Category Archives: #Reflections / Мисли

Thoughtful Thursday: Fathers Rock!

Today’s post is about … dads. I loved my dad, depended on him for everything in my young life, miss him a lot in my adult life, and I believe he deserves the honour of a post. My husband is a wonderful dad, so this post honours him also.

I collected some Fun Facts from here all of which seemed interesting to me.

“Approximately 52% of fathers say they are the primary grocery shoppers in the family, an increase of 10% from 1995. Additionally, 11% of moms research the products they buy compared to 24% of dads.”

Wow, I must admit, the “additional” fact surprised me. I’ve always thought mothers, and women in general, are more prone to research foods and nutrition. Is it the father-role that brings about this change in men? Or is my initial assumption wrong and twisted by the fact that men are usually quieter about their health habits?
The first fact – that fathers do the shopping more often than mothers, is true for both my families. My father was the primary shopper, and my husband is in the same role now. More patience for the supermarket queues, more physical power to carry heavy bags – just part of the advantages they have.

“A new study shows that fathers who share household chores with their wives tend to have more ambitious daughters as well as daughters with more broad definitions of gender roles.”

That definitely hits home with me. My dad took as much care of chores as my mom. They cooked together and did the dishes. That really taught me that women’s place is not in the kitchen. My father told me that a woman is not a cook, cleaner, washer and household utility. Whenever I visited a friend and saw fathers sitting in front of the TV, while mothers were cooking and serving food, I felt awkward. When I grew up to have boyfriends, I found out I hadn’t learned to behave in the “proper” way a girl should. I expected my boyfriend to share the chores with me.

“When fathers are involved in their child’s education, the children perform better in school, learn more, and exhibit healthier behavior.”

Hm, I don’t know. I was always very good at school and my father encouraged me in a meaningful way. On the other hand, my mother usually motivated me by threats and insults. Still, I don’t know if the statement above is true since my brother wasn’t very good at school. He is very intelligent, in fact, much smarter than me. Yet, school wasn’t his thing.

The world’s oldest “Father’s Day card” is a 4,000-year-old Babylonian tablet that a young boy named Elmesu carved to wish his father a long life and good health.

Well, this is just an interesting fact. I’m glad children thought lovingly of their fathers in those times, too.

We have to admit it: Fathers rock!

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 26 – Mindful Monday

Heavy is the root of light.
Stillness is the ruler of haste.

Therefore:
Although he travels all day,
The sage never loses sight of his luggage carts.
Only when he rests securely inside the walls,
He relaxes his attention.

Why would a ruler with ten thousand chariots
Look lightly on himself or his domain?

In lightness, the root is lost.
In haste, the ruler is lost.

This is one translation. The challenge with ancient texts written in remote languages is the plenitude of room for interpretation. In the second stanza, my translation says something in the meaning of: “Although he is the ruler of luxurious palaces and parks, / he remains humble and calm, above vanity.” Nothing about “relaxing his attention”. To be honest, the version I own on my bookshelves is closer and sounds more natural to me.

Another difference comes in the third stanza, the one with the 10000 chariots. My version reads “Would the ruler of ten thousand chariots / treat his kingdom lightly because of himself”. Online, I found yet another wording: “How, then, should a ruler of ten thousand chariots / Make light of his own person in the eyes of the empire?” See what I mean? Three different nuances. Moreover, they are so different, that I cannot see which one I prefer.

“Stillness is the ruler of haste.” I love this. Haste will always bow before stillness. Because stillness is persistent, it can go on for a long time without getting tired. It is equally intensive at its ending as it is at its beginning. Eventually, it should win. Well, there are situations in life when haste is preferable. Imagine you need to run away from danger or ruin. I can’t deny the usefulness of thinking and acting quickly. At the end of this Chapter, hastiness is mentioned once again to say that it is the ruin of the ruler. So, sages and rulers shouldn’t be hasty.

“Heavy is the root of light.” I have difficulties understanding that. I thought about it, looking at the sentence from several points of view, and I can’t say I reached any clarity. Maybe just like any plant needs roots and can’t survive without them, relying on the nurture and stability coming from them, in the same way, anything light cannot survive without taking energy, food and stability – its life, in short – from the heavy. The ending of the Chapter revisits the idea, stressing that if you have lightness only, the root is lost. That last idea made me think of a balloon. With nothing to hold it down, it flies away.

Let me know what you think, I’d love to read all your views and ideas in the comments.

When Your Teacher Doesn’t Believe in You

#SaturdaySatisfaction
Since my family is my best companion and environment, I decided to dedicate a separate topic and hashtag on my blog to family matters.

SupportToday’s is a bitter post.
I heard the worst possible thing a teacher can say about a student. Our daughter’s singing teacher doesn’t believe in her. What’s the deal? Our daughter, says the teacher, is very musical, and sings very well, being able to sing without getting influenced by others. In other words, she is very “stable”. Nice!

At the same time, the teacher decided to tell me and the other parents honestly what she thinks of our children’s chances of singing solo songs. She said things about how some children have the “charisma” and the “skill to overcome stage fright”. Then she told us who had those. The youngest ones and the beginners didn’t have them. The rest were OK. Our daughter was put in the beginners’ group. She doesn’t have what it takes. She gets nervous when she needs to sing on the stage. This is what the teacher said.

She saw I wasn’t too happy to hear that, so she went on to give us examples of two of her students with magnificent voices. One of them never won anything at contests, not because she wasn’t any good, but because, you know “some people just don’t have it, they are too slow, and things don’t happen well for them”. The other one never sang solo because she didn’t want to. The only time she did was at her graduation, and she did it just to please her mom. I didn’t feel these examples mattered really. I didn’t see how I can relate to them, especially the second one.

What I heard was that the teacher didn’t believe in our girl.

On the way from there, I started thinking about advice to give my daughter for the coming classes. Believe me, I don’t care for the singing group if my child is miserable. And last year, she showed on many occasions that she was miserable because she didn’t get enough stage time, because she didn’t get a mike and because others had solo songs. The truth is that this child burns for the stage.

Getting back to the advice, I thought, maybe she needs to put some extra efforts and show the teacher that she can sing solo, that she isn’t nervous etc. But then I thought again… I didn’t hear the teacher say that we can overcome the problem with more effort. She didn’t give any assurance like: “We’ll find a way out of this.” or “She will get there with time.” No. Her verdict was final. She doesn’t believe this child has it.

Before I ramble away, let me say one thing. Teachers who didn’t believe in me were just people who worked for the school where I went. I don’t remember them. Maybe they were good, maybe changed the life for some of my classmates. I don’t know. I remember the teachers who believed in me.

I think we’ll cancel singing there.

Savage Saturdays: Introversion, Part 1

In this hashtag, #Savage Saturdays, I plan to focus on things of the mind and soul, mental health, psychology, and self-help. First, I’ll draw your attention to one of my favourite topics: Introversion. To make it proper, I’d like to start by laying the foundation and take it from here. This post is the first of a series that will speak about What Is Introversion and Some Myths about Introversion.

If you are introverted, you probably know it. Extroverted people, on the other hand, often mistake shyness and the lack of social skills for introversion. We need to set the definitions straight, not only because we owe it to introverted people, but also because they make nearly half of the population on Earth. There is no way to count them precisely; there is no “census” for this, and there is no place where you can go and declare yourself by voting or signing up for a list. It seems extroverts are more numerous. That is because they are outgoing, express themselves with ease and are normally quite noticeable. Introverts are simply not there. And yet, we may safely say that at least one-third of the population are introverted, another third are extroverted and there is yet another third – those people whom we call “ambiverts”. Ambiverts alternate acting like extro– or introverts in different areas of life, thus making it hard to put them in one pure category.

“It takes all sorts to make a world.” When we want to share valid opinions and expect others to listen and take our ideas into account, we need to be prepared. That means knowing and understanding.

Introverts and Energy:

  • Extroverts charge through socialising: they like noisy environments and the sensory stimulation of sound, colour, temperature, vibration and people touch.
  • Introverts can do on a lot less of the above. They, like every human being, like company and interaction, but their energy drains fast and they charge through spending time alone and in silence.

Introverts and Shyness:
A frequent mistake is to use “introverted” and “shy” interchangeably. These are not synonyms and as an introvert who is not shy, I remember this was a major difficulty in my self-analysis. Extroverts can also be shy, for all we know. Shy people get nervous and self-conscious when they need to socialise and be part of some social interaction. They blush, stammer, don’t know what to do with their hands, and more often than not, forget what they know. Oral exams at school show the shy boys and girls pretty clearly. Think about it for a moment: Do you remember an outgoing classmate who was very noisy during breaks but couldn’t say a word when examined in front of the blackboard, even when she knows the answer? Do you also remember that no one believed this classmate was nervous, and most people thought she was faking it? That is a good example of a shy extrovert.

Do you know any untypical extroverts or introverts? Tell me in the comments below.
Next time, I’ll go on to the popular myths about introversion and help busting them. In the meantime, be well and have a nice weekend!

Writerly Wednesday: Punctuation

My mother tongue has very strict rules as to the use of comma, quite unlike the English language. They are so numerous that I often wonder at complicated cases if I should use one and where to position it. I have a deep respect to all colleagues who have graduated Bulgarian because they know what to do. All I know I have learned at school, and it’s just the basics. Moreover, I’m sure I have forgotten plenty of that over the years.

The moment I went to university to study English, I dived into happy ignorance and indifference as to the vague rules of using commas. A semester in, however, I started to resent this vagueness. After graduation, it upset me a lot, and I felt it could ruin my reputation of a language professional. Imagine, a student asks if she should use a comma in front of “if” or “when” and then, on top of that, also ask for an explanation. Imagine she would continue to explain the Bulgarian rule to me.
Most importantly, my ignorance threatened my writer’s life. I chose to write with no commas at all, for fear I might use some incorrectly. Have you noticed I haven’t even mentioned the semicolon? I’m not planning to involve that thing in this piece.

How I Got By?
I read carefully stories by other writers, always natives, and took mental notes how they use their commas. The terror, everybody was doing it their own way. That was awful, for sure, but in the same time, relaxing, as it was very likely that no one would notice I had no idea. Shooting in the dark is how I got by.

The time of MOOCs came, and I attended several very interesting ones in a variety of topics. I passed a course in history, called “The Matters of War and Peace”, for example, even though I’m not a fan of the science. I also took a course in Nutrition which was an eye-opener. I haven’t migrated to healthy eating, but I know a thing or two. General Philosophy, Chinese Humanities, Plato’s Dialogues, Fantasy and Sci-Fi in Literature…, you name it, but I shunned the Writing courses. Until one day I saw the Grammar 101: Punctuation, and I thought “That’s it”.

Needless to mention, all my classmates were graduate students. It didn’t matter as I had a goal. What I appreciated most about this course was the simplicity to which things were brought. How come no one had told me before that there WERE actual rules, and it was possible to follow them? Was it too simple to be true? Perhaps it was, but now I am at peace with my commas.

It’s time to start looking into the semicolon. That course DID say a lot on that topic, but who can learn so much in one time? I need to brace myself and shoot for another take of this MOOC, I suppose.
What’s your experience with the comma rules?

Thoughtful Tuesday – Homeopathy

I’m not sure how the topic of homeopathy entered my life. The earliest thing I remember was when in the middle of 1997, I heard of it on radio. It must have been a continuous topic, because I rarely notice novelties at the very first moment. I tried to listen carefully, and understood that this fashionable method relies on curing your disease by using small amounts of substances that cause the symptoms. It sounded similar to the principle of work of vaccines. But, vaccines are used to prevent and not to cure diseases.

Years later, what I would hear about homeopathy was completely different. No mention of treatment through similarity was made, but I had the impression that the active substances in the homeopathic drugs are effective against the symptoms. So, I forgot my initial memories about this method.
The next major wave of homeopathy into my life came after I had a baby. Our doctor would prescribe various medicine for our daughter: sometimes traditional, sometimes Dr Schuessler’s Salts, and at other times, some of the ready-made mixtures produced by Boiron or other famous companies. Honestly speaking, we have never tried traditional homeopathy. I know the traditional homeopaths criticise the ready mixtures as commercial fraud and betrayal of the pure principles of the method.

Science says that no trace of the active substance is to be detected in the drugs. Traditional physicians see no explanation of why and how these drugs would be effective. Official drug and medical authorities announce their opinions. I want to post here a link to one such compilation: 12 responsible and serious bodies have no reason to lie to the public. Well, haven’t they, in fact?

I agree with all that. Yet, I have friends who say homeopathy helps. They advocate for it stating it’s not a placebo effect. For some time, I used Influcid and it would help. I took it every 1.5 hours, for the whole day, for a day and a half. But, did it help, or the fact that I ate only a little, because you have to wait for an hour after a meal before taking a pill? One time, it didn’t help and I had to take antibiotics anyway. Then, I stopped taking it. Oscillococcinum never helps me. I would like it to do, but it doesn’t. Lately, I was sick and couldn’t go to see a doctor, so I followed the advice of friends of ours, and took another ready mixture, Corisalia. Maybe it helped. I combined that with regular sauna and steam bath for 2-3 days. Mmm, which one helped better?

Another thing I’ve tried are Dr. Bach’s Floral Drops. I’m still taking them, I cannot share a real opinion yet. They say, even if it doesn’t help, it won’t hurt. I wonder, won’t it?

Autumn Morning Haiku

I was checking the blogs I follow on Tumblr the other day, when I saw a haibun that provoked some thinking. I usually spend mornings getting ready for work and having coffee and small breakfast while listening to the morning news on one of the TV channels. I don’t do sit down at my coffee contemplating the morning and creating poetry. And why is that? I have all it takes: a nice balcony with flower pots, a view over some tree crowns and a coffee table from where to enjoy it all.

So, the next morning I went straight to it. After making coffee, of course. And I took some pictures to add to my poetry. Here is my haiku of the day, and the collage I made to support it.

No blooms in the pots
Solitary green leaves –
grey morning in autumn.

That was, for real, the first such morning. Summer was so rainy that we waited for it until August. I hoped it would last longer than usual. But now it stepped away to autumn. Not fair at all! We want more!

Haibun is a piece of art where you write a short prose paragraph and add a haiku to it, thus making a whole thing. The blog post that impressed me so much was that of my friend Bjorn Rudberg whom I met through micro poetry originally, and who has since opened to longer forms. All that said, I can now move on to my day.

Mindful Monday: A Verse of Interest

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 7

Heaven is eternal and Earth is lasting.
How can they be eternal and lasting?
Because they do not live for themselves.
That is how they can be eternal.
Therefore:
The sage puts himself last and becomes the first,
Neglects himself and is preserved.
Is it not because he is unselfish that he fulfills himself?

I used the translation provided on Taoist.com website. My 2 copies at home read the same.

I believe this chapter is quite self-explanatory, but I want to highlight my favourite part. “Because they don’t live for themselves, that is how they are eternal.” Because that which lives for itself, dies when it’s own time is up. It is limited in existence – nothing outside it needs it or makes use of its life for any purpose. Its period of breathing in and out is over, so it dies. But if you help your environment and serve it, the environment protects you and saves precious life moments for you.

Can it be similar to the principle that giving happiness away doesn’t reduce it, but just increases the number of happy people? Maybe it can, who knows. It goes well in the tradition that sharing values doesn’t deplete them.

As an ending, I’d use another favourite of mine, the finishing line, from another translation: “It is because he is not focused on self-interests that he can fulfill his nature.” So, go on and fulfill your nature in the new week. Be well!

Whatchamacallit

Sweet and Bitter Stuff of Wonder
where I stash away my ramblings,
in dark corners (as I believe)

where I add some sweet, but mostly bitter
words that show my wonder at the sad world
and my wailing soul
(which wails for no obvious reason, my reason is stupefied)

Where are the sweet pieces?
My name translates as
“Sea of bitterness”
A coincidence?

Written for a prompt site for which I haven’t written for a long time, the community of my friends Marie and Walt, Poetic Bloomings #210 – Whatchamacallit.

New Year Resolutions, Edition 2018

Hi there,
my friends and loyal subscribers, my favourite people in the world, my readers! That time of the year has come again, and it’s even perhaps already late for New Year Resolutions. Noooo, it’s not! It’s not. Cut the long story short, here are mine:

    new-year-resolutions-2013

    New Year Resolutions for 2018!

    1. Make the “Devastation of the Soul” poetry chapbook. I know exactly which poems will be at the core, so it shouldn’t be that difficult. I plan to be ready with this project by the end of February.
    2. Translate 13 horror stories from English to Bulgarian and make them into a book. Well, I can’t print the book obviously, or distribute it. What I intend is to have a full-length body of content just in case anyone would be interested to print. Why 13? Ah, I’m predictable. The perfect timing will be to translate one story per month and choose one month for a double score. Yet, I don’t believe in such evenness. Moreover, I’m making the chapbook during January and February, remember? So, let’s focus on getting the first six stories by the end of May, or early June, at the latest. No serious work during summer, dudes! My experience is adamant in this respect. Every single time I made plans for June-July-August, I failed. No need to get bitter on that. Just move the deadline 😉 This project should be accomplished around the end of November. It will coincide with the end of NaNoWriMo.
    3. And that brings me to my next resolution:

    4. November will be a month for poem-a-day writing, as will be April. I don’t plan to follow any particular prompts, but I’ll lay the foundations for two more chapbooks. I haven’t decided on the topics yet. This year, I will not revisit NaNoWriMo. Maybe next year 😉
    5. OK, moving on:

    6. I need help with this one. Some 5 years ago, I was thinking of writing very short poetic pieces to go with each of the Tarot Cards. Maybe just the Major Arcana, for the whole pack would become boring. If you want to see what those cards are, check this Wikipedia page. These past 6 months, however, a new idea dawned on me: write a short piece to go with the various cards used in the Dixit Board Game (To learn more about the game check their official page). I need your help, because I don’t believe it’s reasonable to think I can do both this coming year. So, which one? The deadline is my birthday, that is end of December. I plan to focus on this in the second part of the year. Let’s hope the general mood will be favourable.
    7. Now, to the less creative resolutions:

    8. I will do yoga once a week.
    9. I will continue my diet journal and scheme.
    10. I will see 5 new theatrical pieces and 3 new operas.
    11. I will blog once a week, at least.

    I think this is enough. Maybe it’s a good idea to add something about cooking skills or baking intentions, but you know the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so I won’t be tempted.

    Perhaps I should pin this post somewhere to get reminded of it and check my progress regularly. It’s so good to be back in this blog *hug*.

    Before you go, I’d like to remind you that I need your help with the 4th item in my list. Which one should it be: Tarot or Dixit?