May 24, 2015

Hidden Resentments

People tend to keep certain cards quite close to their vest, whether to the best or worse. These are cards we don't share for different reasons, but mostly because we feel they would do more damage than good. But it is so? What motivate us to keep for ourselves negative opinions or believes we have of others, instead of sharing them and clearing the air between us?

There's this group of people where everybody is really friendly towards each other. I've always assumed they were really good friends, and on the surface it looked so. However, as I've got to know them better, often having conversations on a one-on-one basis, it turned out that none of them really liked the others, always having rather important objections about the rest. Curiously, all of them resented the others because they felt all the others imposed on them, minimized their jobs, all of them assumed the others thought in a negative manner of them, an often they thought the others lied or made up excuses to get out of some commitments, tasks or so. So why they kept meeting and making plans together?

Perhaps sometimes we feel it's strategic to remain in the supposed good graces of others, maybe because we don't want to lose our belonging to a given group, specially if being alone in a given environment means we would be exposed to harsh conditions, or because belonging to a given group mean we have access to benefits we otherwise won't have, or just because we've been in a given group so long that we don't want to be without them anymore. In these cases, perhaps, we make a pro-con analysis and we come up with the decision that we are better if we continue suffering the bad because the good is better. We convince ourselves that we are making a commitment by bravely enduring what bothers us of others. But are these analysis always correct? Are we really making the measurement, or are we pondering with already a result decided and fixing our measurements in order to fit that measurement?

I think that often that's what we do, and in some occasions - specially when we talk about relationships - our actual friends do tell us about the shitty situation we are in, and yet we convince ourselves that still, things are not as bleak as our friends tell us. Even though they are.

The thing is that separation, breakup, is hard. It's always hard, no matter how much you prepare for it. We are willing to put up with a lot of things that only fuel our further accumulated, unreleased, unspoken resentment because truth it that we are not brave enough to walk away from a sickening situation. We seek validation in others, try to convince ourselves that though something is already insufferable for us, if others see it as something manageable, then we should manage it too. But if you are the one living and suffering a given situation, shouldn't you empower yourself  to put a stop on it?

There's a magical measure we should always keep in sight: if you catch yourself always complaining about something or someone, then it's time to take that something or someone out of your life. Hard as it is, but nothing and no one is worthy of sacrificing your happiness so you won't be alone or you could reap benefits you won't even enjoy.

Yes, it's hard, and it goes out for everything: your family, your relationships, your job, your projects, your hobbies, your friends... Some of them would be harder for us, some of them maybe easier, but none of them would be painless. That's the true bravely, not pulling up with shit because we "don't walk away from hardship" or "you are not a quitter" or "maybe it would change". Walking away is a form of hardship, which you face in order to make things better. Quitting something that no longer works doesn't make you a quitter, because you are not quitting yourself, you are not quitting your happiness, you are not quitting your integrity: you are standing next to it.

You can change yourself, but you can't expect others to change for you. And you also have to be realistic with yourself: there are things of yourself you can change, but there are things you can't or shouldn't, because they are who you are. No one should ever renounce for anyone or anything to those things that make them who they are. There's no job, no relationship, no family member, no group, no "opportunity" worth denying who you are and what you believe in. No commitment should ever be made on the grounds of sacrificing those features that make up your personality. Commitments should always be respectful of your core elements.

No, we can't live without hidden resentments, I believe. When I started working in the public sector, way back in 2001, I learned that hypocrisy is an important element of the working environment. Little by little I learned to halt my natural tendency to be brutally sincere, and learned to lie, or hide the truth as much as I could, in order to get on with the program. The six months I spent in Hungary in 2012 put me back to my factory setting, and unable to be hypocritical, life at the office became quite hard. In these years that have passed, I began reclaiming those old acquired skills, slowly re-learning the obscure art of pretending to be pleased and pleasant while wishing people dead. I'm far, I know, from the master level of being able to be friendly and pleasant while stabbing people on the back - skill I don't think I'll ever be able to master - but as I walk down the path of this necessary evil, I realize hidden resentments lurk in a dark place of our souls, and they are not good for us. We choose to live with them, for whatever reason we have, but as they rot our spirits, shouldn't we, at least, try and hold as few of them as possible?

Last week the dams opened for me, and I let out resentments I had been holding in my chest for many years. This week - today, actually - they were talked over and a door closed behind me. I won't lie, it was damned hard because with this admission, with this releasing I released also something very, very precious in my life. I'm mourning a sensible loss now. Tomorrow, to mark this change in my life and perhaps find a symbolic milestone, I'll cut my hair. I still don't know how much, how short, but I want to have this symbol, to remind myself now that life goes on just like hair keeps growing, and that this is a new chapter in my life, a new begining and that chances are there for the taking. The loss will be felt, fuck, I'm not made of ice and stone, no matter how much I wish I were, but must keep my head held up high and keep on.

May 17, 2015

Lots of Thinking

This week has not been easy at all. With my agenda full of activities, I had plenty to keep me occupied. From meetings at work to tasks related to my studies to arranging my personal affairs, I hardly had a moment of respite. I really awaited for the weekend to have a moment to rest, to finally put myself at ease and calm, but then I had today a fateful talk with someone I care deeply about. I didn't intend for this to happen, but words got the best of me and my closely guarded thoughts came rushing to the open, and with it the unstoppable wheels began to turn. 

Truth to be told, I feel overwhelmed by this. I would have thought that almost three years of thinking this over has given me clarity and strength to face what seems like an inevitable outcome of events, but as it turns, I'm not as chilled within myself to take certain decisions so easily. It's time to be hard and relay entirely on rational thinking. That's all I've got for now, all I can relay on. Hard days are coming my way, and I still have to work hard at my job and concentrate on my studies. I'm completing important things, so I can't be derailed by other matters. I'll cry my row when I'll get the time to do it.

Let's change to a lighter note, shall we? On that lighter note, I recently discovered a store called The Face Shop, that sells Korean skin care products and cosmetics. It was kind of my salvation when it came to pick presents for Skylar and then for Laura. I haven't tried out their make up (I've plenty still from my Oriflame make up stash), and I still have plenty of skin care products also from my purchases of L'Occitane and Oriflame, as well as my recent treasure, products from Rituals, a Belgian brand. However, one thing I'm using quite intensively is hand cream and my stash in that has been quickly depleting, so I decided to gift myself with a little pot of hand cream to keep at the office, where I use it more often. The Face Shop presents some of their products in lovely little containers shaped in ways that look like toys or cute adornments, perfect to keep at sight, and yet nobody would be the wiser about what they really are. Something else I like a lot of these products is that they aren't all that expensive, but quite affordable, and they feel wonderful on your skin.

I'm still not sold on the make up, as I tried on my hand some foundation and I noticed how it became quite visible and ugly in the little cracks and wrinkles of my skin. How would that look on your face? I definitively don't wish to being attention to whatever wrinkles I may already have on my face! So yes, I'm being cautious, specially as I need to balance back my financial situation, and I'm not hoarding up on the product, but what I have, I already like.

And I definitively rather concentrate on that right now than on whatever other things going on in my life that might end up painfully, no matter how much I work on doing control damage. Boy, it's time to prepare for the blow.

May 10, 2015

Getting Back on Track

I wouldn't want to jinx this, but I'm so, so excited because it seems that I'm finally getting ahead with my letters, replying to all of my penpals. Yay! ^_^ So excited! After nearly... a year and a half of holding a bunch of unanswered, unopened letters crammed in a nook of my desk, I'm finally down to the one I'm answering and one more. Really, I'm working on my reply to a letter to a friend in Austria, and then have a letter from a friend in the U.S. and I'll be done! I'll be back on track! I'll be ready to be a good penpal again! Well, maybe that's reaching too far, as we have to see how do things go when I get my replies, but so far, really, it feels awesome to be this close to be ready with all of my letters to my friends, having shortened... well, not shortened, but brought their waiting to an end.

If you ask me, as someone who has gone through a letter-jam that lasted me from 2013 to present, what advise would I give to people in the same situation, well, I really don't have any advise to give, that's not what you already know: keep working through it, but don't force yourself to write if you don't feel like writing.

Of my penpals, I must say that while working through our letters, I realized something about all of us: actually we all are on the same page. I noticed that pretty much all of our letters had the same starting: "I'm so sorry I replied to you this late". Ok, I won the prize to replying tardiness, with over a year of delay in some cases - and I'm sorry and ashamed because of that - but yes, we all tend to reply to each other in a couple of month spans of time. Why? Well, because my penpals and I are all rather busy women and have our hands full with our jobs, and more often than not, also our relationships, our studies or even our personal projects, like buying a house, moving, remodeling and so on. Neither of us is some college kid who has plenty of time and energy for long letter writing between exam periods, so that we would be able to reply not in a matter of months, but a matter of hours. I know, back when I was 20, I would be often posting my replies one or two days after I received the letter from a friends, letters often 40 A4 sheets long, on both sides. And I still had time to study and party.

Well, truth is that when you are young, you really can do that. Spend hours letter writing, studying just a little here and there and yet keep all in your head, then go shopping, partying until 4 am twice a week, get completely hammered and then pour a can of tomato juice into your gut and be ready for classes at 8 am. I know, that was my routine when I was 20. But at 40, your body isn't plugged all the time to that endless source of energy. You need a greater effort to study, and what you could absorb at 20 in a night, at 40 takes you four weeks of everyday studying for 4 to 6 hours. You can't party until 4 am, because by 10 pm you are tired. Your obligations and concerns are different, and so, as your job takes a chunk of your time and energy, your personal concerns, household matters, relationship matters, all chip off from your schedule and your battery, the time to delve into writing letters also suffers.

My friends, many younger than me, others my age, are in this stage of life, which is good because we understand each other also that way. There are never hard feelings for the delay, never a lost friendship over this, and always lots of understanding. So I have proposed to my friends that we stop apologizing for delays and accept this as the natural rhythm of our correspondence. Truth to be told, the delay in the reply of our friends is also a blessing, because we are just as busy as they are, and though we love to hear from them, while we wait we can work on our daily life and accumulate more stories to then tell them about.

I know I've been inexcusably late with my letters - though now I worked hard to get all my correspondence done - I don't feel like my penpals have anything to apologize for, even if it takes them five years to reply. We are all busy, working, interesting, complex women, and in order to be so, we need time to manage our interesting, complex lives.

Apr 30, 2015

Blessed Walpurgis Night!

Well, finally I'm posting ON a Pagan Sabbath. Well, is Walpurgis Night a Sabbath, or should only Beltane be considered the Sabbath. Be it as it may, hey! It's Walpurgis Night! I would have loved to be home and "celebrate" it all by my own - as my pagan celebrations usually go like - with, you know, some pagan music, a little makeshift altar to celebrate, a glass of wine (I'm out of Blue Moon and Samuel Addams, so no beer, and I can't find any kriek in here), and maybe a slice of bread for cake or something of the sort. Some meditating, so goofing all by myself and so on. I wonder if my Pagan friends are celebrating this night on some fun way, like bonfires, lots of booze, some naked or half-naked dancing and goofing. I'd totally be into celebrating with a bonfire on the beach, at night, with the low rumble of the waves humming all around us.

Then again the weather isn't very gracious these days in here, with the rainy season coming in and bringing afternoon showers and hail sometimes. Oh, you know what would be awesome? Celebrating taking a loooong bath surrounded by candles! Or maybe I just want to soak in a little, surrounded by scented candles and either listening to music and reading some, or watching TV while sipping some wine.

Walpurgis, well, Beltane, is all about fertility, happiness, enjoying and celebrating life and "prosperity", not in the sense of richness - or at least I don't interpret it that way - but the abundance of what we do, what we make, what our work produces. These couple of weeks and days have been hard and busy, full of work both at the office and with the University, with hardly a moment to do anything else. In a way, I'm kinda thankful my brand new tablet broke, so I don't have to be bothered by e-mails and messages when I had to deal with more pressing matters. Yeah, I've been neglecting social media and friends quite hardly, but then, that's the heat of our work, and that's the fire of Walpurgis, the celebration of Beltane. Wouldn't you agree? Better busy than bored!

Apr 26, 2015

Summary of the week

The process of writing a post starts sometimes with the picture I select for that post, something I caught with my phone and around which I'd like to talk about. I had a couple of thoughts around in my head now, and was checking my latest photos when I thought: damned, did I wrote last week? (Yes, I did.) The doubt came after finding on my phone a few pictures of my two new diplomas, which I didn't remember sharing with you. Yes, last week I graduated as a "diplomate" in Business Administration and as Bachelor in Accounting. In the university I go to, this "diplomate" (like a technical degree) in Business Administration is the base for all other careers such as accounting, finance, marketing, leadership (yes, so stupid, I know), Human Resources and such. I'm quite please, truth to be told, that I've finally managed to get those diplomas, and am already on the final stage to get my licentiate degree in accounting.

But that was last week. This week has been hell. My brand new tablet stopped working. I mean, all of it worked, except that it refused to get on the internet, and I've got it with a data plan, so I want my money's worth on internet access. So I had to take it to the agency where I've got it and have it sent to the workshop for fixing. It didn't please me much. Maybe the acquiring of a tablet might have been excessive on my part, as I already have a Kindle and a smartphone (and a netbook), and admittedly, the purchase was a whim-purchase (and the purchase wasn't the tablet, that came "for free" with the data plan, which is a two year plan), but I kinda like it better for surfing than my Blackberry, and - what's more important - it was much more manageable for working with university related stuff than my Blackberry, so I was counting on it to do my stuff.

Oh well, in three more weeks I'll have it back. Naturally, the company will deduce those weeks from my bill, as they should.

Work was piling up a little, specially since my boss left us to deal with some requirements from auditing, and then my boss went to a week-long seminar at the UIT, and my boss' replacement pretty much dunked the whole thing on me.Well, it wasn't much, thanks Hyne, but some things were clearer for other members of our team, who have worked with it. A new revision of the Roaming fees also came through, and naturally it came to me. I would have been crossed if it would have been given to someone else, as Roaming is my turf, and honestly, no one has worked as much it it as I have.

Things were coming along, I met with a dear friend, discovered a fabulous beauty product store - The Face Shop -  and got a dear friend of mine a perfect gift for her birthday. I sent her gift to her with her husband, and then she sent me mine with him too. Wow, her gift was grand!

My friend, Skylar, and I, know each other from quite a long time. We used to work at the same process, but under different bosses some time ago, but then, thanks to a restructuring shift, we got separated. We haven't stayed in contact the same as before, but we still think of each other very fondly, and consider each other friends, nearly best friends. She had been getting presents for me and saving them until our next meeting. I felt bad because I don't do that. Maybe I should try and be more attentive.

Finally, on Friday, I had a car accident. Noting serious! Really, just pulling out of the garage here at home, Nate rolled gently into another car. Yes, it was my fault. Lack of coffee early in the morning. No, I won't make that mistake again. Today at night I'll prepare the coffee maker to get me a cup of coffee right before I leave the house. Haven't decided, of course, if I'll take one of dad's cars or if I'll use public transportation, but I won't take Nate, as dad's taking Nate to an authorized workshop (authorized by my insurance company) for valuation of the damage (basically just the frontal bumper) and then it will stay at home until it gets fixed. It was good in the sense that I've got to the office late, but didn't have to worry because it was justified, and then left early - also justified - because I had to go to my insurance company to authorize the damage of the other car to be charged to my insurance. :-) It wasn't pretty, and I was quite nervous, and it might cost me (depending on how much it costs, because I have a full on coverage, but only above a certain amount), but other than that, hey, I had a short Friday at the office! And I did a lot of work with the Roaming thing, so all is good.

Well, no pictures for today, but it wasn't that bad a post, was it?

Apr 19, 2015

A Matter of Letters: The Mojo To Write

Yes, I'm fully aware that I owe you a post about scarfs, but currently it's so hot I rather not wrap anything around my neck (though my friend Andrea, and now my dear Arjen, have a beautiful string infinity scarf I'd love to wear! And it would be perfect, even in this weather), so that post will be postponed until whenever I feel like writing about it. Not fair? Hey, not like you are paying to read this blog, so deal with it. Besides, if I manage to get my hands around that lovely scarf, rest assured that in 24 hours of it's first use you'll have the scarf post.

Picture taken at Thon Hotel EU, Brussels.
Letter half written and my first
Lamy fountain pen.
Today's post, however, it's about a penpal situation: the lost of the mojo to write letters.

Basically, when you have penpals and you engage in snailmail conversations, they are that: long conversations thrown on paper with the aid of a pen or a pencil. (Mostly a pen, I have yet to find a penpal who writes with pencil... at least once.) Seen this way, the process of writing letters is simple, just like a talk: your friend writes something to you, you reply and say some more, and your friend replies and says some more... and it goes on and on and on. The fun about penpalling is that some topics can go on and on for ages. I remember a friend of mine - very dear - with whom I wrote for many years about the topics of love and freedom/independence. If we would have kept writing letters to each other, I'm sure we would still be developing those two subjects. Letters with penpals also often include the most delectable details of each other's lives and our environment. The ongoing office stories of which you can't have enough, the family stories, the friend stories, the latest purchase, the books each are reading, the TV series each like the best... it's like a very long and lovely coffee break with a friend, full of just about everything.

Letters open you to the chance to have the whole story, not cut because it's late and the coffee shop is closing on the two of you, a constant conversation not interrupted by cellphones and mobile internet, people passing by... it's a one on one, full disclosure, no interruptions communication experience, even if you stop while reading or while writing: it's a perfect channel.

However, it might happen that you suddenly don't feel it in yourself to engage in that sort of conversation. Not because you don't love it, or you don't want it, but because suddenly there's something inside you stopping you. You might enjoy very much your friend's letter and you want to reply to it, but the words refuse to flow down your pen. Maybe you even feel like your soul is a bit heavy when you think about writing, and that sensation keeps pulling you away from the pen&paper. For a penpaller, that's horrible. Soon letters from their different friends start to arrive and they don't even dare to open them because they can't still bring themselves to write. What used to be something awesome - getting a letter - is suddenly something dreadful, because the penpaller don't want to let down any of their friends. So what to do? Force the words out and write gloom, blah letters or wait?

I've been through a spell like that, and maybe I'm still not fully recovered. In my case, what I found useful was to wait it out, take letters little by little, and often send postcards to my friends to let them know that I've received their letters but can't reply to them just yet.

I don't know any secrets to defeat the loss of mojo, and if someone has a tip I'm all ears. My advise for anyone in this situation would be to be honest, wait it out and send a postcard. Postcards are small, so sure you can squeeze a few lines onto them out of yourself to explain the situation to your penpals, right? If they are good penpals (like my penpals), they'll be supportive and understanding. If they are not, well, what better chance to find that out.

If you are on the other side of this equation, and I've been there too, hey, be supportive! A penpal is a friend, and if they don't have it in them to write at the moment, don't force them. Drop them a postcard or an e-mail, let them know you are thinking of them, but don't rush them. They eventually get their mojo back and things will go back to normal. :-)

Apr 11, 2015

Time to Fly Back

My photos - the few I've made - are still in my Blackberry, far from being organized in albums in my facebook profile, or to try and do something with them on my +Google (or is it Google+?) account or anything. I don't have a Pinterest account, so that's why that's not even being neglected. So what has been happening? Well, here it goes in a few, quick points.

The first week we were pretty much booked with errands and a couple of trips. After the whole ordeal of the cancelled flight - oh yes, and I still have a conversation pending with KLM, because I'm so sorry, they are not AirFrance, and I'm not that lenient with them - I had stuff to do, like make sure my yearly Social Security tax was paid and all in order, cancelled my Hungarian bank account, and started looking around for the things my family asked me for. Quite the next day after my arrival, my boyfriend and I went to spend a night in Vienna. I didn't had it planned, but he insisted, particularly because my planned abroad trip didn't include him. At Vienna, we went to the Schönbrunn, as usual, and then visited the Easter Fair and Sigmund Freud's house.

Schönbrunn was a bit changed, with more rooms opened and the audio of the audio guides chopped in half. It was enjoyable, but I did miss a lot of the information we used to get before. The Easter Fair was quite small. Lovely but small. Sigmund Freud's house was quite interesting, as it was in the flat where he lived and held his practice. Sadly, though, the tour was quite poorly organized and very little to no information was given to the visitor about how to proceed about the exposition. There's a lot of room for improvement there.

Then, that same week, we went to Mezőkövesd to visit very dear friends of ours, with whom I had a very, very comforting conversation. I came back from it feeling awesome and soundly supported. We also went to Gödöllő, another place we simply can't leave out of our trip. We went on Sunday, with the awesome surprise of finding they were holding "Violet Day", which is a fair of sorts held in Spring, honoring Empress Sisi's favorite flower. (I would upload pictures, but my connection is quite poor. Maybe in a later post.)

This week I met with a dear friend and then went to Bruxelles to meet with a dear friend and penpal. She and I met for the first time and I had a blast! I promise I'll tell you all more in a later post, because I have a lot of lovely pictures that need to be shared along with the story.

Anyway, in two weeks with so many plans, I barely had any actual time to breathe. I'm returning home feeling a bit exhausted, if I must tell you the truth, but happy. I accomplished several things I wished to accomplish and managed some others I had to manage. Now it's time to go back home to my daily duties and tasks.