Thursday, 31 December 2015

Dare to Dream - 2016

It's not /the/ way to have a perfect year.
A bucket list, I mean, or New Year Intentions.
It can actually be quite demotivating, especially when (around the third -blue- Monday of the year) you discover that you are going to be sponsoring your nearest gym, instead of paying for a membership  you're actually going to make use of.

Then again, finishing last year's Reading Challenge fit in quite well in the "I'm proud of myself, because..." list. It's one of the few things I did have control over, and finishing it succesfully (though very much near the deadline) sorta gave me motivation to start a new challenge for this year.

It'll be easier than last year's, but harder.
More interesting yet challenging.
More of a to -do list, but I'll have to think about it.
And though set up in a way, it'll have to be spontaneous and inspirational, too.

What's that challenge?

Here you go, my to-do Bucket List thing of 2016:

- Explore 12 places I've never been. (And a minimum of 1 'new' country).
(Places can be towns, cities or otherwise. Wherever. As long as they're new. To me.)

- Do 12 things I have never done before.
(Like Rollerblade disco in 2015, or eating marshmellows on a volcano in 2012, or surfing, skiing, climbing mount Everest, going to Mud Masters or trying Free Running or Slacklining. A new hobby, a new sport, a new language, a new instrument.)

- Read 12 new books.
(Again, new to me. After this Reading Challenge of 2015, this should be a piece of pie.)

- Make/Create 12 pieces of art.
(Painting, colouring, crafting... Any art.)

- Learn something new.
(Sailing, for instance. Or a new language. Some skill. But again, doesn't matter, as long as I learn how to do it properly - on amateur level. I'm neither ambitious nor foolish enough to want to become professional at something new within a year. Else I'll be cheating for sure.)

There's also some goals as far as health and fitness are concerned, but I don't have those in SMART goals. It just needs to become better. I need to consistently work at my health.
And make my body and mind a priority. More than it has been so far, anyway.

And why are my goals in 12-es? Obviously, a consistency of "once a month" without limiting (or pressuring) myself to actually get something ticked off every month.

This list may expand, for whatever reason, as I see fit. Any suggestions or ideas are welcome. 

Cheers, let's make this year a good one! 

The Gypsy

Reading Challenge: Completed.

Barely - but succesfully, I am proud to announce my mission as accomplished.

When my life took a turn for the worse (or rather plummeted into an abyss), I promised myself one thing. I had no control over whether I was going to find what I was looking for. I had no control over if I was going to be accepted at any job. I had no influence in the amount of friends lost (or gained). I (temporarily) had no control over my mental health, and in so far still have no control over health in general. The body and mind remain treacherous things.

But I did promise myself I was going to finish this challenge.
And I managed to read another 17 books, even though I haven't read a word all through July, August and September.

Hence the list, and a short analysis on each, seeing as I have more to fill my time with on this last day of the year.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. 
First half took weeks, second half two days. A classic I'd never read yet.
I'm glad I did, it's your classic love story from 1813.
Very Austen. Things happen for convenience, a misunderstanding ensues, everyone's haughty, then someone finds out the truth, and they live happily ever after.

Paula Spencer, by Roddy Doyle.
I didn't even have a box for this one, yet glad I read it.
A sequel to The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, which I'd read earlier this year.It picks up 10 years after her husband dies. A battered woman, an alcoholic, trying to get through the day, trying to make sense of life. 

Toen Ik Je Zag, (When I Saw You) by Isa Hoes. 
It was absolutely beautiful, at times witty, at other times touching.
I expected it to be a lot more depressing than it was. It is a true story told by a famous Dutch actress, of how she met (and eventually lost) her famous Dutch actor husband. It's weird to read about it from her side. Antonie and I used to speak on twitter. Apparently, he used social media as one of those "escapes" from the empty feeling from gaping life (or lack of it) and the pressure of accomplishments. 

Zo ik iets ben.. Ben ik een Hagenaar, Louis Couperus. (If I'm anything, I'm a Hagenaar - ie. from The Hague)  

If I had to point out a hometown for myself at all, it will be Den Haag. It's where I was born, and it's where I have felt most at home during the past years, even though I haven't lived there since I was 2. If I ever end up buying a house anywhere, it'll probably be there. 

De Vrouw In De Spiegel, (The Woman in the Mirror) van Kim Moelands. 
First fiction of hers I've ever read. It was okay. Not super impressed.
It was easy to read, a thriller, and a book that came out this year.

There's the suspense, and several stories parallel one another that brush along and touch at intervals. I haven't read this many Dutch books in one year, either, ever since I was a kid. 

Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
Unfortunately a rereading, because my mother isn't impressed by books, if she takes time to read something at all. So a book your mum "loves" is also an overstatement. 
I still like it, though. I'm not going to bore you with an analysis.
If you haven't read it yet, go read it, or just be ashamed of yourself forever. 

The Kabul Beauty School, Debbie Rodriguez. 
Strong story, of a strong lady, who "just" rescues hundreds of Afghan girls and helps them with a future. Her writing style is not the best, but whatever. I do have respect for the woman.
I hope some day I can write or tell a story like this.
A story of how I impacted lives. How I changed the course of someone's future.
In a positive, hopeful way. 

De Olijke Tweeling Krijgt Schaatsen, A.M.Peters. 
Youth Sentiment. Took me an hour, whilst waiting for my doctor's appointment. 

1984, George Orwell. 
Took me a while to get through, mainly because of traveling. I do understand why it's a must-read classic. A dystopian novel with things that strike true. Yet it ended so.. horribly. 
And I do get why it was banned in the Soviet Union. /censorship. 

The Maze Runner, James Dashner. 
I thought, I'll start a trilogy that's hot and happening. And because the second movie was coming out this year. But I wasn't really hooked. Both by the writing style as the story. And then I found out there are 4 books, not 3. And then I dropped it, for now. After finishing that one, obviously.

I didn't even get to tick a box. 

De Cock en het Lijk in de Kerstnacht, Appie Baantjer.
(The Cock - it's his name and not weird in Dutch-  and the body on Christmas Eve).

Mystery detective things, as far as setting goes, it was definitely Christmas.

I used to watch the series when I was younger. I liked it better than this book. 

Extremely Loud, and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Saffran Foer. 
Not bad, for a book written by "someone under 30".  My head works a bit like the boy's in the book.
Oh, right. I wasn't expecting it to be all about the event that shook the States (9/11), at all.
Even though I'm not autistic. It took me a while to figure out he was only 9.
I wasn't half that clever than. (Though probably talked just as much. Maybe more)
It doesn't obnoxiously push it in your face all the time, though.
I still don't know what I was doing on that day at that time, except for grieving for my grandmother.

I don't want to imagine losing someone in that big a drama. By terrorism or nature.

Macbeth, William Shakespeare
Read and finished today. To tick off a play. 
"Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble...
... Something wicked this way comes". 

It's one of my favourite plays. Not only because I'm not born of woman in the Shakespearean sense of the word (C-sections and all that), or that Harry Potter literally quotes the witches around their cauldron.  There's something to be said for the ambitious, but also for those that take signs and prophecies to heart so much it leads to their own destruction.

Nice Work, David Lodge. 

This was always one of my favourite writers. I can't help it. At heart I'll stay a student of English Literature forever. I'd never read this one, and I do agree with the title. It's a nice work of Lodge's indeed. Two lives, which have nothing to do with one another, one shielded in academic life, a feminist Women's Studies lecturer at a fictive town called Rummidge, and a factory Directing Manager. I felt happy and almost intelligent as I recognized a lot of the references to (English) literature. It might be time to refresh and revive this part of my life. Get some cobwebs off dusted off. (As soon as I pick up my Spanish).  

Tales from the Magic Rocking Horse. 
Youth Sentiment, once again.
I still love horses.
I do wonder though, how this used to be a book to read for weeks on end.
I guess small chores look a lot bigger as a child, maybe books have the same effect.
And time is a funny thing

The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch. 
This is the book that did it for me. The one I lost my heart to. My personal favourite of the entire year. This one had me completely hooked (after the first 100 odd pages of getting into the story) - I came out completely disoriented every time I put the book away and got back into reality.

His world became my own, as did his friends. His wit charmed me, even though he duped hundreds of people. He was likeable in his crimes, ameable in his thievery, and just stole my heart. 
Locke is an orphan, dodges death and slavery and ends up fending for himself. It's partly his genius, for he is a very clever boy, but mostly it's luck, that he falls into a group of light-fingered con artists calling themselves the "Gentleman Bastards".  As he grows up, he finds himself in sticky situations. The stickier they are, the more brilliant he becomes. For fiction, it doesn't read as such, I almost started believing the alchemists and their magic could be a real thing. 

Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott Lynch. 
The second part of Lynch's Gentleman Bastards series. I thought it was a trilogy, but there are 7 primary works out and two spin offs, so I have got a lot of reading to do for next year as well.  It is satisfying, but a bit more predictable than the first one (maybe I'm getting used to his style, maybe this book is just more "meh" than the first). 
It might be the fact that their numbers are considerably smaller than in the first book, hence the "humor" and vulgarity which lighten the mood of the book (Like Tyrion's wit improves the quality of the Game of Thrones ever so much, I fear the day that dwarf dies) is limited to a two-way badgering of two best friends, with their own little quarrels and jealousies on top of everlasting brotherhood and friendship.  That said, I liked the pirate theme of this book, and as I'm starting to get into the world of sailing myself, this has added even more personal joys.

On to next year's challenge?
I'll type that out next year. (Ie. tomorrow, or soon.)
All the best to all of yeh in 2016, don't die, don't swallow fireworks, hope you'll have a better year than this one was, whether it sucked or not. 


The Gypsy

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Loving yourself

A wise man once told me: "The only person you KNOW you'll grow old with is yourself."

But learning to love yourself is easier said then done, especially if it's either not in your nature, or you've completely killed that functionality during the years.

When I was 16, I learned self-criticism, when constructive, is helpful to grow and develop.
I'm an extremist in most ways, and this I took this on so passionately I forgot to be constructive.
Suddenly, nothing I did was good enough. I never liked the way I looked, talked, or thought anymore.

Thus: I am on a new mission. I want to love myself. Irrevocably, endlessly, bottomlessly, to the moon Pluto and back.

I like myself. I really do. There was a point (this year even) when I didn't. But I won it back. I like myself more each day.
Yet I am too harsh, too critical, too insecure.
I'm also ill (subject for a different day), which needs it's own care, time and healing process.
But this new mission will help. I know it will.

I did some research.
I stumbled on so many "do-it-yourself" love yourself tips and tricks, mostly written by people to whom it comes naturally, or have taught themselves to be pro's. I have yet to find a piece by anybody just starting this challenge (which would be my 2016 challenge, if it weren't for the simple fact I want to start today. Now. Yesterday, if I could.)

The most helpful (and contextually challenging) is these three steps.
The most motivational piece full of (almost) SMART goals was the 10 Ways to Practice Self-Love.
There are 30 ways to learn to love yourself and be happy with the world, but it really boils down to just listening to who you are, what you want, and doing it.

Things will not be perfect, so stop aiming for change. Stop punishing yourself for actions or thoughts that happened. Stop being more critical towards yourself and judge yourself like you would your best friend, or your (inner) child. Would you be as harsh, then?
Also, acting on what you need, rather than on what you think you want.
Nourish yourself: Eat well (healthy, mainly), sleep enough, exercise (*cough*), set your boundaries (get to know them, first), be intimate, get social (friends are sacred), spoil yourself every now and then (massages, movie, warm bath, nice cup of tea. Think simple.).

Last (but not least): for comic relief (in Dutch though, sorry for those who won't understand it)

I've been attempting this mindfulness that is all the rage. It might be working. A little.
Might be ranting all about that next time.
Spoiler tip: Don't do the exercise with the raisin. Just. Don't.

Love (to myself, and you),
The Gypsy