Mind Cleanup – 2019

My last Mind Cleanup blog dates back to October 2018. They used to be a regular thing and I had some fixed categories I could choose from, to help my cleaning session along, which I have included below (mostly to help me write the next one).

Mind Cleanup Categories:

  • NEWS
  • MUSIC
  • MOVIES / TV
  • FOOD
  • SELF REFLECTION
  • LOOKY HERE (pages, blogs or info you recommend others to check out)
  • THUMBS UP
  • THUMBS DOWN
  • EPIPHANIES

I am also thinking of adding one more category honoring a person, organization or story that “won the month”. This idea is inspired by Fivedotoh.com’s Fandango, who in turn was inspired by MSNBC’s Joy Reid (Who Won the Week).

So, if I were to do a quick mind cleanup of the first half of 2019, it might look a bit like this:

NEWS – people-on-the-streets edition

  • France in turmoil with yellow vest movement taking to the streets to express anger towards status quo. The 26 minute documentary below, explains what sparked it and what fuels it:
  • Venezuelan turmoil is so very different from the anger in France. And at the same time, it’s very much the same.
  • A heart-mending reaction to the sorrow felt after the Christchurch Mosque shooting in New Zealand:

MUSIC

Since it dropped I have been listening to songs from India Arie’s new album, which includes this meaningful gem:

Who won the first half of 2019?

  • My big bro had a little girl in March. Her name is Jasmina and I suppose you could say she is a winner for landing in a family with my brother and his awesome girlfriend. In all truth I think it is my brother who is actually the true winner in this equation.
  • Also, Boris Johnson did some big time winning and is now prime minister of the UK. Boo to that, but do check out John Oliver’s take on his persona.

Self reflection

Let me answer one question from my list of 195 questions:

What is a controversial opinion you have?

I am not a fan of Oprah’s. Actually she kind of annoys me (particularly her hysteric behavior when she enters a room). There, I said it.

Epilogue

  • I intend to pick up the habit once again of doing a mind cleanup blog every month.
  • Join me if you like and ping back to me when you do!
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the Platinum rule

I recently discovered that a very common principle I have known all my life is referred to as the golden rule. I also learned that it is coming under scrutiny and modern times are asking for it to be updated.

Golden Rule

The golden rule is a principle we all must have heard at some point during our upbringing. It comes in different forms. You may have heard one of the following varieties:

  • Do unto others as you would want done to you
  • Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated
  • What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself

The golden rule is pretty simple. You only need to embark on a quick soulsearch and pinpoint how you like to be treated and then apply this to others.

Unless you’re dealing with some psychological turmoil, the answer should be available pretty much immediately, as you probably already know what makes you happy (and what does not).

Until recently, I would have told you the golden rule has great merit and that the world would be a better place if we lived by it more strictly.

Platinum rule

The golden rule stands on the assumption that every other person you interact with wants what you want. There are many ways you can miss the mark on that one, which is why the golden rule is in need of an update.

The upgraded version of the golden rule is referred to by some as “the platinum rule”. It boils down to something like this:

Treat others as they would want to be treated

Its a simple idea and the underlying sentiment is still the same; be nice.

Its practical implementation does require a bit more effort than the golden variety, which is what I will dive into a bit more, below.

Ask and check

When putting the platinum rule into practice you would have to figure out what it is that the person on the receiving end of your actions wants.

Asking is one way to go about it.

A direct question, especially directed at someone you may not know very well, may not get you the answers you need. When you put someone on the spot like that, the person in front of you might say something like “Nothing” or “I don’t know”.

If you truly want to be the person the other person needs (or at the very least the person that doesn’t hurt the other’s feelings) then getting an answer like “nothing” does not mean you’re off the hook.

The pitfall with this approach is that by asking the question you make your problem their problem. You put the spotlight and the other and achieve the absolute opposite of what you were trying to do.

In the end, the fact that you don’t know how to behave is YOUR problem, not THEIRS.

However, I am convinced that you can solve almost anything with a drop of empathy and a whole lot of communication. Keep asking questions. Keep listening. And back off when appropriate or requested.

Titanium rule

Contrary to the golden rule, the platinum rule leaves room for interpretation and error. Because:

  • What do you do if the other lets you know they want you to treat them in a way that (you believe) is harmful for them?
  • What if the way the other wants to be treated is something you are not willing to do (for example because it goes against your own values or because it is harmful to you)?
  • How do you avoid becoming that annoying person that asks a million questions at every turn?

These questions have come up when dealing with people I hold dear, that struggle with addiction or tendencies to self harm. The platinum rule would not help me or them, if I followed it strictly. The golden rule would also fall short.

An opinion piece written by Kris Williams on Medium that I bumped into just now, struggles with similar dilemmas. Ms Williams describes a third stance, the Titanium rule, and it goes likes this:

“Treat others as it is in the highest and best good to treat them.”

This might be a bit much for every day life, but it sounds like a sane way to deal with more complicated interactions.

At the end of the day I think it’s not even necessary to choose between the three. I think all have their merits and make sense in different situations.

What do you think?

THE BLOGGER RECOGNITION AWARD

I’ve been nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award!

Or wait… I don’t think that’s right…

…I think I actually WON the award…

The award IS being nominated, isn’t it? Or does some secret Blogger Jury actually go around picking out winners? Hmmm….

Anyway, I’m not the only one with questions. The Blogger Recognition Award itself also has questions. For me.

Who nominated you?

Film blogger Annylel James nominated me, which is super cool! Thank you, Annylel! I’ll make sure to make at least one movie reference in this post, in your honor. 🙂

What inspired you to start blogging and which blog post of yours reflects that?

The About Me-section in my blog summarizes the original thoughts behind my blog, but I suppose there is more to say about my blog than that.

The truth is that I started out with the idea of writing blogs in a sort of investigative journalistic way, diving into topics I know little about and figuring out where I stand as I go.

It started after I had wrapped up my thesis and was still in the mood for digging through long peer reviewed articles and statistics.

Let’s just say my attention span has declined a bit since then. Also, I have full time job, a comfy couch and a cuddly boyfriend that sometimes stand in the way of my inquisitive side being more productive.

When I noticed my blogs started to move more into “personal musings”-category I decided to start a parallel blog where I could let my brainfarts out with less academic pretenses and more series of dot-dot-dot’s.

My previous blog is on life support but I’m still hopeful I will manage to resuscitate it again at some point.

This blog is pretty much therapy for me. My Black Pete pentalogy (which is a fancy word for five blogs, I looked it up) is a good example of a topic that I needed to get out of my system.

Which 2 pieces of advice do you have for new bloggers?

  • Don’t try to mimic others. Writing stuff that doesn’t reflect who you are is really hard to do (well) and it often makes for a boring read.
  • Don’t let the idea that there is nobody else on earth (yet) that shares your particular idea or opinion stop you from writing about it. Even if it’s true (and it probably isn’t), passionate blogs are the funnest reads.
  • Bonus tip: Keep it short (I’m terrible at it).

Which other bloggers would you like to nominate (max 15)?

My rebellious forbearance

Growing up in Bolivia, the sight of people chewing on coca leaves was something I saw (and smelled) almost every day. It was something very normal, somewhere between drinking a cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette. Hardly noteworthy.

Coca is of great importance for the indigenous population of Bolivia. It is a staple “snack”, as well as a gift you bring to business acquaintances and parties (like a bottle of wine). It is also used in rituals and offerings to the ancestors in the spirit realm.

All around the world ancient tribes have made use of plants as medicine. Some of them have hallucinogenic traits that helped shamans and elders reach into the spirit realm. (Coca is not one of them, btw)

In the 21st century western civilization, drugs are present and available in many shapes, sizes and contexts. There are drugs for those who want to dance longer, for those who want to experience the music more intensely, the ones who want to relax or those that want to make love.

Mary Jane, Molly and Alice

Growing up, many of my friends went through a Mary-Jane phase. Some of them still invite her in every evening or at least quite regularly. All though I am not one that ever partakes in this, I am quite accustomed to seeing the whole ritual unfold in front of me, in a matter of fact kind of way.

The step up to hard drugs is one that also happens, but less openly. None of my friends have ever bought or used hard drugs in front of me, but I don’t doubt some of them did go down that lane on nights out with me. Luckily, this never caused any problems (other than slightly annoying behavior).

Psychedelia is a different ballgame. My childhood friends were not into this. As the child of a flower-power father however, I think I did vaguely know about hallucinogenic drugs and what they do (in general terms). My dad has always been extremely open and outspoken about drug and sex related topics to a point that I just lost interest (does that make sense?).

However, I never actually saw anybody “going on a voyage” (not taking tripping street junks into account), let alone that I did anything like this myself. Those of you who have ever taken a peak at my bucketlist may have noticed that it does feature there, though.

Courage vs Comfort

The composition of my bucketlist may need some context. You see, the things I put on my bucketlist aren’t all things that I really WANT to do. For a large part, my bucketlist is actually a list of things that would bring me out of my comfort zone (and perhaps into the discomfort zone, but not per se).

Ticking one of those off my list would suggest I did something out of the ordinary. It might be something I am frightened of. Overcoming fear takes courage. Courageous deeds make for interesting stories, that you talk and laugh about later on in life. This in short, is why there is stuff I DON’T want to do on my bucketlist…

Now… I could go on a rant about the sanctity of my comfort zone and present you with all the reasons why this lovely space is a perfectly acceptable place to reside in for ever, but I’ll save that for some other time.

Actually, I take that back… I just did a quick search on “comfort zone”, looking for a good pic to insert in this post and I did not like what I saw… So I decided a small rant is actually justified.

What bothers me is that “being in your comfort zone” has somehow become synonymous to “being afraid” (I know, I kind of suggest it myself a couple of paragraphs back, but that doesn’t mean YOU are allowed to say it too!). I also don’t like how all these online depictions insinuate that my comfort zone is small and unexciting. F*** you, internetz!

OK, now we can continue.

Plugging into the cosmos

Despite not being a smoker, drinker or pill popper (etc), I somehow did befriend some joyful trippers in the course of my life, my current boyfriend, G, being one of them.

All though G can be extremely rational he also has this very spiritual (spacey?) side. I like this about him, but I must admit there are times when I can not completely grasp what he is trying to tell me. My logic does not allow it.

This brings me to the main topic of this blog (I know, finally right?? I swear I am not a stoner, but I do have the hardest time getting to the point 😛 ).

People who have used psychedelics tend to say it changed their view of reality. It makes them “understand” things in a more “profound” way. They describe having plugged in to “something bigger” and feel more connected to the cosmos because of it.

I could roll my eyes and dismiss this type of explanation as hippie trippy bullshit, but I don’t want to do that. I do take the witness accounts of people’s hallucinogenic experiences seriously. I am intrigued by them (but not enough to go in and experience it for myself, apparently).

Confused Rebellion

A sentence that is likely to come up when talking to people with mindtripping experiences is “I can’t explain it to you if you haven’t done it”.

Wait, what? Did that part of your brain that stores vocabulary and grammar get erased? I thought you plugged into the cosmos and activated all these fancy parts of your brain that are normally dormant… but somehow you became dumber?

“Inexplicable” is not a thing! If you believe it is, then whatever drug you took didn’t do shit to your understanding of anything.

I mean, I get it; How do you explain the color green to a blind person? You can try, but there are really no words to use that explain it in a way that doesn’t require the other person having laid eyes on something in the color green at some point in their life.

My annoyance always fuels my stubbornness. This makes for a bit of a confusing situation in this case. Pigheadedly standing up against the idea of using drugs is not the way rebellion usually works.

The result is me rocking the “straight-laced goody-two-shoes”-look on the highway of my comfort zone. YEAAAH, I’m a rebel like that.

Ruffle some feathers

A recent Facebook post from street artist Brave One, brought my attention to the powerful image included below, that was painted on a wall somewhere in Manchester by an artist known as Akse.

Check out more of Akse’s artwork over here

Two faces and a couple of birds, that’s it.

There’s no need to explain who the faces belong to.

What they represent also goes without saying (painfully so).

The image does not depict a conversation that ever took place in real life. But then again… it totally is. A whole history lesson could (should?) be dedicated to that one image.

If you’re already envisioning this art piece as en edgy backdrop for your pensive-look-into-the-horizon instagram pic, don’t bother. The whole area is up for demolition and that specific wall has already been torn down.

If the image doesn’t do it for you, allow the artist himself to give you some context:

The timing of the image undoubtedly has to do with POTUS’ visit to the UK, where he will be meeting up with all sorts of high ranked people, most of whom he has insulted at some point over the last couple of months.

Perhaps the image of that demolition machine working it’s way through his angry face can offer some solace…

Lil heartbreakers

The other day I heard the Jason Mraz included below, called Have it All. In this song he expresses his generous wishes for you.

He lays out a rich banquet of positive scenario’s, varying from managing to “keep the chaos and the clutter off your desk” to being awarded “prizes shining like diamonds”.

It’s a sweet song with a carpe diem attitude (which I actually wrote a blog about once).

The line that got my little brain-wheels going into overdrive is the one he casually throws in there at the beginning of the chorus:

Here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change
Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it

Should everyone get the chance to break someone’s heart? Does anyone have that on their bucketlist?

I know cute kids are affectionately referred to as “little heart breakers” sometimes. This is meant to be a compliment. I suppose charming girls and boys can’t always help that people fall in love with them and breaking some hearts along the way is inevitable. More even, it may happen without them ever even knowing about it.

But getting back to the song; Is breaking a heart something you want everyone to experience at least once in a lifetime? Does mr Mraz actually mean to say “I hope someone opens their heart to you and loves you intensely (making heartbreak a possible outcome)”?

When I told my boyfriend, G, about this conundrum, he said something to confuse me even further. He said he didn’t believe that heartbreak could ever be the outcome of love… I asked him to explain it to me again just now and to be honest I still don’t understand it enough to be able to put it into words of my own.

His exact words were:

You are responsible for the condition of your heart. If your heart gets broken this means you have allowed it to be in a position where it could be broken.

I mean… yeah… I guess… but… wait… whut?

So then… we had to talk about what “being broken hearted” or “having your heart broken” really means.

Acoording to G, a broken hearted person is beyond despair. Lost, adrift and beyond reason. Inconsolable.

If I understand correctly, what G was trying to tell me (but I’ll check with him later) is that it has to do with caring for yourself enough to no be reckless with your heart. You can’t truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself first… That sort of thing(?).

I’ve actually never had it happen to me. I’ve been sad, but never heartbroken. I guess I’ve also never been that deeply in love (before my current relationship) and also… well… I was never actually on the receiving end of a breakup…

Did I ever break someone’s heart? Eummm… hard to say… but quite possibly…

Am I glad I got to go through that experience? No, most definitely not.

It was something I learned from though!

Zombie apocalypse

This is Blog 26 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies are beings that continue to “be”, despite being dead.

You become a zombie if you get bitten by one, or if you get infected with the zombification virus in some other way or –according to some accounts-, by looking at them.

Zombies supposedly feed on brains.

… And that is all I want to say about that…

This blog is not about zombies.

This blog is about Zeef.

Zeef is my friend.

If grown-ups are still allowed to speak in these terms, I dare say she may even be my best friend.

I know she reads my blog (hai Zeefje!).

She reads it partly because she is interested in my musings, but I think a big part of why she reads it is because she knows it is important to me. That’s Z.

Anytime I find myself facing some odd conundrum, I can’t wait to throw it at her and listen to her beautiful gentle heart and shrewd mind give it a spin.

Her words are always carefully chosen without ever compromising on the message she wants to deliver.

I wish everyone could have a friend like her. As a matter of fact, I wish everybody WAS her, or at the very least had a little version of her on their shoulder to guide them through life.

I tell her this often which she tends to dismiss. She usually does this by pointing out she didn’t go through years of therapy for nothing and that the world doesn’t need more of that…

And that is true. After three decades of life, she has gone through a lot, both physically as mentally.

She is so incredibly receptive that, at times, it hurts her. It’s the fact that others are not so sensitive (and therefore unclear about their own feelings, intentions and actions both to themselves as those around them) that makes living in this world difficult for her sometimes.

All though I think she is one of the best things that ever happened to this planet, her feeling of self-worth is not always on the same level.

So, when a couple of weeks ago she boldly said she was expecting the Z-blog to be about her, my heart made a little leap for joy.

It means she is ready to be put in a tiny (anonymous) spotlight.

It also implies she trusts me enough to bring an ode to her.

Better even, she is ok with the image I have of her and maybe… only maybe… she is starting to believe she is as much of a rockstar as I give her credit for.

With Zeef by my side, I wouldn’t be afraid of the zombie apocalypse. She’d reason a heartbeat back into each and every one of those brain-eaters.

So dearest Z, I’m sorry for not being able to resist the urge to tease you by not naming the blog after you and giving you the impression I had ignored (or forgotten) your request.

I also realize the sudden switch from Zombies to Zeefjes may have caught you off guard. So, take a breath and let your racing heart take it in. You are awesome and I am so grateful that I can call you my friend!