Idai

This is Blog 9 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Idai

Idai, so much damage you have done
Immersed homes, sent families on the run
Intact was a city that now is all gone
Indignant and ruined they dry in the sun

It was clear you’d be cruel, straight from the start
Increasing your winds way off the chart
In six dreadful days you tore Beira apart
Immense was your eye, but where was your heart?

Implore yourself now to look into charity
Indifference is useless and also just shitty
Indispensable aid may rebuild the city
Include those in Beira in the global community

(ok, that last strophe is a bit wonky, but don’t let it distract you from the underlying message!)

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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!

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.

Doubters alert

The Daily Post suggested an interesting topic to write about last week, titled: “Doubters Alert.”

It took me a couple of days, but I have decided to turn it into a list (again).

All though the items are numbered, the order is actually completely arbitrary. The numbering only helped me keep track of how far along I was and I guess I just like how it makes it look more listy. So, I hereby present you with my top ten denials of common accepted truths.

1. Men and women are equal
They’re not. Do I believe men and women should be given equal chances? Hell yes! I also agree that this isn’t always the case and I’m sure there are women with big ambitions who are held back because of their gender. The fact that more women choose a career as nurses and more men become firefighters however, is not because the opposite sex is being discriminated against. These career choices make biological sense. Don’t make me explain, I know you get it.

2. Disciplining your child is wrong
You’re right, I don’t have kids of my own but I don’t think it makes me any less credible. Even more, my observations are less likely to be tainted by emotions, instinctual protection hormones and unconditional love. I actually see that your kid is sneaky and that you are being played like a fool. I also see that not all kids are like that and that your parenting is to blame.
Loving your child and setting boundaries are not contradictory actions. I believe kids need to be shown right from wrong. I also believe they can cope with hard truths of life at quite an early age and that consequences of bad behavior must be in place. These consequences need to be clear, fair and unnegotiable. They also need to be unpleasant in order to be taken serious by the grown-up-in-training.

3. Praying helps
prayer-purposeI do not believe in prayer, unless it’s just to meditate and self reflect. If there is such a thing as a god I can’t imagine he (let’s just refer to this god-figure as a he from here on , for practicality, but you can read it as she if you prefer) needs people telling him how almighty he is. I also simply can not accept the idea that he would be such a fool that he would grant some ass wipe who prays daily access to his super cool heaven club and deny it to someone who is clearly an awesome person, but doesn’t mumble some words several times a day.

4. Self prescribed diets
I believe in moderation. Too much of anything can become a bad thing and it may differ from person what “too much” is. I’m going to sound like an old sock now, but in this day and age I think a lot of people are blaming nutrition for physical complaints that are actually caused by stress. I believe some types of foods are easier to digest than others but I don’t believe this means we are not supposed to eat the stuff that makes our intestines work hard. I believe it keeps them vital and yes, this means that sometimes you will fart more and the color and smell of your poo may vary.

If you’re on a diet on doctor’s orders: different story all together, obviously…

5. Giving money to the homeless is a bad idea
homeless handThere are many reasons why a person could end up living on the streets, all though mental illness and drug dependency will often play a roll. I know there is a big chance the money I put in the hand of that smelly figure in rags will go into sustaining a drug habit. Call me an enabler. I don’t believe that denying that person the couple of coins I have in my pocket will encourage them to get clean. You have to be truly desperate to walk over to a complete stranger and ask them for money, knowing what they must think of you.

My policy is as follows:

  • Never ignore someone who asks you something in the streets. Even if my answer is no, they deserve to be acknowledged at the least. This also applies to people trying to sell you something.
  • Be genuine in your response. I once said I didn’t have change on me, even though I did, and I felt crappy straight away. There is nothing wrong with saying: “Sorry, not today” or “I’m tight for cash myself at the moment”, rather than lying about it.
  • If I have an unopened bottle of soda or water on me, I will give them this rather than money.
  • If I have some spare change on me I hand it to them
  • In a rare case I could walk over to a nearby shop and buy them something.
  • When I do grocery shopping I sometimes buy something extra like a sandwich or a bottle of juice, with the homeless person I just saw in the back of my mind.
  • Wish them good luck.
  • Don’t let others change my mind about this.

6. Taking selfies is normal and OK

Again, old sock talking here, but this self absorbed modern day habit is so incredibly stupid, I don’t even know where to start. The eternal posing, the duckface, the angelic girlie look, the nonchalant glance out of the window, the looking up into the camera so they can look down into your cleavage, the confused frown, pointing at food, pointing at a friend, posing with a celebrity in the background trying to mind his own business, sticking out tongue, the peace sign… It all just makes me want to roll my eyes.

7. Plastic surgery is a healthy way to deal with low self esteem (and then lying about it)
My nose is crooked and relatively large, I have the typically protruding chin that runs through my family and have been mocked for my pointy knees. Sure, I have my insecurities. The fact that we can fix some (all?) of these features is admirable. I’m sure there are situations in which a visit to a plastic surgeon can be a great idea and improve lives in a major way. I also understand the growing old isn’t fun. I do. I don’t blame you for trying to fight it, but what’s up with all the denial?? And why take it to such an extreme that you stop looking like a human being all together ?

8. “The one”
love isForget the Matrix, there is no such thing as the One. The idea of there being one single person on the planet that matches with you for the full 100% is bull crap. First of all, everybody has their flaws and  in every relationship there are bound to be struggles. Besides charming your prince in shining armor will also have some ugly traits, as do you. This doesn’t mean you’re not good for each other. And if your individual traits clash more often than anticipated, there’s nothing wrong with calling it quits. Don’t worry, it’s not a sin or whatever you want to call it. There are billions of us on the planet. There are people in all shapes and sizes. There are bound to be several that fit your mold and chances are the person you end up loving the most, ticks none of the boxes you once fantasized your soulmate would have.

BTW, Tim Minchin wrote quite a cute song about this.

9. It is normal for love to fade
Despite the fact that I do not believe in “the one”, I do believe in true love. That this true love can be felt for different people throughout your life is beside the point here. What I want to debunk is the idea that it is OK to settle for a mediocre relationship and justify this to yourself by saying that every relationship loses its spark after a while. I disagree! Love changes, I’ll give you that. The passion might not be there with the same physical intensity it started out with, but it must still be in there somewhere. Staying with someone out of habit or pity or fear of change is a waste of your time. If you are not happy with the relationship you’re in, time to get up and leave!

no mediocre love 2

10. If you don’t have anything nice to say, better to say nothing at all.
Speaking your mind is never a bad idea!