’s desires. I would say that part of my urge to go out and get it came from boredom from small town livin’ and a deep curiosity to see the big world out there.

photo by Jason Huntzinger

In 11th grade I was urged by my German teacher, Frau Siewert, to become an exchange student in Germany. She all but signed the papers for me, I feel like she organized it so well. I think her wise eyes could see that I was falling into some troubles. I loved raves and would often drive with my friends an hour into the city (my hometown had 4,000 people in the middle of forests and cornfields) to go to parties. I think my teacher could see the path I was heading down and I hand it to her for helping me away from it. Not that raves or clubbing is bad, but I was getting pretty wild with it! So when I was 16, I flew to Tübingen in the state of Baden Württemburg with just a few years of high school Deutsch under my belt. It was terrifying. Thankfully my exchange partner was incredible and became a dear friend. But I was very shy and a perfectionist and could barely speak German without turning beet red. And yet, thus began the desire to travel, which truly has been a guiding light in my life.

Fast forward many years later. I got a bachelor’s in Psychology. Studied and taught yoga intensely for 10+ years and got my 500 hours of teacher trainings. I’ve moved to the east coast, the west coast, a 9 month stint in England and some time in New Mexico, Duluth 4x’s, and Minneapolis twice. I only had a “straight job” once – a clinical research assistant at Rhode Island Hospital and prison – and realized that while I was rapt & interested to interview inmates about their substance abuse and sex lives, I surely didn’t like data entry. So I quit and booked my first month long music tour from Rhode Island to Austin, Texas and back (this was 2004, before google and smart phones). Many small music tours followed, and 7 albums have been independently released since 2000. In my recent past I also opened, and closed, a small yoga studio in Minneapolis.

I question if all of this moving around and changing my focus has been courageous, or driven by fear of that early boredom, or fear of intimacy, or fear of planting roots, fear of becoming “normal.” Every time I moved, it seemed like my music career was JUST getting a foothold and some recognition and then I had to start ALL over. Same with yoga – starting to teach in Seattle, then Duluth, now Minneapolis and with each new move starting from scratch. I wonder if there weren’t some threads of self-sabotage or fear of success in there … or fear of failure might be more like it. My motivations were cloudy, sometimes impulsive and whimsical, or driven by crushes and relationships, but truly above all, there has been a deep desire to see more of this world, and meet more of the world’s people.

These words by Chani Nicholas ring SO true: “Being afraid is no excuse for not trying. Being inexperienced is no reason not to go to the lengths we must to get a little time in the saddle. Being green and growing is far more powerful than sitting on the sidelines, choking with envy.”

I’ve always been uninterested in committing to a stable job or going to grad school because I want to keep space open for music and art to take its course. Opening and running the yoga studio was about the most rooted thing I’ve done since my bachelor’s degree (and I even would leave the studio to travel as much as I could). And so, it didn’t work – probably because it wasn’t my full time passion like some people who open yoga studios have — and I leave it to them, with gratitude!

The space I leave for the songs to come is a wily thing. I want to allow room and time for inspiration to come, without forcing it. Financially, I am not at an awesome point when compared to many people my age. So part of this courage to do what I desire has to do with being okay with not having a ton of money. And also trying to find ways to make money that won’t hurt the love of my passions. When I have relied on music as my sole money maker (which I did full time for a few years), I would be playing background music in restaurants for hours and over time my soul was sucked and the love for the music would start to dissipate. I am grateful now to have a manager who controls my booking, although we have pulled back from performing so much, so I feel a little isolated these days as I’m allowing the new norm to unfold.

All of this personal life story aside, I’d like to say that all who wander are not lost. Everyone I’ve met and every place I’ve been has a part in my life story and has altered my reality. Some in harsh ways, some in gentle unfolding ways, some in big beautiful loving ways … and sometimes a little of all of these things. I was listening to an Oprah Super Soul podcast featuring Marianne Williamson who said she prefers to think that she is a wave amongst many waves all in one big ocean, rather than a wave alone in the ocean that can be dissolved and crushed by the others. Our actions, our paths, our unfoldings all intersect and ring out into distant edges unknown.

I used to be frozen by indecision and anxiety. Never knowing what my true life purpose was, what my calling was, what I am meant to do on this earth. I sunk into deep depressions that therapy helped to even out eventually with some SSRI’s and talking. Now I’m trying things and seeing what works, and if it feels too hard and starts to create pain and suffering and anguish like the pursuit of a successful career in music (aka fame) sometimes has, I back off and follow a path that feels healing, like how yoga has been to me. When the yoga studio started to kill my love for teaching, and was draining my savings and I was in the red, I let it go and went back to just teaching for other studios. I will sit in discomfort for awhile as I know that often is what makes us grow, but I have no tolerance to hang out there for too long as the angst and sorrow from perceived failures has a negative ripple effect on all aspects – health, community, cosmos. And so, I let go.

To wrap up, I’d like to leave a few things that have worked for me in being self motivated and feeling like I can pursue new things:

  • having support to talk things through: family, therapist, lover, friends
  • a spiritual practice that involves witnessing the mind (meditation, mantra, asana, pranayama, journaling/morning pages)
  • researching before leaping into something new – i am a book junkie and google is my friend
  • talking with others in the field i’m interested in (i always offer to pay to pick people’s brains because their time and history is valuable)
  • solitude to reflect
  • gratitude for all that has brought me to this moment, good and bad

Thank you for this beautiful question – I love you! And thanks for reading, friends. I wish all of you the heart to follow your passions and let go of that which is causing you anguish. I wish you beautiful, fulfilling lives! Big love, Mary

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Gaelynn Lea’s Learning How to Stay cuts through the fog – album review

Gaelynn Lea’s Learning How to Stay cuts through the fog

It’s the eve of the fall equinox and my self-diagnosed SAD is kicking in. The past week has been all rain and thunder and bluster. More chances to stay inside with the tea kettle and contemplate the cold cruel world. I keep returning to a song, over an over, and it is Gaelynn Lea’s Moment of Bliss.

Mary Bue Patreon Minneapolis Singer Songwriter

The New Frontier, The Wild West

The New Frontier,
The Wild West

Hello dear music friend,

Last weekend I took a trip out west with my new beau.  It wasn’t super far west,  but a good 9 hours from Minneapolis to Western North Dakota where the landscape changes to plateaus and buttes and miles and grasslands.  Majestic beast roam:  Bison,  Elk, Wild Horse,  and Coyote howls.  The moon switched to new,  and a full day was spent walking to get water from a spring and then walking back to camp.  For some people,  this is their life …

Majesty of Beasts Poem

 

 Hi! I’d like to share with you the poem that became the lyrics to the title track of my last musical project “The Majesty of Beasts.” This song is about the beauty of the earth and its beings. It’s about humans wanting pretty things on their walls and in their bellies so much that we are devastating our beautiful home. It’s about violence. It’s about love. It’s about evolving beyond greed and recognizing the majesty of the earth so much that we can just let it be majestic … (There is also a reference to The Walking Dead, which I am obsessed with – but I’m behind in the series cuz I only have watched it on Netflix. It’s killing me!!)

Mary Bue hiking Devisadero trail during Artist in Residence

Thoughts on Devisadero

Thoughts on the trail during my artist residency …

I just crested staying over two months in Taos, New Mexico as an Artist in Residence at the Wurlitzer Foundation.  A few days after I arrived here I sought out the Devisadero Loop Trail,  a section / foothill of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.  It begins around 7,000 feet above sea level and makes its way to 8,300 feet.  Needless to say,  my Minnesota lungs were winded.  I was such a PILE on the first hike.  Took me 2.5-3 hours and I was exhausted on those early days of being here.  Now I’m run/hiking it,  and just had my best time at 1:10.

“Devisadero” has a few searchable meanings – could be from the Spanish word for ‘division.’ The forest service says it means “lookout place” and that “the peak had once been used by the Taos Pueblo Indians to stand guard against the Apaches who would come down Taos Canyon to raid the Pueblo.” Or it might be from the word divisar, meaning similarly ‘to gaze at something from a distance.’

Two weeks into what seems like two years in Taos

I haven’t been in Taos for two weeks just yet – Tuesday eve it will be so – but time moves slow here –  I’ve made it as such.  Imposed solitude.  Turning down invites to chill with the other artists,  to go to a Bob Marley dance party at a gallery,  and right now I could be drinking and watching the Superbowl with some passionate intellectuals … but no,  I am in my casita … blogging … what a DORK!

A quick update on how I am spending my artist residency – the spiral nature of my time thus far.  First – motivation,  enthusiasm,  excitement spiraled to overwhelm,  exhaustion,  lethargy and then back around slowly to productivity,  awe,  creative bliss … Emotions; they are always shifting,  changing like clouds in the sky or waves in the sea.  The thing is,  underneath all of that emotional stormage and weather there’s a clear blue space.  And I work with that.  I try to work with that.