How do -you- define freedom? Do you think you are free?

So anybody who knows me, knows that concepts and questions keep swarming my head for a long time before I make up my mind about a topic.. and sometimes I never make up my mind at all.

In this particular case:

A while ago, I told people that I work 32 hrs a week. And I was told “pah, 32 hrs? That’s part-time! You should try to work my hrs! Come back when you’ve put in the 72 hrs I put in per week!”

It’s been lingering on my mind for a while, that someone should boast about them working so much more than I and even talk me down on it. It made me wonder about the differences in culture between there and here, because frankly; I know some people who work a lot… but I also know a lot of people who, like me, work to live and not live to work.

In the same conversation came up the “oh you just live with a roommate don’t you?” question. Living the way we do, is not being married, hence it’s being degraded to living roommate style. Where as, by dutch laws, we are truly to be considered the same as being married. Except; we skipped the ceremonial part, and just went for the contract. In the Netherlands there are many options of living together with someone, bypassing the institution of marriage. There is absolutely no other reason, really, to be married here unless you -want- it.

What -grates- me about those 2 comments…, is that these are not one-time instances. I meet a whole lot of people coming from self proclaimed “free” countries (not only US, in case anyone was feeling targeted) who do not count themselves lucky enough to have these freedoms.. working that much and living with another person under the same roof with the same benefits and responsibilities as if you were married, apparently is not an option to other people who also proclaim to be free.

I don’t get it. It makes me wonder what “freedom” truly is. To me; it’s being able to travel wherever I like, being able to pay my half of all expenses to the home we bought (sometimes I make more, sometimes he makes more, but we share 50/50%), and to be able to make a conscious choice to work for a living, and not live for my work. Freedom for me is being able and allowed to make personal, conscious choices and NOT be judged for them. I truly think that here, in the NL, I can do whatever the fuck I like, provided it’s sane and doesn’t hurt anyone..

I’m aware that I am spoiled. Which makes it only so much more interesting to hear other opinions, so here we go:

What is freedom to you? How do you define it? How free do you think you are, and how happy are you with that freedom? 

ME_182_Freedom

Out of Body Experience and Lucid Dreaming. Also against Insomnia.

Mind-Body Independance. The body cannot fall asleep without testing to see if the mind is asleep. Because it would be a major mistake to fall asleep before the mind is. So the body signals the mind to test if it’s still awake. It will send a “roll over” signal.

If the mind is asleep, the signal will be negated and the body knows the mind is asleep. You don’t roll over.

If the mind is awake, the signal is received and you roll over.

To enter physical sleep paralysis, you must negate this signal. It can be stressful, because this urge to roll over can be immensely strong. And the less relaxed you are, the harder it gets to the point where it can feel as pain.

Understanding how this works has 2 uses. Battling insomnia or entering sleep paralysis for lucid dreaming. Tossing and turning in bed constantly gives signals to the body that the brain is awake, so you don’t fall asleep. Inducing sleep paralysis for lucid dreaming is tricking the body in thinking the mind is asleep.

Why lucid dreaming? Because of the dream state, out of body experience (OBE) and traversing portals.

Stop, drop and roll. 

  1. Stop: Arms over head and relax as deep as possible. Breathe. This releases tension in the shoulders.
  2. Drop: Drop your arms next to your sides. If you feel the need to roll over, don’t do it. perfectly still. Do not move anything. You are telling your body that it can go sleep.
  3. Roll: When you feel your body is no longer calling for rolling over, it is time to roll to your side and sleep. You sleep easy.

For lucid dreaming, the idea is to escape the last point of 3. Roll; sleep easy. If you follow 1,2,3 (or practice other means) you fall asleep. Trying lucid dreaming before bedtime is hard. This is because your brain chemistry is directed towards falling asleep. However, at dawn this chemistry prepares again for waking up with the help of night. This is when lucid dreaming is easiest. Your body can remain sleeping, but your mind is awake.

Wake up early, stay up, then go back to bed and do stop, drop and roll. 45 minutes should induce lucid dreaming. Which, ultimately, can lead to OBE or Out of Body Experience.

Ah-hah.

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/waking-sleep-paralysis.html for more info.

Image

Food for thought: Illegal Books

Facebook suggests “Mein Kampf” as possible reading material to man who has liked books about the 2nd World War. “Mein Kampf” subconsequentally will not be suggested to people anymore. Further down the rabbithole is the question; should or shouldn’t we censor this sort of “literature”. Of course, I find it a bit crude to suggest “Mein Kampf” as possible interest simply based on other likes -but- is it really so strange to think that people may actually appreciate this suggestion? I like the quote “You cannot sedate all the things you hate” which to me seems that it applies to this too.

There’s no problem here. Just a consideration as to how far you’d go to prevent people from feeling discomfort. Should, for instance, this book be available in libraries?

In the Netherlands the suggestion was risen in the 2nd chamber (in 2007) that Mein Kamph should be free available on the market. A small majority of the 2nd chamber disagreed, so you can’t legally get this book in NL. If we disallow this book, why should we have issues with forbidding for instance Qu’ran?

For your amusement; this is the wikipedia list of all banned books known. Mein Kampf is on it too. Surprisingly, wiki states that “The Bible, the Qur’an, and the Torah have all been subjected to censorship and have been banned in various cities and countries.” 

Qu’ran is a book that is written in 2 parts. The first part is the good, loving part. The second part is the bad part. The bad part states that whatever is in the good part, can be forgotten if it helps further the cause of Qu’ran. It litterally is a way of life, a view on how to live as a Muslim, and why Muslims are better than others. It tells Muslims to lie and be violent to others, and serve them with a smile. Watch this for more info and a breakdown: Three things about Islam

If Qu’ran is allowed, then why not Mein Kampf? The Bible not different; there are awful passages and rules in the Bible. What’s the difference? And why is one book worse than the other? Or is it just a persistent hype?

Another quote: “The death of one is a tragedy, the death of a million is just a statistic”. It was Stalin who said this. We know how many jews were killed in the Europe World Wars. But who’s keeping tabs on how many are

killed for religion? Is this hurt a measurement for how harshly a book must be banned?

Should we cater to the ones who have the morbid curiosity to read this, or should we protect those who might potentially be hurt by the notion of it? And if we cater, then when? How soon is too soon? And if we protect, then how long? What’s reasonable?

Link to Dutch article

Notice how "Harry Potter, the Goblet of Fire" is banned in the US. Fun facts, huh.

Notice how “Harry Potter, the Goblet of Fire” is banned in the US. Fun facts, huh.

A word of caution; traveling to the Middle-East and belly dance.

Hi guys,

If you ever had the idea of enjoying a trip to the middle-east and especially to Egypt apparently for belly dance classes or when you’re just a woman wanting to enjoy other cultures by yourself or with friends, please take heed of the following post. Wear a weddingband, even when you aren’t married and learn to say that you’re married in the native language. It might just make a difference when you run into a situation as described in that post.

I’m posting this post because of raising issues between cultures. Maybe you’ve read about the cultural clashes in your country. Maybe you’ve seen this documentary (Femme de la Rue, about Sexism in Brussels, by Sophie Peeters) and you’re wondering that if M-E men behave like that in nations where it’s not custom, how they’ll behave when they -are- in their home nation? Maybe you’ve already experienced this sort of violent behaviour, maybe it exists where you live. I’m lucky to not have been in this situation, but I know what sexual violence can do to a person when it’s not due to cultural classes. And though I think it needs to stop it’s highly unlikely it will any time soon.. so we best prepare and just be cautious.

Anyways. Have a read. And be careful.

http://charlottedesorgher.blogspot.nl/2012/08/a-darkness-at-heart-of-bellydance.html

It was a dark and stormy night…

There’s something really pretty about storms. I like seeing the angry lightning and I love hearing the roaring thunder. I love the way it builds up, especially in summer. When the days have been hot and humid and when the evening becomes too dark, too soon. I love how the air turns grey and the atmosphere turns yellow and how eventually with the first strikes of careful thunder the raining begins. Softer at first, but more confident with every drop splashing in the grass or on the stones.

There’s something really pretty about storms, how the weather just rages and shakes off the heat of the day. Like nature has had quite enough of the sun perpetrating its merciless rays into the earth. Nature sheds and sheds, until it can’t shed no more. Until it’s time for a new beginning after the storm.

There’s something really pretty about storms and I know I’m not the only one who thinks so. Ever heard of one of writers’ biggest mistakes of using “It was a dark and stormy night” as their pieces entrée? Here’s another one of those lovely Need-to-Know-but-not-that-Useful-Facts. Happy Weekend!

It was a dark and stormy night” is an infamous phrase written by Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton at the beginning of his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford”. The annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest uses the phrase as a signifier ofpurple prose. The original opening sentence of Paul Clifford is an example:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

It is also the start of the 1902 novel The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs. Its opening sentence is:

It was a dark and stormy night. The wind howled and twigs and leaves scuffled and rattled past the house. Mr and Mrs White sat in the parlour of their cosy home, in front of a blazing fire. Mr White played chess with his only son, Herbert. His wife sat in a rocking chair knitting and watching as they played.

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest was formed to “celebrate” the worst extremes in this style. The contest, sponsored by the English Department of San Jose State University, recognizes the worst examples of “dark and stormy night” writing.

Ghandi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World

This was just posted on our company’s intranet site and in the light me occasionally posting these know-it-all-posts about how to deal with life and such, I felt I had to stay true (and authentic!) to myself as described in point 9 and share this with you guys.

So there you go. Enjoy. May you live and prosperous and may your bread never go green.

Ghandi’s top 10 fundamentals for changing the world

Painting your face with history

North African Harquus

In preparation of our Halloween performances I’ve been looking at some make-up. From there on I was lead further into the world of tribal fusion, where facial and body make-up, tattoos en marks aren’t a very uncommon sight. When I searched on “tribal make-up” I couldn’t find all too much; most of it was semi-tribal new-time fashionable half-arsed non genuine attempts of making it look tribal, but not quite. A bit of a let down; I was kind of assuming I wasn’t the only one who wanted to do some research on the subject. There had to be something else out there.

Eventually though, my hopes were restored. Turned out the information certainly was there, but I was looking in the wrong directions. This is what I found:

Harquus is a word for black facial ornamentation in North Africa and the Middle East. It can refer to both tattooing and skin painting. The patterns of harquus, tattooing, and henna often mirror each other, and were intended to enhance each other.”

Henna and tattooing have been used in combination with black eye and eyebrow cosmetics since the Bronze Age. Eye paints were nearly universal across North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. The black paint provided relief from the glaring sun and too reflection from the sand before sunglasses were invented.”

“Most women created their own cosmetics. Wealthier people used soot from burning amber or aloe wood to make their eye paints; poor women used common pot-black and animal fat.”

“The jaw line patterns are broken lines with a diamond at the end. These are situated over a muscle that flexes as a person grits their teeth, and they would enhance the expressiveness of unspoken emotional grimaces. The diamond shape is usually identified as an eye to repel the Evil Eye.”

“Nibbling the lower lip was a favorite sexual foreplay, so a tattooed lower lip was an
“invitation to nibble”.”

“The grouping of arm patterns was often called usada, pillow, implying that a woman’s lover would fall asleep with his head resting on her arm. Another term for arm patterns was kfafa, kfafet la-hlib, the end of suckling, referring to the way a woman wiped her breast with her forearm to catch the last drop of milk after her baby finished nursing, a reference to the belief that a mother’s milk was as precious
and beautiful as jewels.”

“Women were the tattoo artists in late 19th century Algeria and Morocco, and women wore the tattoos.”

Chin moko or Maori Harquus

It’s an interesting world we live in, right? And this sort of body modification; it isn’t/wasn’t just common in African and Arabic regions, it was also quite popular with the Maoris of New Zealand, the Indians, the Indonesians, the Japanese… It’s a very wide-spread cultural thing and only us in the “West” aren’t taking part of it. Most probably because of our Christian roots.

That they all know it and we don’t, paves the road for an entirely new set of challenges too; if the rest of the world has been using it for so long and we aren’t educated, we have to really make sure we don’t do anything silly. I don’t really want to end up with a pattern on my hands that has a complete awkward or weird meaning.. Like the western women who have Japanese signs tattooed on their backs or arms, to find out later that it’s the Japanese word for Coca Cola (or something far less innocent!)

If you’re interested, like me, in knowing more about these sort of tribal markings, there’s a lot to find on the internet if you just know what to look for (harhar). I took above quotes from harquus.com who have a couple of PDFs with much, much, much more information than only the tidbits above. And they also have a tutorial on how to apply henna tattoos and how to get them to look prettiest. Not too prone on using soot or pot-black and think applying henna is too much effort? Apparently MAC cosmetics has a good alternative: MAC cosmetics Fluid Line

Well then. That’s my next hobby sorted!

Why you shouldn’t allow yourself to be yourself

“The ability to look deep inside your mind’s eye and find nothing but a clogged toilet full of crap.” In other words; something to work with. Right?

In this day and age, we’re all very much encouraged to express ourselves, to be who we want to be and be true to ourselves. “That’s just who I am” and “I can do whatever I want” are catch-phrases that are swung around plenty and often just to emphasize that we’re who we are and we’re allowed to be ourselves. But just how much should we allow ourselves to become comfortable in the role of being ourselves? Is there a limit to being ourselves or is the sky truly the limit? I’m vouching for the first option. And I’ll explain to you why.

Everybody wants to achieve things. We have dreams and goals and we work towards completing those goals. We want to be something greater than what we are right now. It might be you want a promotion or it might be that you want to become a better dancer. But it could also be becoming a better money saver so you can at last afford those swish new Louboutin pumps you’ve been gawking at for a while.

Sometimes it’s quite easy to get to the next level, other times it might take ages just because it’s not very easy to get to where we want to be. And then there are the times when we really just aren’t going to make it, no matter how hard we try. Not very nice, after all all of our mothers told us that we could be whatever we wanted to be. Was she lying? Was she just trying to be nice to us? Not a nice thing to consider, huh.

It’s not our mums though that set us up for complete failure. Most of the times, without interfering from the Big Bad Outside World, the biggest problems in our lives are we. We keep ourselves from achieving things, we neglect our own dreams and fail to find our passions. But also; it’s us who don’t investigate and delve deeper and it’s us that don’t try to find out why it exactly is that what makes us fail too.

The first thing to getting achievements done is recognizing your weak points. Because they are the monsters that prevent us from being who we want to be. Can’t keep order? Learn to organize. Can’t keep concentration? Practice focusing. Can’t seem to get your life sorted? Err, I don’t know how to fix that since I don’t know your specific situation but I’m sure that if -you- investigate a bit further and look at how others do it, there’s a difference between you and them.

And there’s another thing. Don’t just self reflect, look at others too. What do they do to achieve similar things you’re trying to achieve? Do they work more hours? Do they dress differently? Do they listen to different music, do they eat differently? Why are they succeeding and why aren’t you? Surely not because they are better people with better genes. It might be they come from different situation, had a different education, grew up with more money but those are simply excuses to grade yourself inferior to them. So what if they had all that, and you didn’t? That does by no means mean that you cannot make it for yourself too. You can do the same thing.

But you’re being held back by your perception of you. Usually people use “That’s just who I am” as a shield for when they mess up, don’t know a way out or are caught in a situation that’s too easy to settle in. Some are okay with that and find the excuse “that’s just who I am” all too nice and easy to use. It’s comfortable to not have to change. Those people will most probably remain at the same level and will never grow further.

If that’s not your style and if you do have goals and achievements you actually want to make happen for you, then stop being who you are and start working towards who you want to be in the future. If you see something isn’t working out for you change it. You weren’t born the way you are today and you won’t be the same person in 20 years so why not acknowledge it and actively make choices to control who you’re going to be.

Don’t be yourself. Assess, refine, polish up, change and adjust: be your future self. I promise it’ll work and that you can be anything you want to be. Though within reason, of course. Don’t try to be a rocket scientist without proper knowledge. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for the results.

Regarding Piracy

To the People of the Free World

I found a 9gag post today about piracy. Here it is:

I read some comments left and right and it just struck me as weird that so many people indeed agree: downloading wares illegaly is theft. I’ll explain to you why I thought this was weird:

I’m from the age where buying albums was the only thing you -could- do. A long, long time ago. And back then, there was no intarwebz. Can you imagine? We’d hang out in record-stores for hours and hours after school, trying to find the best tunes. We used the headphones at the store, stood for hours behind a counter, asking people to play you a certain record. And if the album was good enough, we’d spend our pocketmoney on it.

There are alternatives to piracy. Like Spotify, for instance. But when entertainers don’t provide alternatives or revoke rights for services like Spotify, there are no alternatives imho to the old fashioned record-store headphones and services, but piracy.

So if you really don’t like it; come up with a solution instead of beating down those who want to get to know you but don’t have money growing from trees. You don’t buy a car without a testdrive, you can’t judge on the quality of a movie based on a brilliantly marketed teaser or trailer, you can’t judge a game on 5 minutes of gameplay and you can’t judge how good an album is on listening to 3 songs.

Yes, I do know stores like Amazon.com offer free listening services. And I know there are trials to games and programs. But again; in times when money doesn’t even seem to be growing from bushes anymore, how can you expect people to pay for stuff they don’t know?

Assuming anything different, acting upon those assumptions and expecting people to pay the full load -before- knowing the entire deal, is theft too.

I think someone needs to be the first one to say; “Hey guys. This going back and forth obviously isn’t working and we’re just accusing one another of theft, being greedy, being assholes, being bitches, whatnot. How about, we find a solution to this issue that works for both parties?”

The man who’s going to come up with the answers, is going to be rich. 

Those things really can hurt.

So a couple of weeks ago I’ve made a blogpost about all the fabulous things you can do as a bellydancer with poi. Remember that post? Fire poi, LED poi, sock poi, all sorts. If you have missed that post, you can find it here.

The beginners set I ordered

The beginners set I ordered

That day I instantly had to order my own. So I started browsing a bit on the internet and found some youtube video tutorials on what to do and one of the things they tried to teach me first was; make sure to hit yourself in the head a couple of times because once you know how it hurts, you’ll also know what not to do.

Silly advise, right? Sound advise too, or so I found out later.

With all that in mind I bought a beginners set from poipoi.info

Yesterday I was having a bit of a bad, emotional day. I went home and called the boyfriend. Basically I begged him to go get me food from the stores because I just wanted to go home and cry my atypical depression away into a pillow. When he got home, with pizza and quiche, he patted me on the head and reached into his bag with a smile on his face. “This should cheer you up,” he said and he kindly gave me a post package. My packages are usually delivered at his work, because nobody’s home during daytime.. and the cats don’t know how to unlock doors. Which in itself is a good thing!

Anyways. I opened it and blimey was he right; finally my brand new LED poi had arrived. Through the tears and sobs I managed to force out a smile and for a moment the world had some purpose again. A couple of hours later I felt a little better again, through eating some quiche and much couch-calming-therapy. And I decided to give it a swing.

My poi, my poi, my lovely new poi!

Now, I’ve never handled poi before. I just read about it and saw some instruction videos. I began spinning. Soon it became dark and I could actually spin with the LED lights on, which was amazingly cool. I kept concentrating on not hitting anything in our relatively small, crowded livingroom and tried not to hit myself in the head too often. Of course I hit a lamp (it didn’t break), a table (the poi were still okay) and my knees quite a few times but none of it really mattered until I HIT myself in the HEAD with the METAL bits! Oh god, I thought my head was going to burst right then, right there. It didn’t but I could’ve sworn I was going to have to make due with everlasting scars and deformation. They weren’t joking when they said you needed to know about the pain. I know very well what not to do now and I’ll be looking out to find some cloth to bind around these hinges because that’s not anything I want to do again.

But hey you know what? I practiced with my brand new LED poi. And they ROCKED. It cheered me up to practice with them; I felt real good for the time the spinning lights captivated me and it felt quite nice to do something that pretty. So absolutely worth it ;)

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