Mind Cleanup Nov 19

The “wiggle room” I was anticipating in my previous mind cleanup didn’t fully materialize yet, but I have good hopes it is on its way (all though I do realize chilled-outness is not what Decembers are usually known for…).

Bee Family Day

November started out with a family reunion, thought out and partially organized by my dad. His health and energy level didn’t really allow him to be as involved as he might have liked, though. I did all “the online stuff”, prepared the slides for the presentations and did some of the small logistical stuff.

Because my name was at the bottom of all the invitations, confirmations and additional info I got a lot of credit for the whole day, which was nice, but perhaps not entirely justified. I just played along though. 😂

In the end, the day was a success and my dad was super happy. I met a lot of new family members and had a chance to re-evaluate some of our “typical family traits”.

After my father welcomed everyone, my aunt held a presentation about the family tree and what you can see on the My Heritage website. An uncle / cousin (several times removed) played a classical guitar piece he had composed himself. He also held a short speech about the finances of the family’s foundation that takes care of the family graves.

My hope that a third family member would come forward with some cool family stories, didn’t really come to fruition… so I decided to do it myself… which is actually atypical behavior for me… but it went well and it also means I get to strike “get better at public speaking” from my bucketlist. YAY!

Bolivia

Bolivia is the heart of South America and a notoriously complicated country. I lived there for eight years as a child and always joked with my brother that I would be the president one day, but that he had to be my front (as he was born in the country and I was not).

The current state of the country really breaks my heart. It angers me that Evo Morales clung to power in the way that he did and that he did nothing to make a smooth change of power possible. It saddens me to see the country so terribly divided (which in all truth it always kind of was).

I’d pray my heart out for Bolivia, if I believed in such things. It’s a country that has so much going for it but always relapses into self-destructive behavior.

Lines from the country’s national anthem have been ringing in my head the last few weeks (like a prayer?):

Al estruendo marcial que ayer fuera y al clamor de la guerra horroroso,
siguen hoy, en contraste armonioso, dulces himnos de paz y de unión.

The martial turmoil of yesterday and the horrible clamor of war are followed today, in harmonious contrast, by sweet hymns of peace and unity.

Vamos Bolivia, you can do it. I believe in you. I know you don’t need a white European girl telling you how to fix your shit but at least take the message in your own national anthem to heart and look up those sweet hymns of peace and unity!

Music

This new Jamie Cullum song struck a chord.

Rudi & Freddie Self Help tips

Earlier this year I heard a podcast episode from one of my favorite Dutch journalists that I have been recommending to anyone who might be (slightly) interested.

The podcast show is called the Rudi & Freddie Show, staring Rutger Bregman (Rudi) and Jesse Frederiks (Freddie). Officially they are a historian and economist but most of all, they are two smart dudes that can’t help but ask “why is that?” at every corner they turn.

Absolute facts make them suspicious and their skills as academics and modern day journalists give them the tools to disentangle the facts from the opinions, gut feelings and bullshit arguments. They don’t always agree with each other. Better even, they don’t always agree with their own (past) selves. I have tremendous respect for people that are able to admit they were wrong when presented with new facts or experiences and are willing to change.

I am sad to inform the majority of the planet that their podcasts are only available in Dutch, but if you ever needed a motivation to learn our impossible little language, being able to understand their discussions should help.

After having made fun of (the popularity of) self help books, they decided to embrace the “if you can’t beat them join them” philosophy, and come up with their own recommendations for a better life. In an episode that was posted online last April they discussed their ideas.

Starting in December I want to share a few of the R&F Self help tips. I will share one per post, perhaps continuing with the tradition with tips of my own, after the R&F ones run out.

Chuck the list!

bucketlist

This morning I stumbled upon a blogpost that made so much sense, that I can’t believe I hadn’t already written about it myself. The post is titled “Chuck that list“, describing the blogger’s feelings about her bucketlist.

bucket-list

And all though I love the idea of a bucketlist and am oddly attached to mine, I can totally relate to what Imadcap wrote about the limitations of such a list.

My bucketlist was supposed to inspire me. It was meant to motivate me to pursue these goals, even the ones that make me nervous or uncomfortable.

In hindsight, making the list public kind of messed it up. Or no, I think putting it into writing did that. Because then it became a to-do list and not striking anything off became failure. And that really wasn’t the point!

I suppose it’s like playing a video game, where you are actually doing great, passing level after level and gathering points and bonuses along the way. Striking an item of your bucketlist is like finding an easter egg. It’s not necessary, but it is cool!

And Imadcap puts it very well when she says: “a list always limits you into thinking these are the stuff you want to do.” That is so true! Some of the best experiences I’ve had were ones I hadn’t counted on having at all!

Imadcap adds: “Secondly, lists change. Or at least they should.”

Woman Reading Long List

Again, I couldn’t agree more… I always thought my bucketlist would continue growing; with more and more life goals being added on at the bottom, striking the goals that I achieved, as I went.

But as it turns out, I actually don’t demand as much from life as I used to or at least not the same things. There are things on the list that, deep down in my heart, I really couldn’t care less about now… And that’s OK!

All of this helps me pinpoint and eliminate the nagging feeling I’ve been having… You see, a dormant bucket list can lead one to believe that nothing is happening. That life has come to a standstill.

First of all, let me say that a quiet life is not necessarily a bad thing…

But second of all, the fact that I haven’t stumbled upon or pursued as many of the bucket list items, is merely proof of my lack of imagination. Life has so much to offer and if I had been more creative I may have made more room for the smaller ideas that ended up leaving the biggest impact.

On the other side, the fact that I put some life goals into writing, may have even prevented me from enjoying them as much as I would have if they had simply crept up on me out of nowhere.

Another thing that kind of bugs me when I look at my bucketlist, is that I feel it doesn’t represent me. When I put it together I really made an effort to think out of the box and include things that I didn’t necessarily think I would enjoy but that I felt I should do anyhow, either to broaden my horizon, to become a better person (whatever that means) or to be able to say “yes, as a matter of fact I DID try that and it sucked as much as I thought it would”.

tales of the unexpected-logo

So, I guess what I am saying is that having a bucketlist is one thing, but it is not complete without a second list with all the unexpected stuff that actually meant something on the long run. Small anecdotes that have shaped who I am and reflect what matters to me.

Like the time I bumped into the homeless man that used to sleep on my porch but whom I hadn’t seen in many months (I moved and actually felt bad for some reason that I hadn’t been able to tell him that, since I was quite sure the new tenant would be less accepting of his midnight ramblings). It warmed my heart to see his face light up when he recognized me and seeing his toothless smile appear on his face as he exclaimed: “HEY! It’s you!”

Or the time my boyfriend and I decided to order takeout dinner last summer and eat it in the grass a couple of streets behind our new home and then sharing our food with an amazingly tame blackbird. And as he flew off, my boyfriend and I couldn’t believe our eyes as he flew away, over several houses and straight to our very roof, that we could (by chance) only just see the tip of from where we were sitting… and he’s been around ever since!

Awkward-White-People-Dance-Moves

And how about the love I have developed for Roskilde Festival? This year will be my third visit and my second time as a volunteer. I could never have foreseen how proud it makes me to be a part of that. More, I could never have imagined how welcome I have felt there, even as an only-slightly drinker, a not-at-all drug user, an awkward dancer and a very non convincing hippie.

These are all things that define me but in no way or form feature on my bucketlist. I suppose I could add them in very general terms and it wouldn’t even look like I was cheating. How about:

  • befriend a bum
  • bond with a bird, like a true Disney princess
  • Go to a music festival for free

This won’t do though. It defeats the purpose of the bucketlist and does no justice to the anecdotes…

So I did the only right thing and added “Chuck the list” to the list.

Mind cleanup : Septem- and Octo- ber

As I gave this blog a title just now, I realized that September and October have pretty weird names, considering Septem and Octo sound a lot like the Latin words for seven and eight but in our calendar actually represent the ninth and tenth month, respectively. O.o

Anyhoo: I cut my hair and donated a 30cm long braid to wig charity, finally fulfilling a point from my bucketlist! It was really really short, making it impossible to put it up in a ponytail or anything of the sort for the last 5 weeks. I have managed to keep it out of my face but can’t wait for it to grow a little more so it actually properly fits in a ponytail again. It doesn’t look horrible on me though; that was a relief. 😛

Music

The music scene has been pretty interesting lately!

A song that is not necessarily brand new anymore but I still feel I should mention is Alicia Keys’ song In common. I am fascinated by this song and the video clip even more so. It’s got and old school feel and sounds pure, ethnic and raw. I’m not always a big fan of the way Alicia uses her voice but this one has been on repeat, if not in my playlist then definitely in my head.

On a sidenote: my goodness, that woman is really beautiful!

A new band, at least for me, is Equador. This song below is haunting and beautiful. Great for chilled out evenings. It’s one of those songs that I plug in my headphones for to hear it in all its complexity.

I don’t know how she does it by Sia always manages to touch a chord with me. Her new song the Greatest is so beautiful and the video is another one that I love to re-watch every now and again. In my mind I dedicate it to my brother, who sometimes needs reminding that he is in fact “free to be the greatest”.

A man-shaped woman called LP came smashing into my living room the other day with her song “Lost on you”. You’re welcome!

Epicurious

Earlier in September I experimented with brownies with date-based dough. Really really nice! The recipe can be found here.

Film

In remembrance of the 09/11 attacks the film Extremely loud and incredibly close was on TV here in the Netherlands and I was quite blown away by it. A recommendation for those of you who haven’t seen it yet.

Self reflection

The other day I saw a book called 999 questions to ask yourself. All though I didn’t buy it, I did like the idea. So yes, this cheapo right here did NOT support an upcoming inspirator and author, possibly preventing her to ever publish a book again and instead decided to look up and invent 100 questions of her own. So yes, this may possibly be the answer to one of the questions I should be asking myself: Why might people consider you a sucky person?

What I will be doing is answer 5 open questions and 5 this-or-that questions in every Mind Cleanup blog, starting with this one. So here we go:

What nicknames have people given you?

Name: Epi
Who started it: Maria Isabel, our Bolivian help’s daughter, a long long time ago
About the name: It’s the one nickname that kind of stuck with me and that has always re-surfaced even when I moved or created a new group of friends.

Name: Flavio
Who started it: my brother gave me this name when we could both barely talk.
About the name: My brother still calls me this. Nobody really knows why.

Name: Piep
Who started it: My mother
About the name: This name is actually one of the many derivatives that has come from the first one, Epi. My last name starts with a B, so my mother would sometimes call me: Epi Bee, which somehow got shortened to Peebee, and the finally Piep. In Dutch this translates to squeak, as in, the sound a little chick would make. 😛

Name: Konijnenkont (translates to Rabbit butt)
Who started it: my dad
About the name: I don’t think my dad really refers to me with this name anymore. Probably because my butt is no longer small and cute.

What fills up your heart to bursting level?

  • Baby animals
  • my goofy, kind-hearted bf

Which three things did you not have or do as a kid that you wish you did?

  1. music lessons
  2. a (cooler) tree house
  3. more time

What was topping music charts on your date of birth?

Prince – Purple Rain

Can you handle blood?

Yes, I once aspired to become a veterinarian (before I found out I suck at chemistry and that this was a requirement) and as a matter of fact I donate a pint of my own every now and then.

This-or-That

  1. Overworking or out of a job
    All though I am lazy by nature I did not enjoy being unemployed.
  2. Pizza or pasta
    Tough choice! As a poor cook I am a big fan of both of these options. I think pasta has more variety options though, so I’m going with option 2 in this one.
  3. Hard Truth or White Lie
    Hard truth.
  4. Knitting or Crocheting
    Neither activities are things I know anything about but as a clothing wearer I will go with knitting.
  5. Starters or Dessert
    Starters. I totally have a sweet tooth, but little snacks and pre-dinner bites make me so much happier than ice cream or cake.

And even though October is no where near finished, I am going to hit the publish button on this one. Next time: the moving house edition!

The R is back

August, where did you go?? I wrote you a promise and I must confess I did not fully deliver.

I promised you 31 blogs, 31 pieces of fruit, 5 jogs and one bucketlist item. I pretty much failed at ticking every single box. The final score is:

  • 26 blogs
  • no clue, didn’t keep track of the fruit but I’d say I did eat more than usual but definitely not every day.
  • I did go to the gym every week but did not go out for a run every week. I think it was three times this month and once went to work by bike.
  • I added three items to my bucketlist, CHECK!

Now, fun as it was, I will definitely not keep on trying to squeeze my brain like an orange for inspiration and forcing myself to look at my computer screen on days that I would much rather go to bed early. I did however very much enjoy pushing myself a bit and reading back the results at the end of the week. I saw the view count on my blog go up a bit and did definitely notice that the more you write, the easier it becomes.

Some of the things I posted were definitely easy cop-outs and may not stay online forever, but they still served their purpose.

Now that September has crept up on me with the first autumn rains, I have decided to make some new goals. Definitely not as ambitious as posting a blog a day, but inspiring stuff nonetheless. Between now and August 2016 I will

  • donate my hair to charity
  • learn bee-keeping
  • volunteer at refugee foundation
  • go back to donating blood regularly after my 6 month hiatus due to trip oversees.
  • blog about all the above and more
  • get back into photography and post the results
  • strike some (let’s say at least three?) of the items off my bucketlist

So, I am ready take on this final quarter of 2015 and get some things done. Onwards we go!

A for August

Exactly one week from now it will be the first day of August and instead of starting with good intentions, fresh new promises and strict commitments in January, I decided to just start completely randomly in the eighth month.

Contrary to new year’s resolutions they will not be plans for the following 12 months but just for the month of August itself and we’ll just decide how to proceed when September comes peaking.

So what are my goals for the month of August?

  • Post one blog a day all month
  • Eat at least one piece of fruit every day of the month
  • Go jogging at least once a week
  • Add one new item to my bucketlist

And that’s it for now! So to sum it up: 31 blogs, >31 pieces of fruit, >5 jogs, 1 bucketlist item in 31 days.

See you on the other side!