Nothing is stupid!

Nothing is stupid!

This is a passionate statement from my younger daughter, who will be soon five years old.
One day the girls stayed home with their nanny while I was working, in June. They were listening a song on youtube and the babysitter expressed her opinion, that the lyrics of this song are stupid. My daughter replied with a passion – nothing is stupid! People are not stupid, food is not stupid, clothes are not stupid, toilet is not stupid… she continued with a long list of examples, concluding that NOTHING is stupid!

I believe that this little girl is despite her young age much more mature in her way of thinking, that so many adults. She embraces the world in all its colourfulness. We, adults, could learn a lot from that. Instead of holding on to norms that are so subjective and condemning everything that is out of our box of normality.

What is normal?
I think most of us agree that this is a very difficult question that has many possible answers that depend on our background. Our race, sex, nationality, family history, upbringing and so much more. But besides our personal standards on “normal”, there are certain standards in the society that are considered “normal”. And most of us do our best to follow those norms, whether these really support our well-being, or not.

A huge part of the world follows the pattern that normality means white-ish skin, fairly good education, middle-class lifestyle, striving for success which is defined by more money, monogamous heterosexuality, getting married, having 1-3 kids and dedicating your life to the family (for women) or work (for men).

Some of those things we are either born with, or not. Your race, the colour of your skin, hair and eyes will determine, whether you are normal, or not. And you can do nothing about it. It varies a bit in different parts of the world but the cold hard truth is that in most “first-world” countries you have to be white, to be considered normal and safe.
Supermodel Cameron Russell made a very bold and inspiring TED talk in the beginning of 2013 saying out loud that she has won the genetic lottery. How many people are not that lucky?

Living here I have also realized, that I have won the lottery with where I was born. With my skin colour and blue eyes I am considered a beauty here. I have got a good education (without paying for it and starting my adult life in debt), I come from a background that supports women to be free, independent and ambitious beyond being a housewife. I am not bound by religious beliefs so I am free to search for my own spirituality. I don’t have to look far to see women who are not half as lucky. They live their life being enslaved by deeply religious and patriarchal society. And a lot of them don’t even know that there is a different way of living.

There is a young woman in her early twenties, working at a fast-food place in our village. She comes from Albania. She is already married and has two kids aged 3 and 1,5. She works on two jobs, getting maximum 4hrs of sleep every night. Her husband, who also works on two different jobs, uses her as a stress relief, whenever he feels like f**king her. Every time a woman “gives in” to her man’s desire without being in the mood for sex herself, is literally letting herself being raped. And this is normal. Because she is his wife and the mother of her children. They both think it is normal. This is the way they have been raised. The woman’s job is to be a good housewife, a good cook and a cleaner but also provide for the family by working and be available for her husband’s physical needs whenever. The woman’s worth is measured by her ability to cook and clean. She is her husband’s property, given from her father to her husband in the marriage ceremony.
We think that times are changing and so are social constructs that do not serve us anymore. But really… are they? We are not so much further from 19th century!

I recently read an inspiring piece on Elephant Journal about 5 reasons not to get married. The author Krystal Baugher points out how outdated are the marriage rituals in today’s society. Passing on the girl’s hand from father to the husband as a piece of property – a ritual that is saturated with inequality and starts off the marriage unbalanced. Keeping alive the myth that our sexuality is “normal” only in marriage.¬† She points out the hollow heterosexual normativity “the practice of encouraging people to fit within heterosexual strict standards of being monogamous, married, usually protestant/Christian, usually white, usually middle/upper class while shunning and making feel guilty those who do not.” Being a heterosexual white girl, I find this normativity absolutely “normal”. But I also find other versions of life and love very normal! I agree with Krystal that “I think the world would be a much more beautiful place if we were all more accepting and open to other ways of love.”

I never regret that I married and that I divorced. I am grateful for those years that I spent with the father of my children. And I am also grateful that I come from a society where divorce is allowed and part of the “normal”. Because¬† I don’t believe in “forever” and big white fluffy princess dresses do not give us a guarantee of “in sickness and health, in good and bad”. Women dress up as princesses, hoping that in his eyes they will be queens for the rest of their life. While a lucky few will really be queens, the rest of them will spend their life being third or fourth in line for the throne after work, hobbies, friends or even other princesses. Why give up your position in life – a true queen does not need a king to rule! But with a good king next to her, she may be happier.

People change and grow and unfortunately the partners more then often do that in different directions and different pace. A relationship that was perfect for many years, may start to suffocate and hold back both partners. What is the “normal” solution? Searching for ways to get back on the same path and pace is great. If that succeeds, it bonds people together more than before. But some people don’t succeed in that. And keeping them together with a piece of paper, condemning relatives and society rules is just torture.

In China, there is a tribe that is called the last matriarchy of the world. Women there do not marry and their lovers are not determined by anybody else, but themselves. And many of them have long and happy relationships that last decades. They don’t have to give each other promises of forever. But they may be happier that most married people in the Western world. Sometimes we hear and see the best “norms” from people who are considered primitive – native tribes or our own children.
Nothing is stupid! Marriage is not stupid, being single or in a free relationship is not stupid, being gay is not stupid, being from a different race or culture is not stupid! What matters is that we do no harm.

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Time for myself… and kittens

I feel like I have gone back in time about 11-12 years. That’s the last time that I had a summer like this.

I sleep long in the morning. Get up, have breakfast, chill, lounge, have wonderful long conversations with my dear. And not only..
Then I go to the beach, read a book, swim. Sometimes I take the dog with me and we play. When I get bored, hungry or tired we come home to have a late lunch or early dinner and then I may go to the village centre to meet some friends or just stay home and do what ever I feel like.

To be completely honest – relaxing and dedicating time for my own needs does not come naturally anymore. I really have to dig deep to find the feeling that I had back then when I was a lot younger and had no responsibilities, but taking care of my own needs. I have so completely and utterly taken the identity of a caretaker, a mother – it is really hard to just spend time manicuring my toes and taking care of nobody.

Ironically enough, the first night off work I found somebody to take care of! A newborn kitten, abandoned in the garbage bin. I’m not even going to get into the possible motives of a person who would do something like that – dump a living healthy newborn kitten in the garbage. Unfortunately this kind of behaviour is not unheard of here in Greece. Although the living conditions and awareness about stray cats and dogs is slowly getting better thanks to the tireless work of the local animal welfare society and volunteers, there is still a lot of misconceptions and just pure ignorance about keeping pets and caring for them. Neutering and spaying is by far not as common as it should be and as it is in many other countries

This kitten unfortunately did not make it. Nothing can replace a mother and though I tried my best, this little soul found the beginning of this life to be too hard. Due to some internal problems it passed away only after a few days. And just as I managed to catch up on sleep (having a newborn in the house is exhausting, no matter what species) I met another kitten than stole my heart.
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This one is older and stronger. – about three-four weeks. It was abandoned in front of my friend’s shop and I helped for a few days to take care of it. For many reasons, including keeping my own sanity, I gave it back but at the moment it is still looking for a loving home.

Taking care of those kittens helped to unearth some issues in me that I had very carefully buried and hidden. I seem to have some unresolved emotional trauma from those years when my own kids where babies and needed care and attention 24h a day. I was quite young when my older daughter was born, just graduated from university. I was very ambitious, adventurous and hungry for life. A baby did not quite fit into this picture. I love my girls with all my being but I was nowhere near ready to become a mother at 24. I did what a proper young overachieving mother does – I learned, practiced, read, listened until I knew so much about raising babies that I continued to teach others. Intellectually I aced my task. But emotionally I just built walls around me. I felt alone, scared and despite all the support from my girls’ father, I never let myself to be or to feel taken care of. I made myself a victim of my own choice.

Now in the emotionally safe environment I can slowly work with these feelings. I can take responsibility for my own decisions without feeling that this is not my choice to make. And I can reject responsibility that is too much for me to carry. This is never an easy task to find the right balance between taking responsibility and leaving space for yourself. It is a long road to learn this. But I am fortunate to have a man next to me, who helps me stay on that path. Who reminds me that I deserve to put my own needs first even if it is only for a month. I have put the needs of my family before my own needs for such a long time. It is now time for me, myself and I. For two more weeks.

In the beginning of August I will start work again but this time it will be something that I am really looking forward to! Just as I was beginning to lose hope that I will find a good job for the summer season, I got a call from a nice little classy restaurant. I will be working next to a professional French sommelier, learning all about good food and good wine. Once more life shows that when you know what you want – it will happen! Sometimes you just need to have a little patience.

Working life

Greek summer is here. Full on! The scorching heat during the day and relieveing breeze in the evening after the sun has set. Sand everywhere. Salt on your skin and hair. The ripe melons and watermelons. Sunglasses become a part … Continue reading