About this blog…

“Every blog should have a niche subject,” apparently. This blog is personal and covers way more than one topic. Use the categories and/or tags if you would like to filter out certain types of posts. Over time more posts from the past may be imported from other blog platforms.

Pained

I really have a lot of faith in properly trained doctors and evidence-based medicine, but going by some of my own experiences I can’t blame people who seek solutions with
Dr Google and, more dangerously, snake oil sales(wo)men.
 
Still, I’m a firm proponent of general healthcare a.k.a. western medicine, vaccinations and drugs. But I am also exasperated by the “I can’t see anything so there’s nothing wrong” attitude of some physicians, to the extent that, honestly, I don’t care how many godforsaken years they’ve spent learning their profession, they’re in the wrong f__ing job.
 
There are plenty of people who will play football for years and years, never missing a training session, and yet they never make it to professional level. (On a personal note,
I spent years trying to learn to play the bass guitar and ended up barely knowing how to hold the darn thing… ditto tennis/rackets.) Why would this be any different for musicians, managers, accountants or… doctors?
 
I forgot who the comedian is who said something like “I’m not a helicopter pilot, but
I don’t need to be one to know that when I see a helicopter hanging in a tree, it’s in trouble.” By that same token I feel entitled to say some doctors are s__t, while other doctors are merely afraid of saying “I don’t know.” (Perhaps because they studied so long and hard they feel they (should) have all the answers? And/or possibly aided by the thought the patient in front of them is not “their” patient and they may never see them again?)
 
So they choose to ignore or dismiss the patient in front of them, possibly even throwing in a (deliberate?) misdiagnosis. Which hurts and upsets. And no matter how many nice-but-inappropriate tablets they prescribe, none can make the patient feel better. 

About bad music

WARNING: This posts contains a lot of quotation marks. And by a lot I mean there are probably too many. Oh well…

I know it’s really cool to hate on Coldplay right now, but I’m old anyway so I don’t care about my lack of coolness.

However much I dislike most of Coldplay’s music, I cannot label it as “bad”; it’s just not to my taste.

“Bad” music is when I can’t hear a natural vocal or an actual musical instrument being played and three lines of lyrics repeated endlessly in a song which was apparently written by four people and required six producers.

Don’t even get me started on “DJs” selling out “live gigs” that involve little more than them sticking a USB stick into a sound system.

“Activism, slacktivisim, borderline fascist rhetoric…”

WARNING: Very long rambling post – click away now if you can’t handle reading anything longer than the average tweet or Facebook status update. For a TL;DR version: read only the bits in bold text.

Dear people who think their high horses could ever be any higher than mine,

Assuming that people overlaying their social media profile pictures on with French flags do not care about Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Afghanis or goodness knows whoever else is perhaps a shortsighted observation. Just because people select one, that doesn’t mean they don’t care about the other.

Just because people’s profile pictures on social media featured green overlays some years ago, that didn’t mean they cared only about Iranians’ democratic rights.

Just because people’s pictures featured rainbow overlays a few months ago, that didn’t mean they stopped caring about fellow human beings that are heterosexual, bisexual or asexual.

Just because some people don’t wear a poppy early November nor feature one on their online profile pictures, that does not mean they do not care about war veterans.

Just because some people do wear a poppy early November or feature one on their online profile pictures, that does not mean they are proponents of war.

Just because some people display yellow ribbons to point out their own or their loved ones’ endometriosis, that isn’t to say they don’t care about AIDS; just because some choose red ribbons, that doesn’t mean they care about AIDS but not about cancer; just because some go for pink ribbons, that doesn’t mean they wish to convey a message that breast cancer is worse than testicular cancer… I could go on.

I don’t take offence to anyone changing their profile picture to feature a Tricolore overlay, nor do I take offence to Facebook offering you the opportunity to do so within a few simple clicks, however I do take issue with those claiming (or feigning) offence at people doing so or at Facebook offering that opportunity, and then substantiate their (faux) outrage that with the shortsighted narrative that those people and/or the powers that be at Facebook “don’t care about” whatever the country, cause or people that feature higher on their own agendas than the victims of the attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015.

“Activism, slacktivisim, borderline fascist rhetoric…” could be the start of a new rhyme of sorts, like the jokes begin “An X, Y and Z walk into a bar…” whereby the X, Y and Z are replaced with people or other creatures of different races or creeds. But I am not that creative and it would probably be as lame as most of those jokes anyway.

My point is: You are not a better or nicer person for pointing out ‘other’ or ‘worse’ ills in the world to someone expressing public sorrow for any particular cause or event. Not everything is formulaic, let alone binary.

Moreover, whatever you are seen to do or not do can make you look like a nice person or not but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are the kind of person that you are trying to appear as or that people perceive you to be.

Whatever your grounds are for having a flag, overlay, badge, ribbon or whatever on your profile or not… they are yours, however deep or shallow.

Up till now I’ve only ever used the term slacktivism in a derogatory sense, because personally I don’t believe picture overlays, ribbons, pins or wristbands can make a world of difference. Today found a new appreciation for it:

When something bad happens beyond our control and we cannot undo it, or when none of us seems to be able to stop our own or other people’s loved ones from suffering or dying, slacktivism seems the best and at times only way to convey to the world: “I don’t quite know the right words to say or the appropriate thing to do, but I am thinking about this” or merely “I feel therefore I am”. Situations in which we are powerless do not mandate we keep our silence.

I still think that slacktivism won’t make any difference, but I get that it’s not entirely meaningless. And I also suspect there will be plenty of people not putting much thought behind their slacktivism, or at least not as much as I give them credit for above. But there is no need to attack anyone for publicly expressing their sentiments about one thing and not about another. Silence does not by default equal indifference.

Stay safe and seek substance.

Yours self-righteously,

Jo

Self Help

Although I’m a great fan of investing in self improvement, I’m not the most compatible with talking therapies. There are countless self help and therapy books available, many of them utter rubbish that just make you feel as if you’re being taken advantage off (ripped off, scammed, whatever you wish to call it).

Thankfully, there are exceptions. I would like to use this blog post to list a number of books that seriously helped me out over the years.

***

The Tao of Pooh – by Benjamin Hoff

Really?! Yes, Really. This light bed time reading is the best book ever to slowly, simply change your outlook on life to a more positive one. Nothing flippant whatsoever, it seriously changed me for the better; so much so that whenever I can afford it I buy extra copies to give out as presents to friends and strangers.

The Tao of Pooh is available here from Amazon UK.

Voor Nederlandse lezers: Dit boek is ook beschikbaar in een Nederlandse vertaling bij Bol.com.

***

Negaholics: How to Overcome Negativity and Turn Your Life Around – by Cherie Carter-Scott

Once upon a time I was convinced Murphy had it in for me, that everything that could go wrong, would always go wrong as far as my life was concerned. And I prided myself on being a level-headed realist when, in reality, I could only view life in terms of (potential) problems and so I often failed to see or reach solutions and too often found myself in unnecessary (often futile) conflicts. A regular customer at the bookstore I worked at when I was 19 suggested I read this; I did and it changed me for the better.

Negaholics is available here from Amazon UK.

Voor Nederlandse lezers: Van dit boek bestaat geen Nederlandse vertaling, maar het Engelstalige origineel is wel verkrijgbaar bij Bol.com.

***

Self Help for Your Nerves: Learn to relax and enjoy life again by overcoming stress and fear – by Dr. Claire Weekes

My GP in 2003 suggested I read this, because at the time I didn’t really ‘believe’ anxiety and depression were anything more than figments of people’s imaginations, even though I was clearly suffering from both conditions. This book helped me acknowledge and appreciate what was going on with me (and other sufferers), and what I could do about it myself. There are a number of other (audio) books with similar titles accredited to the same Dr Claire Weekes, but personally I’d stick with this one and accept your doctor’s prescription for medication to help you out while you help yourself forward.

Self Help for Your Nerves is available here from Amazon UK.

Voor Nederlandse lezers: Van dit boek bestaat geen Nederlandse vertaling, maar het Engelstalige origineel is wel verkrijgbaar bij Bol.com.

***

Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking: Be a Happy Non-smoker for the Rest of Your Life – by Allen Carr

I nearly forgot to add this book to this list, because I haven’t smoked since February 2009 and I don’t really think about it anymore. It was only when going through my past book purchases to compile the list of books for this blog post that I bumped into it again. It’s brilliant! It didn’t get me to quit smoking for good straight away: I read this book, then I quit smoking, then I started smoking again, then I hated myself for smoking, then I quit smoking again, then I read this book again, then the penny dropped: Carr wrote about the ‘liberation’ from one’s addiction to smoking, and indeed I felt liberated from it; but I also realised the same principle could be applied to every and any other addiction (including eating disorders, which in many ways are like addictions too).

Carr himself quit smoking too late to save himself: he died from lung cancer. But what a legacy he leaves with all the people who didn’t and/or won’t die thanks to his books.

Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking is available here from Amazon UK.

Voor Nederlandse lezers: Dit boek is ook beschikbaar in een Nederlandse vertaling bij Bol.com.

***

Change Your Thinking with CBT: Overcome Stress, Combat Anxiety and Improve Your Life
by Dr Sarah Edelman

The term CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is bandied about everywhere these days, just like NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) was a few years ago. It’s become something of a fad, meaning there are a lot of books and practitioners out there and I doubt each of them offers high quality; but I do believe the basic principle of CBT makes perfect sense.

Over 20 years ago I was seen by a married couple (he was a psychiatrist, she was a psychotherapist) for rather heavy, confrontational, intense/intensive therapy over the course of three or four months. The name CBT wasn’t being used back then (was it even known in the 1990s?) but in hindsight I believe the therapy I received from them probably was cognitive behavioural therapy. It equipped me with coping mechanisms and tools there and then at the time, and still works for me to this day. CBT doesn’t just change your mindset or attitude, I found it’s changed me so profoundly that even how my emotions operate today are down to the aforementioned therapy as well as books like this one by Dr Sarah Edelman.

Change Your Thinking with CBT is available here from Amazon UK.

Voor Nederlandse lezers: Van dit boek bestaat geen Nederlandse vertaling, maar het Engelstalige origineel is wel verkrijgbaar bij Bol.com.

Additional/alternative reading:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Dummies – by Rhena Branch and Rob Willson

Available here from Amazon UK.

Voor Nederlandse lezers: Van dit boek bestaat geen Nederlandse vertaling, maar het Engelstalige origineel is wel verkrijgbaar bij Bol.com.

***

Anger Management for Everyone: Seven Proven Ways to Control Anger and Live a Happier Life – by Raymond Chip Tafrate and Howard Kassinove

Punching a pillow can only do so much when you’re a hothead like I used to be. Once upon a time I was the queen of tantrums and grudges, who could get make myself really angry and upset (usually over things not even worth getting angry or upset about); nowadays I am by no means perfect, and I am definitely still learning, but the aggression I used to harbour is most definitely gone.

Anger Management for Everyone is available here from Amazon UK.

Voor Nederlandse lezers: Van dit boek bestaat geen Nederlandse vertaling, maar het Engelstalige origineel is wel verkrijgbaar bij Bol.com.

Additional/alternative reading:

Anger Management for Dummies (UK Edition) – by Gillian Bloxham and W. Doyle Gentry

Available here from Amazon UK.

Voor Nederlandse lezers: Van dit boek bestaat geen Nederlandse vertaling, maar het Engelstalige origineel is wel verkrijgbaar bij Bol.com.

***

Full Catastrophe Living: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation – by Jon Kabat-Zinn

‘Mindfulness’ is another current fad, but this book predates the fad by years and years and helped me meditate. I should be picking up this book again, really, and re-read it, as I’ve let slip of the meditation in recent years… even though it really does a lot of good for both my mental and physical health.

Full Catastrophe Living is available here from Amazon UK.

Voor Nederlandse lezers: Van dit boek bestaat geen Nederlandse vertaling, maar het Engelstalige origineel is wel verkrijgbaar bij Bol.com.

***

Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness – by Erich Schiffmann

To this day I find yoga pretty boring, but it does me the world of good, particularly for my physical health. It steadies my balance (I have a minor balance disorder due to oxygen deficit in birth and meningitis when I was two years old) and improves my posture (reducing pain and discomfort from my endometriosis and other gynaecological issues). Better posture also means I sit/stand/walk more steadily and straight and people might interpret that as confidence on my part, which isn’t a bad thing either.

This book was my introduction to basic yoga exercises that you can do at home without risking injury (if you take things slowly and carefully) and I rely on it now that I cannot afford yoga classes.

Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness is available here from Amazon UK.

Voor Nederlandse lezers: Van dit boek bestaat geen Nederlandse vertaling, maar het Engelstalige origineel is wel verkrijgbaar bij Bol.com.

Mo Farah

(Previously posted on Facebook)

To this day, I’ve never watched Mo Farah‘s winning races at The Olympic Games in London in 2012. But I remember exactly where I was when he won his first gold there.

The lovely British Somali family who lived downstairs from us at the time were most certainly watching it happen on their TV, and I will never forget the cheers and cries… they were like nothing I’d ever heard before, such intense joy and emotion… the memory alone still gives me goosebumps.

Mo won more than a gold medal that day, and not just for himself.

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