Space invader #1: the first insights

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Thoughts

Until not long ago I had never considered ‘taking up space’ as a thing. Since I do, I have started to see it in everything. I have found it to be an incredibly useful concept in my personal development! Here I will share my story, including the first new insights and developments.

Throughout my youth I seem to have conditioned myself to adapt quite actively to my surroundings. I would examine, partly unconsciously, situations carefully and adapt to them. As we know, situations often involve other people doing all kinds of things.

Soft-spoken

We examine other people in terms of their looks, whether they’re nice or not, whether we suspect to have things in common, and in my case: whether they’re loud or not. I had come to think that loudness was an important factor for me to get along easily with someone or not; generally I would click better with more soft-spoken people than with loud people. That rule of thumb worked quite well. Using this and other things I managed to surround myself with mainly soft-spoken people, people among whom I didn’t have to be loud myself to be heard and recognised.

So it worked to some extent, but it remained difficult for me to feel at ease. Of course we cannot always control which people are with us, so trying to do this is not the ultimate solution. I regularly got overwhelmed by difficult situations and most of all I didn’t quite understand why I found them difficult. What was wrong with me socially?

I talked rather fast so not to bother the other. I did not want to take up too much time.

Recently a friend told me that she noticed that I talked very fast. We agreed that I did that because I didn’t want to take up much time, for efficiency reasons and to not bother the other too much with my many details. Why did I not want to take up this time? The other could enjoy listening, right? My contributions are valuable, I let others speak as well and I listen carefully, so there’s nothing ‘annoying’ about my behaviour. So why would I not feel comfortable talking?

Taking up too little space

She introduced the concept of ‘taking up space’ to me. I am so thankful that she did, because using it has already brought me a lot.

I would adapt to how much space was left. If it’s a little, I would make myself small so not to disturb others.

Now, I found that I am accustomed to take up very little space. I wrote before that I would examine the situation and adapt to it. In terms of space this translates to: I would examine how much space the other people were taking up and how much was left for me to use. Then, I would adapt to how much space was left. Is it a lot? I could move freely. Is it a little? I would make myself small and uncomfortable, so not to disturb the others.

I see this really clearly now. I have always lived in houses with shared living rooms and kitchens, with loads of house mates with unpredictable behaviour. This behaviour included bringing more people to the house, whenever. And people take up space. Some people would take up more than others, and over all it was pretty unpredictable how much space would be taken up by the people that would be present in the room.

This living situation resulted in me adapting to changing situations all the time. The fact that it was so unpredictable whenever such a change would happen, lead me to be alert and uncomfortable a lot, often already anticipating people to come in and invade the space I was using.

Now, you can imagine that changing to living together with (only) my boyfriend is a great relief for me. Read More

Excitement

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Other

In this moment I am excited! I am grateful for and thrilled about the opportunities in life. We are lucky to experience as we do. We get to go out in the world, to explore. Let’s make the most of it and do it together!

Relating to the present and to others

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Food / Other

Hi peepz,

How are you doing? 🙂

I am going through some rather difficult circumstances these days. I do regard them as learning opportunities, nevertheless I’m still having the regular ups and downs.

But that’s how it goes! Unless you truly decide to quit suffering and act on it. The whole practice is to accept what is and don’t cling to anything, to have a good relationship with what is in this moment. Then you’ll feel inner peace, whatever happens. I learnt from Eckhart Tolle this weekend, through this video. It was really good to listen to while preparing dinner. He is such a wonderful person and good teacher.

I am exploring what I want and need in my life, what costs energy and what brings energy. I feel this deep need for connection, and for harmony. I am thinking of ways for myself and others to start feeling more connected, and of what my contribution will be.

Do you have any thoughts on this? On how to feel more connected?

My mantra on this blog has been that we can connect through showing our insecurities, through being open about our feelings and our needs without judging ourselves and others (non-violent communication style). I still believe this, however, I think it’s also time for me to think and talk less and to feel, connect and act more. So now I am searching for ways to realise this in my life and in my relationships with others.

What do you find important in relationships? Do you actively shape your relationships and contact moments in ways that are beneficial or satisfying to you? I’d love to get some input! If you have ideas or references, they’re very welcome. I myself was inspired by the term ‘power partners’, which was used by Claire Zammit in a webinar of Feminine Power when talking briefly about the importance of support (this may be the same or similar audio recording). How would a power partnership be? What forms can it have? What can it bring me?

Talking about relationships: my favourite relationship is the one with my boyfriend. We’ve been together for two years now! It’s great. We have already been through quite some stuff and had many learning opportunities, followed by many lessons and insights. Hell yeah.

We celebrated that and the newly available soy quark of Alpro Soya by having a vegan Oreo cheesecake! I was thrilled since most vegan cheesecake recipes contain cashews which I cannot eat for allergy reasons. So yay for nut-free vegan cheesecake! Due to a lack of recipes I improvised using agar agar and cornstarch for more firmness (and soy milk, water, lime juice, vanilla essence, agave syrup, Oreo cookies – for the filling only). We both really love it!

Oreo-cheesecake880

Oreo cheesecake with soy quark (no nuts!)

And I made more food pics and here they are, including some older ones which were never in a blog post before (but already in the food gallery).

Have a good weekend!

Simply kohlrabi winter side

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Food

koolrabi-winterpostelein

This is an awesome winter salad of kohlrabi (koolrabi) and winter purslane (winterpostelein), topped with mustard vinaigrette and sunflower seeds. The distinct tastes of kohlrabi and mustard go very well together, and it’s even better with some fresh leaves in the mix. The seeds add some more variation in texture.

I love how the salad looks so peaceful.

And kohlrabi is such a cool veggie: it looks like it could be from out of space.

Peace out.

kohlrabi-74276_400face

Image: Pixabay, face added

Cliteracy by Sophia Wallace

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art / Illustration

Artist Sophia Wallace aims to improve the role female pleasure organs have in our cultures and our bedrooms. She does this through her ongoing art project called Clitoracy. Do check out her website, texts and artworks including the first – and beautiful –  anatomically correct sculpture of the clitoris and TEDx Talk! They’re amazing and needed.

Artwork in the image from street art page. I think it’s absolutely stunning. I wish I had something like that. Oh yes, I do!

Green beard monster

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Food

This green ‘spaghetti’ monster arose from the salt marshes of Portugal and is called monk’s beard! It originates from Italy, where was cultivated by Cappuccino monks in Tuscany, hence the name. A possibly prettier name for this veggie is agretti. It grows in saline soil so it tastes salty, too.

You can eat it raw, steam it, shortly boil it, fry it… I did the latter and liked the structure and salty taste! I had the classic combo of winter purslane (winterpostelein) potato mash topped with roasted sunflower seeds and fried monk’s beard. And there was mung bean soup. Oh I love food.

Monk’s beard is in season right now, so catch it if you can!

Psst, agretti is a good source of vitamin A, iron and calcium! 🙂 (source)

Bad dairy news for a better future

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Food / Other

It’s not easy to deliver people the bad news, especially if they know it’s there and don’t want to hear it. People do this thing called strategic ignorance, in which they deliberately ignore all information they wish didn’t exist, so they can tell themselves that all is fine. There’s no problem there, as long as I can pretend there isn’t.

This strategic ignorance is also being used by people to deny the problems that arise from using animals to get meat, dairy and eggs for human consumption. The problems range from animal welfare, to underpaid farmers who cannot support their families and to climatic changes leading to even more suffering of humans and other species. And honestly, animal products aren’t so good for your own health either.

However, many people prefer to ignore all this, because they don’t want to feel the guilt that comes with knowing. While actually the fact that they do their best to ignore the problems is a result of them already knowing what they’re doing is not right and already feeling uncomfortable. When people get angry when you tell them something about the effects of their meat consumption, it’s not because you are wrong, it’s because they know they are.

All this makes it hard to spread the word about such difficult issues. You don’t want others to feel bad, yet you find it important that people know about the damage they indirectly contribute to! So how do you get to their heads?

There is not one answer. The movement will grow slowly but steadily. People will open up once they are ready. Though, we don’t have to sit still: we sure can help to speed it up a little! 🙂

This month I am lucky to contribute to a campaign of the environmental NGO Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth NL about (un)fair milk (for Dutch people: Eerlijke Melk), about everything related to the product. So far the campaign had two major actions which were performed simultaneously in 15 cities of the Netherlands, with a third action in one city still to come. The aim was to break the strategic awareness walls of people, to bring the knowledge where it doesn’t go naturally, and to spread truthful information along with offering solutions.

The first action consisted of handing out newspapers under a different, previously existing so well-known name. The papers were handed out on train stations, so travellers could read them on the train (and leave them for others to read!). The paper was a good mix of satiric jokes and real, serious content. I really like how they made it. I hope people weren’t too pissed off when they found it wasn’t De Pers and that they could appreciate the paper for what it really is, at least a little.

The second action was one of symbolically marking trees for logging, with signs stating that the space will be used to grow soy to feed livestock. In reality in South America tropical rainforests are being cleared to be replaced by soy plantations to feed our dairy cattle. Most people don’t realize that the damage this causes in terms of climate change and the livelihoods of local inhabitants is tremendous. Here, people could go to a website to object the actually unreal logging, where they could then learn about all the real issues and things that are happening right now.

This action predominantly aimed to get the (local, regional and national) press to report about it, so that people would learn about it via media. This happened! Activists were on the TV, the radio, on news websites and in newspapers. Yeeh! In my town the beautiful signs were ripped of in no time, as ordered by the municipality, which is a shame. But okay we did our best, and the local action did get reported on some websites (because I sent them the press release), which was our goal! And at least now we didn’t have to clean up ourselves afterwards.

I am not sure of the exact results of these actions or of the whole campaign (which is still going), but for sure a lot of people have seen some of it and were encouraged to consider the issues and their own role in them.

In communicating matters like the wrongs in our food system, I think the part of offering alternatives or solutions is really important. People are afraid of giving up their lifestyle and parts of their identities. Once you show them that they can fill the newborn gap with something else, that the change is not the end of their personal world, it’s less of a problem. Good examples of showing the bright side are initiatives that show how much fun having a vegan lifestyle can be. (Like vega[n] lifestyle festival Veggie World happening in three weeks!)

In addition, what is nice about campaigns of more well-known NGOs and such is that they are usually perceived as very credible; they (are thought to) have the facts about the problem and the solutions. For individuals it is much harder to stay strong when others are sceptical about what you’re stating, because well, you didn’t do the research yourself… It’s good to have more large organisations on board in the whole environmental and veganism movement. This will surely help a lot.

I’m curious to see how all of this will develop in the near future, to see whether we can collectively choose for sustainability or not. Here I mainly liked to share the specific actions of Milieudefensie, because I think they were pretty nice. Further, I was too lazy to look up sources for all that I state, but you can do your own research on the webz or ask questions below in the comments. I am pretty convinced of the causes and effects of the consumption of animal products, as you can see. I hope you don’t mind. 😉

Thank you for reading and enjoy plants!

Milieudefensie does not state that we should completely stop producing and consuming animal products, but they are in favour of shifting towards consuming more plant-based food and way less animal products than we do now.

Pictures via (volunteers of) Milieudefensie.

Self care, you, me and beauty

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Thoughts

Recently I played a game in which so-called ‘revealing cards’ asked my boyfriend and me wicked personal questions and we had to answer in complete honesty. Some where not so difficult, but others made me think. These questions and answers are so interesting – such good food for thought! – that I’ll drop them here.

So, what would you say when a silly card asks you the seemingly simple yet existential question:

Question: “When do you choose for yourself?”

Do you have an answer? I think a lot about ‘these kind of things’, but this question is difficult! I hadn’t thought about it this way.

Maybe you’d want to think about your answer before reading on.

When do you choose for yourself? … Is it when you leave everything be and be with your own needs and feelings? This can be choosing for yourself, choosing to take care of yourself.

But then, if you choose for yourself, are you not just being selfish? I find this distinction difficult sometimes. I think that in our culture self care is often seen as selfish. We always have a thousand things to do, and just ‘sitting still’ for a bit doesn’t seem allowed. We can feel guilty for giving ourselves what we need instead of giving to others constantly. This is of no help to anyone, because having some peace with ourselves is super important for our well-being!

Self care is needed to stay happy and be able to help others.

Taking care of each other is beautiful, but you cannot do it if you yourself are exhausted from constantly running around helping others. Self care is needed to keep yourself happy. So it is crucial, not a luxury!

We may not always know what we need at the time, and what the uttermost best option is to do, but we have to try to do what’s good for us. We have to take care of ourselves first. (Just like in the air plane!)

My answers to the question were these: I choose for myself when I ask for help and advice, when I take care of my body, when I let go of social pressures and stay in when I prefer to rest, when I see a therapist, and I chose for myself when I took a break year after my Bachelor degree.

My pattern is to want to be there for others all the time, to help them. I too easily get caught up in all that’s happening outside of me and it wears me out. I am learning that there needs to be a balance. Self care needs to come first, it needs to be the base from which you care for others. You are the base.

The second important question we got was the following, which was a nice follow-up:

Question: “What about yourself do you find beautiful?”

This question I found even harder than the first, because you can look at it in different ways or on different levels.

This question holds two concepts: yourself and beauty.

Yourself, your self, you: Who are you? I am [name], [age] years old, I live in [town], [country]. I am [profession], and in my spare time I like to [hobby] and be with [relationships].

I have feelings; I like the nice ones, and I dislike the painful ones.

I also have feelings, like all people. I like the nice ones, and I dislike the painful ones. And I have developed ways to deal with them, which work quite okay, most of the time. But sometimes they don’t. Then I have to remember that I am not my feelings, I am not my mind. I am. What am I?

We have concepts of who we are and of who others are. These concepts are useful, but they can also be in our way. We tend to want to distinguish ourselves from others, we tend to think in binaries. You versus others. Beauty versus ugly.

The concept of beauty: What is beauty? Can we find things beautiful without judging other things as ugly? Can we think of ourselves as beautiful without labelling others as ugly?

The concept of beauty is tricky, because we are taught that ugly is its opposite. There is this thing called inner beauty, but do we even know what that means? Isn’t everyone’s inner beautiful?

Beauty isn’t opposed to ugliness.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you have to learn to see it properly. In that sense, it also isn’t opposed to ugliness. There is beauty in everyone. What is beautiful in me, is beautiful in you as well. In essence we are all beautiful.

pixabay_man-1989145_640

How helpful are these questions and concepts and my writings to you? Join the discussion by writing comments!

Further, on The Woman’s Network are among other things podcasts about radical self care and yonis. They’re good to listen to while pampering yourself tonight. 😉

Image via eommina on Pixabay.

Spirituality meets polyamory, and they fall in love

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Thoughts

My previous writings about polyamory resulted in me getting quite some comments and questions from friends along the lines of ‘this is all nice and good, but aren’t you just perfectly monogamous?’ Well, I may as well am, but this depends on how you see. My first post about the topic was intended to grow some familiarity with the term polyamory, with the possible interpretations and implications. Today I will tell you more about why I find polyamory important.

The bottom line of my previous post: Polyamory is about respecting your relationships and doing your best to make it work for everyone involved. It is about being able to love multiple people at the same time and it is in no way an excuse to treat others unethically.

What I didn’t mention explicitly is that for me polyamory is closely related to spirituality. This again depends on your definition of spirituality. I could use personal development as an alternative. I’ll use them both here.

What I mean with this spirituality or personal development is the process of cleaning your mind of everything that doesn’t help you being happy; the process of truly connecting with yourself. This is the most difficult thing, but when you do progress, you will find more space for happiness, peace and compassion: for love.

You will learn to be more compassionate towards yourself and others. You will get to see others as they really are, and then you will see there really aren’t so many differences. We all have these needs and feelings. We want to feel safe and connected and if we feel differently, we can do weird things in an attempt to feel whole again.

I believe people are not good or bad. We just are. And the most important thing is to do is our best to help ourselves and each other to be happy and feel loved.

For me growing understanding of myself and others and practising to be more compassionate has helped me to feel more love for myself and for everyone. I think polyamory is a perfect term for this love as it translates to loving many. One can practice to feel more love, to direct it to others and thereby help them feel more love as well. How can this not be polyamory?

I am in one romantic relationship. We help each other a lot, to learn and grow, etcetera. It won’t be possible to be in another equally intense relationship at the same time, time wise for the least. And I also don’t feel the need for it. However, this does not mean that there is no more love, or that other forms of relationships, more or less romantic, cannot happen.

I may use the broadest possible definition of polyamory, but it makes sense to me to see it like this. Practically I may be a regular person with regular relationships, but I prefer to look at it a little differently, because this serves me.*

I like to be in contact with people and I don’t want my relationships to be defined by some standards set by our societies. I don’t think having multiple romantic relationships is wrong; it just totally depends on the context, on whether you’re being ethical or not.

So this is where spirituality finds polyamory. But the other way around? I think that if you want to sustain multiple romantic or intense relationships you are bound to face huge challenges. Intense relationships always come with challenges, therefore they provide good ‘opportunities’ to learn. Everything gets more complicated with more people involved, so the challenges posed will be more difficult.

To sustain multiple intense relationships you will have to do a lot of work, a lot of personal development. Otherwise you will end up hurting yourself and others, over and over. I think that everyone who is interested in having multiple relationships at the same time will sooner or later learn that this is how it goes. Thereby, polyamory meets spirituality – or how you want to call it.

I think we all have to learn how to treat ourselves and each other well, but having more relationships or contact with people can help us to get there sooner. It doesn’t have to go like that, but it certainly can. Polyamory simply cannot work without compassion and lots of love.

So this was my pretty belated explanation! I hope you enjoyed it. If you know better terminology or anything, you know where to write a comment.

Love!

* Just as there is no need to label your relationships, there is also no need to label your relationship views. Identifying with being polyamorous may or may not serve you. Maybe you don’t have to identify with anything, but considering the theme can be useful.

Note: In this and alike posts I may seem to act pretentious, as if I ‘get’ it all or so, but that’s not necessarily so. I’m trying to be a good person, but I have my troubles. I’m also not sure if these super broad definitions and ‘vague’ words or talks are too useful, but again, for me it makes sense somehow, and I hope some others appreciate it too.

Beetroot ‘n bean salad

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Food

I thought to make burgers, but then I realised that at the moment I totally lack a blender or so to mix it all together. I’d use a grater for the beetroot, but lupine beans are tough! So I decided on the simpler version of a burger: a salad!

As you can see, there’s (boiled) beetroot, lupine beans and kale in the mix. The kale is massaged with a dressing of tahini and lime (classic combo!), and pepper, salt and oil (everything to taste, and to texture).

I like the combination of the ‘earthy’ and more ‘fresh’ hints of flavours. The different textures go really well together as well! Beetroot, lupine and kale are all very different. The tahini/lime dressing also makes a great addition, as it makes the mix more interesting and varied, as well as more fresh-ish due to the lime.

How do you eat your beetroot? I’d love to learn more great combos!