Blue Lights, Growing Old and Conversations with Kids

If you look closely enough, you can see blue lights flashing among the sea of white lights when the metro train whooshes in the underground tunnels.

The kids and I make a game of it. Whoever sees the most blue flashes wins.

The 4 year old always wins. For some reason she sees thousands even though she can’t count past 40.

The more time I spend with kids the more I appreciate their knack for seeing things we adults can’t see. I think I like it even more when they own it and do it on purpose.

When they tell you impossible things with a big smile on their faces you can’t help but play along.

It always makes for interesting conversations.

I never intended to become a nanny, I was supposed to go to grad school and become a great psychologist but I realized I’d be in the wrong line of work.

I was looking for conversations that made life seem like it was beautiful and simple, not scary and complicated.

That’s the sad part of growing up, the older we get, the more what we say gets weighed down by the ugly things we’ve learned about the world.

One time after our little game I asked if she planned to count all the blue lights to infinity.

Of course she said yes.

“Do you know what infinity means?”

She said yes.

I informed her that even if I counted from this very moment until the day I died I wouldn’t be done.

She looked at me for a moment, processing the information. She then asked me this:

“Can God count to infinity?”

*Photo Credit: saori usuki flickr Creative Commons 2.0

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Veganism, Intersectionality and the Issue with Labels

“Are you a feminist?”

I asked my then-boyfriend, via text message.

I remember sitting in my women’s studies class waiting anxiously for his reply.

When it finally came, it wasn’t what I expected.

I don’t know. What’s in it for me?

Although disappointment is what I feel now as I reminisce about this moment, betrayal is what I felt then. Only I didn’t know enough to call it that or begin to know why I felt this way at all.

I felt alone and unsupported. That’s the best way I could describe it at the time.

In hindsight, I was hurt a lot more than I cared to admit to myself. I was hurt that this man I thought would do everything for me, rejected to be part of a group that had my best interests in mind. A group that simply sought to offer me equal rights in our society. He didn’t want to be an ally to such a simple request.

To this day I don’t know for sure if it was applying the label to himself or being in favor of equal rights that didn’t interest him.

It could have been both too.

I’m going to be optimistic considering I spent years with this person and say that it was probably a label issue.

I personally have no problem with labels. I’m a vegan and a feminist.

But I know a lot of people have problems with sticking those kinds or any kind of labels to themselves.

I get it. The same label can make you feel trapped while it makes another feel free and proud.

Some labels are too hard to bear in some communities and sometimes precisely because of the communities that wear them.

The vegan movement certainly is a good example of that. A lot of people can’t dissociate the meaning of the vegan label from the negative connotation (imagined or founded) that those who wear it have.

It’s a problem in rallying people to the cause and it’s also a problem when it comes to intersectionality.

If you’re not familiar with the term it refers to the idea that systems of oppression are not independent of each other but rather that they interrelate and thus any form of oppression can’t be eliminated without fighting all of them.

When I asked my old boyfriend the feminist question a few years ago that’s when I opened that Pandora’s box for myself.

When I become vegan a few years later, that’s when I started looking at the contents of the box and realizing that I had been as bad as he had seemed to me.

I saw how pieces fit in the giant intersectionality puzzle.

I cared about being a feminist because feminist issues touched me as a woman. There was nothing in it for him.

I could afford to not care about animals for all these years just like he could afford to not care about being a feminist.

I realize now that sometimes the roots of oppression go so deep that we can’t recognize how we’ve grown from and with them.

Myself included.

It’s a scary thought but one that needs to be addressed.

In the past years I’ve learned to care, a lot, about people and animals and it’s overwhelming to think that there’s more.

That there’s always more. More ways in which I should care.

I’m learning that having the luxury to not have to care about certain things means that I should care even more about them.

What do you think?


*I’m by no means a scholar and that familiar with intersectionality theory so please feel free to chime in and correct me or to add to the discussion. Those are simply some thoughts that circle in mind lately.

Thanks for reading!

*Photo Credit: Pedro flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Don’t Let the Mood Swing By?

Just do it.

I’m not sure there ever was a catchphrase as popular in self-help circles.

It seems to be the solution that everyone likes to tote around when they want to encourage people to stop letting excuses in and go after what it is they really want.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the quote.

I just don’t do it.

I don’t believe in simply doing things.

It’s a brilliant quote, an advice that looks good on paper (and in Nike ads) but it never worked for me.

I’m definitely not the only one.

If everyone was “just doing it” surely the world would be a better place by now.

Book sales and traffic on self-help sites would certainly be down at least.

If you’re reading this it’s proof the interest in knowing how to go after goals and dreams and how to better yourself is not down.

No, a lot of people still want answers. A secret key that will unlock the vault where their motivation and drive has been trapped.

You might say “just do it” is a great advice. The only reason people fail is because they didn’t follow it.

That’s exactly my point.

What good is an advice if no one takes it?

I’ve been in search of a better advice for a while.

I thought I’d start with what keeps me and most people away from “just doing it” day in and day out.

Mood. As in “I’m not in the mood”.

Just because mood is a temporary feeling about something doesn’t mean it should be overlooked.

In fact, considering it’s the number 1 cause for all those “I’ll do it tomorrow”empty promises, we should give it the attention it deserves.

That’s where the Nike motto gets it all wrong.

Sure, we shouldn’t be controlled by our feelings but pushing them aside clearly doesn’t work and when it does, the struggle is real.

I believe there is value in exploring the feelings that makeup our “I’m not in the mood” mood.

Feelings are often seen as a nuisance. A human weakness that ultimately will be our demise.

Feelings indeed have a lot power. They can make us fail in achieving everything we want.

I say “they can make us succeed and get everything we ever dreamed of”.

If only we harnessed their power for our own good.

Whatever we feel facing a task at hand, even negative emotions, there is a way for them to be useful.

I learn about myself everyday facing all the emotions that come with not wanting to do things.

It turns out, I do want to do things.

Once I connect with myself, I can do better work than I ever would if I “just did it”.

What do you think?

Are you a fan of “Just do it” or do you think feelings have a place in motivational speak at all?

Tell me in the comments. I’d love to know!

*Picture Credit: Lydia flickr Creative Commons 2.0

I Wasn’t Always a Tea Drinker

I had my first cup of tea at age 18.

It started out as a once in a while thing. My boyfriend at the time would brew me some cheap English breakfast type tea. He topped it off with a good dose of milk and a very bad dose of sugar.

Throughout the years I kept on having tea on the regular with him and occasionally by myself.

Although our relationship ultimately failed I remained a solid tea drinker. Only minus the milk and sugar.

I like my tea pure.

If you’re not a fan of tea or of reading about it, don’t worry, this post is not really about the hot beverage.

It only so happens that it’s one of my daily rituals. Tea is my companion. It’s there when I wake up. When I want something to drink with my mid-afternoon cookie habit.

Most importantly it’s there to soothe me when I’m trying and failing to write.

I talk a lot about dreams and reaching goals on this blog because I’m focused on mine.

Being a successful writer is what I dream about.

On some days, like today, when I’m tired and I need my tea even more than I usually do, I wonder how I will make it.

The truth is just like I didn’t become a tea drinker after my first cup of tea, I won’t become a writer by writing occasionally.

We become what we want to become by the actions we do everyday. Our little rituals.

So when my spirits are down and I don’t want to go on, I do this:

I drink tea and I remind myself I wasn’t always a tea drinker.  

What are some of your little rituals?

What rituals would you like to start doing this year?

Let me know in the comments 🙂

*Photo Credit: Ton Tip flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Being Transparent

I liked to answer: “Better than yesterday, Worse than tomorrow.”

That was my way of getting around the “I’m fine” that I hated so much.

I wasn’t fine.

I was a teenager going through a break up when I thought up those words.

I’m probably not the first and last person to come up with this reply.

Still, 15 years old me found it really clever and I find it partly imaginative, partly amusing today.

The truth is it was my attempt at being transparent without actually having to deal with the consequences of what that meant.

The reason I’m writing about this is precisely in the interest of transparency.

I’ve always valued transparency and authenticity in other people but failed to take mine to the level I sought in others.

Even in writing, which one would think is the easiest way to practice transparency, it is not that simple.

That’s one of the things that writing this blog everyday has taught me.

Showing parts of myself through my stories is fun and scary at the same time. It competes with my need to be perfect and insightful. Being myself is what happens when I try to find a middle ground between the two.

Much of life is about finding that balance between being totally opaque and being totally see through.

There’s things we want to say, things we need to say and what we really say.

Sometimes all three are the same.

Sometimes not.

I guess transparency is found in which one we choose.

What do you think?

 

*Photo Credit: <<saigerowe>> flickr Creative Commons 2.0

5 Things Writers Do When They Have a Bad Day

We all have bad days. I think it has something to do with being born human. Or just living on this planet.

Then there’s good days that turn into bad days.

I have a lot of those as a writer. I may wake up feeling fine and at peace with myself but as soon as I sit down and start to write, it happens. My joyous disposition turns sour when I take a long hard look at my words on the page or their lack there of.

Bad writing days have a way of becoming just plain old bad days.

Writers, can you relate?

 As I was having one of those days recently where the muse just wouldn’t pay me a visit, I thought to myself “Shouldn’t I have a some kind of back up plan?”

I didn’t so I devised one.

Here is my 5 steps formula to make things better:

By the way these tips might help you even if you’re not a writer. (at least I hope so, ha!) 

1- Write something. 

While you may not be able to get your words down for a specific project doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Try working on some fiction if you’re stuck on an academic paper or an article.

Stuck on a story? Write an article on the mating rituals of bonobos if you want to. (I won’t judge)

The point is, give your mind something different to tackle.

If nothing works, journaling about your feelings is always a good option.

2- Don’t write

I have an uncanny liking for contradictions. What can I say?

In all seriousness, sometimes the best antidote to solving a writing problem is rest. The perfect word you’ve been looking for all day? It will probably come to you after that nap you’re avoiding taking.

3- Go to the library

This one is an no-brainer. If there is one thing all writers like, it’s most definitely books.

Being surrounded by thousands of them is always inspiring for me.

Choose a good novel or two and read. Time spent reading is never lost.

A change of scenery plus a good read is sometimes all it takes to get back on track. If not it’s at least a solid start.

4-Watch TV shows

If your mind is tired from all those pesky words, a good story packed full of suspense TV show or movie is a good option.

A story is a story no matter what form it takes.

Your brain will get some rest but your imagination will likely be sparked.

5-Draw, paint, sculpt, do scrap-booking…

I don’t know about you but as a writer I sometimes feel like I’ve pigeon-holed myself into one art form.

The truth is my creativity should be explored in other ways.

Even if it’s just 30 minutes coloring in one of those trendy adult coloring books, at least it’s something new.

Stimulating your brain with a hands-on activity is a sure way to quiet your thoughts. Especially that nagging writing critic living in your mind.

And if it doesn’t work, well you’ll have a nice piece of art to hang on your wall that you can look at next time you’re having a bout of writer’s block.

Bonus tip: Drinking excessive amounts of tea curled up in bed with your cat is always a good idea.

There you have it; all my tips and tricks to make a bad writing day, an at least tolerable day.

What do you do when the muse fails to visit you?

If you’re not a writer, how do you manage bad days?

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.

*Photo Credit: barbara w flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Will You Take a Leap in 2017?

Jumping over something with great force and with great height is terrifying. That’s why we call it “taking a leap of faith”.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from my gymnastics days it’s exactly that.

When your one goal is to spring over a stationary object that’s almost taller than you and the only way to ever succeed is to run towards it at full speed, let’s just say you quickly understand the meaning of the expression.

Pros always make it look easy.

The truth is there are a lot of things to consider before taking what seems like a leap of faith.

There is a long moment of contemplation usually.

One has to decide which feet should go first. Then there is the question of how far away one should be before they start running.

I personally always felt better taking a few steps back before attempting anything.

Then there is the dreaded run. Confidence is high for the first few strides but the closer you get to the vault, it gets lower and lower until you either stop to run or slow down so much that jumping over is impossible.

After failing over and over to get any height from the springboard, you learn that having a good hurdle is primordial.

Ironically, a hurdle in common speak refers to a difficulty. In gymnastics it’s the name we give to the final step before performing a skill.


The beginning of a new year can feel very much like standing at the start line waiting to perform a very hard trick.

 We have a goal in front of us, the only way to get to it is by rushing towards it full speed. It’s tempting to take a step back before launching ourselves forward. Once we start actually getting somewhere we lose our confidence.

We sell ourselves short by stopping altogether or chugging along unenthusiastic-ally, making our accomplishments non-existent or non-impressive.

Every time we fail and try again we get a little more experience in facing obstacles.


 In gymnastics and in life, one day we eventually get the steps right.

A bad hurdle or hurdles don’t get in our way. We have force and height.

It seems like we will get exactly what we want. A perfect landing or that perfect career or whatever else.

It can all come crashing down.

Because even when you’ve mastered the hurdle, stuff like this still happens.

The key is getting back to the start time and time again.

Some day you may reach perfection but remember you’ll have to do it all over again. And again.

Better start working on your hurdle people!

I wish you all a happy New Year and if you happen to fall on your butt in 2017, laugh it off and start again.

What are your goals for 2017?

Are you going to be taking a leap of faith this year?

I’d love to know in the comments.

 

*Photo Credit: Araí Moleri Riva-Zucchelli flickr Creative Commons 2.0