Now, I am not saying that this is going to totally change your life because if this is going to change your life then, baby, you need a better life. (I read in an ad the other day “This menstrual cup completely changed my life!” and I was thinking, that must have been one terrible life to begin with. I digress.) On the other hand, sometimes you need a little quantum butterfly to change direction.
For example, a woman I know started taking a weekly refreshing swim in the (cold!) water behind our house. Not only does she tell me it is very refreshing and invigorating, she has since started her own business giving literary tours in the centre of Amsterdam. Not saying there is a connection, but totally saying there is a connection.
Here is what you do. Put an orange in the shower. Then eat the orange under the shower. No sticky mess, no worries. Drop the peels to the floor, no worries there either. The steam picks up the citrus scent as you open the fruit and the tangy flavour clashes comfortably with the warm water on your skin. An extremely pleasant way to eat your vitamins and fibres at the start of the day.
Try It and Be Great.
There is a monument in Amsterdam. Everyone knows it. It is on the square right across from the Heineken brewery. Thousands of tourists must pass it every day. The text is in Dutch. It is a quote by Henk van Randwijk, a fighter in the resistance during WWII. Loosely translated, the words say:
A population that yields to tyrants
Loses more than life and limbs
Then the light will go out…
We have our elections today in the Netherlands. From what I understand in the media, we are being watched eagerly to see what will happen politically on the European continent. I hope the Dutch people will find wisdom in their hearts and minds today. May we not yield to tyrants.
Carrie Fisher had died and I was going to be that woman. Remember that blog I made a couple of months back? I do. They have been on my mind ever since, both Fisher and the blog about that phrase: ‘that woman’. It was a solid, bad-ass thing to say. And I did not, nor do I now, have any idea how to achieve it.
How to be That Woman?
There has been plenty of opportunity for that-womanness. I mean, the political landscape is about to blow up in my own country, and has done so across the pond in the US. Everything and everyone has been stripped bare politically and chickening out, while always an option for the willing, has never been so unattractive.
I am familiar with the chicken-out option. I do it all the time. “I am not an activist”, I will say. Or, “I am really not good at that”. Both are true. I am not an activist and I am really not good at campaigning for or against something. I lack the necessary persistence. In addition I have become quite good at picking my battles and with limited energy resources I will choose carefully for what causes to climb the barricades, and for which I will enthusiastically cheer from the sidelines.
Is being That Woman about being politically active/activist?
My daily life presents a fair number of struggles, albeit mostly internal. I am grateful for the life I (am able to) lead and I feel privileged every step of the way. My children are healthy and at least most of the time they are happy. I am not cold, do not need to be hungry and I am relatively safe. That covers most of the bases. Add to that the freedom of time and speech to write a blog about whatever tickles my fancy – there is much to be grateful for. No, my own doubts and inabilities and internal fights are the most taxing. They are not so easily overcome. But I wouldn’t presume that my struggles are anywhere near how Fisher tackled her addictions and mental illness.
Victory or truce with my own struggles and limitations, does that make me That Woman?
What I admired about Fisher is the fearlessness with which she approached her life. She just went ahead and did things. Her frustrations and setbacks were not permanent and her persistence is what kept her going and growing. Along with a healthy self-critical attitude of course but that is another aspect of fearlessness. What to direct it to, what to spend it on – that seems to be the main question for me now.
Time to become That Woman.
My mother believes that I don’t know how to have an argument. She thinks I am terrible at it. I believe, of course, that she is wrong and try to tell her this. It does not go well when I do. While my aim tends to be to make my point (“I know pretty well how to argue thankyouverymuch“) and defend it, hers is inevitably to end the exchange as quickly as possible, thus proving her point in the process. I am, after all, the one who is still making a fuss. And so I have given up. My mother belongs to a generation of women who must have grown up conflicted. On one hand their social landscape of the sixties demanded that they speak out and defend their rights; on the other, their upbringing prevented them from doing so. As a result, passive aggressiveness tends to be at the heart of communication, only equalled by their desire not to be either passive or aggressive. The problem is, it is difficult to argue with that.
It is tempting to keep pretending that the year is only just starting. Yet it is much like on a work floor with colleagues trying to avoid wishing each other happy new year: how about we all agree that by the time we don’t want to kiss and smile and wish each other best and tell each other how much champagne we had (too much / not enough*), we also stop making lists and resolutions and to-do lists and try to get things done? Okay then.
One of the things that is on my list for 2017 – the list I made before the year started because yay me and also I hate kissing people for new year’s except my man – is reading. I have been neglecting my reading list and honestly, I need the input. This year fo sho am I going to finish NaNoWriMo** and how can one write well when one doesn’t read (well). When a friend posted the PopSugar Reading Challenge 2017 on social media, I just had to join. First book: about food. Hamburgers in Paradise: digging in!
And so I need books this year: fun books, good books, terrific books. I do not need books that make me sad or angry; I am a very empathic reader and misery in books makes me miserable in real life. It is not worth it, everybody around me suffers when the main character in my book suffers. Recommendations welcome: I loved The Goblin Emperor, I adore anything by Neil Gaiman, I intend to read Caitlin Moran, I get tired of classic fantasy, most Dutch writers make me want to throw stuff at the wall (not good), and I don’t do biographies.
*Strike through what is not applicable
**Unless I am busy with the well-paying, happy-making job of my dreams