How to annoy a politician in an enlightened manner…

Have you ever wondered why most stories are about killing the enemy instead of converting the enemy? Is “killing the problem” really the best way forward at all times? Or is it just the “easy” way forward? Then again, is it easy? Or does it continue to breed hatred if you kill your enemy? Isn’t winning about creating a place where people get along and act with integrity?

I think it’s a valid point when it comes to the US elections too. How many people have you seen on your Facebook feed arguing about the different candidates? People who I would like to believe support democracy suddenly start de-friending people of the opposing party and not because they go on really crazy rants (then it’s understandable), but because they express their views. On the one hand I can understand it – Facebook is a personal space and if you believe your friends’ values oppose your own, then maybe you shouldn’t be friends. I guess that’s OK. Sort of. But what’s next? Will you stop talking to them at the store too? Will you remove your kids from the classes they’re teaching at school? Will you refuse shopping at their shops?

I understand people are angry – I get angry too. When politicians, even though they have some very valid points, also decide to blame minorities for the problems in their country, want to tear up trade agreements with other countries, building an imaginary “wall,” and rally angry men, you might have a flashback to a certain leader that set off a world war. And that’s scary. That’s scary as hell.

If you truly want to make a change though, do you act as the person/people you are opposing, or do you act differently? Is it a good idea to “ban” the opposing party from your circle of friends? Will that help them see your point of view? Will mocking them help them see your point of view? Or are you acting just as they are when it comes to certain political questions? And are you maybe making them even more steadfast in their beliefs by alienating them? Are you maybe creating the division some politicians thrive on?

On the other hand, if you try to understand them and respect them, wouldn’t that make them feel heard? Understood? And make you a better person? Wouldn’t it also give you a chance to make them see your point of view and actually have them listen to you? And wouldn’t that really annoy people seeking division? (Maybe annoying people isn’t enlightened, but hey, we all slip sometimes… Oups.)

This morning my sister greeted me with the words that I probably wouldn’t want to get out of bed. She was talking about something which sounded like “a tornado.” Only it was Trump she was talking about, not a tornado.

I disagree. Today it is a very good idea to get out of bed and start fighting for what you believe in. Today it is a very good idea to start understanding the real needs of the people around you. Today it is a very good idea to hug your neighbor and get acquainted with “neighbors” in other countries. Today it is a very good idea to create art, stories and movies that show solutions, instead of slamming people over the head. Today it is a very good idea to set up businesses and schools that open the door to possibilities. Today it is a very good idea to show respect for the voice of millions of Americans and come up with a plan for a future with less hatred and better solutions, no matter what end of the political spectrum you belong to. Segregation and division will not create solutions. Compassion and education, on the other hand, most likely will.

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A gathering of artists…

Does it ever strike you, when looking at a painting, what it must have been like painting it? And does it ever strike you how a painting can connect many different lives in a roundabout manner?

I have been reading some books by Ella Carey lately. Can’t say the books are fabulous, but they have elements of Paris and la belle épouque in them and I have a hard time resisting those. At any rate, one of them is about someone finding Marthe de Florian’s (famous courtesan during late 1800s/early 1900s) apartment intact from the 1940’s, but furnished like an apartment from the late 1800s. In other words, it was like finding a remnant of la belle époque well and alive. That part is based on a true story – this apartment was found intact in 2010. In it was a painting by Boldini of Marthe de Florian, which was sold for over 2 million euros.

During my time in drama school I acted various characters from various different centuries. I also directed pieces set in different centuries. On top of it we studied art history and some of the pieces we did were centered around paintings. For example, one acting exercise was to create a character around a person in a portrait – dress up as the person in the portrait, hold their pose and think their thoughts in the moment. We also had to do that as a directing exercise; directing someone else to do it. Another was to direct a so called picture play – making a painting come alive.

For my actor’s portrait I did something by Kahlo first, but then I must have switched to a portrait by Boldini. I can’t remember much, but I remember the way I held the dress and the green fabric. Reading these books the name Boldini struck me as familiar and eventually I figured out this was why. It made me ponder how an artist affects people in so many different ways and also bring people together through their love of the artist’s works.

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When I was nineteen I watched Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge and got so inspired by the film and its bohemian revolution that I promptly swore to do something worthwhile with my gap year and decided that by December 10 or something like it, I was to leave the country, so if I had to go alone. I ended up backpacking in the midst of winter, which also included a visit to Paris over Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, after going to the Swedish church, the train I was on in the metro passed by La Pigalle and as I’d heard it was like London’s SoHo, which I liked, and that it was where the Moulin Rouge was, I got off. And ended up at an Irish pub where someone asked if I was looking for a job. I said yes and consequently set out to find one. That’s how I ended up living in Paris.

In drama school in London I did the aforementioned piece with Boldini, I acted in a picture play surrounding a Degas painting, I acted in Maupassant’s stories and so forth, so I had an excuse to study Paris in the late 1800s/early 1900s. I found this book, Belle Epoque: Paris in the Nineties by Raymond Rudorff and I believe it might have spent more time with me than in the library. I became fascinated by that era. 

Once upon a time a man named Boldini painted a portrait that would one day feature in an acting exercise I did. His paintings have played parts in many other people’s lives, just as many others have probably been affected by the Moulin Rouge, in one way or another. I’m sure though, that when it was built no one knew that one day a filmmaker would revive it in a film, that would set some blue eyed Swede traveling across Europe in search of a bohemian revolution.

I’m also fairly sure that when Trotsky kissed Kahlo he didn’t think that one day some art and history students would sit pondering what he thought when he did it. Or maybe it’s just me that think about that. And how lives are intertwined in the most intriguing ways.

I didn’t quite grasp that I wasn’t the only one obsessed with la belle époque until I saw Midnight in Paris. For every glass of absinthe Lautrec drank there must be some artist depicting his life, or the life of the Moulin Rouge, in another work of art.

I guess we all want to experience the different ages of history, just as we’d like to invite our favorite people throughout history to a dinner, or an intimate conversation. To find out who they really were. A dinner with Da Vinci – fancy that! And maybe one could bring back the Medicis to try have them convince people artists are needed – paid artists.

Maybe it is as Allen tries to say in Midnight in Paris though, maybe we’re all just dreaming when life is right here. And maybe, just maybe, we should try to live it. Besides, le Louvre is still there. We can still get glimpses of what was, strolling around looking at all the paintings. Even Da Vinci’s notebooks are still around. And in a sense we are the result of what was then. We are what people wanted then, because that’s what they created. Maybe they made a few mistakes in their creations, but life has evolved.

I’d like to go back to the salons…from the French Revolution and onward, I’d like to see the rebirth of art in the renaissance and I wouldn’t mind experiencing a bit of the bohemian revolution in the Moulin Rouge, but truth be told, those ideas would be old now. Some of those ideas need to be reborn, perhaps, but in the way of this century. Maybe in the way of my business? After all, there’s definitively a touch of la belle époque and the Moulin Rouge in there…

So you know, whilst others give deep answers to the books and films that changed their lives, I just do the can can…

My rather lose interpretations of Degas. I feel Boldini is going to hit my sketch pad next. I can only draw things I see and his paintings are old enough not to warrant copyright infringement I think… 

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In vino veritas – all my insecurities in a glass of wine…

I am happy. After what went down this weekend I thought I’d never be able to say that, but I am.

Since I was a child my greatest fear was what people thought of me. After almost three years of fighting for the twins, fighting for Magique and fighting for Little Angels I’ve come across people who have been angels, but also people who have belittled me, spread rumors about me and personally attacked me.

Time and time again I’ve tried to better myself. Make myself invincible. So good there was nothing left to complain about. But there always is, even if it’s things the other person has made up and which has nothing, or very little to do with reality.

Many times during these years I’ve wanted to hide. Sometimes I have hidden. Yesterday, after receiving an accusation I was petrified. What if they actually started saying that about me? What would people think of me?

Then I realized I’d done nothing wrong. And somehow it dawned on me that all these years I’ve lived caught in my own prison of fear, constantly evaluating myself as a person, mother and business woman. I always set the bar so high that no matter how much I gave, I felt I could give some more. So when people accused me of things, I always tried harder, even if the accusations were unfounded. I wanted to know beyond doubt that I had done everything right. I wanted to be beyond reach. I never will be though. I’m human. And for the first time in a long time, I rather like myself for it.

There is nothing to say you can’t enjoy the party just because you spilled some wine. And there is certainly nothing to say you can’t enjoy the party just because someone else spilled wine on you. Nor is there anything saying you can’t enjoy the wine you were given just because you’re so scared of spilling it. I think that’s all my insecurities. In a glass of wine. I’ll meet you at the bar.

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Photo for Magique, taken by me, myself and I. 

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Clock, tik tok…

The clock was like a grand old lady – timeless, yet on time. Tik tok, tik tok. Steady, but frail, knowing it was living in a world so different from what it was born into. Knowing it was time. Little time. Left.

It was a foreigner in its own home. The times had changed. And it had measured it all. Tik tok, tik tok.

At first it had taken pleasure in the changes – in seeing children grow up and find love. In being there as times changed. But then, it had moved beyond its time.

Tik tok, tik tok.

It was time, but it did not want to go. Did not want to leave, because it did not know where it was going.

It had seen so much, explored the colors and textures of the world, and it wanted to do it all again. There had been hard times too. Wars. But it had come through and found the world beautiful once more. Births and laughter instead of deaths and sorrow. Happiness always returned, albeit in different forms. You lost one thing and found another.

It had all been different times though. The times it had belonged to. Now, time was slipping. Turning into a future the clock could not grasp, because it did not belong there. Time was up.

And as sleep would come a new adventure would start. And time, time would keep moving.

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Image Source: https://za.pinterest.com/pin/507780926718766716/

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The truth shall set you free…or send you to a hot tub…

To acknowledge everything you feel every instant of the day, without trying to fix it, or getting lost in it, is hard. It’s a matter of awareness without political correctness and without fear of pain. No one wants to acknowledge they think their best friend’s husband is hot, or that they feel a vast pain within their heart after someone’s passed.

No one wants to acknowledge it, but it happens to most of us at some point or another. Pain, guilt, fear…

There are plenty of aversion tactics available – from getting lost in work, or food, to denying the emotions were there to start with.

To see it and set it free is the only thing that works. You face the pain of someone passing. You let it hit you. You accept it. Then you let it go.

You don’t get stuck reveling in the pain as you want to feel just something…anything…that reminds you of the person whom used to be part of your life. You don’t get stuck in pain because you feel guilty to still be alive. You don’t allow yourself to get stuck in pain because it hurts so much you want to die with them. That’s when you actually need to force yourself to change your focus. And slowly, but surely, you will come alive again. You will start appreciating the taste of hot chocolate. You will get a rush of happiness after running to get away from the rain and then soaking in a hot tub to get the cold out of your bones. You will smile at things. Eventually you will laugh. And you’ll start to love life again. You’ll appreciate and love other people again. And that’s OK. You’re allowed to. It’s your gift – your life.

You look at your best friend’s husband and acknowledge that the dude is hot. It won’t change yours, or your best friend’s life. It’s just a fact. A subjective fact, but a fact nonetheless. Why feel guilty about a fact that’s no more strange than chocolate tasting good? That doesn’t mean you’ll go rob a chocolate store.

I’ve said before that my life changed one night in a hot tub. And no, it wasn’t in the way that life usually changes in hot tubs. There was no man in the hot tub. There was just me. And the stars, the moon, the moving silhouettes of palm trees. I was in the Hollywood Hills, telling God I was giving up – I couldn’t figure out life and asking for help, as I felt like a complete loser. In this instance I had an epiphany. I realized my life was my own. And I didn’t have to accomplish anything. I could sit on a rock in the woods singing to myself if I wanted to. It was my gift to unwrap, this life. Mine and mine alone.

I wasn’t a failure, because I didn’t have to accomplish anything. All I had to do was explore life – that was happiness. To have a moment and explore it. To see what would unfold. Of course, I still wanted to do what I love, or work towards that, but I didn’t have to accomplish anything.

That didn’t mean I figured life out. I still didn’t acknowledge all of my emotions. Those I wasn’t always happy to explore. I fought them. Being in love meant embarrassment as they might not like me back. Having to stand up against someone was petrifying because I hated acknowledging they didn’t like me, or my opinion. Seeing how much pain there can be in life – pain caused by human beings themselves – and accepting that wasn’t even on my radar yet. Or I guess it was on the radar going to Africa, I just didn’t know what it meant to see Africa.

I’ve fought a lot of my emotions over the years. After mom died I fought the pain. I was petrified of the pain. On the flip side of the coin, I also fought the guilt of being alive and feeling happiness, whilst she was dead. For various outside reasons I also ended up withdrawing and thinking people didn’t like me, so I ended up feeling ashamed of myself 24/7. It’s taken me about 30 years to come out of that “ashamedness.”

The worst two triggers to feeling ashamed of myself were attraction/falling in love and standing up for myself when I felt there was a conflict of interest, or someone plain didn’t like me.

I’ve played various aversion tactics – from being half open, to trying to convince people of my worth (whilst feeling unworthy, hence why needing their approval) – all to avoid what is.

Facing what is, is freedom. Liberation from your worst enemy – your controlling ego. That thing inside of you that was taught, due to different experiences, what was right and wrong. That thing that is not the ultimate truth, but the made up truth in your mind. That thing that controls your life and controls you right into hell.

Sometimes your emotions, your reactions to things, are controlled by that thing as well. They are a reaction to various beliefs you have. Made up beliefs. So even emotions aren’t always real.

To see emotions – to see beyond emotions – is liberating. Just as liberating as realizing your life is yours to live. You were given the gift to explore this life. You can explore your emotions too. Just don’t act till you’ve seen if they’re true, or a result of beliefs. You don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying life after someone died. That guilt is false. And hey, I became friends with my best friend because we realized we had a crush on the same guy. None of us intended to rob the other person’s chocolate factory – we just intended to explore and see what happened. None of us got the guy, but we got each other.

The truth doesn’t often hurt us – it’s what we make up about the truth that hurt us. Likewise, your emotions won’t hurt you if you face them and let go of what you’ve made up about them. That first reaction of guilt, pain, fear…it will soon pass if you only let it.

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Image source: https://za.pinterest.com/pin/507780926718703794/

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Blonde politics…

I don’t normally express political views in my blogs. Why? I don’t think I’m informed enough as I often avoid listening too much to the news as the focus is usually on the problems. I would love to stay informed, but only when the debate is centered around solutions (as opposed to just repeating shocking tragedies). So instead I tend to focus on creating change in the way that makes sense to me: social entrepreneurship, education and the arts. However, Brexit and a recent Trump speech shook me to the core and made question when one should start standing up for what one believes in. Such as international collaboration and the right to live where one chooses, so long as one serves that country and local community.

The world is currently having a lot of issues surrounding immigration and trumpeting (quite literally in some instances) on about closing borders, as opposed to solving the real problems surrounding immigration. Having applied for several visas in my day and currently working to get a permanent residency visa to SA so as to be able to adopt some kids who know me and love me (you can only adopt kids you don’t know as a foreigner unless you have a permanent residency visa because of reasons that are incomprehensible in their idiocy), I know that immigration can be a perplexing matter. It’s all about ticking boxes, which are often neither fair, nor comprehensible.

For example, in South Africa you won’t get a visa if you have tuberculosis, even if you got tuberculosis whilst in South Africa on the visa you’re now renewing, whilst still in South Africa. Is that fair?

In many countries you can save millions of people’s lives in the country, but still be left without a visa, because it’s not about the lives you saved, but about whether you tick a box on a paper or not. You can also raise millions in investment for that country, but unless the investment went via your bank account, you aren’t granted a visa. When you combine visa laws with adoption laws, it gets even more perplexing, but let’s leave that topic for another day.

In a similar manner, it seems people don’t check what people’s intentions are for immigration, so long as they check the box(es) (which sometimes simply means checking the box “running from a war torn country”). You end up with immigrants who wreak havoc and don’t do anything for the country, but causing pain. That’s not fair either. Nor is the way integration work always fair, neither for immigrants, nor for tax payers.

Lately some things floating around the media, most notoriously Trump’s speech after the Orlando shooting, shocked me. It reminded me of just before WWII when people wanted to shut borders to “protect” their citizens and blame the problems on a scapegoat. These days immigrants and muslim extremists (and I dislike calling the terrorists muslims, because they are only using the religion as an excuse to do what it is they wish to do and have nothing to do with the muslims who respectfully practice their religion) are ranked pretty high up there as scapegoats.

There’s so much said in the media in the US about islam terrorists being the root of all evil. Has anyone checked the statistics? “There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker.”(1) This included 64 school shootings.(2) In the same year there were 4 possibly islam terrorist attacks in the US, resulting in 27 people being injured and 30 casualties (there were also two right wing terrorist attacks resulting in 12 people being injured and 10 casualties).(3) As far as I can see it seems Americans pose a greater threat to themselves than the islamist extremists.

Of course the threat of terrorism can lead to a lot bigger attacks, killing a lot more people. It’s a very real threat worldwide at the moment and has to be dealt with, but how?  Closing borders and refusing to help people who will serve a country and the world, seems a bad solution, not to mention it creates fear and tension between different nationalities and religions.

In a similar manner, I find it peculiar listening to certain debates about the EU. Some people have pointed out that there are problems within the EU, the way legislation is dealt with is potentially dangerous as it leaves the power in too few hands and, especially conspiracy theorists, talk about EU being a “Big Brother.” Their solution? Disband the EU. (However, they think their own government is part of the illuminati too, so whether they leave or stay seem to matter little as all politicians are puppets to the illuminati anyway.)

Is that really the solution though? Wouldn’t it be better to transform the EU? It seems people in general are pretty keen on collaboration, peace and the ability to live and work anywhere within the EU. Don’t tear down the bridges we’ve built, rather work to make them into bridges supported by democracy and great legislation.

Today I saw someone posting on Facebook that because one Romanian stole something from their father and Romania is in the EU, it’s great that Britain is leaving because Romania does nothing for them. So you will let one Romanian decide what you think about Romania and the EU? That’s exactly how politicians use events too – they focus on one event, or one aspect of an event, and forget the rest. Trump’s recent tweet about Brexit in Scotland is a great example of focusing on one side of an event and forgetting about the rest. The reaction that followed on Twitter was priceless though (I personally suggest he goes for a swim in Loch Ness, maybe he’ll realize he’s got more imagined monsters than Nessie in his head). Which is another good point: there’s an open source of knowledge (the internet) and a chance to make your voice heard (social media), so it’s not all up to the media for us to interpret events these days.

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Image source: http://qz.com/716915/donald-trumps-visit-to-scotland-inspired-some-very-creative-british-profanity/ 

When it comes to political debate, emotions and facts are manipulated. Happens all the time. Yet people seem blind to it all the same. Like kids wanting to be tricked by magicians, we lap up the facts and figures served to us on silver platters, thinking it’s an excellent show. Rarely do we discover the tricks behind it. Some people still think the EU is all about straightening cucumbers.

I’m not a politician. I don’t read the papers or follow the news religiously. I haven’t made it my business to fight gun violence, or terrorism on a global scale. My business is to help educate kids in a township in South Africa and create marvelous experiences for people through my business and my creative work. So maybe I should keep schtum when it comes to politics, but this fear mongering and immigration business is starting to get to me pretty badly. I’m afraid of having an uneducated voice, but here’s the deal: before I vote I’ll educate myself and I hope you will too. And, if you’re passionate enough, maybe you’ll decide to make your mark in politics instead of thinking all politicians are bad.

Solve the issues instead of pointing fingers. It’s not “them” versus “us.” It’s about creating a world in which we can all live peacefully.

That’s it. Rant over. I shall go back to writing potentially funny posts about hot men, life lessons in the form of sexual metaphors and other blonde matters.

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Image source:  Twitter. So long as there’s humor, there’s hope. No matter what the currency, nationality, or religion. Hopefully humor and love will overcome it all.

1 & 2) Guns in the US: The statistics behind the violence, Jan 5, 2016, BBC.com

3) www.johnstonsarchive.net

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Midsummer – fertility madness, schnapps or sadness???

Yesterday when looking into my crystal bowl I predicted love affairs across Europe – a very effective weapon in the war on Brexit. Today I have another prediction to make for you. Can you feel the magic of my crystal ball? Great. Ready for it? I predict that you are partially blind, or about to become so, unless you change your glasses.

No, I’m not talking about your eyes. I’m talking about how you view the world. You see, yesterday was Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden. Midsummer’s Eve used to be a celebration of fertility, which is why the Vikings, or their ancestors, decided to create a giant penis dressed in flowers and dance around it. You’re also supposed to roll naked in the morning dew, but most people have forgotten about that, just as they’ve forgotten that the Maypole is a symbol for a penis. Instead they focus on making flower garlands for the Maypole and dancing around it, eating pickled herring, drinking schnapps and celebrating summer.

When you’ve done, or seen, something for long enough you tend to forget why it came to be in the first place. It wasn’t till my teens that I started wondering why we celebrate the things we do. And not until my twenties that I realized that certain words have the same meaning, like “vind” (meaning both “wind” and “attic”) and “gift” (meaning both “married” and “poison,” but not because marriage is poison, but because both stems from “giving”).

Taking things for granted, or getting so used to them you don’t question them, is probably part of survival – you can’t constantly question your thoughts, or your judgment. However, there are times when we do need to question what we say, do and experience.

I celebrated Midsummer’s Eve with my family this year, which a rare occurrence as I’m usually in either London, L.A. or Cape Town. Being home brings back memories. And spending the evening with family friends, many who have known me since I was a few days old, made me reflect on a few things. Mainly how I used to see the world and how I see it now.

As a child I was petrified of big celebrations and parties, because I was petrified of what people thought of me. Whilst most people would look forward to parties, I was so ashamed of myself, thinking people didn’t like me (a combination of mom dying, bullies and a step-mom I didn’t get along with, twisted my perception of self), that I thought them gruesome. I never knew what to say, or do.

Yesterday, being back with the same people, in the same place, made me reflect on how differently I see things today, but also how my brain sometimes goes into autopilot and start fretting about something that has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with perception.

The truth is, perceptions are often misleading. We have one bad experience in a town and we judge the whole town as bad. We meet someone once and because they behave a certain way that one time, we write them off as always being that way. And once we have a perception of something, we let it color our experiences moving forward, just like my wonky perception of self colored my entire childhood and still colors some of my life today.

In a similar manner we tend to take the people in our life for granted and assume they are still the same people they were yesterday. Relationships fall apart because we don’t pay attention.

If we don’t watch out we simply become blind to reality.

You choose what color glasses you view the world through – opportunity, love, understanding – all those things can add beautiful color to your life, whilst presuming negative things can have a lot of not-so-good consequences for your life.

Personally I vow to ask myself why I feel the way I do more often, to prevent my own prediction of coming true. After all, I’d rather see than be a seer…but if I am a seer, I predict…let’s see…a lot of chocolate cake on the horizon. With a medium to high chance of whipped cream.

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Image source: https://za.pinterest.com/pin/507780926717922373/

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