Friday, 22 March 2019

The Straw is NOT the Problem

The last time I went to McDonald's, I saw that the cashier did not put a straw in the tray for my son to use with the lidded carton cup. Forgetting all about the campaign against straws, I asked why was there no straw and was told it is because I need to request one if I want it. Fair enough.

Or rather, it would make sense if it weren't for all the rest of the disposable packaging sitting on the ironically straw-less tray. I once in fact tackled the topic of too much waste in diners as well as other businesses. You may read that article here:

To add insult to injury, a few days after this episode I frequented a well-known coffee place with a friend. We ordered a simple black tea and an espresso. Unknown to us the coffee shop was due to close in less than an hour from when we made our entrance so the barista advised us we could only buy our drinks in disposable cups and would that be alright. Well, I wanted my fix of tea and sit-down chat as well as the bathroom so given the choice between disposable or nothing at all I reluctantly said ok for the throw-away cup option. I understand that staff might not be too amused at the thought of washing those final few cups at the end of a long shift but why should that impact the environment? Most likely, the disposable-only rule applies simply because the management forsee less of a cost in that option than paying the baristas to stay a few minutes more to wash up. After all, selfishness and profit margins reign supreme in most big businesses.

Meanwhile I've seen this careless trend in other places too. One such example is the huge thick plastic bags put in some office and public bathrooms for tampons and sanitary towels. Yeah, I get it - these items are gross to throw away directly in a bin - but that is no excuse for so much wastage when pads are anyway packaged in plastic so it is easy to roll the used one up in the still-clean wrapping of the one just put on and tampons are very very small compared to those plastic bags being provided. In fact, even pads are not that big compared to the size of the bags I've seen. Alternately, though still quite wasteful in my opinion, maybe paper bags could be provided instead?

But back to diners now and some less obvious changes that they could incorporate are things like sugar in shakers instead of little paper packets. They are hygienic enough, provide no paper waste and there is likely less wastage by users than when they can freely grab packets and leave untouched then thrown away once the table is cleaned. I also often encounter plastic containers when I order takeout from various places. The black-bottomed, clear-plastic top variety might make for appetising presentation but I much rather have a cleaner planet to live on than a photo-worthy meal. Another, maybe less used but still replaceable item is the disposable wooden chopsticks sometimes presented in restaurants. Once again, I rather blame profit-margins for this one, that accounts for the time it would take an employee/cost of dishwashing the reusable variety.

All in all, I think we are far from environmentally-conscious most of the time, especially here in my country. As with most other pitiable circumstances, this one is clearly brought about more often by a monetary factor than the effort entailed in making the small changes.

They say money makes the world go round. But maybe, just maybe, it is money that will stop the world after all.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Peer Pressure in Adulthood

Firstly, let me say that although the next paragraphs mention a hot topic of discussion, this post is NOT about the pro-life or pro-choice movements and I only mention the issue in order to examine a particular human trait.

I never hide my beliefs. If I stayed quiet rather than voicing my thoughts about something just for the sake that 'everyone is entitled to an opinion', I would in fact be going against my own belief. So in the midst of a furore about the topic of abortion a couple years back, my then editor invited me to write about my stance on a magazine that had mostly pro-choice authors. You may read the article here: Why I'll Never Be Pro Choice.

Given the current almost volcanic debate going on in my country (Malta) about the possible legalisation of abortion, I thought it was the right time to re-share my article which presents not a religious or hostile pro-life argument but rather tackles pro-choicers' views whilst saying why I do not deem them plausible reasons in favour of abortion. If my article hits too close when read, then I am probably presenting a good argument.

In a bid to share my views further and present my cause, I politely asked most of the people on my contact list to share my article on. Amid the thumbs up signs of pro-lifers and a couple of 'I'm pro-choice' people who respected that our idea differed, I met with a surprise. A person who seemed to me very much a pro-lifer in personal view, pointed out that sharing my article would cause harm to her career. I understand a passion for what you do but to hide who you really are simply to avoid boycott sounds to me very much like the peer pressure we blame on teens.

I personally rather lose some followers and be true to myself than act like someone I am not to please others. What happened to 'Love yourself and be true to yourself first'?! This person argued that voicing any view on the matter in question would always result in haters and that she did not judge anyone for their opinion or what they did so didn't want people to think she did. Say what?! That made my heart thump and upset me till a day later, here I am writing about it. I don't judge others either. I have amazing friends who are pro-choice and although I can never agree with them on the topic, I would not cut them out of my life for that. I actually admire that they are ready to say the truth about how they feel despite knowing my opinion differs greatly.

Knowing I am in the company of, or Facebook friends with, people who have a reaction opposite to mine to the same issue, doesn't mean I shouldn't feel free to voice my own opinion out of fear of how others react. What are we? Ten years old again? What are we? Money-makers who see people as dollar signs that might fade in the face of our true self? If that is how we are, then that is how people will perceive us too. Everyone is what they make of themselves and if we don't believe in ourselves enough to take a stance when we believe in something, then we will be treated as cowards for that is how we will appear.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Loading Match... Wrong Timing... Match Delayed!

There is a film that stands out in my memory and also sits on my DVD shelf at home. I love it and will not part with it despite that I have not watched it in a couple years now.

The name of the film is Love, Rosie and I once wrote comparing it to the book that it is based on, which was originally titled Where Rainbows End. (See comparison article here: Love, Rosie... A book turned into film)

Since it is a romantic comedy I am not spoiling the show by saying that the two best friends eventually do end up together. It is a given, is it not?

The story was originally written by Cecelia Ahern and it explored the lives of the two protagonists through letters that went back and forth not only between themselves but also their families.

In both the book and film, despite how the story was changed to fit the exigencies and limitations of the screen for the film version, it is obvious to readers and viewers that Alex and Rosie are made to be together, though Rosie never seems to see it herself.

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but I would say here instead that truth is more complicated than fiction. For in addition to how a person can never see objectively that which is too close to home and heart, human beings are in truth much more complex than any fictional counterpart could ever be. Add the circumstances trick that the universe might have up its sleeve, and it really could make star-crossed lovers of real people. Timing is rarely right the first time round is it?

A few weeks ago I had a day off work and I spent it doing things I love, which included meeting one of my girl friends for a long-time-coming coffee. We got talking about new relationships and how easy it is to meet the right person but at the ‘wrong’ time. As I am demisexual, this for me complicates the already next-to-impossible feat of finding a partner even more!

However on the other hand my extreme sexuality type also helps in that when I do find ‘right’ people, I would rather wait out the days, months, even years if Love, Rosie is anything to go by, to be with a person who is a perfect match, than randomly swipe people right on an app in the hope of getting lucky.

So to the guy I met at the bar who was an actual match but had to go back home to his country, I will never forget our meeting. To the man with the most amazing eyes I’ve ever seen, I will never forget looking into them with hope before reality intervened. To the one who came and went from my life over and over again, who knows if you are actually my Twin Flame and will eventually remain?

I do not ‘need’ a relationship to feel whole, something I advocate to everyone in my article Love Yourself First. But if I do have a partner, then I’m gonna have one worth waiting for, like Alex in Love, Rosie.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

The Happy Meal Life

I took my son to McDonalds last week. His invariable meal choice whenever we go there is the famous ‘Happy Meal’, an assortment of junk food and drink with a toy attached. Needless to say, it is the toy that entices him to make his choice and I am happy to comply on the rare occasion we do visit the diner.

My son is not the only child who is magically lured to this ‘Happy’ meal and as I sat looking around me I could see other Happy Meal cartons dotting the whole of the place. Which prompted me to ask myself, why is the kids’ meal the ‘Happy’ meal?

We value our children and try to make them as happy as we can, within our limits that are usually brought about by our own upbringing, our own standard of living, our own big love for those we care about as well as the circumstances we find ourselves in. Children always come first. We give them priority, thrive on their joy and ensure they always get the best of what we can give them. Which is all well and good, human and proper.

However why is it that most of us don’t respect ourselves in the same way that we respect children? We deserve a Happy Meal too in my opinion?

We put our children to sleep early to ensure they get enough rest and are sharp during school hours but I know very few people who have disciplined themselves to get enough sleep in adulthood. Most of the time, adults have an ‘I have to do it all’ attitude. Have to? There is no ‘have to’ and in the long run we usually just end up physically sick till we have to deal with ourselves and give ourselves the rest our body and mind crave.

We tell our children to work hard in school to grow up to choose the career they want. Yet adults invariably get sucked into the 9-5 job to ‘make money’. What is money? It is the means to the lifestyle we want and not important in itself. (Read my Minimalism and the Economy article here: So why not, rather, have a job that makes us happy over the one presenting the bigger bucks or else not even that but just a safety net? I rather land on a slippery rainbow slide than a black safe boring safety net thank you very much.

We let our children play and drive them around to get them to their extra-curricular activities to get their fun. But are we getting enough fun? Do we allow ourselves the time and space to dream, take a class we enjoy, read that book or watch that film without guilt of ‘not having time’?

For a few weeks since the start of this year I had a boyfriend. Unfortunately things didn’t work out and we split after less than a month but it was one month where I had to share my time, answer texts, meet on the allotted day and time regardless of my mood and physical energy. It started to drain me though I wasn’t sure why. When we did split and I started embracing my single lifestyle again I noted how for all the time I was dating him I had given up on most of my meditation sessions, had had no time to read and was only watching films and series in his company, never alone, simply due to that I can only do so much in a day. I am sure that were it a relationship that was going to work I would have felt differently about it but the point here is that we should always give ourselves the time to do that which will make us better versions of ‘us’.

We notice things that drag us down and complain yet not change the situation if it is too daunting to do so. Sometimes I wish adults were allowed the temper tantrums that we expect and accept of children. ‘I don’t wanna’ is a familiar phrase in parenthood but it is never the parent saying those words.

What if we started ‘not wanting to’ do some things and actually accept that of ourselves? To the tired mama out there, it’s ok to not do it all. To the fathers juggling more than one job, it is ok to not give your children the latest new ‘fad’ toys. They might be craving your presence more than the so-called ‘Happiness boosters’ that keep getting advertised. To all of us including the non-parents, being an adult should not s**k.

My son’s favourite go-to when he is pissed off is to say it is not fair that he only gets to do all that he wants when he becomes an adult. Maybe he is right and we are wrong, and as adults, which should strive to do what makes us happy.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

From Strangers to Flatmates

Last Saturday night, as Malta faced one of the worst ever recorded storms in the island's history, I sat in the small kitchen drinking a beer and swaying to an assortment of music videos suggested by myself and four of my five flatmates in turn. (Thinking about it, my current living arrangement sounds like something out of the BBC series White Heat, about which I had written at length here:

The cosy and friendly atmosphere prompted me to comment on how in the three months that I'd lived with the previous flatmates in the same flat, this thing had never happened. Meanwhile, three more months spent in a different flat-share last summer had yielded an even more bitter-sweet experience.

I like to think that I am on a kind of Sabbatical, albeit a forced one. One year of living with strangers out of necessity, but also my first year of living totally away from family which in itself has given me a new autonomy. But back to the topic of the day, living with people who are neither family nor, in most instances, of my same nationality, has opened up the possibility to really grow mentally. I was never really racist but I do tend to be quite guarded as a person and previously would never have even wanted a friend to stay over let alone share my living quarters with someone, or in this case five someones, that I did not previously know.

I grew up in a home where we were very reserved and I remember thinking it very strange when a relative or other of my ex husband would invariably pop into his mum's home without prior notice. Yet here I am now, so happy for the good company that I will definitely miss the long chats over tea of an evening or whilst cooking, as well as walking into 'my' kitchen for breakfast to find one of the other girls there. I have found my multi-cultural rental a real 'home' away from my home and were it not for having my son currently living away from me due to the living arrangement, I would be very content to prolong this sense of comradeship. In fact, just thinking about leaving in a few months makes me kind of sad. We will say we'll keep in touch, and maybe we will. But by now I know very well that distance does damage to any kind of relationship and that family life will almost surely gulp me up in a new lifestyle that will differ to the one I currently enjoy.

Gratitude helps in any given situation and I am finding it easy to feel grateful for sharing my home over living totally on my own. Nothing beats sharing good news and bad, feeling safer when the lights go out in the storms or simply laughing my nerves off. I even enjoy sharing my hairdryer and feeling useful, as well as the fact that we are causing less of a carbon footprint than if we were all of us living on our own.

As previously stated, my experiences with some other flatmates had not been as sweet so I could never draw a line and say I have loved the experience all through. However there is always a good and bad side to each story and I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to experience this lifestyle for myself. As it is said, it is much easier to try something when you know you have a way out and my safety net is my new flat. So I will enjoy my last few months of this hippie way of life before entering a new phase in life.