The Pine Cone Story

I have always loved pine cones.

I know a woman from Mexico who loves them too.

One summer, I was at church with my young niece, Rebecca. We were proudly sitting in our pew with long-sleeved farmer button down shirts. During the Communion Rite, Rebecca noticed a woman sitting beside us with a pine cone in both hands on her lap.

Rebecca asked me why this church goer would bring a pine cone to Mass. We were laughing under our breaths; it was an unusual sight. It is not uncommon to bring a prayer book to church or even a bible but what about a pine cone?

When it was time to line up to receive Jesus, Rebecca and I were concerned the woman would bring up the pine cone. How would this devout Catholic receive Jesus with a pine cone in her hands?

The woman left the pine cone in the book ledge in the pew before going up for Communion — what a relief!

After Mass, I asked the woman, “Excuse me, may I ask why you brought a pine cone to church?” Perhaps this pine cone was going to be blessed by the priest or maybe it was like an imaginary friend.

The woman told me the pine cone is so beautiful; she was from Mexico and they have no pine cones. She can buy pine cones in Mexico but they are expensive.

I can buy pine cones but can pay an average of $30 or more on Amazon. Most of these pine cones are being shipped from the United States.

The story of the beautiful pine cone told me never to take anything for granted. In Vancouver, Canada, we have an abundance of pine cones. The smell of fresh pine trees after it rains is lovely.

I have always loved pine cones like this lady from Mexico.

I discovered a pine cone patch during my morning walks. I have collected about ten bags of pine cones for home decor and crafting for the upcoming Fall season. My pine cones were free.

My pine cones were free.

The woman from Mexico has one pine cone which was free too.

And it is so beautiful.

It is beautiful enough to be taken to church.

By Jennifer Ann de la Torre


No Faux Leaves

This week, I visited Dollarama and Walmart to purchase fall decor.

The supply of fall decor at Dollarama was sparse — Walmart did not even have their seasonal display.

Vancouver, Canada is behind.

Perhaps this is a sign to abstain from buying cheap seasonal fall decor.

The stay at home moms in YouTube videos have homes filled with faux leave garlands; scented candles I would be allergic to; and cheap foam and ceramic pumpkins from Dollar Tree. These moms have the good sense to include thrifted items in their fall decor.

Since the age of three or four, I would spend hours alone in my bedroom moving around my collections. From childhood to adulthood, I viewed seasonal decor as tacky; cheap; and a waste of money. Why use items in my home that need to be placed in storage after three months?

When it comes to hiding items, I do not use them. Why hide potential beauty in my home? It makes more sense to display year round decor — beautiful pieces I see and use during all seasons.

Before YouTube, I was happy living life without seasonal decorating.

As I heal and recover from depression; mania; anxiety; and psychosis, I remember how I lived my life as a child; I realize the real ME is that child. Recovery is about returning to my authentic self.

There is nothing authentic about faux leaves.

Being on disability, I am blessed I can shop at thrift stores.

I did acquire fall decor from Salvation Army and Value Village which will be used year round. I created a vintage Back to School display which is very fall — most children and some adults go back to school in September.

I plan to collect real leaves and real pine cones on the street. My next craft project is to apply one coat of Mod Podge to the front and back of real fall leaves to preserve them.

Decorating seasonally is another reason to shop and spend money.

As a vegan and an artist, most of my money goes towards plant based food and lessons.

I am going back to school as a new taekwondo student with the goal of becoming a black belt.

My goal is not to decorate my home with faux leaves.

  • Jennifer Ann de la Torre










Binge Healing

I have been diagnosed with binge eating disorder twice. First from my family doctor. Then from an eating disorders clinic that does not treat binge eating disorder.

I cannot accelerate my healing by bingeing on food.

In fact, all eating disorders are a slow suicide. I can die from the cycle of restricting and bingeing: Heart disease; type 2 diabetes; organ shut down and failure.

An eating disorder is way of coping with trauma. High sensitivity also makes me prone to an eating disorder. I learned about the gift of high sensitivity after reading The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, PhD. Dr. Aron is the pioneer researcher of high sensitivity.

Yesterday, my mom kept yelling at my dad all morning over a parking spot. I barely ate all day: Two buns of bread; two donuts; and two bananas. By bedtime, I had so much gas in my stomach and I was constipated.

When I do not eat, my kidneys shut down — They stop working. There is bloating and other digestive issues. I was meant to eat so my kidneys can do their job of digesting my food.

I am still vegan but binge on junk food — Salt and sugar. I love eating chips and salsa and Nerds candies from the corner store. I also LOVE German Moritz chocolate from Dollarama. I used to spend $5 – $20 a week on binges at the dollar store as a depressed and manic student at university.

I could not concentrate on my course work with my depression and the constant yelling in my home. When I would tell my mom I was depressed, she would yell at me and I could not study and eat.

More than ten years later, I can finally read a book cover to cover. I read aloud which makes my concentration stick. Reading aloud also helps with my acting. As a teenager, a talent agency suggested reading aloud my books. The catch is to eat before reading.

My return to a naturopath can help me eat a proper vegan diet. Getting by on two vegan meals a day is not enough. I need a vegan lunch plus snacks. A naturopath is considered a leading authority on nutrition. It was my former naturopath who got me started on living a vegan lifestyle.

My mom has agreed to go with me to see the naturopath. My anxiety prevents me from leaving the house alone.

An eating disorder will not heal over night. It takes time; patience; and a true desire to eat how my body wants me to eat. My body does not want me to restrict then binge. I make my body sick.

I need to be willing to look at my issues and come up with better ways to overcome them.

Killing myself with disordered eating is killing myself.

I am worthy of healthy eating.

By Jennifer Ann de la Torre

A Disordered Vegan

I am a disordered vegan.

Does veganism cause disordered eating and eating disorders?

I wish I was raised vegan since birth.

As a child, I was required to eat meat at the dinner table. When I was eight or nine, I asked my dad if I had to eat meat. My dad said, “YES.” Eating meat every day was like a punishment. The meat was tough and had no flavor. It even hurt my teeth and gums.

When I started community college at eighteen, I became a closet vegetarian. The school cafeteria had two or three vegetarian dishes.

I became vegetarian to eat more vegetables and lose weight. I was already thin — I was beginning my journey of disordered eating. My possible anorexia was being triggered.

When I hit university, I began starving myself. I would eat morning snack at the university daycare I worked at on campus. Then I dutifully ate my meat dinner at home so no one would know my plan for thinness.

When I became vegan, I knew which foods to eat to manage my weight. I was obese from taking antipsychotic medication. At 5’2″, I weighed 185 pounds. My family doctor referred me to a judgemental dietician. After two visits, I returned to the naturopath who coached me in maintaining a vegan lifestyle.

At the information session at the eating disorders program, I learned that an eating disorder is a way of coping with trauma. It is also a way of reacting to society’s view of what beautiful means — Thinness.

There was a time in my childhood when my mom or sister looked me up and down as I came down the stairs before going out the door. If I was wearing the wrong thing, I had to go back upstairs and change.

Vegan or not, I can suffer from disordered eating and even an eating disorder. I have possible binge eating disorder. I am waiting to be assessed by the eating disorder clinic.

Coping with trauma and body image issues has nothing to do with a vegan lifestyle.

In fact, disordered eating and an eating disorder can interfere with a vegan lifestyle.

When I am starving from restricting my eating, I let go of my vegan diet and binge on junk food — Sugar; salt; and processed food.

I admit I am a disordered vegan.

By Jennifer Ann de la Torre

I Blame Youtube

I blame Youtube.

Watching endless Youtube videos on decorating and organizing is killing me.

Since September, I have been spending about six hours a day watching Youtube and the $5 Goodwill challenge every season. I decided long ago to STOP collecting seasonal decor and focus on items I can display year round.

Even with thrifting, I cannot afford to buy new trinkets every season.

As I was moving around my decor yesterday, I discovered I have more than enough for Spring and Easter:

Books of vintage children’s illustrations I display on the wall; three ceramic bunnies; almost two complete collections of the Beatrix Potter books; a pink giant ceramic Easter egg; a pink violin with a sunflower design which costs $500….Do I really need to leave my house and buy more Easter and Spring Decor at Value Village?

In Canada, our thrift stores are more expensive than in the United States. As far as I know, we do not have a Goodwill in Vancouver. If the Goodwill challenge was hosted in Canada, it would be the $10 Goodwill challenge.

One Canadian Youtuber could not afford $5 to spend at Goodwill. Instead, she used existing decor and her design was beautiful; it was one of the best.

Why did I start watching Youtube Videos?

A new school year began at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra School of Music. I was still without a violin teacher….

I turned to Youtube for solace and comfort.

I began restricting my food intake. Then I began bingeing.

I finally asked my psychiatrist and family doctor to refer me to an eating disorder program.

All eating disorders are a slow death — dehydration; organ failure….Disordered eating is a slow suicide.

How can Youtube be a source of solace and comfort for me?

Since September, I have been spending money on seasonal decor instead of food.

Without food, I cannot practice violin every day.

These videos make me feel inadequate. I thought my existing decor was not good enough. I thought my passion for homemaking needed improvement. I thought I needed more stuff.

Food is taking second priority.

I have three more days until my next disability check. I do not have enough vegan food. I am starving. Last night, I got sick from the ground beef in my tacos.

I choose not to share Youtube videos.

According to an article in The Province, our local Vancouver, Canada newspaper, law enforcement do not encourage the posting of public videos or pictures on social media.

Why allow strangers to look at the possessions in my home? Why expose the layout of my house for a possible burglury or home invasion? Why would I expose my small children to potential pedophiles if I had small children?

Just because the world cannot see my beautiful home, it does not mean my home is not beautiful.

I am reminded of a famous saying I learned in Educational Psychology at university that I will paraphrase:

If a tree falls down in the forest, and you did not see it or hear it fall, did the tree really fall?

If I do not showcase my home on Youtube, does it mean I have an ugly home?

Of course not.

By Jennifer Ann de la Torre