January. The month of new beginnings and new years resolutions.
This new year is looking good for me so far. I started my new job in the first week of 2022 and have been looking forward to each new work day since. My job title is “Communications officer” which makes me very happy to say out loud for some reason.
My position is a part of the company’s new sustainability department and in my first month I pretty much had only one task: write the Communication on Progress report. It was a great way to get to know the company and I think everybody was happy with how it turned out. Yay!
A friend recommended me a band, called AnnenMayKantereit. Some of their songs remind me of Mumford & Sons. Only without the banjo. The lead singer on the other hand, seems to be a cross between Paolo Nutini and George Ezra.
Oh yeah, and they sing in German.
For us Dutchies, the German language is easy to understand as it is quite similar to our own language. Also, it is a mandatory subject in the first two years of secondary school, along with French and English. Because many of us still have an inherent and intergenerational aversion towards the language, it takes a bit of effort to admit when it is actually beautiful. Like now.
And if you’re feeling ambitious, look up the lyrics and give them a spin through the Google Translate monster.
I learned a new word. Or actually, I learned a new meaning for a word I already thought I knew.
‘Flakey’ apparently means unreliable? Apparently its also used as a verb: “to flake out”, which means to miss an appointment… Really? Since when? I clearly missed the memo, but I recently heard it in a youtube vid and had to look it up.
OK, I did some more research. This video helped:
Am I a flaker? Eum… Yes, sometimes for sure.
Luckily, I have friends that can handle the truth, making “Sorry, I can’t deal with the world today” a totally legitimate reason to call off an appointment. And in general I really like their company, so that makes me really want to actually show up.
My 2020 plan to bring some structure and continuity in my blogging seems to have backfired on me. Instead of posting one blog a week as I had in mind, I ended up not posting anything for a year. Woopsie!
At first I thought I was just struggling with finding a topic that coincided with the letter G, in accordance with my own personal A-to-Z challenge. But then again, I had set aside my alphabet theme before when more interesting topics came by, just to pick it up again at a later point. So the letter G is off the hook.
For a while I thought it was just the fact that it was winter. My inner couch potato does always seem to be a bit more dominant when temperatures drop and the sun makes itself scarce. Then I thought it had to do with my desk, or my internet, or some deadline at work.
I think it was only recently that I realized I was simply exhausted. Not physically per se, all though my stamina had definitely seen better days. Not even mentally either, I was functioning perfectly fine in every sense. If I would have to describe it I would say I was worn out on a deeply spiritual level, or as a certain hobbit once put it: sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.
If writing would have been my profession or if someone (other than myself) was actually awaiting my next blogpost, I’m sure I would have been able to produce something. But, as I mention on my blog’s homepage, first and foremost blogging is something I do for myself.
In hindsight I realize that I probably would have benefited from a ‘mind cleanup’ or two along the way. However, the idea of sitting at my desk after a long day at work, just wasn’t appealing to me. So I didn’t. At all.
But what DID I do?
My mom’s chemos and immunotherapy, that started in October 2020, continued well into 2021. The treatment weakened her to the brink of her existence. There was very little I could do. I prepared her food that she didn’t want and brought her newspapers and magazines that she couldn’t read.
Also, I worked. My employer was amazingly accommodating and I was given a lot of flexibility to fill in my own time. The more freedom they gave me, the more I felt obligated to put in the hours. I’m weird that way, I guess.
In February I started an online course on vegetable gardening and permaculture. It was inspiring and fun and I fully intend to submerse myself in more of that. I do admit that if the pandemic had not forced the course to offer an online version, I would not have had the time or headspace to see it through.
A memorable moment during my mother’s illness, was when her eyes (or rather her eyelids) starting to bleed. Her eyes had been irritated ever since she lost her eyelashes, causing a rash. Of course, the crying didn’t help either. The fact that she looked liked something out of a horror movie is something we can laugh about now… but… no… wasn’t actually funny at the time…
To complicate things further, my father in law was admitted to the hospital (on the other side of the country) a day after my mother was. He had suffered a perforated gut aside from the chronic case of stubbornness. My boyfriend and I did our best to be there for each other and show honest interest in the unique situations our parents were facing. Luckily, our foundations are strong and we don’t always need a lot of words.
March was the month in which my mom underwent surgery to remove the tumor from her breast. It went well. Also, the fact that it meant the chemo phase of her treatment was over, was an enormous relief. I have never hated a cure for a disease more. That stuff is horrible.
March was also the month that our country held parlementary elections. As we are speaking, that is nine months later, we still do not have a new government. Don’t ask me why. I guess its complicated.
In April one of my best friends was suddenly abandoned by her husband. All though the administrative process surrounding the divorce went relatively smoothly, she was left in absolute shambles emotionally. We spoke about it a lot. We also went for long walks without really speaking much about it at all. She’s not there yet, but she is starting to regain some belief in her ability to survive…
This was also the month that I officially quit my job. That is, I put in my three month notice and announced I would be leaving the company. It made me sad, without ever doubting it was what I needed to do.
In May I was vaccinated. Pfizer. Sore arm, but that was it.
June was my last month with my employer of six years. It’s the longest I have ever worked for any company. I did my best to document everything I knew and did, even though I knew my method of working was a thing of the past and the company would be moving on quickly after my departure.
July was my first month of unemployment.
Also, it was the month that my mother finally got her invitation for the hip replacement surgery she had been craving for for years. Her painful hip was actually the reason she went to the doctor in the first place, more so than the lump she felt in her breast.
This summer month felt like a necessary breather. My mother was healing well and I gradually learned to let go as well and let her do things on her own again.
The death of a friend’s mother gave September a strange mixture of feelings (gratitude, grief, guilt, joy, love). Her mother was diagnosed with cancer a few months before mine. While my mother was making plans to travel and cook again, her mother was deciding how she wanted her funeral to go.
It was also this month that my father stepped into the spotlight during a week long exhibition of his paintings in a local art gallery. I have never seen him prouder. He sold several paintings and received more compliments than he had imagined he would. He needed that! And for my sweet short haired mother, it was her first time out in public without her wig.
In October I started to feel restless. Even though I had not exactly put my heart into the job hunting process (can you ever really?), I really began to miss feeling useful. I did participate in a 5km race and did OK.
My brother let me know that he was ready to seek help for his alcohol addiction. He changed his mind about this at least a hundred times after that, but the wheels had been set in motion…
My brother finally went to the rehab clinic in the second week of November and is still there now. I hope to see him in February, after the program is finished. I’m tremendously proud of him!
And now it is December. I can’t quite summarize this month just yet, but I can tell you that I got a new job that I will be starting in January. Exciting!
I once again have plans and aspirations for my blog for 2022 and am looking forward to getting started on those in the upcoming weeks. I hope all of you in the WP community have a wonderful last few weeks. Whatever you do, stay gentle.
Back in 2015 I made a list of things that bothered me about the stereotypical mindful, vegetarian, yoga-practicing, gluten-fearing, urban-dwelling individual (often female, but not exclusively).
I guess today, we would refer to such a person as the yoga edition of barbie-doll Karen.
At the time, I felt I was surrounded by this type of people, and they annoyed the hell out of me. From my point of view they were stressed out hypocrites, tip-toeing their way around their looming burn-out, telling me to relax…
The (shortish version) of my list of objections to mindful Karen back in 2015 was as follows:
1) When she starts applying her ‘wisdom’ on others, she is not only annoying but oftentimes also wrong.
2) Her uninvited ‘health tips’ are counterproductive (and again, annoying, which is bad for my bowels).
3) Quoting an exotic luminary does not make her sound wise, but kind of pathetic, especially when applied as a conversation stopper.
4) It is always a sad day when a high-quality sarcastic retort gets dissected, but mindful Karen can’t help but try to find the deeper meaning behind simple statements, killing everybody’s buzz.
5) Karen is fooling herself by putting a lot of energy into avoiding ‘bad vibes’, but is really missing out on life by doing so.
6) Eliminating fiery emotions makes life colorless, lukewarm and passionless.
A fact that I may not have expressed specifically enough in the first point in the original post is that the mindfulness lessons Karen learned are really only meant to be applied on her own inner self. The minute she tries to change other people is the second she stops being mindful all together and therefore has zero credibility on the matter.
As far as my food habits are concerned I think I have evolved. I have become more conscious of what I eat, not only for my own health but also for the well being of other beings and the environment in general. I’m sure the people I was directing my angry words at in 2015 were not all full of shit (no pun intended). However, I do think I needed to move away from that toxic group of hangry gluten-phobes to be able to make a change myself.
The sixth point should probably not really have been part of the list. It is not a point that describes yoga-Karen per se. More than anything, it is the conclusion of why I felt threatened by the ideas of mindfulness, or what I associated it with.
My hardheadedness and tendency to be blunt are traits of mine that I have a complicated relationship with. They are strengths as well as weaknesses. I guess my fear was (and probably still is) that the ‘luke warm’ bath of mindfulness would erase that part of my identity, taking away my uniqueness.
Embracing my inner Karen
Today, I am much better capable of applauding every effort somebody puts into becoming a better, healthier and more stable person. I can sympathize with the struggle that goes with that and understand they may not get it right straight away.
That, in their enthusiasm, they can’t help but project their problems and accompanying labels and lessons on others, is OK.
I have become better at controlling my impulse to snap back at people giving me well-meant advice. I can see their good intentions before condemning them for being wrong or pushy (which I still think they are, every now and then).
An additional thought that may be important to include is that most of my friends are yoga Karens. Ugh…. Did I really just use that argument……? Yes I did…
I realize everything I just typed sounds awfully condescending.
For the sake of honesty I will not rephrase. But I will try to save this sinking ship by patching it up with some additional thoughts…
Because who is that person writing a lifetip on her blog every month? ME!
Who frowns at the people buying bread rolls at the super market without bringing their own reusable bag? ME!
Who asked the neighbor to refrain from spraying pesticides on his roses in his own garden? ME!
I could go on with this list for a while longer, but you get the point; I can’t help but tell others how to live their lives and frequently point out why their actions are some sort of ‘wrong’.
Ergo, I am no better than then people I was aiming my poisoned arrows at in the past and whom I can’t help but talk about condescendingly, even now.
In recent years I have walked and chanted in several marches; the largest ones being the Women’s March in 2017 and more recently, the March for the climate.
Both times I couldn’t believe that the topics at hand were even things we could disagree on in the society I live in.
Facts and common sense issues have become opinions and (how I despise the term and the one that made it fashionable;) fake news.
Until recently, I would say my political views and voting behavior would be considered pretty middle of the road, maybe slightly left of center.
These days though, some would call my views extreme and “far left”.
Am I an activist?
I’m not sure.
I do want us to be better. I do want us to stop being so afraid of each other. I do want us to make decisions more (earth)consciously. I am willing to start with the person in the mirror and work from there.
There is always one “Mind Cleanup” entry sitting in my drafts folder, where I can dump quick words, quotes and links that I might want to write about later.
What usually happens is that days and weeks go by without me having time or mental space to write. That “now is the moment” feeling seems to be more difficult to find than “before”. I haven’t really pinpointed the exact cause of this or when it changed exactly.
Let’s analyze this right here and now, shall we?
What was different “before”?
If I count the amount of blogs I have written over the years I see that 2015 was my most fruitful year, boosted by a Blaugust challenge on the one side and the shock attacks in Paris on the other, followed by the rise of Daesh as a political and cultural phenomenon. It was also the year I started my current job.
2016 was the year I volunteered at the Roskilde Festival for the first time. In November of 2016 my boyfriend and I moved in together. November was also the month the Agent Orange was elected president of the USA.
2017 was a continuation of 2016; dealing with the POTUS situation, finding my feet in my new casa and volunteering at Roskilde Festival again (and writing a ton of stuff about that here).
Wow, that little walk down memory lane actually really cleared things up for me.
The reason 2015 was a very good blog year is because I had just come out of a job that had filled my system with pent up frustration, that I was finally able to vent when I left. I know that anger has always been the best fuel for my writing flow. The Daesh attacks added to the momentum as society around me reacted in all the wrong ways to the traumatic events in Paris and the growing threat in the region.
The US presidential race in 2016 and the resulting election of the Drumpf, was a deflating experience. I think I am still coming to grips with the reality of the situation and haven’t regained my blogging mojo since. It may sound like a sorry excuse, blaming the POTUS for my writer’s block, but it makes total sense to me and I think I’m going to stick with it.
An additional factor is my current living situation. I love my boyfriend and I love the house we have together. The one thing I am NOT happy about in our new house is the placement of my desk. It’s too dark and my desk is a bit too small. This has caused me to spend less time on the web with less chance to get inspired by random stories to spin into blogs.
It’s an easy fix, really. All I have to do is move some furniture around, right? Ah, but you haven’t taken into account the lazy-fart-factor! Also, I don’t think I have really admitted how much the desk situation really bothers me until now…
So, the rest of this blog consists of random words and themes that I once jotted down to maybe address in a future mind-cleanup-blog. All though a lot of it has gotten old or is still way too complicated for my current brainspace I have decided to just share them with you, without any further editing:
Worst part: I think he doesn’t even realize how much harm he can do with casually calling Suriname a “failed state” and ruling out the possibility of different ethnicities ever living together in peace.
Shame is what I feel. Another win for the racists and bigots.
Zwarte Piet discussion in the Netherlands
exhausting discussion, but I will not back down for my opinion.
I am losing friends over my anti-Black Pete stance (or Facebook friends… not really friends, I guess)
It’s an open wound in our society and it’s starting to fester. I say; chop off the limb and be done with it!
Typical frat boy in a grown up body.
What I hate most about him (and his kind): the aura of entitlement.
Ridiculous TV trial.
Feels like the nail in the coffin of US credibility.
What’s up with this twisted fascination / longing that Latin America has for dictatorial type leaders?
Share one of your favorite song/lyrics one at a time for three days. On day two I will be sharing Stevie Wonder’s song “I’m new”, which should be a mandatory addition to everyone’s lives.
Yesterday I wrote about the lyrics of two songs, which (imo) could be seen as two sides of the same story. Tomorrow’s post will be about Silence, pero en español.
Nominate three other bloggers each day. I will follow in Melanie’s footsteps and skip this rule, partially because I don’t really have a following and partially because I think it’s nicer this way (because it paved the way for me to join in).
So have a listen if you don’t know this Stevie Wonder song already and let the lyrics quench your soul’s thirst like a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Try to envision you as the oldest living someone, being every night and day all alone Going through ages and ages, places and spaces with never finding that someone to call your own.
Like a treasure chest of dreams long forgotten, hidden for good in a stolen lost and found But just when fate was calling quits, love appeared in the midst of despair, came and turned your life around
New like the first day of spring New like a nightingale that’s just learned to sing I’m new, new like the very start of dawn Like a child that’s first born with your love.
You’re standing among a crowd of six billion people, crying out for help, but no one understands ‘Cause much to your dismay, you’ve been taken far away to a land where joy is pain and sorrow’s a happy man
Where an aching heart’s the sign of the mighty and a love-filled heart looks down upon with fault and shame But at the very instant all was through, lady luck appears, says “love can do” and changed you like a Christian who’s been born again
New like the fresh morning dew New like a work of art that’s finally through I’m new, new like a first flight of a dove So safe and secure with your love.
Love took a long time coming to me But I’ve gotta say I owe my thanks to him for sending you my way.
‘Cause I’m new.
New, like the first winter snow. Like the start of forever, with infinity to go .
New, like the birth of the sun Forever young I will be, ’cause with your love;
New, like from a restful night of sleep New like a starving man that’s had food to eat
I’m new, nothing compares nor can compete Sharing with you the sweetness of your love,
A song my father introduced me to is a song by Leo Kottke about a lady called Louise. Small town gossip said that “she’d act the little girl” but that in reality she was “a deceiver” and that we shouldn’t believe her, because “that’s her trade”.
The song describes how Louise received gifts from men, whose “intentions were easily traced”, insinuating that she was either stunningly beautiful and would lead men on with her appearance, or that perhaps she was even a prostitute who inadvertently had some male “fans”.
Halfway through the song Kottke describes how people thought it “kind of sad” when Louise was found dead in her room. The song paints a picture of a lonely and misunderstood woman who ended up taking her own life.
Kottke bids her farewell at the end of the song with the words “the wind is blowing cold tonight. So goodnight, Louise, goodnight”.
Leo Kottke’s guitar intermezzo is mesmerizing on its own, but with the lyrics he really tells a tragic micro-history. I am not sure when I really started to see the whole image but when I did, I really felt for Louise.
A second song has recently entered my life that has a similar effect on me. After having given it some thought I realized that it is actually the same story, but this time from Louise’ point of view.
The first time I heard the song it stopped me dead in my tracks and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This had to do with the singers vocal range and the pain he put into the song. It was only later that I learned that it is actually a cover of a Nina Simone song, called “When I was a young girl”.
The song, in the version of Marlon Williams, is over six minutes long and can be summed up by the last 4 lines (which he manages to spread out over two heart-wrenching minutes)
When I was a young girl I used to seek pleasure When I was a young girl I used to drink ale Straight out of the ale house and down into the jail house Straight from the bar room down to my doom
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.
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….
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 whatI 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!
According to the Chinese calendar, we are currently wrapping up the year of the rooster.
I think following the Chinese calendar might be just what I need, considering the first few weeks of 2018 have been a little un-fun for me.
The first week was actually pretty OK. 2017 ended on a hopeful note, with my father recovering well from a stroke he had suffered in the late summer and my brother taking back control over his life by deciding to move back to where he grew up, in Ireland.
The idea was that he would re-connect with his younger self and the values he had been instilled with by his mother (we are step-siblings). It sounded like a good idea at the time and I was especially happy he was choosing where he wanted to go himself and going through all the motions (and paperwork) to make the move abroad possible.
Sadly, his addiction got the better of him quite quickly and quite heavily, causing him to be involved in an accident, probably caused by him (all though I’m not sure he sees it that way just yet). Any progress he had made in recent months was destroyed, and more, he has to face all sorts of financial, social and legal consequences. In short: stressful.
My brother called me a week or so after all this happened and confessed most of the story to me. He sounded angry, sad, disappointed and confused. Making excuses and simultaneously admitting and denying the one thing I have been waiting for him to say: I need help.
He asked me to not tell my parents about what had happened, but added “all though they expect me to fuck up anyway…”.
Then, after not having heard from him for several days (and me not reaching out) an uncle of his called me and asked me how much I knew about my brother’s situation. After I told him what I knew, he asked when I had last heard from him, which turned out to be about the last time he had been in contact as well.
The additional info I got from his uncle: My brother had bought a crappy old car and told people around him he was heading back to the Netherlands to get professional help. The fact that he had not told anyone here that he was coming and the fact that nobody had heard from him in several days made all the alarms go off.
For the first time in my life I felt my heart quiver out of control, while sitting motionless on a chair. I sent him a message and went through every possible scenario. For about two hours, I thought my brother was probably dead….
Even when he texted me back, my mind raced on. The reality of his re-existence suddenly felt more complicated than the momentary possibility that he might be gone forever. Needless to say, that realization made me feel horrible…
I felt guilty (which is one of my talents, I must admit).
I felt guilty for feeling that nano-sliver of disappointment when he turned up.
I felt guilty for not being able to run to his aid, but not really wanting to either.
I felt guilty for forcing other (extremely sweet and good hearted) people to deal with him.
I felt guilty for keeping it a secret from my parents.
I felt guilty for telling my mother anyway, forcing her to lie to my dad and adding more things onto her list of things to lie awake over at night.
I felt guilty for not offering up my house to my brother as a landing spot, when he let me know he might be coming back to the Netherlands.
I felt guilty for implicitly asking my boyfriend to carry the load of my family drama.
I felt guilty for hardly having the head space to listen to the answer to my “how was your day?”; especially when the answer was more complicated than “fine”.
I felt guilty for emptying out my brain sewage on the laps of my favorite people in this world; people with so much empathy in their beautiful hearts that it is almost inevitable that my state of mind also affected them negatively.
I felt guilty for losing control and not being able to fake it.
So, forget the Gregorian calendar. Enter Chinese year 4715! And the year of the dog is coming up. I like dogs. Dogs like me. I understand dogs. Dogs are fun. Dogs are goofy and bring out my inner clown (in a non psycho kind of way). This is good!
So, I’m gearing up my backpack for the adventures the year of the dog might throw at me and filling it with:
A compass, that points towards what is good for me.
to be filled with small and frequent brain dumps, as to not fill up the brain buffer and empty out the cache.
to plan my life better and have (the possibility to create) more order in the chaos.
to keep the blog-juices flowing.
Scooby snacks, to keep myself and the dog smiling.
If I were to describe what my absolute best day would look like, it would always include several hours of brainless surfing on the internet. Time spent this way is the ultimate chill-out for me. If someone were to ask me to tell them what I had been up to during ultimate chill-out time, I wouldn’t even be able to explain. Not out of shame or lack of words, but because it’s the time my brain is in partial shut down. I watch and read stuff but don’t really bother to store any of it. Straight in-and-out. I recommend this to everyone.
I must admit I haven’t been getting enough of this brain downtime in recent weeks. This has resulted in me having a slightly shorter fuse and my jokes being a tad more cynical. The upside? Today, having a whole day (until my bf comes home) of absolute me-time, there is a treasure of unwatched videos to binge on.
The Daily Show is one of my go-to channels during brain chill-out. It does require some brain activity (compared to, let’s say, the daily squee), but I estimate that of every ten hours of video footage I remember no more than 15 minutes of it. Excerpts of these fifteen minutes will then pop up randomly during conversations as “witty” quotes or in blogs like these.
All I’m really trying to do with this incredibly long introduction, is explain why the title of this blog is referencing something I saw only yesterday but is actually from a Daily Show episode late last month…
The reason why this particular vid stuck with me, is not only because of the fact that its Rage Against the Machine reference made me laugh out loud. It was also because the realization set in that last week was the one year anniversary of Trump’s election.
Earth has somehow managed to complete a full rotation around the sun without slinging out of orbit or exploding, since he came crashing into the control room.
The video above shows how the Republican party itself is still trying to come to grips with this and that not everyone has been able to accept this new status quo. I’m not saying this out of epicaricacy (I just learnt a new word!!) but because I think it’s a very interesting process that could lead anywhere.
It may end up redefining GOP entirely, as all moderate, non-racist politicians head for the life rafts and abandon the ship. This may actually restore stability within the party. Or it may result in an out-of-control ship, incapable of staying on course.