A couple of weeks ago, something terrible happened (I think). Somewhere between Luton and Bedford a beautiful mumma duck chose the very moment I was driving along day dreaming of the Harvester salad bar to step into the middle of the dual carriageway, attempting to join her husband on the other side (Why step mumma duck? Why not fly?). The car in front of me swerved a little, she changed direction, then changed back again and although I didn’t feel her tiny body get crushed under my wheels, I’m pretty sure my bumper was the last thing she ever saw. I’ve since learnt that ducks mate for life, so that’s an entire family I (potentially) destroyed in an instant.
You could argue it was an unavoidable accident, but as someone who loves animals (I don’t even kill wasps – except for the one that stung me under the armpit once, and even that was death by accidental suffocation) maybe I shouldn’t even be driving? Imagine how many insects have died on account of my windscreen…
Just before Christmas I spent an evening at a talk given by one of my absolute heroes – Rob Greenfield. A man who’s dedicated his life to changing the world through adventure, activism and humanitarianism. Hugely understated and down to earth, he does things most of us would consider to be a little bit ‘extra’. He’s worn every single piece of rubbish he created in a month, bought nothing new for a year, lives with a total of 111 possessions, cycled across the states on a bamboo bike spending not a single dollar, all to make the point that although it’s hard, it can be done. As a man who cares deeply about the environment and world we live in, how was he able to justify the carbon footprint he created flying to London to give that talk? Short answer – he wasn’t. To hear one of my heroes admit to being a level 5 hypocrite, was an enlightening moment for me. The realisation that despite how hard we try most of the time, it’s actually ok to allow yourself to try a little less hard sometimes…
I’ve been attempting to be Vegan (and proud if you weren’t already aware!) for about 2 months now, vegetarian for give or take half of my life. Claiming to be fully vegan is maybe a stretch too far just yet though – I’m not quite yet ready to give up honey and have conveniently forgotten to research whether my favourite perfume is tested on innocent bunnies (pray for me it isn’t, my bottles nearly out and I’ll be forced to check soon). I’ve stopped eating chocolate, cheese, cake and pizza, but I couldn’t help but cave to the seduction of cheesecake in Vegas and tried to justify it by pretending dairy cows in the US are treated more humanely than here in the UK. Complete BS, you understand.
I’ve updated most of my toiletries to fit in with my new found way of life, finding cruelty free alternatives for almost everything. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Not so. Particularly when it comes to toothpaste and deodorant. The only toothpaste I can find that’s vegan happens to be made from charcoal – yuck. Not only are black teeth a terrible look, the lingering taste of cloves leaves me with a subtle, yet distinct hint of death breath. The only cruelty free deodorant I’ve been able to find is made from either the essence of foraged mushrooms, locally harvested micro greens, hemp milk or angel dust – and it simply doesn’t work. I’ve tried, I really have, but end up smelling like the a*se end of a builder who’s worked 72 hours straight without a shower. I know it’s not fair on the animals, but it’s almost as unfair on my colleagues…
It’s no accident that the project I’m volunteering for in India is in support of women’s empowerment. The oppression of females throughout history and still to this day in parts of the world, never fails to get me going. I wholeheartedly believe in the equality that only progress can bring, but am also ashamed to admit I’m actually little more than a sideline feminist. I get angry when I think about the injustice of women getting paid less than their male counterparts, yet do absolutely nothing to help change it. I’m not even sure I can claim to be a sideline feminist if I vet every photo that appears on social media to make sure I look ‘pretty enough’, can I? What about if I’m secretly flattered when someone says I look attractive or young today? (And yes, it does count coming from my kids). I tell my daughters to believe in their own worth, that they don’t need a man (or anyone else for that matter) to validate their existence, or make-up to be beautiful, but do I do enough to prove that myself? Maybe my time in India will enable me to lay claim to being a bonafide feminist – I’m not sure yet, but I live in hope.
I asked Mia to describe what I’m like as a Mum. Her words were simple. ‘You’re an inspiration, but you can also be a b*tch’. She was joking (possibly on both counts), but I also know there’s an element of truth in what she says. As much as I consciously try to surround myself with an aura of peace and love, there are still people who make me cross and situations that make me angry despite myself. Does my integrity suffer as a result? I’m not sure.
It occurred to me that there are many ridiculously hypocritical things I’ve asked from my kids;
- Be kind to everyone they meet – I do try my best, but still sometimes find myself recoiling from certain people before even hearing a word that comes out of their mouths. What about when someone hurts you? The boy at school who put chewing gum in my hair… should I have smothered him in kindness? (I actually ran away crying and have spent the rest of my life successfully trying to avoid him)
- To share. I DONT share food or drink – especially not drink. Fact. Risking leftover floaters in a something you then expect me to drink? Nope. Don’t ask me, it simply won’t happen
- Keep your room tidy – current state of my room… the floordrobe is relatively clear as most clothes have migrated to the back of a chair, the ironing board is a permanent feature (along with a relatively sizeable pile of ironing), my current roommate is a spider I’ve nicknamed Flo
- Put your phone down – how do you think I’m writing this?
- Watch less TV – Celebs Go Dating is currently on “in the background” because “there’s nothing else on” and I’m finding myself fascinated by the antics of “Muggy Mike” who despite being a complete a*se has women falling at his feet. I mean really, REALLY?! I won’t say I’m addicted (well maybe just occasionally) But it’s seemingly ok for me to waste my life binge watching, almost as though I consider my kids time as more precious than my own
- Spend money wisely – this can be pretty hit or miss for me. Holidays and cats – no wise spending, absolutely none (including casinos, catios and teeth cleaning – cats that is). Books – the same. Christmas, birthdays, weddings, babies – 75% wise – the odd splurge has been known. Food, makeup, alcohol, clothes, jewellery – 0-100% wise, dependant on mood / position of moon / number of ducks murdered on way to Bedford / parking attendants seen wearing orange on any given day
We’re all a myriad of complexities, fabulous yet flawed. We’re messy, complicated and can be uniquely contradictory. We’re right, we’re wrong, we’re neither and we’re both. Which all combines beautifully to make each and every one of us perfectly imperfect. We’re all hypocrites, the extent of which depends only on what we believe and how much we believe in it. And you know what? That’s ok, it really is.
Maybe one day I’ll reach the dizzy heights of a level 5 hypocrite, but for now I’ll take a 7 and know that I’m trying my almost best to be the change I want to see in the world.
Dedicated to my beautiful would have been friend, mumma duck. Born May 2016 (est) – presumed dead 10th Feb 2018. RIP little one.