Question of the day.

If you could change three things about your country, what would you change?

My answer:

While I think that our current government (United Right) is way better than what we had for years with the previous party (Civic Platform) which was in power, it could still be a lot better and there is lots of room for improvement, and I feel quite sad that for now, there doesn’t seem to be any better option. Lately in particular, I’ve noticed that our foreign politics/diplomacy is totally crap and if only I could, I’d change that asap, somehow. I don’t know if it’s that we have no luck for ministers of foreign affairs or is this seriously intended but it’s really bad, if not ridiculous sometimes.

Another thing I would change is I’d improve the situation of disabled people, but in particular of those who are mentally ill or have some rare diseases. Not that other disabilities don’t need help or it’s less important or anything like that, as a blind person I know that there is a lot that could be done to the blind community, which I’m sure is true of any country, and other disabled communities also have their often more than fair share of problems, but also being mentally ill I feel like the mentally ill community has much less support, and there’s an awful lack of awareness. I’ve heard that there’s especially some huge problem with children with mental health issues and that they frequently don’t get the level of healthcare they need. I once had a conversation with someone – perhaps even here in the blogosphere, can’t remember –
about personality disorders and how they’re stigmatised. And I said that here in Poland they aren’t even stigmatised like they are in the US, because people don’t know enough about them to form some strong enough stereotypes or something. Yes, it is also a thing here that when doctors don’t know what to diagnose someone with, and a patient is somewhat “difficult”, they’ll happily go with BPD, it is overdiagnosed, but an average person who hasn’t had much to do with the field of mental health in their life won’t have much of an idea about what borderline personality disorder is in practice, unless they know someone with it and know they have such a diagnosis. People here don’t say they’re so “OCD”, because while OCD is certainly not unheard of, people aren’t familiar with it enough to just use the term casually like Americans do for example. Stigma is a huge problem, but I personally feel like lack of actual awareness is a bigger problem. Most people know something about mental health and mental illnesses in theory, but in practice not much. There aren’t a lot of resources for mentally ill people, online for example. Or communities, whether offline or online where people could receive some support, unless they’re in psychiatric institutions, or there’s also no support for their families. There are charities, or individuals who are trying to do something on their own, but their outreach is often limited so there’s only so much they can do. It would be great if there was more initiative higher up.

There even seems to be some lack of awareness among professionals, or so it seems to me as a mentally ill person and as a keen observer of people. Since I’ve joined Carol Anne’s of Therapy Bits email support group for people with DID, as a supporter, I’ve been wondering and trying to do some, any, research about the situation of people with dissociative identity disorder here in Poland. There are some basically informative pages on health-related websites geared at patients, some a little more indepth but theoretical articles on psychology-related blogs, but other than that… nothing really. The term “split identity/self” is familiar to people and some people say they have a split self when they are of two minds or feel kind of internally conflicted. When I dug deeper I found some trauma specialists touching very briefly on DID in their works or during lectures but I couldn’t even find someone who would specialise in this. Later on, I remember I found some sort of a map or something if I remember correctly, I’m not good with maps and diagrams but generally it was about in which countries this disorder is diagnosed and I did manage to figure out that Poland wasn’t on there. Later yet, I briefly mentioned it to my last therapist that I am part of such a mailing list and trying to support people somehow, and she immediately was all like: “But you know it’s not a real thing, DID? It’s only a sort of psychosis?” I said that it doesn’t seem so to me, but it’s her who is the professional here after all so she should know better, but I didn’t want to get into a discussion on this during my therapy session which should be about me, not DID. That was really sad and kind of upsetting to hear to me though.

Our country isn’t free from traumatic events occurring to little children. And so I feel for all those Poles who do have or might have DID and either don’t know about it or no one really cares, and I’d like it to be different.

Speaking about mental health that would also include the autistic/other neurodivergent people and making things easier for them in our society, especially adults and more “high functioning” children. I’m not autistic myself as you probably know but as you may also know I do have some connection to the autism world, having been assessed for it twice and “accused” of having it many more times, and have a bit of an idea what it looks like here with it. Similarly I feel like we need more awareness of rare diseases, as much as possible given that they’re rare, as I know a lot of rare disease patients here struggle with access to their medications and funding for them.

And lastly, culture, yay! We have such great, Polish culture. So many Polish artists who are undiscovered and often very poor. I’m not talking celebrities, who often got famous because their mummies or daddies had just the right views during the communist period, which helped them reach the fame in some area, or just get enough money, and then their children inherited the fame along with the surname, even if they aren’t all that talented at anything in particular. I am talking actually talented people who don’t get to promote themselves anywhere significant enough. One thing our government really did wrong was with the public media. I’d like to believe their intentions were originally good indeed, as they wanted, and still do, to repolonise our media (because the majority of media in Poland are owned by foreign companies). They concentrated their efforts on the public media at first, pretty much right away after they won the Parliament Election, and changed people in charge of Polish Television and Polish Radio. That’s pretty much all they did really, only now they are kinda, sorta trying to do more and repolonise the press, and it’s been five years since that election if I’m counting right. Anyway, what they did back then wasn’t really a gamechanger at all, because the people they chose to manage the public media are very incompetent for their roles, as it seems. Especially the chairman of TVP (Polish Television) has earned himself a very bad reputation, both from those on the left, and on the right. He’s a real king of cringe to put it shortly, but what saddens me the most is that his name is Jacek, and I really like Jaceks, and he is making a bad reputation for all the cool Jaceks out there, I’m afriaid. 😦 Well no, I’m just kidding obviously, I’m sure a cool Jacek can defend himself, but it’s just sad to see such a cringey guy and know his name is Jacek… The King of Cringe is particularly well-known for supporting disco polo artists and their music (disco polo is essentialy Polish disco, very cringey and trashy). One disco polo artist who is quite well-liked there in TVP once tweeted that disco polo is like new folk music. That Polish composers like Chopin or Moniuszko were once strongly inspired by folk music, so maybe there will be a time when future Polish composers will be inspired by disco polo. You can imagine that really made me – as a folklorophile – go nuts. Anyway, you can hardly see any higher culture in TVP now.

Now that we have Covid and artists all around the world have financial problems, I’ve heard that for example our Polish painters, or independent musicians, have been struggling a lot more than before. Meanwhile, our Minister of Culture and National Heritage had magnanimously decided to help out the artists financially via a culture support programme. It was quite controversial, because some of the beneficiaries were meant to receive absolutely huge amounts of money, and all of them were the famous celebrities, who, totally in my own opinion, aren’t really all that talented in their area as their fame, and even more so the compensations they were meant to get, would suggest. (There were four millions Polish zlotys in total in the whole support programme). People got ragin’, one singer guy – Kazik – who is quite known for strong views even said that he doesn’t want their stolen money, and the Ministry decided to “verify” the list of the beneficiaries. Don’t you verify such things in the first place before anything else?

Aside from the unfairness of it all on average people, which another huge problem, does it really have to be so that it’s somehow decided at the top who should be famous/popular or not? Whose music we are supposed to like and listen to? Can’t it be just people who will choose what they like, rather than have shit shoved down their mouth and be told that they find it delicious? I think there should be more equal chances for artists to emerge, more support in times like these for those who are independent, either because they want to or because there isn’t any other option for them really. I want to hear more diverse Polish music, more young Polish musicians. I want to hear people talk about more ACTUALLY good Polish films. Or Polish visual artists who are actually alive and doing quality stuff. I want to hear about contemporary Polish composers, not because I had to hunt for their music myself, but in the media, or from other people (and for them not necessarily to be composers influenced by disco polo :D). I want a properly Polish talent show on the telly, I mean, we have The Voice (of Poland) and the like, but these are all practically foreign, which is not a bad thing in itself, but why can’t we have one of our own? It would be cool if the contestants, if they’d be making music, could share their own music rather than only cover what someone has already created which is the most common formula of such shows although I do realise there are exceptions, and then actually have some support, whether financial or in whatever way it’s needed for such newly emerged people, that would help them exist in their field in a substantial way, not just for a while after they release their debut album. It would also have to be something good quality, not necessarily somehow super sophisticated because it should be digestible for an average person but something where you could actually find some objectively aesthetically pleasing art of some sort. So yes, I would love to be able to promote Polish people who are talented in some way, but have some external obstacles which make it difficult for them to show it off in front of their nation more widely.

I know it’s all probably incredibly idealistic if not utopian, but oh well… why not?

So how about you? 🙂 You can dream big if you want like I did. And, aside from the main question: besides those three things you’d like to change about your country, do you like it overall, or do you feel like you’d be better living somewhere else? I definitely do love Poland! 🙂 Just felt like saying it because it was quite a negative post and I didn’t want anyone to think I’m dissatisfied with my country overall, there just always are things that could be better, some a lot better.

Question of the day.

Are you excited about Christmas, or any other holidays you are going to celebrate soon? Any plans?

My answer:

Well, we don’t have the Christmas overwhelm here yet, waay too early, though I’ve heard from some other people that it’s more and more visible already in their countries. For us, the “xmassy” madness starts around the beginning of December. That could be because of the fact that we have two other holidays in the meantime, not as huge, especially not in the sense of marketing and all that, but still quite largely celebrated and present in people’s consciousness. One is Independence Day on November 11, and the other is St. Andrew’s Day on November 30, when people make dancing parties or balls or school proms or whatever, do a lot of dancing, plus single ladies looking for love traditionally foretell their future in lots of different ways, the most common being pouring hot wax from a candle through the ring of a key into cold water. Then when the wax becomes solid you hold it in front of a candle and interpret the shape of it as to what it could mean in regards to your future, especially your romantic life. I am celebrating Independence Day, as in, it’s a very important day for me, but I’m not planning to do anything super special for that. But it’s a holiday so I’ll spend it with my family. Am I excited? Guess not, but I’m definitely very happy that we can celebrate our Independence and very grateful for that, and for all the people in our history who made it happen. For St. ANdrew’s Day I’m not excited at all, I don’t really care about that. I’m single, but not looking for a romantic relationship, and hate dancing. Sofi is doing a little party for her friends, and my parents are going out for a party FOR SENIORS (no, they’re not seniors, but I guess they like it this way 😀 ). I guess it’s some sort of a national day for Scotland so I might binge on some good Scottish music that evening, or read something Scottish perhaps, we’ll see. 😀

I’m really hardly ever very much excited for Christmas, I mean I like the holiday in itself, but all the chaos that comes with it and is present everywhere, it is overwhelming and it annoys me a bit how superficial it looks and like people have no idea what’s it all about, but I remember I wrote on that last year. as well as the Christmas celebrations themselves usually take a toll on me because of all the socialising, sitting at the tables for hours and feeling bored, or lonely in the crowd or overloaded. It has its upsides but it is tiring. I used to be more fond of it when I was at school and Christmas meant to me that I could go home, but as soon as all the gatherings started, part of me really wanted it to be over. This year is a little bit different because of My Inner Mishmash Readership Award, I’m so excited with it!

As for Christmas plans, we know almost for sure that we’re going to celebrate Christmas Eve at my grandparents’. Christmas Eve is actually the most celebrated day of Christmas in Poland, people have a big, meatless supper, Christmas carols are already sung and people unbox their presents as well. So we’re most likely going to go to my Mum’s parents, and celebrate the Christmas Eve with them, all her siblings and their families.

So, how about your holidays and plans? 🙂

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? 🙂

Ask me anything about Poland.

Today is the anniversary of Warsaw Uprising during the WWII, which is quite an important date for Polish people.

Because of this, I thought I should celebrate it on here as well, in a way that could be both fun and educating.

Is there anything, important or just trivial, or in between, that you’d like to know about Poland, or Polish people, or Polish language?

Ask me in the comments, and I will be happy to answer your questions. I can’t promise you I know everything about Poland, Polish people and language, because I don’t, but I am Polish, so I know a lot, plus being Polish I know very many Polish people I can ask, so that way I’ll be learning too.

If there will be any questions that I’ll think deserve some more in depth answer, or that would be particularly interesting for me, I might do a separate post with the answer, we’ll just see how it goes.

So yeah, don’t be shy, just ask me. 🙂


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