Saturday, 4 July 2020

perseverance...

There’s a quote which I think is attributed to “Rocky” (but last week I watched it and was not there... eh... there’s another, what, 5? 6 films?...) that goes “it doesn’t matter how hard you can hit, what matters is how hard you can get hit and still keep moving forward”... I like this quote. I also like “Rocky”.

In the last three years of my life, I have been cheated upon and lost my partner, family and friends that I had for more than a decade. In the process, I haven been disrespected and shamelessly lied upon, I have been pushed over my limit so much so that I almost lost myself, I have been gaslighted to think it was all my fault and, on top of that, I have been asked to just accept my ex’s “polyamory” as the new norm. I respectfully (to myself) declined. And then I had to live with “them” shacked up over my head on top of seeing them everyday at work. 

At work, I have been bullied, pushed to “produce” at an unbearable pace, I have been discriminated against, constantly unappreciated and often undermined and I even had my work “checked” by an A-male, who had absolutely no authority to do so, merely because what I was saying was not accepted by another A-male. By the way, I was correct. Because or work stress, I have endured so much physical pain it almost drove me to suicide and I had a severe burnout, staying locked inside my house for months. And that was before the lockdown. Which came along with me catching “the bug”, so I was (yet again) sick and scared and alone. I have struggled with the news of my mother being diagnosed with cancer and not being able to even go see her due to the damn virus. I have been rejected by some people I thought were friends, even my own brother just because I did not praise him for the first time, I have seen dear friends suffer without being able to help them, I had a car accident, I had my dreams and hopes shattered in a million pieces again and again and I have hit my funny bone more times than I can remember!

But... I’m still here! I’m still moving forward! I have persevered! I have not given up! Exhausted? You bet your Louboutins I am, but I ain’t dead yet, bitches!! I can definitely take a punch, I know that now! And I know that perseverance is better than shoes! Better than any shoe! And that in the end it always gets rewarded because just the fact of having persevered is a great reward on its own! The bell just rang again for the n-th time, I’ve been hit more times than I can count but I’m still in the ring and I’m still standing! That’s something! And not merely standing, I’m once again seeing the bright side of things, I’m hopeful for the future and forever grateful for my amazing friends who stand by me through thick or thin! I even have a bunch of new projects in mind! See, the thing is... life is not easy for most of us and there will always be times we feel we just want to give it all up but... don’t! Just don’t! Persevere! Rise above the swamp, smile in the face of disaster and keep moving forward! In the end, it will all be well and if now things are not well, it’s not the end 😉

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

human touch...

What I have missed the most these last few months is the human touch... as a single woman, living on my own, I have relied for the better part of these last two years on my darling friends to fulfil my need for a hug, a pat in the back, for an “up top” even... and they have been always generous with me, knowing that it took me many years of growing (literally and figuratively) in order to learn not only to accept to be touched, let alone be hugged, but appreciate the actual healing powers of the human touch!

Too “new age-y” for your taste? Yeah... for mine too but, damn it,  it’s true! I have witnessed it first hand! I know what good can a hug do, I have felt it! And as someone who denied the existence of feelings for about two and a half decades of my life, (fun fact: I was just stuffing them in a box I kept locked... you can guess what happened when the lock broke from the inner pressure... was not fun), when I say “I have felt it”, you may rest assured that it was more real that the sun in the sky! I kid you not!

So yeah... the human touch... it’s been months now that I have been paddling along without it... it’s been lonely and difficult and it has made me realised, yet again, how great and necessary and important it is... definitely better than shoes, in every way!... And today I got some bad news... really bad news... it appears the universe is not yet tired of serving me one pile of s**t after the other but that’s a story for another time... when I got that text, I was with my darling M, the “little sister” I never had and have been blessed to find here... and when she heard the news she said “oh, sis... and I can’t even give you a hug” and she was devastated as she said it! Because you see, we met each other today for the first time after months and we were very carefully practicing the social distancing thingy as we should... and it was heartbreaking... that moment was heartbreaking for both of us...

So we must get out of this bloody situation we are in now! “We” as in “the world”! We have got to find a way to get to a state that we can hug a friend when they need it! We have to start shaking hands again! We have to stay in touch! Literally! Otherwise I see no future! For humanity, that is! So, please, pretty pleeeeease with bells on top, dear scientists, find a way, find a cure, find a vaccine that will allow us to be human again! And if there’s anyway I can help, just tell me! 

Thursday, 23 April 2020

it’s the little things....

It’s been two weeks that I’m without any symptoms.... ooooops... I forgot the “previously, on Nina’s life” for those who don’t read this blog as often as they should (shame, shame... but do feel welcome and loved)... well, I’ve been sick with what looked dangerously like this bug that’s going around... the one that everyone is talking about... and I lived to tell the story 😊 I’m out of bed and into the kitchen/living room/office. Yep. At this point it’s difficult to know whether I work from home or live at work. My precious separation of personal vs professional life has gone out the window... even though I try to hide work stuff when I’m done working... But, ok, I have accepted 2020 as the year that’s going to teach a control freak like me to live, and strive might I add, without any control whatsoever over absolutely anything!

And, after more than a month of complete isolation and misery, yesterday I went to work! Meaning, I actually physically went to the building that houses my office! I absolutely needed to in order to be able to continue to work from home. And I did it. Every precaution taken. The skin on my hands is sore from washing and disinfecting them more often it can take and I maintained social distancing completely. That was not difficult, the place is a ghost town. The weather was fabulous, as fate would want it we are having (missing?...) the best spring I can  remember and just to get properly dressed and be out and drive and have a destination and a purpose, even if it was work, on a day like yesterday, was such a treat! I felt human again! I felt I was getting back my optimism (yes, even someone like me, loses it in times like these...). I felt... joy!! Pure joy!!

Now, it was not much, I know it. I’m not delusional. But I figured, if I don’t celebrate the little things and wait for the major blissful event to happen, I might be left with nothing... so, I choose to praise the little things, like going to the office for an afternoon on a sunny day during a pandemic that has isolated us from practically everything and everyone. I choose to see these little things as “better than shoes” and share with you. I hope you can agree on the merit and I hope you too can spot little things that give you joy and  celebrate them 😉

Saturday, 28 March 2020

social closeness...

I’m sick. I know, I know,  this is hardly the way to start a post in a blog that claims not to ever put out anything negative but, it’s true, I am sick and I thought I just say it and get it out of the way.

Now, I live in a country where testing for Covid-19 is... well... let’s say scarce. Looking at the list of symptoms this damn virus causes, from WHO, I would say that things don’t look exactly fabulous for me. However,  and this is the most important thing, my symptoms are mild! I’m not in danger. I have been, of course, in absolute isolation for almost ten days now (not that I was really out and about the weeks before that), I’m not coming into contact  with anyone, I’m staying in bed watching “The Blacklist” (yes, Red is my new crush... duh...), drinking a lot of fluids and monitoring my fever which thankfully stays low.

And as I live through this, certain that this too will pass, I’m thinking hard to find something positive to write about, in this whole... well... pile of excrement the world has ended into... and it’s hard, you know, it’s hard to find something positive in a time of a pandemic, social distancing, isolation, fear, sickness and death... even I, the pathological optimist, find it hard...

And then, my phone chimes! That’s it! I realise that in the last two weeks my phone has been on fire! WhatsApp has never been used so much, mostly sharing of hilarious videos with my friends because, surely, we can joke about everything (and we should, especially at a time like this) but also for my amazing friends to check up on me every few hours! Isn't this wonderful? Isn’t this “better than shoes”? You bet it is! It seems to me that the social distancing has brought us closer together! I’m on the phone with my loved ones 4-5 times a day, texting does literally not stop, I have contacted and been contacted by people I haven’t spoken with in a long time and, goodness, what a blessing this is! We are all housebound but we are not alone! We are all in this together! And we will stay together, while maintaining our physical distance, and we will come out on the other side! As long as we stay kind and we care about each other and for everyone, this stupid bug cannot win!

So, stay calm, stay kind, think of others (especially the ones living on their own), send a text (or ten...), keep in touch! This is it, people! It’s now that we are showing who we are! Let’s be proud of what we showed now when we look back at this time, later this summer, seated on a nice terrace, sipping a G&T with our buddies 😉

Monday, 16 March 2020

being kind...

This post is being written at a time when The Netherlands, my host country for almost two decades, is in a sort-of-lockdown due to the Coronavirus. It is written at a time when #staythefuckhome is trending everywhere in social media and has popped in front if my eyes at least 11 times this weekend... and, I did not like it. And it got me thinking. So, here goes.

Just to be clear, I’m all in favour of staying home. It’s absolutely imperative! It’s Monday and I’ve been home since Friday evening, when I came back from work with my laptop and files, ready to start working from home. Officially, I was not sent home. I was advised to work from home. And I’m doing it because it’s a damn good advise, although I have no desk or proper chair and I will be struggling with tiny screen on my kitchen table for the days to come. But it must be done and I’m doing it. And I will not be going to the supermarket, I’ll make do with what I have at home, a couple of weeks without fresh veggies will not kill me. And I will not be seeing my friends. I will be “seeing” my sofa and my companion will be Netflix.

But while I do all that, I’ll keep being kind! I will not be ordering anyone to f@cking do anything because it is exactly at times like this that we must maintain our civility to each other, advise and explain rather than succumb into fear mongering, contain our aggression which stems only from our anxiety and not allow our fear to turn us into rabid animals in our cages that fight each other via Facebook! The only thing we have to fear is fear itself and as intelligent beings we should start using our intelligence!

Yes, many of us will get sick. And some tragically will die but, for goodness sake, try to imagine yourselves in the 97% which will survive instead of the 3% which will die... you are not that special anyway and neither am I! Get some perspective! Some optimism never hurt anyone! And while you are being cautious and prudent and optimistic, strongly recommended given the circumstances, also try to be kind! Try to be compassionate and carrying and nice and helpful. Most of us, by far the most, will survive the virus... and we would like to go out for a drink with some friends to celebrate it! Let’s make sure we have friends left 😉

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

safety...

Yesterday was a day of revelation... As I’m slowly getting back to my work routine, after having spent the last three months recovering from a rather severe burnout and trying to reprogram my brain to set healthy boundaries (who am I kidding... we are talking a full reboot!), and also after having had a long conversation with a friend last week about matters of the heart, yesterday it actually came to me: the most important thing in a personal relationship, whether friendly or amorous, is feeling safe! Safe to be ourselves, safe to express what we feel and what we think without being afraid that that will lead to abandonment! Personal relationships should provide a safe space!

I have very often in my life felt unsafe in a relationship... in fact, since I was a kid, the thing I craved the most was safety... ironically, it is the one thing I have not found in my personal life with the exception (and it’s a big one!) of my wonderful friends! Who do indeed provide a safe space for me to be myself, to not sensor my thoughts, my actions, my words... because they know that it all comes from a good place, from love, from care, from honesty... Although... lately I have reconsidered a friendship precisely because it pushed me to the position of having to filter what I say, to avoid talking about things that worry me, that concern me, things that are part of my life... and it has not been easy because it is the first time that I have actually focused on how I feel in a relationship rather than how the other person would feel...

And this was instrumental in me reaching the conclusion that it is safety that is the most important thing in a relationship... often, especially in romantic relationships, because we feel so many other things (love, lust, longing, pleasure, fear...) we forget to ask ourselves the most important question: does this person make me feel safe? Because, what is the point in being in a relationship that makes us feel unsafe? One that does not come naturally, one that we have to constantly fight for, one we have to chase after and that we have to hide our true self? Isn’t it doomed to fail? I think it is! So, ask yourselves whether you feel safe in your relationships... the answer might surprise you but, me thinks, it is important! Feeling safe in a relationship is truly better than shoes!

Ps. Obvs, I’m talking about emotional safety... if you actually feel physically unsafe, run!!


Friday, 21 February 2020

words...

I never believed in the old saying about sticks and stones and words... I always thought that words are so powerful that they can break bones! Remember how Hannibal Lecter convinces his fellow inmate to kill himself just with words in “Silence of the lambs”?... ok, extreme and gross, my example, but you get my drift... Words can bring the ultimate joy or the abysmal sorrow, words can make us feel like we are flying over fields of green and skies of blue (just like in the song...) or like we are slowly crawling down a dark pit... words... have always affected my life perhaps even more than the actual events... I have been offered words that I think I will never forget, not even when I have forgotten my own name... good words... bad words, mostly... words that have left their mark on my soul... unspeakable words... beautiful words... cruel words...

So, when last Saturday I went to the theatre to see the definitive play about words and their power, “Cyrano de Bergerac”, I knew it would be... well, powerful!... what I did not know, was that I was going to be so overwhelmed with emotions, like an avalanche, all of them at once, the good the bad and... the ugly! Because, James McAvoy’s Cyrano, is ugly... he is ugly because he feels ugly... and the famous big nose, that is not there physically to see, is somehow more present than ever! And I shared his pain, I shared his love, I shared his desperation, I shared his shame, I shared his fear, I shared his joy at times, I shared his brief moments of feeling superior, smug even, followed by long periods of feeling the most unworthy man on the face of the Earth... I shared his secret, I shared his laughter and his tears... and I shared all that because... he shared his words with me!

He says “ I love words, that’s all...”... yes... me too! I love words too! I love them, I dread them, I cherish them, I believe them, I ignore them, I forget them ever so often (if I had a Euro for every time I forgot the word I was looking for in the language I wanted it in... I would buy more shoes, probably...). Words tell our stories, express our feelings, allow people to know who we are or hide us from them, comfort us and let us comfort the ones we love, protect us or expose us, make us laugh, make us cry, make us happy, make us miserable... they make us kind or monstrous... they make or break relationships, they start and end wars... words make us human...

Words are better than shoes... but, just like shoes, they need to be chosen and used wisely 😉

Ps. Yes, the play was “better than shoes” too, of course, and yes, go see it if you still can! It’s unforgettable! 

Friday, 24 January 2020

speaking up...

...is better than shoes. Any day of the week.

I remembered the other day an incident from my childhood... I was 12 years old, year six of primary school, and for whatever reason we had a replacement teacher for a few days. He was young, much younger than our regular teacher who was also the school principal (and a pervert who put his dirty-old-man hairy hands all over us girls from year four to year six that he was our teacher... yeah... #metoo), and actually nice. But... one day, I don’t remember what he said but it was while we were having a conversation he and I, I exclaimed, rather indignant I might add, “what you are saying is unconstitutional and anti-democratic!”. Yep. Did I mention I was 12 at the time?...

I mean... I always had a big mouth... I was always very sensitive when it came to unfairness, abuse, violation of my rights, injustice... and I have not really changed, in spite of my mother’s pedagogical approach every time my reaction would be regarded from her as “talking back at her”... namely to beat the living lights out of me... No, I haven’t really changed... I still say exactly what is on my mind, I still argue my opinions, I still talk the talk (and walk the walk, if you are wondering...) and defend my rights and those of others who perhaps can’t... and yes, unsurprisingly, my big mouth has gotten me into trouble many a time and has put me in many a black list... but I have not regretted it! Not once! In fact, I have regretted not opening my mouth quite a few times!

We all, and especially we women, need to learn to be brave and speak up! We need to learn to defend ourselves, nobody else is going to do it for us. I mean, yes, I will (because I’m a modern day Robin Hood with much better shoes) but I cannot be there everywhere and for everyone! I would but I can’t! So you have to do it for yourselves! Speak up! Yes, it’s often scary, at least in the beginning, but you will get used to it! I promise you, you will get the hang of it, you will get good at it! Just... practice! And if it lands you in a black list (or two...), that’s ok too... only boring people are liked by everyone 😉

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

my new sweater...

...is better than shoes! Better than Aquazzura’s “Tequila” pumps (google them... don’t expect everything from me, people!), we are not talking any shoes! It is better, because I made it!

After having knitted scarves for everyone I love in the last three months (yes!... for everyone I love and I’m blessed in loving quite a few people who are all kept warm and cosy now) I decided to take the next step. Of course, the idea had been simmering for some time; I had found and bought the perfect yarn, I had seen countless videos on YouTube for techniques I would be needing, I had turned the hanks of yarn to balls (yeah... that takes time too... but, it’s pleasant when you do it while watching TDS) and put them in pretty boxes... I was preparing! And then, I did it!

Yep! I actually knitted a whole sweater by myself! From start to finish! And it is gorgeous! The yarn is the softest merino wool from Peru, softer than cashmere, hand-dyed in the most magnificent shades of purple and aubergine and yellow and green and blue and pink and red, making it absolutely uniquely beautiful! Well... unique... duh! There is not a second one in the whole wide world! Literally, one of a kind! And it is mine and I made it! I don’t remember being so proud of myself  about anything in the last... oh... I don’t know... a very long time anyway! And I’m proud not just because I made it but because I saw it through! I set a goal (not my cup of tea...) to knit a sweater, and achieved it! I did not give up, I did not get scared (ok... truth be told, I did get scared when shaping the neckline but not enough to give up) and I finished it!

And... when I put it on for the first time... oh, the feeling of wearing such a beautiful piece of clothing totally created by me, was indescribable! It was definitely and absolutely better than shoes!!

Ps. So far, I have received only compliments from my besties who got pics of it... later today I’m wearing it in public 😉

Saturday, 11 January 2020

RuPaul Charles...

Of course, I always knew who he was... I mean, “Love Shack” and “Don’t go breaking my heart”... I’m a kid of the ‘80s... (ok, yes, technically the ‘70s)... that smile and those dance moves were hard to forget once you’ve seen them! And, in my teen years, RuPaul made it so natural and so easy for me to accept that we don’t all fit in little boxes and that is ok for a man to put on a dress and a wig and perform... especially when the performance was so full of joy and made me wanna get up and sing and dance!

But... I never knew “who” he was. Not until bestie S told me to watch his “Drag Race”. I binge-watched all ten seasons non-stop! It was around Christmas 2018, at the end of a year when I had lost my partner and best friend, my family, my dignity, my self-esteem... a year that broke my heart in a thousand pieces... but, episode after episode, it was the queens who got me out of my misery! Who made me wanna pick myself up and move on! Not because listening to their stories, heartbreaking and tough and cruel life stories at times, made me think that I had it easy... no... it was because no matter what, they picked themselves up and moved on! Because they were strong, fierce, full of love for life, full of talent and wit and kindness and truth and always ready to support each other even when they were competing against one another!

And that’s what real women are like! Regardless of what a patriarchic society wants us believing, no, we are not against one another, we are together, we stand up for each other, we shine brightly and we fight tirelessly every day! Like me and my girlfriends! Like the girls in “Drag Race”! And yes, it did take RuPaul and his “Drag Race” and all the queens to teach me that and I will always be grateful! Because it literally changed my life! And, yes, he’s right that we are all in drag and it’s ok as long as we know it...

It took me another year to write this... a year of struggle, exhaustion, sickness, loneliness and hard lessons... a year when ever so often I would find myself feeling so low that only watching “Drag Race” would put a smile on my face... but, another year that I survived! I guess, a “thank you” is long overdue... So, thank you RuPaul Charles! For your truth and smile and generosity and wisdom and joy of life! And your dance moves! From the bottom of my heart, thank you! Needless to say, having you in my life (yes, I have you, you don’t know it but I do) has been better than the best pair of shoes I could ever possibly possess!