I'm Annie. And I haven't always cared about the planet.
I grew up in a normal family. We recycled and tried not to litter, but we also ate McDonald's and sometimes forgot to turn off the water when we brushed our teeth. I grew up like most people my age. Normal.
We had a few pets growing up, but I wasn't a huge animal person. In college, I went to Buffalo Wild Wings so much that the waitress knew me by name. Until one day...
I got a dog. She changed my world (now I understand you crazy dog people!). In 2014, my boyfriend (now husband) bought me a Time Magazine called "The Animal Mind" because it had a cute dog on the front. I read it. There was a section on factory farms. I had some questions. So I Googled "What is factory farming?" And that's the day my life changed.
The images I saw online will never be erased from my head. I was in complete shock. How had no one told me where my food was REALLY coming from? I watched all the documentaries. I read all the books. I turned to social media to find vegetarians who could show me what I should eat because meat was no longer going to be apart of my diet. I just couldn't stomach it anymore.
It turns out most vegetarians on YouTube and Instagram are also vegan. In turn, I learned the truth behind the dairy and egg industries, as well. I gave it up for good in 2015.
Over time, I began to find out more and more about how animals are exploited in the entertainment, cosmetic and fashion industries. I started to rid my life of any products that came from an animal because I just couldn't bear to know that an animal suffered because of ME.
Eventually, and unfortunately, the shock of these images wore off and I was tempted to eat meat again. So I looked to the other benefits of a vegan lifestyle. I was already feeling better, health-wise, but I began to learn of the effects of our waste, our plastic, our pollution on the animals, and the planet. So off I went on my own journey to reduce the waste in my life.
Starting this journey of compassion for the animals has led me to a place where I want to lead a compassionate life for the planet and other people as well. I now try to live my life in the most ethical, compassionate way I know.
While I wish I was a total hippie that just sat around all day, making her own soap from scratch and living in VW bus, that isn't my life. I'm a busy, professional- probably just like you- and I don't have all the time in the world. So I'm on a journey to live life in a simple, compassionate way. I hope you'll join me!
Ya know what, people? Sometimes self-care Sunday is cleaning your bathroom and sitting on the floor in your robe, with a glass of ice cold water, a candle burning, a hair mask in, meal planning on the floor. And DAT IS COOL. Just take care of yourselves, please, before you burn out and exhaust yourselves and get sick and grumpy. Just go do something good for yourself. Cause you are loved and beautiful and worth taking delicate, precious care of. ✨
Until we get that dream house in Ireland, we’ll keep spending all day at the Irish Festival- listening to all the music, watching all the dance schools, drinking all the Magners and trying on all the flat caps. ☘️💕
Feeling REAL GOOD about all the compassionate voters that showed up yesterday across the country. 🇺🇸California passed Prop 12 which will require larger cages for factory farmed animals (still not humane or right but a step in the right direction) 🐔🐷Amendment 13 in Florida was passed to ban dog racing 🐕PLUS, recently, @covergirl and @dove announced they are becoming #crueltyfree 💄People are speaking up and realizing that treating God’s beautiful creation and creatures with RESPECT and LOVE >>>>> greed, money, selfish indulgence. You do not have to be an animal rights activist to live a compassionate live. You don’t have to shop at Whole Foods and only eat kale. You can be a “normal” person and still live compassionately. I still eat at alllll my fave places like Chick-Fil-A, Red Robin, P.F.Changs, Starbucks, Panera Bread, Chipotle without eating animals. You can do this! Eat plant-based to the best of your ability. Refuse to buy products that test on animals. Adopt from shelters. Try a new vegan recipe. Don’t support circuses, amusement parks or roadside attractions that exploit animals for money. Do what you can to live a more compassionate life. 💕🌍 #hippielife
Don’t worry, guys. I’m still your friendly neighborhood unaffiliated moderate that is skeptical of the government. But I do think it is important to vote for your local and state government. And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not be tricked into voting blindly for a political party. Decide where you stand on issues. Look up your candidates on Vote411.org and see who you agree with most closely, REGARDLESS OF PARTY. I feel passionately that political parties have ruined our country’s politics. In the words of our OG, George Washington, my fave quote ever...“political parties may now and then answer popular ends but they are likely in the course of time to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” Aka stop voting Democrat or Republican and start voting EDUCATED.✌🏼🇺🇸 #voteforpedro
I’m not trying to skip over Thanksgiving but I mean, a Hallmark Christmas movie marathon was on this weekend...I couldn’t not watch. I’m only human, people. 💁🏻♀️🌲P.S. I wrote a post about how to stock pile $1,000 for Christmas this month so you don’t have to go into debt, check it out if ya want! 💰#linkinbio
Last month, we officially are 15% of the way debt-free! We are down four credit cards and two student loans. We’ve cash flowed emergency room visits, Lucy’s adoption + vet visits and MULTIPLE car repairs. [Cash flow is when you make room in your budget for BIG expenses with CASH MONEY so you don’t go into debt] We’ve avoided car payments, credit cards and going into more debt for almost 3️⃣ years now. So many people in our lives (who meant well...I think) have told us that there is NO way we can live without a car payment or credit cards, or that ALL of our student loan debt can be paid off in 5 years or less. I love proving people wrong. 😏 I only regret not taking control of my money sooner. We hit a LOT of unexpected expenses this year but 2019 is gonna be our year...I can feel it. 💪🏼
Happy #WorldVeganDay 🌱This is your reminder to DO WHAT YOU CAN. This lifestyle is for everyone. So if you can do one meatless meal a week, DO IT. If you can give up eating meat at home but not when eating out, DO IT. If you can give up eggs and dairy but not meat, DO IT. If you can drink almond milk instead, DO IT. If you can eat all vegan breakfasts but nothing else, DO IT. If you can buy cruelty-free, DO IT (honestly, who can’t do this one, doe?) DO WHAT YOU CAN. Every little bit that you do for the animals and environment HELPS! Every time you choose to eat a plant-based meal, you save a precious animal life. You reduce your carbon footprint. You help improve your health. And I mean, they make vegan pumpkin spice coffee creamer now, so like C’MON, GUYS! 2018, get with the program.
Our neighborhood is the perfect little trick-or-treating neighborhood. 🍂
Talk nerdy to me. 🤓
Trick or treat-yo-self. 💁🏻♀️
“Please get any paper clips, binder clips or any other metal items out of your mouth...” - things I never thought I’d say 📎🖇🔗 #yummy •• also, this is a realistic picture into a teacher’s 25 minute lunch— shoving a sandwich down your throat while you respond to emails, grade and plan. ✌🏼 #AnniesTeacherLife
Today is #NationalDrugTakeBackDay 💊 • My medicine cabinet is full of unused and expired medicine because I never know how to dispose of it. Flush it down the toilet? Throw it out? Flushing it down the toilet leads to contaminated tap water, antibiotic resistant bacteria and killing our beautiful underwater creatures. But throwing it out or leaving it in the cabinet could lead to someone abusing it. 197 Americans die of drug overdose every day and 54 million Americans have admitted to using prescription drugs for non-medical uses. I have watched good people become demons from abusing drugs. It rips apart families. It ruins kids’ lives. It kills people. It drives crime. We gotta keep these off the street. Some people hear that and think “It’s so sad. But there’s nothing I can do.” But THERE IS! Today, I’m choosing to dispose of some Vicodin and Celiac Disease meds today at a #LICDrugDisposal Receptacle near me today. I have all the info on how you can safely dispose of these medications in my last blog post- along with how the abuse of drugs has personally affected me. Check it out if you want and thank you for helping to keep our planet and our people safe! 🌍💕 #ad
Everyone knows I accidentally ended up a traditional teacher and my dream job has always been to be a deaf educator. But life hands ya lemons and here I am, teaching many hearing (and very loud 😂) students. So we started a Sign Language Club at school and I thought maybe 20 kids would be interested in staying after school to learn but I had 65 2nd-5th graders who wanted to join our club! LIKE WHAT?! Every week, I meet with 30 kids and we learn new signs. We know the alphabet, our names, basic conversation pieces and Halloween signs! We start every meeting by watching a video of a REAL DEAF PERSON and we learn a little bit about deaf culture and the deaf community. The questions these kids have about deaf culture is ASTOUNDING. Kids are so accepting and incredible and it could almost make me cry thinking about how our future is in such good hands if these kids are running the place.
More than that, I have a few friends that were straight up CHALLENGES for me when they were in my class last year. But here they come to Sign Language Club every week. Through Sign Language, I feel like I get a whole new chance to reach these kids and teach them. Which is SO REWARDING.
But perhaps, the best part of my week has been when I saw one of our club students signing with one of our students with special needs. I AM DONE. BYE. CRYING. 😭
This is why, people. To make a more inclusive, accepting, kind, beautiful place. Everyone should be able to communicate and make a friend— even if they speak with their hands. I am just so so so thankful that I get to let kids step into the world of a deaf person each week to show them that “disabilities” = “differently abled but pretty much the same as you”. These kids are SPONGES and willing to open their hearts and minds. Kids are better than most adults I know. (But still second to dogs...whoops🤷🏻♀️) In a job and a world that is downright depressing and draining every single second, I just wanted to share a positive! Also, almost Friday and this full moon nonsense is almost out of their systems. This is your reminder that LIFE IS ALL GOOD. 💕🤟🏼
Wednesday is my Monday, pretty much every week. A month ago, I would have expected myself to wake up at 4:30 AM to workout, follow my meal prepped whole food diet, teach all day, run an after school club for 30 kiddos, drive in rush hour traffic and then prep all my lessons for the next day. This school year, I have realized that if I keep up this mega-disciplined routine, I may meet all my fitness and professional goals but...my anxiety might actually kill me. I am learning this amazing, but painful for a Type A like me, word called SIMPLIFY. And it’s sister called BALANCED. These words are changing everything. I’m learning to let go. It’s okay if my lessons aren’t the most amazing every single day. It’s okay if I don’t do a rigorous hour long workout every day. It’s okay to snack on junk food. SIMPLIFY AND BALANCE. So on my Wednesdays, I am learning to come home, roll on all the essential oils, light some candles, eat some comfort food, watch some reality TV, drink some wine, do some yoga, wear all the comfy clothes. Cause LIFE IS NOT AN EMERGENCY. Trying to be perfect will kill your soul. 💕
For two years, I was in the middle of a major depressive episode. The weather gets colder and the sun goes down sooner and it reminds me so much of those years. Depression does not mean sadness. During those two years, I don’t think I could say I ever felt the emotion of sadness. Depression is NUMBNESS. Numbness to life. You can see the most beautiful sunset and feel nothing. You can eat the most wonderful food and taste nothing. You can have your amazing fiancé tell you how much he loves you and have those words fall so empty, it’s like you never even heard them at all. You’re a shell of a person, walking through life like a zombie. You feel like someone on the sideline, watching life happen to everyone else. It’s almost like you don’t belong here, you aren’t participating. Once you know the joys of a beautiful sunset, your favorite food, the love of good people, it’s hard to live life without them. It’s like you know how good life can be but yet you can’t feel anything anymore. It’s the worst. It’s the darkest. I wouldn’t wish it on the person I hated most. It’s the scariest because you’re sick- so sick-but you can still put on makeup and get dressed and fake it. You’re sick but you can’t talk about it because talking about “your depression” out loud is the number one way to make someone else feel uncomfortable and awkward. So you live life, dark, quiet, alone. Feeling so much that you aren’t even human that it isn’t even worth it to bother someone else with your struggles. Last week for #worldmentalhealthday I posted a part of my story on Facebook and Instagram. It was scary because I struggled with this for years and didn’t talk about it. Too many damn people are killing themselves or thinking about it because their brains are torturing them and it isn’t their fault. They don’t realize that talking about it is okay. “Normal” people are depressed too. Medicine is okay. Admitting it isn’t shameful. Talk about it.
It’s below 60 degrees so it’s officially winter and I’m not leaving my house until April so see ya never. ✌🏼🍂
I first remember being depressed when I was 10. I remember having my first panic attack at 11. I wouldn’t sleep because I was paranoid that someone would break into our house. I remember crying in my room when my parents said they’d be home at 10:00 and the babysitter was still there at 10:05 because I knew they were dead in a car crash somewhere. I don’t remember a lot of my middle school years because I spent so much of it being on and off again depressed and anxious. I had my first life-altering panic attack while working retail in college. That was the day my life changed. Ever since that day in college, I have struggled with a generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks and depression. Because of my panic attacks, I stopped driving for a while. I failed two classes, which postponed my graduation date. Throughout my time in college, I was enrolled in disability services for my anxiety and depression. I was told by my professor that my anxiety isn’t real and direct quote: she’s had “students with Down Syndrome who have it more together than you do.” I’ve lost countless friendships due to depression. I’ve sat outside Shepherd Pratt on the phone with Brandon, wondering if I should go inside because there was so much darkness, I couldn’t breathe. I avoided shopping malls and movie theaters and anything with a crowd for YEARS. I’ve been the girl that is sobbing, hyperventilating, yelling, cursing, crying in public because my damn brain won’t give me a second. If I showered that day, it was an accomplishment. I had a panic attack when Brandon asked me to marry him and on our wedding day. I’ve done all the therapy, medicine, oils, CBD, yoga, diets. Mental illness has stolen so many beautiful moments from my life but without it, I wouldn’t know the unconditional love of my God, my husband, my family and my friends. I wouldn’t be so strong, confident or self-aware. I wouldn’t think twice about calling the yelling homeless lady on the stress “crazy” or judging the kid who yells and curses at me in my class. I don’t like to share my story but in honor of #worldmentalhealthday I hope just one person sees a light at the end of the tunnel. You are loved. 💕
Wearing all black cause I’m mourning the loss of summer...I still ain’t over it. 😭
I started Irish dancing when I was 7. It was there where I fell in love with Irish music, Irish language, where I felt a little more connected to my roots. My dance school moved after a few years + I stopped going. But I still practiced. I studied dancing videos on YouTube. I schemed for ways to save money to pay my own tuition to go to a new school. I unashamedly have been to more Celtic Woman concerts with my mom than I can count. When I met my Greek husband who just so happened to be as in love with Ireland as I was, we planned our dream trip to Ireland. We have planned to go every summer since we’ve been married...and always cancel at the last minute when we finally realize how financially irresponsible it would be. Until then, we go to lots of Irish pubs. We follow a local Irish band. We’ve learned Gaelic together. (Do you get it? We’re nerds.) My dream has been to go back to dancing. It’s something I would think about often...but then tell myself how I’m too old and it’s dumb. This year, my amazing husband handed me money and told me to go to dance class. So I did. I’ve been going to an adult Irish dance class since April. And I love it with all my heart. It’s hard. I’m like not good AT ALL cause I’m 25 which is basically 1,000 in the world of Irish dance. It’s silly but I love it. I’ve always wanted a pair of hard shoes cause the sound they make is perfect. I’ve priced them out but the thought of spending a couple HUNDRED dollars on adult dance shoes seems silly, frivolous, “it’s just a nerdy hobby” I tell myself. So I dance in sneakers + have a blast anyways. Last night, I went to class + I found myself in a conversation with my dance teacher who asked if I had ever tried hard shoes. When I told her no, she handed me a pair. They were the perfect size. They were donated to the school for free. I could have them. And in that moment, I literally felt God smiling and saying “It’s not silly. It’s important to you, so it’s important to me. You wouldn’t get them for yourself so I got em for you. Enjoy this beautiful, fun, nerdy world I made.” There is a God who loves to lavish GOOD GIFTS ON YOU 😭 Bring on the blisters and see you fools on March 17th! 🍀
I have a complicated relationship with food. I love it, I hate it. It mainly just hates me. It’s tried to kill me (yo, Celiac and lactose intolerant friends, whadddupp) It’s made me fat. It’s comforted me only to make me feel disgusting minutes later. But it’s also so good and brings my favorite people together and brings JOY to my life and I constantly think about my next meal cause YUM. It’s complicated, okay?? I started eating healthier when I went gluten-free vegetarian. Then, I went dairy-free. Then, I cut eggs. For a while, I even cut sugar and oil. I felt great. I love eating healthy. It’s therapeutic. It’s helped my mental health immensely. It’s helped me make peace with my body. Because of that, I rarely buy processed foods or snacks. We eat lots of rices, beans, quinoa, lentils, fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, tofu, potatoes, smoothies...and it tastes 100000x better than it sounds. But, there is also the idea of IT’S A LOT OF DANG WORK AND THINKING AND PREPPING. So I decided that we were gonna take it easy this week. Thank goodness for amazing companies that make delicious, pseudo-healthy food in a box. So that’s how I’m learning grace with myself. I’m learning it’s okay to eat a frozen dinner once in a while. It’s okay to not track your macros and nutrients every meal of the day. It’s okay to buy potato chips. (Did I mention my relationship with food is...complicated?) This won’t be my new norm, but I’m challenging you to step out of your comfort zone for better or worse. ✌🏼