I will give love

It’s hard to admit that it wasn’t it
I broke into pieces
When you left me here

I held my love in my cold, cold hands
The love that I wished knew no end

So help me, Lord
I feel so alone
I lost my soul
Since he’s been gone

I held my love in my empty, empty heart
The love that I wished could survive

But I will grow into flowers, clouds and wind
To help me redeem all my past sins
And I will forget about all that I did
And I will give love
Though never receive

a night with you

After the curtain call
We let the sun in
Bathed in the morning light
Our bodies skin to skin

Come now, don’t hold back
We’ll have an eternal feast
Grab all that you can eat
Bitter, sour or sweet

For blessed are those who dine with the gods
Damned are those who don’t drink their wine
If you’re ready
I am too
Let the sacrifice be made

East from the seven seas
A garden lays ahead
Carrying our sins
We walk through its holy gates

Come now, we’re going down
Stepping from pedestals
Leave your pride far behind
Spread your wings and fly

We’re made in the image of the gods
So why we don’t ever feel enough?
If you let go
I will too
Will the dreams and fears come true

Heaven

 

Have you ever wondered

Why the wind runs so wild?

An enchanted breath of gods

Playing like a child

 

Oh, how much I miss those days

When I was young and free

Always laughing, always charmed

And forever the wind I’ll be

 

Have you ever wondered why

The sky is so damn high?

Ever tempting yet unsure

Am I wrong or is there more?

 

We all wonder, we all guess

Sometimes more and sometimes less

Is it the biggest of all lies

That we’ll end up in the sky?

 

***

Hey guys! So I decided to experiment with words a bit more than usual here. I hope you enjoyed it!

Let me know what you think!

Bloody Tuesday

Having a needle in your arm and feeling a bit weak and lightheaded is not the most comfortable way to spend your time. But knowing that you might be saving someone’s life makes it worth it.

I can’t really say when I decided I wanted to give blood. A friend here, a friend there talked about it or gave blood. It was somewhere at the back of my mind that was resurfacing now and again. 

I did my first research how to get to it a few years ago. Sadly, I wasn’t eligible as a donor needs to weight more than 50 kg. So I let it go. Until now, that is. I am now an owner of a solid 50.5 kg body and to celebrate this fact I signed up as a donor. 

The registration process is quite simple and doesn’t take much time. Choosing time and location in London does. Because you can’t go during working hours (here choosing a spot is easy peasy) because you’re going on holiday, because you have a BJJ competition or because you’re partying the whole weekend. So I scheduled my appointment 3 months ahead. And here it finally came. 

The day before I got a friendly text with a link about how to prepare for the donation. On the day, just a reminder to eat well and drink plenty of water. It is not advisable to exercise on the day of your donation or even the day before. 

Once you show up to your appointment you need to read through a welcoming brochure to get to know how the whole process works and what are the potential risks. It is also available online. In the waiting room, there are plenty of snacks and drinks to take care of while you’re waiting. 

After they call your name you go with a very friendly nurse to an examination room to see if you’re eligible. So they stab your finger and squeeze a drop of blood out of it to conduct a simple blood test. If you pass the test you can go straight to the donation room. 

It was a nice surprise to me how relaxed the atmosphere was. The doctors and nurses circled between the chairs, tubes, documents, and people. I climbed onto a dentist-like chair and sacrificed my arm on an armrest. The nurse measured my blood pressure again and instructed me on some minor exercises to do during the donation. I also needed to clench and open my fist to make the blood flow easier. They also recommend clenching and unclenching the buttocks to make it even more fun. 

blood

I absolutely cannot watch a needle in my arm so once the nurse got a hold of it I looked the other way. To further distract myself I put on a video on Youtube with some puppies, I’ll link it below. In total, I had a needle in my arm for about 15 minutes and I didn’t look at it once. 

When the time came another nurse came to take the needle out and put the bag with my blood aside. I didn’t expect the bag to be so big! It was nearly a pint of blood, but still, I have never seen so much blood before, even if contained in a bag. 

After the donation, they take you back to the waiting room and give more drinks and snacks and keep an eye on you if you feel bad. I drank a cup of water and after sitting for a few minutes I got going as I was already late to meet my friend. 

We went to a nearby restaurant and I got a big burger to get some iron into my system because, you know, doctor’s orders. I also drank a liter of water to refill the fluids in my body. 

burger

In general, I felt fine, just got really tired in the tube and I was yawning every 5 minutes. I slept like a log, though. The next day was ok too, but I still felt tired and a bit lightheaded when I did a sudden movement. No BJJ training happen, but a lot of food and water did. 

For a final touch, I just want to say that I am grateful that I have a healthy body and because of that I can help others in need. Accidents happen every day and every day someone needs blood. It could be me, it could be you, it could be someone you love. So if you’re eligible to give blood and want to spread some love and kindness, don’t hesitate, it is not a bad experience. And if you don’t feel like doing it alone, maybe we can go together next time! 

Love you all,
SW

Register as a donor: https://www.blood.co.uk/

Distract yourself during the donation with this video:

Through the waves to the unknown

Oceania. Thousands of islands spread across the ocean covering a third of the world’s surface. I admit it’s usually as far away from my thoughts as it is in a physical distance.
I got intrigued by those faraway lands after watching Moana (great movie, seriously). I did a bit of internet search but little came out of it. So I forgot about it and just enjoyed the movie for its songs and animation.

Then, I met a friend for some coffee and gossip, and somehow the topic came up again. She said she had a museum card that allowed her to take one person with her to the exhibition Oceania at the Royal Academy of Arts. Such an opportunity, to see an amazing exhibition and don’t pay a penny, doesn’t come often so I jumped at it.
A short guide to the exhibition tells you that Oceania has been inhabited over 30,000 years ago. I can’t imagine how many stories, myths, legends, traditions or beliefs could be created in such a time. That’s why I think the exhibition felt a bit small for me. But I take into account that Oceania has been “discovered” by Europeans only 250 years ago.

IMG_3251

Ocean, sailing and navigating was a strong part of the Islanders culture. Especially the canoes, which were often featured in legends or even creation and death stories. They were often ornamentally carved, like the one in the cover photo of this post.

My regret regarding this exhibition is that they don’t explain much about the belief systems on the islands. I know, I know, it would be an immeasurable amount of work, but after seeing this two-headed dude I want to know what his role in the society and traditions was. And all I got was “Ti’i, God’s image with two heads”. Ok, but who is Ti’i? If you know, let me know.
Farther in the exhibition I found a sword I think that reminded me of Maui’s hook (from Moana).

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I had great fun tracing objects that I recognized or that resembled things showed in the movie. Honestly, watch it before or after seeing the exhibition. Great fun.
What I also learned was that most of the exhibits weren’t stolen from the local people, as it is usually the case. The culture of giving was highly important in the Islanders life. The making of gifts and handing them were full-blown ceremonies.

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At the end of your tour, I recommend spending some time to watch a movie about the meeting between the Europeans and the local people. I didn’t get so much from it but it’s nice to watch and it’s made like the camera was just moving along the coast of an island catching random situations. Not an everyday view.

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Thanks for visiting me and my adventures here! If you’ve seen the exhibition or know any other fascinating things that I shouldn’t miss out, let me know in the comments!
All best,
SW
Bonus: A song from Moana!

La vie en rose

Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Qu’il me parle tout bas
Je vois la vie en rose 

France has this unique atmosphere that it’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there. The chic and messiness, couture and leisure, wine and car traffic. I honestly can’t explain it.
I recently I got away for the weekend to visit my friend in Lille. For the first time, I traveled with Eurostar, at the average speed of 280 km/h… The trip from London to Lille takes 1.5 h. And you go under the sea. This is all hella exciting.
I spent my Friday wandering around Lille, which is not as big as I expected. I landed at the Lille Europe underground station, which is one of the coolest tube stations I’ve seen. Check it out:

tube

Afterward, I found myself in a cemetery, which, by looking at the map, I thought was a park. An honest mistake. It was beautiful though. With the golden leaves illuminated by the morning sun. I walked around the graves and mausoleums and wondered about life and death, soul and body, forgotten people and forgotten faces.

grave1 grave2

I grabbed a croissant on my way to the old town and strolled to the old town. I passed old apartment buildings that sang about French glory and prosperity. The opera house is quite impressive, but I don’t have a good picture of it, unfortunately.
My friend gave me a tourist map with some landmarks highlighted, so my next stop was a cathedral on the side of the city center. I went there all curious and…

monster
This thing. Honestly. You walk around the city full of wonders and then there’s this. I nearly cried. I got away from it as fast as I could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My nerves were soon soothed when I found this beautiful square right behind the monster.

cute
I had plenty of time on my hands so I tried to get into the house De Gaulle was born in (didn’t know he was from Lille), but they’re renovating it at the moment. I took a detour and went to investigate the Citadel, but all I found was a circus (?) and a small stream around. I could not find an entry to the park that apparently surrounds the Citadel.
I ate an awesome lunch in the main square with an obligatory glass of wine. I was in France after all.
I went back to my friends flat and took a nap waiting for her to finish her classes at uni.
In the evening we went for a dinner and I have to recommend the restaurant, La Petite Cour, that we went to. Fantastic food, wine, and chocolate cake.
We took a little walk around the city on our way home. There was an old warehouse, or at least it looked like it, that was turned into a nightclub and my friend wanted to check it out. We found ourselves crashing a random metal concert of some WhatsTheirName band from I think Ireland. First time in my life I wore sound stoppers during a concert. At the last song the band invited people on stage, so obviously I jumped up and went crowd surfing to end the show. Fun times, I tell ya.

For the next day, we planned to go sightseeing Lille, maybe visit some museum or whatever. Instead, we thought about going to Paris. You can’t say no to Paris. We got there quite late, around 2 pm, as it was a purely spontaneous decision, but we were in Paris!

sw
We went to Montmartre, Canal Saint-Martin, Bataclan, Place de la Bastille, Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris. We ate some Indian dinner and headed to Arc de Triomphe and from there to the Eiffel Tower.

arc 252E3059-2278-41EE-A9BE-71B553DA13AC
We got home around 1 am dead tired but happy.

Next stop: Bruges.

bruges2
We went there as a group of five. Bruges is even smaller than Lille. It is absolutely lovely with the canals cutting the streets and washing over the doll-like houses. We ate fries and waffles for lunch. No regrets.

The day was far from over and we felt done with the city so we went to the seaside.
Standing on the beach we heard the sea calling. We ran barefoot towards the waves and screamed when our feet sank into the freezing water. Childhood memories of countless summers rushed into my mind. It’s hard not feel happy and careless on a beach, no matter the temperatures.

sea
The weekend getaway ended with beer, a midnight walk around Lille, and a 6am train on Monday to London, because I needed to go to work.
Hands up who loves Paris! Hands up who loves Bruges! Hands up who loves Lille! What are your memories from those places? Let me know!
All best,
SW

Open The Doors

I first drowned in music when I was fifteen. It was summer, I was at a camp at my uncle’s stable. I joined others in the TV room and someone dug out the movie about The Doors by Oliver Stone.* I sat hypnotized for more than two hours, pulled into a different reality. Never before has music and the ideas behind it affected me like this. It reached into my mind and soul so deeply that I felt it in my whole body.

Since then Jim Morrison became the dark angel that led me through the various storms, rages, and dreams of my teenage years. Sometimes making them worse, sometimes making them divine. Providing a much-needed lifeline.

bio-full-band
Source: thedoors.com

I first fell in love with Jim’s voice. Its depth, vibration, seduction, and mystery. It made me want to understand him. It made me want to learn English. Most of the evenings of my high school years I spent bent over their lyrics and a dictionary (both online and traditional).

The Doors music takes you through labyrinths of mystic lands, through chaos and calm, through madness and lust, through love and hurt. It makes the mind so vibrant and alive that the body feels uncomfortable to be in. And that’s even without any drugs. Which they took plenty of.

Thanks to the mystic aura surrounding their already hypnotic music it’s easy to fall into a hole of over-interpretation. But that’s just an added value to your imagination. Leave your comfort zone and let them guide you. Like shamans on a desert that Morrison wanted to be. Traveling through ancient times and feasts. Through strange days and endless nights.

The_Doors_1968
Source: wikipedia.com

*Fifteen-year-old me was fascinated and impressed. I made the mistake of watching the film again recently and some of the magic disappeared. If you’re looking for a movie about the band, check out When You’re Strange.

**I know it’s been a month (!) since I last posted, but life got in the way and there was nothing I could do about it. I will try to keep a regular schedule, pinky promise 😉

Where did we begin? Where will we end?

Where do we come from?
Where are we going?

These two questions navigate the plot of the latest book by Dan Brown, “Origin”.

OriginBy Dan Brown
via Wikipedia, By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56185402

This time the author takes us on a trip through the never-ending discussion between religion and science about the origins of the universe and humankind.

A billionaire futurist, Edmond Kirsch, claims to not only discover an undeniable proof of evolution but also predict our destiny. His revelation, however, is threatened to be lost forever unless our beloved Robert Langdon solves ground-breaking mysteries of our history. Following clues left by Kirsch all over Spain, he uncovers hidden symbols in the works of Antoni Gaudi, William Blake, and others. Helping him is Kirsch’s assistant, a powerful A.I. creation, Winston. However, not everyone wants Kirsch’s discovery to be brought to daylight, therefore Langdon is constantly in danger, being chased by Spanish national police and a private assassin.

 

 

I like Dan Brown’s books because in an entertaining way they make you question the world’s order as it is. He shows us a darker side of things we take as a given. He is especially vicious with the Catholic Church, which, let’s be honest, has a bit on its conscience. However, the questions I was left behind with after reading this book were not about the Church.

A.I. is the focus of my concern. It is already in our lives. We live connected to our phones, laptops, the Internet. Technology knows so much about us. Our data, preferences, habits. It all gets noted, stored somewhere, waiting to be used.

How far will people and technology intertwine? How much more dependent on technology will we become? How many new possibilities are waiting for us? How many dangers?

You don’t need to read this book to ask yourself those questions. However, it seems like a good starting point for a further discussion. All thoughts, comments, insights, and prophecies are, as always, welcome in the comment section.

6 reasons why you can call yourself a feminist

Feminism is an ideology, a movement, a goal to achieve equality of sexes.

It has once again rapidly taken over the global debate. #metoo turned into a movement. Abortion laws are once more a subject of inflaming discussions. More and more women speak out about sexism at work. The wind of change is coming but it is not here yet.

Here is a short guide to check why you can call yourself a feminist.

Because you think that emotions are a human thing.

We all have feelings. It is a base for being human. Why don’t we appreciate them in each other? Why do we tell men to “stop crying like a girl”? Why do we ask women if they’re on their period when they get more passionate or angry about something?

Suppressing emotions can get you through a crisis but in a long run it does not pay off. They are a part of you and always will. Accept them, accept them in others, and don’t be afraid of them.

Because you believe that everyone deserves respect for who they are.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, an Asian or a European, gay or straight, you deserve respect for who you are. You should not be judged based on your sex, skin colour or sexual orientation.

People are different but we are all human. Let us judge each other, as it is inevitable, for our characters, skills, and actions.

pride

Because you think that everyone should be able to make decisions about their own bodies.

Birth control, abortion, or even female sexuality are still controversial topics.

Many women do not have access to birth control or sexual education. Yet, across most societies, the pressure of “taking care of it”, a.k.a. Avoiding pregnancy still lays upon women. Sure, men can’t get pregnant. But women can’t get pregnant by themselves. Share the responsibility.

We live in times when science allows us to take control of biology. Sex is not for reproductive reasons only. Having children should be a choice.

Because you believe that access to education is a right.

According to the World Bank, 130 million girls around the world do not have access to school. The most significant obstacles in their way to education are poverty, social norms, and violence.

Better education means better salaries, better health, better well-being. It decreases the chances of becoming a victim of domestic violence or being a subject of child marriage.

Education is, after all, the key to a better, more understanding, developed society.

Because you want men and women to understand each other.

Gender is not an easy conversation. It is full of stereotypes, prejudice, ignorance, and arrogance. On both sides. We do not understand each other and we are taught that we don’t have to. ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.’ I bet you heard that one. The assumption that we are from two different planets gives us an excuse to blame our misunderstandings on just being of different sexes. Should be easily solved via a conversation, right? Give it a try.

Because you are against violence.

WHO estimates that 1 in 3 women worldwide has been a victim of physical or sexual violence or both. Especially domestic violence is a major social and health problem all around the world.

Violence against women has a lot of triggers but also a lot of concession. If you repeat an action often enough it becomes a norm. Social norms that privilege men over women and give women lower social status are one of the key factors that raise aggressive men and subordinate women.

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I plan a few more posts on this subject, so your insights and arguments are more than welcome. 

What are your reasons for calling yourself a feminist? What are your reasons not to?

Let me know!

Meanwhile, I encourage you to read or watch We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I wrote about here.

 

 

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