Thursday, February 16, 2017

Spain in Ten Photos

Calle de Carmen, Marbella

All ladies use their scarves to keep warm

Ojén from the caves

Lou!

Granada from the Generalife gardens



Definitely not leaning against that 13th century pillar

Churros every day

Tetería




A short, but sweet trip to reunite with friends and explore a new city. We left with our minds rested, our souls refreshed, and with a penchant for restaurants that serve free food with every drink. 

May the adventures never end.


- A - 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Currently Reading - Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London by Matthew Beaumont

 Trafalgar Square by Moonlight, c1865, by Henry Pether. Photograph: Heritage Images/Getty Images. Taken from a review of Nightwalking, which can be found on The Guardian website, here.



"If women appear on the streets of the city at night alone they are commonly portrayed in terms of two roles, both defined in relation to men: they are either predators, in the form of prostitutes; or the predated, the potential victims of sexual assault. In both cases, they are denied a right to the city at night. The historian Joachim Schlör has pointed out that, in terms of the freedom to inhabit the nocturnal city, 'women's needs and wishes are not fundamentally different from men's', since for both it is a case of entering it and circulating inside it freely and independently - 'through the whole city, during the whole night, and not just in certain spatial and temporal reserves'. But he has rightly insisted that, historically, 'mens's freedom of movement has [had] a real restrictive effect on that of women'."

- Matthew Beaumont (Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London)



I began reading this book about a week ago and right at the beginning of the book, on page three, found this passage. I thought it to be particularly poignant considering all of the recent political controversy and fervent discussion of privilege and patriarchy. The sentiment really drew me in and it all felt a bit serendipitous - as if I had unknowingly picked up the perfect book to coincide with current events and the rebellious spirit, which has recently been revived for so many. There is no better feeling that one can have than to stumble upon the right thing at the right time and then, if seeking with an open heart and mind, to be moved and educated and inspired. 


What is inspiring you right now?



♀     ♀     ♀


On the agenda this weekend (for accountability purposes):

→ Read 50 more pages of this book - I'm loving it, but it is the most academic thing that I have committed to since finishing my studies and it's taking some time to remember how to absorb it

→ Laundry - duh...

→ Plan half-term holiday - Tapas, anyone? We're off to Spain!



There. Now you have all seen my list and I actually have to follow through with it. Right?



- A -








Sunday, January 22, 2017

Welcome to your first day.

Find more great posters, here.


Three posts in one week. That must be some kind of record, but what else is there to do when you are too energized to sleep, yet too sick to leave the house, and how can I not with all that has been happening this week?

How can we not be appalled and amazed and inspired by all of the events that have taken place in the past 72 hours alone?

Yesterday, I would have given anything to be in London, marching. Though I could not be there, my eyes were glued to the live streaming footage from Washington. 

It was so amazing, so astounding, so beautiful, this show of strength and solidarity and global resistance. Peaceful and powerful and unified, this feminine display of determined existence.

It was everything.

A day that will mark our history books. The largest inaugural protest that has happened EVER. Occurring over 7 continents. Estimated at a global two million. Three times more than those attending the actual inauguration, if numbers are to be believed.

How could we not want to be a part of it?

And though I was not there, I could not keep away. For hours I was stuck, in awe.

I was moved. 

By a buzzing crowd collectively rejecting racism, transphobia, and systematic abuse of power and, as one, loud voice, calling out the names of their victims. 

By Maryum Ali calling us to action, reminding us what we have achieved in the past, welcoming us into our potential. 

By six-year-old Sophie Cruz, the activist daughter of undocumented immigrants, spreading love and inspiring hope in two different languages.

I was so moved.

Yesterday was everything that I dreamed it could be and more. It was a rising. It was a promise. It was a resounding and reverberating rekindling of hope.

We will not go away...


Two days ago someone asked me whether recent events had caused me to lose faith in the American people.

I didn't answer, because two days ago I would have faltered, heartsick and body sick and vulnerable to suggestion.

But ask me again. 

Ask me again today, after I have seen what I have seen, and I have heard what I have heard, and I have felt what I have felt.

Today the answer is definitive and the answer is no.





- A -



Friday, January 20, 2017

Five things to do today instead of watching the presidential inauguration.




1) Watch President Obama's farewell address again, or for the first time

2) Make signs for the Women's March

3) Send a message to oppose Betsy Devos

       and then maybe watch this to amuse yourself...




4) Spend time with your loved ones

5) Read a book, see a movie, create some art, clean your house, make a smoothie, Netflix binge....literally anything else.


The loudest sound that we can make in protest of this event is our collective silence.

Then tomorrow, the fight begins.


- A -




Thursday, January 19, 2017

The mind has a mind of its own.


"Sync up with the now."

This was the mantra for day 12 of the 31 day yoga challenge I am taking part in this month, and although I've moved on to newer practices, I can't get it out of my head.

I'm finding this aspect of yoga - being fully present - a little difficult these days. There's just so much going on. 

Life stuff, family stuff, home stuff, work stuff, work stuff, work stuff.

I found myself awake at 3am the other day, for reasons unknown, and unable to fall back to sleep.

"Clear your thoughts!" My self command, punctuated by a heavy exhale. "Clear your thoughts. Relax your muscles. Find ease. Nothing matters now." Only to realize two minutes later that the wheels had begun to churn again.

It's a constant battle, for some of us anyway, to control the mind. 

Yoga can do wonders and has helped me to focus my attention over time, but even that seems to be no match for my industrious brain these days.

So whir on, inner cogs. I won't fight you. That won't help. 
I will accept you, silently, recognize you, and then encourage you along. Determined in my pursuit of ease and peace and a quiet mind.


- A -






Sunday, January 15, 2017

Healthcare in the United States - current issues and events.


Just as I finish writing and publishing a post about focusing on the good, I am forced to eat my words.

Typical.

There are some really scary things going on in the United States at the moment regarding health care provision. For the last four years, the Republican party has made it their business to undermine every initiative or attempt made by the Obama administration to improve the lives of American citizens (and to improve global perception of the United States).

Now they are seeking to overturn the decisions that were made - to repeal large parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the only progressive healthcare plan that the United States has passed in fifty years - and using the flaws and ineffectiveness of these laws (which mainly exist because of the Republican party's determination to block reform at every possible turn and render the plan useless) to justify their actions. 

The following comments were made by someone I know, who studied and now works in public health and health services:

"And just to be clear, the ACA has been successful: the number of uninsured has dropped, health care cost growth has slowed, quality has improved, patients with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage, I cannot be charged more for insurance because I'm a woman, when I go to chain restaurants like Starbucks I know what a ridiculous number of calories are in a venti latte (those calorie-count posting requirements were in the ACA), non-profit hospitals are required to better demonstrate their community benefit, NO LIFETIME OR ANNUAL LIMITS ON COVERAGE, I can see an OB/GYN as my primary care physician without a referral, there's a center dedicated to finding ways to deliver and pay for care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries that improves quality and lowers cost. What needs to be tackled now are the increasing out-of-pocket costs for consumers, which requires addressing the underlying PRICE of healthcare, which is based on the price of the inputs of healthcare like prescription drugs and medical devices - and costs of administering care under multiple different payers instead of a single payer - which in this country can cost upwards of 5 times that of other OECD nations. But again, what did the GOP just do to "rescue" that? They voted down an amendment that would have helped to reduce the rising costs of drugs by importing from Canada. They're the failures."


Needless to say, many people are frightened about what will become of their coverage once the changes that are currently being sought after take effect, especially as the incoming administration has failed to present any evidence of a new healthcare plan or of how the gaps will be filled.



More information:


So, tell me what is actually happening


Current GOP Replacement Plans Don’t Fix Obamacare’s Biggest Problems








We aren't even one day into this new administration, and yet it is successfully and consistently inspiring fear, confusion and disgust in the American people. We have to take action to combat this. We have to protest. We have to share our stories. We have to contact our representatives and tell them that we do not agree with these decisions, and to implore them to represent us in Washington.

The question is no longer, will you do anything to prevent further infringement on our civil rights, but what will you do? How will you do it? Who will you speak to and how will you show up for yourself and your neighbors? We can no longer afford to be idle.


- A -






Friday, January 13, 2017

Year's end - some shining moments.


As I said in my last post, though the final months of 2016 were dark and cloudy, there were some seriously stunning silver linings. Here are a few photos from those moments that I neglected to document on this blog.


My sister's visit in August and our trip to Cork.




On a walk with friends in Yorkshire in October.


Right before my best friend said, "I do."


And right after..... Pie.

Plus, some of the professional photos, because it would be just plain wrong to deny you that pure joy and the most perfect Autumn day.











And finally, Christmas cookie baking! What a great batch this year. Find the recipe for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies here,


and Polish Pierniczki, here.

Gratuitous



As we roll on into the new year, it is so important to focus on the positives and to keep our hopes high for the future. Things are still a bit grim, but the fight continues and human kindness is a powerful thing. Instead of looking back on all of the horrible things that happened last year and finding ourselves overwhelmed, we need to keep our sights set dead ahead and vow to make this year a better one.

So, come at us 2017. We will not let ourselves be kept down, we will welcome you with open arms and we will keep on dancing.









- A -