Question of the day.

   Simple question today: 

   What book are you reading right now? 

   My answer: 

   Me, well, I think the GoodReads widget on my blog is still working, in which case you should be able to see that I am reading Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset. I’ve read a lot of books by this author during the last year or so. I first read Kristin Lavransdatter some years ago, mostly because I read about it in my favourite Polish author’s – Małgorzata Musierowicz’s – books, because a lot of her female characters have read and like Kristin and either Mrs. musierowicz herself or one of her characters said that this is a book that every woman should read or something along those lines. In hindsight, I can add that, in particular, every Catholic woman, and every introverted woman. Not that men or non-Catholics won’t find it interesting and insightful as well. I thoroughly enjoyed that book reading it for the first time, mostly because of Undset’s understanding and sensitive way of portraying people’s characters, inner lives etc. as well as the daily life of the characters (it’s a historical novel set in medieval Norway), and the strongly Scandinavian vibe generally, but also something else drew me to it that I couldn’t quite pinpoint. Not much later, I came across The Master of Hestviken and enjoyed it even more mostly for the same reasons, and again primarily was drawn to it by something that I was not really able to name. 

   I’d always wanted to reread both of them, and possibly read her other books if I could get hold of any, but only actually did that last year, when I bought both of these books for my Mum. We had fully “converted” to Traditional Catholicism not long before last Christmas,  started attending Traditional Latin Mass exclusively and all that, and I think that was what made me think of these books again, because Undset wrote both of them after converting to Catholicism, and she herself lived pre Vatican II, and so  obviously did her medieval characters, and so when I started to attend Traditional Latin Mass more regularly, read Traditional Catholic books etc. it all starkly reminded me of Kristin and Olav (Olav is the main and title character of The Master of Hestviken). And so I thought that my Mum would really enjoy them, because of the TradCat flavour, and because my Mum likes old classics, as well as Scandinavian literature (Mika Valtari for example) and I thought she and Kristin and Olav would get along supremely well. And that turned out to be very much the case, because Mum says now that Kristin Lavransdatter is the book of her life (even despite a rather clunky Polish translation which really is a translation of the German translation and initially the clunkiness and weird pseudo-archaisms in it bothered my Mum, just as they did me). Olav took more time for her to develop a liking for, but I think that might be the case for a lot of people and I totally get it even though weirdly enough I had no such problem myself. To me, as a person, Olav is actually more interesting than Kristin, because Kristin, while an introvert, is shown more from the outside, like through her daily life, what she was doing, how everything was changing etc. and, compared to Olav, her personality isn’t as well-developed. My Mum initially disagreed with me and, again, I get why, ‘cause Olav is difficult to get to know in a way, but once she read the whole Master of Hestviken she agreed with me that, despite he’s in his own head most of the time (or imho precisely because of it), he has more of a character.

   So anyway, I couldn’t just look at how my Mum was reading my two favourite books, I had to reread them myself too. And I have more time for reading than my mum and a more messed up sleep cycle so I finished both way before Mum was done with Kristin. And this time it was precisely the spiritual life of those people that grabbed my attention the most about those books, and their relationship with God, their religious customs, their thoughts about faith etc. Perhaps this was the thing that I initially was so drawn by but couldn’t quite specify, although I think there is still something more to those books  that I can’t pinpoint. Further rereads are due, I guess. But yeah, this second time I enjoyed both of them even more, and noticed a lot more about them aside from just the external stuff which was what I mostly noticed when reading them for the first time. 

   Kristin and Olav only wetted my appetite further, and so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Sigrid Undset’s Gymnadenia (The Wild Orchid I guess it’s more commonly known as in English) series is in our blind library. I must have somehow not noticed it before because it was there way before I first read Kristin. It was weird because I was actually looking for The Wild Orchid all around the web before and it either hadn’t occurred to me to look in such an obvious place, or for some reason I didn’t see it there or something. So, even though the recording is very old and sound quality not overly enticing, and even though the narrators mispronounced most Norwegian words like people’s names or place names in both parts of the series as if they were  French or German or something which drove me up the wall, I read the whole series. It is set in early 20th century so definitely feels very different than the other two books by her that I’d read. It tells the story of Paul Selmer and focuses in particular on his way to converting to Catholicism. It didn’t captivate me nearly as much as Kristin and Olav did, and really dragged in places, the first volume was particularly difficult to get through, I guess simply because Paul as a person and his life as such resonated with me less rather than because it was a worse book or something. But I found it very interesting nevertheless to see Paul’s transformation throughout the series and read about his various reflections relating to the Catholic faith, Mass, being Catholic etc. I thought that my ardent Mum would resonate with it even more, and again, I was right. She says that, even though it is obviously not really a religious book as such but just a work of fiction, it drew her closer to God and felt very spiritually enriching for her to read at that particular point in time when she read it. 

   And while I found The Wild Orchid in our library, I also found two other books by Undset, that is Jenny and a re-telling of the Arthurian legends but I’m not sure if the latter has been translated to English so no idea what it’s called in English. I believe both of these were written before her conversion, but to someone who knows that she eventually did, you can sort of read between the lines that she was having some sort of spiritual/existential breakthrough or something. Jenny was kind of disappointing, I don’t know, I guess I just expected it to be better than it actually was and didn’t really enjoy it all that very much, but it’s still worth reading by all means and I definitely don’t regret doing it. And the Arthurian legends, well I’m a Celtophile so… yeah, had a lot of fun reading it and seeing the whole thing from a bit of a different angle than the other Arthurian legends books that I’d read before show it. It was kind of weird and kind of funny though, considering that Sigrid Undset could overall definitely be classified as a Christian writer, that these legends are absolutely full of lust, murder and other similar obscenities and there’s a lot of focus on that, like reading it you’d think their lives consisted almost solely of adulterating, fighting/killing each other and drinking and it can make you feel kind of demoralised if you’re sensitive to such things. But there was still a lot of beauty in between and a lot of Christian accents, even though not as obvious as in Kristin or Olav. 

   Since then I’ve wanted to find some other of her books but had no luck, at least in Polish. Yet, I was able to find Undset’s aforementioned biography of Catherine of Siena in English on Audible, so I got it right away. Actually before I heard a sample on Audible, I thought that it was more of a fictionalised account of her life, since I’d only read fiction books by Undset before and was a bit surprised that it’s a proper biography, but I think it just shows that she was a really incredibly versatile writer. I am slowly finishing this book and I am really liking it because of how detailed it is. It isn’t just a biography like a lot of saints’ biographies that is written solely to inspire the faithful to follow her example, it actually shows in a very realistic way what sort of person she was overall, what her life must have looked like at the time when she lived, all the chaos going on at the time around the pope’s relocation from Rome to Avignon and the relationship between France and Rome etc. so that the reader can have a pretty detailed picture of everything, while at the same time it’s also quite obviously not just a historical book because, as a devout Christian herself, she also does focus a lot on the most important thing that is Catherine’s spiritual and mystical life so I’d say it’s a very edifying read at the same time and I feel sad for my Mum that she probably won’t be able to get hold of it anywhere in Polish unless some second-hand bookshop if she’s lucky. My dream is now that I could read her books in Norwegian one day, but for now the mere thought feels rather intimidating. 😀 Also, having read quite a few of her books by now, I am growing more and more curious of Sigrid Undset herself, as a person, and her life. I mean, I’m usually like that, when I read a book, or listen to music or anything like that, I quite automatically think about the individual behind it and what they must have been like to create that particular thing, but in this case I’m actually very seriously curious, and I wish someone wrote a thorough biography of her, but so far haven’t come across anything like that. Also these days I have another reason for being so much into her books. I’ve been praying for someone who is Norwegian, and I find it extremely encouraging and heartening in my efforts to know that such very deeply Christian books were born in Norway, and not very long ago at all, when Norway was already a largely secular country. 

   So, how about your current read(s)? 🙂 

Question of the day (7th October).

   This question is overdue for yesterday, but feel free to answer it in regards to either today or yesterday or whenever you’re reading it. 

   How has your day been? 

   My answer: 

   I’d say today has been quite decent. I really overslept though, so it feels like it’s been a pretty short day. Right now I’m in a phase where I fall asleep around 1-3 AM, even though I actually do feel kind of sleepy/tired much earlier but at the same time my brain can’t shut down or something, and then I naturally sleep for around 12 hours. I always have an alarm set to 8, which I don’t have to get up or even wake up for if I really don’t feel like it, although generally that’s what I do usually try to aim for to have a bit of a structure regarding my messy sleep-wake cycle and I like being able to wake up around that time, but even when I don’t and I’m pretty sure I won’t do it the next day, I still have it just to have some sort of sense of time. But the last couple of days I’ve been oversleeping my alarms completely and when I wake up I can’t even recall ever hearing or switching them off. And it’s not as easy with my phone to switch an alarm off on autopilot without waking up at all even for a few seconds, because at night I have music or radio going from the iPhone via my Bluetooth speaker, and VoiceOver doesn’t like Bluetooth speakers because it always yells through the phone speaker at max volume whenever it has to say something at the same time as the speaker starts or stops playing, and it’s impossible working around that bug. So when my alarm goes off, the speaker stops playing for a while, and when I switch the alarm off, VoiceOver starts babbling on about notifications and whatever and the speaker starts playing again so VoiceOver yells at me. I always silence it as quickly as possible so that no one wakes up in case someone is still sleeping, but yeah, the point is that it’s impossible not to notice that unless you’re so sleepy that it’s more like some other altered state or manage to silence VoiceOver on autopilot just in the right second before it starts yelling. So, my little theory is that the problem isn’t me, but my Apple Watch might be messing something up. It’s not really founded in anything other than that I heard my alarm go off only once over the whole time that I’ve had it, and I usually charge it overnight, during which time you can’t use it, so perhaps it thinks that if I’m charging and not using it, I don’t need the alarm either, be it on the watch or the phone. I hope my sleep patterns change some time soon so I’ll be able to verify if that’s true. Anyway, because of that alarm thing I only woke up after 1 AM and was quite horrified with my lack of moderation. 😀 I mean it’s one thing to fall asleep late but sleeping 12 hours?! Not that it doesn’t happen a lot to me but I usually don’t like it very much unless I have fun dreams or am depressed so sleep is the best thing in the world but otherwise it feels like I’m being totally lazy. I can’t imagine having a normal job with such habits, lol. 

   After I woke up, I did all the usual things most people do after waking up, except I had lunch for breakfast, as Mum was already making it when I got up. 😀 Then I talked for a bit with my Mum, and then Misha called me ‘cause he was already in my room and wanted to go to sleep but he won’t go to sleep without his usual routine, and he can’t do his usual routine by himself. So I gave him snack and then he laid on Bibiel for a couple minutes and had a quick ear massage, and then moved onto his sheep skin and fell asleep till 7 PM and made lovely sleep noises. 

   I then did my usual weekend Norwegian learning session for an hour and then some Welsh reading that I didn’t manage to do during the week for about 20 minutes. After that I read today’s Mass from the Latin missal which I do every day like Mum and Sofi, and then prayed the Rosary for an hour. I normally only pray one part of Rosary daily or sometimes less frequently than that, which lasts only fifteen minutes, but since October is the month that is especially devoted to praying Rosary, and because I’m having a sort of intensive prayer time since last Thursday for two weeks as I’m praying for someone important to me, I figured I’ll at least try to challenge myself a bit more and pray the whole Rosary every day for at least those two weeks. 

   Misha was very quiet for all that time and lay sweetly on his sheep skin, so after that I couldn’t resist and laid down for a while with him and we had a bit of a cuddle time and I read a book meanwhile. I’m now reading a book about the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich concerning the lives of Jesus and Mary as well as Jesus’ Passion, I guess it must be in English as well but I’m reading it in Polish and don’t know what it’s called in English. I don’t think this whole book can be treated as her authentic visions, because it was written by a German poet Clemens Brentano based on her words, but it’s been said that he could have likely added a lot of details into that to make the descriptions of everything feel richer and more in-depth, and even without knowing that it seems kind of weird that someone would have such detailed visions of what people’s houses looked like or what plants grew in Palestina etc. etc, I mean it’s interesting but not relevant spiritually. 😀 Still, it doesn’t contain anything that would be contradictory with teaching of the Church and I just treat it as a sort of very religious and soul-enriching historical novel inspired by Jesus’ life and Passion that can help one’s imagination a bit when, for example, reflecting on the mysteries of Rosary, rather than a super factual account of what Jesus’ and Mary’s lives were like and that everything that is said in this book necessarily had to happen exactly like it’s described and that Jesus seriously said all that he does in this book. I’m really enjoying it overall, though it’s super long, so even though I tend to be a very fast reader, I’m chewing through it very slowly, because I started it a week ago and am still barely 30-something percent into it. 

   After that it was already well after 4 PM, and I checked my emails and all the other stuff that needed checking, and then wrote in my diary, which also took me quite a while because I didn’t yesterday so had a lot of stuff to get out of my brain. In the meantime my Dad’s colleague visited. He hadn’t visited my Dad in ages but he got divorced very recently and now he seems to have finally remembered where all his colleagues live and visits everyone to share his woes. Sofi also came back from our grandparents’ and we chatted for a while and she played a bit with Misha but he was super sleepy so not much of a playmate and soon went back to sleep. But now Misha is up and crying downstairs ‘cause Mummy has disappeared somewhere outside and he’s upset. 

   How about you? 🙂 

TToT (Misha, Traditional Latin Mass, pillows, etc.)

   I thought that today is a good day for writing a gratitude list. I always try to include things that I’m thankful for at least once a week  when writing in my personal diary, but I think I haven’t written a grateful blog post in quite a while and I feel like it today. I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful. 

  1.    The fact that I’m feeling well physically. My family – that is Sofi, Dad and Olek – have been mildly sick with something and while it isn’t serious, no fever or anything, it seems to be dragging on for quite a while, especially for Sofi. So far, I’ve been spared. Jack the Ripper is visiting me this week and I had two migraines, but overall I’m feeling well. 
  2.    Misha spending a lot of time with me, particularly at nights. Misha has recently taken a particular liking for my armchair and sleeps at night either there, or on my bed as usual. I always love it when Misha sleeps with me, his mere presence instantly creates such a pleasant, peaceful, Mishful atmosphere. But this week I’ve been particularly appreciative of it as I’ve had some yucky dreams and night time anxiety, and waking up in such Mishful atmosphere makes things so much easier. 
  3.    That I’ll probably soon be able to get a new cable for my scanner. I haven’t been scanning anything for a long time, because it’s such a huge hassle and difficult to do well on my own. But now that I’m attending Traditional Latin Mass, I sorely feel the lack of quality Catholic books in accessible formats, especially older ones, and feel almmost envious of my Mum who keeps buying herself all kinds of such books. They are very useful for prayer, reflection or even simple reading as a form of deepening your faith, and I always have to go looking for things like that on the Internet, which in the end means that what I find won’t necessarily be traditionalist at all. I have always struggled with focusing during prayer, and not having materials to help me out and help my mind go in the right direction makes it even more difficult sometimes. Even the missal that I have in epub is a lot shorter than the one my Mum has as a physical book, and I’m limited here anyway because I can’t just take my Braille-Sense with the missal with me to church like all the other people take their books because that would be super unpractical, I have to read it before the Mass at home. So my Mum has wanted to help me out and scan at least some of her huge collection of these “saintly books” as she collectively calls them for short, but then we couldn’t find the power cable for the scanner absolutely anywhere, and it appears to be such a niche cable that it can’t be replaced with just any average cable. So Mum phoned the company that distributes those scanners and asked if there’s any way of getting another cable or something, and they said that next time they’ll be ordering from the company that produces those scanners which is in the UK, they’ll order a cable for Bibielz as well. So Bibielz can’t wait for it and for all them saintly books. 
  4.    Speaking of TLM, I still feel so incredibly grateful to God every time I think about it, that we’ve been able to become part of the Catholic Tradition and attend this beautiful Mass and generally change our lives thanks to this. It will soon be a year since we “converted” as my Mum puts it and Mum and Sofi and me often reflect on how much things have changed for us since then, not even only spiritually but generally in how we think, and laugh at the difference sometimes. 

   My pillows. Yeah I always love my pillows, but today is a good day for being grateful for them because I have new pillowcases. Not for the regular, big pillows, but two smaller ones, one of which I put on top of my big pillow when I sleep and keep my PlexTalk  under it, and the other is for all kinds of unexpected needs and situations and for Misha when he wants to sleep in the bed rather than on it as he usually does. And then I also have three larger, additional pillows just in case, haha, but that’s not relevant here. Anyway, the pillowcases I had on the two, smaller pillows got badly torn as I had them for ages, and before I got some new pillowcases for these  pillows, for some time I slept without an additional pillow and that sucked because I’m totally not used to it – my Dad only sleeps on one, flat pillow and now I’m not surprised he has sleep apnea, I think it wouldn’t take long for me to develop it sleeping like that all the time – so then I got a different pillow, which was bulkier than the one I usually put on top of my regular pillow, so then in turn it felt way too high, and it muffled my PlexTalk quite effectively. So I was really happy and relieved when I finally got brand new pillowcases  and could sleep with my actual pillow. The right or wrong pillow can really make a huge change. 😀 

  1.    That I can be helpful for my Mum with her iPhone. I really like it when I can be helpful for people, and while my Mum likes her iPhone and says that it is indeed a lot more comfortable than any of her previous Android phones, she also needs a bit of help or a tip on how to do something with it quite regularly. Even if I don’t know how to do something, it looks like it’s easier to research it for me than for Mum. Perhaps because I always automatically do it in English and there’s more info on most topics in English online. Funnily enough, since last week, she’s been saying that perhaps she’d like to buy herself an Apple Watch, because it would make it easier for her to take calls when out and about and she hopes it would be better for measuring how many kilometres she runs and bikes. I think it’s funny at what pace we’re becoming the Apple family. 😀 I am very seriously planning to sway Dad to the Apple camp by the end of next year as well, just cus why not? Olek will be all alone with a Samsung. 😀 I know it’s beyond my abilities to convince Olek as his choice is fully conscious and informed, and because of that I wouldn’t even want to change it as it wouldn’t make too much sense. I already told Dad how Apple has CarPlay and that seems to have appealed to him as a lorry driver. 
  2.    doing relatively well mentally. July and August were awful for me with loads of what I call sensory anxiety for the purpose of this blog, which was going up and downn a lot and which was mostly caused by an unusual amount of sleep paralysis episodes that I had at that time and that they also were quite unusually intense and long, so that things felt quite out of control and I had a hard time functioning normally. Lately things have calmed down significantly and for long enough that I think I can say this month has been better, even despite horrid dreams and anxiety at night afterwards that I had earlier this week. 
  3.    Lots of yummy fruit. We still have raspberries in our garden! They haven’t been very sweet this year, but are still good, and it’s always nice to have home-grown raspberries rather than have to buy them from someone/somewhere else. We also have loads of pears, more than we can eat, in fact, so Mum is making some sort of mousse from themm or something. We also have a lot of apples (as befits the Apple family lol). And even blueberries, though these aren’t home-grown, Mum just bought a lot of them a while back to freeze. So we eat a lot of fruits and it’s really nice that we can do it. 
  4.    Chilly weather, which is chilly and cosy enough for me to be able to wear my fluffy overalls in the evenings again. For me that always means that autumn has properly started. 😀 
  5.    My language progress. It hasn’t felt like anything huge, but I’m always grateful even for a very little bit that my brain absorbs. Also what I feel particularly happy about, and what is particularly tangible for me, is that because of my Norwegian learning, I can feel my Swedish strengthening significantly as well. I was kind of worried it would be the oppposite and that I’d end up having a jumble of the two and would regret my silly out-of-the-blue affair with Norwegian. I’m so glad that it’s not the case, as well as that, for that matter, my relationship with Norwegian has definitely become a steady one by now, as we’ve been together for over a year now. 

   How about you, lovely people? What are you grateful for this week? How has it been for you overall? 🙂 

Question of the day.

   How do you people deal with heat? 

   My answer: 

   Thankfully, I have my AC now so that helps a lot. I would really like to be able to control it more than I can, because unfortunately its app is pretty much unusable with VoiceOver and the only thing that I can use with it is its remote, so the only thing I can do knowing what I’m doing is to turn it on and off, and even then it often likes to act up and I have to turn it both on and off repeatedly for it to actually take effect, but it’s definitely better than none. This is why I am thinking about getting myself a smart AC controller, it’s called Sensibo Air and is very accessible, you plug it in the AC, configure it with an app on your phone and it basically works like a remote. Except I’m not entirely sure yet if it’s compatible with my AC, and my Mum hasn’t really been able to help determine that, so we asked a guy who was setting it up for me to come over and check it, but so far he hasn’t. Anyway, yeah, AC is very helpful during a heatwave, and I also sporadically use it in winter to heat the room. 

   My room generally heats up really fast, so I also have blinds here, and they help somewhat as well, but not extremely much. 

   Other than that, I try to drink a lot, especially iced drinks, be it orange juice, water or Pepsi, iced coffee too but it’s not hydrating really. I really really love ice, I don’t know what it is and if it’s something about ice or something weird going on with me but I’ve always really loved ice, be it feeling it, sucking on cubes of it, hearing it, icicles, or drinking iced drinks, where you can actually feel bits of ice. When I was a kid, and even now, actually, I wanted there to be ice that wouldn’t melt, or not so easily at least, so that I could have like a whole container of it and feel it as long and often as I’d like without it melting. I know that health-conscious people like my Mum say you should actually drink hot drinks when you’re hot so that your body will start cooling itself down or something, but that doesn’t make much sense to me, and I bet that few people actually do it unless it’s somehow part of their cultural customs to do that, not even my health-conscious Mum actually does it. I typically have tea with my breakfast though no matter the season, or sometimes cocoa or I used to have coffee a lot too, because having a cold beverage with breakfast feels kind of weird to me and I don’t like cold or even iced tea, and I haven’t noticed that it would make me particularly cooler when it’s hot. Very cold kefir will also do, but iced kefir would be kind of odd I guess. 

   We are also very privileged people here because we have a river on our backyard, so while you wouldn’t necessarily want to swim in it I suppose, you can still sit by the shore and put your feet in it or even sit in the water where it’s shallow. A cold/very lukewarm shower is also something I like to take especially if I was out in the heat riding in the car or something. 

   I only tend to wear stuff like airy, breathable dresses or skirts when it’s hot, with leggings underneath if I have to people ‘cause I don’t like to show my legs if I really don’t have to, or I just wear a long enough skirt. If I go to the beach or for a trip or even out on a terrace or to sit by our river or for a walk, sunscreen is a must in summer ‘cause it’s quite ridiculous how quickly I can get sunburn, I typically use grape seed oil for that. 

   Oh yeah, and I try to limit standing for long periods of time as much as possible. This is something that has always been a bit of a problem for me ever since I was a young child, that long periods of standing in one place would make me feel faint and like extremely tired and nauseated and my pulse would   get a lot faster, and just the whole thing is really weird and awful in general, and it’s regardless of the weather, but heat is one of the things that is a particular trigger for that. Sofi has the same thing which is even weirder because unlike me her blood pressure seems to usually be normal rather than usually low like mine, we both also had cardiological assessments because our Dad has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy but there was nothing wrong  with either of us. That’s why I always dreaded school trips, which typically took place at the end of school year when it was already pretty hot and would involve visiting stuff like museums or other such where you’d be standing for ages in front of every single exhibit and listen to a lecture about it. 😀 And I have to avoid Corpus Christi processions (Corpus Christi is a Catholic holiday) which are typically in May-June and it just absolutely always has to be hot when this day comes. Walking as such is okay with my system, but when it’s a procession, you first have to stand for quite a while before it starts so you’re already starting to feel a little weird before it starts properly, and then stop regularly and go from kneeling to standing to kneeling and so on, which doesn’t help, so that I usually am not able to make it through the whole thing before I get the ringing in the ears sensation and everything starts to feel oddly distant, so I would usually ruin it for my family because one of our parents would have to take me (and often Sofi as well) home and miss the rest of the procession as well. And I hate drama like that and ruining stuff for people, so while I don’t like having to avoid it,  I just go to the morning Mass with Mum and Sofi so that when Mum wants she can go to the procession later. Anyways, while I’ve never ever fainted, I don’t fancy experiencing it, so when it’s hot, like I said I prefer to avoid  standing  for too long if I can, but normal walking is fine. 

   What are your strategies? 🙂 

Christmas wishes, plus a bonus, Christmassy song of the day.

It’s Christmas Eve, so while a lot of people in a lot of countries aren’t celebrating Christmas just yet, for those who do celebrate it at all I’m sure the atmosphere is already very Christmassy anyway. If you’re a regular on my blog, you know that here in Poland we start our Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve afternoon/evening with a very festive supper, and then a lot of people go to Midnight Mass, particularly if they have young children. In fact, it’s fair to say that in the whole Christmas period, it’s Christmas Eve that is most celebrated and festive here when it comes to traditions and the like. So I always like to send people Christmas wishes on Christmas Eve already.

I wish you all a very joyous and peaceful Christmas. May it be a blessed time for you, filled with a bit of everything good – prayer and true joy because of Christ’s coming, beautiful Christmas music, time with your loved ones if you have them around this Christmas, whether in person or perhaps only virtually, time alone, God’s presence in your life and thoughts, yummy food, amazing presents, joy from giving something to others, love, fun, rest, laughter, relax, sleep, snow, cosiness, some funn book or film etc. etc. – And please, I’ve already mentioned Him, but don’t forget whose birthday we’re actually celebrating. I think it would feel very rude for most if not all people if like a half of the world declared they celebrated someone’s birthday and yelled about it for a month in advance, but the person in question wouldn’t even get any attention from most of the birthday guests on the actual day but instead people would just give presents to each other and consistently ignore the birthday boy/girl.

For those of you who aren’t Christians but are also going to have some relaxing, festive sort of time, or for whom it’s going to be life as normal, may it also be a really good time for you and may you find something in it that will fill your heart with joy.

For those who identify with some other religions and perhaps celebrate some other holidays soon, or those who celebrate Christmas a bit later on, may you have just as peaceful and joyous and fun-filled holidays.

And for those for whom this Christmas season will be difficult for some reason, whether they do celebrate it or not, because they’ve lost someone, or because they can’t be with their family, or because it’s a very difficult time for you every year for whatever reason, I wish you hope, strength, and that despite the difficult time, you may also find a bit of comfort in it. At this time of the year there’s a lot of mostly very superficial, sickly sweet and toxically positive talk about how “magical” and merry it is, but it’s totally okay if you do not feel on cloud nine if for you this happens to be a time of grieving, or bad mental or physical health, or loneliness, or exhaustion/overwhelm due too many people around and perhaps also needing to cook for them or something.

Misha doesn’t really care about Christmas as such very much, but he likes all the comotion around it, especially wrapping presents and Christmas decorations, and the Christmas Eve supper because there’s a lot of fish, and a lot of good food for him throughout the Christmas period. So he’d like to wish all the pets a happy Christmas time, hoping that they’ll also get a lot of yummy food and maybe some nice presents and that they’ll have a lot of fun.

Since our actual song of the day today wasn’t Christmassy, I thought I’d do the same thing as last year and share a bonus Christmassy song in the Christmas wishes post. I had a bit of a problem choosing one though, because it seems like I’ve shared all of my absolute most favourite Christmas songs in the previous years. Finally I decided on a song that perhaps isn’t among my absolute favourites, but that I really like to listen to around Christmas ever since I first heard it on BBC Radio Cymru. And unlike last year, it’s not a carol but just a lay Christmas-themed pop song about snow and how beautiful/unusual Christmas time is, although I don’t understand it in its entirety so it’s a very generalised summary of it I suppose haha. Since it’s from BBC Radio Cymru, you’re right to assume that it’s in Welsh. It’s called “Nadolig Oer” (A Cold Christmas) and is sung by Ifan Siôn Davies, who is most known as vocalist in the Welsh indie rock band Swnami which I really like and whose music I’ve shared a few times before. The Christmas music period on my blog is really long though (goes from the beginning of Advent all the way to Candlemas) so maybe I’ll still fall in love with some new to me Christmas carol or song and share it.

Happy Christmas! 🎄

 

Anúna – “Fill, Fill a Rún” (Return, Return).

Hey people! 🙂

Today I’d like to share with you a piece performed by the very famous Irish choir ensemble called Anúna. Anúna are very versatile when it comes to the kinds of music they perform – from traditional Irish music to classical or medieval pieces to original works. – Over the years, Anúna has had lots of members, from Ireland and abroad. The ensemble has been founded by Michael McGlyn, who also composes original music for them. I really love Anúna for their diversity and the atmosphere of their music. In this particular piece, we can hear Eabha McMahon as the soloist. Eabha is a sean nós singer and currently one of the members of Celtic Woman, but she spent many years as part of Anúna and joined them when she was only 15, making her the youngest member of this choral ensemble. I really like her soulful vocals in this traditional song.

This song is said to be written by a mother of a former Catholic priest (Father O’Donnell, or O’Domhnaill in Irish) who became a Protestant minister. It expresses her deep sadness due to his apostasy and her desire to return to the Catholic faith. I’ve found a translation of it

here.

Return, return, my dear.

Return my dear, and don’t leave me

Return to me, my darling and my dear

And you will see the glory if you return

I walked near and far

I was born in Mota Ghrainn Oige

And I have seen no wonder yet to

compare with Father O’Donnell becoming a minister

Return, return, my dear,

Return my dear, and don’t leave me

Return to me, my darling and my dear

And you will see the glory if you return

You renounced Peter and Paul

For the sake of gold and silver;

You renounced the Queen of Glory

And you began wearing the coat of the minister

Return, return, my dear,

Return my dear, and don’t leave me

If you return today or ever

Return in the order that you were trained in

Question of the day.

If you had two days left to live, what would you do?

My answer:

Most importantly for me as a Christian and Catholic, I’d make sure to go to Confession, which I’m going to do soon anyway as it’s Advent and I haven’t yet been to confession since it’s started, and receive Holy Communion, so I could die peacefully, and I’d try to focus even more on my spiritual life than I already do. Other than that though, I don’t think I’d do much differently. As I’ve said it many times, I’m not the kind of person who’s extremely attached to life as such so I wouldn’t be despairing or trying to do as much as possible, worry about stuff like writing my last will etc. Well, maybe I would write some kind of will but there wouldn’t be much to write about really, it’s not like I have a dozen of children waiting for their legacy lol. I suppose I’d leave most of my things to Sofi. I’d certainly leave my computer to her, because that’s what she’s waiting for anyway, hoping that I’ll get a MacBook soon and become comfortable with it enough that I’ll give my current desktop PC to her. 😀 I’d want to talk through some gravely important things with my Mum, but perhaps I’d simply write all that down instead, would be way easier for me. Since I’m doing well health-wise at this point, I assume it would have to be some kind of accident or something that would kill me, so before that happens, I think I also might want to take an advantage of the fact that I wouldn’t be dying of some awful illness and would want to do some fun things. I’d also spend loads of time with Misha.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day (30th November).

I am learning…

My answer:

…these days, I’m learning a lot about what is currently generally known as traditionalist Catholicism, that is basically Catholicism pre Vatican Council II and Holy Mass before that Council, which is also known as Tridentine Mass or traditional Mass and I guess a couple other terms exist in English but I don’t remember that now. As you might or might not recall, my Mum and I used to attend the Tridentine Mass for quite some time, I’m not sure when it all started, maybe a year or two ago…? We loved it and I think we always had some kind of subconscious desire or need or I’m not sure how to call it, to go back to the tradition, to what’s actually true. But in the beginning our main motivation to go to the Tridentine Mass was just emotional – that it was so much deeper, more beautiful, very moving for my Mum, so atmospheric, and for me it was interesting that it was in Latin. – I recently thought that back then I didn’t even have much of an idea as for why exactly this Mass is still celebrated, I thought it was mostly the sentimental value, that people just like it more for this depth it has, that it’s just the matter of liking it more or something. I heard about people who put so much effort into it that they go exclusively to traditional Mass and reject most things post Vatican II, and while I admired that in a way, I thought it was kind of unnecessarily hardcore. My Mum had a traditional missal or whatever it’s called in English, which she always took with her to that Mass, and some other traditionalist books from a Polish publishing house that publishes only this type of content. She sometimes read them to me and Sofi but generally, good Catholic ebooks (at least in Polish, and I much prefer consuming Catholic content in Polish rather than English) are not very widely available, and even if I had some books it wouldn’t be quite doable for me to use my Braille-Sense in church comfortably, and printing that in Braille would be really expensive, so I had nothing, which didn’t help my understanding of this Mass. My Mum was confused by a lot of things, and I was twice as much. I did understand more of Latin than my Mum did, though, and it was slightly less challenging for me, because I know a few more IndoEuropean languages, and particularly English which of course shares a ton of vocabulary with Latin. Also my grandad knows a lot of Latin and taught me a lot of words as a kid, which I always liked and absorbed willingly, and I have an interest in names, and a lot of names with European origins (about which I know more than about names from other cultures) come from Latin words. I also read the entire Dictionary of the Foreign Words and Phrases when I was ten after my Achilles tendon surgery when I was in casts for six weeks and had not much to do. All that helps me to understand a lot of single words, or at least suspect more or less what they might mean, so I can sometimes figure out more or less the overall meaning of what is said. Also I learned some basic prayers by heart quite quickly. Then as time went by we went to Tridentine Mass less and less, because it was difficult logistically, it was only in one church that we knew of in our area, only once on Sunday and once on a week day, and in the afternoon which we weren’t used to as we usually went to Mass early in the morning and it felt kind of “lousy” waiting with it until the afternoon and planning everything else major for the day was difficult. Besides, Dad and Sofi still went to the “normal” Mass, and so did Olek except he never went with us so we didn’t have to adjust to him or anything. And my Mum felt it was kind of odd that we didn’t go to the church together, and Dad always wants to do everything together with Mum so he was sulking every time we went to the Tridentine Mass, but he never wanted to go with us. Sofi went once but, being younger and less aware of things than she is now, she was extremely bored and frustrated, not understanding a word from it aside from the reading, Gospel and homily, not knowing what was going on, when to do what etc. and it was really long for her. So eventually, we stopped going altogether, despite still having, or feeling like we had, a strong affinity with the traditionalist movement and my Mum really longed for the Tridentine Mass and felt that the new Mass was lacking in reverence for God compared with the traditional Mass and it pained her, and reverent is something that a Mass should definitely be. I felt it too, but I didn’t actually see things that happen at either Mass, being blind, so it wasn’t quite the same as for her, even though I saw that lack of reverence and focusing primarily on humans rather than God in other aspects and things. Then, I think it was October, my Mum started to dig deeper in all things traditionalist, reading, listening to and watching traditionalist Catholic resources, and sharing a lot of that knowledge with us all. I found that very fascinating, for lack of a more fitting word, so I listened eagerly and then followed down that rabbit hole myself. It all felt like a very slow, gradual process, but now when I think back to those first weeks of this it seems like a lot happened so suddenly. Then after some time Sofi followed too. She has a very keen interest in all this and asks a lot of questions but has a hard time finding information for herself, even when we provide her with resources, because she isn’t the most patient and struggles with lengthy reading or listening to someone talking for ages because there are no images that you could just look at and learn the gist of it in five minutes, so it’s a frustrating process for her, but she is also learning a lot. We are not only learning about the Mass, all the differences between it and the new Mass, but also other aspects of traditionalist Catholicism. I am just writing about it in short because it’s very complex and kind of tricky to write about and if I wanted to do it in detail I’d have to write a whole essay, and also because most of my active readers are not Catholic as far as I know, but there has been so much going on for us in this area lately. Now, ever since like the end of October-beginning of November, Mum, Sofi and myself attend only the Latin Mass, and if for some reason we are unable to do so when it’s a holiday, we attend it in spirit, and to help us with that we listen to a traditional Mass online, rather than go to the new mass. That may seem very weird or hardcore to Catholics who go to the new Mass, as it once seemed to me, and we had a lot of doubts initially, but that’s what we think is the best thing to do. Although despite our previous logistical difficulties with attending traditional Mass, currently, it’s not so much a problem. We actually consider ourselves super lucky because we’ve found out that, in addition to the church where we used to go for this Mass, there are also two chapels in our area which celebrate it regularly, and a few other churches which do it on a less regular basis or which are a bit further away but still close enough that we can go there if need be. That’s a luxury compared with some other regions and I’m so happy about that. Like, one time we went to the chapel, there were people from a town that is some two and a half hour’s drive away! :O As for books, yes, I still often feel totally clueless when I go to Mass, because like I said it’s not very doable for me to have a book to refer to during the service, but I am learning that, unlike it works with the new Mass, it’s not my role to understand everything, say all those Latin prayers and know what’s going on. That’s the priest’s role, and even he cannot understand everything, and that’s what we have faith for. Who, after all, even in their mother tongue, understands things like, for example, what Holy Trinity means? My role is to pray as ardently as I can, offer up everything I have, and praise God. Sure it’s our duty to deepen our faith by learning and trying to understand, but it’s okay not to understand everything and also I’m sure that over time I’ll become less clueless, I am already becoming less and less clueless, or so it seems to my little Bibiel brains and so I’m hoping. However, the situation in the book department is still much better than what I expected it to be based on my previous experiences. My Mum has been drilling the holes in the brains of people from that traditionalist Catholic publishing house that they should make ebooks, even that they should audiodescribe the traditional Latin Mass for the blind (yeah, my Mum always dreams big) but so far there are no ebooks that they offer. Yet, I’ve managed to find a deliciously old (19th century) Polish book that my Mum also has from somewhere, a book about Mass, all its part, what everything means, how to listen to it/take part in it, all the rituals and what they look like etc. etc. etc. It’s a small book and it’s not a missal or anything like that, it’s just the very basics and clearly written for simple people in a simple language, but I’ve found it very helpful to read before Mass at home. It made me think of one thing (well, it made me think of lots of things lol but one specific that I want to mention), because a few times it mentioned people who were illiterate and only then I fully realised that, after all, years ago, a lot of people couldn’t read and were in a similar situation to me, and I wondered how they prayed during Mass. I asked around and did a bit of research and turns out a lot of people prayed rosary. That reminded me of an elderly lady I once came across in church at new Mass, she was sitting behind me and I could overhear that she was praying the rosary, whispering rather loudly. I found that weird, and thought it was quite ignorant to pray the rosary while attending a Mass. Now that’s what I often do myself and I think one fits with the other perfectly well. Or I try to meditate on Jesus’ crucifixion. Then I also found out that there is a website which has all sorts of articles on traditional Catholicism, but also you can download missal as an ebook from there. So now I have my own missal as well so I can read readings and Gospel and everything before each Mass. Unfortunately, my Dad only went with Mum and Sofi once, when I was sick recently and couldn’t go with them. Afterwards, when Mum asked him about his impressions, he said he felt as if he was at a Mass in a completely different country and didn’t seem to like that feeling. He no longer expresses that he’d like to go with us and says things like “your church” so he clearly doesn’t feel a part of it. I guess it’s that little bit too far out of his comfort zone but maybe as time passes it will become easier for him. But we don’t press him, as that’s not likely to help. Olek is very interested when Mum talks to him about it but so far hasn’t been on a traditional Mass.

So yeah, that’s something that I’ve been learning a lot about lately. We laugh with Mum that it feels a bit as if we were newly converted or something. 😀 We also still feel a strong connection with this rite emotionally, I think it sort of resonates with our personalities much more than all the new stuff and I could list so many reasons. One recent example could be that we were once talking about how cool it is that it’s a sort of default thing for women to wear a head scarf or something similar at a traditional Mass. I initially thought it was a little odd that it’s almost like a requirement and couldn’t understand why such a thing would be so important, but now I really like it and so does Mum. You’re kind of veiled from people and you’re more anonymous, people don’t stare at you, and as my Mum says, you can cry if you want and no one will even notice, and my Mum cries a lot in church because she’s sensitive like that and easily moved. I often make weird facial expressions and not always know about it, or I do even when I know, so I like that for this reason too. And it’s generally just cool, though Sofi still says she feels like a Russian granny when she has to cover her head in church. 😀 Basically what I want to say I guess is that it’s more introvert-friendly in a way than things like charismatic movements and the like that have developed after Vatican II. I remember back when I was at the boarding school, there was a time when our boarding school group staff would often invite people from different religious groups/communities/movements within the Church that existed and they would tell us about those communities and encouraged us to join in and I’d frequently hear that it’s so good to belong to some group like that because then you are a member of the Church more fully or something along those lines. None of those communities resonated with me, they all felt like there’s so much socialising above all else and totally not my thing, so I sometimes wondered whether that makes me a bad Christian. I am happy that it doesn’t really work like I’d been told.

What is it that you are learning? 🙂

If We Were Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare.

We haven’t had a

Weekend Coffee Share

in a while, so I thought we could have one today, ’cause I have a couple things to share with you all, and I want to hear how you’ve been doing, too. 🙂 So if you feel like having a cuppa, or something yummy to eat, come along and join me, and I’ll be super happy to have you here! 🙂

Grab a cup of your favourite coffee (we only have black, whole bean coffee in here right now, which I personally think is the best, but if you’d like something fancier you can bring it with yourself). I can also offer you some tea (we do have plenty of these), or cocoa, or some orange juice, or kefir if you like it or want to find out what it’s like, or plain tap water, or you can bring some other drink that you like. I don’t have much interesting stuff where food is involved, if you’re properly hungry and are a meat eater there’s a fair bit of meat left because we didn’t manage to eat everything for lunch, or I can make you a sandwich, but otherwise I suggest you bring something yourself if you’d like a snack with your coffee or something. Yeah I know, bad Bibiel, what sort of coffee share it is without providing your guests with snacks, and a proper variety of coffees. Will try to prepare myself better next time. 😀

 

So if you’re sitting comfortably and have something to munch and/or sip on, let’s get into it. 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d ask each of you how you’re doing…?

If we were having coffee, I’d start with the mundane topic of weather and share what it’s been like here this week. Because it’s been quite warm, if not hot, for late summer, at least here. It’s a common thing that late August is all gloomy and rainy, and then the first few days of September it gets maliciously hot so that poor kids who are starting school are melting indoors and want to go out and play but can’t cus they have to do some goddam fractions or whatever else they have to do, but after these few days it usually gets a fair bit colder and stays this way. Well, not this year. This year, the first week of September was very very windy and rainy and quite chilly, whereas this week it was as high as 27 C on Tuesday. It felt a lot fresher outside though than the temps would suggest and was just nice and summery. Then yesterday we got pretty bad rain and storms, and today it’s cooler but still very sunny.

If we were having coffee, I’dfill you in on

the Sofi situation.

In the post above I wrote how Sofi is suspected by her new GP to possibly have Marfan syndrome and that she’s gonna have genetic testing in February. In the meantime, my Mum had been ruminating about it quite a lot, which is not her normal, but she’s now feeling a lot better about it as it seems. Like, whatever will be, will be. The good thing is that Sofi doesn’t have, to our knowledge, any major complications that can arise from this condition, so even if she ends up being diagnosed with it, I personally figure that we should feel lucky that despite this diagnosis, she’s been doing this well so far. Mum agrees with me, and Sofi herself doesn’t think much of it. What had been particularly bothering my Mum, and still does, to an extend, is Sofi’s height, as she’s already like 180 cm and shows no signs of wanting to stop growing any time soon. I mean, maybe she herself wants, but her hormones or whatever is in charge does not. Since the genetic testing is still to come and we still have to wait quite a while, there’s no other news strictly where it comes to Marfan’s, but, as you may remember, all the worry related to that also made my Mum worry that Sofi could have polycystic ovaries and that that may be the reason behind her still growing and still not menstruating. So she had her first gynaecologist’s appointment about a month ago or so, and, while she was extremely anxious before that, it all went well and there were no bad news, everything is perfectly fine with Sofiwhere gynaecology is concerned.

If we were having coffee, speaking of Sofi (wow, what a cool rhyme lol, and yes, in case you’re wondering, this Sofi is pronounced like coffee with an S, not like Sophie because that’s how most Polish people say Sophie), I’d also tell you that recently she got vaccinated. Not for Covid, but for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (these sound really weird in English :O ). She got the vaccine on Thursday, then started having some arm pain in the evening. The next day her arm hurt even more but she still went to school as normal, but when she came back she was feeling horrid. She had a headache, sore throat, achy muscles, couldn’t breathe normally and was very tired and weak and had a bit of a cough. She was supposed to go have her nails done after school, which she did, but as soon as she came back she just went to bed, so it all felt kind of concerning given that she’s normally very strong and healthy. But I guess that could be the exact reason why she reacted to this vaccine so fiercely. She didn’t get up for the rest of the day and by the evening she seemed like she had some fever and it got quite creepy because not only did she have muscle aches but her skin seemed extremely sensitive to touch pretty much all over her and she couldn’t even change position easily ’cause she said it hurt so badly. My Mum claims though that as long as you’re hungry while sick, things are looking good, and by late evening Sofi got a wild craving for fast food so I got her some. When I was a kid I also got wild and very specific food cravings whenever I had fever, and especially at night, so it either must be a common thing that I didn’t realise or it’s genetic for us. 😀 On Saturday things were a little bit better and Sofi really wanted to go pick mushrooms with Mum, so she did, but she was quite drained by the time she came back and spent the rest of the day in bed. So has been the case today, and she’s also got a stuffed nose. Mum doesn’t really know what to do, since these appear to be vaccine side effects so it seems counterproductive to her to give Sofi some medicines because she thinks her body needs to deal with all this on her own. If things won’t get better until tomorrow, which it doesn’t seem like they will, Mum will take her to the doctor.

If we were having coffee, I’d share with you something about which I already wrote a couple times here, but not much and only in passing. This is not like a huge news or anything breakthrough, but I think it’s worth noting in its own place. This something is that I’ve kinda sorta started learning Norwegian, I guess it was some time in July. I think I’ve written at least one coffee share since but I still had too much turmoil in my brain surrounding it so didn’t feel able to write anything constructive. Perhaps you remember that, as long as my favourite languages list is, and despite it features languages like Swedish, Faroese or Sami, Norwegian had never been on it. And I’m still not sure whether it is now. But for some reason I’ve been feeling more drawn to it lately, and also want to have a closer look at how it works, so that I have some more idea about it other than simply through my Swedish. I don’t know why I’d need it because I could already understand a fair bit of (especially written) bokmål Norwegian (there are two written Norwegian languages – bokmål which is like more classic and nynorsk which is more modern and rural) via Swedish, but that’s what’s happening right now. I started to realise my feelings for Norwegian were deepening in late June, around the time when we were on our camper trip in Masuria, and Sofi and me rode in the back of the camper, on the bed, where if the roads were bumpy, it made us jump up high to the ceiling, so when people ask me “why oh WHY Norwegian? Have you got a faza or did something specific happen involving this language that made you love it out of the blue?” I say perhaps because I got a brain injury from all the close encounters between my skull and the ceiling on the trip, ’cause I really have no better ideas. I mean, I could tell you now, at the point where I am currently, that I like Norwegian for its extreme diversity, like, it’s one language, but it’s two languages, and in practice, as some say, there are more dialects than people there. 😀 This definitely contributes to me liking it now. But I only got to experience this phenomenon first-hand after I got into it. And my feelings started to deepen before I decided to go with the flow and get into it and try to learn it. And it wasn’t like these feelings came and I embraced them right away, far from it. At the beginning it was freakishly intense and I didn’t know what was going on and I was really reluctant to do it, actually. I mean, I’m learning Welsh right now, it’s my first Celtic language and it’s more difficult than any language I’ve learned before, have still like a dozen or so languages that I want to learn in the future, Sofi says I should be treated for that ’cause something’s wrong with me, so I seriously can’t afford another language, someone save me or it’s gonna kill me! In the end though, I just had no willpower left to resist my brain any longer and got pulled into it properly. It felt like I had no choice but make room for Norwegian in my life.

The situation isn’t as bad as I feared, since I already know English and Swedish so there’s a whole lot of similarities between Swedish and Norwegian, they’re generally mutually intelligible, and Norwegian and English also share some common ancestry being both Germanic languages. That means it doesn’t really feel like I am learning a completely new language. More like a complicated dialect or something. It’s not like I have to learn everything in a sort of linear, structured way, starting from the very basics, because a lot of vocabulary I’m either completely familiar with or can figure out without much trouble, and a lot of grammar also already makes sense. Also, compared to Welsh, learning Norwegian is also way easier due to the wider availability of all sorts of materials. I’d long forgotten what sort of luxury it is to be able to learn a language via your mother tongue, and there are plenty of Polish immigrants in Norway, so plenty of Norwegian online courses, workbooks, whatever you want. Only problem is that a lot of the Polish material I’ve looked into isn’t of particularly good quality, like they teach a terribly unnatural accent if not plain wrong pronunciation (like you in Norwegian is du, where the u sound is pronounced like in the English word you, while I’ve found a Polish resource where they teach you that it’s pronounced with an oo sound, more like the German du. Except when you pronounce it like that in Norwegian it’s spelled do and it means the loo 😀 ) or only give you an idea about some stiff, official bokmål which might be a thing in writing but no one speaks like that. So I still tend to stick to the English stuff for the most part, and am also able to learn Norwegian in Norwegian itself, especially from written materials. So with a bit of effort on my part, I managed to make it work so that I can squeeze in both Welsh, which is still in the centre stage, and Norwegian, which I learn usually on weekends plus a lot of exposure in the meantime. It feels kind of weird to call it learning though, because for me language-learning is when your brain lets out steam and your brain muscles get all sore and pulsating, whereas here it’s rarely this intense. It’s still enjoyable though. I still wouldn’t say that I love Norwegian as much as I do all “my” languages, but I think if it won’t disappear as randomly as it appeared I’m probably going to get there and I do like it a lot. I mean, I’ve never disliked it, but now I like it more than ever, yet still don’t love like I do Swedish, Welsh & co. Like I said, I love the whole diversity in it and I’m loving more and more how it sounds. It’s so cheerful and childish compared to Swedish, and at the same time kind of more rugged than Swedish and less fluid, to me Swedish sounds more serious and sort of posher.

I don’t even know yet what I want to achieve with this whole Norwegian “learning” and where I want to go, what for etc. but maybe things will clear up. I guess it might come in handy when I’ll start with Sami. Maybe I’ll finally pluck up the courage to read all those Norwegian books my Mum bought me, thinking they were Swedish, including a grammar book from I guess the 50’s. :DBut overall, while I usually try to aim for as much fluency and familiiarity with a language as possible, at least for now I’m taking it very easy with Norwegian and don’t have any wild ambitions or anything, we’ll just see how it develops, I’m not in charge here anyway, my brain has taken over while I was on those Masuria holidays. Who knows, perhaps it’s just a short episode and I’ll soon be over it?

Now that I’m no more reluctant and have accepted the state of things and flowing along with it, I’m thinking that perhaps there’s something like destiny or whatever involved here, because I’ve had several people in my life who have told me in one way or another that I should learn Norwegian. My Swedish teacher started learning it at some point during the years he was teaching me and could go on and on and on about it and would often try to tempt me into it too saying stuff like that, actually, Norwegian is just like a little dialect of Swedish. It made me think what Norwegians would think of someone putting things this way and I thought it sounded quite diminishing. Like, I myself am half Kashubian, and while I don’t have a strong bond with the Kashubian language (I can barely understand it when someone speaks fluently) or culture, and also am far from supporting the separatistic notion that some Kashubians have, one of the reasons being that I personally identify as Polish far more than Kashubian, nevertheless it really irks me when people call Kashubian a dialect of Polish ’cause it’s just not a dialect. One day he devoted the entire lesson to introducing all sorts of Norwegian phrases and idioms to me that he wanted me to translate to prove to me how Norwegian is very easy when you speak English and Swedish. Sure, but at that point I just didn’t feel it, and if I don’t feel a language there’s no point in trying to convince me. It’s as if you tried to make someone be friends with or date someone else just because YOU think they’d make good friends or couple, while the individuals in question feel totally indifferent about each other. Now that I’m learning both languages, I totally agree that, while Norwegian as it is now certainly is not a dialect of Swedish, in many aspects it really seems like it could be. 😀

Then there was a classmate I had at the blind school, who didn’t know about my Scandinavian interests (which I was trying to suppress at the time because I temporarily wasn’t able to learn Swedish and it was a huge source of frustration to dwell on it or expose myself to Swedish in those circumstances) and for some weird reason he told me several times how in his mind he associates me with Norway, which I found rather hilarious. He didn’t know why either. Later my paternal cousins have come up with some weird theory I’ve no clue how, that we have some Norwegian ancestry. It’s always seemed doubtful to my Dad and my gran and me too, but in the past they would often say how I should rather learn Norwegian than Swedish ’cause we allegedly have some distant family connection to Norway.

And lastly there was my late friend Jacek from Helsinki, who shortly after we first met said that, as much as he praises my learning Swedish and considers it aesthetically superior over other Scandinavian languages, he felt that perhaps Norwegian would have been a better option for me, because of all them weird dialects and because they have two languages instead of one so I’d probably have more fun. All of these people would probably be happy now that it has come true, after all, lol.

I also have THREE uncles who all work in Norway (one full-time and two get sent there from time to time for some longer-ish periods) and one has told my family that apparently he’s learned to communicate in the language decently. He never said that to me, although we have talked about Norwegian vs Swedish several times, and he never talked Norwegian in front of me, but now I have to admit I’m looking forward to some bigger family gathering where all of these uncles of mine will be present so I can break the news to them and we can find out who can snakke (speak) better than Bibiel *evil laugh*. Or maybe I’m in for a surprise and any/all of them actually snakker better than Bibiel, which would be just as cool, they’ve certainly had more exposure than me and more potential opportunities to practice with people! 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d mention that we’re having a bit of a national Catholic holiday today. This is because it’s the day of beatification of cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the Primate of Poland. Beatification means that he is now known as blessed (which is like a step below canonisation when a person is proclaimed saint) and a primate is the archbishop of a country. Even due to his function alone, he was a very important and valued figure in the Polish Catholic church during his life and still is very much valued and respected due to his huge positive influence on the church and aspects like the so-called folk devotion to Mary, to name just one thing. Along with him, another person who was beatified was mother Elżbieta Róża Czacka who was the foundress of the religious order who leads the blind school I went to, and also the foundress of the school and everything around it as well. She was blind herself ever since she was 22, I believe, and is said to be the first person in Poland who has taken the problem of education of the blind seriously. This school is relatively well-known and quite a few people who have nothing or very little to do with the blind have heard about it somewhere and back in my school days they would ask my Mum whether I go to THAT school. I am talking about this because now that she and the whole blind centre and the order she founded have been talked a lot in the media and churches in the period leading up to the beatification, I’ve got quite a few people from my family and even beyond, asking me things like whether I’m happy that she’s gonna be beatified, and I found the amount of that and this specific phrasing of the question quite interesting so I thought I’d write a little bit about that and how I feel about it. Am I happy? Yes, I’m very happy! I feel tempted to throw an “obviously” in there, but since I’ve got this question so often perhaps it’s not so obvious for some reason. But I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t be happy. We definitely can’t complain about lack of representation of disabilities among saints but the more the merrier, and also I’ve got a feeling that blindness in general has gotten a little bit of spotlight in the Catholic church due to this, because they are telling her story everywhere now and obviously it’s impossible to tell her story without talking about blindness and the blind. Also while I can think of several blind saints, most of them have lived quite a long time ago and when reading about their lives there’s not much you can learn about their experience with blindness specifically, perhaps except for my dear patron saint bl. Margaret de Citta di Castello but she has also lived quite some time ago. So I think mother Elżbieta (or should I be saying Elizabeth in English now?… I never know if you should translate saints’/blesseds’ names or not, it seems so inconsistent) is going to be particularly relatable and close to the hearts of many blind people, and I think that sort of connection is important. I know many who have loved her long before she has been beatified, even if they were too young to know her or didn’t get a chance to meet her personally. I’ve heard of some blind people from that school who actually regard her as a sort of mother figure or something. And beyond that, whether it’s her or someone else, I think a beatification of someone new is generally a very happy event in itself for the Church as a community. My Mum also asked me whether I feel any sort of bond with her, which I think is a more interesting question. We’ve both had the same disability, so on this level I think there is some connection that I feel to her. Also, while personally I have very mixed feelings about both the school and my experience there, i feel grateful to her for the mere fact that she founded it, because the whole thing was extremely courageous of her, and that she devoted herself to the blind so much and on so many levels. One thing I’m extremely grateful to her for is that she adapted Braille to the Polish language. But I don’t feel much of an emotional bond with her like a lot of blind folks do. Or a very strong spiritual one. When I was at school, they’d talk a lot about her and I remember one person once suggested to me that if I struggle with homesickness and stuff like that, I could think of mother Elżbieta as my second mum or a mother figure or something, that some people have this sort of bond with her. I initially really tried and really wanted to, but somehow didn’t feel it. Then not much later I got truly sick of all that talking about it being our second home and stuff like that and I internally rebelled against it all, so there was no way I could think of her as my mum. When I was older, I read her writings and letters and several biographies and a couple memoirs involving her. She was incredibly wise and virtuous and strong-willed and in many aspects very extraordinary and fascinating, and while I didn’t see that at school because I had vastly different outlook on things and vastly different things on my mind, now I do admire her deep devotion to the Cross. Yet when I read her writings she doesn’t come across as someone whom I could truly feel close to. With all her admirable traits and all the great things she did, I think we just are too different for such a close bond to be possible. Or maybe I just have a somehow skewed perception of her despite all the stuff I read about her. And the mixed feelings I have about the school surely get in the way too, even though it doesn’t have to do with her directly. Like I said, the saint I do feel more of a connection to, and who also happens to have been blind and multiply disabled is bl. Margaret of Castello.

If we were having coffee, last, but not least, I’d share about a major purchase I recently made. I got myself an iPad, YAY! Now this is really a huge thing because not long ago I thought I wouldn’t be able to be able to use a smartphone, due to the touchscreen, and now I’m getting a second Apple device. This is because, actually, recently I had been considering a possibility of transitioning to a Mac from my Windows computer. Yeah, I’ve transitioned to a new computer over a year ago, but I’m sure Sofi would be more than keen to inherit this one from me, and also some of its parametres are well above what I need. I’ve recently got to hear a lot about how it looks in practice to use a Mac with VoiceOver (the built-in screen reader) and I was like, huh, this doesn’t sound quite as difficult as I thought. It sounds way more intuitive and non-geek-friendly than Windows. And I really have grown to like the way Apple does things ever since I’ve got my iPhone, while at the same time Windows irks me in more and more ways. Yet I’ve also heard about several blind people who have tried using Mac and it didn’t really work out too well, and because it’s not like I am incredibly tech savvy or anything, it felt risky, especially that Mac OS computers are not the cheapest in the world as everyone knows. So I was playing around with that idea for a long time until I figured that perhaps a cool golden mean would be getting an iPad, because I’ve heard of some blind users who just use an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard as their primary device rather than a laptop or a computer, which they only use when something is just physically impossible to do on an iPad. Perhaps if I tried that, I would be able to say more decidedly in a couple of years how worth it and how risky for me getting a Mac is. And I guess in a year or two I’ll be able to apply for funding which you can get for an assistive device, and a computer counts as one. Since I don’t need anything more than a MacBook Air, perhaps the funding would even cover that if I’m lucky and counting right.

So in the end I got an iPad 8 and Apple says it should be here tomorrow and I’m really really curious and a little bit apprehensive. One thing I’m kind of afraid of not working out as well as I’d like is typing. I do a lot of writing, but while I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone as well as my Braille-Sense which works like a Braille Display and Bluetooth keyboard at once, I find writing on iPhone a pretty arduous experience, especially on the Braille-Sense which I prefer for longer writing because it’s easier and faster to review what I write. Except in the end it’s not because the cursor often flies around so it’s hard not to make mistakes, or in some apps it will randomly throw me out of the edit field after every few characters, or it will be very slow and freezy or otherwise buggy. Since iPad is essentially the same system, I’m not sure whether I can hope for much difference there. But it’s not like I am supposed to ditch the Windows computer and rely on the iPad for everything from tomorrow on. If, after a year or a few, I’ll come to the conclusion that I like the Apple ecosystem increasingly and the only thing that stops me from using iPad full-time is the typing, I might still get the Mac as I don’t think it has the same typing issues as iOS devices do.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee? 🙂

 

Today, I…

Recently, I came across this simple, mini prompt in the PaperBlanks app, and so I thought I’d share with you what I am doing, thinking, feeling etc. today.

Today I… feel really tired and sluggish. My sleep has been fairly weird lately, lately meaning a couple weeks, I think. It’s like as soon as it’s night time, my brain suddenly gets a kick of energy and I just can’t settle myself down for sleep, whatever I do. I had a proper zombie day on Friday, having not slept for the whole night, then the next night I crashed as is usually the case with me after a zombie night and so got a lot of good sleep, but my sleep system didn’t reset, for some reason, as it normally does after a zombie day. Today it was back to where it was. Well, except that I actually did feel rather tired and in need of sleep this time around, but was at the same time kind of wired or something and it just wasn’t happening. Since I had to get up at 8 AM, I’ve only got like 3 hours of sleep and my brain’s not impressed. I generally don’t like taking my anti-anxiety medication for sleep even though it does work, but if this keeps up I’ll just have to resort to it for a while, I guess. Since I guess Jack the Ripper is about to visit any time, PMS coupled with little sleep means I’m having a rather shitty day mood-wise.

Today, I am finishing a sort of prayer challenge or whatever it could be called, that I’ve set myself. I promised God and myself that I’ll be praying for three weeks in July, until this Sunday, for someone that I sort of know and am rather concerned about, even though I don’t know him very well. He seems to be dealing with a lot of yucky stuff, multiple addictions being one of those things, and many years ago I’ve decided that I am always going to pay particular attention and have special dedication in my spiritual life to those people that I know or have come in contact with, with whom it seems unlikely that anyone prays for them, or at least not consistently and seriously, despite it seems that they might need it particularly much. I’ve learnt it well in my life that God loves creating what we’d usually call coincidences, and so this time, when I got into it I learned that July is actually considered a month of prayer for people who struggle with addictions. At the same time, addiction is a sort of… hmm, hot topic in my family currently, and my Mum is also praying for someone who has this problem who is our family member, so I felt a bit stronger having company and support like that, especially that my Mum really has been my best spiritual director and always has the strange talent to say or point me towards something that is exactly what my soul seems to need at a specific time. This whole challenge thing has been rather difficult, with a lot of ups and downs, and I wasn’t even sure if I was seriously going to stick to it, I mean, I really wanted to, but some part of me didn’t think I could manage with all that praying, IFing etc. for long. I also often had thoughts that I don’t believe strongly enough in that God could actually do for me what I was asking Him for, because from a human perspective, a dramatic change for the better in this person’s life doesn’t seem very likely and is even hard to imagine. But I tried my best to believe as strongly as I could, and even though I always experience a lot of hurdles with praying, in that I find it difficult to actually concentrate on it properly, I have a feeling that, while I don’t know if I could have put more effort into it, I’ve put a lot more of it than I thought I even could. I am so hopeful for some better, fuller, more valuable life for this person, whatever God considers that to mean in practice for this guy. Pretty much exactly at the time when I took up this little challenge, I also learned about a 30 day Gospel challenge that is a thing now on Hallow (a Catholic prayer/meditation app that I sometimes use). The goal is to read 2-3 chapters of a Gospel every day, so that we’ll be finished with all four Gospels in 30 days. And while I thought it wasn’t for me at first, because I’d never be able to stick to it, and because I’ve always been somehow apprehensive of reading the Bible in English mostly because then I tend to focus on the language more, haha, eventually I figured that the timing of this is very telling, and that I probably should take this up too. I have previously read all four Gospels chapter by chapter several times, as well as the whole Bible, but I initially thought it would be challenging to stick to it every single day and finish exactly in thirty days. But so far it’s going extremely well and I’m actually very surprised! It’s day 14 and I’ve never missed a day. The linguophile in me also manages to keep reasonably quiet, and I feel like I’m more actually engaged into it than I was all those times before, when, despite being Christian, I’d always read the Bible more like I would any other great work of literature, more intellectually than anything else. It is rather difficult for me to just sit down and listen to the Gospel for 20 minutes without doing much else in the meantime, I usually do several things at once and it feels more natural, but at the same time it feels weird to be listening to the Bible while doing something else very trivial in the meantime and give God only part of my attention. So this has been an interesting time in this respect and I’d never have expected it.

Today, I am a little anxious about living practically on my own for the next two weeks. You might recall that in one of my recent posts I was saying that I’m going for a trip into the mountains with my family on Friday/Saturday. The Friday/Saturday eventually was postponed until this coming Tuesday, because my Dad’s leave was postponed until then. Then Sofi decided that she’d like to take our cousin along, as she thought she’d be rather bored otherwise. As I’ve said, I’ve been feeling a bit off recently, very crampy and with rather little energy, and am pretty sure Jack the Ripper’s coming any time, and I started to feel kind of doubtful whether going for that trip is a good idea in my current hormonal and brainstate. So, as our camper isn’t very huge, I thought that was a good enough reason not to go, ’cause our cousin could go in my place. And so that’s what going to happen. Olek is also going to stay, as he always does, since he has work and stuff to do, but he’s out most of the day, so it’ll be mostly me and Mishmish. Which is fabulous, but, like I said, I’m a bit worried. I’ve never really lived on my own for this long, and, while Olek will be here in the evenings and he’ll also bring dinners for us both, so that at least I won’t have to deal with any delivery people or anything like that every day, I’m kind of scared, like, what if something goes wrong? I don’t even know what… anything could go wrong. From Misha choking, to Olek forgetting to clean his litter box, to me letting him slip out accidentally, or having some sort of an accident and doing something to myself, like in the kitchen or whatever, as usually if I do something in the kitchen Mum supervises me more or less, to needing an “eye” to help me with something asap, to having a bad sensory anxiety flare in which case I really don’t cope well with being totally alone. My sensory anxiety has actually been pretty bad this week, and it’s the sort of thing that is extremely easy to set off or exacerbated by thinking about it, more than any other anxiety that I have, so in a way that feels kind of unavoidable, especially if we consider my shitty sleep lately. Still, an equally big part of me is really looking forward to this, and, if things go reasonably well, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for Misha and me to be pretty much only by ourselves for so long.

Today I am very glad that Misha has been with me all day so far, and not hiding under the bed or anything like that, but properly laying in his own bed, and he’s very cuddly. I hope this state of things won’t change soon and he’ll be like that once my family leaves for the trip.

What has been your day today like? 🙂

Question of the day.

Are you learning anything new?

My answer:

Of course I’m always learning new words and structures in, and new things about my languages, but this is the everyday standard. Other than that, one major thing I’ve been learning lately is, I’ve recently started exploring and also practicing a bit Christian/Catholic meditative prayer, which I was a little bit apprehensive to before for all sorts of reasons, both totally personal/emotional and more spiritual, and a bit confused by it, but now I feel like it could be both a good thing to encorporate into my life long-term for strengthening my relationship with God and becoming a better Christian, but also a very valuable alternative to secular mindfulness for my emotional well-being and healing. That being said, I still haven’t made up my mind whether it will be a regular thing in my daily routine and whether I’ll stick to it, I’m trying to get more of a feel for it for now and if it could work for me on a regular basis.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

Do you prefer Christmas or Easter (if you celebrate, if not pick your favourite holiday)?

My answer:

I feel like saying both and neither at the same time. 😀 Both because they’re both very important to me in a spiritual sense, and neither because I mostly dislike the very social aspect of both and they can be super stressful. Well, maybe not just plain dislike, I do think it’s important and an integral part of these festivities but I simply find it quite challenging and exhausting most of the time so I struggle with it on a personal level.

But I think I’ll choose Easter, because, at the end of the day, it is more important for us Christians and the real essence of our faith, and also because it has less of that kitschy, marketing coating that Christmas is wholly covered in, and which puts me off a bit more each year. It’s not quite so infantile. There’s no Easter music haunting you everywhere from the start of lent so that by the time the actual holiday comes it comes out your ears, as is the case with Christmas. The general craze with shopping, decorating etc. seems a bit lighter. Oh yeah and in recent years, I seem to have followed my Mum and started to really like Lent for all the specifically Lenten prayers and things like that. I used not to like it very much at all but these days I do. And then when it ends, somehow I also feel more joyful than at the end of Advent. Speaking of the ending of Lent, I love the Paschal Triduum and especially the rich, complex and loooong liturgy of the Paschal Vigil. The Midnight Mass on Christmas has a great feel too, but the Easter Vigil is kind of more mysterious, for lack of a better word.

But I do like Christmas food more than Easter food. Maybe it’s just my family and not a generally Polish thing but I feel like there’s a lot more diversity and generally a lot more traditions for Christmas dishes vs Easter dishes, and the Christmas ones are simply better in my opinion, and my siblings think so too. Generally, despite the greater importance of Easter, we always celebrate it more low-key in terms of external festivities like food, presents or what we do on these holidays in general. Like this year for example we didn’t even do presents at all, and that was okay with everyone, we just didn’t feel like doing it this year, especially my Mum. I only bought some candy for Sofi because I promised her a lot earlier that I’ll get her a specific type of candy for Easter that she likes.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day (25th December).

Does fate exist? If so, do we have free will?

My answer:

As a Christian, I see fate as God’s will. Both God’s will and our free will definitely do exist. I believe that God is the one who takes care of what we call our fate, He is the one in control of our life and death, and He has a plan for our lives that’s best for us. However, we are also able to choose freely whether we want to live our lives according to His plan or pursue our own ideas and go against His will and He won’t stop us from that, although He can make different circumstances happen in our lives, which we may not necessarily always perceive as positive ones at the time when they happen, but which are meant to have positive outcomes for us eternally and maybe even during this life and which may prompt us to come back on the road that is the best for us or give us different kinds of grace that will help us with that in whatever way a specific person needs to be helped, but essentially the choice is ours whether we’ll choose to ignore/waste it or not and how we’ll use all that. I think it’s a huge responsibility. God of course knows in advance what decisions we’re going to make during our lives but that does not mean that everything that happens in our lives is God’s will simply because it happens.

How do you see it? 🙂

Question of the day.

If you died today, what regrets would you have about your life?

My answer:

If I died, I don’t think I’d have any regrets afterwards, because I think our perspective on things must change quite a lot when that happens. As a Christian and Catholic, the only thing I can think of that I could really regret after death would be any sins that I didn’t do anything about in my lifetime, didn’t confess or regret them earlier or expiate for them or didn’t apologise to people who might have been affected or didn’t try to compensate them in any way, maybe even didn’t accept that I was sinning, as well as good things I didn’t do that could have helped my soul grow and be somehow beneficial for others around me. Which would mean I wouldn’t be able to enjoy being in God’s presence until my soul would be cleansed of all that yucky stuff in the purgatory, and purgatory souls do suffer a lot, not because they are somehow tortured in exquisite ways as some people imagine purgatory, but because they are separated from God, and they have a deep longing to be near Him but at the same time don’t want that to happen any sooner than when they are completely pure. Must be a strange state of being to find oneself in, when the whole perspective in which you look at yourself, the world and everything is no longer the same which you had when you were alive, but you see everything the way God does. I find it difficult on a cognitive level and as it seems it’s not just me. Anyway, since I’m still alive, I do try my best to do what I can not to have such regrets afterwards, although of course we are all flawed, make mistakes and all that, so we all will have some regrets of this nature when our time comes, I believe. Helping and devotion to purgatory souls is quite a thing, you could perhaps say a tradition, in my maternal family, as my great grandma had very close contact with and apparitions of them from what we know and she passed her passion for helping them onto her children, and it’s still alive. I have a fair few souls that are dear to me and whom I try to help by praying for them and offering up what I can, so that in case they are in purgatory, they can be released possibly soon, and I trust that when it’ll be my time to die, they will be there to help me too, I already do feel their help in some ways in life.

As for what I’d regret at the time I was dying or knowing that I’m going to die soon… I don’t really know what I would regret. Probably also those thoughts of spiritual nature would pass through my mind so I’d try to prepare my soul for death, but other than that… I’m thinking hard now and I have no idea at this point, so it’s possible that there wouldn’t be anything more. Oh wait, there is one thing! This is a thing that I already regret and have been regretting ever since it happened, and so I may be regretting it forever in this life, because it was really awful. It wasn’t even really my fault or my decision but I was involved in it anyway, I witnessed it and sometimes I wonder if I could stop it in time and it was so sad I haven’t fully gotten over it yet. I regret that it had to happen, the whole thing. I’m talking about Sasha – a Russian blue kitten we bought I guess two years ago, and had to rehome after two months. Some of you who have been around on here then may remember him, there even are some pics/videos of him on this blog I believe.

My Mum – who is famous for impulsive decisions on the spur of a moment – was thinking about getting another Russian blue cat, in addition to Misha whom we already had. We were all thinking that Misha was feeling lonely when we weren’t home, or even when we were. That perhaps he needed a playmate. It really blows my mind how we could be so daft, but now I’ve read lots of things about feline behaviours and brains so it’s easy to say to me that it was daft, but it really was. I liked a comparison I’ve read at one cat behaviourist’s blog – imagine you have a very loving partner, whom you love to, and who really admires you and thinks you’re beautiful. And one day he/she comes home and says: “Oh look, I was thinking you were so beautiful, that I decided to get myself another one, just like you. Now I’ll have two real beauties/handsome guys to sleep with. And you guys will be having real fun times with each other too, won’t you? You won’t mind sharing the same rooms?” 😀 Rude and selfish, right?

The more we all talked about it, the more Mum looked at Russian blues breeders’ websites and pics of Russian blue kittens, the more we felt like having a mini copy of Misha in our house.

And finally Mum learned that the breeder from whom we got Misha is going to have little kittens super soon, in the matter of days, I mean of course his cats were going to have them, not he. So Mum called him right away and he said that one is still free so she can take it when it’s born.

I did think it was really rushed and had mixed feelings, although mostly also for selfish reasons – because I thought Misha will spend more time with this other cat than with me/us and will no longer sleep with me – yet the perspective of having two Mishas was so pleasing that I couldn’t oppose for too long, and Mum’s arguments were very convincing as she was very sure of her decision and thought it an inspiration from God. I wonder what God was thinking of this accusation.

Whenever the topic of Sasha comes up now, I wonder, if I tried more to stop her from doing it so hurriedly, would it make the situation any better? Maybe if I tried, I would manage to change her mind, or at least cool her head off enough that the whole procedure of introducing a new cat would be better planned, not just: “Misha, this is Sasha and he’s going to be your new best friend from now on, deal with it if it doesn’t suit you”. Because when Sasha came it was nothing what it should be like and even the breeder, when he learned about the failure of the experiment, was shocked and kept saying that he did tell us how we should introduce them to each other, that it should be a gradual thing and all that. Maybe then at least they could live together in relative peace.

But it was as it was, and a few days later, Mum and Sofi went to the breeder and took Sasha home, and Sofi almost immediately brought him to Misha. Misha got super mad so that me and Sofi were scared, and Mum even accused him of being mentally ill because he can’t just react in a normal way to any change, even a positive one. 😀 He hid under the sofa and hissed and made such low noises all night. Good thing that at least Sasha had a bit different temperament, or very different in fact.

He was super cuddly, bold, happy-go-lucky and very extroverted. We were laughing with Sofi that just like Misha has his birthday two days before me and we are both incredibly similar to each other, Sasha was born just a few days after Sofi’s birthday and, like her, was a typical Gemini and very much like her. His outgoing personality and cuddliness made him even more likeable.

In the coming days, we saw very little of Misha, he was usually either hiding, or chasing and scaring Sasha, letting him know that it’s his – Misha’s – house, and Sasha has nothing to do in here. At some point, from what we’d managed to figure out, he must have scared him in the loo, HIS very private loo, because Sasha had a deep fear of doing his thing in the litterbox, but until we figured out what was the problem with the help of a behaviourist we were thinking he was just doing it on purpose for some reason, because there was no way to persuade him to do it in the right place and we had poo surprises everywhere from bathtub to wardrobes to pillowcases, which didn’t make the atmosphere any better as you can imagine.

Sometimes we stupid humans were treated to a special performance by Misha and Sasha implying that they are very good friends, so that’s what we liked to believe in.

Finally the loo situation was getting really out of control, unhealthy emotions were rising, everyone was stressed out and tired, Mum was near depressed, blaming herself, or being angry at Misha for being “antisocial” or Sasha for pooping, I was blaming Sasha for everything because if not him, Misha wouldn’t be going crazy and the whole situation wouldn’t have taken place, so I wasn’t treating him as nicely as Misha even though he was clinging to me as much as everyone else, and then after five minutes I would be very nice to him because he was so cute, after all, that you couldn’t resist for too long. He must have been super confused I guess. The culmination was that they both got sick. The vet said that there isn’t anything wrong with either of them physically, but they had high fever and other awful symptoms, Misha was throwing up with some gross, foamy stuff, Sasha was barely in touch with the world, so he said it must be stress and, after being told the story with minute details, he said it can’t go on like this and said they could even die if it would be dragging for too long. So we finally saw this too and started doing something about it.

We had to rehome Sasha, which was a great pain for our selfish brains. But at least he had real luck with his new family, or so I like to think. They’re very interesting, artistically inclined people, and months later I learned that Sasha’s new mummy is actually a children’s writer whose books I used to read, what a cool coincidence!

So the situation generally had a happy ending, although I can only hope that Sasha doesn’t have any bad memories or anything like that and that he has a better life now, but still… this situation would be so easy to prevent, or make it take a slightly different route. That’s why I regret it. I regret that Sasha couldn’t have a happy childhood right away, and that it had to be us with whom he had such a difficult start. I regret what we did to Misha, that we betrayed him in a way, as Mum says. Even though Misha seems like the biggest monster in this situation because if not his “antisocial” behaviour, we could have two cats, in fact, after Sasha left, we all only fully realised how virtuous Misha has actually been all that time. He forgave us what we did. He recovered and keeps being the sweet, good-natured Misha for us. Even while Sasha was with us, we did see much less of him but when we saw him, he was never aggressive to us and was very tolerant of all our whims at that time. Mum says he has a very noble spirit, and I think that describes him very well.

Okay, so how about you? 🙂

Question of the day (16th December).

What is a miracle that happens every day?

My answer:

I can’t really think of many literal miracles that would be happening around me as frequently as every day, and I do think it’s this kind of word which loses a lot of its meaning when used metaphorically too often. My first thought when trying to answer this question was: the fact that I’m using an iPhone. 😀 This really feels a bit like a miracle, and not even all that metaphorical, as I and people around me all had had quite a lot of doubts and it might have just as well not have worked out. But it did, and I’m so glad about it! But looking at it from a more serious angle, being a Christian, and particularly a Catholic, the answer to this question is really easy to find, only we often tend to underappreciate this miracle we get to witness so often, just because we see it so often and it’s so everyday, but also so difficult to grasp, unless you have some real grace to be able to do it. I am talking about transsubstantiation, which, in case you’re not familiar with this term, means that we Catholics believe that, in Eucharistic prayer during every Holy Mass, thanks to the action of Holy Spirit, the consecrated bread and wine change into Body and Blood of Christ. It definitely is a miracle as it is, like most things to do with faith, the kind of thing you just cannot explain logically and scientifically, and that’s the case with miracles, only just like I said we see it take place so often that it’s often difficult to really see it this way without really trying, and moreover to believe in it. Or at least that’s the experience I and some people I know have had. In any case, this is a great miracle and I am very grateful for it every time it happens in front of me and try to see it for what it is.

What’s such a miracle for you? Do you see any miracles at all around you? Do you actually believe in miracles that they ever happen? 🙂

Karliene – “Jack’s Lament”.

Hi people! 🙂

Yay!!! I’ve been waiting all year to share this song with you, and finally the right time has come! 🙂 This is a song about Halloween. Those of you who know me may be wondering now what happened to me that I’ve been dying all year to share with you a song about Halloween when I’m Catholic and do not celebrate Halloween. But if you know me you’ve also noticed that there’s Jack in the title and you know that I’m a Jackophile. So there you have it, that’s exactly the reason. 😀

But seriously, to be more specific, I absolutely love this song because to me, it proves that even Jack-o’lantern doesn’t really like Halloween. It’s so heartwrenching and I truly feel for him! Any time I’m listening to it it makes me want to call out to all the Jack-o’lanterns of the world “Hey! Come to me! You want to have to play creepy here! I promise I won’t be scared of you, you all will have different, better lives”. Actually, as someone who doesn’t celebrate Halloween, I wonder, what do people do with their poor Jacks after Halloween? Perhaps I could become some sort of a Jack-o’lantern collector and people would drop them off or send here for me and I would transform their lives from crappy to happy, from yucky to lucky. I wonder are Jack-o’lanterns edible? Uncle Google says yes but not particularly delicious for purees. Well, I was thinking that my Mum could make a soup out of all them Jacks because she likes pumpkin soup but if they’re not good for it that’s even better because I hate pumpkin, it’s so pulpy and mashy and it tastes gross, so it would be sad to have them all lost in my Mum’s soup, and she wouldn’t eat so much of it anyway so it would also be a huge waste. But I love pumpkin seeds! And My Mum has mentioned to me many times around Halloween how she thinks the Jack-o’lanterns are very decorative and before the Halloween boom came here to the point it is now (not that it’s anywhere near to how much people celebrate it in the US, it’s still seen a rather new tradition) she often thought that she’d like to have a pumpkin candlestick, but now everyone would think she’s a Halloweener too. If I was her, I would do it anyway, but at a different time of the year. And yeah, someone may think I am celebrating Halloween in February but so what? 😀 I’m all for celebrating things in an unusual way as it’s so eccentric and out of the box. I love it since when I once called my former long-term therapist in the middle of April (we mostly had phone contact because that was often the only option because of me being in the boarding school) and when I called her there was a lot of chaos and people talking in her house, so she apologised to me and said she’d call me back later because she forgot to let me know earlier that they were celebrating New Year’s Eve today. I was of course like: “But… New Year’s Eve? In April?!” “Yes, why not? We’re just weird like that”. And I love doing things this way since then when I realised that you actually can! 😀 My family is very conventional so it usually isn’t an option with festivities but I can practice my eccentricity in other ways, too. And now, I could have Jack-o’lanterns all around the house as candlesticks all year round except for Halloween. They wouldn’t be creepy. They would be warm, cosy and inviting and if someone would scream at their first sight it would be in awe of their amount and how beautiful they look. I’m sure with very many of them it wouldn’t be possible or safe to transform them all into candlesticks and it wouldn’t be practical either, but over time I’d become more inventive I’m sure. Oh, I was just about to publish this post when another potentially superb idea creeped into my brains! We, in Poland, have All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days on November 1 and 2. And we have a custom, which as far as I know isn’t a thing anywhere else, of lighting candlelights on the graves of our loved ones. I suppose it would be controversial for many people to place Jacks-o’lanterns on graves, but if it was with the right intentions, perhaps with Jacks having been exorcised or somehow consecrated beforehand if need be, it could be a good idea.

I think I shared something by Karliene Reynolds on here before as I like her a lot and she’s such a prolific singer, but even if I didn’t, here’s Jack’s Lament.

Question of the day.

What was the last YouTube video you watched?

My answer:

Hmmm, let me have a look… I watched a lot of YouTube earlier today and a lot of different stuff, so right now I don’t remember what was last. 😀 Ah, yeah, it was a testimony of a Polish guy who is now a Christian but used to be muddled in the occult and new age stuff, and how he got rid of it and now educates people about spiritual dangers, from the point of view of the Catholic church, of course. And he actually seems very competent in the topic. Many people I’ve heard about or even known, who are dealing with this or who tried to help to get me out of my own shit like lucid dreaming, Doses etc. etc. seem to know what can be harmful and dangerous but can’t say why, which makes it feel much less credible, ’cause naturally if something is harmful, you want to know why exactly, what are the risks, what’s wrong with it, and if they can’t provide you such information, why should you believe them, especially if what you’re doing seems fun, as it often does with such things at the beginning? People just tell you “Don’t do this” “Don’t do that” because “It’s wrong”, and it always bugged me when they wouldn’t say why. Of course, in most cases, if you’re inquisitive enough and genuinely want to know you can dig deeper yourself and check it out, but not everyone wants to, for example I didn’t want at the time and only later did I begin to want to learn about what might be wrong with these things, when I’ve already started to feel like I might be heading in an entirely wrong directioon with this whole life thing. And not everyone has the patience or intellectual abilities required. And even if people do know about what’s exactly wrong with specific things that are considered spiritually harmful for Christians, and what makes them harmful, they often seem not to know much about this thing in practice. I mean, back when I started feeling like there might be something seriously wrong with lucid dreaming, and I was reading in Christian resources on it, even people who claimed to have some past experience with it and now specialise in helping people with similar experience, know a lot about the topic both from the inside perspective as well as from the Christian perspective, they often wouldn’t be able to even spell the word oneironautics properly – oneironautics – oneironautics is lucid dreaming and the ability to travel in the dream world – and would often confuse different terms or such, that made them feel much less credible to me because it made them look like they didn’t even care to make the research, and their claims of having experienced it directly or indirectly weren’t very believable. For people who are deep into the bad stuff it’s not going to be convincing. I remember how I once got really annoyed when my Mum sent me a list of “forbidden” artists and bands that a Christian shouldn’t listen to, compiled by some priest. I can understand, though don’t approve of, the intention behind using the word “forbidden”, as it’s so jarring and I guess the whole thing is not about forbidding because everyone has free will, but it was all the more jarring that the list following it was not only full of spelling errors, making it feel very possible that the author had little practical idea about these artists and who they were or didn’t care enough about the people who were going to read it to even just autocorrect the spelling, and, more importantly, it felt like a totally random list of artists from all sorts of genres, without any explanation or anything, just a list. It did include obvious stuff like “Ozzie Ozborn” or Juda’s Priest, but even such people like… Amy Grant! Amy Grant is a Christian singer. I used to like a few songs by Amy Grant just because of how they sounded, I only knew English enough to understand that it’s Christian music but not what it exactly is about, so I don’t know, perhaps there are some disonances between her lyrics or whatever she’s doing and the actual Christian faith, I had no idea and I’m no longer into Amy Grant because I’m just not into Christian pop music, but back then, even though I was no hardcore fan of Amy Grant at all, I found that very frustrating that someone would “forbid” me to listen to something without any explanation at all. And I think many people may feel that frustration and it can discourage them greatly and effectively from either coming back to Christianity or accept it as one’s religion. I’m so grateful that I was not one of such people and that I got a chance to re-convert and was able to use it and that I have my Mum who has prayed for me and has been my spiritual director, and who has shown me that there isn’t only one way of experiencing God, even in one religion. So it feels really good for me to see people who actually have an idea about these things. And as it seems not only about the new age-y kind of stuff, because a lot of Christians when they think spiritual dangers think only new age and the occult.

How about you? What did you think about the video you watched? 🙂

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.

   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.

   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. 😀 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.

   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. 🙂 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. 😀 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.

   Helpfulness.

I even like the way the word helpful looks in English. I have fun synaesthetic associations! 😀 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. 😀

   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?

 

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. 🙂

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 among  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.

  •    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.
  •    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.
      •    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 wrote 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. 😀 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. 😀 I realise though that these things are probably also partly a consequence of how things used to look in the past for me.
      •    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.
      •    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. 😀
      •    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? 🙂

 

What Day Is It Anyway? #WDIIA.

With many of us being in self-isolation right now, days of the week can become very similar to each other and we may get confused. Therefore, Linda has started the

What Day Is It Anyway? (#WDIIA)

series on her blog, so that we can keep track of what we are doing each day and just be in touch with each other within the blogging community during this strange time.

For me, and most of my family, this time hasn’t been really very different from our usual lives, because I am spending most of my time at home and am happy with it, so does my Mum as she is a homemaker, or a home manager as she prefers to put it, and my Dad and Olek have to work anyway. The only person for whom life has become quite significantly different right now is Zofijka, because she doesn’t go to school since about the beginning of March and has recently started to learn online. This is not easy for her, first because it’s such a quick and stressful transition for all students and teachers, and second because she is not a very disciplined child and now there’s no one really to make sure she’s doing what she is supposed to do most of the time, so if she has something to catch up on that she hasn’t caught up on in time, isn’t up to date with something, didn’t do something on time or isn’t informed, there’s no one to blame other than herself, and she has to be more responsible. Also she is such a sociable kid and now there is no one to play, she can only Skype her best friend from her old school, and play with Jocky of course but that only helps so much. Misha has been incredibly supportive of her in this time, as if he could empathise with her. He spends loads of time with her in her room, assisting her in her learning, even during her live video lessons, watching movies with her and sleeping for hours in her armchair. He is just so sweet. Still, despite the social isolation effects not having much of a direct influence on my life, I decided to jump in anyway.

The only area in which I do feel affected by the pandemic is that we cannot go to church as we used to. We are a Catholic family as you may know and we normally go to church every Sunday and on holidays or important feasts as well. Now, here in Poland, there can be only 5 people during Mass, so in practice that means you are only supposed to come if you have ordered it, or you are a relative of someone in whose intention the Mass is celebrated, or something like that. This sucks big time, and we are not impressed, but I’ve found that it has it’s advantages too. Now there are more religious services being broadcasted in the media, or live streamed online, I don’t think it was as much of a thing here before the coronavirus outbreak, not to such an extend. While it is of course the best when you can go to church and receive Sacraments, I’ve noticed that now, when we are praying more at home, it is easier for me to focus on prayer. I wrote on that a while ago that for me it can be really difficult to focus on just one thing at a time for an extended period of time, and that can be extremely difficult when praying or meditating. It seems easier now that I am not surrounded by a lot of people, a lot of stimuli and all that, I’m less prone to distractions and feel more relaxed and focused, and I don’t have to worry that my blood pressure will drop below what’s my “normal” because of a lot of standing in one place or feeling hot and that I will faint, which of course doesn’t help with focusing, staying engaged and present. That has been an interesting experience. I mean, I’ve often listened to Mass from home when I wasn’t able to go to church, due to migraines or something, but it’s a completely different thing when you’re lying in bed and participating very passively so this whole thing now is quite new to me. It’s Lent, and both me and my Mum have decided to take advantage of this time and use it for our spiritual development. We all, as a family, have been praying more now, together and on our own, since the start of self-isolation. I had decided to do my Lent retreat online. Mum has managed to complete her retreat in the church at the beginning of Lent before the COVID-19 situation has become more serious in Europe, but the rest of us wasn’t able to complete it fully, so I decided to make it sort of more personalised this year, make use of all the resources online, and that was not only very interesting and enjoyable and very new to me, but also, because of being more personalised, I think it enriched me more in a way, and I was able to delve in some religious topics that I’d always wanted to. My Mum wakes up early every day and listens to the Mass in Latin on YouTube. If my brain is in the right timezone and I can wake up on time without being a zombie, I try to accompany her. So in fact I guess we’re praying more than we would otherwise, even during Lent, but I guess desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

I was talking about all that because today, I did wake up in line with the timezone we have here, or maybe even earlier than that, as it was just a little before 6 AM, which I didn’t expect because my sleep had been all over the place most days over the last couple of weeks, and I’d been in a phase of sleeping in late even like until 1 PM and generally sleeping a lot, I’d had to put a lot of effort into it if I wanted to wake up at a more decent hour or sleep less and a lot of the time I’d fail at that anyway because I was too groggy. I don’t like to sleep in late too often, though that happens a lot of the time to me, I mean certainly more than to a normal person with normal circadian rhythm anyway, so I’d be happy if my early awakening today would mean that my internal timezone is going to change to something less lousy, for however long that may be.

That allowed me to listen to the Mass with Mum, so that was a nice start of the day for us. Then Mum went out to get some groceries for ourselves and other family members who have it more difficult right now, and both of us plus Zofijka who also woke up by the time had a very yummy breakfast after she came back, and we drank cocoa. We drink a lot of cocoa lately, and especially so do I. I guess from being a coffee addict, I went on to being a cocoa addict lol. I still miss coffee though, nothing’s gonna change it, and I’ve lost hope that there is an equally good alternative that is good for me in the sense that it wouldn’t make me as anxious as coffee did, that I’d like the taste of, and that would make me as energised as coffee did. But cocoa at least tastes delicious, and I like to have mine very strong just as I did coffee.

Although no one in our house is particularly scared of the coronavirus and getting sick, and even my Dad stopped watching TV now that COVID-19 news are everywhere, Mum says that going out of the house is starting to make her feel a bit anxious when she sees all those people in masks, and when they tell everyone to put gloves on in grocery stores etc. She said that when she got home she felt a bit paranoid for quite a while, feeling like her hands are very dirty all the time, no matter how intensely she would wash them, and that all objects and surfaces around her are dirty and full of germs as well. 😀 I can understand that, I think I would feel similarly, even though in general as I said I don’t feel particularly scared or stressed out by the pandemic. The only thing I’m anxious about is if my family catch it, as I would be devastated if someone from my immediate family would get serious complications or die from it, but then it’s not very likely as no one in my immediate family has any underlying conditions other than my Mum has episodic asthma which is generally mild when it does flare up and is now in remission.

I spent a lot of the day trying to help Sofi with her school work and encourage her to think independently. I’m not the most patient person with kids, not even with Sofi, and neither am I particularly tolerant to ignorance or good at teaching others, so that was difficult for both of us. Misha was in her room though, so he was making the atmosphere calmer. 😀 Then we were watching a movie, eating crisps and bouncing on those big, exercise balls, I don’t know how they’re exactly called in English, and so did Misha with us. I don’t remember anything from the movie itself as I always struggle with following movie plotlines and it wasn’t anything I was into, just some teenage-y kind of movie, and we were talking meanwhile so I don’t think Sofi registered much either.

I’ve also bought some new English books for myself, and an audiobook for my Dad (in Polish of course) so he can listen to it at work.

It’s evening already, and I think I’ll soon be going to sleep, since I’ve had such an early start. As you can see, there hasn’t been much going on, but overall things are going well. I’ve noticed that I am actually having somewhat lower anxiety levels since the world has began self-isolating, which makes sense as a lot of my anxiety triggers are temporarily gone or have decreased to the bare minimum. So, subjectively, so far, I can’t say I feel the toll of this whole situation.

How are you doing today? How has the coronavirus outbreak and its consequences affected you so far? Are you feeling very worried or anxious? Or maybe bored? Let me know. 🙂 Or write your own #WDIIA post.