memories of a writer

Schermafbeelding 2017-07-19 om 02.54.01 oil on canvas – artwork by Daliah L. Ammar

This Sunday I’ve been going through some souvenirs from my teenage-self and I found some short-stories I’ve written back in the days. I’ve totally forgotten about those and I was unaware of how much I already used to write as a child. Writing for me today is still a beneficial way of digging deeper into self-expression and self-reflection, but I forgot how I gravitated towards writing even a young age and with a poor vocabulary. Those old writings reminded me of those actors that say they don’t like to watch themselves perform. Some also claim that they watch their performance just once to see how they have done things and then they never go back there again because it’s sort of awkward, I believe. For me writing is like that in a way. It’s a photograph or snapshot of what my mind and heart wanted to share for myself. And it is a great tool to analyse yourself. I always wrote therapeutically growing-up, but I wasn’t aware of how I wrote stories as a child under the age of 15. So of course I was super curious to read some of those kept and before deciding whether I was going to throw them out afterwards or not, I had to see how this piece of my past made me feel now.. if it did spark joy or not. I knew that the writing wasn’t going to be phenomenal, so I didn’t expect much, but to my surprise it wasn’t that horrible either. I actually could feel a younger person flowing through those pages, the ink and the writings, so poorly written and such a visually displeasing handwriting, but the emotions were real, as real as I could be back then. I analysed the imagination and inspiration I had as a child in contrast to the older-self today, and I find it interesting to have a broader perspective now, knowing a little more about my own psyche and comparing those two. I was reminded of what used to be my biggest struggles as a child. Reliving that vulnerable kid, I felt the torment again of my prohibited romantic relationship and I got to experience again how the impact of my family issues was affecting me at that young age. I understood at that moment of how I used to project those issues in my stories and drawings. It made sense. Creativity let me escape reality but also explain myself to myself. I wrote fairy-tail stories back then that all ended tragically, or had a sad undertone of heartaches and a longing for love and affection. The stories weren’t impressive,  but at least they made me feel again. They made me aware of the creative desire in myself that I’ve been neglecting and postponing for such a long time now.

After reading those, I felt oddly strange. On the one hand I felt sad in see myself crumble as a child that is emerged by her surroundings, and on the other hand I also experienced some slight confusion as if I didn’t know a part of me. I couldn’t grasp how I named my characters, how I came up with those figures, why I chose to write fiction and why was I inspired by richness and poverty, why was tragedy a thread throughout the stories.. I haven’t written a fictional story in a long time, today I prefer to write in documentary-style. But after reading this piece of young fiction, I’m tempted today to create a better story, a story that was inspired by that younger self but that could include more knowledge (like complex real characters, deeper story meaning, symbolism -because I really like that-) and I feel the creative-bug in me, itching.

I don’t know if I should have kept those stories, but at that moment after reading all of it I decided to write this down and tear those few pages. They were in the bin before I knew it. Meanwhile I knew I had to hold on to this motivation for wanting to make things better for myself now instead of holding on to pieces of me that remind me of a sad age. God knows I don’t need to be tied up to the past or to a melancholic self.  Do I need those stories in physical form to keep reminding me and encourage me to write more often? I don’t think so. The fact that I chose to write this afterwards is an actual realisation of awareness that the core message was received and the advice I took for myself will stay with me. The message I got throughout this experience of reliving something so personal made me aware of my progression and gave me even more reason to move forward and redefine myself towards a healthier and more positive human being.

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Big Magic – a book review

DSC_8732A friend lend me her copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic as she kept praising of how good of a read read it was. Dealing with creative’ block for many years now, I was ready to give it a try. I already stumbled upon Gilbert’s TEDtalk a long time ago and listening to her talk gave me some reassurance at that time, however it wasn’t enough for me to recollect my strength to get back into doing what I once loved doing so much. Big Magic on the other hand, makes it a lot more accessible to ease your creative struggles with practical advice on how to live your artistic life effectively with less pressure and anxiety.

The writer defines in her book the phenomenon of what she calls big magic, to my understanding it is the enhanced artistic experience of divine creativity. She gradually builds a better understanding of how to understand the process of creativity, how it comes to you, how to handle it, how to recall it and how to allow yourself to enjoy it.

She firstly describes in depth a rather different perspective on ideas and inspiration; what they are and how they come to us. To her philosophy they are not our creations, ideas or possessions. They are a separate organism, inhabiting this planet. Ideas wander around in search for a compatible partner/person to work with (to channel through). The ultimate goal of an idea is to become reality. Therefore when an idea grabs your attention, it will stick to you in the hope to become true through you. However when you give up on the idea, postpone it or let it wait for too long, it might pass on and go to the next person to grab its attention. Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise when someone else comes up with an accomplished version of “your” idea. It looks like that person stole the exact idea, but actually it isn’t. Somehow the other person made the idea happen and you simply didn’t.

Once you come to understand this phenomenon, you can also comprehend that creative inspiration is a magical flow that you can learn to open up to. I reckon that if you applying minimalism upon this theory, you’ll learn to see that once you know something isn’t working out for you, you have to toss it, say goodbye to it and with that; you will open yourself up to new possibilities. You have to allow yourself to work with a clear canvas each time you need new inspiration, instead of holding on to ideas that don’t work out for you.

Further along the book the writer points out many artistic problems that artists will recognize and face at some point in their creative life. She reflects upon these issues and gives you a clear message on how she has found to deal with such creative issues thanks to a healthy attitude. Her stories are inspiring and even funny at times, which makes reading this enjoyable and light-hearted. But most of al, the book is relatable and therefore helpful. She fully encourages you to embrace your creativity and let go of your own artistic pressures.

I won’t go too deep into each aspect of the book (although I think this is pretty in-depth as it is), but I can tell you for sure that I have truly enjoyed reading this book from start to finish, and I don’t say this often; but I believe I might read this book again in the future.

Have you seen Okja yet?

Yesterday June 28th marks the day of Okja‘s release on Netflix, and today June 29th everyone is talking about it. Among vegans, it has been praised -before its release- as a film that would hopefully spread a vegan message and be the first of its kind. Unfortunately, according to many vegans, it wasn’t what they expected. But don’t be discouraged, this film shall probably appeal to a broader audience this way and I’m sure everyone will have something to say about this movie as it is very unique.

I’m not going to spoil the movie or tell you how it goes, because I truly believe you have to experience this one for yourself, and please do so. Okja is not your typical movie but it will leave some impact of emotion. For me, it wasn’t the emotion I was hoping for, but at least it was an emotion and I still needed a moment afterwards to just think about what I’ve just seen. I decided right away that I would rate it an 8.

I want to make a thing clear about this movie, in particular the vegetarian/vegan expectation. In the hope that people would slow down before they project their disappointments and therefore enable this movie’s success. Because believe me, this movie needs to be seen and discussed. I honestly think that if the unaware/average/curious person is somehow attracted to watch Okja, there is a slight chance that this person shall open its mind about some of the movie’s critical points (such as GMO’s, marketing propaganda, meat production, etc.) Keep in mind that the writer/director of Okja (Joon-ho Bong) is not vegan. Therefore the essence of this movie doesn’t come from a vegan state of mind. Okja isn’t about veganism nor speciesism, but it entails the love for a farm animal. And that could inspire people to make the connection between meat and its origin. The movie will lead you to consider seeing farm animals as individuals with their own personalities and therefore I believe the result of the movie is captivating and necessary. 

tip: keep watching Okja until after the end credits,
because one extra scene will be revealed at the very end!

Feel free to share your experience, I would be glad to discuss this movie with you in the comment section here below.

this vegan chef

I was going to share a list of my favorite youtube channels for vegan food and cooking inspiration but then I was like ‘NO, only this one chef needs to get all the attention, because right now he is absolutely the best. His channel name is avantgardevegan by Gaz Oakley and he’s been doing a great job at creating refreshing recipes, coming up with nice seasonal ideas, veganizing traditional food, finishing his creations with an immaculate presentation and he has also such an effortless way of making food and talking to the camera with kindness. I might have a slight crush on this one, but that is just because of the great-looking food, I swear.. (what she says that to her boyfriend while watching these videos together) Unless you know a better vegan food channel, correct me, but for now he is hot. So please go check out his cooking and follow those mouthwatering instagram pictures. #govegan

 

collections are for hoarders

Earlier this year I set myself a goal: to get rid of anything that does not add value or purpose in my life anymore. I envisioned being completely or almost fully clutter-free by the end of the year, keep things that I actually use/like and I motivated myself with a rather fictional possibility of moving-out any time soon. Almost one-third of the year has passed by now, but I feel nowhere nearly my goal yet. I’ve gained so much experience and even gotten better in selecting what I honestly don’t need anymore, it still feels like an endless job. Luckily I’ve been very realistic with my time-plan and I knew I would need more time than most people. I know I tend to be very perfectionistic and the way I approach things are always what I consider the best or most respectful way to handle things: with good care.

I found out now that a good way to completely depart yourself with certain items, is to actually enjoy them for one more/last time. I see this experience as some kind of goodbye. Although Marie Kondo suggested in ‘The Life-changing magic of Tidying-up’ that you should just touch the object (not read it or wear it..) and thank it, in order to say goodbye, but for me that is not enough, especially when it comes to sentimental objects and boy do I have many of those. I honestly couldn’t tell anymore what things aren’t sentimental. I never thought that decluttering would entail such emotional discharge in order to heal myself mentally/spiritually and create physical space in the end. Although I don’t need a long closure-routine with every item I own(ed), when it comes to sentimental items, I try to find a special way to be okay with letting go (unless I don’t want to).

I found out that I have/had the most difficulties with the things that defined me as a younger self. In order to fully embrace the now, I truly need to emotionally say goodbye to the past, thanks to the help of these object. I honestly wasn’t aware that I held on to my Harry Potter collection or my Pokémon collection so tight. Apparently I felt the need to keep identifying myself through my childhood-self by still possessing these tokens of what-seemed-back-then a long period of my lifetime. I wasn’t aware I had so many posters left in that untouched box or other gadgets I held on to like relics and I felt like the right thing to do now is take a picture of every thing that sparked joy back then but doesn’t add value/joy to my life today. Then put these picture online with some information of each product, carefully pack them in their boxes and hopefully come across someone who would actually enjoy these things in her/his life more than I haven’t for years now. When I get to think about it, I believe I’ll still keep a thing or two from that collection after selling most of it and donating the rest. Maybe one day I won’t have anything physically remaining from that time of my life. For now it’s a small step towards minimalism; a giant leap for a (former) hoarder.

zenfood

I can’t agree with most so-called top-chefs out there, who cook without a proper notion of health or nutrition and never question their title and happen to appear everywhere on television and in magazines and get paid for promoting unhealthy lifestyles. As an animal lover and vegan, it’s not appealing for me to watch someone mindlessly prepare dead animal parts, soak it in butter and call it tasty. Therefore I generally tend to stay away from cooking shows and select my food information very carefully. Nevertheless, I came across a documentary series on Netflix about some sophisticated/haute cuisine. Although I wasn’t going to watch this entire documentary series, I still got very intrigued by one specific chef, a strong spiritual aware chef who knows how to feed the body with good intention and pure energy.

Season 3 of The Chef’s Table – Episode 1: This specific episode is inspiring on many levels and I highly recommend you to watch this one. It’s about the life and vision of Jeong Kwan, a Zen Buddhist nun that cooks holy temple food. She prepares her food with calmness, harmony and serenity which makes this food ideal to maintain a zen energy for meditation. Although this documentary focuses upon her exquisite cuisine, for me it mostly depicts her philosophy on peaceful living. She has a way of life that is so calming and she even radiates this energy throughout the documentary. I am not kidding you, I instantly felt peaceful after watching this episode. It was such a delight to get inspired by her divine way of cooking. She made me understand spices as a certain tone of energy, therefore we should be mindful about what kind of energy we put in our system. I already knew as a vegan that staying away form corpses and products that are the result of fear and death is keeping me away from consuming such negative energy. But now I also understand that we don’t always need to season our food for the sake of taste, it matters more what energy we want to attain with this food.

jeong

breastfeeding

On YouTube I came across a few videos where lactating mothers inspire other mums to breastfeed their children (openly). It seemed awkward at first to be exposed to such private content, for me it felt almost inappropriate to be watching this intimate act between mother and child. Despite my initial discomfort, I praised their openness and willingness to broadcast what is the most natural thing in life. I realized how my discomfort has been a learned cultural response, a proof of how our culture alienates us from what is absolutely natural and pushes us father away from our roots. Then again I got very upset to read a huge amount of negative comments/opinions concerning breastfeeding a child that culturally seems old (i.e. older than a newborn baby) to be fed mother’s milk. I cannot grasp how it seem wrong for a mother to decide how long her child needs to be breastfed.

Above that it disturbs me even more to witness how we as a society have been conditioned into believing it is normal for a grownup (wo)man to be drinking the mothers’ milk of another species. We as humans are the only species on earth to be drinking milk as an adult. This phenomenon does not occur in nature. Milk can only be produced when a mammal is pregnant, to feed her child. Let that sink in.

drinking milk