Ways of showing gratitude to others. And how about yourself? List of the former, and my (probably biased) musings about the latter.

Gosh, what a wordy and clumsy title! But I didn’t have any more graceful-sounding ideas and didn’t want it to be too bland either.

A while back, I bought myself another book to work with for my journal, and also for blog post inspirations, about the existence of which, again, I learned from Astrid at

A Multitude of Musings.

It’s Listify, written by Marina Greenway, and as you can guess from the title, it focuses mostly on lists. The first part of this book is all about gratitude, and the first list idea is the following:

   Ways I can show gratitude to myself and others

It’s important to show others we appreciate and care about them, but it’s equally important to acknowledge ourselves and all we do. List the ways you can do so, and challenge yourself to do one from each list everyday.

As for the challenging myself part, I wrote the original list in my journal a few days ago and decided to indeed do these things to show my gratitude to people. So far I don’t find it particularly difficult as it’s mostly my close family, and of course I’m doing the MIMRA which is also one huge act of gratitude but also a whole lot of fun for me. I suppose though with people I’d feel less comfortable around I’d have more problems with some of these points, but I’ll try anyway when there will be an opportunity, as gratitude is a good thing, obviously.

Below is the list of ways of showing gratitude to others that I’ve come up with so far.

   Gratitude to others

  •    Simply say “thank you” or acknowledge in any other verbal way that I appreciate what they did.
  • Give them an appreciative hug or show them affection in some other way.
  • Compliment or praise them, or say anything nice that could boost their mood or confidence.
  • Help in any way I can.
  • Be attentive to their needs and show them my interest in them and that I care about them.
  • Listen carefully and actively.
  • Do something that may make them happier or even just make them laugh or smile.
  • smile to them.
  • spend time with them.
  • Do random acts of kindness for them.
  • Be there for them when they need it.
  • Do the same thing for them that they did to me, if applicable.
  • Give them something nice that they will enjoy, like a care package.
  • Give some of my free time and energy to them, even when I could use it to do something else that I may like more.
  • Be patient with them.
  • Offer advice if wanted.
  • Remember about them – for example, when doing shopping for myself I may do it for them as well if they need it, or if I see something that I know they like I can get it for them, or at least tell them that I saw it and where so that they know I often think about them and know what they like. –
  • Write something nice about them, or for them, as writing often feels easier than talking to me.
  • Give them their favourite meal or treat.
  • Find a book or music they could like, again, to show them that I care and know something about them.

Can you come up with anything more? Please do share in the comments, unless you prefer to write a separate post and pingback, whatever feels better. 🙂

   Self-gratitude

Now that was (and is) a tricky thing to me. Not just implementing it, but generally the concept. I don’t know, perhaps I’m seeing it in a very inflexible way, and most likely, just like I wrote in the title, my view of this is very biased, but I can’t really see much sense in self-gratitude. Maybe I just don’t understand it well. As I was preparing to write this post, after I read some things online about it, thinking that perhaps they will enlighten me (which they didn’t) I asked my Mum what she thinks about it, whether she has ever felt it, and if she has any ideas about how one could express it, and also how it’s different from self-care or taking pride in your accomplishments. My Mum had a similar view on this and actually started laughing and said that to her it also doesn’t make much sense, because according to her in a way it implies that there would be another self inside of you to whom you could be grateful for example for doing something you yourself wouldn’t think about doing, or wouldn’t be able. Like: “Oh, thanks, self, for reminding me that I should set my alarm at 6 AM, I don’t want to sleep in”. 😀 I mean, do any of you really think like this – say you’re driving somewhere, and instead of taking your usual route you have a gut feeling to take a roundabout one, and later you learn that on your usual route there was a huge traffic jam because there was an accident earlier – would you think: “Oh yay, thank me!”? If you would, it’s not at all that I think it’s wrong for anyone to do this and I think you shouldn’t, I’m just curious and would like to know because it’s certainly not my default reaction and I would probably burst out with laughter if I tried to force myself to it.

What I assume people understand as self-gratitude, is for example when you had an exam and passed it very well, you learned for ages until your brain got so swollen it nearly burst out of your skull and you mainly focused on this goal of passing this particular exam because it’s important for you, so perhaps you often refused yourself many things you liked and spent most of your time with your nose in the books despite you didn’t particularly enjoy it. But you did pass the exam and you’re euphoric, so now you can go for a huge dinner plus some very fancy coffee and an ice-cream dessert, then go to the spa and have a massage and then go shopping for things you really enjoy shopping for, because this is your way of thanking yourself for your perseverance, determination and for achieving your goal.

And that’s all good. But, just like I said earlier when asking my Mum, how’s that different from just regular self-care or celebrating your accomplishments? It seems like it should if it has a different name, and when I was thinking about a potential list of ways to show myself gratitude, I thought it was just a list of self-care activities.

Perhaps I don’t think in such a “Thank me” way, because I am a Christian, and rather than thank myself, a much more natural thing for me is to thank God. Like, when it’s a nice day and the weather is lovely and there’s a lot of crunchy, fallen leaves for Misha outside, I’d rather say “Thank you, God, for giving me the idea to go out and refresh my brain, and thank you for the lovely weather and that there are so many beautiful leaves for Misha here” than something like “Thank me for going out”. It just feels totally unnatural to me, and I’m not just talking about the “thank me” form which I’m mostly using in a humourous way to emphasise just how unnatural and awkward the whole thing seems to me. I may rather say: “Oh, I’m so glad I went out” or: “What a great idea I had that I got some leaves for Misha” (that’s still not my typical inner dialogue as I’m normally way more self-critical and sarcastic with myself but at least something I’m trying to aim for).

When thinking about any accomplishments, I don’t really think of them in a way that I’m grateful to myself for them. For example, I am quite proud of my language learning accomplishments but am not grateful to myself for them. It’s not my merit that I have good linguistic skills, I didn’t get to choose them at birth or program my brain to pick up languages easily. Neither is it really my merit that I’m learning Welsh now, because I wouldn’t be able to do it if the people who did the course wouldn’t create it, if my Swedish teacher didn’t show me how to learn a language on my own and didn’t always believe in me and that I can do it, if I wasn’t taught how to use technology and if my Dad wouldn’t be employing me so I could actually allow myself for paying for the courses, buying Welsh speech synths, Welsh books and what not without stressing myself about it. Thinking according to Christian faith, I wouldn’t even be able to take any action having all these things if I wouldn’t get the idea from Holy Spirit. Okay, I guess I could be grateful to myself for acting upon that idea and not wasting the skills I have, but in what special way should I show this gratitude to myself? Sometimes I also have a sort of self-gratitude feeling when I feel really euphoric about something so my self-esteem also goes up but that’s very much fleeting and not a mature, serious kind of feeling so the more I don’t know in what way I could act on it.

Going my Mum’s trail of thought, that it sounds like we should be grateful to some other self, well, perhaps that makes some sense when we think that our personalities are made up of different parts. There may be, speaking in a very basic way, a part of us that is more prone to do good things, and another one that makes us do things that we regret later. So we may be grateful to that “good” part. Perhaps that’s what it’s all about. Or I’ve mentioned on this blog sometimes how I have this part of myself that I call Bibiel, who is very childlike and humourous and eccentric and always talks about Bibiel-self in first person and who is like a mentally healthier sort of, less inhibited version of me whom I actually genuinely like. So maybe the clue is that I should feel grateful to Bibiel? Actually I sort of am, because without Bibiel I’m not sure where I’d be now, and Bibiel helps me with a lot of things. Perhaps I should be more grateful to my inner self-critic Maggie when she’s not as critical of me as she is usually, and maybe that will make her feel better?

My Mum goes as far as to say that all these self- things only make people more conceited. I think that’s a rather huge overstatement because it’s definitely important to be kind to yourself and love yourself, as much for your mental, physical and emotional, as spiritual wellbeing and even the wellbeing of others, though there is certainly a risk of this as these days we hear about alll things self- all the time and it’s easy to lose balance between what’s still self-love and what’s already conceit, in my opinion.

So my view of this is definitely strongly influenced by the fact that I’m a practicing Christian, someone who is not might think differently, as well as the fact that I have avoidant personality disorder, which has quite a strong influence on how I feel about myself. And it’s because of AVPD that I think I may be biased here.

So I’d like to hear your thoughts about this. Do you practice self-gratitude? If so, in what ways and how would you define it? In what ways would you say is it different from self-care and celebrating your accomplishments? Am I missing out on something huge here? Let me know. I may not be able to share your opinion, but that doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned, and who knows, you may even convince me. 🙂 Oh yeah, and let me know if you can think of some other ways to show gratitude to other people perhaps ones that you use yourself that I didn’t list.

 

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.

 

Question of the day (15th November).

Hi people. 🙂

I’m so sorry I haven’t posted for a week but this week has been rather nasty for me.

Do you believe in ghosts, spirits or paranormal occurences? If so, have you had an experience yourself?

My answer:

In a way I do, in a way I don’t. I don’t believe in ghosts that haunt the attics or show up to innocent people at nights just to make them jump out of their skin. What I do believe in, as a Christian and Catholic, is that there is purgatory and that the souls of dead people can visit us on Earth if need be – that is if they need us to pray for them, or perhaps to help, especially if a person has helped them in the past to get out of purgatory or something or if they’re family. – I guess technically you could call them ghosts but this term sounds firstly rather superficial to me, and secondly, kind of offensive. I would never call someone I liked or loved who had died a ghost. If they visited me I’d rather refer to them by their name or said they visited me in spirit or that their soul came to me or something, not a ghost! Also, purgatory souls do not want to do us any harm, not even creep us out, so, even if someone does experience such a grace and extreme privilege that they can talk to or see a person who has died, it’s usually in dreams or such unless you’re a mystic or something. They don’t want to scare people or haunt their houses or blackmail them or possess them or whatever else stupid things people can come up with. I don’t believe that what people do at spiritual seances is calling the real souls of their loved ones and the people who died. Or rather, okay, they may want to evoke those people but it’s not them who they see, rather those are demons and evil spirits pretending to be who the person wanted it to be. Souls of people in purgatory or heaven don’t come to you at your whim, not even at their own, but when God wants it, He is smarter than we and them together and, seriously, He knows what to do and when, without us telling Him. And the consequences of such evoking spirits can be nasty. As for other paranormal stuff, it’s hard to say, I have an impression different people classify different things as paranormal and also have different terms for what’s considered paranormal. Since there can be so many such phenomena I guess I won’t be writing about those things in detail but I’ll just say a lot of paranormal phenomena feel like absolute bullshit to me, while there are some that I definitely do believe in and that they exist and can happen, and what I think of them can really vary haha.

As for my own experiences, don’t know if that fully counts as paranormal, I guess more esoteric, but back in the day I used to have a lot of OOBEs (out of body experiences) and LDs (lucid dreams). And lucid dreams still happen to me but these days they’re unintended and not even half as frequent as they used to be. I have witnessed and experienced some things that perhaps may feel on the edge of paranormal for some but overall I don’t think I am the kind of person who is susceptible for such things to occur to me. I know from my Mum and grandma that my great grandmother – my maternal grandma’s mother – was very devoted to praying for purgatory souls. She was a Franciscan tertiary and was said to be able to see purgatory souls on quite several occasions (or experience their presence in any other way and communicate with them, I’m not sure about the details). I think it’s so fascinating and I’m so happy and proud to have had someone like this in my family, I regret that she died before I was born and I’d really like to know what she’s like more than just what I’ve heard. But she was very humble about it so didn’t even talk much about it to people from what I know. I think this is largely why my grandma, my Mum and me and Zofijka feel a close connection to purgatory souls and praying for them is a huge part of each of us’ individual spirituality. I have several people that have died and that I feel a close connection to that I pray for every day and ask them for intercession so that we can help each other, I think it’s so fun that it works like this that we can actually take care of each other, be thankful to each other, count on each other’s help and try our best to return the favours, haha. I have not had such spectacular experiences like my great grandmother did, but while I often find it hard to pray, to feel God’s presence in my life, I guess everyone who has some spiritual life has such difficulties at times, my purgatory souls help me with that, and there have been many occasions in my life, especially in recent six or so years, that I have felt their presence very deeply, not in any metaphysical level or anything like that, but I knew they were there praying for me and helping me. Especially at the beginning of my journey with praying for them, straight after I sort of re-converted, there have been SO many absolutely strange, wonderful and unbelievable, seemingly purely coincidental but on the other hand very unlikely to happen otherwise situations in my life, it was mind-blowing! And not only was it simply mind-blowing to observe but I also believe that their intercession has helped me, more or less directly, hard to say, to get to the point where I’m in my life right now. One of the souls I’m putting a lot of effort in helping is one of my music crushes Cornelis Vreeswijk who died 32 years ago and I’m sure needs a whole lot of help, and, of course it’s just my belief or an assumption and maybe it wasn’t anything to do with him, just how I want to see it, but always when I think about how I got out of my boarding school (which was just a couple months after I got my crush on Cornelis and quite soon after I started praying for him) and how absolutely weirdly, miraculously and fabulously all my problems with further schooling were solved, and the following school year was my best and strangest school year ever, when I think of that I always think of him, and am grateful for his intercession (as strange as it sounds that Vreeswijk would pray for anyone but I believe his spiritual views may be different now) because I was praying a lot for his soul and I often just talked to him casually and was asking him that if I’d helped his situation at all, I would very much appreciate him helping me as well, as I was struggling a whole lot mentally and with life in general. Since then, there have also been many small, often humourous coincidences in my daily life that I strongly suspect may have something to do with my relationship with the purgatory souls. Also, another way of helping the souls out of purgatory is to offer your sufferings for them or make any sort of sacrifices for them. That sounds so pathetic when you think of it especially if you’re not religious and have no experience yourself, but since I’ve been praying for those purgatory souls I feel close with, I am really happy that I can offer up all my daily life struggles whether big or small to help them, and I started to enjoy fasting and like seriously fasting, not just not eating meat on Fridays but having one day once in a while when I wouldn’t eat anything whatsoever. I used to think it’s a huge deal but really, when you have a reasonable motive and are supported by Holy Spirit and the soul you’re praying for it doesn’t have to be like this, although I did have to switch to intermittent fasting when I want to fast because otherwise my blood pressure drops like crazy. That’s by no means paranormal, but it definitely is a wee bit otherworldly.

When I was 10 and recovering from the Achilles tendons surgery, with my legs in plasters from thighs to toes and unable to move them for six weeks, I was super neurotic and feeling very lonely and anxious and just all things awful, and this was a time in my life when my relationship with my faith and with God and all that was incredibly neurotic too. One of the many nights when I couldn’t sleep and felt very lonely and desperate, I had a feeling that someone came into my room, or rather sort of floated in, and I could sense someone standing by my bed. I reached my hand out and felt some silky fabric, as if I was touching someone’s dress or something. Knowing me, I would normally be creeped out in such a situation, at least a bit, even these days, let alone in the state of mind I was then. Yet I wasn’t creeped out, I immediately had a feeling that I was experiencing something quite unusual. I suddenly felt soothed by this presence at my bedside even though everything was back to normal in a second and I didn’t feel anyone there with me anymore. And for whatever reason, whether rightly or not, I was strongly convinced it was Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn who visited me. It was her holiday that day and I knew about it. I was convinced about it for many years, though considering how generally messed up I was at that time and how surreal and vague the incident was and feels I’m no longer so sure of it, I’m actually very skeptical. I wasn’t psychotic or anything like that at all, and it’s not completely unlikely of course that it did happen, but I just think my sensory deprivation and mental state could make me think and perceive things in really strange ways, especially that my imagination is overactive even when my brain is doing much better, and it’s more likely that it was the effect of my brain feeling completely disoriented and more that I just really needed to feel soothed and less lonely. But it was interesting.

Also that’s not my own experience but I’ve bee on several pilgrimages to a sanctuary where a lot of people experience a very fascinating thing that is called sleeping in the Spirit, or something similar. It is when the priest prays over a person and they fall asleep in the Spirit. It’s just like people lose control and fall to the floor and just fall asleep for a couple minutes. When there is prayer over people, some men have to stand behind a person just in case to hold them if they fall so that they won’t hurt themselves or fall hard unexpectedly and there can be quite a few people falling asleep during such services. I used to be sceptical about that and so was my Mum because, well, there are mostly older women going for those pilgrimages, you could very easily think it’s hysteria or something. But it’s really all kinds of people who fall asleep, often such that you really wouldn’t suspect of being histrionic or attention-seeking or overzealous or anything like that. It once happened to my gran who said she didn’t feel nothing while asleep but when she woke up she was feeling calm and rested as if she was sleeping for a long time. Still, I am a control freak and I can’t help but feel a bit creeped out when that happens, even though I rationally know there’s no need to feel this way. But I think you need to feel open for such a thing to happen, and really trust in God and let Him control things. It’s never happened to me, but that priest was praying over me for the first time last year and I felt a strange sensation like I was very firmly pushed backwards. I was absolutely convinced that, for whatever reason, it was that priest doing so and at the beginning I was like huh, anyone can make people fall asleep in the Spirit if it’s like this, 😀 and my Mum and Zofijka who also experienced this type of prayer for the first time were convinced about it too, but my gran, who’s going there every year and has loads of experience in that sanctuary told us that she could see those people falling asleep many times and that they are not pushed, they’re just sort of bending backwards. Weird. Apart from that I didn’t feel anything, certainly not that I was going to fall asleep. I was only a little bit nervous about what if I will, and a tiny bit frustrated because I came to the sanctuary to ask God to help me with my sleep paralysis, and I expected I’d be able to tell the priest about that during that prayer, yet the priest knew from my gran that her granddaughter is blind and readily assumed I must have come there to pray to be able to see, but in the end I guess it didn’t matter what he was thinking right? Again, would I call that falling asleep in Spirit paranormal? Not really. Supernatural and extraordinary? Yes. I think there is a difference. But people perceive different things differently so I’m mentioning it.

How about your views and experiences with all sorts of paranormal/supernatural/spiritual phenomena? 🙂

,My thoughts]

Question of the day (28th August).

Hi guys. 🙂

Here are some questions for you.

What were your teenage interests?

My answer:

I think my interests have been, overall, pretty consistent. I don’t think very much has changed since then. At some point, as a teen, I felt very lost, in an emotional and spiritual way, and was full of shitty feelings that I hadn’t let out for years that were bottling up, and, as a way of silent rebellion, I decided I didn’t want to be Christian anymore and desperately tried to believe I was an agnostic, then Wiccan, or something. It was because my school was Catholic, and I felt like there was quite a lot of pressure put on it. But also, my family is very Christian so in a way I wanted to rebel against them too because, what I didn’t fully know back then, deep down I was feeling rejected by them, so I wanted to reject them as well. My Mum once told me that she’s not worried about me, because she knows I’m at the right place, that she knows I’ll never be lost in life because my school is Catholic and because I myself am mature enough to know what’s good for me, as if this was all you need as for not to feel lost at some point in your life. She said she was most worried about Olek, who was doing a lot of silly things at the time. So – because I think deep down I was desperate for attention even though then I’d say I wasn’t – I sort of decided that she’ll have a reason to worry about me too. And I just wanted some adventure, ya know, something fun to do, but most of all, something that could give me an escape from my life. So, getting to the point, I think my only other interests that I don’t have right now but had back then were all the spiritual stuff and esotericism. I was lucid dreaming whenever I could, or doing astral projections, talking to psychics and doing my own rituals and just reading all that I could find on the topic of astrology, esotericism and all that. I still think it’s interesting, but am no longer directly into it, apart from some stuff in astrology that I genuinely think makes some sense. I was also hugely into new age-y things. But most of all, I loved lucid dreaming and experimenting with Doses, which are like sound drugs – these are sounds which change something in your brain waves and simulate the effects of drugs. – They say they’re not addictive so that’s why I gave them a go, but in fact they can damage your brain pretty badly and, really, considering all the stuff I was experimenting with, I assume I must have a really determined and patient Guardian Angel. 😀 Or just as they say, silly people always get lucky haha. Apart from it weakening my relationship with God, and having some obvious but not overly tragical emotional and spiritual consequences that I had to deal with after that, I don’t think it did very much harm to me, not quite as much as it potentially could. I’ve started getting more severe sleep paralysis since then but that doesn’t necessarily have to be related. And my relationship with God was very difficult even before, and I’m still trying to get closer to Him which is at times very difficult, but I think I’m already much more bonded with him than I ever was. Oh, and at that time, I also loved all things Gothic. I wanted to be a Goth, I listened to Gothic music, when I was at home I dressed very much in a Gothic way but without the makeup, I listened to loads of Gothic rock and metal and symphonic metal and such and later on also to artists like Emilie Autumn – I still sort of like Emilie Autumn but listening to her always makes me depressed, and I still listen to some Gothic songs/bands that don’t have something that would go against Christianity in their music/in the way they present themselves, but I’m not half as crazy about it. – I did meet a real 100% Gothic Goth some time later on when that esoteric phase was already over for me and after I came back to God and came back home (it was my dear friend Jacek from Helsinki) who got me into his online Gothic cycle, but, being slightly older and more certain of my own values and all, I didn’t get fully into it, I never became a real Goth. I learned that there are people calling themselves Christian Goths and I identified as such for some time while hanging out with all them Goths in Jacek’s online community, but also I didn’t wear all that stuff and makeup they usually do, didn’t listen to most of their music, so it was a very loose connection. I liked that and liked being one of them but at the same time being a part of such communities, who are sort of supposed to look the same, like the same things etc. was never fully for me and I never truly felt like I belonged there. So, my fascination evaporated relatively quickly, my contacts with Goths loosened even more and then I just only talked to Jacek and all my other interests started to really bloom. I never do all that esoteric stuff anymore and don’t have the slightest desire to do, also I don’t take Doses anymore and don’t do OOBE and such, I sometimes lucid dream because sometimes that’s the only way for me to avoid the scary dreams and sleep paralysis, or it happens without my control, but it’s never like I seriously want to do it. It was always a bit difficult for me anyway because to get to the lucid dream part, first I had to get through terrible sleep paralysis and anxiety that was through the roof. My “transformation” started very suddenly, but that’s a whole new story, and I am so so grateful I got that chance!

How about you? 🙂 How much has changed in your interests since you were a teen? 🙂

Song of the day (31st December) – Enya – “Oíche Chiúin” (Silent Night).

I have a niggling feeling that despite my love for Irish language there hasn’t been much Irish language music that I posted here actually. So here’s the Irish version of “Silent Night” in ENya’s exquisite performance. I just love it so, so much!

Question of the day.

Where do you stand on the whole ‘let’s kick off Christmas’ business?

My answer:

If I’m totally honest, I actually find it a bit annoying how overrated Christmas is. I do like it, but I just hate how commercialised it is. I might be wrong on that, but I have an impression that we here in Poland are a bit more composed in this field. Of course, media and marketing are pretty universal all around the world, but as for people, I have an impression they’re not as obsessed about Christmas as people in some other countries often seem to be. ‘Cause, from what I see as an outside observer, it looks like as soon as the Halloween boom ends, people are running straight into the Christmas obsession.

Over here, the traditions of All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day are pretty much a part of our culture, a rather important one I’d say, so we come into the November in a rather slow, melancholic way, rather than with our mind racing already to December. You can see gravelights in the shops, and the atmosphere, even in the always noisy media, is a bit more tranquil and pensive.

So like the first decade or so is occupied by thinking about our loved ones who died, and then is Independence Day, which is always hugely talked about in the media, but I don’t think it has a really important place in marketing, though this year it was a bit different because it was the 100th anniversary of our Independence so it was all much more festive.

And then, we too, kick off the Christmas season. At least the shops and streets and media do, people are a bit more restrained, or perhaps have slow reaction, but generally it’s not like switching to the Christmas mode straight away, it’s more of a process, so it’s actually the second half of November when things are really running. But still, people DO obsess about Christmas. I guess even my writing this post that early shows it very well, haha, but I saw the question in the Internets, so wanted to know what your opinions are and share mine. 😀

And I wonder why on Earth?! Are we all in the so called Christian world so naive and submissive and whatever media will tell us, or shops will set on the display, we’ll swallow it? Or maybe, although so many people declare they are atheists, or agnostics, or Christians, but not practicing (what’s the point in being a not practicing Christian, that’s another thing), maybe we still subconsciously need something to believe in, something to celebrate, something to be happy about, so let’s be happy that Christ was born, no matter whether it makes any difference for us practically or not. But that seems not a very good explanation, especially that in all that mess it’s actually hard to tell, what we are celebrating. It’s Jesus’ birthday, but sadly, although the celebrations are running, the birthday boy Himself doesn’t receive much of attention, I’d risk a statement that some of His “guests” actually might not realise what they are celebrating really, other than it’s just to have fun. Maybe that’s why it gets on my nerves when people write Xmas instead of Christmas. I know, I know, the Greek letter Chi, but still, it looks so weird… In the spelling Christmas, you have Christ, so you know what’s it about, but Xmas looks so enigmatic. Like a mathematical operation, with an X. No one knows what it is… And I hate maths too, and I (usually) try to avoid the abbreviations, so yeah, it really don’t like “Xmas”. It looks like a mass/mainstream holiday about which no one knows anything. Yuck. My Mum once said a funny and interesting thing, if aliens came to us around Christmas time – and I think they don’t have to necessarily be aliens like from another planet, anyone who doesn’t really get the modern world, culture, just lives under the rock, – so if they came and saw all the people so very excited, rushing to the shops, all the decorations and generally the overwhelming waves of stimuli everywhere, what would they think we’re celebrating? Would they be able to guess it? My Mum said that in her opinion they’d think we’re celebrating that the snow has fallen, or, because it doesn’t, we’re making a ceremony to beg heavens for sending it. 😀 Quite possible. Well, they don’t have to know what we are celebrating, but usually, when people celebrate something, especially that loudly and festively, they have a good reason for it, they want the reason to be visible, known, they are happy about it. So what are we happy about when celebrating Christmas? I mean there are lots and lots of things to be happy about, but is there something particular for most people that would set Christmas apart from any other holiday? Or maybe, the reason why we love Christmas so much, is that we’re so greedy! For good, festive food, for presents… Actually, for many people, presents seem to be what counts the most, and while it’s obvious that we enjoy receiving nice things, and it’s rather normal for children to focus on it a lot, I’m not sure it’s a good thing for adults to look forward for any holidays mainlyin hopes they will get something, as a primary reason. So I hope that’s not the point of it.

Also, what strikes me, is how when finally Christmas starts, the overwhelming euphoria finally subsides, then when it’s the second day of Christmas, or Boxing Day or st. Stephen’s Day or however else you call it, it’s much much quieter with people solely focused on watching TV and eating the leftovers, or curing from digestive issues, and then when the second day of Christmas is gone, all the turmoil is gone too. Well that’s quite logical, Christmas is over so the euphoria is over too, but (maybe it’s just me?) to me it looks a little bit unnatural. Like you obsess about something, shout about it, and then you suddenly go quiet. Sometimes it feels a bit like we already forgot about Christmas as soon as it’s finished. It shows how true it is that waiting for something nice to happen is often much more enjoyable than this thing itself.

But I have an impression that it should be the other way around! It still is so in a way over here, and I guess generally in Catholic countries Christmas season, the actual Christmas season is still a bit more pronounced despite the pre-Christmas euphoria. ‘Cause it doesn’t make much sense to me that now people want to have Christmas season in Advent or before, and then all the joy is gone after Christmas ends. It is like with a child who can’t wait for his Christmas presents, so he unwraps them weeks earlier, and then after Christmas all the joy is just a dim recollection.

I feel like Advent should be the time of awaiting. Some people say it should be a sad time of uncertainty, I don’t think so. But it definitely shouldn’t be euphoric and shouty. Just waiting patiently and happily, preparing, in peace and quiet, maybe a bit pensively.

And then, when Christmas (or Christmas Eve) comes, or just a couple days before, you can get real Christmassy, get out the decorations and stuff.

And after Christmas, you have your lovely Christmas season until 6th January, or even longer if you wish. I don’t know actually whether it’s a norm in other countries too that Christmas season can last for longer. But for us, it’s as long as until 2nd February. That’s how long you can “officially” sing Christmas carols, and you can still see Christmas trees and other christmasy decorations in like mid January in lots of houses. People are eating up their ginger breads, visiting all those whom they weren’t able to visit on Christmas and giving them presents, etc.

At least to me, that makes much more sense, and that’s how things are in my house. If we have some stuff to do that needs more preparations, or that we don’t want to do in a rush, we will of course do it earlier, not in the last minute, but that’s usually not until the December starts. From what I know, in other countries which celebrate Advent, it can start at different times, but for us it’s roughly last Sunday of November or first Sunday of December.

Our family tradition related to Christmas is that we can’t do without pierogi with cabbage and mushrooms on Christmas Eve’s dinner. I suppose you all know what pierogi are, but if you don’t, I’ll tell you it’s a dish, made of dough, and they can have various stuffings. The Christmas pierogi are usually with cabbage and mushrooms. We all love it except for my Dad, and both me and my siblings find it the best and absolutely necessary element of Christmas Eve dinner, ’cause other than that it’s mainly fish, and neither of us is too keen on fish. Particularly my brother loves these pierogi.

So they have to be prepared earlier, and our poor Mum usually makes a whole lot of them so that there will be enough of them for the whole Christmas season, so no one would whine that they are already gone. They wait in the refridgerator until Christmas Eve.

As for the Christmas decorations, we usually get a Christmas tree and decorate it just a couple of days before Christmas Eve, and sometimes even on Christmas Eve morning. Same with other decorations, which had been mostly made by my Mum, or things that we have since many years and don’t change them. Our Christmas tree rarely stands for a long time, Mum usually wants to get rid of it quickly as she hates the needles on the floor, and Misha is usually very determined to climb up on it, take off the decorations and eat the branches, but we don’t want an artificial one.

Me and Zofijka really like making gingerbreads, but we don’t always do them, but if we do, it’s also usually about a week before Christmas. The rest of food is made later.

Buying presents is a thing that is quite time consuming and sometimes might be a little bit of a hassle, but for us it always seems to go rather smoothly, I buy all of the things I want to give people or myself online about a week before Christmas or so, or I go buy them with Mum when there is another opportunity and we have a bit of a time for it.

And of course Mum does a big cleaning a couple days before Christmas, but, if I’m honest with you, my Mum is a little bit of a stickler and for me it doesn’t seem as that big house cleaning is particularly different or bigger than any other casual cleaning, (but don’t tell her I said this 😉 ).

In the past, our Christmases used to look very festive and familial and loud, and, of course it’s nice to see all your family, have a lot of yummy food and stuff, but it was always quite challenging and anxiety provoking for me, and in a way I didn’t particularly like it. Since a couple of years though, we have our Christmas Eve dinner at home – we always had it with grandparents in the past – and then, after the dinner with just my parents and siblings and Misha, we go for a while to grandparents and generally my Mum’s family, until it’s time for the Midnight Mass. And last year, apart from that, we weren’t celebrating too festively, we spent time mostly together, without extended family, and it was calm and not overly euphoric.A

And that would be all as for my Christmas preparations and stuff, and as you see, they’re neither big, nor particularly early, it’s also that I myself don’t have much to prepare other than buying presents for people, I don’t have my own house so luckily I don’t have to do the big house cleaning, it could be quite disastrous and then indeed it could be a good idea that I should start it straight after Halloween. 😀

And I am happy that in our family it’s clear what we are celebrating.

OK, so what’s YOUR view on this? And how early or late do you personally prepare for Christmas? Do you like it? 🙂