Lifetip 4: Disagree with yourself

When young lifetips grow up, I imagine they look up to the successful ones that made it onto tiles, memes or calendars. In comparison to the three life lessons I shared previously, this fourth one has a greater chance of ever becoming an inspirational quote of some sort.

Jesse Frederik first introduced this lifetip to me in somewhat confusing terms:

You don’t have to believe everything you think.

To me it means that it’s OK to let go of ideas you may have had in the past. For example, I used to think vegetarians were delusional, annoying and unhealthy. Now I believe that being vegetarian does not mean forsaking flavor, nor do I have to dress in hemp and grow dreadlocks. Also, it’s just undeniably better for the planet than maintaining a meat-based diet will ever be.

Another interpretation of this motto would start by breaking with the commonplace assumption that a person’s internal thoughts are always a monologue.

I suppose we all know the catholic mantra “What would Jesus do?”. It is a way of internalizing the voice of someone who’s morality you would want to apply to specific dilemma. Without getting too psychological about it, I hope we can agree that every person also has a “What would my mother do?” checkpoint, that pops up at specific moments (not always conveniently).

The happiness gurus of the 21st century might say the line refers to the negative thoughts we all have sometimes. Thoughts such as:

  • I am not good enough.
  • The world is unkind / dangerous.
  • I can’t do it (so I’m not even going to try).

A meaningful (and sad) metaphor that is sometimes used in this context is that of the domesticated elephant, that has been chained and ‘broken’ at an early age. During this time, she may have struggled to free herself but failed, leading her to believe it is impossible to do. Once grown, the elephant obeys orders to move and carry heavy objects. The same chain would be no match for the power she could apply to it as an adult elephant. At that point though, what keeps her from trying, is the belief that she can’t.

So.

Evaluate the thoughts you have every now and then. Don’t be afraid of changing a strong opinion you may have had out of fear of being seen as inconsistent or unstable.

Discuss your insecurities with the ones you love and trust. It will oftentimes be those moments, when you vocalize your thoughts, that you realize that is not what you believe at all. Saying them out loud will reveal their untruth. Just like a ridiculous dream, that makes total sense until the moment you wake up.

Prompt me

My blog and I are good friends.  Lately though, I’ve been behaving like the kind of friend that only shows up when life is shitty and I need a shoulder to cry on. I’m the type of friend that takes energy and gives little back. I’m not being a good friend to my blog-buddy and I apologize.

bad friend

Blogtober was too intense. Showing up because I have to is not how I want this to go. I want to want to be here. And I know I want to be here more often than I currently am, and maybe that starts with forcing myself to show up, at first(?). Inspiration is so hard to plan though….

And Daily Prompts aren’t inspiring me, either! I mean… Just one word? Why not set the scene a bit, like they you used to?

And what happened to the weekly Discover challenges?? I liked those!

Read Write Live‘s blog did inspire me though, especially when she (or he?? I don’t really know) asked her readers what she should write about. I’d like to be able to do that. The problem is that I don’t really have readers. I’m not even insulted. It is the way it is. I never really set out to have a following anyway, but for this specific experiment it would be nice…

But perhaps there is still a way to follow the same train of thought, but with just me, myself and I (and the handful of people that stumble upon my little corner of the interwebz).

How about writing what I want to read? And how about I base this on things I actually did read, like the blog I just mentioned? Instead of using the boring, standardized and uninspiring one-word-“you figure it out” Daily Prompts, I could pick a word or sentence from a fellow bloggers post and build on that… I’m sure they wouldn’t mind, right?

Yes, that’s what I will do. Now is the start, and it sounds like: Ladidada dada!

 

Mind Cleanup – March 2016

Epiphanies

  • I need to stop telling people in “the real world” about my blog...
  • … or I need to own up to my thoughts and opinions and face the music when stuff I write here reach the eyes and ears of people I know.Oh-hi-gif
  • (Hi friends and co-workers!)

mirrorSelf-reflection

  • cuddle donkeys.jpgJust like everyone else, I need oxygen to live. I also need water and nutrients. And chocolate. Pretty straight forward stuff. However, I can also run out of animal love. I found this out last weekend, when I visited the petting zoo (don’t start, I live in the city, I need to get my furry fix somewhere…). I felt so replenished after having cuddled with a donkey that I realized I had run out weeks ago and only now felt complete again.

emoji happyUppers – Cowabunga

  • Donkeys.donkey.jpg
  • I got a new bike after my previous one was stolen (again!). Thx Zeefje!

emoji disappointedDowners – Bummerama

  • Caitlyn supports Trump… Now this really got me fired up. This is some new level donkey droppings. WHY is this even on TV?! And why do I know about it? Argh… I don’t know where to start but my dog, it really truly deeply annoys me…

emoji SeeNoEvilDenial

  • When I was walking home on the 24th and saw many government buildings in The Hague had flags hanging at half mast, I decided that we had instated a national day of mourning in memory of Johan Cruyff, and decided to act as if terrorists didn’t exist.

emoji musicMusic

  • My dad bought Coldplay’s latest CD for my mom… which confused me… and surprised me in a pleasant way…
  • I’m going to see Beth Hart in June!

emoji film.jpgMovies

  • New Indiana Jones in the making. O.o
    (don’t want to get excited, but most of all don’t want it to suck. Still kind of hoping it’s an April fool’s joke…)
  • Deadpool: Very funny. Pretty brutal. Go watch!
  • I re-watched Frozen, after having expressed my dislike for this film a couple of times, which is apparently “not done”. Friends told me I probably didn’t like it because I didn’t really get it the first time. I needed to watch it again. So I did.
    • My summary of the movie before re-watch:
      It’s about anxiety, poor communication and anti-social behavior
    • How people summarized it to me:
      It’s about love, self-worth and letting go of fear.
    • My summary of the movie after re-watch:
      It’s about bad parental advice, bad judgment and poor communication, with a small bit about love and family at the end.
    • What would have made me like it more:
      • Explain the origin of the trolls.
      • Better understanding of why the troll-king found it necessary to remove all memory of magic from Anna’s mind… Really don’t see the use in that.
      • Explain the origin (and use) of the ice-magic gift/burden
      • Leave out the Olav-song and the troll-wedding-song
      • Explain Kristoff’s background. Did he just leave his parents because some rock troll decided to keep him? Or was he actually an orphan? Where are his folks?
      • Make Sven more reindeerlike. Why does he have to pant like a dog?

I still don’t like hearing kids sing “Let it go”. It’s not a healthy song. It’s a frustrated angry song. It’s an “up yours”, a “fuck you all” an “I don’t care” in a fancy dress. Elsa is not a likeable person.

Hakuna_Matata

It made me think about Hakuna Matata and I wondered if that isn’t also a “fuck you all”-song. I don’t think it is. I think the final effect might be the same; which is doing whatever the hell you want, but Hakuna Matata is not an angry song. It has a “Don’t worry, be happy”-message, that might have irresponsible and anti-social behavior as a side effect, but not as a goal.

look-downLooky here

This new mind cleanup category will be where I will dump tidbits that I saw or read over the past month and that I want to share with the world:

emoji paellaEpicureous

  • I have been going through an avocado craze phase in my diet. I found a small fruit and vegetable store near my house that sells ultra ripe and yummy ones, which has spiked my avocado intake by 2681%. I have come to the conclusion that eating more than half an avocado a day makes me feel bloated though. Kind of interesting, kind of a bummer.

 

emoji hourglassEpilogue – What’s up, April?

  • I have a week off in the first week of April. Still no plans. Looking forward to it, though!

Odd Jobs #4

As I drove through the Hague with my mother today we passed a stately white building in the city’s diplomatic neighborhood that brought back memories of the time I had spent there as a receptionist.udink.jpg

I can’t even really recall how long I worked there all together, but I think it was just for a couple of months during two consecutive summer holidays and after that every now and then when they needed someone extra. It was a law office specialized in corporate law with, if I recall correctly, about ten lawyers and half a dozen secretaries.

My work consisted of making coffee for clients, ordering flowers for special occasions, sorting the incoming and outgoing mail and transferring phone calls. I think figuring out how the phone worked was the most complicated part of the whole job. It was great. I got a lot of studying done there, and they were fine with that as long as the few tasks I had were done correctly.

And yes, even here there were lessons to be learned.hierarchy Pyramid law.png

  • Marble entry halls are pretty but they are also cold and echoey
  • I kind of like making fancy coffee with good Italian espresso machines
  • Flowers are actually very expensive
  • So is (good) wine
  • Neither flowers nor wine are gifts that make me particularly happy.
  • Receptionists are invisible to some people
  • Lawyers are (often) full of themselves and cling to ideas of status and hierarchy to extremes that are almost funny. To me. Not to them. Never to them. Nooo.
  • All though I had to come to this same conclusion again later on in life, I had already found out during this job that I don’t enjoy having to dress “professionally”.
  • I could still pull it off though.
  • The Hague is a pretty interesting town

Nothing life changing, as you can see, but it’s still part of my life’s path, so might as well share!

Odd jobs – #3

In a previous blog I told you about my job at a car dealership after which I travelled to Ecuador for a couple of months to recharge my battery and re-calibrate my compass. I came back to Holland with a smile on my face but very little money in my pocket. That was OK for a while but after a month or two it started to get worrying… For a second I thought my colleagues had been right when they called me crazy for quitting my job in economically trying times.

BelastingdienstI pressed on, wrote and called, smiled and presented myself the best I could and finally got a job at our government’s most unpopular institution: de Belastingdienst , aka the tax office. My mother was very pleased to hear I had landed a government job and was convinced I was finally set for life.

From the moment I set foot in that office all the rebellious fibres of my personality acted up. We were treated like unruly children in my opinion, which in turn made me want to behave like one.

I was required to sign in and out by writing my name on a form on our supervisor’s desk every day. The fact that we also had a keycard to enter the building and they therefore already knew when we arrived and left, was irrelevant. The one time I arrived on time, forgot to sign the paper but went straight to work (usually before everyone else had finished their coffee corner chats), I was registered as being too late. This drove me nuts. Especially after the train was delayed later that week and I received an official warning for being late so often. After the third time the employment agency would be informed and my chances of getting my contract renewed would be slim.

It was all so puzzling to me. I remember this one time I was working on a tax return request and wanted to finish it before I went home. The working hours were from 8AM to 4:30PM and when I hadn’t joined the queue at the exit by 4:32 my supervisor came over and said this behavior was not appreciated because now he had to stay longer too… O.o It felt like I had travelled to another country and had not yet learned the language and customs.

I had never felt such reluctance to go to work in the mornings and you can imagine the relief I felt when I had found (and was accepted for) a job elsewhere. All though the list of negatives goes on and on, I will try to make a list of things that I learned from the 3 months I spent here.

  • Humor is an awesome coping mechanism, but it is important for me to keep checking myself and step on the break when my jokes become too sarcastic/cynical as it may be perceived as bullying by some.
  • More boundaries do not necessarily create more discipline.
  • Some big institutions “don’t even know on the front side that they’re alive on the back side”, as we say in Dutch.
  • I do not do well in an environment where “why” is a dirty word.
  • Your parents don’t always know what’s good for you.
  • When the annoyances from work seep into your out-of-office time, it is time to grab a parachute and jump.

Flexing for charity

A charity get together I saw today on someone’s Facebook got my all bothered, despite its good intentions. The event that was being promoted was called “Pop up yoga for the refugees”… and that’s when my inner cynic took over the wheel.

By the way, have you watched the new animation film, Inside Out? I can hardly think about my feelings anymore without envisioning some little colored creature hopping around in my head’s control center.

Anyhow, I am trying to figure out what exactly bothers me so much about this. I think it’s a combination of things.

It’s because it is an activity that was born in the far east, that has now been appropriated by western hipsters. The fact that it is something I associate with well off health freaks, constantly on the edge of a burnout, plays a roll as well. It has a lot to do with the feelings I expressed in my blog on mindfulness, about a month ago.

It’s the fact that yoga, constructive as it may be in some people’s lives, is an activity I would categorize as a hobby. It’s not a basic need one can’t live without and I can just imagine it must seem so utterly futile to the people this yoga-charity aims to support.

think-positive-1It also leans on my anti-prayer sentiment, in the sense that I think they might actually think they are doing the world a favor by thinking happy thoughts…And I hate how cynical this makes me sound because I am really such an optimistic person and I honestly make a point of cheering on positive thinkers and shooing away the pessimists, but in this case I don’t seem to be able to do that…

And for some reason the fact that they named it “pop up yoga” just gives me itchy feelings all over… Haven’t really figured that one out yet, though…

mood happyI must admit I often give people who dislike my nasty opinions the finger (but I promise I do that purely in my mind, never actually in their faces), but in this case I don’t even really like me for disapproving of such a good initiative. Times are dire and there are way to many truly bitter and fearful haters and the open-minded-gang can use all the support they can get. So my conclusion is that I really want to back this idea up for the full 100%.

So, now that I have vented my self righteous ideas here, I can mellow the cynical fellow back down and guide him into the back of my mind, where he belongs, and hand the controller back to a better version of me.

Now if you would please excuse me, I believe I have a sun salutation to practice.

Lyrical confusion

Once again, I am behind on schedule. I have missed out on some blogging deadlines (placed there by nobody other than myself, which made them that much easier to break). My inspiration is running a bit dry so this blog is going to be a pretty simple one.

One of the lists I have been adding items to lately on Wunderlist, is one about songs with confusing lyrics.

For example, the song Boy with a Coin. Beautiful song with a beautiful but totally unrelated (as far as I can tell) video.

I sort of get the first verse, but then he starts changing the iron:wine ratio, it seems and goes full on delirium when he sings:

A girl with a bird she found in the snow
Then flew up her gown and that’s how she knows
If God made her eyes for crying at birth
Then left the ground to circle the earth

I guess the bird is some sort of sexual metaphor? Symbol of her virginity? If so, I would imagine the bird would be flying OUT from under her gown and abandoning her forever, as she apparently becomes pregnant?

Someone who DOES know about contraceptives is Alanis Morisette, or at least that is what I thought the “jagged little pill” she dedicated her album to referred to. Thinking on it a bit harder and listening to the song that these words actually come from, it might actually refer to some sort of hallucinogenic drug, but it’s open to interpretation….

But that’s not the song I wanted to mention here anyway. The lyrical confusion I wanted to share comes from one of my favorite songs by her, which is “Not the doctor”. I won’t post the whole song here, but you can check it out on youtube. The part I have always wondered about goes like this:

Visiting hours are 9 to 5 and if I show up at 10 past 6
Well I already know that you’d find some way to sneak me in and oh
Mind the empty bottle with the holes along the bottom
You see it’s too much to ask for and I am not the doctor

What’s this bottle with holes along the bottom?? Can’t think of any medicine or drug that comes in a bottle with holes along the bottom… I have even asked doctors this question… and if it’s a metaphor, than what does it symbolize?? Anyone?

Another song that always leaves me in this bundle of confusion is this song by Nelly Furtado (but written by Chris Martin, if I remember correctly) is “All good things (come to an end)”. Again, the videoclip is totally unrelated to the lyrics and kind of weird all together, but it kind of fits because:

Dogs were whistling a new tune barking at the new moon
Hoping it would come soon so that they could die

That’s some pretty depressive stuff, don’t you think? So your breakup was so heavy that even the dog wants to kill himself now?? Geesh!

And this isn’t the first time Chris Martin’s lyrics confused me…. All though I have almost all Coldplay records and listened to them fanatically in high school, I always skipped this one weird song: Yellow. I don’t get it!!

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah, they were all yellow.

OK, nothing weird there. Stars can totally be yellow, right? And they’re shining for me, yeah! But then it gets weird:

I came along,

I wrote a song for you,

And all the things you do,

And it was called “Yellow”.

What did I do? and who or what was called yellow? No comprendo!

So then I took my turn,
Oh what a thing to have done,
And it was all yellow.

Did you drop a can of paint maybe? or did you squish a banana? Did life give you lemons? eggs? corn? sunflowers?

I swam across,
I jumped across for you,
Oh what a thing to do.
‘Cause you were all yellow,

Ok, I get it…… You’re talking about the minions movie now, right?

I drew a line,
I drew a line for you,
Oh what a thing to do,
And it was all yellow.

Did you use a yellow marker to draw the line? Yellow chalk? And why did you draw a line anyhow? Chris be honest…. are you high?

If any one of you out there has any ideas about these lyrics, do enlighten me… And if you know any other confusing songs, do share! 🙂

Keep it real!

It seems I am going to be complaing about “inspirational” quotes again… The proper response to this might be to delete my FB account, but I just can’t help myself. Annoyance is good fuel for writing as well so it’s not all bad…

The category I am going to hate on today are the quotes that attempt to be empowering and do this by questioning the “realness” of other men and women. Some examples:

real girlsIt might just be the fact that English isn’t my mother tongue, cause I don’t know what half of this stuff even means!  The adjective “real” in this context can mean anything varying from “brave” to “honest” and from “sophisticated” to “independent”. And what’s more, it feels like it’s not even really meant as a declaration of “realness” as much as it is a diss to someone they consider to be the opposite of real… which is what…. a man? not human (zombie?)? an un-woman… really no clue…


…and one last thing, somewhat unrelated: WHY is it so hard to remember that womAn is the singular form?! Nobody talks about “a men” but when it comes to the female version it gets confusing for some reason….. Maybe because we often travel in packs and are not seen as individuals until later on in life? 

Anyhow…. back to the real topic of today… because there is also a category about “real” men (yes, this is the plural form), that needs to be addressed. These quotes are actually usually quite boring, imo, as they are mostly just a creative attempt by some women to vent about their exes or just another way of dealing with being turned down, because you see, he just wasn’t “real” enough to deal with her… You ready for this?

COME ON, ladies…… This just makes me feel ashamed of my gender…. Give the guys a break already… How can the dudes ever live up to this shit? If the guys you are dating keep turning out to be shitty specimens, maybe there’s something you are doing that is making them behave this way!

And I haven’t even discussed the “what-he-says-and-means-vs-what-she-says-and-means”-quotes that go around……… You know the ones…… Man, they annoy the heck out of me…

man vs woman says 2  man vs woman says 1

This last category might need a whole blog of its own, to be honest. And I must confess I’m actually a lousy woman in this discussion because I totally agree with a lot of the complaints guys have about us, as far as our indirect communication goes, our weird expectations and fickleness. I am totally that way sometimes (but I do apologize later (sometimes))!

How DO we coexist? I guess it’s all about finding the balance, right?

man woman yin yang

From me to me

Inspired by today’s prompt on Daily Post, I am going to write my fourteen year old self a letter. But for any of this to make sense to you guys, you need a little bit of background information first. Let’s make it a sweet little list with bullet points, shall we?bollie en eva

  • I lived in South America for eight years
  • I moved back to Holland at the age of twelve
  • I had been a fanatic horseback rider in Bolivia and continued with this in Holland.
  • I got a horse for my 13th birthday.

I see my fourteen year old self:

A skinny girl with sloppy blond hair (to my mother’s horror). Not a loner per sé but completely fine with just her own company. Friends tend to invite themselves over, as she never does. Mom and dad are still together even though dad is abroad a lot for work. Mom and her have a complicated symbiosis.

More than a decade and a half have passed. What do I tell this teenager? Not sure yet, but here I go:

______________________________________________

Dear Epi,

This is your future self. I know the answers to many of your questions, but I can’t tell you the answers. You have to find your own way. Your soul, mind and conscience are sound and will guide you well. Trust them. I know you do. So much so that some people might call you arrogant. Maybe you are.

You have seen so much more than your class mates. You have traveled the world and speak three languages fluently. Enough to make any young adolescent big-headed, right? In some ways you are much wiser than the kids your age but as far as academics go: you suck. Sure, the school system is different and yes sure, the teachers seem to be out to get you but that lazy attitude of yours isn’t doing much good either. Be honest to yourself.

You still have one foot in the past. Fearless as you are, I know that you are afraid of forgetting your previous life. You might be even more afraid of being forgotten, all though you must know it is bound to happen.

You know how fast things change at international schools. New kids come and go every year and it won’t be long before your best friends make new alliances, start new adventures and enter a new phase that doesn’t include you.

You are somewhere else. And it’s beautiful too, in its own way. Focus on that! You are making new friends. Friends for life, even! I know you feel this new crew of friends is special, even though you are not ready to admit it. You have vowed to return to South America as soon as you can. You are determined to leave this place and never return, but I think that might just be puberty talking…

I won’t give it all away but I can tell you that things didn’t go as planned… But I have watched far too many sci-fi movies to be telling you to change your course. This spot right here is my reality. My here and now is your future. Many of your “what if”-s and “I wonder”-s have played out and have been answered. 

From your point of view I am probably an old boring fossil now, but I still feel the kid in me is alive. And there is still a great big empty canvas in front of me! I’ve started painting the corners but we still have quite a way to go, you and I. There are still new adventures and experiences for us to encounter. And we are going to do great.

You have become a part of me and I thank you for all the mistakes you’ve made. It taught me a great deal. Never stop being you. I know you won’t. 😉

Lot’s of love.

Your’s truly (no really totally truly, I am yours….),

Epi 2.0