• Laura Simonson

On Belonging vs. Fitting In

Updated: Nov 7

Before I share an extended version of this Monday Motivation topic, you may be asking, "What does this (and our Monday Motivation series) have to do with plant-based food for dogs or even dogs for that matter?" Answer: Everything.

Everything is connected in this magnificent world. We are all made up of Universal energy. When we get caught up in our daily routines and possibly high stress levels, anxiety or petty problems, we lose sight of the fact that everything we do; every action (from what we eat, to what we feed our dogs, to how we respond to a road rage event), every thought (about yourself or others), every conversation, every smile, every kind act or every frown - impacts our life, and all of the lives around us. This includes the animals in our home, in sanctuaries, in factory farms or in the wilderness. And, of course, this includes our planetary health. It's pure physics right? As Newton stated in his Third Law of Motion, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". This law - and other Universal laws - also apply to our thoughts.

Virchew is not just a business that produces food for dogs. We are a social venture dedicated to our mission: Always Do the Right Thing. Our continuous goal is to not only create extraordinary foods, products, programs and services for our dog customers, but to also make a lasting, positive impact on the human lives we touch, and to demonstrate the power of transparency and honesty in business. Plus health, sustainability, and compassion aren’t just marketing words for us at Virchew, they’re in our DNA.

We hope you receive value or inspiration from all who will be sharing their stories, thoughts and experiences for our Monday Motivation series!

Now, back to our regular programming...

Right in the midst of commercially launching Virchew (and smack dab in the middle of a pandemic), I was fervently taking in another book by renowned researcher and author, Brené Brown titled, Braving the Wilderness. All of her wisdom and remarkable work had already shared life-enhancing gifts with me, however, this book took it to a new level. Maybe it was the timing, but I simply could not get enough of the brilliant research and stories. I was finally receiving validation and an explanation of how I felt most of my life and certainly through the business development journey of creating Virchew.

"True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are." ~ Brené Brown

Have you ever tried to 'fit in' whether in high school or at work or even in some of your family situations? Ever felt like you compromised to fit into a certain group of 'friends' or agreed to do activities that you did not truly enjoy or worse yet, you despised? Have you been called a 'black sheep' - especially if you've decided to live a vegan lifestyle or didn't follow in your family's traditional footsteps or expectations?

Belonging vs Fitting In

"Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance." ~ Brené Brown

As a passionate and dogged entrepreneur who started researching plant-based foods for dogs over 30 years ago, I was, without a doubt, based on Brené's book, 'braving the wilderness' by not fitting in. I certainly didn't fit in the usual box. I was the only one in the room passionately talking about feeding plants to dogs for most of those years. The reaction was often a blank stare or a perplexed expression on their face. However, the people that didn't question my perspective or passion, like Dr. Kathy Kramer, a respected veterinarian here in Vancouver and early supporter of Virchew - along with a few others who lived a vegan lifestyle - I realize now I may have been braving the wilderness, but I was not alone. There were others out there (such as my incredible partner, Gord) and we all found each other.

Today, all of those like-minded people and many more have joined in or supported me and our team in bringing Virchew's important mission to life. Plant-based diets for dogs are finally emerging and gaining a well-deserved piece of the marketplace. I could not be more thankful to see the shifts to these healthful diets. Plant foods are not only good for our dogs. They're good for our earth and good for our hearts, both emotionally and spiritually.

"We all belong to the human race. Once we can truly and deeply understand the words of the Indigenous elders when they say “the Earth is our mother and we are all brothers and sisters,” then we will belong in a way that we each yearn for, to ourselves, and to each other." ~ Brené Brown

Remember, you are never, really alone. In fact, you belong to you, you belong to your dream and to that magnificent wilderness that is yours to explore. Yes, we can feel separate or lonely at times, but as members of this human family, we ultimately do belong to each other.

At the end of the day, I like to believe although the road was tough and lonely at times for me, the wilderness was definitely - without an ounce of doubt - worth it. In fact, the hundreds of Virchew testimonials, images of happy, wagging dogs, and the extraordinary team I get to work with...make the wilderness a beautiful place to be.

Peace, love, dogs, Laura

Want to read more about the inspiring journey behind Virchew? Click on over here.

This blog post is part of our Monday Motivation series. Read other inspiring stories here.

Yearning to understand more about yourself and your own wilderness? Want to learn more about Brené's leadership programs for business and organizations? Check out her site here.

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