Getting rid of the rooster

According to the Chinese calendar, we are currently wrapping up the year of the rooster.

Chinese zodiac 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…”.

Drowning

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….

brain puzzle

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).

  1. I felt guilty for feeling that nano-sliver of disappointment when he turned up.
  2. I felt guilty for not being able to run to his aid, but not really wanting to either.
  3. I felt guilty for forcing other (extremely sweet and good hearted) people to deal with him.
  4. I felt guilty for keeping it a secret from my parents.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. I felt guilty for implicitly asking my boyfriend to carry the load of my family drama.
  8. 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”.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!

chinese zodiac dog 1

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.
  • My journal,
    • 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.
  • A lot of room for new experiences and lessons.

mindfuldog

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Blogtober

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My mind is cluttered and slow but my motivation is back. The only way to get this blog train going again is by hopping on the Blogtober wagon. So that’s what I’m going to do.

The last time I challenged myself to do a blog a day was August 2015, aka Blogust. It was actually quite challenging and I definitely didn’t manage to write something every day, but it was good practice.

Wish me luck.

 

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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!

Mind Cleanup – 2015 overview

Happy new year everyone! Hope you had a good transition from old to new and that you are ready for what 2016 has in store for you. If you’re not ready yet, you will have another chance to start with a clean slate soon, when the new year starts according to the Chinese (goodbye sheep, hello monkey!).

So, using my new mind cleanup tool, I want to glance back on 2015.

emoji happy.pngUppers

  • My current job gives me such a strong feeling of belonging that I can’t imagine ever having felt insecure about the decision to apply (which I totally did)
  • I am so lucky with my bf, who’s love I never doubt, even (especially?) when he says I’m an idiot (because it’s usually exactly what I needed to hear on that particular moment).
  • Climate agreement achieved!

emoji disappointed.pngDowners

  • My parents’ dog was hit by a car and died
  • My family can no longer be together in the same house. All though the decision of the family members in question to take no more shit from each other and just deny the other’s existence has brought some peace into the equation, it is a very sad status quo for many of us; my father in particular.
  • Terror & mass-shootings have become matters of “When” rather than “If”.
  • The hypocritical and nearsighted response of the Western world to the Paris attacks, completely ignoring the equally real suffering, pain and losses of life elsewhere bummed me out big time.
  • The Dutch soccer team did not manage to qualify for the European Championships, despite reaching the final in the World Championship 2 years prior.

emoji SeeNoEvil.pngThings I tried to ignore

  • Everything Trump
  • Bruce’s transition to Caitlyn and the world’s revelry about this
  • I-am-this-and-that declarations on social media.
  • The guilt I feel about my ecological footprint
  • My laundry

emoji music.pngMusic related thoughts

  • I still think it’s a pity Grooveshark quit and do not feel Spotify fully fulfills my musical needs.
  • There is a lot of pretty awesome sounding electronic music being made these days! To name a few: C2C, EZA, Jarryd James, Låpsley, Alt-J, Oh Wonder.
  • Ariana Grande is an amazing singer and much more talented than I was prepared to admit, until I saw this.
  • Adele’s comeback was so ginormous when it comes to view counts and online viralcy that the actual music never really lived up to it for me. She’s incredibly sweet and charming and I love that she is part of  current day music, but I definitely don’t have her album on re-play.

emoji lightbulb 2.pngEpiphanies

  • Rugby is really fun to watch!
  • If I can’t kill and prepare an animal myself, I should become a vegetarian.
  • I am a privileged person. I don’t need to feel guilty about this but consciousness is vital.
  • It’s not always up to me to solve conflicts between people. Even more so, removing myself from the equation as self-appointed mediator can actually be the solution in some cases.
  • I am not an atheist in the sense that I believe what has been scientifically proven. I leave room for spiritual ideas and am willing to admit that science is also “just a theory” in many senses. However, I am very strongly nonreligious. Stronger even, I am anti religious, unpopular as it may be to say so.
  • Blaming DNA for any shitty traits you (or I) may have is a poor excuse and does not give you permission to be an asshole (or a drunk or whatever).
  • Doing a month long a-blog-a-day challenge is actually really hard.

emoji sunrise.pngEpic moments

  • Summer with my brothers and kids
  • Learning how to dive and becoming PADI open water certified
  • The opening of the Engelandvaardersmuseum in Noordwijk

emoji paella.pngEpicureous 

  • I have a shrimp allergy and I’m sick of it.
  • Couscous tastes so much better the next day!
  • Peanut butter cups are actually very easy to make and, imo better than the supermarket kind.
  • I met a Canadian girl during a food tour in Ljubljana (amazing city btw) who, when I asked what the difference between lager and pilsner is, illustrated this with some common knowledge from “back home”: Lager is like having sex in a canoe; it’s fucking close to water.
  • I really don’t like potatoes.

emoji hourglass.pngEpilogue

  • 2016 is going to be awesome, have a good one!

The soundtracks of my life.

I’m feeling guilty about neglecting my blogbaby, so it is definitely time feed it with something new. And when lacking inspiration, making a “top ten” is the way to go.

While listening to one of my playlists on grooveshark today, I realized there are quite a few songs that have been on my playlists for years now. So I decided to present you all with these soundtracks of my life.

Intertwined with my very first memories are two songs, or as a matter of fact, the LPs they are a part of. The first one is Paul Simon’s Graceland. Homeless is one of my favorite songs of all time, as is “Under African Skies”, thanks to the stunning performance of Ladysmith Black Mambazo in both songs. The one I am going to share here is another of my favorites, because there is no denying that I know what I know!

1.

The second album I hold very fond childhood memories of, is Tracy Chapman’s selftitled album, that came out in 1988. This woman’s voice is amazing and I wish she would have made more albums like that first one, all though I can imagine it was kind of difficult to top that masterpiece… It’s hard for me to choose just one song from that album but it will definitely not be “Talkin about a revolution” or “Fast car”. Amazing as those songs are, they are just too well known and I think there are other songs on that specific album that are at least as good, that deserve attention. This one for example:

2.

All though I am sure my parents played this music during my early childhood as well, my love for the next artist  grew exponentially a little later on in my life. Known as la negra, Mercedes Sosa is the one artist that manages to give me goosebumps every time I hear her voice. Her song “Gracias a la vida” is without a doubt the greatest rendition of that song, which in itself is one of the most beautiful songs ever. The songs I am sharing here though, is one that moved me to tears after I left South America as a kid, as it recalls the beauties of this continent and how their peoples should unite as one. I still miss her enormous presence in Latin American music. RIP Negra:

3.

As I mentioned above, I grew up in South America and the following band is therefore unavoidable. Maná is the U2 of Latin America and I was a giant fan of theirs throughout most of my life. I still kind of am, all though their songs have become a little too preachy and mushy in recent years. The old stuff still pops up in my playlists every now and then and even some of the newer stuff is pretty good, when I’m in the right mood. Their repertoire is enormous, and all though the lyrics to this particular song are kind of depressing, it is definitely one of my favorites:

4.

If I listen to the mixes I listened to during my high school years, there are obviously some things I am not particularly proud of (yes, the Spice Girls were on there and all though it’s kind of scary to admit it, I think Wannabe might still be one of my guilty pleasures. 😛 ). Some of the bands from that era kind of stuck with me though, and one of these bands is K’s Choice. A Belgian band, with Sarah Bettens’ amazing husky voice as the main attraction. All though the song I am posting is not particularly representative for their style (it’s usually a bit more rocky), it is just so hauntingly pretty I have to share it. If I run out if ideas before I reach ten, I might post another one…

5. 

The song I am putting on number six conquered much of Europe back in 1996 and anyone who doesn’t understand French (like me), and has never looked up a translation of the lyrics, should do so. Do it  now. Actually, I’m going to check if I can find a youtube version with translated lyrics so you guys can appreciate its full glory… I love this song. It is amazing and Cheb Khaled is a hero for having sung it, when he did.

6.

In comparison to the previous songs, the next one is relatively recent (2009). It is a song I had on repeat for a while when I first discovered it. All though I’m not completely sure what it’s actually about, I always imagine it is some Tower of Babel reference. It is a beautifully tender song for quiet moments or to wind down with after a long day at work.

7.

I wish I could make this transition less rough… but I can’t think of another song to squeeze in between these two right now and I guess it does kind of reflect my musical palette. So… Peter Fox! German ginger rapper with amazing talent for good beats and catchy tunes. His lyrics are pretty cool as well, but I won’t bug you guys with that right now. In the following song he is on his own, but he is also part of a band called Seeed (yes, three e’s), with a more reggaelike flavor to it, that is worth checking out!

8.

OK, only two more to go… Must. choose. wisely…

I guess my list wouldn’t reflect me properly without a song by the Cat Empire. The lead singer is such a walking, dancing, jumping, smiling hormonebomb that just listening to them just makes me blush sometimes… He isn’t handsome in a conventional way… but so friggin sexy… But we were talking about music, I believe. They do that too! And quite well, as a matter of fact. All of their music is really optimistic and happy, but with pretty profound lyrics here and there. Love them. Love them! Ch-ch-check it out:

9.

Hmmm, this last one is tough…

I looked at my recent youtube searches to see what my last song should be and I realized I have been listening to a lot of youtube cover artists. Kina Grannis, Boyce Avenue, Hannah Trigwell and of course, the one and only: Walk of the Earth (WOTE). All of these artists also have posted their originals online but their covers are what they are best known for.  WOTE in particular, excels in making other artists’ songs their own and in many cases making them so much cooler. We all know their “Somebody that I used to know”-rendition on one guitar, but they are just so awesome, I have to post something of theirs here. They have a lot to choose from, but I think I’m going with this one:

10.

And that wraps it up! I got some inspiration along the way for future blogs, and I’ll try to be better at blogging more regularly.

I am sure I am going to wake up tonight and realize I should have put in this or that other song, but that will just have to wait for a #2 of this post then. I’m off to bed!