Dec 31, 2015

The End of 2015

A year full of changes and endings is also coming to an end. Through this year I finished a meaningful relationship and broke free from it, reclaimed my single status making a great change again in my life. This made me not only become free again but also made me feel really strong. I learned about how difficult is to break up with someone, even when you know that's the right thing to do.

This year I also faced the last requirement to get my accounting degree. It was a really hard thing to do and I had to work myself stupid, but I did it. I was part of a hard working team and we did our job, to get this diploma. I learned about the waves that affect us, and how a team must stick together and we must all work hard, pick it up when some of us break under the weight. I learned again that in a team we all have different capabilities and what makes the job more valuable is that we realize that and use those strenghts to make somethng great happens.

For 2015 I set myself 18 Resolutions, of which some I completed, some I exceeded, and some were left half done or far from doing. For instance, I didn't do any meditating. I read more than 24 books, and I ended 2015 weighting less than 63 kg, but I didn't get to save as much money as I expected to. No biggie. Tomorrow, with the first cup of coffee of the year, I'll check those resolutions and make my 2016 resolutions. How many? I don't know. Some fun number. Eight? Thirteen? Some number like that. :-)

For all of you, Happy New Year!!

Dec 25, 2015

Office Rules

The other day I came around an interesting article by Steve Blakeman, through LinkedIn about stupid office rules. The piece was titled "6 Stupid Office Rules That Should Be Banned", so of course I started reading it, only to discover, to my dismay, why some of them wouldn't be banned. Mr. Blakeman did his article on the footsteps of another article listing more stupid rules, so this little post could almost become the post-post-post of the topic, though let's be honest, ever since the begining of times, many office rules have been considered stupid and people have been complaining about them since complains have been invented. Anyway, the six stupid rules are the following:

1. Banning the Use of Social Media
2. Inflexible Working Hours
3. Excruciating e-mail Policies
4. Stopping the Use of Smartphones
5. Draconian Dress Code
6. "One Size Fits All" Performance Evaluations

Now, you look at the rules... and I wonder which of these are applied at your workplaces. A my job we have the #2, some offices have the #1 and there's a measure of #5... and I think that's it. I'm yet to see a place that applies #4, other than Intel, where I know that phones that can take photos are banned from the production area. The #3 used to be enforced, but not the way described by the article, and, well, #6 only applies to bosses. So, let me tackle these the best I can.

Fighting Social Networks

The problem with social networks is that they consume a lot of time from people. Mostly the younger employees who get completely engrossed with their phones and they also happen to be paying more attention to their screens that to the meeting they are attending. Now, on one side, that's a modern phenomenon, something these kids have grown into as their parents, from early age, found it easier to sit them down before the TV to keep them quiet and out of the way rather than find them something to do or spend time with them. Well, this is what you get. However, there's something else here in play. First, you can't close out your employees from the social networks during office hours because these platforms are in their phones, so they'll have access to them 24/7, whether you like it or not. Second, has anyone thought about the quality of the job asked from the employee or what the employee actually has to do? Sadly, a lot of place hardly ever take advantage of the employees full potential, and more than once either keep them idle at the office or load them with some sort of unimaginative, mechanic work, that forces their brains to escape to more amusing occupations.

Same happens with meetings. A lot of people loath going to meetings because often it becomes a plaform for some people to extend on talking about nothing, or the topics are not involving or open for discussion. Indeed, there are people that like big gatherings and invite a lot of people for meetings where they have nothing to add to the discussion. Those people will get bothered, and if they have a phone or a computer close, they'll try and get some sort of amusement to pass the time. You could ban social networks or smartphones, but people will still go on distracting themselves with something else. Banning all distractions isn't the solution, for you should attack the root, the lack of involvement of your employees, not what they do to avoid falling asleep.

Rigid Workhours

Should these really be banned? The thing goes as follows: you have a schedule when you start working, and in some places you need to stick to that schedule more than at others. If you work in shifts, you need to keep your workhours. At offices, maybe you could argue that you don't need workhours, but think of the following: often at the office, you have some tasks assigned, but then, out of the blue, you could be called to attend a meeting where you need to explain something you did, or assist at something you know about. A set schedule isn't only about the time during which youdo the job or tasks you are required to do, but also signals the period through which you are available for your company for other jo related tasks.

I've seen people often complain about stiff workhours, and though I agree it's a pety thing to go on counting minutes, I wonder if those bitching would actually be able to perform on a task-based working system. I mean, think of your working year: it usually has ups and downs, right? Some months are heavier, others are slower. If you assume that your working schedule would be based on it, on heavy months you would have to spend 13 hours or more at the office, while on slow months you'd spend 4 hours per day. For the same payment? Well, it sounds unfair to be paid the same for 4 hours or 13, right? So that may have to change. Paid less for 4 hours, more for 13.

If this goes on, your could end up being hired only for projects, not always by the same company. Now, this sounds good for some, but do think about the forces of the market playing here. As you grow old, do you think you'd be able to work and find work just like the younger generations? Some people would think they could and that their experience will be their advantage... well, more power to them. Specially in a world where "experience" is being quickly replaced by "actualized knowledge". But far be it from me to burst your bubble.

Set workhours are not an evil, and if you pay attention, they could also work in your favor. If you don't have a set schedule, then you could get to the office at 8 am, and work until 5 pm, expecting to leave for your classes, pick up the kids or something, but thenm if your boss showed for work at 11 am, they might expect you to attend to a meeting at 6.30 pm, with no extra hours paid for it.

The real problem at offices with set schedules is when they are set only for a some people, and let loose for others. This, again, isn't a problem with the rules, but a problem that the management can solve.

E-Mail Policies

Back in the day people were fond of sending forwards. Back in the day, the capacity of servers was also much more limited, so in that sense it may have made sense. I guess people can have some leeway with their work e-mails though not much is needed as people's personal e-mail accounts are already at their fingertips on their phones. Keeping work e-mails for work makes sense, actually, and also makes sense from the personal side of it. All e-mails sent and received to a work address belong to the company, so do you really want your company to have hold of your love letters, your gossip and your check balances?

Ban The Smartphone

Really? There are places like that?

Dress Code

Now, this depends entirely on the given dress code and how it is applied. A dress code isn't only about the corporative image you'll project, but also a way to help people fit it. Now, some might be stupid, like stipulating the allowed lenght of skirts, but others that might seem stupid may actually be smart. I used to work at a bank where you couldn't wear boots nor white pants or white skirts. The reason was that you could hide money in your boots, so that avoided the humiliating search, and since you were around lots of printed paper and money, white pants and skirts would get dirty soon. A white shirt could be covered with a blazer and still look elegant, but what do you do with a stain on a pant?

Then, there's the case of the people who don't have the same framework we do about what's proper work clothing and what's not. Though jeans might be a fringe case (and I love jeans, though I can only wear them on Fridays when I'm working), there are others that are not. It's not uncommon the case of the assistant or secretary who actually believes she can come to work in skimpy, tight and whorish clothing. I've seen in some places that some lady coworkers come dressed like they just came back from partying all night, or like they are planning on compensating their paycheck by "walking the street" right after work. There's one secretary I saw once that was so vulgar I actually thought "damned, so companies do hire whores to entertain important clients/providers". This sort of dressing issue isn't exclusive of females with whorish-dressing tendencies, but also of males who either want to be surfers or hobos or think that the office is the place to express how much they love hard metal music, or even to show off their allegedly super-sexy physiques.

The thing about the dress code is to put people in a similar environment ruled by a similar attitude towards work: work isn't a place where you come to hang out with friends to chat about your likes, nor is it a place to hook up. Work is a place where you... well... work.

As long as a dress code isn't about a particular style, but about a guideline, it's ok. You can be asked to wear a suit everyday, but you shouldn't be asked to wear an Armani suit everyday.

Performance Evaluations

This is more of a Human Resources thing, and in a way, I agree that all employees should be evaluated on certain similar basis, such as if you've completed all of your assigned tasks, and if they were completed to satisfaction and so on. In here the matter is also about the previous work the office should do to regulate your workload and the qualification of it, and that's the part that doesn't happen. It's not the same if you are assigned to a huge task and can't finish it in a year because it depends on other people and not everybody completed their part while someone else got 10 easy tasks, like sending follow up messages.

A performance evaluation should come within a set of clear rules and standards, as well as the proper commitment from your superiors about assigning you tasks in a constant, planned manner, valuating them and so on. Making yearly work plans might help if they don't stay only on paper, which sadly often happen as well.

Well, from my previous little "dissecting" of the rules, it might come through that the evil isn't in the rules themselves but how often are they enforced. When rules are set because "rules need to be set" but they are not properly enforced, or are sadly applied in places where the management expect the employees to do all the legwork and them only to enjoy the success, well, they won't work and only generate discomfort. Office rules are much like the laws of a country: they worth nothing and are only a nuissance if you don't set as well the proper framework for them to funtion.

Dec 20, 2015

Resolutions - An Errand Thought

Well, these are slowly the last posts of the year. As usual, my first thought with them is to start them with "I ran late again with the posting, didn't I?", but I'm trying to refrain from that (and failing miserably). Of course, it's not like I've an actual commitment to you, lovely, dark, silent, anonymous Readers of Mine, but because that was one of my 2015 New Year Resolutions. Of course, I also decided to post at least monthly in my Hungarian blog but only managed to get it going well until August. Not like that's so bad, mind you. You see, like a friend of mine says: "the good thing about unfulfilled New Year Resolutions is that you can recycle them for the next year". So I'll be recycling that one. ^_^ Well, those two.

It's still early to make the recount of how I have fared with my other resolutions, but just let it be said that most of them have been fulfilled quite well, and I'm very pleased. Perhaps for 2016 I'll choose to give some continuation to them by resetting those unachieved, and for those achieved setting further goals or next steps. I think the point of Resolutions isn't to feel bad about making promises to ourselves that we don't keep (or don't intend to really keep), but rather to set an aspiration clearly before us, something to inspire us through the year, to feel good when we achieve it, and also to measure up ourselves, and see how close we've got to achieve it. It's kind of sad or pathetic to think of people who don't keep the promises they make to themselves. Pathetic when they don't keep them to themselves or to others. What worths a person who's word worths nothing?

But a Resolution isn't a promise, it's a goal, and as such, there are chances that you may achieve it or that you may not, and both of them are ok if you understand well the nature of the resolution and the underlying wisdom of it. The point of them - in my personal opinion - is to always be inspired to improve. It's like running a marathon: if you don't make it the first time, worry not. Take account of what happened, your strenghts, your shortcomings, your feelings, your impressions, and work on them, include them in your calclations, make your plans accordingly and reset your goals.

The problem, however, is when your goals strive for something you have no power upon. Resolutions like "winning the lotto" are quite set for failure, because aside from buying the lotto tickets there's really nothing you can do to ensure you achieve the goal. Well, of course that people hardly actually set goals like that, BUT they do set similar goals, like "open a successful business", or "make a lot of money", or "get married" (when they have no significant other at the moment, or the one they have have not shown any interest in getting married), or "become a super model" and stuff like that. So let's get real, there are things you can set as Resolutions because their achievement depends entirely of you. Saving up money for a trip, spending more time with the kids (assuming the kids have more time to spend with you), do more charity work, reduce your carbon footprint, lose or gain weight, get in shape, become more fit, get on track with your studies... those are all things where, if you apply yourself you can really achieve them, buut things like getting liked by the kind of people you want to date, or opening a successful business are not because they depend on other people. Let me explain this: say you want to be liked by girls and get married to a girl. You could study what girls like, learn how to be more likable, modify your behavior and all that in order to be more pleasing to girls and that's alright, but all you get is maybe attention. You don't command the liking of girls to be focused on you. It doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you, or that there's something you can fix about yourself, it simply means that the people you meet are not into you.

With the business is a tad more complicated, because there where one might want to make one person fall in love with them, or convince their long standing significant other to tie the knot, with a business you need to convince and keep a segment of the market interested in your product. Bookstores are filled with a bunch of garbage literature about "how to make a successful business", which are a large heap of bullshit. Again, it's not a matter of having the "keys of success" at your disposal, or sending the "right kind of energy to the universe", it's about demand and supply and what the fickle whims of the market want to grab on or not.

Some things need to be worked on and even with heaps of time and energy invested in them they may not achieve the dreamed business success or the dreamlike wedding. Disappointment ensues, as expected, but never the realization that the expectation was outside the realm of what was manageable.

Bottomline: when you plan out your Resolutions, think them in terms of what you can actually achieve by yourself (what you have control upon), in the alotted timeframe.

Dec 3, 2015

Neurotics: Those Who Are Made

Yesterday I met with a friend of mine and we ended up talking about our old relationships. We don't exactly have similar experiences, since her break-up was traumatic for her while mine... well, you all know how that went ^_^. I've quite good break-ups, actually. Anyway, we were revisiting things about these more recent finished relationships and one of the topics touched stuck to me: the moment when you become neurotic.

I wonder if this happens to all of us...

Anyway, through her experience with her latest ex, she was slowly driven to a state of distrust that put her on a basically neurotic state around him. We talked about it at lenght and she told me that she isn't like that, and in fact, with her current boyfriend she isn't like that, but that with that guy - let's call him Jim - she always felt kept out of the loop, like he was constantly hiding things from her. My friend - lets call her Amy - told me she initially always trusted him and believed all he said, until she started noticing things that didn't match, or things that were left out. Jim seemed to be in a rush, was careless about things, didn't tell her about places where he went, people he met and stuff like that. This not in the sense that she expected him to report to her all of his activities, but in the sense that he was supposed to be marrying her eventually - so he had told her and so his parents told Amy - yet she basically knew nothing about him.

She would find out by others that he was meeting weeking with some friends and getting wasted quite often, when as far as he let her know, he hardly ever saw those friends. Later on Amy realized that Jim actively worked to keep her in the dark about his life. They actually broke up because Amy found out that Jim had never intended to marry her but considered her an entertainment while a suitable wife appeared. (Jim is of one religion, Amy is of other and Jim and his parents were actually pressing Amy to convert to their faith so Jim could marry her.)

Amy comes from a very tight, deeply moral family background, one of those old-school, large families, that are very tight, eat together and have big family gatherings at each holiday. Really, like in old TV series. She has this very romantic view of life and realtionships, and she did work hard to fit into Jim's world and Jim's life, so when she found out how she was merely and funny, laughable entertainment, it devastated her. Prior to that, however, though she did struggle to keep the relationship afloat, these fractures in Jim's stories made her  pull her shields up and distrust of his words.  He always kept her in the dark about where he was, what he was doing, who he was seeing or what he intended to do. As result, whenver he told her something, Amy would automatically think he was hiding something and tried to find out.

As she was telling me of these, suddenly I found myself thinking about my own relationship woth Kari, and realized that I had also become neurotic, though I had not realized it. I never really was into distrusting him about where he was or who he was seeing, but my concerns were always of the practical nature. Through the time we were together my trust in him eroded in aspects related to what he was saying to me and whether it was true or not, whether he was telling me something I could quote later and he wouldn't pretend he had said the opposite, but also matters like his reliability to do things, get bills paid, tell me if there was some issue with something, if there was some trouble that needed fixing, and also the eternal matter of financial situation. These things of course are entirely meaningless if your relationship is a light kind of relationship where you meet only to feel good, spend a good time, but all parties involved manage their own lives. Naturally in a life project that involves two people together, these are deal breakers for all the obvious reasons. And trust me: if these things appear, pack and go because there's no way in hell you can work around them. I know, I tried.

Anyway, back on topic, my brand of neurosis came from not trusting him about what he said, what he was supposed to do and how much could I rely on him with my livelihood. The thing is that, when you are on your own, you have a given set of expectations about your life that basically go around what you can achieve, and thus you are content with that, count on that and you are relatively sure about that. However, as a person enters a relationship, expectations about life change depending on the quality of the relationship itself. The person starts factoring the partner in different parts of their lives, such as for holidays, free time, hangouts and maybe even their life project. In good theory, when a person factors another into their life project, that obeys to the pair actually discussing the course of the relationship. Some people of course, rush ahead and think that because they were kissed in a party or someone winked at them, they will marry and have 2.3 babies and whatnot. No, I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about the case were you go out with someone and the topic of "living together" or maybe even "marriage and kids" comes up as the endgame of the relationship.

When a commitment of this magnitude is made or talked over, expectations of people change, and thus it's normal for people to expect their lives to start merging into a family unit. In Amy's case, she was made believe Jim would marry her as soon as she converted to his religion, thus while she struggled with the decision - she needed time to prepare herself - she expected not only support from Jim for her transition, but also their lives being transparent, both of them being clear with each other. It wasn't a matter of them losing their individuality, but more of living a life of openness, with no secrets held from each other. What does it mean? It doesn't mean reporting to one another, or reading aloud to each other each message and each e-mail received, but rather to involve the other person in their lives.

Ok, that peobably isn't clear, so let me give you an example. Say Amy likes, cycling. It doesn't mean that now Jim has to go cycling with her too, whether he wants it or not, but rather that he knows Amy likes cycling and Amy feeling sure she can tell him about her cycling adventures if she feels like it. It means Amy not just disappearing to go cycling, but letting Jim know "Hey! I'll go cycling! See you in the afternoon!". Perhaps Jim likes playing the guitar. It doesn't mean that Amy has to learn to play the guitar or go to all of his concerts, but it means that Jim opens the invitation for her to go listen to him play, when such a thing is possible, and that he would say "Hey, the guys and I signed it for a guitar camp next week! It's so exciting! I'll be back on Thursday". It doesn't mean that Amy doesn't even know that her fiancé likes to play the guitar and has to hear from others that he actually spent three days in Vancouver in a huge acoustic guitar concert... from a third party.

The neurosis Amy and I experimented came precisely from this: Jim and Kari created in us an expectation which they themselves undermined by being untrue or secretive about vital aspects to bring those expectations to completition. I believe our neurosis came as a defense mecanism we developped, each in her own turf of attack regarding the perceived threat upon the future that had been promised to us. In my case, my neurosis came from the systematic losing of trust in my partner and the conscious decision taken after each failure that I couldn't count on him for this or that, but that I had to rely entirely on myself to deal with these issues. It wasn't until I realize that I was basically "the relationship", that I came to the conclusion that I had to end it. For Amy, it wasn't until she realized that it was all a lie that she came to de decision of ending the charade. From the outside it looked like we were being neurotic - me the pushy girlfriend, she the controlling girlfriend - but what made this happen was the distrust that these guys fed in us, and our attempt at covering for their shortcomings in order to save a relationship that should have been left to die.

Through the coffee shared with Amy I realized that you can be a normal person and become neurotic under a given set of circumstances, and well, that's ok. However, when you become your neurotic self, when you are made neurotic, as freaking hard as it is - and trust me, it's so freaking hard! - you must stop yourself, take stock of what's making you so, and seek to cut the cause of your neurosis from the root.

Nov 19, 2015

Those Alleged "God Lovers"

Recently my Facebook has seen an awful surge of people showing off their Christian spirit. Yes, there are usually your overzealous Christians posting their corny pictures with their corny phrases and all those things that make you think "Hell, I'm so happy I'm a Generic Christian". It's kind of curious how most of the Christian MEMEs go around the general topic of "I'm so useless, but God is with me soe He will make all good". However in the recent days I came upon a couple of MEMES that were down right disturbing. I won't address them all, because really, people have lost of issues, but let me concentrate on two that, in my opinion, really make more damage than good.

"I Hate Myself, I Hate Other, But I Love God"

A cousin of mine published on her wall this picture that said something like "If I look at myself, I get depressed, if I look at others I get disappointed, if I look at my circumstances I get desperate, but if I look at God I get happy". Now, before I go on about stuff, let me explain her circumstances. She's the third of like six siblings, I'm not sure whether she finished highschool, married young, lives in a peaceful, small country, is divorced, has some kids and makes ends meet through renting rooms in her home. Her family is insanely Christian, up to the point of bullying under the pretense of "spreading the gospel". Her family isn't tight knit, and last I heard, none of the children are in speaking terms with their mother.

So yes, now onto the quote. I couldn't resist and told her that I found her quote to be one of little self esteem and not very positive towards others. Evidently that could be considered an attack, so she attacked in "fashion" by claiming that God had helped me and been by my side even if I "rejected Him". Her whole family loves to think I reject God ^_^. It's what they do in order to be happy, and well, they have to. If they truly believe that God is a book called "Bible" and God is "Church", the idea of someone like me saying that God is God and He manifests Himself everywhere and in all Religions and believes and lives in the heart of all, and that though Jesus is our savior, Christianity isn't the sole path to God, for Jesus has availed it for all if they love their fellows and are good... well, yeah, my thinking deeply conflicts with the ravenous, dogmatic, aggressive ideas they nurture and which are the basis that allow them go bullying others and mask their abuse as "doing God's work". What? You don't believe me? Well, let me tell you this: I converted to Christianism at 12 (I was born and raised Atheist), but they kept saying I was Atheist and kept gospel-bullying me. Then, when I started taking some yoga classes a couple of years ago, they declared I'm Pagan.

The point I later tried to make to my cousin was that it was really sad that Christians making Christian MEMES found it necesary to contrats God's Love with the lack of self-respect, self-esteem or love for thy brother. I mean, wasn't actually Jesus who said something in the line of "thou shalt love thy fellow man as much as thyself"? Isn't there implied then that you should love yourself? I mean, think about it, God made us, God loves us, so why is the Christian message that you hate yourself and others - all of whom are loved and made by God - but love God? And how can you so easily discard God and God's love when is gets to you THROUGH you and through others and everything that surrounds you? A clear example of this self-effacing overzealousness by Christians comes in this "inspirational quote" I found while looking for pictures for this post. I mean really? "God, please erase all you did about me and just make me a copy of you?" Really? God made you and you are good just like that. If you are displeased with the way you are, well, YOU do something about it. God isn't there to live your life for you, that's your job.

However, as you check the circulating MEMES they all spread the same message "I am worthless, I can't do anything, I hate everything, I'm so depressed I'm about to kill myself, and only my faith in God keeps me up". Why is there nothing positive? Why isn't there a happy, motivational quote like "Hey, I'm so AWESOME! I learn from my failures, I enjoy my successes and God is there all the time holding my hand and cheering for me". He totally does, by the way. But instead, the spread messages keep hammering into the heads of the good Christians that their own life isn't in their hands, and all they can actually do is go to church and read the Bible and God will "take care". Their sole obligation is to "serve God". How? Again, go to Church, read the Bible and possibly volunteer at Church activities and give money. My cousin's family possibly include bullying and harrassing through the gospel also as a great service to God. And it is awesome! I'm one evangelizing away from definitively turning into Cultus Deorum Romanorum.

I find the message dangerous because it exposes those who live it and follow it to preying of unscrupulous people, as well as to depression and other emotional trouble. First of all, while you don't love yourself, you can't really love anyone. Not God, not your significant other, not your family, so start loving yourself. Let no one tell you otherwise, don't be conviced of how good it is to be selfless and self effacing, God made you, God loves you and He is God, so if He loves you, sure you are worth loving, don't you think?

Loving yourself can be hard if you are constantly surrounded by negative messages or passive-agressive behavior, but if you allow me, perhaps this can help you find your love in yourself, or fall in love with yourself. First, take stock of who you are. Find everything that's good and pretty about you. Not the things others praise about you, but look at you and look at what you like. And everything goes. If you like it, it counts. ^_^ Like maybe you like the way you can heap up a tall and really delicious ice cream serving. Or you might like how you have discovered the way to make a perfect peanutbutter sandwich. You might love your style or how you can combine colors so well, or how you always find something truly unique to do or wear. Pile up on all those good things and reward yourself for them. Dedicate time to yourself. It doesn't need to be much, but you could go and take yourself to the movies or to a walk on the park, or separate a moment in your day to curl up in your favorite sofa and watch TV or read.

Cut back on any self-scolding or any need to fiercely defend yourself against something you might perceive as a flaw. You fucked up? It's alright. Say "well, yes, I look awesome, but I'm just a human. I'll fix that in no time". You regret not doing something when you were younger? Well, do it now. There have been people geting their highschool diploma at 95, so sure you still have time to follow your heart and get that diploma in History of Arts you always wanted. Really, you are awesome and you can do it and God is with you, so really, what are you waiting for? Go love yourself!

Then, as you learn to love yourself, your eyes will be kinder to those around you. Nah, you won't automatically love everybody around you, and that's alright. Some people are just hateful and it's alright to not like them, but as you open your heart you'll find that you start to love people around you. ^_^ That's how it works.

So, when you find messages that invite you to dislike yourself, erase yourself, take a moment to think why they want you to do that, what's their purpose, specially when God loves you exactly the way you are.

"Churches and Hypocrites, Gyms and Fat People"

The second message I'd like to discuss is one shared by a friend of mine. His message said "Not going to Church because it's full of Hypocritical People is like not going to the Gym because it's full of people out of shape". I didn't even replied to this one because, really? Evidently I think the people who did and shared this MEME have never been to a Gym. Not like they need it, mind you. Gyms are full of forbidden, Pagan and Heretic stuff like yoga, pilates... not to mention that it's a temple to worship the body. Uhum... they don't go to the Gym, so they don't know any better.

Now, have you been to a gym? Let me tell you about gyms. Gyms are places where people with different body shapes go in pursuit of different purposes. Mainly all of them seek to be phyiscally healthy and fit, so they attend different classes that are offered, like zumba, yoga, pilates, tae-bo, aerobics. spinning and other stuff like that. Gyms usually also offer the chance to do some weight and machine work to enhance muscles. If you start attending, you'll see people of all shapes and sizes and of all ages working out, trying to improve. You'll also see instructors. Instructors are the people who help you with your work out sessions. They impart the classes, lead them, and if you do machines, they plan out a routine for you considering what your goals are and in what kind of physical condition are you. Also, instructors are fit, because after all, you don't want someone out of shape telling you what you need to do to get in shape.

People around can be in any shape, and well, if they are constant and comitted in their workout, you expect to see results in their bodies, but the instructor needs to be in shape in order to give you the confidence about their capabilities to get you in shape. After all, if the instructor isn't in shape, how would they ever know what to do to get you in shape? Like a nutritionist, would you trust a fat nutritionist to make you lose weight when they themselves are obese?

If your gym is filled with fat people and out of shape instructors, well, you won't be going there because you won't be able to get your goal. If your nutritionist is obese or anorexic, you won't trust them to plan out a healthy diet for you that will get you to your right weight. If your psychiatrist is crazy... well, that's Hannibal, and you rather leave before he makes a dinner out of you.

The point with churches and hypocrites at churches is that we agree that there's a lot of people who need help going to church and that's alright. We all are sinners and hey, that's how it is, BUT when the people preaching say one thing and do the other, are quick to pass judgment and then act in a different fashion  or try to cover their mistakes instead of being responsible about it, then yes, sorry but that's not a church to follow. And here I'll lash out, so be warned.

Churches are often tarnished by the very testimony their members give. And here is really curious how people actually expect to judge a whole religion like Islam or Judaism or Christianity even for the actions of a few idiots, but can't take the same measure for their churches. Yes, churches shouldn't be judged by the actions of a few rouge extremists or ignorants, but what happens when those who dictate the message are the idiots? The priest that rapes children, the evangelist that washes money, the preacher that beats their spouse, those that steal, divert resources for their own pockets, those that lie and cheat.

Going back to my cousin's family, her mother - my aunt - is a really aggressive person when it comes to her evangelizing habits. She can make people dizzy with her never stopping speech about religion, and she swats her Bible up and down and covers all her basis. Oh, she is a sinner, but she faithfully reads the Bible and has read it many times and goes to the church and practically lives there. She despises her own mother. My grandma is in very poor health and she requires a lot of attention, which her daughters have taken upon them to take care of. Her children all chip in to cover her expenses and help the aunt that houses her, but this aunt seems - I've been told - bitter that she's not receiving the money, so she mistreats my grandma and often also shimmies out of her responsability to attend to her. Evidently she reads her Bible but doesn't feel like "Honor thy father and mother" is a commandment that particularly apply to her, or that it shall be enforced in ways other than going to church and preaching.

Personally I believe that you should go to church when you feel like going to church, when something call you there and when you feel happy attending. It's not something you must do because that's what good Christians do, I mean God can meet you anywhere, He doesn't need you sitting in a bench, looking forward all bored while your mind is racing a mile a minute about other things.

Many churches have very nice preachers and very nice people. I've been blessed to always find awesome preachers in the churches I've attended, be it Lutheran (which is my faith), or Catholic or Baptists... and I must say that I have found very cool ritual leaders also among the few Pagan rituals I've attended. I've also encountered stupid preachers, but those were mostly those that holler on the street and aim to disturb the peace of the passerbies. However others have had bad experiences, and well, that needs to be respected. Others simply get bored in church, and so that needs to be respected as well. Your connection with God isn't measured in the money you give to the church or to charity, nor in the hours you sit listening to preaching, or the songs you sing or the number of Christian songs you know. Actually, you don't even need a religion to be with God. Just be happy, follow your heart and listen to the Divine around you. Be true and kind to yourself, kind to others and be happy. As happy as you can be, and then a little bit more.

Nov 17, 2015

Rush and Muse and Whatnots

Well, I hope I don't really make a habit out of running late with my post, but then. this sort of thing happens, and it's not like the world ends because of it, right? So yes, what has been happening these days?

At The University

Well, there isn't really much I could tell you about that. After pretty much like... a month? Yeah, like a month - give or take - since the last forum of the seminar (this forum thing is basically a forum from four scheduled online, where the tutor published a question, we have a week to answer and then the professor has two weeks to grade), but - as per usual - it wasn't graded until the night before the last session or class, which was this past Saturday. Basically all of us - and I mean the whole group - did so-so, but then you can't expect anything else since it's really difficult to nail the right answer when it seems that the right answer is whatever opinion of a case the professor has, and not what you can prove as your opinion. It's even more difficult when it seems as if from forum to forum the opinion of the professor changes.

Adri and I have been working our asses off with the final project. We had a little break but then we've got the grade for the last advance - we are doing rather well with the advances - and so we started working up on it. Saturday after the session we stayed around to work some and did quite some progress. Some stuff needed to be reordered, and we filled up a table that the professor wanted to see, even though all the information (and more) was already in the text.

Adri and I have been feeling like the other two kids are leaning too heavy on our necks. It's like we do so freaking much and have to shepherd them around to get things done. It's kind of hard also how they don't seem to render the same kind of results as we do. Adri has been organizing the whole workflow and giving out directions, working really hard on the letters we must include while I've been compiling and formatting the previous three advances into one document, making the indexes, formatting titles, and then designing the slideshow background and the format of the content. Took care also of a larger load of findings, Financial Estates and conclusions. Adri was right there with me, step to step, like two oxes pulling the cart. And that's all I cana say.

I know both Ara and Serge have their stuff in life and it's not easy, but damned, it's the last effort and others also depend on them! They can get sad and overwhelmed and depressed all they want later on.

The Muse

I have never written as much and as fast as I had since September. Then, from the end of October on, I!ve been literally on fire! I found myself working on "My Liege" and turning an originally long, slowpaced story (like all of mine) into a fast paced, short chaptered story. It was going so fast I actually became desperate for a beta-reader. Not like I found one, mind you. The topic of the story is rather sensitive and difficult as it swings from very violent and gory to sweet and homely, so most likely it will be a story that really won't find many followers. Not like I mind, since I'm not writing with commercial purposes, just for my own entertainment, but yeah... very hard to beta-read.

However, as the University struck again, well, the Muse was forced on hold and now I wonder if I'll be able to pick up the story once I'm out and over with all this.


Kind of related but not, my friend Carrie has been acting strange, to the point where I've been questioning our friendship and if it will last any longer. She has been consumed by all sorts of issues that she keeps close to her vest, which she is entled to, but then, there's something about her, a shift in her demeanor that gives me the impression that a fracture in something has happened and now she'll be shifting away from me.

The thought first struck me with a dab of concern, as suddenly I was wondering about what would I do, how would I arrange my days without Carrie and the costant presence she had become. This lead me to realize that I'm actually none of my friend's best friend, since, well, my very peculiar nature. I'm more like a cat that spends time sporadically with others, rather than a dog that represents more permanent, constant presence in people's lives.

Then I realized that there's nothing to worry about. I like being alone, and if one friend leave, well, there will always be eventually a new one taking their place.

Pagan Festival

As a well deserved little break, and just because I love it so much, I attended Sunday to the Pagan Festival organized by Costa Rica's Pagan Alliance. I wasn't there as much as I would have loved to, nor did I partook of all the activities I had intended originally to, since I went with an acquinance who claimed to know nothing about Paganism and spent more time browsing around the artisan posts than paying attention to rituals.

I still enjoyed myself very much and met with dear friends. Also had the chance to talk a little with Costa Rica's Cultus Deorum, Tribvs Opalina. Last year I missed their ritual and I wanted to check it out this time, but due to the time we arrived there I couldn't. But next year I sure as hell will attend! What can I say? Romans strike my fancy more than the Hellenians - though my friend Athenea (I like to refer to her like that) is, as you can imagine, Hellenic.

The guy I talked to would be the Cultor, as they call it, and we shared a couple of thoughts on the matter. I loved it how open and sharing all of it was. In a very university-like style, he was quick to share knowledge, and also had for sale copies of books hard to get (clones) and DVDs with Roman music and all sorts of Roman and Witchcraft inspired documentries and series. I found it sweet, to be honest, how he put his own books up for sharing, even if for a price, but knowing the cost of reproduction, it was easy to guess he was hardly making any profit from it.

One thing I really love about Pagan Festivals is the richness of them. People from different religions gather and expose their faith to anyone willing to learn of them. Artisans share their art and there's a wonderful openness as Wiccans, Hellenics, Romans, Druids and Asatrus come together respectfully to share their views. None of them shy away from a ritual or lock arms in Celtic dances.

The most curious and beautiful things are showed, and you can walk home with mead, Roman bread and several pieces of jewelry you'll never see anywhere else. It made me smile to remember this guy I went out with recently, who once mentioned how he found it fascinating that I always wore something so "random". By random he actually meant absolutely unexpected and never seen. I held in my hands galaxies, a moon, a bottle with stones and an owl and a life tree blooking with red stones, and I thought to myself: "it's the result of my wanderings for paths unwalked by the masses that I am so filled with beautiful and unseen treasures".

Nov 7, 2015

Reaching My Ideal Weight

This week something incredible happened to me. I actually didn't expect this to happen - so soon at least -  but now I'm here: after some 16 months I've reached my ideal weight. Wow! That's like... mindblowing! I mean, yes, of course, that was the point of going to the nutritionist and suffering through the Hell Weeks and all those regimes, and then dictating my meals by carefully measured monthly plans, but then, when you arrive to the result... How can I tell you this? I certainly don't look like a runway model or anything, but now I look at my body and think: fuck bitch, we are so freaking hot! I fit again in jeans I couldn't put on a year ago, and I'm parading a body with a weight I haven't had in fifteen years! My confidence is again up high but I'm also being careful and watching what I eat, scouting already for options to exercise since the programm at the Metropolitan Park I've been attenting will be suspending activities shortly, hopefully to resume them next year.

To give you a little idea of my progress, in 16 months I've lost about 25 pounds or a bit over 11 kgs, and my measurements went down in total 41 cms or 16 inches. In those 16 months I also learned about healthy eating, laying down carbonated drinks and invite veggies to my plate, and to keep all my meals instead of skipping them and eating whatever whenever I came about it. In those 16 months I also learned discipline to exercise, and though I've been slacking big time with archery - a combination of lack of time due to the unversity and sometimes just not feeling like doing it - I've been careful to make sure and put some 30 minutes of cardio in my daily routine.

I've learned that eating healthy doesn't mean to stop eating, or declaring war on carbs, or embracing the veggan lifestyle, or eating kale or whatever other fashionable veggie or fruit like crazy. Being healthy isn't either a cult to water drinking or weird stuff like that. Eathing heathy is finding the right balance for your body, learning that you need everything: carbs, proteins, dairy, veggies, fruits and fats, and also that you need to move your body, find those moments when you can squeeze in a little bit of exercise. Just to give you an idea, my day is packed and I tend to be really tired by the time I finish at the office. Sometimes I manage to go to the gym, where I have to drive, but some others I don't. Sometimes I have to come home and work on a project for the University, or I meet up with friends. What I do is that I wake up 30 or 40 minutes earlier and use an old elliptic machine we have here and then do some ab work.

Other times, when I'm meeting my friends close to my gym, I drive to the gym, do my routine and then meet them. The gym is a great way to spend your time while waiting, instead of shopping or sitting at a café stuffing your face with sweets, for instance.

I've reached my ideal weight and I'm very happy, but my work isn't over. I still have to work on lowering my  body fat - which is at a good level, but could be better - and then I'd like to lose a bit more of weight - under the supervision of my nutritionist! - and aim for a fitter body. :-) Now I can aim for a bit of muscles.

This journey has been amazing, but it's not over yet. I have new goals now and I'm full of hope and enthusiasm about succeeding in this. And I think this should be celebrated. ^_^

Nov 1, 2015

A Little Bit of Clarity

After a good night's sleep, a problem that had been troubing me since Friday, suddenly seems to clear before me. I've come to a decision, one to end a cycle that no longer brings anything positive to my life. It's not an easy decision, and I'm not sure what will come of it, if I can make a clean cut, but now I'm seeing before me the steps I need to take to make things bearable in the short run, and taking the decision to set in motion the change of cycle, in order to break from something that goes against what I believe to be right.

After yesterday's plea, the clarity coming now does feel like a "Halloween Miracle". That feels cool, doesn't it?

The last two months of the year are starting and with it the end of the year. The god has descended to the underworld and the pregnant hoddess is widowed now, waiting for the next sabbath for the rebirth of the god. So, in these widowed days of expectancy, we can start summoning up our year, counting our harvest and making decisions.

This year, so far, hasn't worked out entirely as planned, but then it hardly ever does. However, it has gone better than I expected it, I've achieved stuff and I'm really proud of myself for that. The year isn't over yet, so I still have two months to go, and there are things I still can work on. For instance, yesterday as Lau and I went to the movies, I realized I haven't been going to the movies as often as I used to. Ok, there haven't been so many films worth watching, but then I decided that I'll take up on that again. I'll try to squeeze a day a week for movies. :-)

The past months have been stressful due to this last graduation seminar and all the work we've had to do, but then - though we haven't finished yet - maybe it's also time to remember that there's more o life than just studying an working. We also have to remember the things that make us happy, and remember that only we can make ourselves happy. So let's work on that.

Oct 31, 2015

Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain!

Finally, my  favorite day of the year, Halloween!! I had plans to spend the day with my friends, baking all sorts of goodies, but that couldn't be done since one of the girls had to cancel on us. But things didn't fell throught as Laura and I went out to the movies. We had gone a couple of weeks ago to watch The Crimson Peak, and then we saw the trailer for The Last Witch Hunter, so we went to see that one. Hell, that was bad. Not too bad, mind you, but it wasn't a good movie at all. The plot was too predictable, and it had such a "Fast and Furious" flavour to it, you nearly expected Paul Walker to appear any minute on he screen. It had every heroe-antiheroe cliché all wrapped into one. I nearly fell asleep on it. Twice! But Lau and I had a great time, and that's what matters.

This year Halloween has been quite wonderful, with a lot of support from a lot of people I didn't ever expect to be so involved in it.There have been a few negative notes as well, though not related with the Halloween or Samhain and honestly, from a part from which I haven't been expecting anything good. I'm thinking this might be my cue to move on, get away from this place from which I can't expect anything good anymore. As the wheel of the year turns, a cycle is completed and the veil thins for us o glimpse through it into the world of spirits. What wisdom can we learn from them? Maybe one that says: "Move On".

Oct 25, 2015

Much Needed Mental Notes

I actually had this great idea for a post, which I didn't write down and now I forgot completely about. This has been happening a lot lately to me, probably due to the fact that I'm going insane with the project we are working on for the University, going over number, filling up chapters and lots of work papers for the auditory we are doing and on top of all that, I still have work to do at the office.

It's kind of sad that this actually happened to me on October, which is my most inspirational month of the year. I actually had been flying on an amazing wave of inspiration for INAT (you don't really need to know about that) and... and I had to do work and had to stop my fickle muse midflight. Sometimes I'd really love to forget about everything and just write or read or do only the things I feel like doing, and not the things I have to do, even if those things are things conducive to stuff I really want and set my eyes on. I guess my mind tries to escape my reality in these moments.

Perhaps it is due to the mind acting like a bird trapped in the cage of a million tasks, all of them requiring much mental and physical energy, that it starts shedding all the ideas around.Something comes up and it quickly lets it go. So, how can we actually try and capture them? Well, the basic idea any organizational guru or anyone with good organizational skills would tell you is: record the idea the moment it comes to mind. Have post-its handy, jot down the idea when it comes to you, or the thing you can't forget, the task or whatever, and then stick it where you'll see it.

I'm big on using post-its and often stick them around myself to remind myself of things I might be prone to forget. When I'm more on top of my game (and my mind isn't working against me), when ideas about some project I'm working on come up, I take a post-it and write it on it and stick it on some surface right before me at the place where I work on that project. For instance, at my workplace I've two huge picture posters on my cubicle walls. One is next to me and the other in front of me. You can´t see the pictures themselves anymore as on the one to the side I put post its and notes about reference information: phone numbers, reference information, notes about regulation I must keep at hand and stuff like that. On the poster in front of me I stick post-its and notes about tasks and things I need to tackle.

Another method used by many people, and which is quite good for a lot of other types of ideas, as well as the mobility it offers, is using a notebook to record those ideas. The notebooks can be of any size or any kind you like or can find. The idea is to keep that notebook with yourself at all times - along with a working pen or pencil - and take it out everytime an idea comes to mind or you think of something you need to tackle or do, and write it down. The system you use for it can vary depending on what works for you the best. For instance, you can write your notes and ideas from the front to the end of the notebook (depending on what you see as the front of the notebook), and from the end forward you write down your to-dos and tasks and stuff you have to deal with. That's just an idea. You could also just open the notebook and write in it and fold the corner of the page if you wrote down something you have to deal with later, like a grocery list or a note not to forget paying your utility bills, for instance.

I use notebooks for ideas, and also for taking notes, when, for instance, I'm with my classmates and we are making decisions about what to do with the project we are working on. Like the minutae of our meeting. I'm quite forgetful, so my tasks and to-dos go into post-its at work or at home on my weekly wall planner. I use these planners by post-it, which you can use flat on your desk or stuck to a wall. I put it on the wall, and try to remember to fill it every Sunday night with the stuff that has to be done the next week. Sometimes I forget, which is OK, because my filofax has all my appointments and tasks. This wall weekly planner is also my board where I stuck my post its. Some are recurrent post its, like appointments with my friendsor stuff I should remember regularly, so when I don't use them I keep them to the side. Others are one timers, so when I stick one of them on the white calendar they stand out and I read them all the time. However, this is how it works for me, If you want to try it out, you should do whatever works for you.

One thing I've noticed in the organizational world is that there are people who are more concerned about the notebook or the whatever they use than the actual use they give to them. Something important you need to know about the notebook you'd use is that it most be a notebook that works for you. Honestly, a flashy, expensive notebook would do nothing for you anymore than a cheap notebook could do. There are a few fashionable brands like moleskine, which is really beautiful and has nice colors and all, but it works just as well as simple staple or glue bound notebook. Some do choose moleskine notebooks for their durability, as it would take better being stashed into your pocket or your bag, pulling it out, pushing it in and so on. Stiffer covers also give you a better surface for writing in those cases you have to hold the notebook in your hand. However there are plenty of cheaper options that also give you a stiffer cover.

Another system is the midori. There are these midori traveler journals or something like that is a leather cover with a string in the middle. The idea is that you use this cover to put in it a notebook, usually a midori notebook, which has a special size that fits the cover. The system also allows you to amplify the number of notebooks you can fit in the cover. I've seen videos for fitting up to three notebooks. The  advantage of this system is that you can carry more notebooks, all in one cover, and you can use them to organize better your notes. You can have a calendar or planner in one, another for notes and another for to-dos, for instance, BUT if you are looking for something simple, not a huge system with many notebooks and stuff like that - and trust me, the simpler the system, the better - get one notebook and make it work.

If you are new to this and the idea interests you, let me give you a piece of advise: before you start think what would you really want, what is your goal. If what you want is to remember things that need to be done but a planner don't work for you because you forget to look at it, go for post its. Stick them on the fridge, on the window, on the mirror in the bathroom. Hell, put the most important ones of the coffeemaker! A notebook won't work for tasks and notes that are time-related if you are not going to open it, so don't even go there.

If you'd like a way to record errand thoughts you have, ideas, stuff that don't need to be dealt right away, a notebook is perfect, even if you are not in the habit of checking it everyday, because when you are looking for the idea, you'll remember your notebook, and page through it and check your notations. For instance, say you have a project of making a business. From time to time ideas ocur to you about what would you like for your business, how could you develop this or that, ane even note down data for possible investors, providers, or tips on legal stuff, things you need to consider, requirements you better fill... you get the drill, right? Well, when you sit down to work on your project to get it working, you can take out your notebook and get all those ideas, discards those that don't work for your project and use those that do work. You don't have to remember the whole thing because you notebook does that for you.

My advise for you is also not to go shopping for a notebook, spend in something fancy that migt end up unused in some box or drawer or something. Start with whatever you have at hand. Sure, maybe you are not like me, with tons of unused notebooks and journals laying around, but sure there's some small, old planner you've got years ago with something you've bought, or a promotional notebook... and if not, really, go for the cheapest you can find that's functional for you. If you have no idea what should you look in a notebook for it to be funtional, go for the size: find something that's not heavy and which you can stash in your bag or your pocket. And really, any old planner that went unused or still has space would do. Take a rubber band and hook a pen or pencil to it and you are good to go.

Try it out first, see if it works for you, see if you get to use it, if you are comfortable with it. Who knows, maybe you work better with an app on your phone, and not a physical notebook, so let the first be a cheap try out, something you won't mind spending in if in the end didn't work for you. I, myself, are very old school, and I'm a kinetic, very tactile person, so the physical stuff work better for me, as my journals, notebooks, post its and my filofax can testify, so this is what I use (not with a glass quill, mind you, but with pen or pencil)

Now, having a system doesn't mean that the system is bulletproof and it will work every single time. Sometimes I still forget to make my notes, sometimes I mix stuff and do new things, like sticking post its in my notebooks. I have a notes section in my filofax that does have notes but probably I'm taking it out next year since my filofax is very stuffed and I prefer taking notes in my notebooks anyway (I work with two, one for notes on anything and another to organize more literary notes, though sometimes the notebooks have other notes as well in them). Sometimes you forget to use your system, and that's ok. It doesn't matter, as long as using it isn't a drag for you. Remember, you don't have to work with the system, but the system has to work for you. Yes, you have to get used to it and use it, but make it exactly the way you want it. Nothing more, nothing less. And it can change anytime you want it to change.

So yeah, try it out, what could you lose?

Oct 22, 2015

Emotional Blackmail

I bet all of us know at least one person who resources to this kind of thing in order to get what they want. Most likely we have ourselves have used to get something, either because we thought it was the easiest way to do so, or because that's how we've learned that certain things must be done. It's sad but none the less true. Just look at children: basically instead of teaching children to voice clearly and rationally their needs, parents one way or another enforce in them the idea that if they want something they must cry and throw a temper tantrum. How? Parents ignore the child when speaking but agree to their terms in order to have it shut up or stop making a scene. Parents also use this sort of blackmail when trying to coax children to do stuff, for instance when they tell the child that if they don't do this or that, mommy or daddy would be sad.

The thing is that as we grow up the emotional blackmail grows along and becomes an encroached thing that many find hard to escape. You actually have to grow what looks like a heart of stone in order to deflect most if not all attempts at emotional blackmail.

We hear of a lot of cases of emotional blackmail within families or significant others, where often this sort of behavior might seem part of the normal dynamics. Just think of the times someone could afford to do something by themselves without taking the blackmailing relative or significant other. And think of the reaction when the person actually follows through with a plan that actually excludes or goes against the wishes of the blackmailer. Just to put the picture ahead: imagine that you want to go to have a coffee with your friends, so instead of going home after work, you go to some place and have a blast with your friends. Perhaps it's not an impromptu situation, but you told your family, or your significant other that you have this date with your friends. The emotional blackmailer would either make coments like "you go out with them all the time", or maybe say nothing but start acting sad or withdrawn. Maybe acts like it has nothing to do with them, but you can feel the tension, the sort of tension that says the person is angry or displeased, then, at one point, the emotional blackmailer comes with some plan, which enforces on you so you "make up for going our with your friends the other day".

And this might seem normal to many, after all we are taught that "family is the most important thing in our lives" and also that having someone, a significant other, validates us socially as people who are worth loving. Just think about it, basically all chick flicks, all romantic comedies and a large portion of movies sell this idea, and let's not talk about novels here. We live in a society where the ultimate goal of every person is to have a significant other, where "finding love" is a valid goal in life. And once found, you have to keep it, you have to work for it, because someone could steal it away or it could wilt away and then you'd be a failure. So yes, we are already set in a scenario that enables and promotes emotional blackmail, and that's expected. After all, we are being emotionally blackmailed into buying these ideas. The promotion of any rational, independent behavior would be counterproductive. I mean, can you imagine society if people were to decide that they actually don't want to have a partner, nor want to go to school or get a job, but go into the wilderness and live from homesteading, internet be damned and all that?

Ok, I'm running ahead of myself here.

What I wanted to land on was that, actually, emotional blackmail, believe it or not, actually happens everywhere, and sadly, also among friends. This sort of thing I resent quite greatly. People who actually dare to call you their "friends" and yet have no qualms to laying on you teary stories and your baggage in order for you to pick up the pieces of their messed up lives and rearrange them over and over and over. These friendly emotional blackmailers will often frame the whole thing under "I'm just venting out to you, but you should know that [INSERT STORY AIMED TO MAKE YOU FEEL BAD AND EXTRACT FAVORS FROM YOU]"- pretense. Their family bullies them, their coworkers or bosses bully them, they are so sad, they are so unlucky, nothing goes as planned for them... And curiously, you offer them solutions that mean that they have to take some sort of action and their reaction time and again is to shake their heads sadly and assure that "it won't work". Then they'll get money from you because they make you feel so sad you start paying for every going out to make it better for them, they start hogging your time because you feel obligated to either keep them from the people hurting them or make up for the hurt they receive. Slowly they go on sucking up just about everything about you.

They might be doing things for you too, and that might be the thing that makes it hard to untangle, because it might feel like it's an equal relationship in some cases, when it's not. You see in a healthy relationship with friends, things you do are because you WANT to do them. They make you happy and you don't feel compelled to do them. Compelled being the operative word here. You are not doing them to fix something in your friend's life or perception, but you do them because they make you happy, they make them happy BUT if they don't happen they don't make you unhappy. See it this way: it makes you happy to have a trip to the beach with your friends, but it also makes you happy to go alone or with other friends, or with family, or even if your friend goes without you (and you are not paying that trip). BUT if you go to a trip alone or with other friends and feel guilty because you are not with the friendly emotional blackmailer... well, you know where you stand.

If you have to hide activities you like from your friends, because they'll resent you didn't do them with them, you are being emotionally blackmailed. If you need to hide your income, your new clothes, or anything you have because your friend will resent you didn't give it to them, or spent that money on something you said not to, which they wanted, you are being emotionally blackmailed. If you are doing something, a project or anything fun with a group that doesn't involve your friend, and your friend realizes and acts sad, mad, resentful (jealous), do I need to say more?

When you realize you are being emotionally blackmailed by a friend, the solution is simple:

1. Face your friend. Stop hiding what you do, "protecting" them, and tell them, "hey, I've a life. You are my friend and I love you, but I don't have any obligation with you, and even if I did, that wouldn't be grounds for you to come and make me feel guilty or try to make me feel bad about you for things you could fix yourself. Really, grow up or go blackmail someone else, because I'm not taking that crap anymore". Yes, your relationship might end after that - emphasis on MIGHT, as some emotional blackmailers actually don't know what they are doing - but then again, what are you really losing? A leech. If you lose someone because you've confronted them for emotional blackmail, trust me, they neather loved you nor were your friends. So now you have more space for more friends! Do try and make a better one.

2. Get the hell away from that friend, as fast and smoothly as you can. Friend-fade. Maybe not the nicest thing to do, but it happens, and it happens all the time. Just think of the number of people that used to be your friends and then you lost contact with them and are no longer friends. See? No biggie. Losing a friend hasn't killed anyone.

Now, whatever you do, DO NOT TRY TO FIX YOUR FRIEND. You are not a shrink, you can't help them, but even if you are, you are not being paid for that, and you should know better than to work on people you are involved with. Suffering through it... it's an option, but a stupid one. It's not like they'll stop or get better. People don't change from a position of comfort, and people who blackmail are comfort seekers. They won't stop, but they'll evolve, so you'll never get used to it.

Be warned.

Oct 18, 2015

Rushing with the University

Ok, I've been going a little MIA on you all, considering that I wanted to write every week this year and I already missed a week somewhere in there. There isn't really much to report to you guys, except that I've been heavily neglecting my exercise program - this meaning that I'm doing only my morning workout, and the Sunday workout at the Metropolitan Park (some 90 Minutes Powerade program consisting on 45 minutes of Tae-Bo followed by 45 minutes of Zumba, in a completely free activity, sponsored by Powerade Energy Drink) - since I've been pretty much consumed by the audiing work we have to do for the final Graduation Seminar at the University.

This project got me a little anxious. For some reason my groupmates have all already finished their parts but I'm basically stuck in the mud with mine. It's kind of difficult to imagine that only my parts have so much trouble, so I'm thinking that they are far more efficient than I am, and that I'm taking a much more "forensic" approach rather than a regular "financial" approach. In other words, I'm chasing after everything, sticking my nose into everything, examining everything and then going like a bloodhound for whatever mistakes I've found. The other kids are working really hard and finishing all their parts, taking on new tasks to get all done, and I'm here, dragging my cart. What worries me also is that I'm afraid that my parts would be too detailed, too excesive compared with their parts and that could make he whole thing look disproportionate. I think I'll have to talk to the coordinator of the project and ask her about the work papers she's preparing so I don't go overboard with mine. From what I!ve gathered, I've already did way too many.

On my soulful tumblr (I've too, one more into entertainment, dedicated to follow series I like and fanfics, and another to track design, organization, Paganism and studying), I've seen plenty of beautiful pictures of notes and studying techniques used by several students from all carriers and all parts of the world. I've hardly shared any pictures, and funnily, now that I've swallowed by this University-universe, I've no pictures to show. I've few notes, all is in my computer, and besides the information is quite classified, so to say. So not even the perks of university life there for me to reap.

These days I have not been pleased with my job either. I've heard many awful news too, and as the days go by, I'm displeased with the things I see around me, not so much regarding the people around me, whim I love, but rather some of the things I'm asked to do. There's a rupture there, between D and I, and he's dancing around it, and I'm also skirting around it as it is not my place to call on that, but things are getting pety. My disappointment grows by the minute, and with it my desire to leave those ranks. There's not really much where to go, but the things that go down there make me uncomfortable in my integrity and work ethics. I keep my turf and I'm becoming adept at learning to hold my standing in a way that can hardly be circumvented. As result, D goes pety in ways he had not before. Not with me, at least, and that displeases me greatly. He neglects his job just to be pety with me. So juvenile.

Oct 8, 2015

A Thought About Scarlett O'Hara

In the recent days I finally finished reading "Gone With The Wind", by Margaret Mitchell. This was the first book I actually paid for on my Kindle. I bought it while I was in Budapest. back in 2012. Then I started reading it and left it when I had read about 20% of it. Taking on this book was part of a decision I made after I completed my 2015 Goodreads Challenge for the first time and rather early. I've never before read 24 books within a year, so as I finished my 24 books by August and then read some more, I decided thatI had the time to take on three books I've left half read for quite a while. Gone With The Wind was the first of them.

I assume everybody knows about Gone With The Wind, at least from the movies, but in case you've lived under a rock, or too submerged in reality TV, action movies, modern chick flicks and teenie movies made out of best seller books written in the trend of a very, very lean plot and 0% brain activity, let me summarize it quckly for you. Gone With The Wind is a novel that plays out in Georgia, between Atlanta and a place named Tara, somewhere around Jonesboro in the time of the Civil War (you know, Confederates with grey uniforms and Union soldiers with blue uniforms, North vs South in a war that's known for takingon the abolition of slavery in America), and extends a little past it. The novel goes around Scarlett O'Hara, a beautiful, selfish and stubborn girl who has many pretenders, but is in love with Ashley Wilkes. She marries three men she doesn't love and suffers because Ashley maries Melanie Hamilton, a humble, simple girl that loves Scarlett more than anyone else. Then, there's Rhett Butler, a man who sees through Scarlett, knows her secrets and loves to taunt her constantly. He doesn't seem to fall in love with her, but flirts in his mean and denigrating way, always seeking to make her loose her temper. He's also wealthy and known for the shady businesses he's always involved in.

Scarlett and Ashley. Taken from Google.
Through the novel Scarlett looses everything and must fight to keep herself and her family from starvation and eviction. She doesn't shy away from anything, even resourcing to Rhett for help, or tricking and manipulating people to get what she wants. From the many suitors she has in the begining, her "romantic" life ends up reduced to her love for Ashley, who doesn't seem to correspond her feelings, and Rhett, to whom she's attracted, buut who never misses a chance to hurt her and humiliate her.

In the movie Rhett is less of an abusive bastard and Ashley is more clear about not corresponding her feelings, but in the book Ashley clearly leads her on and Rhett openly mistreats her, threatening her often with physical violence, being physically violent, abusing her verbally, sexually and even using her, destroying her reputation by leading her to bad company, forcing her to keep bad company and not shying away from spreading lies about her in order to improve his own reputation before society. This all made in such a way where he threatens Scarlett with violence if she dares to "undo his work" or "call on his lies".

Scarlett and Rhett. Taken from Google.
As I read the book it got me thinking about how awful Scarlett's situation is, how trapped she is, and how the narrative forces her to see her love life necessarily as a choice between Ashley and Rhett, for being alone of with someone else is not an option. By the end of the novel Scalett is told that Rhett loves her, though he doesn't really ever shows so, and only says so once when drunk, but the rest of the time vehemently denies loving her. Scarlett actually considers herself stupid for not realizing this sooner. And this is where I made a stop and thought of how this Ashley-Rhett thing is still imposed on us by society.

In today's society, as modern as it is, and as much as the role of women in it has changed, girls are still brought up with the idea that they should grow up and be pretty, get married and have children. Success in the case of women is often still measured in the "quality" of the husband they can procure for themselves, and failure in not getting any husband. And husbands are a thing to catch. Tons of books aimed for women have the heroine getting the guy. In the case of romance novels, well, it's all about her getting her "happily ever after", and the idea is also hammered in that a woman must fight to keep the love of her man. Subtly, we are also taught that the love of men must be read between lines, guessed from nearly imagined gestures, and their aggressions taken as unmistakable signs of love.

In both of Scarlet's love interests we find two of the lies we are told. Ashley represents the idea sold to us - and also to men - that love can be conquered if you just fight for it and keep pressing the matter regardless of the clear rejection of the other party. Ashley, actually bound by chivalry doesn't find the way to pull Scarlett away from himself. But then, in the book, his character seems to split between that of a man clearly subjected to harrassment, who's desire to be left alone and his wish not to be disturbed with the matter anymore deserves no respect from Scarlett, to that of a man, who then chooses to allow some of her advances, much to his own displeasure, and thus leading her on into thinking she has made progress in her coquest. I'll gender-switch the situation for you to see it more clearly. Imagine a girl - Ashley - who has this guy friend - Scar - whom she loves very much as a friend, and whom she admires by the way he so fearlessly takes on life. Scar is infatuated with Ashley and decides to start courting her. Ashley isn't interested in Scar but doesn't want to lose his friendship, so she tries to dissuade him. Scar won't give in and keeps pressing and pressing until Ashley, starts giving in a little, though each time she gives in she feels bad. Ashley is happily married to the man she loves, Mel, but Scar doesn't seem to care about that.

You see the situation here?

In the second case - which sadly is tried to be sold to us as Scarlett's true love - our heroine is faced with a man who dedicates every minute he has with her to insult her. He starts by telling her she's not a lady, and then, as he makes sure to be very polite and gallant to other women, often in front of Scarlett, he always makes sure to insult her and compare her to other women, making her feel less. Even when he starts with an apparent flattery, he quickly turns his words until they become hurtful. This goes on to the point where whenever he says something nice to her Scarlett braces for the nasty part, an if it doesn't come she becomes antsy waiting for the blow to happen. Though Scarlett is actively portrayed as a bully, and not once in the book she appears to be happy, in the end she becomes addicted to Rhett's treatment and craves it. She goes to the point where, when finally being abandoned by Rhett, she decides to plot to get him back.

As women, we have been told so many times that we need to have a partner in our lives, that our existence isn't complete unless we have someone at our side, that often we come to regard to the person who pays attention to us as our one and only ticket for salvation. Be it that we hold a torch for an Ashley in our lives who has absolutely no interest in us but can't or won't find the way to plainly let us know, either because our Ashley doesn't wish to hurt us or because he enjoys our attention to some extent; or the Rhett in our lives, the guy that likes to keep us around as his personal amusement, and makes anything to provoke anger, sadness or hurt in us. The Rhett can also be that guy (or girl) who often or even constantly minimizes us. Our issues aren't important and we are either selfish or stupid for thinking so. Our opinion is stupid or baseless, our programs or agenda are secondary to anything else. This Rhett can also be the person that tends to compare us with other, usually in a light that makes us look like we are less, even when said in a way that appears to be positive. For instance, the love interest who remarks how someone you may not like has been loosing weight while you might have been gaining some pounds.

The Rhett is also that girl or guy who never notices your successes and if he or she does, the tone in which they do makes it sound like it's not so important. "Yes honey, you finally got our  PhD in Quantum Physics, congratulations. And did you see how lovely is Anna's new baby? She must be really proud. Her and her husband. Have you thought about what should we give her? It's an important moment in her life, you know?". See what I mean?

How many times to we feel guilty for feeling bad? How many times do we feel judged, like we must fight to make a relationship work even when clearly it can't because the other part isn't interested in it? How many times do we ignore clear signs of mistreatment and abuse because we actually think we can make things better, and maybe even that the abuse is a natural, deserved response to something we did?

It's time to realize that time isn't escaping from us, that being single isn't a crime nor a sign of failure. You are a failure only if you  think you are, not because others say so, or because you've failed to marry and bring children to this planet. Regardless of our tempers, be it Scarletts or Melanies, we are a Scarlett, each of us, and we must learn that we don't need to chase any Ashley, because we are valuable even if he doesn't love us, as long as we do. And as we love ourselves, we must give ourselves, not the permission, but the RIGHT to tell to the Rhetts of our life to grab all their insults and aggressions, roll them up and shove it where the sun doesn't shine. No need to a "I prefer to be alone and poor than with you" speech, all we need is to say "I don't need your crap". We don't need anyone's admiration or respect or love to live and be happy. We need our own love, our own respect and that will take us forward. Even if in the road we fall, even if we end up chasing an Ashley or being subjected to a Rhett, our love and our self respect will pull us out as long as we don't lose it.

If there's anything worth fighting for is yourself, because you are your own Tara, your own strenght, your own root, your own source for everything you'll ever need.