My core strengths.

A while back, I wrote about

my core values

using Hannah Braime’s book The Year of You as an inspiration. Today, I thought I’d publicly tackle the very next prompt from the same book, which is very similar and asks about “What are your core strengths? (…)”.

The author suggests using the

Via Strengths Survey

for those who are not familiar with the concept.

I did this prompt in my diary before, and was not familiar with the strengths thing, so I did the test, and if you haven’t so far and would like to know about your strengths and share them in the comments – give it a go. πŸ™‚ – Unlike many other personality tests, it seems to be quite reasonable or at least my results make a lot of sense to me. So here’s what Via Character thinks to be my core/signature strengths and what I think about it, join in and let me know about yours and how you feel about them. πŸ™‚

Β Β Β Β Β  Perspective.

Perspective is definitely something important for me. I like to look at things from different perspectives and angles, think out of the box, put myself in others’ shoes. Via Characters says that if your core strength is perspective, it means that people come to you for counsel and advice. Well yeah, a lot of people do and I sometimes wonder why because I’m not that very experienced in life at all. It especially makes me laugh how a lot of people, including my own mother, come to me to rant or ask for advice when they have problems in their relationships with their significant others. It’s funny because I’ve always been single and people ask me sometimes as if I was some couple therapist or something. It’s funny and sometimes I find it challenging because if a person has come to me with this they expect some sort of help and I’m always worried that I won’t be able to do that so I try my best to empathise with them and imagine myself in the same situation even if it’s very abstractive because I never experienced anything like it. But if people ask me so often, I figure I must be good at it, after all. No idea if that’s true though. πŸ˜€ I like to imagine how it must be to be other people, which helps me to be more empathetic. I think I am more empathetic because of my imagination than because of actual ability to feel the same things as others do. I like my often broad way of thinking. But I must say it was a surprise for me that perspective is my #1 strength.

Β Β  Kindness.

This was another sort of surprise for me, because, yeah, I do try to be kind and helpful to people, but I somehow wouldn’t think of it to be as strong a trait in me to be considered a core strength. On the other hand a lot of people tell me that I’m kind, and my Mum is always extremely kind to people and goes out of her way to help them so I may have it after her to an extend. I often find it difficult though to be as kind to people as I’d like to be and express my kindness fully, because of my struggles with human interactions and expressing emotions, so to some people I come across as icy and not particularly kind.

Β Β  Humour.

This is a trait I feel really grateful to have. It is one of my most helpful and most used coping skills. I think if I didn’t have a sense of humour and a distance to things my life would be much more difficult. As it is, things can still be difficult, but I can find funny/absurd things to it anyway and I don’t have to put an effort into finding them which would be difficult when you’re depressed, I just notice them anyway. I believe it must be so much worse to have depression in particular when you have no sense of humour to help you out, not even the most cynical and dark one. Actually after some thinking I realised that what I just wrote sounded like cynical or dark humour is worse than any other but in fact I think it’s far more superior and practical in life. πŸ˜€

Β Β  Creativity.

I’m no artsy type, or as Sofi hilariously calls it “plast plast” (as in plasticine, there was a TV programme years ago called “Plastelinek I Przyjaciele” (Plastelinek And Friends), where Plastelinek was a sort of creature made of plasticine and he encouraged kids to do art and visited schools and when he was excited about something he exclaimed “Plast plast!) Sofi is very plast plast, but I never was and never even particularly wanted to be. I used to do some music but was very mediocre at it, perhaps except for singing judging from people’s reactions but I didn’t particularly enjoy in the long-term any of the ways of making music that I tried, and decided that I feel much better as a listener and observer of it rather than a performer. I’ve done some creative writing but have always felt very self-conscious about it and don’t think it’s particularly good, and now I do much less of it. Yet I still consider myself very creative because of how I think. I have lots of ideas, I am a synaesthete and I love to play around with words. I have weird associations with things, even beyond the synaesthesia, which enable me to see things differently than most people may. I have (or at least used to have, as I’m still in a very painful limbo) fazas, which have always been a huge boost for my creativity. And I’m very imaginative. I think it’s enough to have the right to call oneself creative.

Β Β  Judgment.

I consider myself a good judge of character indeed. Other people seem to agree with that a lot too. I think it’s a very useful trait to have. I like to observe people and think what they might be like. I also have the whole name and personality theory that you know about if you’re a regular reader, and if you don’t, better don’t get me started as I can’t go on about this for ages. πŸ˜€ I used to trust in this ability of mine a bit too much though, usually without even realising it, and instead of thinking that the person might be as I think they should be given my observations/any other evidence for that that I may have, I readily assumed that they must be how I imagined them to be. A lot of the time, I was right, but I had to have a few strong reality checks before I realised what I was actually doing and that I didn’t have to always be right because people can seriously be so complicated. I still love to figure out people’s characters and play around with the name characterisations but it’s not like I start out with the assumption that it has to be how I think, it’s more like a help for me with what I can possibly expect from a person but I don’t form my opinion about people based on what I imagine they must be like. It’s also a good coping skill for me which is why I used it to such an extend. I like to know what someone may be like, their reactions to things etc. in advance, it feels safer. This judgment thing also prevent me from disliking people. A lot of people who are socially anxious or struggling with similar things say they don’t like people and I can very well understand it. But while mingling with people is an awful chore for me, I love to analyse their behaviours, observe people, they can be so very fascinating! So I just can’t say I don’t like or hate people! I am also very careful when making any more important decisions, and careful with everything really, and have to consider everything when making a decision. Like yesterday, I was facing a potentially at least somewhat life-changing decision and I’m still digging deep into it, learning about all pros and cons and still haven’t made the final, actual decision.

In conclusion, overall I think this was pretty accurate, and I feel very grateful for these strengths I have and that I can make use of them.

Now you tell me about yours. πŸ™‚

 

 

My top 5 core values.

I haven’t written in quite a while, so I thought I’d do some longer piece today using one of the journaling workbooks. This time, I chose a prompt from The Year of You by Hannah Braime, which goes as follows:

What are your top five core values? Core values are the qualities and experiences that are most important to us to embody and have present in our lives. These might include things like trust, love, connection, freedom, growth, etc. (…)

I’ve written such a list of values already in my diary a while ago, but here I’ll try to expand on the topic of each of them at least a bit so that this post is more substantial. In my diary I also mentioned some of my negative core values, but here I decided not to do so for a few reasons, but mostly because typically when we think core values we think about the positive and helpful ones.

Β Β  Belief in God and Christian values

This is extremely important to me. As I wrote in the post about the roles I play, I may not always feel like I’m doing a great job with this, but nevertheless, I’m trying to do my best and do and think what and how I believe a Christiann should do and think. Obviously I don’t only mean things like praying or going to church, but also things like being helpful to other people, not judging them, making big and small decisions in my life so that they’re intact with my conscience and Christian rules, like not voting for a party who promotes killing unborn children or not celebrating Halloween. It’s also an important quality for me in other people which I deeply respect, but at the same time I have no problem associating with people who believe in God differently or believe in a different God, or don’t believe in any God whatsoever. Some Christian people have a weird problem with that but I think that, while common values of this importance in friendship make things way easier, having some different values and beliefs can make things more interesting, as long as both sides are willing to respect each other and not argue about that. Which sometimes means it’s just safer not to discuss the topics in which your opinions differ, or otherwise you just most definitely will argue, while at other times exchanging your different beliefs can be enriching and fascinating. In short, this is the most important value, or perhaps I should say set of values I am always trying to follow in my life, with varying success, also probably the most difficult to follow, but normally if something I’m making a decision about is contrary to these values, I am not going to do this.

Β Β  Intelligence, versatility and open-mindedness.

I’m putting them together because while they’re three different things, I think as values they have a whole lot in common. Intelligence is a quality I really appreciate having, as it’s proven so helpful for me in countless situations. I guess it’s my biggest strength and one of my most effective protective mechanisms, and seems like one of the things that people value me for. My brains are a crucial part of my identity, therefore my brain health is important to me and I’m utterly scared of all sorts of neurodegenerative diseases. I also very highly value intelligence in other people and love having such people around me. It’s a very important quality in a friend for me. As for open-mindedness, I value thinking outside of the box, outside of my own perspective, or just in some unobvious way. It isn’t always easy, as it’s in our nature to think from our own point of view, and it can feel very abstractive to do it the other way around, but it’s an intriguing brain challenge and can be a powerful experience. Similarly, I appreciate people who are capable of doing so. The more so that, as a blind, mentally ill and just all round very quirky person with strange experiences and ideas, it seems like my perspective is not always easily understandable for other people, so it’s great when someone does take an effort to try and understand things from my point of view. Or even not from my point of view, but generally when I see someone who can easily think very flexibly, I have a lot of admiration for such a person. I think the most open-minded person in this way that I know was my Swedish teacher and I often think that if not his open-mindedness, his courage in taking up different, weird challenges with me and his flexibility of thinking my Swedish learning may have been much more difficult, or I may have even become completely discouraged from learning languages altogether, and this is not at all an overstatement, in case you’re new here and don’t know my a bit tumultuous language learning history and are wondering. πŸ˜€ By versatility I mean taking an interest in lots of different things, as well as having knowledge about them, or being capable of doing lots of different things. This is a very impressive quality for me and I always say that it’s one of the most important qualities for me in a faza object, haha, or at least they always do end up being quite versatile people. I do have a whole lot of different interests, and I believe I know a fair bit also about things that don’t directly interest me quite as much, but I am somehow not sure I am quite as versatile as I would like to be. Still, I am probably more versatile than most people I know in person.

Β Β  Traditions.

Yeah, I often say when someone asks me about my views, usually in the context of politics, that I am an open-minded traditionalist. I like combining innovation with tradition. In any field, be it music, religion, food, politics, baby naming, language, fashion or interior design, etc. Always with a bit more of tradition than innovation, but enough innovation that it doesn’t feel plain, boring, or, God forbid, totally backward, but tasteful, fresh, niche and unexpected. I’m thinking about tradition and traditionalism here as a very broad thing. My religious beliefs are very traditional, apparently these days they might even classify as orthodox for some Christians, though I personally don’t consider myself orthodox, however I admire truly orthodox (not to be confused with fanatic, as these are yet another kettle of fish) Christian people. I love folk music, which speaks for itself, folk is obviously traditional, though just as I said earlier I do like tradition with innovation so things like neofolk, electrofolk, folk pop, folk metal etc. are close to my heart and brain just as well. I am passionate about keeping endangered and minority/indigenous languages alive, and same applies to all sorts of cultural traditions. I love learning about folklore of different areas and people’s customs, and always feel sad whenever I hear about such things extincting, though a lot of such traditional treasures – especially languages – are so unbelievably resilient and can thrive in the most unfavourable circumstances. – By the way I think we humans can really take an inspiratioon from languages, when we’re going through rough things in life. πŸ™‚ People typically think of trees, especially oaks, as symbols of resilience, but I think of languages. Oh yeah and on a more personal level I absolutely dread changes and have a hard time adapting to them, which I think also goes in line with the whole traditional thing, though probably has a bit different etiology. πŸ˜€ However it’s not like I’m totally against change, if I can see its positive aspects, just that it’s a totally dreadful process and adjusting to it usually takes me ages and a lot of rumination in the meantime.

Β Β  Helpfulness.

I even like the way the word helpful looks in English. I have fun synaesthetic associations! πŸ˜€ Would describe them to you but it’s too complicated and would take up too much space and this post is not about this. That’s why I wrote “helpfulness” rather than “helping people” which would probably look a bit more natural. I really like that feeling, when you know you have helped someone. Well I guess it’s a natural thing for all of us who are empathetic beings to have that feeling and to like it. This thing alone can drive us to want to be more helpful. I don’t know, however, if I help people as much as I could. I often feel effectively inhibited from doing it by different factors. I am rubbish at helping people in person because of all the difficulties I have with communicating with people like social anxiety. I have a hard time initiating the simplest conversations with most people, so while I am a good observer and very often easily notice that someone may need some kind of help, I don’t know how to offer it to them, or how to ask them what they need, or don’t know what to do about it altogether, or maybe even know but it feels too scary and overwhelming a process so I only watch the situation from a distance hoping that there will be someone else who can help them and feeling awful for not helping them myself. If I do try to make the effort and help them, I feel awful for helping them not the right way, or not adequately, or making things worse rather than better. Also I usually feel like I’m not even the right person to help people because of my own various limitations and that I just won’t be able to give them the help they need. Thankfully there are some areas where I do feel a bit more confident when helping people, like listening to people (unless they clearly expect me to say something, as then I usually feel like there’s nothing I can say that could be particularly helpful), or supporting people online, or helping people financially, or sharing something with them, or sharing some of my skills with them, with the latter I’m thinking things like translating something for my Mum, for example. These are usually very small areas and I feel like most people help others much more, but I comfort myself in that at least a lot of the people whom I have helped have said I was helpful to them so perhaps my help is more a quality over quantity kinda thing. I’ve always lived by that rule, as quantity is something largely abstractive to me, so if it seriously works like this with my help, it’s probably not as bad as I usually imagine. πŸ˜€

Β Β  Family.

I actually wondered whether I should really include this value or perhaps leave it out and write about something possibly more interesting, because this whole family thing is complex and I’m not sure it’s indeed this high among my values, but I decided to write about it nevertheless, because even though I struggle with sense of belonging and don’t really feel a strong connection to my extended family, my closest family are pretty much the only people in real life that I’m close to and they are important to me, also I do respect all of my family, and am loyal to them, never mind that I don’t really feel anything more towards most of them. Also family as a more general term – as in roots, origin, heritage etc. – is an important thing for me. Loyalty towards family is, as I said, an important thing to me and I think family members sort of owe it to each other. I try to keep good relationships with them as muchh as it’s possible, though I don’t give a shit about it if they don’t try as well. My most immediate family – by which I mean my parents and siblings and grandparents – are people for whom I am capable of making a lot of sacrifices, for example attending family gatherings even when I don’t feel at all like doing this mentally and have to deal with the consequences of this afterwards, which include a substantial increase in Maggie’s (my inner critic) activity, feeling mentally and physically drained and a general brain overload. I know they won’t really care about my actual presence there in itself, but if I won’t be there they’ll have a problem either with me that I am so unfeeling and neglectful, or with my Mum, which I don’t understand, it appears that some of my family think that somehow my Mum is to blame if I don’t appear on their birthday party. I want to spare her that, because she has so much stronger ties with her family, so unless I really really can’t, or it’s someone I can’t be bothered about, like some people from my Dad’s side of my family whom I have a hard time genuinely respecting, I just deal with it and go. It’s awful, it’s pointless and I don’t think they realise how much mental energy it sometimes can cost me while it’s happening as well as before and afterwards (though perhaps it’s not okay that I actually expect people to care, and most likely makes me sound terribly whiney,) but I do this because I feel obliged towards them as my family. I also deeply value the connection I have with my Mum, she is so very important to me, as well as Sofi. Sofi is very valuable.

So there you have it, these are the top five of my values.

What are yours? Have you thought about this before and made a more comprehensive list?

 

Question of the day.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

Describe to me, what is your family like?

My answer:

Depends which side of the family we’re talking about. My Mum’s family are emotional, exuberant, touchy-feely (my Mum’s is the exact opposite of touchy-feely but the rest of them are), caring, sometimes way too caring about other people’s business and meddling into things that don’t concern them. They are very spontaneous and change their minds all the time, especially my Mum and her siblings, and as a consequence, they’re also very moody. They’re sentimental and almost all of them are easily moved and cry, They have a tendency to impose their own opinions on others but usually aren’t even fully aware of the extend of it and are well-meaning. They say they’re typical eastern Slavs as they have roots in all of the eastern Slavic countries plus Lithuania. They like to dance, have fun and many of them are a bit impulsive. They are all religious and very serious about it and have a very genuine relationship with God. My grandad is a bit of an exception, as he is an introvert, not quite as chatty and much more of a loner, deeply thinking through everything he’s going to say and a bit melancholic, he’s also much less emotional and makes a very haughty and proud impression, which is absolutely correct, but it doesn’t mean he can’t be very loving and caring when he wants to. Most of them are very intelligent and appreciate intelligent conversations, highly value knowledge and have a need for beauty in their lives. They are mostly traditionalists. They have a great sense of solidarity and genuinely like to meet up. They can be quite overwhelming and I don’t feel much of an emotional connection with them, which probably just stems from my lack of sense of belonging in general rather than anything else, but I much prefer my Mum’s family to my Dad’s and have a bit better contact with them. They’re more open-minded and just kinder and more genuine and I respect them far more.

My Dad’s family is quite different. They are secretive but in a weird way. They have those strange cliques where someone is talking to X, but not to Y because they had an arguement with Y in 1993. So you’ve got to be careful when inviting people sometimes, ’cause you can end up with a roomful of very emphatically quiet people. They do like to meet up though, nevertheless, and also have quite a strong sense of community, they know a lot about their ancestors and are proud Kashubs (though only my gran can actually speak Kashubian fluently and uses it in daily life in a serious way). They are narrow-minded and not the most subtle people in the world, they even always have such a weird way of talking to each other as if they were constantly mad or unfriendly at best. They are rather superficial in their judging of others or making their opinions on anything, it seems like they can’t have a deeper look into anything, and there is something cold, coarse and I’d even say unfeeling about them. Like, you wouldn’t go to my gran, or not even to my Dad (though he’s quite different than most of his family because of interacting so much with Mum’s family, and has been kind of polished over the years), anyway, you wouldn’t go to any of them if you had some problem and wanted someone to seriously listen to you and be compassionate and comforting. They can’t listen, only talk about themselves. They’re kinda self-absorbed and have a very stereotypical, one-dimensional view of the world and people. Politically, most of them are rightists and some are leftists but in overall views on life they all are very conservative, and not quite like my Mum’s family for whom their traditions are very valuable and of emotional significance but it seems more like some habits they stick to just for the sake of it, and have a hard time making any changes to their thinking or acting. They like to gossip. Sometimes when people gossip, it’s interesting to listen to because even if it’s not true, interesting stories come out of it and it’s intriguing to think of it what of it might actually be true and what exactly are the people about whom they’re gossipping, and sometimes it sounds like some fascinating fairytales, but in my Dad’s family gossipping is much more boring, they can’t even find interesting topics to gossip about, and it has a fair bit of toxicity in it. My Dad and his brothers have a weird common trait that they love to make fun of other people as a way of dealing with their own insecurities. It’s a very nasty habit. If they have a problem with you, something about you they’re envious about, or they feel insecure around you, expect that anything you’ll say will be met with a cynical laughter and some stupid comment that’s supposed to ridicule you. They don’t have quite the same loyalty as my Mum’s family have. They don’t really have imagination –
except for one of my cousins who has been gifted in this area and is generally incredibly different from them also in that she is more sensitive to other people – and most of them don’t even enjoy reading or anything like this, although they’re passionate about watching TV, some 24/7 and if it’s any less they get bad withdrawal symptoms.

As for my most immediate family, we are quite a close family, at least we are closer with each other than many other families I know. We all love and care about each other and I think we spend more time together than most families do these days. But generally we’re a rather typical family I guess and there’s nothing overly unusual about us. We do have our fair share of misunderstandings and a lot of differences between each other but at this point we don’t have any serious family problems or arguments and we get along well with each other. I think though it all wouldn’t be quite as well if not our Mum. She is like an adhesive for us. I often think that if she died suddenly, we would all fall apart in all sorts of different directions. She is often the mediator between us and brings us all together, and I know she sometimes makes big sacrifices and compromises in order for things to stay calm and peaceful, which isn’t always easy with a character like my Dad. Also we are always thankful for the blessing that we have Zofijka here. I often say that if not Zofijka, our house would turn into a Camaldolese monaster – the house would be so eerily quiet and no one would talk. –
And everyone agrees, because while Mum can be very chatty, she gets those moods when she doesn’t talk at all and seems annoyed with everyone, making the atmosphere a bit stale, Dad is generally rather quiet at home and he’s not too talkative, and me and Olek have our own worlds, and our own rooms where we like to spend the time, and are both introverts, plus Olek is at work most of the day anyway. So it would feel really eery over here without Sofi long-term. Though she’s very absorbing and very loud so it’s good to have a break from her once in a while.

What about your family? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (9th August).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

I’ve found an interesting question online and thought I’d ask you:

Have you ever had anyone ask you, (How did you get so smart)? If so, how did you answer them?

My answer:

Oh yes, and that’s partly why I found this question interesting, haha. I get a lotof questions like this from people and I usually don’t really know how to react. My intelligence is one thing about myself I think I have a reasonably rational view on despite the AVPD thing and I do think I’m intelligent, I’ve always heard that I’m above average and I also feel this is true, also my brains are something that have helped me to cope in all sorts of situations and I’m so very grateful for being gifted in this area, but I also don’t know how it happened that I am “so” smart. People usually say that because they’re surprised that I know a lot of different things not everyone knows or that they wouldn’t expect me to know. So when people ask me such questions, I don’t know what to say because I just don’t know why it is how it is, other than it’s just is this way and that some people in my family are highly intelligent, and I also don’t know what kind of answer they expect. Is it supposed to be some sort of a bit odd compliment in the form of a rhetorical question? πŸ˜€ Or do they really want me to explain the whole process, or whatever? Also I really don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or something.

So how I usually respond is either saying something light along the lines of: “Oh really, did I?!” or “It’s because I never add lemon to hot tea so I probably don’t have that much alluminium in my brain” or that “It’s my grandad’s fault” or “I wonder about that too, y’know? My Mum says it’s a bit of a miracle” or “It’s because I trained my memory so well as a kid by learning all the name days in the calendar” etc. etc. or I get all confused and don’t say anything really, or I tell them seriously that I don’t know, but I read a lot as a kid and seem to have some weird ability to retain loads of information and have always had and am learning things quite quickly, at least some things. It depends on a situation, the other person and how I’m feeling, which approach I take.

The first time I remember I was asked a similar thing and that really made me think hard, was when I was at my classmate’s house for a few days, and her brother once asked me how it is that me, or his sister are quite smart, while some other blind kids are not and why (he was referring to another girl from our class who visited them earlier and who also had some mild intellectual disability and was a preemie and had other problems). And I was literally dumbstruck. I often wondered about similar things but now that someone has actually said this aloud, and asked me, I had to think about it seriously and figure it out somehow. I really wasn’t able to tell him something more insightful at the time, and I think it would be hard for anyone of any age because well, how do you explain why some people are smart and some aren’t, regardless of whether there are some disabilities at play or not. So I just told him something about that that girl was a preemie and I was not, and that my family at least on Mum’s side are smart people, and my Dad was teaching me things like capitals of countries and such when I was very little so maybe that was why my brain was quite well-developed. But I was thinking about it for a reeeally long time, and I don’t think my answer was satisfying for him, either.

Have you ever had similar situations or is it just me? πŸ˜€

What roles do I play?

This post is going to be long, the more that before I get to the actual topic of it, I’d like to fill you in a little on what’s been happening in my life so that you have an idea if you’ve been wondering what was going on, but feel free to skip a few paragraphs to the actual topic. πŸ™‚

As you know, I’ve been getting used to my new iPhone the last couple of weeks, which is one of the reason I hadn’t blogged much at all lately. I’m getting better with it, though still, there are things I have to figure out, and I’m still pretty slow at using it, and I suppose it may just be the case that, despite it seems to be the opposite for most people, I will not be able to use the iPhone as fast and efficiently as my computer. But I do know how to do the basics, and even some things that aren’t basic by now.

Also, we had a bit of a heatwave and that really affected my energy and generally my wellbeing, and last week was migraine-filled and also difficult emotionally as I was really low, which was followed by our short family trip during the weekend. The trip wasn’t that very fun at all, as it wasn’t a particularly interesting place and there wasn’t much at all to do, also it was terribly hot for all of us and the conditions in our hotel were rather poor, but we mostly just went to keep Dad company as he was having some work related training and exams there, and because Zofijka loves staying at hotels, so we thought it could be fun for her. I’m really happy to be back home and now appreciate it even more than I did before that I can sleep in my own bed and do things I want when I want and just be in my safe space. We also went to the seaside on Sunday and that was so much more fun, I just love the sea. Except that I got badly sunburnt and now it hurts like shit but oh well, luckily it’s going to pass at some point. So that was, in a nutshell, why I was less active in the blogosphere in the last few weeks.

Another thing I started doing recently is I’ve got more ebooks to read in English. I’ve always wanted to read Kindle ebooks which I theoretically can do as there’s a pretty accessible Kindle for PC app, or was I really determined I could get myself a Kindle device with text to speech functionalities, but I’m very picky about the ways I read, and I want to be able to read my books on my PlexTalk, as well as Braille-Sense. Which I can only do with Kindle ebooks if I remove the DRM. I know, I know, it’s illegal, but I believe that if I buy a book, I have every right to read it however is convenient for me, and the mere fact that I’ve removed the DRM doesn’t immediately have to mean that I’m going to give it away to all the people I know IRL and online, or to anyone at all, for that matter, does it? There is a pretty uncomplicated little app that converts ebooks from and to lots of different formats and can remove DRM protection so that you can copy your book on to your preferred device and have it in a format that your device is able to recognise. But despite this app is very easy, for some reason I’ve been struggling to remove the DRM with it from Kindle ebooks specifically, it just doesn’t seem to recognise them properly or something or can’t locate them, even when I select the Kindle folder and a specific file manually, there’s just something wrong and I can’t figure it out on my own. I contacted the developer but so far haven’t heard from him, it seems like he’s been inactive online for a while so I may have to just wait. Meanwhile, because the app is able to work with other types of files on my computer with no issues, I decided to give Kobo books a go. And Kobo works really well for me, I don’t have to convert their books, as my devices read epub, so I only have to remove the DRM. I also may give iBooks a try soon, now that I have an iPhone.

Anyways, since I’ve started using Kobo, I’ve got myself quite a few ebooks, all of which I’m still going to read, and amongΒ  them are two books with journaling prompts that I learned about from Astrid of

A Multitude of Musings

who uses them. One is The Goddess Journaling Workbook” by Beatrix Minerva Linden, which sounded really good to me as a folklore junkie, and the other is “The Year of You” by Hannah Braime. I really like the idea of books for journaling and I think I may be getting more of them. I’ve already used a few prompts from both in my diary, but also thought that I’d like to do some of them on my blog, and this is going to be the case today.

I thought I’d use the very first prompt in Hannah Braime book, which I already did in my diary in a bit of a more extended and personal form, but I think I could just as well write about this one on my blog. The prompt goes as follows:

What are the different roles you play in your life (e.g. mother, partner, sister, etc.) List as many as you can think of.

So here goes, in mostly random order. To make it more interesting than just a mere list, I will write a bit about each of these roles. I am not including roles as in masks, like who I may pretend to be for all sorts of purposes that isn’t actually me, and also I’m not including very small roles that don’t really matter for my life as a whole and that I simply don’t have much to say about.

  • Β Β  I am a human being. This sounds very obvious and we rarely think much about the fact that we are humans but I think it is a very important role that we should remember that we have and that one of our responsibilities as human beings is to act in a humane way and be proud of all the things that make us human, that distinguish us from any other beings in the world. It’s especially important in times like these when you see so many different situations where people as individuals and as a whole are being dehumanised in so many different ways, some very overt and some very subtle, that have become casual to us over the years and that we rarely think about as dehumanising, or that we may even perceive as good and beneficial because of how our collective thinking has twisted over the years. I personally think I often underestimate how important this role is. And I guess I don’t often take it seriously, for example in the situations where I feel a lot of self-loathing I definitely tend not to think about it at all.
  • Β Β  I am a daughter. – It is also one of the main roles, in my case. I am really grateful to have my parents and that my parents are the way they are. From what I have observed, it seems common for children to want their parents to be more like someone else’s parents, or to idealise other kids’ parents and think that theirs aren’t quite as good. But I remember when I was younger and thought about it sometimes, whether I would like to have different parents, and with which of my school friends I’d be happiest to swap, and, especially when it comes to a mum, I couldn’t think of one from those that I knew that I would like more as my mum. This doesn’t mean that my parents are perfect, as neither am I so I couldn’t expect them to be, or that there certainly are no other people on Earth who would make better parents for me, but that I think I’m really lucky to have the parents I have. Perhaps it’s my AVPD speaking, or something else irrational like that, but I often have a strong impression that I’m not quite as good in this role as I could be, and as I should be. I know that I often disappoint them, but it’s not even this that makes me think that I’m not as good a daughter as I could be, because children usually tend to disappoint parents in some way, I guess, just because they hardly ever are exactly the same as the parents expected them to be. I’m always more concerned about that I am mainly a burden for them, especially for my Mum, more than my siblings. I feel like there’s little balance in our relationship, and I guess that’s how most of my relationships actually work. What I mean by that is that I often have, or in any case, feel like I have, relationships with people where I either give too much and the other person keeps overstepping my boundaries, so that I don’t really have much satisfaction out of it long-term, or take too much than I give and feel like I am not able to recompensate as much as I should and would like. And it’s the same here. I know that my parents, especially my Mum, like to chat with me, my Mum often says that she would go crazy here if not me because I am the only person in this house with whom she can have a more intelligent discussion or share some of her thoughts that no one else in this house would be able to understand, and I am also a good listener and both of my parents like to come to me for advice, which I find pretty hilarious since obviously I am much younger than them and don’t have quite as much life experience, my Dad seems to appreciate my sense of humour because we’re on the same wavelength and no one else here gets some bits of our sense of humour, but overall it feels very little compared with what they do for me.
      • Β Β  I am a sister. – As you likely know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, I have a brother and a sister. I get along worse with Olek than I do with Zofijka. I’m happy to be his sister and I like him overall, but our relationship isn’t and has never been very strong. These days it looks so that we barely talk to each other unless there’s a clear need for it, we hardly just do small talk. Not because there’s any resentment, conflict or anything, although we used to argue a lot as kids and at least I openly disliked him and was really nasty to him at times, though I mostly don’t remember that, but it just feels awkward these days. With Zofijka, we have a very strong relationship, despite she is much younger than me than Olek is. We often argue with Sofi and get on each other nerves, sometimes it can be very harsh, explosive and difficult because we are very, very, very different from each other and often have trouble understanding each other and our personalities can just clash in a big way, but we can also have lots of fun together and I think in a way I could say that Zofijka is my best friend, we’re sort of like yin and yang and despite there’s a ten years old difference between us we interact with each other very much like peers. I very clearly remember when Mum was pregnant with her, and I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep at nights because I was thinking about “Helenka” (we referred to her as Helena throughout the pregnancy and only after she was born was she named Zofia) and I just couldn’t wait for her to be born and was so badly frustrated that I had to wait for so long, I would think all the time what it would be like and what we would do together. And after all I didn’t have to wait that long as Zofijka was born prematurely. That was so much different than with Olek, whose birth is my very first memory and I wrote about it in detail here which was definitely not so pleasant for me. While I’m not sure I am a good sister for Olek, I think I am a pretty good sister for Zofijka, I try to be helpful for her when I can and she often comes to me when she wants to talk about things that she isn’t comfortable talking about with Mum, even though our Mum is the kind of parent with whom you can talk about most things, but about some things Sofi seems to prefer to talk to me. I want her to have a happy childhood and so I do what is possible for me to do to contribute to it, we spend a lot of time together and I teach her a lot of things and I’ve created the Jim guy for her about whom she still likes to hear, and about whom I wroteΒ here.
      • I am Polish. I love being Polish! I feel an affinity with all “my” countries (that is all that speak my favourite languages) and their nations, I love their languages, but I can’t imagine being something else other than Polish myself. πŸ˜€ I am very proud of my country and language and I love the Polish language to pieces. Speaking of being Polish, we just had presidential election a few days ago, so I was able to fulfill one of the duties associated with that role, and I was very happy that that our current president, for whom I voted, has got the majority of votes this time round as well, but We’ll still have to have another round, as one of his opponents also got quite a lot of votes and at the same time no one had at least 50%, and to be the president in Poland you have to have at least 50% of votes. So we’ll see yet how it goes, but I’m very hopeful.
      • I am a Christian, and a Catholic. This is a hugely important role for me and to me personally it has a lot of overlap with the human being bit. This has been something that I’ve had a different view on throughout my life and I didn’t always identify as Christian, I was born to a devout family and raised Catholic but there was a period in my life where I considered myself agnostic/atheist, and later also something like Wiccan or along these lines, but I’ve sort of “reconverted” to Christianity after some deep thinking and I’m really happy I did it. It isn’t easy to be a good Christian, especially when you have a mental illness and stuff, some days are harder than others, but I think it’s still really worth the effort. What I struggle with the most in regards to my faith is that I often don’t feel the connection to God as much as I would like, I often feel lost, or don’t feel much towards Him, or not as much as I think I should when I listen to other people. I’d really like to be the “hot” kind of Christian, and I really envy people who are, but I think I’m still really lukewarm and more intellectual than emotional/spiritual in my faith, and I’d like to be able to love God more and have a more genuine relationship with Him. I even envy people like my Mum, who are able to dissolve into spontaneous and genuine tears when contemplating Way of the Cross, or feel deeply moved on a spiritual level by a homily or a hymn, cry during confession or feel a deep spiritual need to receive Communion when they haven’t been able to for weeks, and awful sadness when they cannot, like Zofijka does. I guess it’s already something that I want it, but I don’t know how to make it. I try to be the best Christian I can be without being able to feel such extreme things and think that perhaps I am just meant to live like this and need to accept it, and that there’s some meaning to it, I don’t know. Another huge obstacle I’m facing every day is that I have real real trouble focusing on prayer, my brain doesn’t seem to be cut out for thinking about just one thing at a time. πŸ˜€ I realise though that these things are probably also partly a consequence of how things used to look in the past for me.
      • Β Β  I am a cat mummy. I love my Misha to pieces, am immensely grateful and happy to have him and so glad that I can take care of him as much as I can, feed him, sleep with him, cuddle with him and receive so much love and beauty in return. This is a relatively new role in my life but I love it, it is a pure pleasure to take care of Misha. I only think it’s a pity that I can’t do all the things that a cat mummy should do, whether it comes to his hygiene or our relationship. Contact with Misha is mostly visual, so that makes the situation more difficult for both of us. For me, because I don’t have the ability to read many of the cues he’s sending, so I often feel confused about what he wants or needs or how he’s feeling, and for him, because that means I have to touch him more than I would otherwise, and that he would like, because he isn’t the most touchy-feely and is often fearful of touch and closeness.
      • I am a friend. At this point in my life, I have no friends in real life (unless we count Misha and people like Zofijka and my Mum in, then I have three), and I’m pretty happy about this fact because I don’t really feel the need to have them in real life just for the sake of having friends. I wouldn’t mind having friends in real life, if there were people in my surroundings that I would feel we have a lot in common with each other and if they’d also want to be my friends, but I’m not desperate and happy to be friends with just anyone just because it looks better to have friends. I do have a few people online though that I consider friends. Some in the blogosphere, and some who are my more long-term pen pals. This can be challenging at times too because I still have some struggles with social interactions or expressing myself even online, so I find it difficult to have really close relationships with people, but it is easier and I really appreciate having friends who think similarly, have similar interests and like me. I know I can’t always be as supportive for them as I’d like, but I do like to be, and I want to be helpful, or at least kind. And, when it comes to writing with my pen pals, especially those with whom I’m closer and have known them for a while, I treat it very seriously and even when I have little time or don’t feel that well or when sometimes I don’t feel very much like writing, I try to write back as soon, as much and as interestingly as I can. Which means that sometimes I can spend a large portion of my day, or even more than that, typing away to people. Not because I have so very many penfriends but because if you’re committed to it, it can consume a lot of time, unless you’re instant messaging or something. ALso sometimes there indeed are a lot of people to write back to, because I still try to make new penfriends, or people initiate contact with me, and there are times when I get like waves of emails, and after a while it gets much quieter because a few people fell off for all sorts of reasons or just have a temporarily a more busy time. Usually when you want to have penfriends you do snail mail or email and typically both of you want to get long mails and possibly regularly, get to know the other person and their life and anything that may be interesting about them and their life, and also know that they are genuinely interested in you. So, if you want to get long mails, you have to write them, too. Some people get easily discouraged from pen palling after a bit of initial enthusiasm when they realise that they won’t get long, beautiful letters every week automatically just because they wrote to someone once, and that they need to put some effort into it as well. So I would say it’s not really for very busy people, because they won’t be able to keep up, unless they’re very organised and motivated. It pays off definitely, if you can find people with whom you actually click and who are equally committed, which may take some trials and errors, some disappointments on both sides and some time, a lot of time in some cases. I am grateful for all of my friends, especially that not so long ago I didn’t have friends like these at all, and now life feels much better.
      • I am a granddaughter. I rarely think of this role of mine. I love my grandparents because they are my grandparents (though I dislike my (paternal) gran and it’s hard to love someone when you dislike them and when you know that they dislike you even more), but, except for my (maternal) grandad, I find it difficult to connect or even just interact with my grandparents. I often think that I am a very bad granddaughter, because I know they generally really like it when their grandchildren visit them and consider it a primary sign of respect or something like that, while I don’t visit them nearly as willingly, nor as often as I and other people think I should, as I find all the socialising exhausting, and, don’t really have a personal bond with them, again except for my grandad with whom we have some sort of an understanding without words and he’s always stood by my side even when no one else did and I will be eternally grateful for that to him. Emily Starr [of New Moon] wrote in her diary in context of her cousin Jimmy that it’s good to have one such person in your life who only sees the good things about you and none of your flaws, more of such people would spoil you. For me such person is my grandad. Therefore I feel even more guilty these days that I don’t live close to him anymore that I don’t visit him more often, and I’m not sure he understands actually why. But what I can do is to try to be nice and kind to my grandparents and show it as much as I can while we are together. I guess though that the lack of relationships with my grandmas (my paternal grandpa died when I was rather little), isn’t entirely my fault. They have a hard time connecting to me just as well, the way I see it, I guess mostly because I’ve been away from home for most of my childhood.
      • Β Β  I am a goddaughter. This is another role I hardly think about on a conscious level. But the way I was brought up, since I am a Christian, I was often told by my parents that it’s important to pray for your godparents and support them this way just like they are obliged to support you in your spiritual development. I think it makes sense, so while I don’t have close relationships with my godparents either, and actually don’t really like them, I pray for them every day, especially that they both have very difficult life situations. My godmother is someone with whom I find it really difficult to talk and she usually ends up triggering all my shit so I hardly feel normal after talking to her. We used to get along a bit better when I was younger, and I can enjoy talking to her still because we have a lot in common, but you have to know how to interact with her and which topics are better to be avoided. I am not the only one person in our family who finds her extremely difficult, though. She is generally the type of person who will always give you unsolicited advice and ask lots of questions you definitely don’t want her to ask, and she always knows best what’s best for you but you simply happen not to have discovered it yet, she can be also very hurtful. I suppose attending her birthdays, name days and such also belongs to my duties associated with this role, but as I usually can’t bring myself to do that, I just call my godparents on their special days. This is one of the few instances where I actually prefer to call people rather than see them. πŸ˜€
      • Β Β  I am a blogger. I have been a blogger for years, almost a half of my life, haha! I’ve always really liked it and I’m proud that I’m doing it. I’m especially proud now, that I have an English blog, this was a really big decision for me and a big dream of mine and it has helped me very much both with my mental health and my language development.
      • I am a language learner. I am not sure if something you do mostly as a hobby can also be your role, but I guess so in a way. What I perceive as a role about it is particularly the bit with endangered languages. My role is learning them so that they are still in use and can survive, or at the very least, even if I don’t get to use them that much in practice, I am still able to speak them. For now, the only minority language I speak is Welsh, and I’m nowhere near fluent yet, but I am learning and I’m going to learn more languages – endangered and not endangered. –

What are the roles you play in your life? πŸ™‚

 

Bloggerz.

Hey people! πŸ™‚

I feel a little crappy with energy levels today and haven’t come up with or found a question of the day for you for today, just don’t feel like it, but I decided to answer some questions of Rory’s, aka

A Guy Called Bloke,

and if you would also like to do it, either on Rory’s blog or on your own, go ahead! πŸ™‚

Here are Rory’s questions:

How spontaneous are you?
If you mean emotional spontaneity, generally not at all. It also depends on a setting, like, my surroundings and who I am with, sometimes I may be a little bit more spontaneous than not at all but that’s really rare. I am more spontaneous in writing though, sometimes much more. If you mean spontaneity as in going with the flow and not planning your life, I think I must be somewhere in the middle. I do like my routines and sticking to what I know, I hate change, but I am not the type of person to rigidly plan my whole life or even a whole day ahead, I’m too disorganised for that kind of thing and it seems boring to me.

How flirtatious would you say you are and if that is not the word you would use then try the alternatives of β€˜teasing or playful’ either way – how much are you of this?
Flirtatious – not at all. Teasing – if I know someone well enough and/or it’s some relatively mild teasing than sometimes I can be if I know that they know that I’m just teasing them or being sarcastic and don’t mean to offend them or anything. Playful – yes, I do have that very playful part of me, the inner child or however you want to call it, I call her Bibiel, aka Bibielle or Bibielka but Bibiel is what she’s used to the most, and she is very playful, humourous and childish and she especially loves playing with Zofijka.

How serious are you as a person?
Apparently lots of people think I’m serious and I guess I do make such an impression, I’m not playful and humourous with just everyone, and also my mental health/social difficulties prevent me from truly expressing myself around people in person. Plus I have some qualities that, while don’t necessarily mean the same as being serious, are often sort of associated by an average person with seriousness, like I’m very analytical and overthinking, quite naturally depressive and usually not too talkative unless I know someone very well and feel at ease with them. I can be outwardly serious or very serious when need be, but because I have Bibiel, I can be never fully serious in my mind and I have frequent situations when I can barely hold back laughter in generally inappropriate situations because some minor, funny detail caught my attention or something grotesque about the whole situation or because I just remembered something similar that I think is funny. Sometimes I myself am worried about it that I can find things to laugh about even in the most serious/sad situations that shouldn’t really be laughed at, and while I never do it openly/ fully intentionally, I often feel a bit guilty when my inner Bibiel makes fun of absolutely everything. But usually it is a very helpful trait. Has helped me to get through life on numerous occasions. Also a lot of people don’t get my sense of humour which can sometimes be very immature and childish, while other times rather sarcastic and dry and when it’s the latter people often don’t know that I’m joking or saying something ironically and their impression is that I’m being very serious.

Do you think the older we become certain emotions are easier to handle – say as an example β€˜grief?’
I think it’s hugely personal. Of course there is that developmental psychology thing and it makes a lot of sense and is kind of obvious that we go through different stages of emotional development and growth as we age, but I think emotions are a very individual, as well as fairly intangible matter, and depend on so many factors for everyone, so you really can’t generalise in this case and measure it. Perhaps for someone who is as emotionally mature as their age would indicate, it’s true, but then emotionally mature people can at the same time still be very sensitive and I believe their grief would still be rather intense then.So it probably also depends on some other individual traits like resilience or such. I don’t know.

What is the most adventurous thing you have done to date?
I’m not really overly adventurous, but one thing that comes to my mind at the moment was when we wanted to run away from home with Olek, I think I was about 11 so he would be 9 at the time. Not for any particular reason, I think we had some minor tension with Mum but mostly just for the sake of it. It didn’t work out at all, I don’t really remember how it all ended up but we didn’t go very far at all. We weren’t prepared for that, plus it would be quite difficult to achieve for me as I was only getting around with Olek as my guide so that just wouldn’t do more long-term I guess when running away in any circumstances.:D

What’s the craziest or riskiest thing you have ever done and simply got away with it or gotten caught doing it?
It would have to be when I used Doses, I think, Doses are those binaural sounds I’ve told you guys about that are meant to have a similar effect on your brain as drugs or other psychoactive substances do or evoke some other strange sensations in your mind. I had gotten caught, so there were some external consequences for me and the other kids I persuaded into it, but I believe that I got away with it in a different way, because apparently, while those things are apparently not addictive as drugs are, they can still cause brain damage, and I don’t feel it had such an effect on me because this was a relatively short period when I was doing this. Also as a Christian I believe that it could have had far worse spiritual consequences for me than it did.

What do you think the future is of dating and other β€˜other’ now that social distancing has become part of your life? Will your life β€˜up close and personal’ with people now be different?
Dating apps and websites have been already popular for quite a while, so I think this time now might be good for them and more people might start to use them. Which I think is generally good, though it does have its associated downsides and risks, but so does dating face to face. Still, I think after some time passes, and the threat of contracting COVID will lessen, there will still be people who will prefer meeting up for dates because it feels more genuine to them. For some people meeting people in person is too important to just give up on it plus some believe that it’s a much more reliable/genuine way of finding a potential partner and that you can get to know each other better over a coffee when you look each other in the eye rather than online.And as for my life, hm, I’m not sure. I’ve never been one for meeting up with people. My contacts with my immediate family with whom I live are as normal. When I go out, my Mum is my guide so we can’t keep the distance. With other relatives whom we see more or less regularly we try not to get too close, no kissing, hand shaking or such but we’ve had people in our house and such. I don’t think we’re seriously going to keep it for a very long time and only keep our relationships with people from a distance, but it also depends on how things evolve. It’s a completely new situation for all of us so it’s hard to say.

How different do you really think you are to the next person – are you prim and proper, or straight laced and serious, wild and abandoned or rebellious and controversial?
I don’t think any of these particular adjectives fit me well really, haha. I am certainly not prim and proper, although I do have a strong sense of morality or so I think and a lot of so called traditional values are important to me, I’m not straight laced and serious either. Some people do say I’m wild, but rather in the sense of a hermit who is not used to people than someone who is very adventurous, impulsive and uninhibited, I have nothing against being wild. Some of my views or opinions are controversial but I’m not the type of person who has the kind of opinions she has just to provoke controversy, and I don’t think I’m controversial at all as a whole, neither am I rebellious the way most people see rebellion, though I am very quirky. I do think I’m very different, which is both great and difficult, I love it and hate it, but if I got a chance I don’t think I would change it. I like my unusual brain and that I like things that not everyone else likes, I like that my experiences are different than many people’s.I’m just Bibiel lol.

During this time of global concern how has your thinking changed with regards the planet, conservation, climate issues …..or has it not changed one little bit?
It hasn’t really changed at all. SInce the Earth is where I currently live, I’ve always tried to live in harmony with it, that was what my family had taught me, I believe it’s our responsibility both as simply its inhabitants and as human beings. The nature has been created to serve us but that does not mean we can act disrespectfully towards it and destroy it or flood the world with our rubbish just because we feel like it, quite the opposite. We are obliged to care for the Earth and protect every single life on it as much as we can. However I am not an ecology freak nor an alarmist and I believe that moderation is key. I don’t think I believe in climate change the way most media portray it and some things that people apparently do to take action against it seem downright illogical, if not counterproductive to me, or at least pointless. Climate IS changing, but it always has been.

What β€˜topical issues’ considered β€˜taboo’ by society are you deeply passionate with and about to the point of doing something about it?
Mental health and disability. Since I myself am both disabled as well as mentally ill, I try to raise awareness of those issues by blogging about what they mean to me, in my life. There’s no taboo around these things on my blog.I also like to support other mentally ill people if and how much I can, though I’m not sure how good I’m at it actually.

What’s more important and or is there a difference between β€˜Friendship and Companionship and if so what is that difference?
I don’t know about what’s more important, I believe companionship may be more fulfilling but since I’ve never experienced it I don’t really have an idea. I think the difference is that companionship is more intimate. I’d think that it’s something between friendship and romance, and at the same time something on the next level. The people are in love with each other, could be romantic but not necessarily, spend a lot of time with each other, are used to each other’s company, know each other very well for a long time, both the good qualities and flaws of one another. The image that comes to my mind when I think of companionship is a couple who has been together for many years, they’ve already gone through the phase of friendship, romance, and now are at a stage where they have been with each other for too long and have gone through too many different situations to be madly in love, perhaps they don’t even need sex anymore, but they feel very comfortable with each other. Whereas friendship can be when two people like each other very much, have a lot in common, either in terms of interests, or life in general, or how they think or what they like, and they like to talk to each other, can count on each other and support one another. But it’s not quite as intimate as companionship and people don’t know each other quite as well.

What is your passion with regards writing genres – 1] what is your chosen genre and 2] what is the genre you might like to write about but lack confidence to start?

I mostly just do journaling type posts on my blog. Misha’s posts are also usually diary-like, though some are fiction (The Human Life of Misha Hhrrru?). I used to write a lot of short stories just for myself and enjoy it, though I hardly ever enjoyed the final effects and usually deleted them straight away, but these days I write much less fiction. I wrote a few stories in English on my blog, separate from Misha’s series, and that was fun, I’d like to do it more often but I think I lack confidence in terms of writing fiction in English and writing fiction in general, and also I don’t really have that many ideas.

 

Question of the day.

When did you join WordPress and when did you start blogging? How did it feel like at the beginning? How much has changed since then?

My answer:

I started blogging when I was 13 I guess, in a programme developed for the blind. It served as a way to get blind people together, or something like that, it was fully accessible of course, people could message each other, there were forums, groups, people could have their sound avatars, it could play a variety of multimedia, stream Internet radio, YouTube videos, had a very simple browser, some audiogames etc. etc. and also blogs. It was very easy to make a blog there, you didn’t have to do much except agree that you want to start a blog and write. No making up a URL, choosing a theme, playing around with widgets, SEO or plugins. It was both good and bad. Good because of course it was easy and fun, very quick and absolutely everyone could blog and pretty much everyone did blog, more or less consistently. You didn’t have to worry about how your blog looks or that something doesn’t work with a screenreader or whatever. Bad, because despite it was built somehow based on WordPress, there was a very slim chance that someone outside of the community, who didn’t have an account there, would find your blog, unless you’d give them the URL address. And you weren’t able to make it more personalised, like adjust things and make them more your own, which would annoy me right now but I didn’t care about that back thenn at all. I started blogging out of curiosity, it felt very interesting and cool to me, and people were telling me I’m good at writing so I thought I could do that well and enjoy it. I did. I wrote mainly about my daily life I guess, and some other silly stuff like logging my dreams, I don’t remember really… I had 3 different blogs there over the years, one after another. The programme was soon left by its developers and it was hanging in the Internet for some more years before they killed it completely, but slowly different features were dying, for example YouTube was gone when YouTube got an update, stuff like Google search and Wikipedia browser followed and so – very slowly – did the blogs since they were based on WordPress so people were migrating to different platforms, seeing that things are getting less and less stable, before their old blogs would disappear completely, or they just stopped blogging altogether.

And that was more or less when I started blogging on WordPress, no idea which year it was but I guess I could be about 17. I’m not sure. I had little to no technical idea how one sets up a blog properly, I don’t think I have it now but the second time round I guess I either had more luck, more help or more determination to do it right. That first time was a disaster and the blog wasn’t even very accessible for myself, let alone for my blind readers, and my readers were mostly blind, mostly people from that old community, because my blog wouldn’t even show up in Google, unless you’d search for its actual name, which wasn’t very generic at all so not many random people would think about that. πŸ˜€ It was called Drimolandia, so kind of like Dreamland (it doesn’t mean Dreamland in Polish but I’d say you could call it a polonisation of the English word Dreamland, drim is how you would phonetically spell dream in Polish, and -landia is like English suffix -land, in countries). So, my traffic was just absolutely, extremely, unbelievably low, how low I can fully comprehend only now that I have a (much) better performing blog, seriously, in the whole career of that blog my record daily amount of views was 35! πŸ˜€ I think I could also blame Polish WordPress, there is a lot of Polish blogs set up on pl.wordpress.com but, at least from my observations, people don’t get many comments usually, and forget about the kind of community that is in the English blogosphere, with stuff like writing prompts or blog awards (okay I’ve seen a blog award post once). I copy-pasted all my posts from the previous blog I had onto Drimolandia, hoping to expand that further and write new posts over time, but because working with WordPress editor was a really painful, slow process – I don’t know if WordPress was so inaccessible then or if I had such a rubbish theme or what – that I had less and less motivation and finally abandoned it altogether and just left it hanging in the Internet by itself.

Then I joined another blind app which is still alive and being developed, based on that first one in terms of the general idea, created by one of the former users of that old app who is also a programmer. It had blogs too and I was blogging there for virtually a couple months. That was about the time when I started having my wild ideas about having an English blog, and not necessarily, preferably not, in the blind community. I really enjoyed being there and I liked a lot of people, I know many of them in real life from school or other places. And that was fun in a way, and in a way it wasn’t. I’d been thinking for a long time that I actually don’t like the fact that a lot of people there knew me in real life, or knew someone who knew me, that they had their own idea about me and had every right to it of course, and I felt like that was holding me back from making all those blogs what I really wanted them to be and I felt that I had to hold myself back and wasn’t really writing for myself and was censoring myself all the time or I felt very exposed otherwise. Maybe freaky for some, but that’s how I felt about it. Also, I was interested in things, or involved in things, that I wanted to write about, but even when I did, I didn’t really feel it was interesting for my readers and that they got it, because they didn’t feel it. I felt weird, I mean, I know I’m weird and I like being weird and if someone tells me I’m weird I take it as a compliment, but it wasn’t that kind of weird. I wanted to have a wider group of readers and for it to be more likely that someone who can really relate and/or will be interested can read it, whether they will let me know about that and comment or not, so that I could seriously feel that my opening up is useful and pays off somehow. Otherwise I could write in my diary, which I’ve had for years and write freely in it about everything that comes to my brain. Then also all the mental health stuff started to come up to the surface for me and I couldn’t ignore it any longer, some time later I started diving deeper into the English Internet, writing with people, learning more about myself and people in general, finally it felt necessary for me to have an outlet, for all that was going on in my brain, especially the mental health struggles as I had little support then, and that community wasn’t an option for me to write about such private things , and I also felt for other reasons that I needed to leave it.

And that’s how My Inner MishMash started out, in 2018! I’m so glad that I actually did it, and made this idea come true, it was beneficial to me in so many ways. I wonder now if I have written a post on that, if not, one would definitely be necessary at some point. My Inner MishMash was born on January 24th, but more officially on January 26th, as I was setting it up for 2 days, I was so scared not to screw it up! πŸ˜€ I don’t think it has changed very significantly over those two years (though maybe it’s different from a reader’s perspective?), other than when I sometimes look back at my older posts I can see that my English has improved a bit more and I have developed a bit more of an individual writing style, though it’s still very far from my very characteristic Polish writing style and sometimes I feel like that sucks, but I guess such things take time. On the other hand, as I’ve said many times, I feel much more emotionally expressive in English so everything has its good and bad aspects.

How about your blogging? πŸ™‚

Question of the day (3rd April).

Hey people! πŸ™‚

Do you like to buy physical copies of CDs or download the digital version? Or do you only download the singles? (or do you just listen to the radio or something?)

My answer:

As I wrote in my answer to an earlier question of the day, I don’t have a CD player right now and I don’t listen to CD’s anymore. I have two main ways of listening to music these days. First I use streaming services – for me it’s Spotify because I find it the most accessible, most of all I like that they have an accessible desktop app, and it’s Swedish, haha. – I have a bit of a love-hate attitude and relationship with Spotify and streaming services in general. I love them because they offer a comfortable, easy and relatively cheap (or even free if you like even lower sound quality and enjoy the ads) access to loads of music and if you need it, and have a lot of devices, you can listen to it pretty much anywhere you are, and stuff like family subscription plans are helpful, in our house three people have Spotify and it’s handy to be on a family plan. Also I really like that you can discover a lot of other music which is very handy as well if you are picky and won’t fall in love with every other song playing on the radio. πŸ˜‰ I hate it for the low sound quality, even though I understand that it’s not possible to be higher since millions of people are listening to music at the same time and Spotify doesn’t want to be sluggish. I hate it because, in practice, it only supports those artists and music labels who are already famous and popular. I mean, I’ve discovered a lot of great, barely known, niche artists from niche genres thanks to Spotify and I’m very happy about it, the list includes my last faza/music crush Gwilym Bowen Rhys and a lot of other great people, but from the moment you open Spotify and look through their browse tab, their own ready-made playlists, features like those regional filters for specific countries that they have or however they call them, you’ll be flooded by loads of mainstream music that you’d have easy access too otherwise as well and that you most likely already know either by name or have heard their songs, or both, or if yoou haven’t heard of them they’ll soon go viral anyway and every radio station will be playing them, or if that miraculously will not happen for this or that reason, they still make very easily digestible music and very much in line with what is currently most popular thanks to the media. And, okay, there is some good mainstream music out there, there are artists who are famous for a reason and are really talented, but it’s sad that artists who are lesser known, also those who do not want to go viral or whose music simply isn’t fit for that despite being really great and good quality, or who are independent and self-producing or something, and who could potentially make much more money on the music and be noticed by more people, are so little promoted by streamers and it’s all intentional and purposeful action, despite that with the possibilities that those streamers have, they could really transform the music industry, the way people listen to music, make people more conscious, more selective, and show them some good music, promote it so that those who don’t know much more beyond the charts and what has been popular throughout the last couple of years/decades can find something more that they would like but don’t know that they would like, because they don’t know it exists and where/how to look for it, and what they would actually be into. Of course if you are interested and determined and want to, you’ll find such underappreciated artists on Spotify and great music that they do not feature on their own playlists, but you really have to be interested yourself and most people just want to listen to something, are not interested in digging too much and have no time for that which is absolutely understandable, so they’d have to get it shoved in their faces to be able to notice that there is also other music and that it exists. It’s a shame that so many people just listen to what is forced into their ears by radio stations or other such and that those “trend setters” decide for them what they are supposed to like, instead of that people could actually choose what to listen to on their own, and decide on their own what is their favourite kind of music. It feels like brainwashing to me and makes me think that one can’t really be a self-aware person when they don’t know what music they truly like, but just takes what’s lying nearest to them. I don’t blame the individuals for that though because that’s how things have been for ages and we are used to listening to music this way. I also hate that those less popular artists aren’t paid enough as a result, I mean not as much as they would be paid if someone bought their album, and I feel it’s not fair whatsoever, but as my Mum rightly says the words justice and fair only exist in the dictionary. πŸ˜€ Not to mention that some independent artists are not on Spotify whatsoever despite making lots of great music, for various reasons.

The cons are quite heavy, and I guess there are more of them, but anyway, as I said, Spotify is my main way of listening to music despite that, and probably will be for a while yet, because it’s very accessible and easy, and sometimes the easy option is the only practically possible one. And I listen to a lot of music on Spotify these days, or mostly nights actually. Spotify is my main base for discovering new music and being up to date with my most favourite artists that I want to be up to date with, and music from Spotify serves me as a background noise when doing stuff on the computer during the day, unless I happen to be listening to the radio but I’ll write about that later. I also listen to music from YouTube sometimes but that’s not very often, only when there’s something I like that’s not on Spotify, usually something that I happened to discover years ago back when I was using Last.fm as my main source of discoveries and taste-shaping so to say.

As I said though, it really bothers me what Spotify is doing to the lesser known artists, for example those singing in extincting languages. My other way of listening to music is on my PlexTalk Linio Pocket. PlexTalk is a specialised device for the blind which is small, and thus portable, fitting into a pocket, as you can guess, and it can read books – audiobooks, texts – play podcasts, radio from Internet, play any audiofiles in most formats, so music as well, it can also work as a recorder and has a couple other features like a calendar, alarm, etc. It uses SD memory cards so all my actual music that I have for myself is on SD cards. If I like and respect an artist and their music particularly much, I’ll buy their album, or if I don’t like a whole album I’ll buy some single songs in a digital format. It also is very handy to have this kind of music collection because I take my PlexTalk everywhere with me so I can have my own, bought music there with me regardless of whether there is Internet connectioon or not, I can listen to my PlexTalk in my bed, in the car, etc. I can play the music from some other device if I don’t want to listen to it from PlexTalk’s small speaker or headphones but for example my computer speakers which have much better quality. And I know that I’ll always have this music and not just as long as the artist will be willing to cooperate with Spotify. Well except for things like if I lose or break a card or format it by accident, haha.

Also I do listen to the radio, but that’s rarely for the music. I was hugely into radio as a kid, I mean more like in theory, what it’s like to work in there, changes in specific radio stations over time, lots of such details, that was very interesting to me, and I still do find it interesting but not to such a geeky degree, and I listen much less to the radio right now. First of all I hardly listen to Polish radio stations now, if I do, it is because some programme really interests me. Or because it is playing in the background – in the kitchen, in the bathroom, even in the loo (we have a radio in the loo which turns on and off with the lights and it scares some people or at least surprises them very much when they visit for the first time and go to the loo), I like to switch it on if I’m alone somewhere if I don’t have my Plextalk with me there so that my sensory/silence anxiety is more manageable. – My school friend used to laugh at me that I am such a snob that I only listen to mainstream music and get a chance to catch up with what’s popular and form my opinion when I’m sitting on the toilet, lol, but that’s not the case. Well, not always. πŸ˜€ Otherwise, if I listen to the radio, it’s usually some public radio from another country, or in any case a radiostation where they talk a lot so it can boost my language skills. Like today I’m listening to Sveriges Radio p4 Stockholm all day. They do play a lot of music, very normal music, but I mostly just care about the language. Sometimes I like to make radio discoveries though from foreign radio stations. It was very hard for me, for example, to find Welsh language music on Spotify at the beginning of my Welsh language journey. I mean, there are playlists made by people which were helpful but when I wanted to go beyond that and see what’s more, I found it difficult, especially that Spotify’s algorithms picked up very late on my Welsh language mania and I couldn’t count on them that they would give me some further recommendations. BBC Radio Cymru was extremely helpful in that, as was Cymru FM, the latter plays almost exclusively music, with barely any talking ever in between, almost exclusively in Welsh (with some occasional, almost like accidental, Cornish or Breton songs) in a variety of genres but mostly pop, rock, folk and alternative/indie stuff, I’d say. Also I love learning about how different are music trends in different countries, no matter if I’m gonna like them or not, I like to see for example what Swedish songs are currently popular in Sweden, or even English ones that are either by Swedish artists or simply didn’t make their way to Poland to such a degree for some reason. I actually end up liking a lot of foreign pop or hits or stuff, lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Finnish pop in the radio stations. So I’m not such a big snob, after all. I myself don’t think I am at all, because seriously I do like a lot of “normal” stuff, but even Zofijka thinks I’m snobbish.

So, that’s about it, for me. How about you? πŸ™‚

A letter to my 33-year-old self.

Continuing with the

Letter Writing Challenge

today I am writing a letter to my older – 33-year-old – self.

Dear Bibiel, because I believe that, if you are still there, you are still Bibiel, deep down, aren’t you?

Remember me? I’m your younger self. How’s life going for you right now? What are you doing today? I must say I’m quite curious what you would write to me, but since you have more important things to do at the moment, I assume, I decided to write to you first, and hope to get a response, someday.

I wanted to remind you that, wherever you are at in your life right now, whether you like it and are satisfied with it, or not and are struggling a lot, everything is transient in life. I’m sure you know that better than me but it’s easy to forget about it in everyday life. I also want to remind you about another cliche thing that I’m sure you know, but I want you to never forget it, that no matter where you are, and what people are surrounding you, or maybe you’re alone or lonely, no matter whether you like it or not, what you are doing and what life is like, what is going on with the world and what challenges you are having to face, you have your brain. Use it. You know I am not talking about thinking, although that’s important too especially that we humans seem to be worse and worse at it and get tired of thinking more and more easily, and I don’t expect this trend has changed in the world where you live. I am talking about coping with things. I hope you are surrounded by supportive people, even if it is mostly or exclusively online as is the case with me, and that you are privileged to be able to support other people and do it as much as you can, but even if you do, and especially if you do not, it is important to know that no one will help you more than you can help yourself, and that you can’t rely too much on other people. Your brain is your fortress so do use it, as much as possible, especially when all else fails, and don’t forget about your Brainworld, it is always there.

How is Misha doing?… Does he still live with you or did you move somewhere and leave Misha with your family? I hope that if you live on your own, you weren’t selfish and possessive enough to take him with you, if you did, know that I loathe you for that. Well, unless some miracle happened and you are able to take proper care of him and provide him with all that he deserves. On the other hand I hope you do not live with Zofijka, because as much as she is a sweet kid, I know you would have a very hard life living just with her, or possibly her family, since you both are quite clashy and neither of you would be happy long term. I also hope that you didn’t have to bring your emergency plan into life, if it did have to happen by now, I hope you are managing and have something that brings joy into your life, and that it isn’t as bad as it used to be. At the same time I congratulate you for being a very courageous Bibiel, courageous enough to make it happen and I know it must have been a very difficult decision, and its outcomes are certainly no less difficult. Most of all though, I hope you will never have to do that.

How is your language learning going? I hope you can continue with it and it’s exciting to think that you may be able to speak even more languages than I can. As you may realise, I am in a faza limbo right now, or I hope that this is a limbo, and not the end of everything, as I sometimes feel. Please tell me that it’s not the end, and that you have a faza!

You may also remember, that at the time I’m writing to you, the world is going through the coronavirus outbreak. I’d be curious to hear from you what you think about it, looking back. Were you scared of it at any point? Did it affect you?

Looking forward to hear from you in the future and sending you a little piece of Mishfur, and a little Mishpurrr, with this letter, in case you forgot how it feels and sounds.

Bibiell

*****

I thought I’d clarify one thing in the letter, so that no one has any doubts. One of my readers was concerned that my “emergency plan” was suicide, and after re-reading this, I agree that it is easy to draw such a conclusion. But it was not what I meant, and it isn’t anything dangerous and unsafe. Just something I am not particularly looking forward to, but will do if I have to. I may have a lot of passive suicidal ideations in the background of my brain but I am stable enough at this time in my life that I don’t make active plans or anything like that, and I would definitely trigger warn this post if it was about suicide even indirectly.

 

A letter to my 13-year-old self.

Today starts

10-Day Letter Writing Challenge

and, as I mentioned in the original post that I reblogged earlier today, or rather yesterday as it’s past midnight, I really liked the idea. I have never participated in those kind of challenges where you write every day for a certain amount of time, so I don’t know how it will go and I don’t promise that I will stick to it on my blog, but I do plan to write those letters for sure in my diary because I like to expand it in such ways and not just plain write about my daily life.

Here’s a letter to my 13-year-old self:

Hi Bisbis [Bisbis/Bibiel was the way I used to mostly call myself as a child and teen]

I am your future self, however strange that may sound to you. You may wonder why I am writing to you in English then, and I am sure that it will take you a looong time to figure this letter out, but this will at least improve your English skills and occupy your mind with something interesting for a while. You will need it in the future – the English, I mean. – One day, when life will get better, you will have an English blog. You have heard from people that you have a talent for languages and you sometimes wonder if it is true and what you should do about it, if anything. And you have already learnt some Swedish. I know how painful it is for you that you cannot do it anymore. Please don’t suppress this one thing at least. I think it will be of some comfort to you if I’ll tell you that you will be able to return to your Swedish in future. It will bring you a lot of pleasure and you will also learn to love many other languages, which will make your life feel more purposeful. You will have to thank one of your faza objects for that. Soon after that, you will also find the greatest love of your life (so far at least), whom you will love with all your brain and soul, who will live with you and sleep with you and who will be your best friend. No, obviously I’m not talking about any guy, I’m sure you know it! Nor about a girl, if you’re wondering, or maybe being concerned, hehe. His name will be Misha, not Jacek, and that’s all I’m gonna tell you. Believe me, seriously, the things will not always be the way they are right now, even though it really looks like they will. Change will come sooner than you think, although you will have to get through a lot before it happens, and then learn a lot of things that you might find unpleasant or uncomfortable.

I know that you wrote a letter to me as well, like Emily of the New Moon did to herself, but unfortunately I am not able to read it now and look back at all those things you wanted to know and respond to you properly because you lost it. You do have to learn to be less chaotic. But so far it hasn’t happened. πŸ˜€ And I think we agree that being chaotic is more interesting, right? I still like Emily of the New Moon a lot, although not as frenziedly as you. I can assure you that your current dream will come true and that you will change your name to Emilia legally soon after you turn 18. It was a good idea so you don’t have to worry, you were right and I thank you for that.

At this point, I live in a different house than the one that is your family home, but not far away from there, just in a town nearby. It is also big, and you will move in it about 7 years from where you are at, if I’m counting correctly. You will like it here. As we’re talking about counting, I have some bad news for you too. Well, at least for you it will probably sound bad, I feel quite neutral about it and I don’t perceive it as a tragedy or even anything near it. You will not pass your math final exam after high school. Moreover, you will decide not to rewrite it.

There was that man who told you that you won’t fix yourself by studying psychology and becoming a therapist, and you felt offended because he was assuming and implying that something was wrong with you and that you were selfish, and I think you also felt very insecure because you knew he could be on to something. I know that your intentions weren’t selfish at all, but, as you’ll see for yourself later on, he was actually right, in a lot of ways. Because, you do know deep down that it is not normal to feel the way you feel, all the time, don’t you? And you do realise that many things in your life and functioning aren’t the way they should be? Well, you will need time to come to terms with this, and one day you will understand that it is yourself who needs help, before you can give it to others. But also, this is not your fault, as you think and as everyone is making you feel or even telling you, indirectly. I do not like you much more than you like yourself, if I’m being honest with you, but I want you to know that this is not your fault and that some people, even those you seriously wouldn’t suspect to be, are way more selfish than you think, others are clueless. You are clueless too. You will learn and discover some difficult things about yourself and your life circumstances, I am still doing that and in a way it’s getting overwhelming, and so confusing, but you will learn to live and cope with those things you learn about yourself, but also making those discoveries will be helpful, as life and your whole situation will become a bit clearer for yourself and others, and it is always easier to deal with something that you know at least a bit. As I said, life will really get better. Your brain will get better. The mere relief from having to pretend that everything is OK will make a difference. You will find a lot of friends online, not the same ones as you have right now, although I know many of them are cool, and don’t let anyone tell you that online friendships are any less valuable or real or something. You will find very supportive and understanding people with whom you will often have a lot of things in common, in one way or another. I know it feels awful right now but don’t give up just yet. And, while you will still have a deep interest in psychology, maybe even deeper in some ways, I think you will grow out of that idea, and instead you will decide to focus on your languages more. Well, that’s at least what I know now, who knows how things will get in the more distant future. As for more distant future, currently I have no idea how it will go, and it feels somewhat scary even to me, but I am trying to be hopeful because otherwise I would have no right to tell you not to give up, as my life is way easier than yours.

Zofijka is almost your age now and a lot of what you thought she’d be like has come true. She is very bubbly and energetic and talks all the time, and she loves sports and One Direction and currently has become enamoured with Japanese men, and yes, she loves clothes shopping and changes her clothes all the time, but she has a very distinctive style despite being a very average girl in a lot of ways, and you’d be surprised how very mature she is deep down. I think you would like her. Though she is very different from you, and thus very different from me, and so we not always get along.

I really don’t know what else to tell you, other than that there is hope, so I will be finishing, because it’s 2 AM and I feel like I should go to sleep. Yeah, I still tend to write at nights, but now it’s my choice, and not a necessity, and I realise it’s a luxury not only for people like you who feel they lack privacy but most people actually, who aren’t able to manage their time on their own. Ah, and I can tell you that you will live in times of a pandemic, which is happening right now, I guess you’d find that interesting, for example to observe how people are behaving. I find it interesting myself, but while it’s changed our lives all around the world very much, it doesn’t feel scary for myself so far. Maybe just because it is not a norovirus pandemic, haha.

Your future Bibiel self (I no longer call myself Bibiel all the time, only sometimes, you have to adjust to the society at some point, but I still am Bibiel and am loving it no less than you do)

Question of the day.

What is the most useless piece of advice anyone ever gave you?

My answer:

I probably can’t remember what was THE MOST useless one, but my Mum, who can generally be a good advisor, sometimes has given me quite crappy advice, and she seems to be especially crappy advisor when it comes to thinking. Or we just think in very different ways and are not able to imagine the way the other one does. Or my thinking is too strongly impacted by the anxiety and all that shit. Anyway, her best advice for me was: “You just have to stop thinking sometimes. Just switch your brain off for a while”. I asked her if she can seriously switch her brain off on demand, or does it happen randomly. In any case, if that happened to me, I don’t think I’d be particularly happy. My brain can be an uncooperative bitch, and obviously I hate anxiety and overthinking or when my thoughts are racing or other things that my brain is either hyperactive or not efficient enough at doing, but still, I do like my brain, I guess I have a real love-hate relationship with it, and I believe that, since I already have it, it would be a bit nonsense if I wanted to switch it off. I’d be afraid that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to switch it on again, and I don’t want to be a brainless Zombie, that’s way worse than having anxiety, even a lot of it. Yes, I know that some people who meditate can get into such a state that they practically don’t think, and some say it is relaxing and healthy for the mind and soul and all that, but I don’t like the idea at all, and some things about some of such meditative techniques don’t go in line with my beliefs. I did use to try doing some lighter meditation, as well as Christian meditation, but it was always extremely hard for me to focus on. I think I can’t say I have low attention span because I can do quite a few things at once as long as it doesn’t involve being able to coordinate your movements well, but I do have a hard time focusing on thinking about just one thing for an extended period of time, it’s boring and quite exhausting in a way. I just think about a lot of things at the same time always. Another thing my Mum used to say frequently that pissed me off incredibly was: “Don’t think about it”. Yeah, don’t think about the white bear. πŸ˜€ I think it is possible to just stop thinking about something if you try hard, but, well, at least for me, it takes a lot of effort, so usually I prefer to distract myself with something productive or do something relaxing rather than force the damn thing out of my brain for all means, doesn’t really pay off, or not for long. But I guess that works for my Mum somehow, because it seems like she frequently deals with negative things by just “erasing” them. Not if they are serious things that require some action, but, to give you an example, you may or may not remember Sasha, the other Russian blue kitty who used to live with us for some weeks. Mum decided to get him very spontaneously, without really thinking it through, what that would mean, for us and for him and for Misha, and we were all elated, everything was arranged literally at last minute, and it was quite a massively selfish act of us to do that and very much on a whim. Then it turned out there were various complications, they didn’t get along with Misha whatsoever, were both awfully stressed out and got sick from it, and Mum got quite depressed about it, I mean it seriously looked as if she was depressed, she would lie with Sasha on the sofa hardly able to do anything and was very dejected and overwhelmed by the whole situation, so very much unlike her. So we had to find a new home for Sasha, when things got really bad. We did, and he seems to have a great family, and we were happy for him that he will have a better life after all, but we were also really sad quite naturally and missed him, and a bit sorry for ourselves. The way my Mum coped with this situation was she didn’t speak about Sasha at all, and didn’t want to hear anything about him, or otherwise she snapped at people, so there was a bit of a taboo in our house for a while. It seemed like she wanted to ignore that he ever lived with us and forget about the whole thing, erase it from her brain and not think about it. And she really seems quite successful at it. I know that people often do it in an unhealthy way, that they try to stop thinking about things and make them disappear this way rather than do something about them, but, as far as I can tell, it is not unhealthy in her case. It is certainly not the way my brain works, though, so for me, that was absolutely useless advice. In the Sasha situation, neither me nor Zofijka wanted that to happen that we would forget about him completely, because despite the sadness, we were also very fond of him and we did want to talk about him and remember him so we did with each other. And while we all can still be sad when something reminds us of him, I think all of us coped and adjusted to the situation to a similar extend, despite applying different measures.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Question of the day.

Do you follow your country’s politics? What do you think about the current political climate?

My answer:

I do have an interest in it and it matters to me, although it’s not like one of my main interests or something that I’d give a lot of thought to every single day or be regularly very worried about the state of things like some people are. I like to be up to date and oriented in the most important things or those that matter to me particularly strongly, and I like to be able to have concrete views on them, but I don’t get FOMO if I sometimes am not up to date and I don’t like to overwhelm my brain with too much news or political speculations every single day because I generally tend to overthink things, and politics is not something I’d have a direct impact on so it’s pointless to ruminate on that overly. My Mum and grandma tend to care about politics so very much which is great in a way, because it’s important to care about your country I think, but on the other hand it’s awful to stress so much over things you cannot really change and catastrophise like my grandma does. I don’t like though when people go for the other extreme – are not involved at all in what’s going on saying that they no have any influence over it, don’t vote and have no real views of their own, but still complain about all that’s going wrong in their country according to them, and selfishly take for granted all that is positive.

As for the political climate, I am really happy that, since the 2015, the party I’ve been supporting ever since I’ve gotten some clearer idea about politics (PiS, or Law and Justice in English), has been in majority government, and that our current President (Andrzej Duda) is of the same political option, as, to put it shortly and simply, since the fall of communism until the above mentioned 2015 Poland has been ruled by “former” communists (from parties like Civic Platform or Polish People’s Party or Democratic Left ALliance), or their children or close relatives. Actually, the first Polish president after the communist period – Lech WaΕ‚Δ™sa – who was given Nobel Peace Prize and whom people glorified and authentically perceived as a true statesman and someone who was going to make a real change, was a pawn in hands of the communist government and spied for them, but of course that came up officially only recently. Our current government is far from flawless, as is the situation in Poland, but I don’t think there are flawless politicians anywhere in the world, just as there are no flawless people in general, and, at least for now, I don’t think there is a better option, and they do a whole lot of good, and actually visible, change, even though it’s going slowly, because it takes time to rebuild the country after so many years of inefficient reigns, and some people are complaining about that, including those who actually have voted on them, like my Dad for example, because they seem to think it’s such an effortless process.

How about you? πŸ™‚

Reasons why I’m learning English.

Nearly a month after starting up this blog, I wrote a post about all the

Reasons why I’m learning Welsh

and a year ago, I wrote a similar post concerning my

Swedish.

With each of them I felt like they got quite a bit of interest, so I’m going to continue it this year as well, and write about English. Let’s see how many reasons I can come up with

1.

Isn’t it obvious? English is obligatory in schools in most countries, I guess. Or at least in all countries in Europe. So, you could say I didn’t have much choice. πŸ˜€ Before I went to school though, I was already subjected to English thanks to my Godmother, whose English was on a pretty good level for a person growing up in the 80’s (communist period – learning Russian as a second language at school) and not needing English for professional purposes. I guess it’s more common for people about her age or older to learn English now even if you don’t need it for work, but I guess back then in early 2000’s there wasn’t as much pressure yet. I believe she started learning English around college and took private lessons and while she wasn’t and is not fluent, as I said, the degree to which she knew English could feel a bit unexpected, plus she’s very communicative by nature so such people don’t need a whole lot of vocabulary to be understood. Anyways, she taught me a lot of things before I went to school, and one of them was some very basic English vocabulary and a bit of fondness for English, which probably helped me more than I normally realise to remain positive about the language itself even when I started to see that English as a school subject is MEH, and pushed me to learn it anyway. So by the time I reached school, I remember I was actually euphoric when I heard on my first actual day of school that our next lesson is going to be English. I associated it with home and with fun things and I liked it as I said, so I was super happy that I would be able to learn it at school. Sadly, I didn’t have particularly much luck with good English teachers throughout my education. I’m not saying they weren’t competent or anything like that, probably some were more, and some were less, some were very nice, some were very unpleasant, some rather bland, but the great majority of them just didn’t do anything to me more than help me prepare for the necessary tests and exams. Of course I had to learn basics at school and I did, but after that, although I was learning English throughout my whole education, I feel like school didn’t give me much in that respect and I taught myself the most. Neither did school motivate me to learn English, in fact, my first English teacher wasn’t particularly likeable person and I don’t think she cared much if we liked her subject or not. I became disillusioned quite quickly and realised that, while English may be a cool language, the subject is just deadly boring. And my view on that became even stronger when I started to seriously learn on my own and became actively interested in learning English and not just ticking off exercises in the textbook. I don’t think it is solely that I just happened to have bad teachers. I think it’s the case with most people here, and that simply the way language learning and teaching is perceived in our country and the level of English education in our schools is terrible. Basically, unless someone has some extra English classes, or wants to learn on their own or something like that, most people go out of education being barely able to communicate. And since Polish language is way more complex than English, the problem cannot be with people”s brains. People get out of schools with the mentality that they are supposed to speak perfectly, with no grammar mistakes or otherwise someone will kill them, and if they can’t do that, they won’t speak at all, even if they do have enough vocabulary to speak decently. And English lessons are not interesting, or at least they are rarely as interesting and fun as language learning could be. My Sofi writes down tons of words and rules she doesn’t understand, and when someone in her class is thinking independently enough to ask the teacher for some explanation and say that they don’t understand something, the only thing she’ll say will typically be: “*sighs theatrically* Oh my, what do you still can’t understand? It’s easy. You have to practice more at home. How many more times am I going to have to explain it?”. Well, the majority of Sofi’s class go to extracurricular English at a language school. Those who do not, have very bad grades. And I assure you that Sofi’s school is not an exception. But OMG I could rant about education system and terrible attitudes of people towards language learning for ages. πŸ˜€ Anyway, I did get the basics of English at school and I’m grateful for that, but that’s all that any school or individual teacher did for my foreign language education. There also was that teacher who was having conversations with me for a year in preparation for my final exams, and admittedly he helped me to feel a bit more confident in speaking, and most certainly contributed to the fact that I got 100% from oral English,but not much else, although I hoped he would be able to teach me some new things. He was most keen on talking about himself though. πŸ˜€

2.

Because English is everywhere. That’s why I kind of feel for English natives. On one hand it’s so cool when you can go almost anywhere in the world, read almost anything you want and not have to make the effort of translating, understanding or learning another language. But on the other hand, people miss out on so much when they don’t learn a new language, and when everyone speaks your language, what motivation can you have to do that? So it’s a bit unfair on the English-speaking folks and only for their sake I wish we had some artificial or dead language to use internationally, rather than deprive a certain group of people – a large group of people – from the benefits of learning a language and developing their brains even more. Anyways, the rest of us does have to learn English if we want to have a somewhat broader perspective on the world. Internet is huge and you can read a lot in it, do a lot with it and learn a lot, but Polish-language part of the Internet seems so mini mini compared to English. I wouldn’t be able to do so many things that I do if I didn’t speak decent English. I wouldn’t be able to restore my synths, to give you a recent example, haha. My Mum tells me that about once a week “You’re so lucky that you speak English” or “I’d like to know half of your English”, so I am constantly reminded that I should be grateful for that, and that I was given enough determination to learn it myself, and, more than determination, just plain luck, because I don’t really feel like I made some huge effort with my English, from some point on it just came to me on its own, I guess via a lot of exposure. But perhaps not everyone can be that lucky, or not everyone can make use of it or realises it. Some people like my Mum constantly complain that they can’t speak English but when you actually confront them about it “So why won’t you try to learn it?” they will have tons of arguments, including that they are too old, too stupid, too busy, too lazy, don’t have a talent (there’s no such thing as talent for learning languages unless you want to have a native accent, you just have to find the right method for yourself and that can be tricky) to name a few.

3.

Because I plain like it. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t like English though. Would I still be so keen on learning it? My experiences with other languages show that not necessarily, because my effects at it seem to be strongly correlated with my feelings for it. I can’t quite imagine learning and being good at Esperanto for example, even if it was the international language. Of course I would learn it at school if need be, and would continue it if I really needed it, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be anything more than average. I was learning German at school (and I like German more than Esperanto, because I don’t like Esperanto at all) and, unless I put a lot of conscious effort into learning it, I was just having rather mediocre results, and forgot most of it very quickly after finishing my German education, even though I did have an ambitious plan to continue learning it on my own, but that just went out the window before it started properly.

But I do like English, and I do like the culture surrounding it, the diversity of its accents, which we don’t have in Polish, and – what I’ve mentioned in both Swedish and Welsh posts, I feel a kind of bond with the nations speaking my favourite languages. English is also the most boring of my languages because it’s so mainstream-y and it’s everywhere and it spoils the experience massively, but still, it’s so cool and so rich!

4.

Because it can serve as a bridge to the whole Celtic world for me. Of course English is used in Britain and all its Celtic regions, and as a Celtophile it’s very important to me. It helps me to develop my Celtic passions and discover more about all the Celtic stuff, the folklore, the languages, the people…

5.

Because it enables me to meet interesting people whom I wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise. As well as like-minded people. Actually, the most development of my English skills is largely due to all of my pen pals. With some of them I’d onnly written for a while, more or less short, but with some I have developed great connections and friendships and I am so thankful for that.

6.

Because it helps me with blogging, and generally expressing myself. I used to blog in Polish for years but it wasn’t quite as fun as it is now. I feel like I can be more candid about a lot of things on my English blog and that it was one of my better ideas in my whole life to start an English blog. It works both ways – my English learning makes my blogging better, and my blogging stimulates my English learning in an incredibly effective way. – As for expressing myself, since my English skills have improved so dramatically over the last few years due to a lot of exposure, penpalling and blogging, I also write my diary mostly in English. I’ve written frequently about that I find each language useful for different kind of writing, and that it also corresponds with different kinds of emotions for me. I will write about the specific emotions of English in a while, but first, I want to say more generally that I find it much easier nowadays to express myself emotionally in English. Where feelings are concerned, but also more specifically, any kind of mental health difficulties, especially more complex stuff, somehow it’s much easier to put it in English. I’ve come to the point where sometimes it’s easier for me to find words describing some things in English, rather than in Polish, and what I want to say sounds more clunky in Polish. πŸ˜€ The emotions that in my synaesthetic view correspond particularly strongly with English are especially love, pain, sarcasm, playfulness, sadness, emptiness, anxiety, comfort, passion, euphoria and loneliness.

7.

Because it has enabled me to build a more stable support network and become both more aware of my mental health struggles, as well as deal better with them. Again blogosphere and penpalling have helped me immensely with that. Previously, I couldn’t really say I felt free to talk to anyone about what I was experiencing. Partly because I didn’t really understand it myself but also because I simply either didn’t feel like I could trust them, or I knew they wouldn’t understand. Now, thanks to my English, I have found a lot of people who have similar experiences to me or even if they don’t, they are still very supportive and I want to support them as well, and I feel like I’ve made more meaningful connections with people even though they are just online. All this keeps me motivated to develop my English further, and actually makes it develop on its own because obviously the more you use a language, the more it develops.

8.

Because there’s lots of great music in English and I want to know what it’s about.

9.

Because then I can be helpful to my immediate family who are all practical monoglots and sometimes need to translate something from English. Especially my Dad who is a tanker driver, and it’s hard to be a tanker driver and often supply foreign ships with fuel and speak no English. I often don’t have the vocabulary that he needs anyway, but some vocabulary is better than none. At least I can help him how to describe the word he needs to use and then because they are oriented in the field, they understand quickly what he wants to say, unless their English is poor too. πŸ˜€

10.

Because there are so many cool accents. I’ve already said that, but it deserves a separate mention. I LOVE that feature of English that it’s so rich in dialects and accents! You can tell where someone’s from just by their accent, and here we can’t really do that, or at least not to such an extend as you! Polish language is much more universal. There are several major dialects that are commonly recognisable, but they aren’t many and not many people choose to speak them on a daily basis, and our dialects are mostly different because of specific words that we use in different regions, rather than accents as in pronunciation differences. That doesn’t mean there are none, but an average person who is not a language geek and has no interest in such things will not hear those subtle differences or at least certainly won’t be able to tell someone’s location by them, unless someone’s accent is really super strong and very commonly associated with a specific area which mainly concerns eastern accents that are influenced by languages like Russian or Belarussian or Ukrainian or perhaps Lithuanian. My grandma has roots in all of the above mentioned countries and despite living in the north for years people can usually hear her long and soft vowels and identify correctly and always ask if she’s from the east or something. But that’s a rare case. I consider myself a language geek and the only things I can recognise are those Eastern accents, some subtle things that are specific to Silesia or Lublin area, and some stuff specific to the highlands and that’s it pretty much. This is due to the fact that after WWII people were massively migrating from countryside to towns and moving around different regions, so the accent has unified a lot. I think it’s such a pity. That’s why for some people the whole concept of an accent is a bit out there and they don’t really know what it is in terms of English. For example my Dad asked me not long ago what that whole accent thing is in English, is it about word stress (because that’s what we call akcent in Polish), or that people have some speech deffects or what, hahaha. And for a long time I didn’t get that either. Like how can you hear that someone is from Sheffield or New York or Glasgow or wherever unless they tell you? πŸ˜€ I didn’t hear those differences for a long time either. Only at some point one of my earliest English online friends started to teach me about accents and then one day something clicked in my brain and I started to gradually hear them and now I think for a non native I’m pretty good at distinguishing at least the British ones and of course between which one is British, which Australian and which American, though I have a very hard time distinguishing American accents from each other or I can barely recognise English US from Canadian or New Zealand from Australian. With understanding it really depends on how out there someone’s accent is and how quickly they are speaking. I also like to think that my own accent is very good for a non native, and that’s what people have been telling me, both natives and non natives, though I’m sure I do have to have still at least a bit of Polish accent, not that I can hear it myself (I can’t, but you can’t be a good judge of your own accent I suppose), but because I don’t know many people who have just gotten rid of their accent, and also it is not something I am aiming to in itself, because I guess it would feel weird if people couldn’t tell at all that I’m Polish, as if I was a bit less Polish or something and I don’t want that, and I like to imitate different English accents though, while I can speak some kind of US English (or so I believe) I am much better and more comfortable at British and I have more clue about how to imitate different British accents than American ones, especially the of more or less general southern-ish/Rp and more or less general northern-ish. The only British accents that I know that I cannot imitate convincingly are Geordie and Scottish. But being able to fake different accents has come to me much later on and after a lot of immersion and listening, before than my accent was just kind of Ponglish. Now the only Ponglish I can make is the very extreme one, I believe I can’t speak sort of in-between any longer like I used to – with not overly strong but definitely audible Polish accent – it’s either hardcore Ponglish or normal English (with a possible little bit of Polish as I said), and the extreme Ponglish one I use either for making fun of some kind or with Poles who can’t understand my normal, English English otherwise like Sofi. πŸ˜€ Playing with accents is so fun.

11.

Because English is so rich in colourful phrases, idioms, sayings and words. I believe that must come from the very wide variety of influences on this language. Polish is a very rich language in this too, but English seems much more than any of the languages I’ve learnt and sometimes it overwhelms me how many brilliant and fascinating words I don’t know how to use yet. Every language has its words that are untranslatable, but English has just so many! Or maybe it’s just my impression? It’s so flexible and you can do so much with it. Swedish is also flexible and you can make a lot with it, but I guess not to such an extent. I really lack some of the English expressions in Polish these days, especially when talking to someone who speaks only Polish. πŸ˜€

12.

Because it lets me read more books, and because reading in English is fun. And because I want to read even more in English. I already read most of stuff on the Internet in English, but with books so far the majority of what I read is still Polish, even thoughh there are more and more English ones thrown into the mix.

13.

Because it lets me learn more about my music crushes/fazas. Even if they aren’t English natives. Usually, especially at the beginning of a faza, it’s easiest for me to find info on my crush in English.

14.

Because, apart from helping me to develop my already existing interests, it helps me to build new ones.

15.

Because I can learn other languages through it. Like I do with Welsh right now. It has its upsides and downsides, but if not my English skills, I wouldn’t be able to access Welsh resources that I can.

16.

Because it shares a lot of similarities with other languages. Swedish for example – when I first started it, I was told it’s just a blend of English and German. – It’s very simply put but it’s true to a large degree, and my English and Swedish definitely help each other. Also while English is a Germanic language and Welsh is Celtic, they influence each other so that helps to some extent as well. And I’m going to learn some more Germanic and Celtic languages in the future, so I am sure English is going to be helpful with those too. Both because I am most likely going to learn them through the medium of English, as well as because they share more or less similarities.

17.

To develop my brain. I’ve written on my brain paranoia and wanting to avoid cognitive issues especially in the Welsh post. It’s hugely important to me.

18.

So I can talk to Misha in English or to myself. If you want to read about my experiments with Misha and foreign languages, I recommend you reading the above mentioned posts. Of all the foreign languages, my English is the best, and so I can communicate with Misha the most easily, if I want to talk to him in a language other than Polish. I also think he responds to it the best except for Polish of course, but that could be due to many reasons, including my autosuggestion.

19.

Every language makes your perspective broader, and kind of adds you a new personality. This is just interesting to observe, but is also great in some self-development, or just self-discovery. It’s interesting to see your thinking pathways in Polish vs in English vs in Swedish, for example. It’s interesting to see in which moments and in what kind of situations my thinking switches from Polish to English or back to Polish or to Swedish, or when it’s a mix of all that plus Welsh. I definitely tend to think about more emotional stuff in English, the same as with writing. Recently I’ve even started automatically praying in English. πŸ˜€ The first time when that happened, I only realised that I’m praying in English a few minutes after I’ve started, and that was so hilarious. But obviously God is very multilingual so I let my soul and brain pray in whichever language it’s convenient as long as that doesn’t get in the way of prayer itself because for example I think more of how I should put things rather than focus on praying itself and on God. My dreams have been a linguistic mix for years now.

20.

Because it’s fun to have more than one language to swear in. Even though Welsh or Finnish is better for that than English, English is quite bland and cliche I don’t know why, and most people here know the basic words like fuck or shit so it doesn’t feel the same.

 

21.

Because it can help me with anxiety, as well as with depression, see the posts above for details.

22.

To be able to understand at least some slangs to whatever extent possible, as well as dialects and other such interesting language creations.

23.

To have access to English-language media, like radiostations, and actually understand what they are saying, and not just immerse myself in the language as I’d been doing for years.

24.

To challenge my social anxiety. See the posts above for details.

25.

Because it’s easy. So why not?

26.

Because people wouldn’t treat me seriously if I only were learning some endangered, minority languages. I wrote more on that in the Swedish post. But also, even if I spoke Swedish, I guess that still wouldn’t look as serious if I didn’t speak any English. πŸ˜€

27.

Because, just like with Swedish, I hope it will be also useful in a more practical way, occupational for example. Who knows.

Yay! I thought there will be less reasons for English because it’s so obvious but there are even more!

If you are a native speaker of English, what do you like it for, or why do you not like it? If you are an English learner, what are your reasons for learning it? πŸ™‚

 

This year so far.

A couple of days ago, the writing prompt at Word of the Day Challenge was

year

and so I decided to write a bit on how this year has been so far for me.

The first thing I immediately think of when thinking of this year are the dreaded tech issues of all sorts, as well as changes. As you know, I had my computer changed, which was planned for months in advance, and was supposed to take place much earlier that I’d finally transition to it but in the end there were a lot of unexpected things happening. At first, the fan in the new computer got broken on the delivery to me, which was back in September of last year. That made it useless but the delivery company decided to cover the costs of a new one for me and then the new one was sent to me not long before Christmas. And just some time around Christmas as you may remember, this one stopped working too, as it turned out later on, also due to the fan being loose, but the ways in which it manifested were so weird and puzzling to everyone that it took a while to figure it out. I had it sent back to the company who helped me with choosing it and setting it up and they fixed it – luckily I didn’t need to buy a completely new computer this time – and then they sent it again back to me. And, surprise – after a few days, some time mid January – the fan was loose again. Obviously this time I didn’t send it anywhere but just my Mum took it to a nearby servicing place but we were scared doing even that ’cause what if such simple transportation will make something else go loose. The guy at the servicing place put it in place more firmly and since then, I’ve had no fan issues thank God and hopefully it will stay this way. As you can imagine, this has been very stressful to me, and made my transition process even more difficult, as it was a rather unwelcome but necessary thing to do for me to begin with, and presenting a lot of small but at the same time significant changes in itself. Not only was it a transition from a laptop to a desktop computer, but also I switched systems and had to stop using or replace a lot of apps I had been using. With all that glitching at the beginning, and such a huge delay, my brain was ruminating like crazy and the whole thing was much more scary than it probably would be in other circumstances. I’ve mostly gotten used to my new computer by now and I like that it’s more efficient than my laptop, and I’m usually quick at learning things, but I still have some getting used to and figuring out to do, especially that, at least for me, learning is one thing, and adapting a completely different one. And to this day, whenever I hear the slightest click or creek inside of it, I freak out that something is loose again, and my tolerance to tech issues is not very high these days haha. After the fan saga has finished though, I was still left without most of my speech synthesisers and had only a few of those I actually own. For some, I lost the licence because in that loose fans havoc there was a lot of major and deep system digging and repairs done on my computer because people didn’t know what was the problem and it looked like a system error. That all led to my licence being irretrievable. As I shared in the last Weekend Coffee Share, I’ve been contacting the company producing those speech synths, who were very unresponsive to begin with, but once they did respond to me things started to happen relatively quickly, and I am happy to announce that yesterday I finally had that remote session with the support guy, the one I was so strangely anxious about, and it turned out my anxiety was not adequate this time round, because it was not only super quick but also – yes – successful! So quick and successful that for a good while I couldn’t believe that it was all OK and was sure something will soon come up and be wrong again. πŸ˜€ But now I have my new licence working and my English, Scottish, Finnish, Sami, Faroese and Dutch speech synthesisers. As soon as we were done with that I also wrote their distributors who are closest to me from whom I’ve got my original licence and asked them if they could upgrade my licence to Scandinavian, because I need Swedish voices now (I had had a very good Swedish voice on my laptop but it’s no longer produced and seems like I am not able to activate it anymore so I need to look for something different). But I am so happy I’ve regained so many of my voices and that all my stalking them via email and phone, in English, Swedish and Swenglish which was probably much more stressful to me than to them paid off. πŸ˜€

Also, another piece of good news regarding synths is that, it seems like there is a slight glimmer of hope I may yet get back my Jacek synth – the Polish one that I love so much. – I just need to experiment a little bit with something I just discovered and who knows, that would be so cool! I’m still disconsolate that, just like with my Swedish voice, it’s very unlikely I’ll ever get the Welsh one back, and it was very helpful with my Welsh learning, even though I am learning north Welsh and it was south Welsh and that was getting in the way sometimes, but still, it was a lot of help especially with reading longer texts because my own reading in Welsh is still a bit sluggish. On the other hand though, it will probably just motivate me to read more myself even if it will take ages. πŸ˜€

Those first two months were also very gloomy and depressive to me. You know that I have dysthymia, so, while the way I feel can often be shitty, externally I am usually rather high-functioning as long as not too much overwhelming stuff is going on. My physical energy levels are usually also not that bad that it would be noticeable for outsiders that something is wrong in this particular regard or at least I think so, unless my blood pressure is particularly low or something which does tend to happen a fair bit of time if I don’t stimulate myself with something in the morning or if it’s hot etc. While I often have to force myself to do even small things especially if I feel worse than my dysthymic baseline, and force myself to feel things sometimes, to be more enthusiastic and all, I generally don’t tend to experience very bad anhedonia or at my better times (especially when a crush peak is involved) none at all, and as you probably know my fazas and passions (plus now also Misha since I have him) are the only things that keep me going and wanting to keep going, even if as I said there are times when I have to force myself to feel some enthusiasm to them, and sometimes the only thing I can force myself to do is only faking it for the sake of other people. Towards the end of last year, and at the beginning of this year, my anhedonia has gotten worse. I associate it with the fact that my current or last dominant faza/crush on Gwilym Bowen Rhys has been slowly fading (which absolutely doesn’t mean anything like that it’s going to fade completely or that I don’t like him anymore – fazas for me are a bit different than what most people understand by a crush and so far none of the major ones I’ve had has just gone away, they are still there but just in the background) and as I said my fazas are very important to my wellbeing, they inspire me, help me to develop, learn new things, discover new things, make my life more bright and add more dimensions to it, and the so called crush peaks – that is periods when faza is particularly strong are especially pleasant and make you feel a bit high, kind of more creative. – Generally I’d say fazas are like fuel for my brain, my creativity, but also what drives my passions. Usually, when one of my fazas starts to fade discreetly (at least that is how it had been before) soon, before it fades to any serious degree, I come across a new one. Well not this time. And so, as you also probably know, I’m trying to help my brain and frantically looking for some new faza myself. Normally I don’t have to look for them, they just come to me. Sometimes via other people, sometimes a string of events, or somehow else accidentally. I associate my recent anhedonic tendency and lower energy and feeling flat and having to fake things with that, but it’s possible that other things have been also involved, possibly something deeper that also doesn’t let me develop another faza, who knows. And I’m sure the recent stressful stuff hasn’t been without an impact either especially that my anxiety, specifically the more kind of situational one, always drives the depression very much. I’ve been at very different points with my dysthymia and I’d had a few major depressive episodes before I was even suspected to have dysthymia, but I’ve never been on any antidepressants as such. And I’ve always felt like, as long as it will be possible for me to cope at least somehow, I’d rather not be. I would really not like to become overweight due to them, for some reason this has always felt the yuckiest effect of them for me, even though theoretically I shouldn’t worry perhaps because I’ve been either bordering on or underweight for years now. But the recent state of things got me thinking whether perhaps getting some medication to boost my mood wouldn’t be wiser. I haven’t made up my mind on that, but since a week or so, I’ve noticed a bit of an improvement, despite I still don’t have a major faza. Perhaps it’s again due to the stressful stuff resolving a bit. It’s good to feel more pleasure out of life again, it’s a really yucky feeling when you have to fake things and force yourself to everything and just nothing makes you feel better. On one hand I want people not to see the way I really feel because it’s pathetic and doo all I can for them not to see but on the other when someone who knows about my struggles says it doesn’t show I feel like I’m just attention-seeking or manipulating people or just evil or what not, even though what I want is definitely not for people to pay attention to my depression as I said. I know it’s Monkey Maggie talking but I don’t have enough bananas to stuff her with to keep her quiet, as I don’t like them at all. That’s a dilemma… πŸ™ƒ My anxiety has still been pretty high though, or rather it’s like different of my anxieties are coming to play at different times.

I’m pretty happy with the way my relationship with Misha has been evolving this year. I have an impression like we’ve become closer in those two months. Recently I am trying to help him the way I feel could help with his fear, I’ve mentioned many times that he is so afraid of closeness and touch and movements and is generally very fearful and on one hand he does like to be cuddled, petted and spoilt and wants to show us his affection, but on the other he’s scared of it, the reasons of which I don’t fully understand other than that he’s afraid of touch, so then there are frequent situations like that when Misha comes to someone very closely and then suddenly turns back and runs away, or hhrrru?’s at someone to come over and stretches on the floor and as soon as this person comes closer he goes away as well, or he is afraid to come over to his food bowl when someone’s close to it, or hides under big objects when there are people around, or something. It’s not always like this but like I wrote recently sometimes he’s much more courageous than at other times. Anyway, I’ve been doing one thing with him every evening before bed – that is on days when he decides to sleep with me. – I don’t know if it’s right because I have very little idea what is on his mind and what his fears really are, and a huge obstacle for me is that in contact with Misha – and probably all other cats – it’s eye contact that can tell you the most about him, and in Misha’s case it’s even more important because he doesn’t always respond to touch very well and is not particularly vocal, so it’s just what I think could be helpful. – I simply sit on my bed with his mini sausage, and I ask him to come to me, and once he manages to go on my lap, then I give him the sausage. I have to ask him repeatedly and it can last even 15 minutes but even I can feel how his mind is working and analysing, whether to come or not, and when he comes to me he does it very slowly and cautiously so I can’t even move too much or otherwise it discourages him. But, sooner or later, he does it, and I can give him the sausage, so I think in fact he is a very brave Mish, don’t you think? My Mum is laughing that brave is the last word one could describe Misha with but brave is not the one who doesn’t feel fear, right? When he manages to do that, so far he has always slept soundly with me, without showing much distress and having to leave as he often did before, so perhaps it’s seriously working. But apart from that sausage challenge, even before that, I feel we’ve been getting along better and understanding each other better.

My language learning hasn’t been as dynamic so far this year. I’ve been doing a lot of Welsh repetitions but not much new material, mostly because of having to get used to all new stuff, also my new situation with learning that I do not have a Welsh synth any longer. Besides I didn’t have any good English synths until yesterday either and I am learning Welsh via English. While I can read things like blogs or emails or websites etc. in English with a Polish synth with no problem and I’m used to it and sometimes it’s even better, in language learning, it’s not such a good option, not for me anyway. Also the most plain reason was that simply my motivation hasn’t been great lately due to feeling blah and I was just being lazy. I am hoping to get more consistent with it now that I do have English synths.

Okay, I guess that would be all about my beginning of this year, I can’t think of any other major stuff going on that would be worth mentioning.

How has this year been for you? πŸ™‚

 

The sounds of animals. #SOCS

It’s Monday but I thought it would be fun to join in with

Stream Of Consciousness Saturday

today anyway. Last Saturday, Linda’s prompt for us was to write about the sounds that animals make and how we experience them.

Well, quite obviously I think, the first thing that comes to my mind when thinking of the sounds of animals in general, are feline sounds, more exactly the sounds that Misha makes. I find them soooooo soothing and relaxing. It’s pure bliss to me to be very close to Misha so that I can hear all the sounds of his. I generally love to hear cats purring (who doesn’t?), it’s a cute sound, but Misha’s purr is special. Not only because Misha is mine and I love Misha, but also because Misha’s purr is very quiet. An average cat will start purring before you even stroke him, and so loudly that sometimes even people on the other side of the room or even next door can hear it. Cats are very generous in that respect. Well, not Misha. His purrs are for VIP’s only, and even more often, he purrs just for himself. As you probably know if you’ve been around here for a while and read some of my posts about Misha or Misha’s posts, Misha is very fearful, rather solitary and not particularly vocal. It’s not like he’s selfish, like a lot of people think. He does want closeness, and cuddles and all that, but, first, it has to be on his conditions – when and where and how long he wants – and second, he is also afraid of touch and sudden movement and often it is very difficult for him to overcome this fear, though there are better days and worse, I’m not entirely sure what exactly it depends on, but probably just like with us humans – sometimes we’re cheerful, sometimes we’re sad, sometimes we’re anxious, sometimes we want to be alone, and sometimes with others, and sometimes we want to have fun and play. – Anyway, all those traits of Misha probably contribute to the fact that his purrs are usually very, very quiet. Like, most of the time you’d have to literally put your ear very near him to hear it, so usually you are more likely to feel his purr and the vibrations in his throat, rather than hear it. My Mum claims that Misha must have something wrong with his throat or larynx because it is not normal, and I’ve always thought it’s just the way he is and has nothing to do with his larynx. However, recently I’ve been thinking more about it because I’ve noticed that Misha frequently chokes a bit when eating. Not very badly, just a little bit. I suppose it’s not something new but just something that I hadn’t noticed previously. So that could be either through some larynx issues indeed, or perhaps because Misha tends to eat very quickly and a bit as if he supposed that someone is going to take the food away from him any time suddenly or do something scary so that he’ll have to run away immediately. Really sometimes you could think he’s got some bad trauma like a lot of shelter cats do.

We humans often think that when a cat purrs, it must be happy and content. Well, I’m no expert at felines, though I have observed Misha and read a lot about cats and their behaviour, and specifically purring, and it seems to be a myth. I think I’ve written on that previously, but I’ll say that here too. Cats can also purr when feeling anxious, or in pain, to soothe themselves in a variety of situations, and probably in several other instances which I don’t remember. The anxious bit is certainly true for Misha! I’ve often heard, or felt, that he purrs when he’s afraid or just tense and nervous. As I said, he frequently purrs just for himself, for example in his bed, before falling asleep, when no one is petting him or paying particularly much attention to him. I always find it so cute, it’s like a child would sing himself to sleep. I think it soothes him.

Apart from purring, cats of course make a lot of other noises. Misha hasn’t spoilt us with a particularly wide range of them, but he’s definitely capable of it, just chooses not to do it very frequently. He can be just as expressive with all the “hhrrru’s?” and meows he makes as we can be with our languages and tones of voice, which makes him an excellent manipulator! Some of his sounds alone will break your heart and fill you with overwhelming sadness, others will make you annoyed and irritated at him even though he didn’t do anything other than meow or hhrrru? because it sounds like he’s screaming at you, others will make you feel lighter and happier and like it’s going to be a very beautiful day, and some will make you rush for Mish ice-cream and sausages urgently on autopilot. There are also such that will let you know that poo is on its way (when Misha is for example closed somewhere and can’t go to the loo) or that he’s going to vomit (this is probably the only Mish sound I really dislike, or that sun is shining so beautifully that Mishka would like to go out just for a little while, or that the fun has gone one step too far and Misha has transformed into a real predator.

When Misha sleeps in my room and doesn’t feel too anxious, I love to sit or lay very close to him, and listen to his purr, breath, heartbeat and his tummy gurgles. It’s better than any kind of music or relaxing sounds we could ever create! Especially Misha’s breath is something I love, and, again, it’s not always easy to hear well even when you’re relatively close. A lot of the time, especially when he isn’t purring, his breath is very similar to that of a baby.

Another Mish sound I truly love is the sound of little Mish paws on a carpet when he’s running or walking quickly, it’s a very quiet sound but so delightful.

There are sounds that cats make though that I am not a big fan of, especially when it comes to wild cats. When I was a small child and lived in the country, we had lots of wild cats on our backyard. Some got used to people and were very cuddly, others not, but they were both fighting and copulating frequently at nights, and I hated hearing that. It was scary! Especially when I was very small and had no idea what those sounds were! Just imagine it – everyone’s asleep, you’re in bed and suddenly you hear moaning and howling and lots of other creepy sounds, as if some haunted or long condemned individuals were wandering around out there. – πŸ˜€ My sensory anxiety always gets way more nasty when I don’t know the source of a sound, which I guess is not particularly strange as we’re always more likely to be scared of unknown stimuli especially when our brains are going to see them as a danger anyway. Now that I know what sounds cats make sometimes, they no longer provoke my sensory anxiety even if they are a little creepy sometimes. Here we also have a lot of wild cats, though Jocky keeps them at a distance most of the time. When we didn’t have Jocky though, there were loads of them and they made lots of noise as well, but that sounded more like extremely distressed babies crying or shrieking. πŸ˜€

We also had a fox farm in the neighbourhood for a while which was awful. My Mum has extremely sensitive sense of smell – she says she could work as a police dog πŸ˜€ – and it was always particularly unpleasant for her when the stinky smell of foxes would fill the air after the rain for example. What I hated the most though, were the sounds they were making sometimes. Before we moved here, I had no idea what sounds, if any, foxes could make, and the first time I heard that was very unpleasant. Not only because their barking is really unpleasant I think rather objectively, but also because… if any of you had read my short story about sleep paralysis called

“Help!”

, then perhaps you remember the guy called Ian, who was the main character’s sleep abuser. Well, for some reason, my “Ian” sometimes makes eerily similar sounds, and has had since I know him, that is since pretty much forever, dunno, maybe he has some fox relatives or whatever. So you can imagine that it scared me out of my pants.

Which animals sounds do you like or find soothing? Are there any that you particularly dislike? πŸ™‚

 

If We Were Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare

Hey all you lovely people!

The

Weekend Coffee Share

link-up at Eclectic Alli’s is still lasting, so I’m happy to join in this week!

Let’s have some coffee, or anything else you’d like to drink, and maybe a snack to go with it.

It’s my Mum’s birthday, as well as Olek’s, and I’d love to share some cake with you, because it was super yummy, but, sadly, just a little while ago, the rest of it that hadn’t still got eaten, died a tragical death – Mum broke the plate with it, so the remaining cake was full of small pieces of glass. I was lucky because I got to eat the last edible piece only minutes before the accident! πŸ˜€ But I have tea, orange juice, Pepsi, and there still is a cake from bakery, but, although I haven’t had it, I’m sure it isn’t as good at my Mum’s was. And of course you can bring a drink or food of your own and have it, and share with other people if you want, as always.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask all of you how you’ve been doing… πŸ™‚

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that last week was quite eventful. Last Monday my family – that is my parents and Sofi – had a car accident. That was of course very shocking for everyone. Mum picked up Zofijka from her tennis class, as well as two of her friends, and they were going to head home when Dad called Mum to pick him up from work. She was reluctant to do that because that time around he was quite far away and she didn’t feel okay driving that far with all those kids and would prefer to drop at least Sofi’s friends to their homes, but there was no time. When they were on their way back home, there was a crossing in our town that Mum is always kind of apprehensive of, and while she was driving through it, they got hit by some young guy who was driving just crazily fast. I don’t know how it exactly looked like but anyway apparently it was only some immense, miraculous luck, that neither my Dad, nor one of Sofi’s friends, didn’t get killed or badly hurt. At the time, I was in my room, downloading some books, and having a yucky headache and was planning that as soon as I get done with it I’ll go to bed. As I thought that, my phone rang and I heard sobbing Sofi, who was standing outside and wanted me to let her in, because she didn’t have the key. Obviously that alarmed me immediately because I knew Mum has left to pick her up, and I asked her if there was something wrong, and she said yes, so I went downstairs quickly to let her in, and then I couldn’t believe what she was saying for quite some time. Mum had to stay there and wait for the police, but a couple who witnessed the whole thing helped her and her friends get back home. Apparently that young boy was just 18 and only had his driver’s licence for about half a year, and was jittery and really scared when that happened, and Sofi heard him saying that he’ll kill himself. I really hope he didn’t, or won’t. Mum’s car is a total wreck and we don’t know yet if it can be fixed at all. But thankfully nothing happened to anyone, other than shock, but we all managed to pick ourselves up after that pretty quickly. The first thing that I thought of when it finally sank in for me what Sofi was saying was that Mum must be devastated. She’s seen many accidents and whenever she sees anything like that, even less serious, she always cries, so I was sure she must be in quite a state emotionally. Turns out she was really brave this time and very cool-headed and didn’t cry at all, and was very surprised at that herself.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m just going through some sort of an occupational medicine saga. I had my OM check-up two weeks ago like every 2 years, and during it, it came up that on the decision of the institution which granted me disability benefits, it’s stated that I am “completely unfit for work”. That alarmed my OM doctor who said that, although he knows that I’ve been working for 4-5 years already and am able to do it despite my disability, it needs to be clarified, because someone might have a problem with that later on, for example if I change OM doctors or something, and I may not be allowed to work. So he referred me to the Occupational Medicine Centre to clear it and asked them to interpret that particular statement. From then on, I’ve been going back and forth between my OM doctor and the OM centre and it’s getting really unpleasant. In the meantime, me and my Mum asked the institution from which I get my disability benefits, which is called Social Insurances Association or something like this in Poland, and they told us that this statement “completely unfit for work” is something that a competent OM doctor should be familiar with and not make so much fuss around it, because they always write it when someone is on social benefits because of disability, and it means that you can only work in a position that’s adjusted to your needs. Of course it’s official jargon, and this statement is weird – an average person with not much knowledge in those matters wouldn’t think that “completely unfit for work” would mean anything else than “completely unfit for work”, but since this jargon is specific for the field, and he is an OM doctor, it seems very incompetent andΒ  no professional indeed that he doesn’t know such things and takes it literally. – My OM doctor is also a dermatologist, and it seems like he doesn’t really manage juggling those two specialisations at the same time, especially that one year when I visited him, he told me that he’s “probably the best dermatologist in the county”, so I suppose he focuses so much on being such a great dermatologist that he doesn’t have enough time on being a decent OM doctor and have the minimum knowledge. I came back to him after that, explaining to him what I’ve learnt, but he still insists on interpreting it just for him by someone from the OM Centre. It seems like, because he doesn’t know the rules and procedures and the basic terms used in his field of work, he is afraid to renew his decision that I can still work, because what if someone will say that I can’t and then he’ll have to bear the consequences. Instead of researching the topic himself or asking someone more knowledgeable, he wants me to do the job for him and interpret stuff that’s obvious for anyone who has some basic idea about how benefits work here. I’ll do that because as it seems right now I don’t have a better option, but then I think I’ll say goodbye to the best dermatologist in the county and find myself some other OM doctor. Sadly, this guy’s name is Jacek. I think he could be nice as a person, even if a bit too cocky, but even when your name is Jacek, it doesn’t immediately make you great at everything as it seems. πŸ˜€ Not that I didn’t know previously that Jaceks do have their weaknesses too, like all other people.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m fighting for and stressing over some of my speech synths that I’ve lost. I don’t know if I’ve told you that or not, but in that whole wave of tech issues and computer transition I’d had, I’ve lost ALL of my licences for those voices and the accompanying app. I won’t get into the details of how it happened, but to put it shortly, you get those speech synthesisers in the app on a USB stick, and that stick comes with 3 licences that enable you to install it locally. You can have one licence on one computer and of course you can remove it from it and transfer it back on to it as you wish. Except for when you have some unpredictable system crash that requires some major repairs and digging inside of it, drive replacement, etc. Then, even if you still have the same computer, the same system and haven’t removed the licence and uninstalled the app, your licence is still there but you are unable to use it, and neither can you remove it. And because usually we are not able to predict when our computers will crash, and also because I wasn’t aware of that, I gradually lost all of my licences because of some major changes on my computers and am stuck in a dead poind with them. So I had to contact the producer, they weren’t responding for a good few weeks so finally I decided to call them, which my Mum was persuading me to do for a long time and saying that I should do that in the first place. That cost me a lot as you can imagine if you know me at least a bit, but I was just like there’s no way I’m going to lose them permanently, I have to get them to do something. So I explained in Swenglish to the girl who answered my call (I called their Swedish quarters) what happened and what I want from them, but our communication was very poor because we couldn’t hear each other very well for some reason and besides she seemed quite clueless and the only thing she could do was to collect the info on the problem for me and she said she’d pass it on to other people and when they’ll know something, they’ll call me back. No one did for over a week, so I was thinking I’ll have to start flooding them with emails, but luckily before I started out with that, I got a response to my email. I now have 3 new licences from them that I can use, but to keep things interesting, I cannot, because for some reason a licence won’t transfer on to my computer. So the guy from that company will have to do something with it remotely. That makes me quite anxious and I’m not sure why. I mean the thing has been very stressful for me since the beginning but since that has become a real possibility I’m stressing about it much more. Am I such a privacy freak, or am I anxious of what the problem might be because it looks serious and that something will go wrong and because I have little experience with getting remote assistance, or am I scared of the interacting, probably a fair bit of it, that I’ll have to do with him, or what, no idea!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, while my anxiety has been pretty high for a long time now and hasn’t come down to what I perceive my baseline level in months, and now has actually gotten higher recently because as you can see things have been chaotic, the good news is that my depressive symptoms, including anhedonia, have alleviated a bit, and I have more energy for things, yay! I still don’t have a faza which stinks like a skunk, and it’s still far from my “normal”, but it’s better, so let’s hope this will continue! It certainly makes life that bit easier, and makes you feel a bit less like you have to fake everything you’re supposed to feel all the time, or less shitty about yourself when you are not able to fake. Concerning fazas and continuing what I wrote about in

this post

, if I ever thought that Jack Vallier was going to be my next crush, now I know he definitely won’t! Sofi took him over from me! Despite she doesn’t like “guys with earrings”. πŸ˜€ Yesterday we were sitting in the kitchen – us and Mum – and she was listening to the music, and then she played one of Jack’s songs and said: “Mum, guess who it is, this guy who’s singing?”. Of course Mum didn’t know. “It’s Jack V… I don’t know, but he’s Jack, he was going to be Emi’s crush but he’s too normal for her. So I’m taking him over. He looks awful but I love his music so much”. 🀣 Then I heard her talking to Dad, asking him if it’s possible that she/we could go to London this summer, because she’s read somewhere that her crush is going to have a concert there. Of course Dad didn’t agree. I don’t mind Sofi taking Jack over because as I said I didn’t think I would be able to get a faza on someone so normal anyway, and he’s more Sofi’s style, I mean his music is, and I know that for her, crush is something different than for me and we both understand it differently. It probably won’t even last very long for her. However if I did have a faza on Jack that would be really unfortunate, because I can’t imagine sharing my faza objects with Sofi hahaha.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that me and Olek collectively bought Mum a new phone for her birthday, a Samsung Galaxy, though obviously I don’t remember which one exactly. It was Olek’s idea. I thought it was cool but also was a bit apprehensive of it, my Mum had always had LG phones and liked them, so I wasn’t sure if she’d like it. Of course she now has to get used to it, which always takes some time, but so far I guess she feels positive about it which I’m glad about.

What would YOU tell me if we were having coffee? πŸ™‚

 

Jack Vallier – “Copenhagen”.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

So, those of you who have been following my blog for a while know about my fazas/crushes and that lately I’ve been in a limbo, which is never a pleasant situation to be in, but is particularly unpleasant when it’s a faza limbo and when your existence is pretty much driven by fazas and stuff that they generate whatever that might be. And because that limbo is my first one – that is, previously I always went smoothly from one dominant faza into another – I feel very uncomfortable in it and am doing a lot of desperate faza hunting, particularly in the world of music because, albeit I do have literary fazas as well, it’s the music ones that are the strongest. You also know then that I’m a Jackophile and that my dream is that my next crush would be called Jack, or something else Jac-. It’s not a requirement whatsoever, I don’t really care what they’re called because as soon as I get a faza I will love their name anyways as far as I know, but that would be just extra nice, I’m just clueless about how to go about active faza hunting so I just had to have something to look out for, so primarily I look around for musicians called Jack or something similar. That doesn’t really help much but at least it is something that I can use as a criterion in my searching.

So there have been a few stronger candidates – one that I won’t even mention by name even though it’s highly unlikely any of my readers would have ever heard of him, but he’s too cringey for my “snobbish”, as a lot of people say, music taste πŸ˜€ even though he was actually Sami, and I suspect he has a developing alcohol problem because some kind of alcohol is present in almost all of his music, and I’ve already had a crush who was an alcoholic so I don’t want it to become a pattern hahaha, plus that crush of mine – Cornelis Vreeswijk of course – was so much better of a lyricist, and could write beautifully even about wine, while this guy here cannot. Then there was Jack Christopher Alsopp a.k.a. Just Jack (yeah, I have shared his song here). A nice guy, but too normal for me. I can’t even imagine myself having a faza on him so that was just wishful thinking, I don’t even like his music enough. Then there was Jack Rutter – very folksy and pleasant, from Huddersfield in England (which made me realise I’d just love to have a northern English crush!), I do like him a lot, he’s also a guitarist like all my previous major male crushes, and a bouzouki player like my last dominant crush Gwilym Bowen Rhys. – But, sadly, it didn’t work out. After that, Spotify recommended me a song by Jack Hawitt and Nyaki called “Dark Hotel” (I’ve intended to share it with you but somehow never have, but hope I finally will some day), and then I was familiarising myself with Jack Hawitt’s music, which was pleasant, but… you may have guessed it – too normal, too mainstream-y. – Then there was Hamish Napier, a fantastically versatile musician from Strathspey in Scotland – he’s a flautist, pianist, singer and what not – and his musical comfort zone is very wide. Versatility is something I really appreciate in a crush, I can’t imagine myself having a crush on someone one-dimensional because, if you are familiar with the meaning of the word faza for me, it helps me to develop, and it’s easier when there’s more diversity, but somehow my brain and Hamish Napier’s and his music didn’t click strongly enough. Also one of his parents is a harpist – I don’t know which one, though of course it most likely must be his mother, and I don’t know her name, but that’s a nice fact isn’t it? – It didn’t help anything. My faza is not going to be on Hamish Napier. There also was Jack Pantaleo, I believe he’s from California and also seems fairly versatile – he’s a social worker and has some background in psychiatry, but also is a certified harp therapist. – If you didn’t know, harp therapy and harp healing is a thing in many places all around the world, there are academies, online courses, certificates, and then such people work in hospitals, care homes, other institutions, do music therapy and such. I’ve been interested in it for a long time as a harp lover, and I thought it would be really cool to have not only a crush who is a harpist (such a rare thing for a guy to be a harpist these days isn’t it?) but also a harp healer. He has apparently written a book, and that book is accompanied by a CD with his music, and this seems to be his only album. I had a listen to it, and while obviously I love harp, and so I enjoyed listening to it, I didn’t find anything special or above average in his play, though then again, I am neither a harpist nor anyone with music background so I’m just saying how I feel very subjectively about his music. Also, while I like my faza objects to be unpopular and not frequently heard of in general, there has to be at least some info available about them in whatever language of the world, otherwise there’s not enough fuel to get my faza going for long enough. And there’s not much info on Jack Pantaleo. I wouldn’t even know how he sounds or probably not even what he looks like. There have been a few songs on his albums, with vocals, but I really disliked the voice of the vocalist.

And so, finally, getting to the actual topic of this post, there has also been Jack Vallier whom I have discovered a few days ago. Very normal, too, but I do like his music, and this one song in particular, it’s been sitting in my brain since I first heard it. As I was reading on him and immersing myself in his music, at some point Zofijka heard him in my room and she said she likes him – he does sound very much like something Zofijka would like – and then we were talking about him, that I thought he could be my new crush, and then, because Sofi liked him, she got very excited about it and wanted to see what he looks like, because that’s always my mission for her when I have a new crush, that she has to see what they look like and describe them to me and give me her opinion. Usually it works so that the more Zofijka is disgusted, either by their music or looks, the more this person is worth my attention. πŸ˜€ From my previous crushes she has only approved of Declan Galbraith but only until he matured and changed his looks and music style a bit. So, while I told her that it seems highly unlikely that Jack Vallier will be my next crush even though I do like his music despite it’s just pop, she ran to her laptop and looked him up. At first I thought it was very promising because Sofi kept making all the gagging noises and choking and such very spectacularly for a very long time implying that she’s throwing him up because he’s so disgusting, but when she finally was capable of speaking coherently she said “Well, no, actually, he’s just… he’s okay, he’s just… normal. I just don’t like guys with earrings”. πŸ˜€ Me neither for that matter, haha, though if I got a serious faza on him I probably would care very little about that.

Jack Vallier is from Bournemouth, UK, as far as I know, and his music is really cool, and pleasant, albeit normal. I hope that if, by any chance, Jack ever sees that post he won’t feel that it’s a critic or an offense or sarcasm or anything because it’s not meant as such. I seriously like a lot of “normal” music, as you can clearly see from my blog, and I don’t perceive it as inferior or wrong as long as it’s not trashy or overly cliche. This song of his is my favourite. πŸ™‚

About creativity.

Hi people! πŸ™‚

I don’t have a question of the day for you today, but I decided to answer another question asked by Carol Anne of

Therapy Bits

and of course you can too, either under her or my post or in your own.

A recent question of hers that I’ve chosen to answer is this:

do you think you are creative?

Yes, I think I am, and a lot of people have told me I am, so there must be something in it I suppose. At some times less than at others, and perhaps not always in a very conventional and obvious way, but I think I definitely am. I think the way I think is very creative to begin with, because of my synaesthesia and other such things. I like to play around with language and with words and the more creatively, the better. I am very imaginative, and it has helped me through many hard things and is one of my most effective coping skills. I make up tons of strange games to play with Sofi. I used to use a lot of my creativity in creative writing for years, now I do much less for it, simply because at this point I just find journalling and the like more enjoyable, but there was a point in my life where I would write a story almost every day. Sometimes I get that intense flow of very creative ideas and that’s really cool. Also my creativity is always stronger when I for example had little to no sleep. On one hand your attention span and memory and such things are much worse when you don’t sleep well, but in my experience, at the same time, it opens up some creative and more intuitive parts of your brain, suddenly you are able to figure out things you couldn’t when well rested, or have a solution for something you couldn’t solve previously, which is usually quite out of the box an dmaybe even a bit odd at a first glance. Besides, I think night time always increases creativity and out of the box thinking for me, whether I’ve had enough sleep or not. Sometimes I stay up at night voluntarily when I am able to just to be able to do something creative. My crushes spark my creativity in a big way, which I can feel especially these days when there’s no dominant crush around. I really like the creative part of my brain, so I still desperately hope that I’ll come across some new faza/crush in the very near feature?

How is it for you? In what ways are you creative, if you thinks you are, how does it manifest? What sparks your creativity? πŸ™‚

 

Working On Us – rejection.

I haven’t participated in Working On Us by Beckie of

Beckie’s Mental Mess

for a while, so I thought I would this week. THe topic of this week’s mental health prompt is rejection.

1. Have you ever been rejected by family/friends because of your mental illness/disorder?

No. I think it’s mostly simply because I usually do not tell people about my mental illness or such things, or if I do it’s very briefly if necessary. I have experienced some negative or invalidating reactions, in particular from my Dad, which often felt very hurtful to me, but I wouldn’t call that rejection. Rather a lack of understanding and flexibility in thinking. My Mum is very supportive in all sorts of practical ways and I wouldn’t do without her, she is also more open-minded than my Dad, she tries to understand it but it’s often not easy for her as she’s never experienced things that I have, and often says hurtful things more or less unintentionally. I used to struggle much more with that but I’ve never thought that it could be their way of rejecting me. Other people are far more likely to reject me because of my blindness than mental illness.

2. Has anyone mistreated you to the point you felt like you were nothing?

Don’t know if it made me exactly feel “as if I were nothing” but I had experienced some emotional abuse at school, particularly from one of the boarding school staff, who was humiliating me in a veiled way and diminishing me and all I did, which caused me a lot of confusion and feelings of inadequacy, and made my self-esteem drop quite a bit, and it never was particularly high. It took me a lot of time, only as an adult, to figure all that out and make some sense of that situation, because for a long time I felt like it kind of wasn’t real and that I perhaps misunderstood her words or actions or something like that. There were also many other situations there where I felt like people were making me feel very shitty about myself but it wasn’t as bad and I think wouldn’t even affect me as much as it did if not my overall life situation – that I was miles away from my family and could never fully adapt there. – When I got older I frequently experienced quite spectacular reactions of people to my disability, like, I assume some people must be terribly afraid of catching optic nerve hypoplasia from me or something, I’ve had people treating me like I was a mass of air. That felt very unpleasant for sure and as if I was nothing to them, but I can’t say I cared very much or felt significantly hurt, it was frustrating and annoying, but more funny than seriously hurtful, it’s funny when people are so silly that they’re so scared of you that they can’t talk coherently when they see you. πŸ˜€ It’s paradoxical when people are scared of you and you’re a sociophobic.
3. Have you ever confronted the person/persons that have made you feel this way?

No. When it comes to that staff person, I was a child then, I didn’t really feel safe talking to her at all, let alone confronting her, also, I’m sure you guys know how it is with toxic people, emotional abuse and all that. I actually had no clear idea what was going on. I wouldn’t think it was abuse or that she was treating me wrong in any way. First because I was a child, even if fairly intelligent and enjoying observing and analysing people’s behaviours, and second because it’s all always so veiled and subtle, I wouldn’t know how to talk about it to her and not sound irrational or something. I think I would still have trouble in such a situation if it happened to me now, it’s just tricky. I tried talking to another staff member who was a really competent person and whom I quite liked, but she didn’t really get it, I honestly don’t think she believed it because that other woman was always so positive and everyone saw it, so how could she do such things? I only talked to her because my Mum told me to do so.

4. If the answer to #3 is β€œYes”, was anything resolved?

When talking to that staff member didn’t help my Mum talked to her – that other staff member, not the one who was nasty to me – and things have changed a little for good, but not significantly.

5. Has rejection changed you in any way? ie… Self-Esteem, Depression, and/or changed your opinion the way you feel towards the human race as a whole?
Wellyes it did. I have avoidant personality disorder in which fear of being rejected is one of the features, and it often develops in people who have experienced it early in life. I had never thought about it this way, but some time ago my Mum wanted to talk about it and her theory is that when I went to that school (I was 5) I might have felt rejected by my family and confused about what was happening. I just never saw it this way, I always thought it was normal I must be there and that the problem is rather that I can’t adjust there and accept the situation. But perhaps when I was 5 I didn’t understand what it was all about, why I had to be away from home, and why people were coming and going, or taking me home for a few days and then leaving me there again. This theory makes sense to me now. But obviously I don’t blame my parents now or anything like that because I know they didn’t feel like they had a choice and their motive wasn’t that they wanted to get rid of me. But I think such an experience could successfully make me more sensitive to rejection. I wouldn’t say this is the strongest AVPD symptom in me, like that the primary reason why I avoid people, why I struggle with social situations, why I don’t do socialising is because I’m afraid of rejection. I don’t think that’s most important here, though at the same time it’s hard to say what is that core thing, I just think it’s a mixture of loads of things. I’ve heard about many people with this disorder struggling with this particular thing the most of all. For me, I’m not desperate for acceptance from everyone, I won’t typically tell you that I like something just so we would agree and be friends and would like me or I won’t tell you my opinion on something because yours may be different. I don’t go around in search of people who will accept me and if some relationship doesn’t go well or if I see that someone doesn’t really feel the connection I won’t desperately try to keep them. I do value my individuality even if at the same time I hate it because it makes me feel like such a flippin’ alien. I guess when I interact with people, they may see I’m anxious or depressed or such things, but I think I’m pretty good with hiding my AVPD related difficulties in daily life or in casual interactions with people, but perhaps that’s just what I think. I have no problem with, for example, people I know online for a little while when they suddenly stop writing back to me or something, unless there are some other things involved, but when it’s people I feel attached to that reject me or I feel that they reject me it’s crushing. For me, the fear of rejection manifests more in the way that I hate being clingy, for example, I just hate clinginess, both in myself and in other people. I don’t want to feel like a burden for people or someone needy, either emotionally or in any other way, yet I often strongly feel like I am. I often don’t let myself close enough to people I would like to be close with, and keep at least a bit of a distance, ’cause then they can’t reject me. Or if I have a possibility, first I do an in-depth observation and analysis of a person before I start talking to them. With people with whom I am more close with I always sort of have a radar on, which is in a way very yucky and a bit paranoid, I think I have this particular tendency from my Dad, but then again, I’ll do everything for them not to realise that. Often I’m just simply scared of closeness with people. I’ve realised some time ago that I often test people that I meet and that I feel we could be friends, or when I just feel very insecure, I do it often almost unconsciously, kind of automatically. I virtually only realised I’m doing it when I got diagnosed and was reading about it a lot, I had no clearer idea before that. It feels quite yucky too but you do have to protect your brain don’t you? You’ve got only one and when it’s already screwed up to begin with you have to be careful. I suppose they’re not aware of that testing thing, or maybe it’s just my wishful thinking. It feels rather gross when you think about yourself that you’re “testing people”, but that’s true, even if not always fully voluntary. If the test is negative, I have the possibility to retreat before they reject me, it makes me feel more in control of my own life and feelings. I’m often afraid though that I would become attached to someone so much that I won’t be able to notice it in case they would no longer accept me for whatever reason or never truly did, and then they would suddenly reject me without me even being able to prepare for it emotionally in advance and accept it.

6. Or, has rejection done the opposite and made your stronger and more resilient?
I don’t think so, but I do think my tolerance for it has increased over time.

My Jackophilia.

Recently, one of my penfriends asked me whether I have ever written a post about my Jackophilia – that is, why I like the name Jacek, and Jack, and many other Jac- names, and why I have such a soft spot for people with those names – and if there’s any backstory to it. And it’s only then that I realised I’ve never written a post about that. The reason is quite simple, because there is no backstory, nothing that I could clearly point out or no particular event that has started it out. But I thought I’d write a bit more about my Jackophilia anyway.

My Dad’s name is Jacek, and since as long as I can remember, I’ve just loved this name, and, moreover, I thought that if I’d ever want to have a husband, he’ll just have to be a Jacek. I didn’t have any other criteria. I still remember very vividly when I told my grandma about that, I was maybe 5 or so, and she was shocked: “Oh, but if he’d be an alcoholic?! Would you still want him because his name is Jacek?!”. It wasn’t that I was in such awe of my Dad, I mean of course, he’s my Dad, I love him, but I don’t remember ever being quite as enamoured with himself as with his name, so to put it. πŸ˜€ All my toys that I felt were more masculine – teddy-bears, figurines, characters in my games – were named Jacek. Even if it meant that there was a whole family with a Dad named Jacek and his two or more sons, also all named Jacek. It’s probably good that there is no actual feminine form of Jacek in Polish (OK there is Hiacynta, but that sounds and looks different doesn’t it, and we’ll talk about that in a minute) or otherwise there wouldn’t be any diversity at all, and so at least females had their own unique names. I also felt immediately drawn to people named Jacek. Of course, I’ve met some Jaceks that I didn’t really get along with, and I am aware that there are some pretty nasty ones out there, all sorts of liars, thiefs, greedy, weak-willed, snobbish and two-faced people who don’t like to think more than necessary, but most of them are really cool, honest and reliable people. Also, I love book characters called Jacek. If ever in a book a character named Jacek was treated badly by someone, even just spoken negatively about, whatever, my heart broke into pieces. It still does, to an extent, even when that Jacek or Jack is a real villain. I remember when I was perhaps Zofijka’s age and read some young adult Polish novel, and there was a girl who was dating a Jacek, and at some point she just realised he’s not for her and she doesn’t really feel anything for him other than friendship. I knew her decision was right, it was clear in the book they don’t fit, yet I was almost crying reading how – in my view- she rejected him and he was so so sad. It was the name Jacek that also opened my eyes for the first time for this weird phenomenon which is the influence of names on personality, which I’m still passionate about and still figuring out. And as a kid I ust loved loads of words with jac in them. I still love the English ones: hijacking for example, it sounds like “Hi, Jack!”. Saint Jacek (or Hyacinth) has been my most favourite patron saint ever since. One of my first speech synthesisers was Jacek, and I still have him, it’s been over 10 years!!! And now it’s possible I’ll have to lose him. Oh well we’ll see… I love hyacinths – the flowers – but my favourite flower has always been muscari – and I’ve just recently learnt that they’re called blue grape hyacinths in English as well! – I’ve also heard that there is a gem stone called hyacinth, and if so, I really hope that some day I’ll be able to have one in my collection. My best friend was also Jacek.
Just as I started to take an interest in the etymology of the name Jacek, I was also curious if it exists in any other languages, and I asked people if they know how Jacek is in English. Most of them would confusedly say “Dunno, guess Jack…”. Jack didn’t sound even a bit quite as good as Jacek to me. But Polish people so often do such a weird thing that I can’t fully understand. When there is an a in an English word, they’ll make things more difficult for themselves and say it as e. So lots of people actually say Jeck, or bleck instead of black, or ket instead of cat. And Jeck sounded awful. But at some point there was a Jack in my ENglish textbook and then I learned that it’s JACK, and is written almost like Jacek, and I was over the moon! A lot of Polish Jaceks go sometimes by Jack, even just for fun, but those two names are not related at all. I’ve always wanted one of my musical crushes to be a Jack. Maybe someday it’ll come true. Lemme know if there are any musicians named Jack or something similar that you like, especially not too popular ones that I could like. πŸ˜€
Jacek (YAH-tsek) originated as a nickname of Jacenty (yah-TSEN-ti), but is now a short form, and a more common one actually, Jacenty is hardly ever used, it’s more common in the east of Poland in people born in 40’s or so, but it is NOT popular at all. I like the retro feel of Jacenty and I think it could come back, I mean I would like it to, not that I think it will anytime soon, with Jacek as a diminutive. Jacenty comes from the Greek Hyakinthos – Hyacinth – as in the Greek myth and as in the flower. – THere is also a more fancy, latinate form Hiacynt (HYAH-tsint), and the feminine Hiacynta (hyah-TSIN-tah). I’m not as fond of Hiacynta as I am of the male forms, and Hiacynt sounds a tiny bit too androgynous for my taste and lack masculinity a bit, but for a girl I really like Jacinda, and I love Hyacinth both for a boy and for a girl, even though normally I’m not a big fan of unisex names. There is also a theory that Jacek could be a Slavic name coming from an Old Slavic word that would be something like jaΔ‡ – which means to ride, and thus could mean good rider or something, how cool! – But that doesn’t really sound convincing and believable. There is also something like Jack (YAHTSK) in Kashubian language, it is apparently a Kashubian variant of Jacek, and another one is Jacy (YAH-tsi).
Jack, meanwhile, as I hope you Anglophones know without me telling you that πŸ˜‰ is a nickname of John, which evolved via an earlier diminutive Jankin, which then became Jackin. So not quite an equivalent of Jacek etymologically but who cares. For me it is like Jacek very much, the feel of the name is very similar despite it sounds differently and has vastly different roots.
I love that there are so many expressions, fairytales, nursery rhymes and all with Jack in it, it adds to the feel of the name, that it gives to the personality of a bearer in my opinion.
I don’t like every single name that has Jac in it, for example I am not a big fan of Jacob, or Jace, but I do love all the forms of Jack. All the Jackins, Jackies, Jacs, even Jocks and Jockies! They’re all so brilliant and so vibrant and each has their own feel that I love. I think the Welsh Jac is my most favourite because of how minimalistic it is but how much inner potential it has. As I said I also love Hyacinth and all its forms, perhaps Hiacynta a little less than the rest. I love Jacqueline and the abundance of her forms too, despite it actually seems to come from Jacques, which comes from the Jacob/James family.
I thought I’d give you just a little bit of an idea how I see those two names – Jack and Jacek – people with them, how I think their names might shape their personalities. Of course, as always, keep in mind that it’s not the name that shapes our personality in the first place, that there are genes and so many other things that determine who we are, and that name is just one factor. There are also people who do NOT fit their name’s description, simply because their name doesn’t fit them and wasn’t chosen with enough consideration, and they may experience some sort of a disharmony and conflict in their life and feelings, particularly between what they are like, and what their surroundings expect them to be like. Lastly, people spell their names differently, people have middle names, people use nicknames and often a Jack might in fact be a John, or a Jackson, and his personality will likely reflect it. These are just small, very generalised characteristics of Jack and Jacek, they’re not exhaustive. If you are sceptical about any influence a name could possibly have on a person, feel free to just treat the paragraphs below as my imaginings, that I hope to be as objective as possible.
Jack: – Jack is practical, frank and honest, and he expects the same honesty in return. He takes things as they are, doesn’t overthink them or analyse overly. He is intelligent and certainly not shallow, but he doesn’t like wasting his time on things that don’t necessarily need that, and feels uncomfortable around people who are exalted, he has certain difficulty expressing strong positive emotions, it’s embarrassing for him. He much prefers being active, and doing something to show his love and dedication, rather than use big words to show it. He is humourous, friendly, and a pleasant companion, who will get along with pretty much anyone, he is also an ambivert. It’s only with his loved ones that know him really well that he takes off the protective mask of self-confidence that he wears mostly unconsciously. Only those who know him really well can see his weaknesses, insecurities, some darker and deeper shades to his personality that he sometimes doesn’t accept. On a daily basis, it is a mostly happy-go-lucky guy, but with those he feels comfortable with, he can often be changeable and moody. Usually naive in his young years, if life lets him down, he can easily become cynical and imbittered, he may feel let down because he looks at others from his own perspective, expecting frankness and directness, and as a result, his trust is often abused, unless he won’t change his ways of interacting with people. Jack himself is very reliable, trustworthy, makes people feel safe around him. Or in any case, he has an ease of making such an impression on people, which could potentially make him a great manipulator, but Jacks are usually empathetic people who have their moral values. He has predispositions to be good at arts, but he needs to develop his taste, he’s not born with a mind very perceptive to art but he definitely can shape it, as well as his own, unique and captivating style if he decides to do art seriously. He is flexible and open-minded and learns quickly. Jack is incredibly resilient, responsible, usually quite fit, able to pursue his dreams and put considerable effort into it, mostly calm, but can be very passionate at times. He is adventurous and likes to explore, but also has a huge, often unconscious need for roots, security and stability, home, belonging, and has a strong sense of connection to his family and heritage. He is a traditionalist but at the same time he’s usually very liberal in his views. He’s down-to-earth, but likes being creative and make things with his hands, be out in nature which inspires paths of his thoughts and imagination in a subtle way, he also loves to engage in sports. He is incredibly sensitive but doesn’t like to show it for fear of being vulnerable. He appreciates simplicity – in his surroundings, people’s claims and characters, in thinking and speech – and enjoys the simplest things in life the most. Jack usually comes across as very charming, even though he’s rarely truly and objectively physically attractive.
Jacek – Jacek is very similar to Jack, especially in his honesty and trustworthiness. He’s also a practical thinker and comes across as very charming, as well as friendly, though not as much and as immediately as Jack. Jacek is more complicated, more sensitive, more introverted, more imaginative, has a tendency for being irritable, he is less resilient than Jack, may be needy and slightly immature which makes relationships with him more intricate. He is more egocentric and selfish, but not badly egoistical or anything like that, he just has a hard time looking too far out of his own mind frame. He has a tendency for pensivity and is more of a dreamer than Jack, he is also a bit less outgoing, but not significantly. He’s just a decent, nice, conscientious guy, assuming he was brought up well and his upbringing helped those traits to come up properly. He might have his quirks, be eccentric or lead a bohemian lifestyle, he may also often feel misunderstood, or he may just be a bit of an outsider, but if he has to, he will fit in without a clash and he’ll adjust to any company he’s in.
Jacky is very friendly and outgoing as well, and very charming and lovable, often thought of as attractive, but less honest and might easily get himself into lots of trouble, he usually doesn’t find himself the best kind of friends, he wants to be always there where a lot is going on and has a lot of zest but at the same time a really careless attitude to things. But he can be a very emotional being and anxious to please, as well as impressionable. He is egotistic and always wants to be the best, he tries to avoid conflict and live well with everyone that is important for him, and he is very attached to his mother, he also appreciates comfort and luxury in life and might be a little bit snobbish.
Jackson loves adventure and travel, and is a great dreamer, brave, courageous and determined. He is confident, communicative and charming, and wants to appear very masculine. Can be manipulative, but in any case is very eloquent and makes for a good leader.
Jac is very much like a Jack, but some traits of his character can be more pronounced and intense. For example the resilience and intellect.
Jacenty – well, I can only see him as a man older than 50 so I may not be very objective here. He is strong, masculine, self-assured, can be wealthy and materialistic and people usually respect him very much. An introvert who is very proud and may be a little haughty and icy, and not the most tolerant. He’s reserved and usually very serious, cool and calm, it may or may not mean that deep down he’s actually rather shy and doubting in his abilities.
Hyacinth – a girl with this name is fanciful, not very disciplined and rather dreamy, often artsy. She is a bookworm and a big thinker, often completely lost in thought, shy and perfectionist, anxious and sensitive, and a good observer. She may be very skilled in dance or music. A guy named Hyacinth is also an intellectual and cerebral type, may be either very poetic, or more into things like science, he is also very spiritual and has a tendency to isolate. He is capable of doing great things in his life and he doesn’t like any restrictions, he loves being out in nature and do all sorts of sports, loves being by the sea. He’s quirky and not the most communicative in the world, often may seem very scatter-brained because he has always plenty to think about and his way of thinking and perceiving the world is different than most other, more typical people.
Jacqueline is a complex character because her personality is a combination of great strength and extreme fragility. She usually makes an impression of a very gentle and delicate, I’d say dainty woman, and tends to be quiet and not talk a lot, but she has a steely will. She is very sensitive and emotional, sometimes to the point of neurotic, capable of loving people greatly, she has a tendency to overthink everything in her life. She is sharp-witted, sophisticated and gifted artistically and literally, and has a natural air of elegance about her.
Jackie though is vastly different. She loves being active, sporty, she has a lot of energy and she likes to communicate, cooperate and get together with others, she usually has quite a bunch of friends. She might struggle with anxiety and feelings of inferiority though, because she’s very much of a perfectionist and self-conscious about her appearance, especially as a teenager, but later on as well. Talking about her problems with the others is the best cure for her, so it’s good if she has someone she really trusts, she isn’t made for solitary life.
Jacinda is full of charm and sweetness, optimistic and very feminine, youthful even in her older age. A very emotional, spontaneous and sensitive person with a big, kind heart, very trusting and rather naive. She likes to give as much of herself as possible and doesn’t expect much in return, she is capable of loving unconditionally and very altruistically. Her weakness is vanity, and lack of imagination.
Jackin has a very good self-esteem and people usually like him, because he’s nice-looking. He usually doesn’t look like a very serious person, but he is a very ambitious man, often a great materialist wanting to achieve a lot in life. He has a bit of an authoritarian personality and may easily be impatient and a bit harsh-mannered. I hope you enjoyed those name descriptions.
Do you like the name Jack, or Jacek, or any of the related names? Do you know any Jacks? Do you like them? Any Jac people out there? πŸ™‚