Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Michael Jackson died...

I wonder what color this time...
That's how I heard about his death, while playing an online video game. Whatever else may be true about him, he deserves to be remembered for his good deeds in the world. From listening to the conversation in my game, the disreputable parts of Michael Jackson are remembered well. No need to
elaborate on those. His music is a body of work that speaks for itself, again, no need to go there.
Instead let's look at Michael Jackson, the humanitarian.

Got to be starting something...

Among the many records Michael Jackson holds in the
“Guinness Book Of Records” the most impressive to me is "the Pop Star who supports the most charity organizations" that was in the millennium edition of the book. In 1985 together with Lionel Richy, Michael Jackson wrote "We are the world". The song was performed by a host of musical icons keen to perform for charity. A new era of political and social conscience was sparked by this hugely successful record. And what a great message: we ARE the world.

Many charities owe a debt of gratitude to Michael Jackson. Beneficiaries include the American Cancer Society, the End Hunger Network and the United Negro College fund. His songs show the same dedication to making life better for all people on the planet.

How willing are we to make a man out to be a monster based on what little we know about him? How willing are we to make him into a hero, based on what little we know about him? Michael Jackson was not a hero. Nor was he a monster. He was just a man.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Interesting times

The Chinese have a saying: "May you live in interesting times". It is said to be a blessing and a curse at the same time. That sure holds true in my life. Since I posted the last blog-entry about realizing my dream a lot has happened. I've started work on making my dream come true. I'm currently working on a project-plan for a foundation that will give adult survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse a voice in the Netherlands.

Already the plan includes a photo-series on adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse by my good friend Toos Poels, who has a wonderful talent for expressing things through photography. Check out her blog if you will at Toosphotoos to get an impression of her stuff. Check every week or two for updates. She has a way of making simple, every day topics glow with a special shine. The picture on this blog entry (and many others on my blog) are from her stock.

We aim to have plaster the nation with posters and postcards, have presentations throughout the country and we're working on ideas for getting our message on local and national television and radio. The culmination of the project will be a documentary on the topic, presented in a symposium. The finale of the two year project with the documentary being a spin-off. We're looking for people to join us in this campaign, or perhaps start your own in America or the UK. Worldwide attention would be awesome, but is not within the scope of what we intend to accomplish in the Netherlands. However... this is just my dream and making it come true is just our project. Who knows we might inspire others in other nations?...

I will be going through the project step by step on a Dutch blog called
"onhoorbare schreeuw" which means something like "the inaudible scream". It feels really good to be working on this, to be on track with what my life is really all about. It's the most amazing feeling in the world to be this dedicated to something. I've never felt this strongly about anything ever before and it's making me want to jump out of bed in the morning and get to work.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Realizing your dream, following mine

I was at a series of workshops last week. The first, about mindfulness I've already reported on. Today I'd like to tell you about the dream workshop I did and what it did with me.

The trouble with dreaming is that so often I have had little or no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Somehow that's bred out of us through childhood expectations and educations: you're supposed to make something out of your life. Something the adults approve of, of course. So we lose the childlike
innocence that tells us intuitively what to do.

Reconnecting with the dream, finding out what really makes you tick and then going for it is the stuff that dreams are made of. The workshop was a very personal one by
Margreet de Jong who is realizing her own dream this summer. She's bought a beautiful estate in Spain where she is going to be giving an extended version of the dream workshop she showed us last week.

The one exercise that stood out for me personally was a visualization.
Taking us inside a trip in our own minds, she showed us a little hallway with two doors in it. The door on the left led to a room full of the stuff we'd be willing to leave behind. For me it contained my excuses, my escapism and some of my projects that really aren't what I'm about. The door to the right showed the possibilities that come with pursuing your dream.

I was surprised to see what was behind door number two. Recently I've been working on getting up my courage (core-rage, a friend of mine would say) to become the voice of abuse. I've long noticed that Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) has been in the media a lot, but always from the vantage point of the child. Media coverage is usually about current cases, makes perpetrators out to be monsters and generally provokes sentiments of anger and rage. Other communications aim at prevention, presenting lists of behavioral symptoms and sometimes educational tools to empower children to talk about it.

What is left out by all this attention is the adult survivor of
CSA. This lack is a painful one for the men and women suffering from the affects and effects of CSA on the long term. These are the people, and I am one of them, that I want to give my voice to. I want recognition, acknowledgement and downright help for people like me. I was fortunate to have found a therapist that was able and willing to go through the rough stuff with me. Who didn't get scared or disgusted when I told her about my experiences, but instead listened attentively and stimulated me to really connect to my pain and sorrow. I hear stories every day from people who weren't so fortunate. Whose trip to the doctor's office resulted in some sleep medication and a puzzled look on the face of the general practitioner. Heck, I got a mail the other day from a doctor who had stumbled onto my site at Windtraveller. It said: "I get people in my office all the time who suffer similarly, I never know what to do with that. Also, I suspect that what I'm seeing is just the tip of the iceberg".

So this is what I saw when I opened that door to the future. I saw myself standing in front of a room filled with hundreds of people. Speaking about the suffering of those who have survived CSA and are now dealing, coping, struggling with the aftereffects. I saw myself on television, heard myself on the radio and yes, saw myself writing this piece on the web.

There you have it, please, if this article strikes a chord in you, comment on it, leave a message, let me know. I'm looking for supporters in this pursuit of my dream.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Journey to wild divine

Meditation has never been this easy before! When I first heard of the game "Journey to wild divine" I was intrigued. Control a game with your brain? Further investigation told me it wasn't so much the brain as it was your breathing, heartrate and the conductivity of your skin that were the instruments with which the game is operated. Using biofeedback in a fun game, what a charming concept. Deepak Chopra was involved in creating the game which further peaked my interest. He writes about some of the more interesting concepts of the new age, human potential movement. I was all seet to learn self control and meditative techniques while having fun. I had to have the game!

For any serious gamers a caution is in order here; It's a great game if you're patient and wanting to meditate in a funloving way. The game however is not suitable for any mpmorph, rpg or adrenaline junkies. Unless you're looking for a break away from the hack and slash type of gaming, stay away; this is not your kind of game. But if you're into beautiful experiences, strolling through landscapes of great beauty and learning to control your breathing, practise mindfulness, this is for you.

I've played for a few days now and I'm learning to make balloons go up and down with the power of my mind, aiming my bow in a zen-like meditative manner and oh joy: I've built the stairway to heaven. Playing the game daily is improving my life too, which I can't say about the rpg's I usually play. Where those games help me escape from reality, this one helps me better prepare for it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


This morning I participated in a workshop Mindfulness. These days it seems like mindfulness is on everybody's agenda as the hot new thing. Being naturally curious I wondered what one would do in a workshop mindfulness. To me mindfulness is about being awake, aware of what is here and now going on around you as well as inside you. A way of life that I've been attempting to live ever since I first heard of the Vietnamese monk Thich Nath Hahn and read one of his books, "Peace Is Every Step" I think it was 1994.

Todays workshop was good, even though the subject matter wasn't exactly new to me. The trainer was very patient and had a soothing and slow voice. One of the mindfulness exersizes involved looking at a cherry tomato. Looking at it as long as we could, focussing on the look, feel, smell, all sensory perceptions of the tomato. It lasted a long time, which, because there was little else we could focus on, made the indepth look at the tomato all the more interesting. After you got past the whole "why were we doing this again" phase and on past the "I'm done with this tomato" phase, you got to the "wow, this tomato has a depth of colour, an almost transparent skin, it reflects the sunlight, etc. etc. The tomato, because of all that attention, became special.

And then we ate the tomato, mindfully. This means you almost study what the tomato tastes like, how it explodes with juices in the mouth, the textures, the aftertaste. It was an amazing taste sensation that reminded me that doing things with my full attention makes things so much more interesting that I wonder why we do so much on autopilot. Sure, things that are boring and repetitive ask to be automated, but why not bring more mindfulness to the things we enjoy doing?

Mindful cooking and eating come to mind, mindfully taking a bath, mindful lovemaking... the possibilities are endless.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Poor people shouldn't have pets?

The hard hitting financial crisis is having it's effects on my friends and neighbors. My girlfriend has her finger solidly on the pulse of society, even though she neither reads newspapers nor watches television. She's on welfare and has foodstamps to get by.

A few months ago her cat's contacted cat disease, a horrid sickness that is mostly preventable by vaccination. Under normal conditions she would have had them all vaccinated, but since she had four kittens and another pregnant cat she could not afford to have them all done...
One of the older tomcats got sick and had to go to the vet's. He was committed and it cost something like 120 euro's to cure him. That was pretty much all her reserves for calamities and it wiped her out financially. They told her that they needed to do 55 euro's worth of testing to see what ailed him and she couldn't afford that. So she took him back home, not knowing what he had. There was a suspicion that it was cat's disease and well, we kept him seperate from the rest of the cats and hoped for the best.

For three weeks we hand fed the kittens, trying to help them survive this disease. It's a viral infection of the intestinal tract, the vet said, the main thing is to keep them hydrated and feed them to keep their intestines working. Subcutaneous injections, feeding them from a syringe and cleaning them regularly became our routine for three weeks. The end of the story is that five of the eight young kittens survived. A miracle according to the people in the animal shelter, because most often during an outbreak all the kittens die, as well as quite a few adults.

The local veterinarian said: "We rarely see cat's disease anymore, these days"

The local animal shelter said: "We see this kind of thing all the time, especially in these poor neighborhoods"

The difference is clear: the vet doesn't see these animals simply because the people who can't afford to vaccinate their animals can't afford to go to the veterinarians when they get sick either. My girlfriend had quite a few people who helped out to care for her cats. Unfortunately among the poor this is an extraordinary set of circumstances. Keeping up with social contacts can be difficult to do if you can never offer a round of drinks, never invite people to go to the movies... before you know it you don't see your friends anymore because you're afraid to impose.

A sign of the times: the animal shelters are filled with animals and summer vacations haven't even started yet. People who are on the bottom rung of the societal ladder simply can't afford to feed their pets, much less vaccinate them. My girlfriend's included a call to action on a sweepstakes for social projects and the ensueing discussion on the website from Trouw (in Dutch) the point was made that pet's are a luxury item.

"Poor people shouldn't have Pet's!" This seems such a heartless point of view that it makes me wonder. These are pet's that have often been with the family (and have become part of the family) for years. My own cat has been with me longer than any partner I've ever had. Even when I didn't have any money, the first thing I'd buy from what little I made I'd buy cat-food. My cat never went without, even when at times I did have to skip a meal.

We get to choose what kind of world we want to create with each other. We get to choose wheter we want our children to grow up with the knowledge that they are cared for and loved, no matter what. We set the tone by what we are willing to do to our animals. I hope my girlfriends project succeeds and results in a massive movement to have the pet's of the poor vaccinated in all of Holland. I'm rooting for her and all the cute little kittens and puppies!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Great digital photography by a great friend

My good friend Toos Poels makes spectacular photo's. I prefer to use her stuff whenever I can on my blog because she's got a wonderful way of viewing the world. Naturally she hasn't covered all the topics I write about but a fair bit of them she's got pictures of.

I've been looking for a way to promote her stuff, basically because she's my friend and way too modest about her stuff. So I built her a photoblog. I'll maintain it for her too, all she does is hand me the pictures and a little remark about where they were taken. The results are simply stunning and can be seen at toosphotoos

Take a look, sign up for her feed, tell your friends, she's got the stuff.

A quick sample: This is the lowly Dandelion, when it goes to seed it is the inspiration for my name Windtraveller.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I love... me

Today my girlfriend passed her NLP exams at Commitments. She had to do a presentation of what she felt she learned from the past year of soul-searching and reprogramming. Her production was impressive: she did a stand up comedy routine, starting and ending with a song with piano accompaniment.

She started with a song called "Flowers are red". It's a tragic song about how spontaneity is broken in the educational process. The original song is by Harry Chapin who was inspired to write it after reading the text on a eleven year old boys report card that said: "Your son marches to the beat of a different drummer, but don't worry. We'll have him joining the parade by the end of the term"

The song is about enforced conformity and it's heartrending in both Harry's version as well as my girlfriends. She's spent the greater portion of her life conforming to other peoples wishes. Only recently, with the help of the NLP training, and through her indomitable will, she's found a way to shed all these layers of expectation.

In her presentation this afternoon, she shed layer after layer of clothing, till she was left in her lingerie. Then she sang a dutch song, made by a stand up comedian called Harry Jekkers that in translation says: "I love.... me".

I've never been more proud in my life then when I saw her perform today. She was scared spitless by the idea of standing up in front of all these people in her undies, but real courage is not the absense of fear, rather feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Her courage has shone right through today and has touched the hearts of everyone who was present.

I'll add pictures when they become available.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ten best most evocative lines from popular songs

Music is what inspired me, more than anything else, to think for myself. Some of the best music in the world are poetry, literature... So here's ten of my favorite "one liners" from my favorite artists. Hope you enjoy, let me know what you think and let me know what your favorite line is!
  1. "All lies and jests till the man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest"
    "The Boxer", a Simon and Garfunkle classic. For me this line speaks of not being heard, not being taken serious.

  2. "What do you know, you know just what you perceive"
    "Dreidel" is one of the lesser known songs by Don McLean. I think it's a great statement about the human condition, there's nothing you can be sure of, all is in the eyes of the beholder.

  3. "Remember what they taught you, how much of it was fear. Refuse to hand it down, the legacy stops here."
    Silent legacy, a great song about the things we're taught as children that we hardly ever think about when we grow. Melissa Etheridge has had her own battle in that respect, making her biography a very interesting read.

  4. "Happy I am, all on the new day. Happy I am, people and flowers are one and the same"
    Donovan has such a soft and gentle way of speaking about life and happiness. I honestly believe that the pursuit of happiness is what we're on this earth for.

  5. "Yonder stands your orphan with his gun"
    An old Bob Dylan classic, It's all over now baby blue. What fascinates me is the concept of "your orphan". In two words he captures the way we have disowned our children.

  6. "Do you remember days not so very long ago, when the world was run by people twice your size?"
    I use this line from "Catch another butterfly"by John Denver because it expresses clearly to me why there's no excuse for ever hitting a child. Imagine a 12 foot giant whooping you upside the head...

  7. "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true"
    A sad epic song about life in the USA, "The river" by Bruce Springsteen. He's talking about the American dream of course, but I think it's more universal than that.

  8. "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose"
    The immortal Janis Joplin in Bobby McGee, to me she speaks of the loneliness in freedom without love and compassion.

  9. "Will you be a friend of mine to remind me what is real"
    From the song "Out of my mind", by James Blunt. He speaks about the madness of sudden fame and the need for friends, but it goes way deeper than that for me. Our friends are there to confirm our vision of reality.

  10. "Sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time"
    Otis redding, hot sultry days, long nights of slow love, the imagery in just that one line, a complete philosophy of life. After all, none of us know why we're here, let's waste time...