It’s been a few weeks since shelter-in-place has been lifted here on the island and I have to admit that some days I forget that we’re living in strange times. How are so many people still out buying so much stuff??
I don’t want to be psychic but I had felt something life-changing was coming for over a year. I only told 1 friend, cause ya don’t wanna manifest that shit if you don’t have to. But this poop was very persistent. I couldn’t shake the feeling no matter what. Exactly one year ago I was in a minor car accident but life continued and the feeling was still there. Then later that year I had minor surgery, but the feeling was like a 3-year-old who wants a snack: annoyingly present. I concluded that whatever was coming wasn't something minor.
Then Corona hit and I couldn’t believe this crap. It was like all the movies I love, except this one had the worst soundtrack. But you know what, then I thought I’ve been training for this all my life! I know what to do! That lasted for about a day and quickly changed into the week of not knowing what to do. After that came the week of we’re all gonna get it. Then came the week of is this a normal cough or do I have The Rona?! There was a week of I’m never leaving the house again. There was the week of fuck this shit I’m going to the beach. The week of I’m eating salmon every day because I deserve it. The week of you can never have enough chocolate in the house. There was a week of fuck the rest as long as my loved ones are fine I’m fine. The week of we need to make sure everyone has food. The week of I couldn’t care less about the Relato di Dia. And then came the week of corona schmorona.
Whatever. I’m exhausted.
Some days I believe no one should have to die. Other days I think it’s “natural selection”. And other days I’m convinced we ain’t seen nothing yet and we need to fasten our seat belts.
There’s one thing I know though. And I’m not hearing anyone speak about it, but one positive aspect of being cooped up in the house has been that it has become crystal clear that we could be fine with way less. Less school. Less workload. Less consumption. Less moving around. And more taking the time to work on our homes and yards. More time to cook real food. More time for creativity. More time for conversations.
What if, and this is just an idea that has sprung from my simple mind, but what if we all decided we were fine with less? What if kids could do with half the time on school? What if adults could work only 4 hours a day because we’re all consuming less and needing less of everything? What if we slowed down a little more? Hospitality and tourism workers could share a job with someone else who will be working 4 hours a day. Yes, with some retraining, but also with the perspective of having more time off.
It’s becoming obvious that many, many things on the island are ridiculously overpriced. That needs to change. We’re robbing our own if we keep up these import rates and keep paying taxes upon taxes. I’ll repeat. We can all do with a little less.
Yes, what I’m proposing is extremely simplified, but you know what.... the life we were living was extremely non-sustainable. Meaning – we could, in fact, not sustain this speed of activities and consumption in the long run. We all knew this, yet we kept on going as if we didn’t have children who will have children who will look back and curse the day we decided to have children. Yes, I said it. We owe it to our offspring to slow the fuck down and consume the fuck less.
Earth Overshoot Day [Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. Source] has been moved back due to corona. The last time we needed only 1 Earth to sustain us all was in 1970. In 2020 we need more than this planet + more than half of an imaginary other planet we don’t actually have. To be precise we need 1.6 Earths to sustain the life we’re living. This year Earth Overshoot Day would’ve been in July, but we’ve moved it back to August 22nd. What does this mean? It means we’re capable of less. So, let’s take on this challenge and keep moving the date back more and more.
The whole planet can eat, have shelter, have medical services and more, by needing less. We now truly know what is essential, quite literally. I can do with less travel or dining out or new furniture if it means that all of us, the planet included, are healthier and happier. We’ve seen so many spontaneous community efforts, people connecting, others sharing expertise without charge, clearer skies, fewer heart attacks and strokes, more gratitude and countless efforts to support the weakest members of our societies. We now know we can do this.
Can LESS be the new normal?
Can I just write this blog without upsetting anyone? Probably not, but I do want to write this so I’ve chosen to put any possible upsetness up on a shelf where I can ignore it for now.
Today I’m writing about race. Actually, I’m writing about race and all the other elements that make us different, but race is the most controversial. More than gender or sexual orientation, I believe. I’ve written and ranted about this before, but I need to clarify a huge aspect which brings much anger to some.
I’m a black woman. Brown. I’m actually a lot less brown in real life than I am in my mind. I’m always surprised to notice how much lighter I am than the friends I thought were lighter than me. But when I was little… oh wait, I have to explain that I grew up in Groningen in the late '70s/early ‘80s. I was the only black kid in my school. So....... when I was little, in kindergarten to be precise, I didn’t know I was black. I was just a girl, the same as any other girl in class. I didn’t like the horrible, horrible school milk and I loved the fluoride mouthwash. Especially the blue one. I could run even faster than some of the boys and I was one of the few who knew that it was possible to poop and pee at the same time.
One day I was home and looked at myself in the mirror and I realized for the first time that no one else had that halo of curly baby hair, proudly (read: stubbornly) crowning their face. I clearly remember this moment, because for the first time I saw my own face as different than all the other faces I saw every day. There was no judgement in that moment, just observation.
With this background info out there now, I’ll continue about my actual point. The essence of this blog. And that is, that we should stop making race a difference. Stop making it relevant information, since it’s not. Look at the person, just like I did before I saw my own color, and start emphasizing the aspects that are relevant (like knowing that you can poop and pee at the same time).
I want to see headlines like ‘Entrepreneur who overcame much adversity donates basketball court to childhood neighborhood’. Or ‘Astronaut who grew up in welfare receives award for scientific discovery’. Or ‘Young Activist with Dyslexia Writes First Book’. Why would it be relevant that they’re black. What’s significant is that they overcame adversity, that they accomplished something in spite of something.
There’s much pain in the race problem. Unthinkable, unspeakable pain. Pain we would not wish upon our worst adversaries. Pain every black person is confronted with every day. Pain non-black people will never understand. Pain non-black people don’t see. Pain that doesn’t even exist in their universe. And it’s not fair. It’s not. It’s not fair that we have to deal with something that is so hard to overcome. Someone should pay for it.
No. That’s not how it stops. Pain doesn’t stop by inflicting more pain. Pain stops by healing. By feeling aaaall of the cuts and bruises and wounds and lacerations. Mourn all you need to mourn, where there is space for mourning. Heal where there is space for healing. Agitate where there is space to agitate. And then, live in the energies of fairness and equality you want to see reign in the world. Pain stops by living in the vibes you do want to feel. And this shift is not going to come from the majority. The ones who can't feel it, because it's not their pain. This shift has to come from the ones feeling it. Healing always, always, always happens within.
Now, take a moment and feel into the difference (I mean truly feel and not listen to what sounds better, but feeeeel the difference) between ‘successful black entrepreneur’ and ‘successful entrepreneur who overcame adversity’. Which feels more neutral? Most people think that to add the ‘black’ in the first headline brings a sense of pride to being black, but that is not truly the part that makes us proud. It’s the overcoming adversity implied that makes us proud, because they’re a minority and they've overcome more than the average majority entrepreneur. SO CELEBRATE THAT. And allow anyone else to join in the celebration. Why should a purple person not be allowed to feel proud of someone who became successful.
Stop making race an aspect to celebrate or despise. It’s neither. If you want equality, stop making ‘black movies’. Stop making ‘black universities’. Stop making ‘black award ceremonies’. INFILTRATE the majority life and demand your own space there, as the worthy human being you are.
If you want race to not make a difference, STOP MAKING IT A DIFFERENCE.
There’s no point in harping on about equality if you keep glorifying the aspect that is the essence of the inequality. Glorifying it just perpetuates the inequality you don’t want. And what use is it anyway. Is it a special accomplishment to be born black? No. It is as much an accomplishment as being born with 10 fingers. It just happened. And we’re not celebrating everyone with 10 fingers either. Please look at race the same way if you have to decide to mention it or not.
So the huge difference, that has hopefully become a bit clearer now, is that I’m not saying there isn’t any pain in being black. Or that the pain we deal with isn’t worthy of attention or healing. What kind of therapist would I be if that were my sentiment. What I am saying is that we, the ones who want equality for ourselves, should stop perpetuating inequality by celebrating our race, because that did not require any accomplishment and should absolutely not make us different in any way, either positively or negatively. Celebrate what the person did first, their accomplishment. Maybe explain why this was such an accomplishment afterwards, but don’t celebrate and perpetuate the apartheid.
One love <3
Welkom. Zoals eenieder, zijn jullie ook welkom. Maar weet, dat van alle mensen die hier nieuw komen wonen, we van jullie het meest verwachten.
Wanneer je uit de aankomsthal komt zie je het meteen, de woorden BON BINI. Begin het meteen goed uit te spreken ook in je hoofd, bong bienIE, met de klemtoon op de laatste i en niet de eerste. Nooit meer fout zeggen please. Als je moet antwoorden dat het goed gaat, bon, zeg je ook bong en niet bon. Bon is alleen bon in bon dia, bon tardi, bonochi.
Train jezelf om de kuilen in de weg te omzeilen. Er zijn er zoveel dat je auto je dankbaar zou zijn, als dat kon. Begin ook te wennen aan veel drinken. Alcohol drinken. We drinken hier meer dan in Nederland, maar we worden niet zo l*l* wanneer we dronken zijn. We kunnen nog altijd normale gesprekken voeren, we kunnen zelfs naar huis rijden en nog steeds alle kuilen ontwijken. Dus begin thuis te oefenen. Niet met bier, maar met rum of whiskey.
Je moet hier vaker douchen. Minstens 2 keer per dag, 's ochtends en voor het slapen, maar als je ’s avond nog uitgaat dan nog een derde keer. Ook meteen andere kleren aandoen.
Drink ook genoeg water, gewoon water. Meer dan je lekker vindt. Het went. Echt doen.
Leer niet te krabben aan de muggenbulten. Knip desnoods je nagels voorlopig helemaal kort, als je maar niet krabt. Check altijd je schoenen voordat je ze aandoet. Er kunnen zomaar beestjes die prikken in zijn gaan zitten. Als je schoenen meebrengt uit Nederland, breng dan alleen leren schoenen. Die van plastic vergaan binnen 2 jaar.
Curaçao is wel island life all year 'round, maar je kunt niet altijd en overal je slippers naar aandoen ok. En als ze stoffig zijn, je slippers of je voeten, even borstelen met water en zeep. Stoffig anything, is vies. Dat betekent dat jij ook vies bent. Ja, vooroordeel.
Sowieso moet je je beter gaan kleden. Ja, zelfs beter dan dat. En je haren vaker wassen en leuk laten knippen. Dress to impress. En zelfs al heb je schijt aan alles, dan nog moet je schoon zijn en moeten je kleren zonder vlekken, gaten en uitgerekte randen zijn. Je mag ook nooit of te nimmer stinken. Like ever. Deo, desnoods een paar keer per dag, maar die axe deo... get rid of it. Serieus. Nu meteen weggooien en een andere deo gaan kopen in de botika.
Laat je kinderen buiten spelen. Hoe meer en vaker ze spelen met lokale kinderen hoe beter. En als ze vloeiend Papiamentu leren, krijg je van ons bonuspunten. Als je hier in het ziekenhuis bevalt van een kind krijgt de moeder heldenstatus en is je kind niet meer van jullie, maar van ons.
Je moet trouwens bij lokale moeders, niet aan het gezicht van hun kind komen. Armen en schouders zijn ok, gezicht en haren niet. Liefst ook niet zomaar aan zwangere buiken komen. En krullen van anybody zijn ten alle tijde off limits.
Vergeet BVN en kijk gewoon de Amerikaanse kanalen. Wij kijken nooit naar BVN en zullen ook niet met je meekletsen wanneer je het erover wilt hebben. Behalve misschien wanneer Curaçao onderwerp was in DWDD en iemand het op facebook heeft gedeeld. Maar kijk naar de amerikaanse kanalen en leer beter engels spreken. Kinderen van 3 hier spreken het waarschijnlijk beter dan jij.
Als je ergens komt, maakt niet uit waar, groet wanneer je binnenkomt. In de supermarkt, bondia, het restaurant, bonochi, de botika, bontardi, de bus, bondia, een feestje, bonochi en ga daarna iedereen langs om je voor te stellen. Groet overal de bewaker, ook wanneer je weer weggaat. En geef hem een tip als hij op de auto's heeft gelet.
Als je ergens wordt uitgenodigd, kom niet met lege handen aan, zelfs al kom je er wekelijks en onuitgenodigd. Als je weggaat en er wordt je iets aangeboden, gewoon aannemen, masha danki en meenemen.
Ga ook eens naar de lokale kapper, laat de lokale aircomonteur komen, naar de lokale snèk, de lokale hindú, de rommelwinkel, de tire service en de toko. Koop alleen geen vlees bij de toko.
Check alles wat je anywhere koopt op vervaldatum of schimmel en probeer vooral lokale groente en fruit te kopen. Onze boeren doen wat ze kunnen en we mogen best wat meer van ze afnemen.
Als je ergens nieuw gaat wonen, ga bij je buren langs om je voor te stellen. En dus niet met lege handen. Wijn is fine, maar een sixpack polar is beter. Nodig ze meteen uit voor een bbq bij jou thuis.
Als je een fruitboom hebt staan, breng wat van de vruchten voor je buren wanneer ze rijp zijn. Vinden we altijd leuk. En leer de auto’s kennen die in je straat wonen, dan kan je je hand opsteken wanneer ze langs rijden.
Leer op blote voeten te lopen, ook op de steentjes op het strand. Het is de mindset waardoor het niet meer pijn doet, niet de zenuwen in je voetzolen.
Als je naar een BYO bbq gaat, niet ervan uitgaan dat het ijs waar je eten in ligt goed genoeg is om in iemand's drankje te doen. Dat is not done. Koop een extra half zakje en laat die in het zakje, voor de ijsblokjes in het drinken.
Je moet elke keer dat je uit huis gaat je tanden poetsen. En ook je tong. Vergeet nooit je tong te poetsen, asjeblieft. Doe ons allemaal die favor.
Misschien is het even wennen, maar het is voor ons vermoeiend om alleen in 1 taal te spreken. No worries, het went wel snel. Sowieso moet je je oren in andere bochtjes gaan leggen, want we verzinnen soms nieuwe woorden waar je bij staat.
Feestjurkjes zijn trouwens geen strandjurkjes. Somehow is dát niet het moment om te overdressen. Hou je feestjurkjes voor feestjes of geef ze aan de schoonmaakster als je ze echt niet meer aan wilt.
Over de schoonmaakster gesproken: afronden naar boven, mag. Vooral als ze met de bus komt. En met kerst mag ze een kerstpakketje van je krijgen. Ga maar maken. Mandje halen bij Welcome Shop. Lekkere dingen halen in de supermarkt. Vooral duur fruit, blauwe bessen, bramen, kersen en aardbeien. For once mag het.
Blijf gewoon stamppot eten als je dat lekker vindt. Erwtensoep met rookworst kan, ook in de tropen.
Als je niet zeker weet of je iets fout doet, vraag het aan iemand waaraan je kan zien dat ze staat te popelen om het je uit te leggen als ze alleen maar de kans kreeg.
Dat mensen je appen voor 7AM lijkt normaal te worden. Is het niet, maar niemand zegt er wat van.
Neem je honden mee naar Nederland als je terug gaat. Of laat het anders aan NIEMAND weten wanneer dat niet kan.
Meubels hier zijn duur. Neem mee whatever in de container past en wees er zuinig op.
Aan het water wonen lijkt trouwens veel leuker dan het is. Don’t believe the hype.
Hou er rekening mee dat we hier 5 miljoen meer beestjes hebben dan in Nederland. Als je niet tegen beestjes kan, niet hier komen wonen. Het is hier ook 5 miljoen keer stoffiger. Je kan elke dag de vloer vegen. Als je gillend gek wilt worden moet je dus daarmee beginnen.
Ook al kom je putjes scheppen, als je blank bent denkt iedereen dat je rijk bent. Wen er maar aan, want dat gaat niet veranderen. Tenzij je één van die mannen wordt die dagelijks bij de lokale snèk gaat hangen en echt geen geld blijkt te hebben. Maar zelfs dan zullen er een paar zijn die blijven denken dat je stiekem toch rijk bent.
Probeer je een beetje te verdiepen in de lokale problematiek. En dan bedoel ik niet straathonden opvangen, want dat is het symptoom van een diepere problematiek. Daarom, verdiepen. Er is extreme armoede hier. Dat zou je niet denken, maar het is wel realiteit. Kinderen die alleen 1 keer per dag eten, de maaltijd die ze op school krijgen van het voedselprogramma. Kinderen die kartonnen schoenzolen aan hun schoenen vastmaken met nietjes om niet blootsvoets naar school te gaan. Moeders die 3 jobs hebben en zelfs dan nog niet rondkomen. Als je je ergens druk over wilt maken, begin daar.
Als je toch echt de honden het allerbelangrijkste vindt, kijk dan of je lokale organisaties kunt steunen die kinderen vorming geeft over het houden van huisdieren.
Curaçao is het eiland van extremen. Ook in jezelf. Blijf dagelijks doen aan zelfreflectie en blijf communiceren met je partner, anders overleeft je relatie Curaçao niet. Gegarandeerd.
Extreem is ook hoe het de ene dag voelt alsof dit het paradijs is en de andere dag het penthouse van de maffia.
Allebei zijn waar.
Bon biní na Kòrsou, dushinan.
You'll notice that I wrote 'ladies'. Not women, not bitches, not gals, chicks or babes.
We may be babes, but we're ladies and we happen to be single.
A few people have been asking me lately why I'm single. What type of man I like. How many men are waiting in line for a chance to date me.
But you know what. I'm one of the thousands of amazing ladies (yes, I'm amazing and so are you) on the island who are single because we do not settle for what's being offered. So no, there's no line.
A few weeks ago, my neighbor got angry at me for not wanting to get to know someone she sent me a photo of. 'Yolanda, you really disappoint me' she yelled through the fence 'I would never have expected that you, an intelligent woman, would look at a photo, A PHOOTOOOO, and claim to already know that you two won't be a match!!'
I almost agreed with her wondering what was wrong with me. How can I not even give someone a chance? But you know what, I've passed the 40 threshold and have come to a place where I'm fine by myself. I always was, but now I'm finer than the fine I used to be. If you're not adding good stuff to my life I'm not interested.
And with "good stuff" I mean high quality ish! Quality you cannot find on the island but have to research for weeks and order online. Not literally, but you know what I mean.
Because We The Single Ladies, have got our shit together. Yes, we may drop a few balls here and there. Those balls are the small turds that sometimes come out after you've already dropped the main shit load. (Can you tell I love poop jokes?) But we handle that turd. Alone.
So you, Mr. Man on the island we call home, need to come correct. You need to connect with us on our level and you need to come with feeling. Come with emotion. You, need to feeeeeeeel it. We can feel it when you feel it. We can feel it when you don't.
When you want just the benefits but not the rest. When you want just the sexting in the middle of the night. When you want the drama so you can feel wanted. When you want someone to have endless discussions with, because you're so intellectual. When you want someone to make you feel good when you didn't connect with your real woman. When you need to boost your imaginary manhood by juggling multiple women. We can feel all of this and more.
We may not be able to verbally explain what we're feeling, and sometimes we'll need to check your eyes to confirm, but we always catch your vibe.
Mr. Man, we know you think you impress us by calling us dushi and babe in the first conversation we have. Honestly, we ask you to not ever do that, with anyone ever again. Don't try to manipulate women by faking feelings you don't feel. And don't underestimate our ability to discern the vibes we're getting from you.
Coming correct means being real. Be ok with where you are. If it's nervous, be nervous. If it's intimidated, be intimidated. If it's insecure, be insecure. Be. ok. with. where. you. are. We have been ok with where we are for ages and we SO admire a man who can be vulnerable enough to be ok too. If you can't be ok with you... as you, you're wasting our time.
It's not our intention to be rude, but it's just how we live. We have worked hard to get to where we are. And it's an ongoing process to stay where we are. There's no freewheeling here.
You'll need to understand that we are hyper vigilant of any disruption of the stability we have achieved. This may mean that many single ladies on the island will become old spinster ladies in the future, but most will probably choose that over the disruption a man may bring by not being true. By not truly connecting with us. Our complete us, not just some aspects of us. Just our bodies or our minds. Our image. Our persona.
To truly connect. That's what anyone craves really, deep down in the darkest, furthest, tiniest crevice of our purest hearts...... true connection. So why waste time with anything less.
As for what my type is. I'll explain it once.
My type is the man I look at with my heart and what I see is his heart looking back at mine, every time.
He may stumble with his words but that doesn't matter. If his heart keeps looking at mine through the stumbling, that's the heart I want.
'Get rid of your ego!' 'Let go of your ego!' 'Overcome your ego!' You hear it all the time. Apparently, the ego is bad and we should act as if we don't have one. Having an ego makes you selfish, arrogant, proud and who knows what else. Oh I know what else, it makes you 'unspiritual'!
I, of course, think differently or I wouldn't be writing this blog. God/Source/Creator/Allah/Jah/Upstairs/Infinite Intelligence doesn't make mistakes. And honestly, why do we think he would? She made every single person with an ego. It's built-in! That's gotta tell you that it must have a purpose.
Its purpose is to keep us alive. It is at all times concerned with our survival and its task is to alert us to danger. To discern if we can take on that buffalo or if we should make a run for it. It helps us distinguish the edible root from the poisonous root. The ego is actually pretty useful. You should be high-fiveing your ego! Yes, I'll wait.
It is your ego that helps you stock up on supplies, to guard your feeling of safety and abundance. If it has managed to accumulate enough (and preferably a little more than enough), it is satisfied.
The ego gets a bad rep (for reputation, so don't write rap again) because we don't see how it is trying to serve us by securing our survival.
That guy who is always bragging, does so because somehow his ego is convinced that by being the best, having the newest and being the fastest, his survival is secured. Back in caveman times, being the best hunter, the fastest runner, the one with the biggest supply for the winter months, meant you were gonna live to see another day.
Are you getting a new appreciation for your ego? Can you see how sweet it is? I mean, who else takes care of you like that. Besides your mom.
Same with your colleague who constantly takes all the credit. Same with the mom who makes a contest out of her child's accomplishments. Same with you posting the smartest comments on social media.
It's all because of our concern for our own survival. But, our survival isn't as easily threatened as it used to be in caveman times. We now have several meals a day, we don't have to risk our lives to get them, we are protected from harsh weather conditions and we have modern medicine in case we need it. The ego didn't have as much to do for a few generations, so it quit its job. It was seen living under a bidge for a while, talking to itself and throwing stones at cars driving by. But now it is back. With a new strategy: stressors. It has been looking for stressors in our daily functioning because, in a way, stressors are a threat to our lives. We may not notice it consciously, but stress factors have us convinced that we'll 'survive' by being the best employee, having the best kid, being the smartest out there.
The ego saw opportunity, so it took a shower, faked a master's degree in Human Survival and got its old job back. Because it loooooves keeping us alive. But all metaphors aside, let's ease up on our battle against the ego. It's a battle you'll loose either way. You cannot change your hardware. It may be noble to try to, but it's more mindful to accept aaaaaaall of yourself. Especially parts of yourself that keep you alive.
I know it's tricky. We all want to have an easier life. And the possibility of getting it through arrogance, pride and selfishness smells so tantalizingly delicious. Except it isn't. Our fear for our own survival can play tricky tricks on the trickable mind. Giving in to the ego's strategies means it will grow stronger and trigger bigger reactions to the stressors in our lives.
Your ego may tell you that you'll be passed for promotion if you keep letting your colleague take all the credit. And then you won't be able to afford groceries. And then you'll starve and then you're dead. Game over. So beat your colleague at their own game and demand all the credit for yourself! You're not about to starve are you?!
Whoosaaaah.... This is when mindfulness comes in.
- Take a deep breath and realize that your fears are irrational. That you'll be fine, without being the best. You've managed to get this far. Must mean you're pretty good at surviving.
- Silently thank your ego for having your back and reassure it that you're fine. You have a roof over your head, a belly full of food and a healthy body. Tell it that it doesn't need to look for other threats.
- Remind yourself that you're worthy of all the blessings life has to offer, just for existing, and see them coming into your life.
- Whoosaaah again for good measure.
Appreciate your ego. Let it exist within the space that was designed for it. Be aware when it starts to expand and cut it down when you see it growing in places where it shouldn't. But, let it exist.
I'm not a human design expert, but I'm pretty sure we use the same mechanism to tell apart blue from yellow, left from right, big from small. Just like we're able to determine what's safe and what's dangerous.
Just like we're starting to appreciate natural hair, because we were fabulously born with it, we can start to appreciate our ego for the same reason. And you know what, once you train yourself to not be on the alert all the time for survival, you can actually start living.
Now, repeat to yourself...
I once heard someone say 'when your life is in balance, you're dead'. I don't remember who said it, but they were right. Because with balance, there is no motion. Both sides are equal, so everything stops. No more coming, no more going, no more jumping, no more sliding, no more singing, no more dancing, no more running, no more walking, no more sleeping.
Did we come to earth to stop? No.
Do we see any natural process, function by stopping? No.
Is the planet we live on, stopping through space? No.
So stop wanting balance. Quit wanting things to stop moving. LIFE is movement. Balance is not something to strive for in life. Maybe in death, but not in life.
Life is dynamic, it's motion, flow, oscillation, fluctuation, locomotion, swing and any other movement you can think of. It is one aspect that complements another. A happiness that complements a sadness, a richness that complements a poorness, a speeding up that complements a slowing down.
'But YOYO, I've been seeking balance my whole life!'
No, you have not. What you have been doing is finding a cycle that fits your life.
You know—even while feeling happy—that a moment of sadness will come into your experience some time too. You know it and you feel it. So immerse yourself into this insight, and I mean drooooooown into this insight because it's HUGE, and realize that it's a cycle. All of everything is a cycle.
The seasons are a cycle, feelings are a cycle, lessons are a cycle, the whole universe is a cycle. After a while we always get to the deeper layer.
What we can do, is want to have a bigger happiness quota in our lives than sadness quota. A bigger proportion of abundance and a smaller allotment of lack. Nothing wrong with that. If that is your cycle then go for it. Go have more happiness! Live it up!
And don't be scared to feel the sadness when it comes either. Just know that it's your cycle. It's being human. It's fine.
And please, don't say 'I want more balance in my life' again.
Aiming for something that you cannot attain is torture.
We are living in a society where boredom is viewed as a problem. We should always be doing something. Meeting up with friends, going somewhere, taking on new hobbies, texting, scrolling through social media, binge watching series online. Never a dull moment, right?
We are overloading our brains. I sometimes jokingly say 'I do not have enough GB in my brain to comprehend this shit!' when someone does something stupid. But there's a big truth in my not so funny joke. Research shows that we digest 5 times more information than in 1986. And those numbers aren't even recent! Those results are from 7 years ago. So imagine the amount of information we get to process now on a daily basis. It's insane. Not figuratively, no, literally. We are driving ourselves insane. Just look up growth numbers for social anxiety, depression, burn-out or substance abuse.
And don't just think of the information we take in from our computers and devices. Also think of the amount of brands of the same product, like chips, in the supermarket, the amount of billboards on the side of the roads, the rapid succession of singles being put out by artists, fashion trends, news, seasonal products in the shops. It's not uncommon now to find Christmas decorations in the shops in September!
We are already starting them young too. We're conditioning babies to never be bored. Hang a mobile toy above the crib! Get a car seat toy! Stick the pacifier in their mouth! Sign them up for baby yoga! I just made up baby yoga. I don't even know if it's a thing, but whatever. It sounds pretty useless.
What about when they're older? Get them into tennissoccerballetdrummingplaydatestutoring!
What's wrong with letting a child stare at the fabric of the front seat in the car. Have you ever noticed the beauty of the pattern? Or would it be so horrible to let them watch the streetlights as they glide by in a steady cadence? Or, heaven forbid, they follow the rain droplets on their window or the shadows of the trees on the windshield. No! Entertain them before they get bored!
But do you, yes you who has been bored plenty times when young, remember what happens when you're bored? Our brains scale back to our immediate surroundings. Starts observing more. Starts seeing patterns. Starts seeing things that were overlooked before. Starts wondering. Starts analyzing. Starts being creative. Curious. So let it! Let the brain do what it is made to do: flow from one process into the next, naturally. Not forcibly, because the toy is shiny, or the phone bleeps or the 3 seconds are over on netflix.
Let a new desire be born, naturally.
I'm as much a victim of the enticement of binge watching 5 episodes in 1 go as the next person. And I suffer from FOMO too. I also take my phone to the bathroom to poop (yes, I poop!) and I also check social media first thing in the morning. But I do try to be more conscious of the information I take in. (Which can be hard with a brain that is a slave to text. If my eyes see text they have to read it, even if it's for the umpteenth time. Labels, billboards, text on a t-shirt, memes, catchy titles for bogus articles, subtitles, endless lists like these. )
I have been tv-less since 2006. I listen to (yes, the same old) songs on my phone instead of the radio. I'm not subscribed to a newspaper. I have most phone app alerts on silent. I try to multitask a little less and I try to put out less information on social media. Did you know that every day we produce more than 6 newspapers worth of information, compared with just 2.5 pages 30 years ago?
In an effort to step up my boredom game I'm going to stop checking social media first thing in the morning and start a gratitude journal instead.
I thought and looked up some other tips to allow more boredom into your life, in case your curious mind is curious:
- Set a fixed time slot for the two minute stuff. 'If you have a lot of little tasks, designate 45 minutes or an hour every day to plow through any items that will take you two minutes or less, like emails, phone calls, tidying up, checking your financial accounts, etc.' [source] And then be done with it. What didn't get done today will get done tomorrow.
- Daydream. 'The brain operates in two oppositional modes: "one is when you’re directing the thoughts, and the other is when the thoughts take over and run themselves.” In daydreaming mode “one thought melds into another and they’re not particularly related.” This daydreaming mode acts as a neural reset button and replenishes some of the glucose you use up in staying on a task.' [source]
- Leave your phone when going to the bathroom. Leave your laptop when going on vacation. Put your phone on silent during dinner or at work. (Did you know recovery time to get back to a task is 10-20 times the duration of the interruption?)
- Practice beelining. In the supermarket, walk straight to the products you always get and train yourself to ignore all the other products and sales and 2-for-1 specials.
- Turn off the tv when you're not watching it (and get rid of the one in the bedroom!). Turn off Netflix after 2 episodes. Turn off the radio for a while when you're in the car.
- Quality over quantity. And need to know over nice to know (no more clickbaits for you!).
- Use an ad-blocker in your browser. And use another search engine instead of google.
- Let your kid be bored. Be bored together. Stare at the ceiling together and see what comes up.
I resolve to breathe a little more and slow down a little more. To not be in the know. To be more conscious of my information seeking and information output behavior. Which is kind of ironic, since I blog sometimes and my main income at the moment is from freelancing as a content manager. I know. The irony doesn't escape me, but I see it as even more reason to be conscious about what is put out there. And I hope to have activated some overload awareness in you with this blog.
We cannot live a totally disconnected life, and maybe we shouldn't want to try to either, but we can be conscious of how we allocate our gigabytes of internal storage.
I don't know what I came here to write about, but it's been a while since the last time and I feel like expressing myself in writing. Not privately, but publicly. Which, every time I feel this urge, is a very strange sensation for me, because I have an innate need to be invisible. To be as anonymous as possible. And at the same time I feel the need to influence the world and leave it a little better than when I came into it. As you can imagine, this is a strange limbo to live in.
So I wonder. How did I end up in this limbo in the first place?
Is it because we women have been conditioned into being pretty but invisible? Into not rocking the boat? Shying away from the spotlight?
I think for a big part we have. We have allowed ourselves to be put in glass boxes where we can be looked at, but not heard. Where we can be pretty without being a personality.
All of this is nothing new. We have heard this same song for the last 7 decades, at least.
But we're almost in 2018 and the song hasn't changed. The way women react to it hasn't changed much either. We still bitch and moan about not being equal. We still shout from the top of our lungs that we women should unite. And at the same time we keep raising our sons differently than our daughters. At the same time we keep accepting less pay. At the same time we keep gossiping about other women every chance we get. We keep overreacting about awful things women do and underreacting about the same awful things men do. We keep assuming that a surgeon is a man. We keep underestimating a female CEO. We keep calling our female friends 'my bitches'. We keep letting ourselves be interrupted by someone else, but expect a man to keep talking. We keep associating weakness with feminine traits.
How are we owning up to the fact that we are to blame for the biggest part of this inequality? Are we even aware of being the biggest party to cultivate this unbalance?
No. We are unaware because we are too occupied living out our drama. Singing our song. Which means we must be getting something out of it. There must be a benefit for us hidden in the drama of yelling 'we should be equal to men!'. On some level, we are choosing the false benefits of our drama over authentic equality.
It is not easy to admit this about ourselves. We would rather blame someone else for our misery. But if we're truly honest, we know. We KNOW that we are the ones who have been maintaining this misery. I think this is good. This is a first step. A first step to come out of any misery, really. Acknowledge your own contribution to it.
And then we let this awareness sink in and take some time recover from this blow to our persona.
And then we go out in the world again. With this huge essential shadow part of ourselves, integrated into our collective psyche.
And now we live our daily lives, aware of our shadow. Aware of our actions that foster inequality, helplessness and dependency.
And we learn to live unapologetically authentic lives. Grounded in the awareness of our actions. Aware of how we speak, how we dress, how we listen, how we treat others, how we own our weaknesses, how we love, how we respect, how we live.
This awareness will make us whole. This awareness will replace the false benefits we have been getting from the drama.
Because being whole is being enough.
I'm about to break a record. The longest I've lived in one country was seven years. When I was younger I didn't have a choice. I moved when my mom moved. Then, as an adult I moved when I got what I call "the itch" to move.
The itch is a mental restlessness. It starts very slow, very faint. If you're new to the itch you won't notice it in the beginning. Not until it grows until a real, serious itch. A feeling that you can't resist but scratch. And the scratch is: looking for other places to move to. Doing research, taking a trip, looking for jobs online, researching rent prices and more. And more. Which actually makes the itch worse. It makes it unbearable, until you're ready to move even without a job or a place to live in (which I don't recommend).
I haven't had the itch in 8 years. I'm actually proud to say this so I'm gonna repeat myself (normally I hate repeating myself), I haven't had the itch in 8 years!
In August I will be living in Curaçao for 8 years, officially, because I was back on the island in February 2009 but had to go back to Barcelona for a month to pack. If you ask me, I think a huge part of not getting itchy has been buying a house. I call it my anchor. It keeps me from drifting off to Itchland. Although being a third culture kid I always have my eyes open for life in other countries. But now, without getting itchy.
And there's more to this record-breaking milestone in my life. I want to keep this itchless life. I don't want to move to another country if I don't have to.
No epic life for me, please.
There. I said it.
My life wasn't any kind of epic before, but it was restless. When I look around I keep seeing people trying to have/living epic lives, having epic meals, taking epic trips to epic countries where they meet epic people who tell epic stories. As if being epic is the new "I have succeeded in life". More power to you if you want that. I will epically enjoy your stories while I'm living my boring life. And there was no sarcasm there. I really will and do enjoy your epic stories, if they come from a genuine place.
My boring life will be me living in a nice house with a nice yard, and some day with someone to share life with. I'll get groceries at the same supermarket. Get gas at the same gas station. Drive on the same roads to the same job for years and years and years. No one will know me, except maybe the people at the supermarket and the gas station, and I will know no one, except maybe the people at..... yeah, you get the point.
I have been living a pretty unepic life for a few years already and I think I'm getting good at it. The people at the supermarket and gas station know my face, but I see them wondering about my story. Maybe they don't know yet, that a story is just a story. I just smile and say hi.
For the next few years I'm finding the bigness in the small things. The hugeness in the micro. I would like to read and paint and go to the beach and work in the yard or decorate the house. I would like to spend time with friends. Have true connections with interesting people. Encourage more kindness around me. I would like to have enough time to disconnect as well. Be by myself in peace, under my rock. I want to explore the farthest and darkest corners of myself and, if he will let me, of my special life-sharer. Epically boring.
Yeah... I'm so looking forward to that unepic life!
I want to be honest. I have been feeling like I must suck at life. I have been putting in 40 years of effort and I'm not accomplishing anything worthwhile. I'm not making a mark on the world and I'm not living some other things that are important to me. I feel like I obviously must not have any talent for life and I have been feeling down since I realized this.
But. Five and a half months ago I had a beautiful, bright ray of pure life joy come into my life, Luca. The most wonderful puppy on the island. She sparkled with energy and love of life. Always up for a game or a walk or both, or just follow me around at all times to lay down by my feet. She was smart and was relentless in her pursuit of the cat. To her, the cat must have been the most boring puppy ever to have existed. He must have been faulty, because he never wanted to play and his barks were all wrong too. And it was her daily challenge to steal his food.
I took Luca for walks at the beach three or four times a week. Sometimes as training, on the leash. And other times free to run wild through the sand, which she did. She stuck her nose in anything and if she found something that fit in her mouth it would go in her mouth. A few weeks ago she bit my finger hard when I was trying to pry a bone out of her mouth. She probably thought it was the bone, that's how hard she bit down on my finger. My nail bed broke and I still have the hemorrhage underneath as a reminder of her hunger to experience and taste everything. She was as brave as any superhero. She was always 'securing the perimeter' before I went anywhere, even though she was scared to go there herself. She walked through spiky plants, on slippery rocks, jumped on and off docks that were too high for her and she barked at me if I went swimming in the sea, because she couldn't secure that whole big wet noisy moving thing. Eventually, her solution became to sit still and stare me out of the water. Worked every time.
Her eyes were the best eyes in the whole world. I have never seen such complete devotion and trust in any other eyes. Is there a word that means completer than complete? I would like to use that to describe what I saw in her eyes. And I love her so, so much for that. Every day I would hug and squeeze her and tell her how happy I was that she was in my life and that, in a way, she had chosen to live with me. That she was so amazing, so smart, so beautiful, such a joy to have around. She would then turn away from me, probably because she was tired of hearing the same thing over and over. Then I'd squeeze her some more, for good measure.
But she got sick. It happened very fast and the vet doesn't know for sure, but it was probably Canine Ehrlichiosis (karpattenziekte). It started 5 days ago. She was eating a little less than usual and she was chasing the cat a little less. But I thought she was still ok. She was still bright and happy and following my every footstep. I didn't know it was serious. Until two days ago. She had gotten short of breath and was losing coordination. We both didn't sleep during the night. The next morning, yesterday, I took her to the vet and went back in the afternoon because she was getting worse and had stumbled to the most difficult corner in the yard as though saying 'this is where I want to die...'. I myself died a little right there. I couldn't bear seeing her like that. It hurt that she went from such a vibrant pup to a tiny baby that was feeling so miserable that she wanted to die.
The vet said that her body was too weak and that I needed to make e decision...
Now my heart is broken.
How is it possible that a being that is so full of life and joy is no longer here and that I, not really seeing the point of it all, still am? It doesn't make any sense. I keep repeating this inside my head. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense.
I have been walking around the house, seeing signs of Luca everywhere. Smells, her toys, newspapers on the floor in her toilet corner, her bowls, her food in the fridge and in the pantry. I see the cat, preparing to have her jump on him from an invisible corner. But most of all I see signs of her in me. I have been saying good morning to her even though she's not on the other side of my door, because I can't yet handle not saying good morning to her. Out of habit I check the floor before I stretch my leg out or move my chair. I hear her nails on the floor tiles and I turn to not see her come running towards me. I open the door to the yard and I remind myself that we don't need to make a toilet round before going back in.
I already knew this, but now more than ever I understand that Luca was a master at being loving and kind. I'm sure there are many more gifts she added to my life, but for now I am devastated by the size of her unconditional love for me. I hope I ever get to her level in my lifetime.
I am sharing this personal story with you, because I need a way to pay tribute to the immense, loving being that was Luca, today, while I'm in my sadness. I am honoring her life by remembering that I should not undervalue the source of the love or kindness that is shown to me.
I know this is cliche, but sometimes cliches exist for a reason. Kindness may come from someone who has nothing to give or a 2 year old or someone you don't even like. So train yourself to recognize it when it's in your life. Likewise, you should not underestimate the impact your kindness may have on someone else.
If you can get to the unconditional level, like Luca was (and actually all dogs are), then you have truly mastered this thing called love.