Heart Or Brain

No. I’m only joking.

I mean shock.

Shock that the person I thought was a role model and a loving dedicated mother could say on the national TV things I would never expect to hear from her. And to think that I used to copy her style back in the 90s. She was fashion-forward, quite unique, creative and out of the box. Now, this…

She is one of the three hosts of a noontime program that centered around family life. No, I don’t follow it. Nor watch. I just know. From time to time a segment would pass through my feed and sometimes I click on it just to see what’s current from the other side of the world and the other day it’s about choices, priorities. Who is more important, a husband or children? That’s the topic. I thought it was old news. Everyone knows that children first and if push comes to shove and a mother has to choose, no second thought: children it is. A partner you can replace. Easily. But your own kids… c’mon, they are part of you, your own flesh and blood. You’ve carried each of them for nine months, take care of them till they are old enough to attend to themselves and even then, your task as a parent will never finish till you are dead and buried. How could you prioritize your partner over your children? It’s for me unthinkable.

I know there is an exception in every rule. Like if despite all your effort your child becomes so toxic to your existence that there is no other choice but to cut the umbilical cord. But that isn’t the same as choosing between your partner and your offspring. You are choosing for yourself and what is best for your well-being.

Apparently, not everyone thinks the same. At least, not that female host. Her co-hosts are on my side but she is adamant that she has to put her husband first before her children. Like I said I was shocked! And what surprised me, even more, was the fact that their guest expert on the topic was with her 100%.

Unbelievable!

It’s like saying if your partner and child are drowning or trapped in a burning building you are going to save your husband first instead of the other way around?

I can’t wrap my mind around that ridiculous idea. In my book, if someone thinks this way she doesn’t deserve to be a mother.

How about you?

What do you think?

Probably you will argue:

Always remember that once kids grow up they will leave you and you will have only each other.

Are you sure?

How would you know that he will be there forever?

On the other hand, even when worse comes to worst your children will always be your children no matter what.

No?

I am not saying neglect thy husband. Just don’t make him your priority especially when the children are young and needed you most. And when the time comes to choose. Never choose him above your children. Never. No matter what.

Agree?

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The Perfect Mother

Children are knives. They don’t mean to, but they cut. And yet we cling to them, don’t we, we clasp them until the blood flows.

My daughter always said that when the time comes she will be a better mother than I am because you see when it comes to motherhood (among so many other things) I am a failure in her eyes.

Well, she’s a mother now and her baby is four months old, so far, she didn’t manage to take care of Oona on her own yet. Every day she needs someone to be there because she cannot stand being alone with her daughter. Too demanding, too energy-consuming, too tiring too difficult too scary too everything according to her. She got a list of people (cleaning person maternity help and such not included) in her network and she shuffles their schedules to fit in hers. No questions asked. Just do what she says and everything will run smoothly. That simple. That easy.

She complains that Oona cries a lot and taking too much of her time. In fact, she said she has no life anymore. Duh (eyes rolling) you wanted a baby, suffer the consequences. In fact, Oona cries because she is making her nervous, stressing the baby (and everyone around her) with her regimented rules and schedules. Babies fall asleep when they want to, no need to force them to lie in a darkened room because you find it is time for them to disappear. In my country, we leave them to drop down whenever and wherever they please no matter how unconventional that might be. Like my father said if they fall asleep in a strange position whichever corner they choose, it means they are comfortable there so let them be.

Babies cry when they are hungry so please don’t force-feed them in the hours that you deemed right. Oona is not even allowed to hold her own bottle. Against the rules. The other day She said that Oona is under the weather and agitated. I would be too if I don’t take a bath for four days. She cannot put Oona in the bath alone. Too scary. Besides, Oona doesn’t like water. I wonder why. Probably the same reason why Oona doesn’t like to be dressed up. She squeezes her into clothes that way too small it restricts the baby’s movements. I can imagine how painful it is to wear a romper that there is no room to stretch your legs without putting pressure on your neck. She said she suspects that Oona has pain in the neck. Another duh. If you are a perfect mother, you will notice that you are squeezing your baby into clothes that don’t fit. No?

And if you are too scared to put her in the bath for whatever reason, at least freshen her up a bit, give her sponge bath, start with playfully wetting her hands and feet in lukewarm water either in a basin or under the softly trickling water from the tap. You can apply the same method to wash the hair. Hold her head under the tap but not the face or you can use a plastic cup so you can pour softly and slowly while talking to her describing what you’re doing to distract her. Do it playfully and lovingly as not to scare her. And if you are really worried you might drop the baby or something, do it if necessary in bed putting a waterproof sheet underneath the bath towel. Anything but leaves her unwashed for days!

Not sure what to do? Google it for crying out loud. For sure there are loads of materials out there to get ideas from.

During one of my visits, I had to take Oona for a walk (and Mary the dog) so my daughter could take a rest she said. It was cold, I wear a double hoodie but Oona didn’t have a cap. My daughter either forget to give it or didn’t find it necessary. I know better than to question her judgment. Any question raises about her choices is guaranteed to be met with hysterics that lead to teary arguments and finger-pointing. We had disagreement already over the cap of the perambulator. She wanted me to close it completely sealing Oona in the darkness. What is the point of walking outside if she is not allowed to see anything? A few meters from the house I opened the pram’s cap halfway, picked some yellow flowers that were bending over the fence and hang over the hood where Oona could see them. She liked it.

When we came back, my daughter commented about Oona’s sudden changed of mood. The baby looked healthier and obviously happier she said. I think to myself: Of course, she is. Any fool with half sense would know that like with anybody, babies need to go out too. To relax, not to party like my daughter seems to prefer upsetting her own structured schedules for Oona whom she claimed a hypersensitive baby therefore susceptive to too many stimuli. But that’s another of my daughter’s many amazing characteristics; putting her wants and needs first above anyone else. A modus she practices from babyhood with her brother who learned from the cradle it is best to give way than be subjected to teary confrontation. Wonderful.

She’s suffering from post-natal depression ( she said) which costing them money going to a psychiatrist (or is it psychologist?) and all. And guess whose fault is that, her being depressed, mine of course who else. Me and my ex failed to give her a proper upbringing (emotional blackmail anyone?) and all that jazz. Excuses I find. She’s 31 years old. She is married to the boy she had been chasing all her life. They now have one of the four babies she planned a long time ago to have and bring up perfectly, they have a decent house and okay relationship, man up for God’s sake! She practically living her dream. What’s the problem then?

Sometimes I suspect her of using Oona, deliberately agitating the baby and God knows what so she can justify her claim of how difficult her situation is and how brave how wonderful how good how perfect she is to withstand the ordeal of motherhood.

Look around for God’s sake! How other mothers are doing. Are they being overly dramatic? And I mean mothers who had survived a more traumatic experience in their lives than her. There is one among her circle of friends for example. Are they using their history as an excuse to cover their inadequacy?

When I gave birth to her I was barely in my twenties, alone in a foreign country where I didn’t understand nor able to speak the language, living in a tiny studio in the marginal part of the capital with little else to go on. The only view I had was an abandoned building that put fear in my soul. My drunkard thoroughly abusive husband disappeared on weekends leaving us alone with no food and locked me and my daughter outside in the middle of the winter whenever it suited him. I had to beg milk for her from the cafes in the neighborhood and ring bells of various apartments and pleaded to let us in even in the hallway so my daughter will not freeze to death. How’s that for a reason to have post-natal depression?

With all of the horrible things I had experienced, not even once I blamed anyone and feel nothing but love for my children. I never saw them as a bother, upsetting the balance of my life or costing me energy or blaming them for not having a life. Something my daughter is constantly talking about when it comes to Oona. One time, I asked her if she once looks into Oona’s eyes and feels that whatever troubles she’s having taking care of her is all worth it. She said; “I don’t have that. I don’t feel anything. I don’t enjoy motherhood, I don’t see her as all of you see her, she’s costing me too much energy and demanding all my time, I have no life anymore, yada-yada-ya.”

I can’t believe it. What did she expect? A walk in the park? First of all, she wanted to have a baby. So much so that when they cannot conceive the normal way they went to a lot of trouble to ensure that she gets what she wished for. Wish granted. What’s the problem then? The reality doesn’t fit in her perfect vision of how it supposed to be? Motherhood is not as easy as she thought it would be? Or the idea of her failing in her lifelong quest to do better than me terrifies her more than anything.

For the record, Oona is a sweet child in nature, calm, agreeable and happy. Only cries when it matters and not at all demanding. But like all normal babies who are in tune with their surroundings and susceptible to the moods of their mothers, Oona feels what my daughter feels and it makes her nervous, agitated and traumatized. She suffers under the constant quest for perfection, order, and control of my daughter who forces Oona to learn to roll over, lie on her belly, this and that because she finds it is about time Oona does these things. I thought: For God’s sake leave her alone. She will rollover crawl and walk in her own time. My son didn’t walk or talk till he was two and a half and turned out to be a multi-talented gifted individual. Each baby has a different pace when it comes to developing. There is no one size fits all (written or not written) rules for these kinds of things. If you are a perfect mother you ought to know that you can’t give your baby a textbook upbringing. Let them do their own thing. All in due time. And if there is indeed something wrong with your baby, no amount of forcing can change that so leave them alone.

What’s the problem then?

The problem is responsibility. My daughter cannot handle it. An aunt (and uncle) cushioned and pampered her for twenty-six years- something she never appreciates (what it is she appreciates anyway) someone devoting all their lives at her beck and call- something my daughter endlessly and shamelessly practice even now among her friends and family. I may not be the perfect mother but I don’t use and manipulate people to suit my needs. I’m afraid the trait comes from the side of my family. My mother was an expert. She thought she had everything coming. I called it Annalyn syndrome. Annalyn is my sister who unfortunately has the same character as my daughter. They love to put the blame on anyone but themselves and play the victim. Own your fucking mistakes for crying out loud and stop blaming people for your own failure. If everyone uses their imperfect background as a starting point (foundation) which to build their future, then everyone would be a criminal.

I for one have plenty of reasons from all sides but I don’t go on bothering people. I’m not saying I am better than my daughter or anyone else. I am probably worse in some areas. What I’m saying is the opposite. Don’t think you are perfect when you are clearly not. Don’t claim you’ve done it on your own and don’t need anyone when you can’t even take care of your own child and need an army just to survive a day. And appreciate the help you get and be grateful instead of acting high almighty I am better than the rest. And please decide what it is you really want to do with your life instead of jumping from one interest to the other confusing the people around you. And stop using your background and upbringing as excuses if you lost the motivation and don’t succeed.

My daughter spent 31 years of her life trying to decide what it is she really wants to do and achieve. So far she is in the middle of yet another endeavor with so many on the sides that it is unclear what is her ultimate goal and where she gonna go from there.

She said she wants to have a practice (a part of a conglomerate of experts housed in one building) giving advice to families on how to run their lives and bring up their children properly. She said she has the perfect background to do it. I told her practice with Oona first and at this moment she is the one who needs advice.

And that is another problem. My daughter cannot take advice or tips (especially from me but she will gladly pay a ridiculous amount of money to a stranger telling her what she wants to hear) on how to run her life without taking it as a grave offense and switch on to the full battle defensive mode.

I understand the difficulties of motherhood. I’ve been there, haven’t I? I know that each person has their own manner of dealing with any given situation, I understand that my daughter has some trouble coping with the responsibilities but she made the choice so snap out of it and shoulder on. There are people who are in a more desperate situation that she is right now. Millions of them. She has a supportive family, an understanding brother, willing in-laws, a patient husband, a network of helpful friends and a dream of a daughter whom I will gladly take on if given a chance. So stop being a ninny, step up to the challenge and show some respects where respect is due.

And most of all, stop the quest to be the perfect mother or perfect anything because perfect doesn’t exist. She had already a dose of reality check from every corner and had to swallow almost every word she once swears she was not going to do so learn from it instead of clinging on to her unrealistic ideals that exist only in her head.

I hope she man-up soon for the sake of Oona before it is too late.

I’m not holding my breath though.

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Found Treasure

We all have carried storms in our spine.

These days, I kept wondering when or where would it start, that time would heal all wounds. I haven’t known pain for months now, not that I am already healed nor that I have been used to the pain. Instead these days, I still sing along to my favorite songs, I still watch my favorite shows, I still read and go out sometimes. But for long I have felt numb— numb to the very fiber of my bones.

It’s like I became an empty shell, just drifting along or as to how they say it “going along with the flow” of whatever this routine pattern that had become of my life. I have lost the fire to do what I want, I have lost the power to realign my life. I became a shadow that watches my life passes by; like another person watching through a body that doesn’t feel like mine anymore.

However life wasn’t supposed to be easy, it wasn’t supposed to be all good days, or rainbows and butterflies. Life, is a storm, and it will hit as hard as it could, and all we have to do is take the blows, endure the thunder and lightning, for I realized that in life, it really meant nothing if we hit hard, or we hit fast, or if we hit back, what matters is we endure, we brave the waters, we carry ourselves no matter how battered or tired or broken we may get; what matters most is our ability to stand back up— our persistence to continue being alive in a life that wanted otherwise.

After all these time, waiting for the day that time have healed all our wounds would be worth it, for we have already carried storms in our spine, what else are we going to be afraid of these little rains?

— Chard Christopher

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How did sadness become so familiar I can almost hear it chanting my name

Sadness… It is more like melancholia which I believe I was born with. I was eight years old sitting on a breakwater that my father had fashioned to protect the dikes from the waves when I first realized that this world has nothing to offer to me. Even then the feeling of being been there done that twice over and back was prominent and constant. I was not sad nor depressed. Just an understanding of a fact. There are only two occasions in my whole life that I’ve felt that way. For the rest, I’m fairly okay. Melancholic but never lonely.

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People Pleaser

“You can’t let people scare you. You can’t go your whole life trying to please everyone else. You can’t go through life worried about what everyone else is going to think. Whether it’s your hair, clothes, what you have to say, how you feel, what you believe and what you have. You can’t let the judgment of others stop you from being you. Because if you do, you’re no longer you. You’re someone everyone else wants you to be.”

—Steve Maraboli

I was born swimming against the current without being aware I was doing so and continued to be ignorant of my course for more than four decades before somewhere along the way I developed somehow a soft spot and all of a sudden I find myself -caring is not the right word but I will use it for the lack of a better one- caring what people might think of me. It’s addictive. Once you start concerning yourself with such things, it is difficult to stop. That’s about the time I started wearing lipstick and wear more appropriate clothes. I don’t go about wearing jogging suits anymore and ditched rapper/skater attires. I still don’t do girly-girl stuff but there is definitely an improvement. I acquired bags as well. Pricey designer ones mind you. I still don’t use them unless necessary but I have them. I miss the time when I don’t even have a wallet and my cellphone fits in my shorts pocket and I don’t even have to comb my hair. Those were the days. Now, I learned about loose powder and highlighter but I draw the line on fond de teint and concealer. I refused to treat my face like a wall, plastering them to look presentable. No eleven makeup brushes for me to dip in eleven different jars and bottles. Maintenance is more important to me than makeup anyway. I rather feel clean than looking pseudo-beautiful I don’t even recognize my own face in the mirror. But yeah, to each his own.

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Putting Myself First

Perhaps the hardest lesson for me to learn was to love myself enough to not accept from myself or from anyone less than I deserve. To say no when I do not feel like doing something, to not let anyone manipulate me using guilt or sob stories and to live my life on my own terms. I do not owe anyone any explanations for how I live my life and I certainly will not put anyone’s wants, needs or desires before my own again and whoever finds this does not suit their agenda of using me, farewell. Sorry but from now on, myself first.

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The Damaging Effects of an Inauthentic Life & How to Change It.

By Tracy Crossley

Depending on how we define authenticity, we may believe we are being very real with ourselves and the world.

Perhaps, we come closer to the definition of who we are, when we’re alone. It would be true, if we still didn’t carry the same beliefs with us, no matter where we go.

Our beliefs color our perception, creating limitations or possibilities and how we view others. Our beliefs aren’t necessarily our truth, they’re often what we’ve given meaning to through our earlier experiences.

Does it mean we are lying to ourselves? Yes, though it’s unintentional.

Many of us have contrived patterns to avoid loss. We fear our beliefs are true about abandonment, shame, not doing the right thing, not belonging and so on. We also fear not getting our way, because it would change the image in our head of how life is supposed to be. 

We often don’t say what we mean, because we’re on auto-pilot. It’s our same old reaction we offer, without much thought to its validity. We skip truth, so we instead live in past projections now.

Being inauthentic means we beat ourselves and others up because we place so much value on expectations. Most expectations aren’t ones we even created, many are inherited through our environment.

To be authentic is to dig deep and look at why we believe what we do, see how we uphold these beliefs through our patterns and question if this is truly who we are inside?

Authenticity is to accept all parts of ourselves. Through acceptance, we build an authentic relationship with ourselves first and then others.

If we get off of autopilot, even for a moment, we can learn who we truly are and learn about others as well.

Until we do, we’ll continue to believe old truths without bias. We’ll unconsciously create situations, which prove to us their truth! So, if we believe all relationships ultimately fail because we don’t deserve to be happy and healthy, then we’ll do what we can to make it true.

We get others to help us confirm these inauthentic beliefs too.

Teaching people to lie to us, is something we do unconsciously. Though if we physically pay attention to our bodies, we notice we feel off when we allow it. They’ll tell us what we want to hear because they fear our reaction or fear of losing us. How often do we let inauthenticity breed in our relationships, because we’re afraid of loss?

When we live out these inaccurate beliefs and force them to be true through our relationships—our experiences become inauthentic.

Many of us are stressed out and believe that life is dictating that we must have experience in the same way, each time. Every time we do something against ourselves, we suffer and yet, we have a belief that tells us, this is the way it is…..and it’s not.

When we show up for things out of duty rather than desire, guilt rather than truth, telling someone what they want to hear, rather than what we really want to say. Acting in ways that feel disconnected, but meant to please. We are living inauthentically. We want approval.

The scary thing is we don’t want to lose this inauthentic connection.

Fear lies in knowing our truth because it often means change, loss and everything we’ve been afraid to let go of, including a perception. In choosing authenticity, some will leave us, some will be pissed off, but in the end, we feel better.

When we can face ourselves with truth— we face another. We won’t let lies be brushed under the carpet, or pretend; we’ll lovingly stand for our truth. Even when it’s hard to do.

Authentic relationships have little to do with a list of qualities. It’s about learning who we are every day and attracting someone to our lives with the same openness, the same desire to live life fully and passionately.

The benefits of authenticity means we are comfortable in our own skin—alone or with others—confident while embracing our flaws, truly kind and yet truthful, even if there is a cost.

Every time we challenge an old belief, through thought and then counter-intuitive action, we release ourselves to have a more authentic relationship with life.

To develop authenticity requires a deeper awareness. Paying attention to our autopilot reactions, sussing out the past projection from the present situation and being honest when we’ve been wrong in our perception too, helps us to get closer to our own truth.

Photography by Nigel Tomm

Measuring Our lives And Achievements Against Others In Social Media

“Long before the advent of social media psychologists knew that one of the fundamental barriers to our well-being is social comparison. It’s hard to be happy if we constantly concern ourselves with how we measure up to those around us. When we derive a sense of worth based on how we are doing relative to others, we place our happiness in a variable that is completely beyond our control.

Within moments of logging on to social media, we have instant access to others’ accomplishments, vacations, job promotions, home upgrades, and culinary creations. It’s nearly impossible not to get swept into the cycle of comparison. Scrolling through the highlight reels our friends’ posts inevitably fills us with envy because of the things we now want.” Read the whole article here.

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Rolling With The Punches

On the 15th of June while sightseeing over the border I had a bad fall and fractured my spine (L-1) An ambulance was called and I found myself immobilized in an Emergency room undergoing a series of tests which involved X-ray, CT scan, and MRI scan. The test results showed a piece of my vertebrae which looks like a wedge of a pizza cleanly separated from the main part, they called it a stable fracture. For the first time in my life I experienced how it was to have a catheter inside me which took them too long to insert because apparently, I have an almost nonexistent urethra. Which reminded me of the paramedic in the ambulance who had to administer an intranasal delivery of morphine after failing to locate any of my veins. Speaking of morphine, that was another first time for me. Never had them before. Now I have two kinds, extended-release morphine, and the usual short-acting opioid plus other things to lighten the overall burden that comes with the condition.

For someone who is as active and energetic and wanderer as me, lying in bed for weeks in one position is deadly not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. For somebody who is always been independent and proud, being totally dependent on another person for everything including personal hygiene is murder for the soul. I’m ashamed.

I am ashamed and angry with myself for allowing this to happen. A split second of stupidity and error of judgment from my part resulted in this. What I was thinking? 

If there is something positive that I would carry with me from this accident is the truth that I have to admit the fact that like it or not, I am not anymore who I used to be. A lesson learned the hard way but it had to happen or otherwise, I will be forever deluding myself that I’m still that person from years ago who knew no bounds, daring and fearless. 

Doctors said I’m lucky. It could have been worse. In any other circumstances, I could be paralyzed or dead. The way I fell they suspected a worst-case scenario. I should have not landed where I landed but with some curious twist of fate, I was saved from the life of being forever wheelchair-bound. 

But something will never change no matter what, that is my quest for independence and freedom.

I ditched the morphine in the first week and wrestle with pain. I prefer that over addiction and constipation. I was advised not to take the stairs and don’t do challenging work yet but I can’t lie there doing nothing. Besides, our home office is upstairs now since we have converted the downstairs bureau into my bedroom. And there are so many things to do in the garden. I was cooking already the first day because in order to have palatable nutrition I have to cook. I can do a lot of things standing including eradicating climbing plants totally and pruning the roses but sitting is too painful and bending is a big no-no. I cry at night from the pain and my body is in a constant battle with exhaustion but I’m still standing. I don’t dare to take a shower alone and laying in the bath is not yet for the near future but I’m still mobile and I’m glad for that. Pain or no pain.

I will be more careful in the future knowing what I know now. But I doubt what happened will change me as a person. I am who I am.

I will not be able to blog often for a month or two. Another blow to my already shaky constitution watching things that matter to me being taken away one by one but I don’t want to dwell on that for the moment. It’s not good for my healing process. I want to concentrate on getting better so I can catch up fast.

I hope to find you there when the time comes.

Take care all of you and till then.

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Backpacker Generation: Why “Leaving it all Behind” doesn’t Work.

By Lauren Klarfeld

What we carry in our backpacks is the weight of our fears.

Some backpacks are made on a swift decision. Others are planned months in advance and ticked off with a checklist. Certain backpacks are made out of choice, and sometimes others are made because we had no choice. Be it to go far or to go hide next door. When we are making a backpack, there is more to it than just physical weight.

As I laid out the remainder of my clothes on an empty table and zipped up my backpack, I knew I was trying to pack a mess. I made a decision almost a year ago that I didn’t want to be committed to an apartment, a contract, rent or a job that didn’t move me. That it had all seemed pointless after so many years to work so many hours, not only to support myself since I was 18 but also to work for things I didn’t always believe in. The home I was in, the job I had and some of the people I knew just didn’t feel like “home” anymore.

What I wanted was the freedom to go whenever I wanted to.

Go incognito and re-invent myself in every new place I was in. Dare to do those things I never felt comfortable doing before. My plan had been to volunteer from hostel to hostel paying no rent in exchange for free labour. The months that followed I walked around a city with the feeling that a weight had been taken off of me. I was alone but I had chosen to be alone. If anything I was a solitaire. And it was liberating for once to look at myself that way.

But like any backpacker, I had given up the vertical ease of a closet where all my clothes had been aligned for years for a horizontal goulash of textile wrapped one under the other. I had come with a full backpack and that was all I allowed myself to carry.

When we see things in such a constrained space or possibility, it somehow gives us perspective on the fact that one needs to be sure of their choices.

Suddenly, we cannot spend two hours trying on different clothes as we struggle with our own image—because there is just no space nor mirrors for us to do. Perfectly ironed t-shirts are a thing of the past too when you travel. And adding things to a backpack becomes a burden as it weighs heavier and heavier. And every time we pick out a t-shirt it is like rambling our hands through a lottery machine—one never knows what they’ll pick out.

The idea of leaving it all behind to live life like a vagabond has been very appealing for years in my generation. But we seldom realise that this kind of life without commitments sometimes comes at the cost of a life without the conveniences we once knew: a home to call our own, a toothbrush in a fixed place, old friends to go to when we’re having a bad day or even a home cooked meal from our mother.

See, backpacks are emblems to travelers. They symbolize the travelers’ mobile nature and our need for freedom to go whenever we want to. They are built to accommodate easy access and storage. And a backpacker needs that like he needs air: the possibility and reminder that he can move and is constrained by nothing.

But when we spend enough time on the road, whether we want to or not, our backpacks mutate. And so do we.

As I moved to this kind of lifestyle in Madrid, I realized that what was once an emblem of mobility, now became a painstaking weight to carry around. I had gone from one store to the other buying new clothes just to fit with the local’s style. I bought one colorful dress after the other and thought it was a victory for the past tomboy that I was. I hated dresses really, but here abroad I thought I could push myself to like them and no one would notice. And the summer was the worst, as this frail white skinned Belgian girl who had never experienced a real summer suddenly had to walk legs and arms uncovered.

When traveling and wanting to change ourselves, we sometimes become schizophrenic chameleons in places whose language we are still learning and borrowing. And as thrilling as it is to go incognito anywhere and re-invent one’s self—some days, we just aren’t lively chameleons. Some days, we are just lost cats that hide under cars waiting for the traffic to pass.

Little do we know that sometimes the backpacks we are carrying are in fact heavy with burdensome personal baggage already. Somehow, all the while that we pack our underwear and t-shirts, our bags are already bursting with the layers of our constant self-questioning, our fears, our inner critic, and sometimes lack of self-love.

When we travel we get rid of our old comforts and routines. And so we grow more aware of who we are and who we aren’t, and of the difference between who we want to be and who we are right now. The kind of contrast we only ever really see when we get confronted with the blank canvas of ourselves echoed by the amount of free time and liberty we have when traveling or being in a new chapter of our lives.

In the end, it isn’t just about wanting to escape what we had before, it is mostly about escaping who we were before.

We are mostly introverts that are seeking a way to grow out of it. We rarely think that growth isn’t just about pushing ourselves to become who we want to be. Sometimes, we just become who we want to become eventually, by making the choices that we’re asked not by our mind or our heart, but by our gut. Sometimes, it’s when looking back, rather than forward, that we see better today the person we are becoming.

So that day as I made my backpack again in these last seven months. I was offered a lesson on acceptance. I laid all my clothes and beauty products on a bed, and decided I’d make two bags this time.

One with all the things that I had always felt resembled me and that I needed. And another with all the things I bought that I thought I might need. And left behind only the last one.

In life or in travel, if we want to set out on an adventure with ourselves, the best backpacks we’ll ever make are those that will leave extra room for our own personal baggage.

And acknowledging this is what will allow us to carry it in the first place…

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Being In A Relationship With An Alpha Woman

If you’re in a relationship with an Alpha woman, you can be certain of a number of things, least of which will be that things are unlikely to ever be boring.

She has chosen to be with you, so obviously you’re interesting enough to have captured her attention (and her heart), neither of which she gives out easily, so that’s already a boon in your favor.

Below are eight things that your Alpha lady will bring to your partnership, whether you’re ready for them or not. Brace yourself.

1. Zero Bullsh*t Or Drama

As has been established, Alpha women have neither the time, nor the patience for games or passive-aggressive nonsense.

As such, you know you’re never going to have to deal with her giving you the silent treatment, or slamming doors, or pulling the whole “if you don’t know what you did wrong, I’m not going to tell you” crap that a lot of people inflict on one another.

She’s also unlikely to hold a grudge, so when you two quarrel, you can resolve issues there and then and move on, as she’s not the type to keep rehashing old ugliness forever just for the sake of drama. Once it’s over, it’s over. End of.

2. Reliability

If you’ve ever been in a relationship in which you haven’t been able to depend upon your partner to really be there for you when you needed them, then it’s understandable that you might be a bit wary about truly trusting your Alpha partner.

Well, fear not: you can count on her.

Alpha women value and appreciate integrity, and often hold themselves to a much higher standard than they would others.

If you need her, she’s there for you. If she makes a promise, she will keep it unless she’s incapacitated. If it’s her turn to pick up the kids, or if she agreed to attend your cousin’s accordion recital, she’ll be there.

Early…

With snacks.

Furthermore, you can feel secure in the knowledge that if she has made a commitment to be your partner, that means she is your partner in all ways.

She will hold her own – whether in terms of finances or home maintenance – and is unlikely to ever allow inequality to seep into any aspect of your partnership.

3. Sincerity, Not Neediness

You realize that she’s with you because she wants to be with you, and not because she needs to be, right?

You may have some insecurities about being with such a powerful creature, but guess what? She chose you. She doesn’t NEED you.

She’s not desperate for a partner, she’s not settling with just anyone so that she’s not alone: she’s just fine flying solo, and would rather be alone than with someone she’s not perfectly happy with.

This isn’t a woman who’s going to whine when you go out with your friends because she misses you when you’re gone for an hour, nor is she unable to function without you being her pillar of support.

She might need you to be there for her during times of crisis, as she would be there for you, but it’s as an equal. Not a ragdoll desperate to be carried and coddled.

4. Encouragement And Challenge

Remember what we said above regarding zero BS? That includes allowing you to make up lame excuses about why you’re not pursuing your goals.

This woman is aware of your potential and knows what you’re capable of: traits that likely drew her to you, to begin with.

If you find yourself in a slump, discouraged, and lacking the motivation to pursue a dream or other pursuit, she will be the torch bearer who keeps the flame burning under your backside to keep you going.

5. Self-Reliance

If you’ve always dreamed of being the knight in shining armor to a damsel in distress, that’s not what you’re going to find in this partnership.

Your Alpha woman isn’t a princess in need of saving: she’s a queen who saves herself and will set sh*t on fire in her wake if need be.

You’re unlikely to get a call in the middle of the night because she needs you to come and pick her up from some kind of weird situation, though if she’s pregnant, she MIGHT ask you to drive her to the hospital when her contractions have started.

Her bag will already be packed, however, so you won’t need to worry about that. Oh, and the baby seat will already be installed in your car because she will have taken care of that too.

6. Awareness Of What She Wants, Plus Reciprocation

Your Alpha woman has a pretty solid awareness of what she likes, whether it’s a moderately toasted bagel with just a bit of onion cream cheese on it, or a specific position when you’re being intimate.

Particularly the latter.

Not only does this lady know what makes her squee, she has no qualms whatsoever about telling you what’s needed to make it happen.

Just as awesomely, Alpha women tend to enjoy giving as much as receiving, so you can be quite certain that if you tell her what you like in turn, she’ll oblige enthusiastically.

After all, what’s the point of intimacy if both people aren’t enjoying themselves?

8. Honesty

This one has to be said, as it’s extraordinarily important when it comes to a relationship with an Alpha female.

We’ve reiterated how much this lady values integrity, and honesty in the relationship – and with her – is just as vital.

When you’re involved with a woman like this, know that you’re not just going to find out one day that things haven’t been working for a while, or that she’s been getting jiggy with your boss behind your back.

If there are issues in your relationship that need to be worked on, she’ll be honest and forthright with you about them so you can address them properly and work on them together.

If you balk at this, she’ll bring it up again, and insist that things be tended to. She won’t just drop the subject, but will do what needs to be done in order to sort things out…

But if it turns out that she’s the only one who’s making a sincere effort to enact change, she will walk away.

It’s just as important that you’re honest with her, regardless of what the issue is. If you’re upset, or unhappy, or just have something to address as a couple, lay it out on the table so it can be dealt with.

She’s not a fragile flower who will cry at the drop of a hat: she’s with you for a reason, and will work with you to sort out what needs to be sorted to make the relationship work.

Just be honest with her, always.

She’ll know if you’re hiding something from her, and if you ever lie to her or break her trust, it’s over: not only will she lose respect for you, but she’ll never be able to trust you again.

Author: Catherine Winter


Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec’s Outaouais region. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn’t writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.

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If You’re Trying to “Get your Body Back”—Stop.

By Bailey Gehrke

We’ve all heard it before: comparison is the thief of joy.

A simple concept that is so easily forgotten. When we fall into comparison, we tend to compare our current bloopers to another’s highlight reel. We compare the aspects that we deem “Need Improvement” to something that “Exceeds Expectations.” When we base our actions and thoughts off of what something looks like, we are always setting ourselves up for disappointment. Comparison truly is a thief of joy, contentment, and self-love.

Think of a time in your life when you felt your best in your body; felt the most comfortable in your skin. More likely than not, whether it was six months ago or 15 years ago, that time is associated with a number. The number that showed when you stepped on the scale, however, many years ago, and you felt the best about it.

And now, as we look in the mirror or see a photo we deem as “unflattering,” a little voice in our head says, “If you could just get back to that number on the scale again, you’d be happier.” Or, “If you could get back to that body again things would be better.” We then set off, using whatever means necessary, envisioning the moment when we look in the mirror and see our 15-year-old body, or our 22-year-old body, or our 35-year-old body.

Here’s an unpopular opinion—an idea we may not like: we will never have the same body twice. We will never look in the mirror and see our 15, 23, or 35-year-old body. Ever again. That’s not to say that we can’t reach that particular number on the scale, but it is to say that even if we do see that number on the scale, and we look in the mirror, our bodies will not look as they did then.

Here’s what I know: I have gained weight, then lost it. Gained a little, then lost a little. Gained a little more, then lost a little more. Through all that time and through all those transitions, I’ve never looked in the mirror and saw the same body twice, regardless of what the scale was telling me. I’ve seen the same number on the scale at least five times in the last five years, and it’s visually looked different every single time.

Here’s why this happens: our bodies have a certain percentage of lean body mass or muscle. On top of the muscle is fat. The amount of lean body mass we have, plus the amount of fat we have, plus some organs and important water stuff, equals our scale weight. The visual composition of our body is dependent on how much muscle we have and where the fat is distributed within the body. If weight is gained or lost, the amount of lean muscle mass is going to change as well, which means the fat that we have gets redistributed. When the fat is redistributed, it will visually look different, because the amount of lean muscle mass is different.

Basically, all that science-y crap means is that one specific time you saw that particular number on the scale, that scale weight was made up of a very specific amount of muscle and fat. It is very unlikely you will ever see that very specific composition again. Meaning, you will never look in the mirror and see the same exact body composition twice. Meaning, you should stop comparing your “today” body to your “then” body.

Men chasing after their “18-year-old self” six-pack, stop. A six-pack can be obtained, but the process to get there and the end result will look different. Using what worked then is negatively impacting your results now.

Mamas trying to “bounce back” from your last baby, stop. Your internal organs literally shifted, and you grew a tiny human inside of you. That’s rad. Your body can’t go back to the way it was because you’ve not only made space for a new little person, but your personal growth has filled in those spaces.

Anyone trying to “get your body back” after many years of “letting yourself go,” stop. You’ve learned so much in this time, you shouldn’t be “going back,” there is nothing for you back there.

Instead of focusing on what was or how something looked in the past, let’s change the narrative. How can we become the best versions of our current selves? Not the second edition of an outdated self. Going one step further, let’s ask ourselves, “What would the best current version of me feel like?” Notice how I didn’t ask, “What would the best current version of me look like?”

We are always changing, always learning, always becoming better. We wouldn’t trade what we know now for what we knew then. We are always moving forward, and so should our bodies

– via Relephant

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