Letting hunger strike

I wish i could write more about things being accomplished by the beautiful women in my life and around the world, i would love to be researching about this on a regular basis. But this is my life, and in my life right now, the only subject that gets analysed and researched regularly has to do with parenting and the endless limitations i find myself discovering we have as parents, the economical and logistical struggles of being a family when you have no one to help you out.

This post was born out of my cluelessnes one day when my boys started crying because dinner was ready, literally. They both expressed with utter indignation and the classic whiny crying voices that they didn’t like what i cooked . To which i replied: how do you know you don’t like it if you don’t know what it is? But it was to late, they had felt such indignation they had lost their appetite.

I had to send them to their rooms just to clear some space to try to get my head around of what had just happened. Food is not punishment. My children should be thankful for the food i just cooked for them. Children should enjoy food, crave for it even.

I have very strong feelings about this. There are children slowly dying because they have no food. This very instant you could find children picking through the mounts of rotten fruit by the market in my home city, Cochabamba (Bolivia), and they will be smiling if they find a good one, or when one of the ladies hands them a darkened bunch of bananas. I remembered the little smiles that we got from street children when we left some food in our plate at the end of an alfresco meal when i was a child.

Of course my children have no clue of these things, and they shouldn’t have. But still, in my heart i feel i’d love it if my children enjoyed each and every meal they had, because food is a good thing, and my food is delicious! ;)

So that’s why i have decided to let hunger strike at our home. I see it as a gift for my boys. I’ll let them play and play until they get a little bit grumpy and start having squabbles. I’ll know it is because they are hungry, but i’ll let them discover that themselves..

I always struggle to find pictures to go with the posts so i’ll leave you with some art from my dynamic duo :) love, M.

Batman in his bed, by Matias

Batman in his bed, by Matias

Upsi Daisy, by Nico

Upsy Daisy, by Nico

Posted in Poverty, This Latin-American woman | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Becoming untangled

I feel like this is what i have been trying to do for a while now: detangling, detangling, detangling. I pull from one end of the thread and the knot just worsens on the other. The tangle is so bad that after a couple of days i come to the conclusion that this mess just needs to be left alone. Then a couple of days later i find i’m again trying to untangle myself a bit, in my head it goes like this: “ok, so.. why am i doing this? Is this what i should be doing right now? are you sure there is nothing else in immediate need of attention right now? Can we really afford me doing this? Should i not better be doing this other thing to make sure this and that get done on time? Am i going to have to do this by myself or was he not working late today? Should i maybe postpone this for a week or two.. till this other thing is sorted? or maybe until after the holidays then?

So this post is the first of a series of posts dedicated to help me keep track of the bits that have been given a shot at untangling, i might call it “being x”

Here are some things that currently keep me busy “being”..

Trying to figure out how to be a good, patient, relaxed and involved mummy to my twins Matias and Nicolas (4 now). Love and laughter come VERY naturally at home, but so do bouts of shouts and angry faces, it feels like everything I say when we need to get things done either comes with a warning or a time frame or a threat. I laugh and cry sometimes with way too little time in between than i would ever have guessed normal and I actually sometimes look forward to have both boys on time out so as to have a coupe of minutes of silence and an excuse to tell them to play in their bedroom until I say otherwise.

Trying to figure out how to be a good, supportive, caring wife. I am so stressed and tired by the time my other half and me see each other, that I find this a really hard one. It doesn’t help that his life is genuinely not easy either (he works long hours and the payment isn’t that great) because we both feel there is no point in sharing our burdens.

Learning the tricks to be an efficient house keeper. Not in a life time did i think i would hear myself say these words! I actually never consciously realised all the work that goes into having your own place nice and tidy when you share it with other people, half of whom have no clue of why there is constant need for tidying if they’re going to continue playing anyway. Or the ridiculous amount of cups and plates and bowls and plastic cutlery that needs to be washed even when the children spend half the day in school. Or the amount of time it takes to pre-wash the boys’ clothes, and how useless a washing machine can be if you’re not willing to do it. Tomato, mud, marker ink, even orange juice stains have evaded the total power of the amazing brands that i tried so far, not true that oxi-vanish removes these stains by itself, there has to be some serious rubbing involved.

How to be a good environmentalist. To try to get the stains out with the washing machine at least temperature possible. To keep checking if they finally started recycling grocery bags, or all the other clear plastics involved in packaging of products. To explain to my boys about the need to reuse, repair and recycle. To have them understand we don’t keep buying things not only because we don’t have that much money, but because we don’t need that many things, toys in their case. And that we shouldn’t add to the mountains of rubbish generated by people getting to much stuff. To make them aware of the inequalities in the world without making them depressed about it.

How to balance being an artist/desiger maker with being an entrepreneur and figure out if i can make a living out of this balance. This is actually what has been taking most of my child free time lately. It’s completely new and experimental to me and I’m loving every minute. It started with me pursuing a long love for stones and earrings and a very obvious but long closeted artistic tendency and has evolved into a desire to create a brand and a business to provide for a flexible income for myself while allowing me to lead the life i want. Yes this one keeps me awake a lot, probably to do with the fact it’s generating no income but taking up so much time and energy. I actually fantasize about working on the local supermarket lately.. Imagine the joy of a payslip!

Other things that are often on my mind are: what does it take to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend, a good role model, a good UK citizen, a good European citizen and a good Bolivian one?. I know.. i bore myself to death but i can’t help it, i tried!

Not bored yet? here let me try a bit harder: here are some of my other aspirations: to learn how to lead a balanced and harmonious life, to be a good nutrition oriented cook, to be the my own favourite travel agent, to be healthier and have more energy, to do more reiki and be more spiritually involved, to get my husband to be healthier -we both have very strange old people-like aches and pains, you can actually hear us get up in the morning, moaning while we stand up- to play football in the park with the children regularly and to teach them Dutch one day a week (we speak Spanish at home). To have them learn about South America, it’s geography, it’ people and history.

Yes, there is a lot going on.. a lot of balls in the air. But that’s life i guess, everyone i talk to feels they have too many balls in the air, even the ones without kids. If life is going to keep sending lovely balls for us to juggle better get proficient at juggling! it seams the balls are going nowhere and in my case i don’t mind it, but i’d love to feel a sense of being on top of things every once in a while..

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Let’s make blue a technicolour

Hello 2014, hello world, hello lovely people who read this, hello Latin American Women Wear Earrings.. A new year began and I hope for good and better things for all of us.

Firstly, because you are all so lovely, here, for your enjoyment two original pieces of art by my boys:

Boy in bed dreaming of a monkey and Lego instructions by Mati

Superhero by Nico

I wish i could give this blog more of my time because it really helps me grow and it gives me a strange freedom, even though I’m not good with words. I’m good with feelings and a good observer, very sensitive and very emotional. But i can also be very harsh. 

I have felt very VERY sad and alone in the past, and have felt many kinds of pain, from the silly teenage ones (which make you want to kill yourself) to the deep “i know you have to die and there is nothing i can do about it, i still wish you could stay with me, but i won’t be sad for too long i promise” kind of feeling..

I love living even when it hurts, and i think the reason is because i know that THIS is IT. This life, as this person, in this context, it is never happening again and it is all you have (It doesn’t matter to me much  if there is a heaven; i hope there is, although the idea of hell is just ridiculous to me). I know dying is not the worst that can happen. To be completely alone, to be completely dependent on others that may not care for you or may harm you.. there are things worse than dying. But if you manage to find help, and a kind soul to stretch a hand towards you, you can ALWAYS make it better..

If you are strong enough, you can change things, even if it means running away from home as a child, like many street children have; or leaving all your belongings and your children behind to get stronger and come back to re-claim them, like a lady i met in a village in the Amazon did. Life is not going to be easy and hard times will be waiting for you, but you’ll be living. You’ll experience your loved ones and yourself, and your environment; kisses, hugs, love, smiles, tastes, colours, smells, butterflies. Happy children and children that need your help are everywhere to be found. If you look with your heart you’ll find a good reason to live. The other option can’t compete because it gives you nothing. When you are dead, you are dead. You can always kill yourself, but the alternative might be interesting, amazing even..

Today i found these two videos and they touched and inspired me -hence the post-. The first is a TED talk from Andrew Solomon, it’s very honest and i think very helpful if you have a loved one struggling with depression (don’t we all?). The second is by Charles Einstein and is going to make you believe a better world IS possible.

1) Andrew Solomon: Depression, the secret we share (TED talks)

2) A nice video abut the ideal world that we know deep down IS possible:

You probably realised by now that it is not really about Latin American women wearing earrings, -which they do!-, but about finding things that connect the wonderful people of my beloved continent; i believe these things are the same that connect people all over the world.

So this year i want to blog about good things happening around the world and in Latin America. I’ll try to post more often but i could really use some help with this, so if you have a story or suggestions for me, or would like to write a post as a guest, I’d be delighted to hear about it! 

xx M.

Posted in Other worldly issues, This Latin-American woman | Tagged | 2 Comments

Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo!

May 2014 come with bags and bags of prosperity, luck, health, joy, smiles, laughs, love, blushing, hoping, wishing, accomplishing, discovering, exploring, expressing and giving.

May we become better at forgiving, letting go, sharing, empathizing, understanding, giving in, letting pass, breathing in and letting be.

May there be more balance in the world, of money, of power, of the benefits of trade, of the access to justice, and the feeling of safety, and the access to help.

May more people care. May more powerful people care. May powerful people care to learn more, and be able to understand better, and be compassionate and strong. May the few that have soooooo much feel it’s time to spread the joy.

May more people have access to clean water, enough food, good shelter and a safe environment to live and raise their children. May all the children be able to go to school, especially girls, and may it be safe for them to do so.

May it no longer be allowed and acceptable for children to be offered in marriage. May it no longer be thought of as unimaginable to go against the norm when it hurts people, especially children. May teenage girls all over the world be aware of the implications of getting pregnant and may there be universal access and encouragement of the use of contraceptives. 

May we all feel connected to each other, despite our differences, and become stronger, and learn to accept and care for the well being of others. We are all the same. We are all here now. We all feel, we all struggle, we all laugh, we all love, we all hurt.

I know, got a little bit carried away.. As long as i’m wishing i tough better just shove it all in there ;)

I do wish you all the very best, for this new year and any other following..

Thanks for reading the blog and for your comments, and for writing your own and sharing your experiences. I learn a lot form all of you even though i haven’t been doing much reading lately, i intent to change that.. It’s lovely to be able to share these things with you :) xx

I’ll leave you with a picture of my darling Ekeko, who wasn’t able to smoke the fancy rolled tobacco, we did give it a try.. but then again, what if he just decided to quit?

My lovely Ekeko

My lovely Ekeko

Posted in This Latin-American woman | 2 Comments

Tradiciones latinoamericanas de año nuevo

En Latinoamérica existen diferentes tradiciones y supersticiones para atraer abundancia para el año Nuevo. En todo lado encuentras gente que quiere pasarla bien, festejar y hacerle saber al universo que están aquí, deseando cada año una vida llena de bendiciones y éxito.

Este año tengo ganas de festejar año nuevo entregándome al festejo de tantas tradiciones como me sea posible y pasarla bomba mientras lo hago. Así espero dar la bienvenida al 2014:

Escribir una lista de objetivos y deseos, puede ser tanto extensa como corta. La colocaré en mi zapato durante el cambio de año con una hoja de laurel escondida en medio. Ambos irán en mi billetera todo el año y probablemente mucho tiempo más.

Cocinaré una adaptación propia de un plato de frijoles tradicional brasileño (feijoada). Frijoles y lentejas están asociados con abundancia en diferentes tradiciones. El día que me casé las mujeres de mi familia y mis amigas más cercanas me arrojaron lentejas, arroz y dinero que guardaré siempre pues se supone que traerán abundancia a mi matrimonio. Hace unos años descubrimos una tradición similar para año nuevo: juntar arroz, lentejas y monedas en un frasquito al comenzar el año y guardarlo escondido en la cocina.

Se considera que estrenar un calzón rojo en año nuevo atraerá amor a tu vida, uno amarillo atraerá abundancia y verde se asocia con salud. Un año usé tres calzones, es difícil escoger entre  amor, dinero y salud!

Contar doce uvas por persona para comerlas mientras dan las campanadas de media noche es una infaltable. Puedes pedir un deseo con cada uva, pero debes ser veloz!

Mi tía siempre tiene una maleta lista para llevarla a dar un paseo una vez pasada la media noche. Pues le seguiré los pasos, me agarro una maletita y me voy a dar una vuelta a la cuadra.

Hay tantas supersticiones! Estas son algunas más que pude encontrar: Contar billetes pasada la media noche, subir escaleras para crecimiento económico o expansión de un negocio, pisar con el pie derecho al entrar a casa por primera vez en el nuevo año, encender todas las luces de la casa para que haya claridad y alejar energías oscuras, colgar un amarro de maíz, naranjitas y espigas de arroz en la puerta para atraer abundancia para el hogar.

Este año incluiré a mi querido Ekeko en los festejos. El Ekeko es el dios de la abundancia de la cultura tihuanacota (que es previa a la cultura Incaica). Lo representa un hombrecito que carga ofrendas y trae prosperidad. Me acompaña en este país y me acompañará en mis emprendimientos así que me parece apropiado ofrecerle un cigarrillo, que es lo que le gusta, y algunas otras cositas..

Y que tal tú? tienes un ritual particular para pasar el año nuevo?

There are many traditions and superstitions in Latin-America to attract abundance for the new year. People everywhere are trying to have a good time, celebrate and let the universe know they’re here, wishing each year to have a life full of blessings and success.

This year I’m really looking forward to give into as many traditions as I possibly can and have a ball of a time doing so. This is more or less going to be my ritual to welcome 2014:

Write a list of objectives and wishes, it can be as extensive or short as I want it to be. It will go in my shoe for the change of the year with a bay leave hiding in the creases. They’ll both go in my wallet the whole year and probably a lot longer than that.

I’ll be cooking my own adaptation of a traditional Brazilian bean dish (feijoada). Beans and lentils are associated with abundance in different traditions. On my wedding day the women in my family and my closest girlfriends threw lentils, rise and money at me that I’ll keep forever as they are supposed to bring abundance to my marriage. Also, a few years ago we discovered a similar new year’s eve tradition: put rise, lentils and coins in a container for the change of the year and keep it hidden in the kitchen.

It’s considered that wearing red underpants at the change of year will attract love to your life, yellow ones are associated with abundance and green ones with health. One year I wore the three pairs, it’s difficult to choose between love, money and health!

Counting twelve grapes per person to be eaten at midnight with each stroke of the clock is a must. You can make a wish with each that you eat, but better be quick!

My aunt always has a suitcase ready to take out for a stroll around the garden after midnight. I’ll follow her steps, grab my hand luggage and take it for a walk around the block.

There are so many superstitions! Here are some other I found: counting money after midnight; climbing stairs when the clock strikes, for economic growth and business expansion; entering the house with the right foot first when first entering home in the new year; tuning on all the lights in the house for clarity and to keep away dark energy; hanging a bunch of little oranges rise and maize stalks from the door or abundance at home.

This year I’ll include my beloved Ekeko in my celebrations. He is the god of abundance of the Tiwanaco people, who lived in Bolivia before the Inca’s. He’s represented by a little man that carries offerings and brings prosperity. He keeps me company in this country and will be accompanying me in my endeavours, so it seems appropriate to offer him  a cigarette , which is what he likes, and some other stuff..

What about you? Do you have a particular new year’s eve ritual?

Posted in My Latin American Women, This Latin-American woman, Tradiciones latinoamericanas | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Noche de bodas

Noche de bodas, translated wedding night, is a song written by Joaquin Sabina and my favourite version is performed together with Chavela Vargas. The lyrics are the best toast ever, so here it is, my Christmas wishes for all of you and my wishes for myself and my darling Gus.

Noche de Bodas (J. Sabina)

Que el maquillaje no apague tu risa, que el equipaje no lastre tus alas, que el calendario no venga con prisas, que el diccionario detenga las balas.Que las persianas corrijan la aurora, que gane el quiero la guerra del puedo, que los que esperan no cuenten las horas, que los que matan se mueran de miedo.

Que el fin del mundo te pille bailando, que el escenario me tiña las canas, que nunca sepas ni cómo, ni cuándo, ni ciento volando, ni ayer ni mañana.

Que el corazón no se pase de moda, que los otoños te doren la piel, que cada noche sea noche de bodas, que no se ponga la luna de miel.
Que todas las noches sean noches de boda, que todas las lunas sean lunas de miel.

Que las verdades no tengan complejos, que las mentiras parezcan mentira, que no te den la razón los espejos, que te aproveche mirar lo que miras.

Que no se ocupe de tí el desamparo, que cada cena sea tu última cena, que ser valiente no salga tan caro, que ser cobarde no valga la pena.

Que no te compren por menos de nada, que no te vendan amor sin espinas, que no te duerman con cuentos de hadas, que no te cierren el bar de la esquina.

Que el corazón no se pase de moda, que los otoños te doren la piel, que cada noche sea noche de bodas, que no se ponga la luna de miel.
Que todas las noches sean noches de boda, que todas las lunas sean lunas de miel.

Wedding night (J. Sabina)

For the make-up not to cover your smile, for the luggage not to burden your wings, for the calendar to not come in a hurry, for the dictionary to stop bulletsFor the blinds to correct dawn, for the I want to win the war of I can, for those waiting to not be counting the hours, for the ones that kill to die of fright.

For the end of the world to find you dancing, for the stage to cover my gray hairs, for you to never know how or when, not yesterday nor tomorrow.

For the heart not to become out of fashion,for the autumns to golden your skin, for every night to be a wedding night, for the honey moon never to set. For every night to be a wedding night, for every moon to be a honey moon.

For the truths not to have complexes, for the lies to look like lies, for the mirrors not to agree with you, for you to like to see what you see.

For helplessness not to be bothered with you, that every supper be your last supper, that being brave wouldn’t come at high cost, that being a coward wouldn’t be worth it.

For you not to be bought for less than nothing, for you not to be sold love without thorns, for you not to be rocked to sleep with fairy tales. for the bar in your corner not to close down.

For the heart not to become out of fashion, for the autumns to golden your skin, for every night to be a wedding night, for the honey moon never to set. For every night to be a wedding night, for every moon to be a honey moon.

Yesterday we celebrated our wedding anniversary. 8 years married, almost 14 years together (!!!). I feel happy. We where together, wrapping presents, listening to some music after a really nice ready made Chinese meal. No fuzz, no stress, the boys happily in bed. It may sound trivial and simple, but it was precious to me.

We realised we do miss our family, and home (Bolivia) is starting to call for us, in a very soft, back of the head kind of voice, and it dawned on me. This little life, it is now and it is fleeting . It will never come back. My boys will be five next year, maybe we’ll save some money to fly to Bolivia for the Holidays and then next Christmas in London they’ll be 6.

It was a very appropriate kind of mood at home, and it made me cherish what we have and be grateful for our health. It made me realise how much more i love my husband than i ever thought possible and what a good thing we did getting married. There is  kind of certainty -even though nothing is guaranteed- that i have someone to rely on, who has invested in the same dreams as me and is keen to have a happy life, lived by sort of the same principles.. There is such a value in that.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

How did my mum do this!

How did people manage? what i actually mean is: how did mums manage to do all this and not get lost in translation in the past?. Is it actually possible to be a mum that is on top of things at home, has happy kids, a good relationship with her partner (who of course helps out and is involved), in a household with two working parents, on a city where you have no family to help out. IS IT POSSIBLE? Because to me, it oh so often feels like it’s not. And every happy time i get to find another part-time working mum i find that we can laugh and complain and secretly feel relieved that we are not alone in this (so this means i officially don’t think mums on full time jobs with kids can.. but that’s me and i’m known for make rush pre-judgements)

So the question then is, how did my mum do it? and of course the answer is different for everyone. In my Latin-American-Dutch case the answer i came up with is: she didn’t. My mum is GREAT, she is a sociologist who was first a journalist and learned Spanish and moved to Bolivia because she fell in love with my dad (who was also a sociologist), yes the story is super romantic, maybe I’ll tell you more one day.

I always considered my mum super brave for having leapt to the unknown like that: a new continent, a new language, a new culture.. But for her it must also have been exciting and surprising. She and my dad worked together on projects to do with development and other important issues, so that must have been rewarding. They lived in a house they build adjacent to my grandparent’s, on land that was owned by them.

I know from the stories that they carried me with them on their field trips into the mountain villages, and i remember dad taking me to nursery sometimes. But then i also remember always having someone taking care of me (and the house). First there was Balbina, a cholita that helped out with the cleaning and cooking at home, i was apparently very close to her and she always wanted to carry me in a swaddle like cholitas do with their own babies, my mum would tell her not to as to discourage me from wanting to be held all the time. Then there was Lidia, who was always whistling and quite playful, she was very young, too young we found out when she finally confessed to have lied about her age when starting to work with us. We loved her like a sister, my sister and me, and she would put the record straight telling us off: “you’re crazy if you think i’m going to put up with you like your mum does!”. Also since forever there was Sonia, a lady that came once a week to do the ironing, she had countless children, her youngest came as a surprise when she was over 50 i think!. When i started school a very special lady came into my life: Alicia, she was there to be with us and encourage us to do our homework until mum and dad where free. We also had a gardener come once a week.

I’m not sharing this to make my mum feel awkward, or because i wanted to show how spoiled i was as a kid.. my point is, even if i wasn’t living in one of the most expensive places on Earth, where the cost of living takes in average over 60% of household income and where childcare for twins is more expensive than the salary of anyone i know, and where it would be more likely for you to meet all of your favourite Hollywood stars hanging out in your local pub before you could make a decent living on a minimum wage (don’t miss interpret this please, i do love living here, the museums, the parks, to me it’s worth it).. Even if i went back to my home country (Bolivia) things couldn’t be the same.. and that is a good thing.

It shouldn’t be allowed to have such a gap between the lowest and the highest income that it would allow a whole class to live comfortably served by another who is always struggling to get by, just because the jobs they do are considered inferior. I am very proud of the changes happening in Bolivia that move away from that situation, like raising the minimum wage, compulsory health insurance and pension for homeworkers and strengthening the law to protect them from abuse.

To me it is funny, but not haha funny, how things in the UK seem in some ways so similar. But then actually a bit worse, because as a Latin-American i am always very aware of the inequalities, when faced with them, but i found that most people here aren’t when the inequalities don’t affect them directly.

In the UK over 2 million children are considered to live in poverty, it appears to be most common for people to earn less than the living wage, and therefore to be on benefits, so basically most people earn too little and are subsidized by the government to be able to just about make it, so they can comfortably go back to work to keep on earning nothing… In Bolivia there are no benefits, there is no safety net, so people have to make it and therefore are very hardworking.. I think this is an argument the UK government made for removing benefits: get people into HAVING to work mode (which i get, but seriously?)..

Strange but true, i think some things are a bit worse here.. No offence meant.

Posted in Latin American issues, My Latin American Women, Other worldly issues, Poverty, This Latin-American woman | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments