Tapping is a technique that is used to calm the mind and reduce anxiety. The idea is simple. First, you focus on a specific negative emotion or situation in your life. Then you tap on 12 meridian points on your body for about 5-7 times. By tapping on these points, while concentrating on releasing the negative emotion, your body’s energy will become balanced again and stress is released.View Post
In this whirlwind digital age, new websites and blogs are popping up left and right on a daily basis. Many people have personal or lifestyle blogs, nutrition or wellness blogs, food or travel blogs. Many even combine all of the above together in blogs that may look very similar to mine and talk about my topics with such eloquence that it is only natural for me to ask myself why I should start another one. Does the world really need another blog? Does the world really need my blog? The answer is unequivocally yes, not only because my voice needs to be heard, but because I need to practice using my voice in the first place. After years of toying with the idea of starting a blog, I have accumulated reasons so compelling to myself that I could no longer deny myself the opportunity to start expressing myself on this platform. Today I want to share these reasons.
A voice for change
There are many blogs talking about veganism, sustainable living and stress-management, yet all of them matter. In a world of gross injustice not only to fellow humans, other animals and the ecosystems on which we depend, but oftentimes most profoundly to ourselves, every voice trying to rectify this injustice matters. Experiments have shown that when a group of actors all do the wrong thing, the test subject will follow them, even when he/she know it is wrong. When among the group of actors, there is one person doing the right thing, the test subject is much more likely to do what he/she know is right. Although I am far from perfect, I try to do the right thing as much as I can. If I can inspire others to do the same, even if it is only one person, then this blog matters.
A public learning platform
I love writing and have been doing so for many years in private. As an otherwise not very creative person, writing is my way of creating and expressing myself. I have written short stories, poems and diary entries for as long as I can remember and have no intentions of ever showing them to anyone. But I realised that the only way for me to grow in my writing and improve my skills, is by sharing my stories. Making my writing public and receiving feedback from others, will help me advance in the field of wordsmithery. It will also hold me accountable to write regularly, as we all known how annoying an abandoned blog can be. This accountability applies not only to writing, but to all matters of wholesome and sustainable living. By putting myself out there and writing about these topics, I can learn and grow from others. I can also keep myself accountable to sticking with practices I value dearly.
A minimalist journal
Coming back to the previous point about my love for writing, I enjoy going through my old diaries and scrapbooks to reflect on a particular stage of my life and to understand how far I have come in my life. I hold these notebooks dear and would never get rid of them. But as I am aiming to adopt a more minimal lifestyle, the idea of putting all my recipes, thoughts, advice (I have whole notebooks just on advice to myself), and memories in a nook on the internet appeals to me. My blog gives me the opportunity to have all my thoughts neatly categorised and stored away without creating more clutter in my home.
The world would have done just fine without my blog. I would have quite likely survived as well. But as the cliché goes: “The world doesn’t need more successful people. The world desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of all kind”. This is a need that does not beg for brute survival, but for vitality, harmony and connection. And if I can find more vitality, harmony and connection with my blog, then that is exactly what the world is longing for.
With the absurdly hot summer we have had this year, I think we can all agree once again how important it is to step up our game. Luckily there is so much happening to improve the sustainability of our human existence. From incredible start-ups to local movements, people are doing amazing things to support our environment. To inspire and motivate, today I would like to share some of my top reads on sustainability from this week.
Okay, let’s start with the bad. As much as I want to only trumpet all the wonderful eco-initiatives, we cannot overlook the facts. And unfortunately, the facts are grim, really grim. Instead of getting down about these facts, let’s use them to motivate us more than ever to do our bit for a better world.
- The UK government has yet again scheduled the release of an environmental report days after approving an environmentally-unfriendly decision. Last week, the government approved fracking in Lancashire and four days later a report on the state of air pollution in the UK was released. Mind you, the report was finished in 2015, so it should have been released years ago. Not cool!
- We all know that the weather has been odd this year. From arctic fires in Norway to deadly fires in Greece, no (Western) country has been hit as hard as Japan this year. Between souring heatwaves and unprecedented floods, over 300 people in Japan lost their lives to weather-related incidents during the month of July. A report that was released this week shows that without proper adaptation, weather-related deaths could increase by 2000% in certain regions by 2080!
Seeing all that bad news might be uncomfortable (I know it is for me!), but we cannot close our eyes from the truth. That being said, there is also loads to celebrate this week on the sustainability front. Seeing all these amazing changes makes me proud, gives me hope and, most importantly, prompts me to try a little harder myself.
- The world’s first plastic-free shopping aisle in a main-stream supermarket has been opened in The Netherlands this week. How amazing is that? Leeds still doesn’t have a waste-free shop and it irks me every time I have to buy produce that is wrapped in layers upon layers of plastic. I hope this starts a movement in The Netherlands starts a trend and UK supermarkets will soon take note.
- So it’s not all bad news in the UK this week. While we might not be covered in waste-free shops yet, we have managed to reduce our use of plastic bags in supermarkets by 86% since 2015. This just shows that good policies (such as the 5p charge on plastic bags) work. Hopefully, this will increase morale and leads to more effective policies in the future.
It is helpful to scour the news on sustainability topics. It creates awareness and understanding on a tricky subject (this post clearly just scratched the surface). Awareness is the first step, but actions speak louder than words. This week I found some amazing companies that I am sure will help me on my sustainability journey.
- This week I discovered the most amazing small Indian fashion brand that is completely fair-trade and uses sustainable fabrics. The Summerhouse creates garments that are absolutely stunning in their simplicity. I love finding and supporting independent brands like this, so please go check them out!
- I have been looking for a sustainable bathing suit for a while now for my upcoming holidays. I stumbled upon the
brand Batoko two weeks ago and I am glad I decided to purchase my bathing suit from them. All their swimwear is made from recycled fishing nets and come in cute prints. I opted for the blue suit with shark print. Last week I received the package in the mail and I was so happy to see all the packaging was sustainable as well (no plastic at all!). The swimsuit fits really well and I cannot wait to wear it during my upcoming holidays.
That was my round-up of sustainability news and finds from this week. I will be back soon with more news, tips, and insights from the world of sustainability. Please feel free to leave any additional information or tips in the comments!
July was such an amazing month. Of course, I started my blog this month and I am extremely happy I did. So far I have loved expressing myself through writing and I am so glad that I finally bit the bullet. July was also a month that was all about friends and family. At the beginning of the month, I celebrated my two-year anniversary with my boyfriend by going to ‘The Allotment Vegan Restaurant’ (check out my review). I also took several little trips this month to spend time with my loved ones. First, I went to Frankfurt to spend some time with my grandmother. And two weeks later I headed up to Edinburgh for some quality time with one of my best friends. I am working on a travel guide for both Frankfurt and Edinburgh, so those should be up on the blog soon. Lastly, let’s talk about the amazing weather we have had all month here in the UK. It definitely brought a smile to my face every time I stepped outside. Nonetheless, I am also not complaining about the rain showers we had last weekend. Green grass is a lot prettier to look at than brown grass.
Each month I would like to share some of the things I have been loving. This could be anything from food or fashion to songs, movies, books or podcasts. Rather than having a set list of favourites each month, I will mix the categories up a bit depending on what has crossed my path.
This month I had courgette more than any other vegetable. The Allotment tasting menu featured them and I also included them in several of my homecooked meals. One of my all-time favourite breakfasts is zoats with sundried tomatoes and this month featured the dish more than once. (I have put up the recipe for this dish last week.) I also made zoodles on a few occasions and tried my hand at these vegan courgette fritters:
This month I have been loving my new ‘pineapple heels’ from Bourgeois Boheme. The shoes are vegan, sustainable and fair-trade, so they are right up my alley. The white bit on top is made from pineapple fibers, which is why I lovingly call them my ‘pineapple heals’. I wore the shoes for the first time on my anniversary date and love how comfortable and stylish they are.
My favourite podcast this month was the On Being episode with Elizabeth Gilbert. In this interview, Gilbert talks about choosing curiosity over fear in our creative endeavours. Creativity is sometimes thought of as a gift, given to a special elite of people. Gilbert prefers to see it as something that is attainable to all of us. When we are simply curious about creative projects, without attaching feelings to their outcome, creativity becomes something wonderfully healing and positive. As I was hesitant for months about starting a blog, this podcast resonated deeply with me. I strongly recommend listening to it and checking out the On Being podcast in general, if you haven’t heard of it yet.
I love Jess’ ‘What I eat in a day’ videos. Her food is simple, vegan and healthy, but doesn’t aspire to be 100% fitspo proof. Her recipes are always super simple and I am constantly inspired to try her creations. This edition featured some amazing summer dishes, which were perfect for the hot weather we have been having in the UK.
My favourite blog read this month was a blog post by The Good Trade on guilt around sustainability. It is so easy to fall into the guilt trap when starting the sustainability journey. There are always people who do it better than you and I have even written myself about how difficult it is to live a sustainable lifestyle. The article by The Good Trade reminds us that sustainability is not a zero-sum game. Doing a little better is not useless and every little step matters.
That is my roundup of July 2018. A brilliant month filled with everything summer should be filled with. August will be an even bigger month for me, as I will start a new job. I cannot wait to see what this new journey in life will hold for me and of course write all about it in next month’s round-up.
Karma has a bit of a negative connotation here in the West. When you hit your toe after using a swear word, people will quickly say ‘karma’s a b****’. Yet, karma simply means ‘every action has a reaction’. This concept is quite similar to Newton’s law which states ‘every action must have an equal and opposite reaction’. Where karma differs from this scientific law, is that it is applied to the metaphysical realm. The laws of karma state that your actions and thoughts will have consequences.
The concept of Karma is found in many Eastern traditions, from Hinduism and Buddhism to Sikhism and Taoism. Each tradition has a slightly different interpretation of the concept. The main idea is that every thought and action sends out a (metaphysical) energy into the world, which is met with a reaction. Positive thoughts and actions will be met with positive energy. The same principle applies to negative thoughts and actions. Since many Eastern traditions believe in reincarnation, they also believe that karmic energy can be transferred from one life to the next. On the one hand, this explains why bad things happen to good people. On the other hand, this idea raises the moral agency problem, something monotheistic traditions suffer from as well. As I studied philosophy in my undergraduate degree, I am fascinated with questions like these.
Alas, without turning this post into a philosophical debate, let’s look at the 12 karmic laws and how they can help us live a better life.
1. The Great Law
This law is the basic karmic law, which states that ‘the energy you are sending out to the universe, will come back to you’. This law is about basic ‘cause and effect’. If you want good things to happen to you, you will have to act kindly and positively. Remember that the concept of karma includes inherited negative karmic energy. If you are living a kind life, bad things can still happen to you. This notion makes karma a gentler concept than the popularised ‘law of attraction’.
2. The Law of Creation
This law states that we are all co-creators of the universe. As Rumi put it: ‘you are not a drop in the ocean, but the entire ocean in a drop’. In practical terms, this means that life doesn’t just happen to you. You can actively shape the course of your life.
3. The Law of Humility
Acceptance is the basis for transformation. We must always first accept our fate before we can ever hope to change it. This has been a powerful thing to learn for me during my health crisis.
4. The Law of Growth
This law states that only we have control over our thoughts and actions. If we want to grow in spirit, we should focus on changing our attitudes and mindsets. Don’t focus on nit-picking on the behaviour of others, but instead focus on your own conduct.
5. The Law of Responsibility
We must take full responsibility for our lives. As I mentioned before, we do not have control over our circumstances. We do however have control over our response to the circumstances. So, we must take responsibility for our conduct and attitudes. Notice a pattern here?
6. The Law of Connection
Everything in the universe is connected, including past, present, and future. For us to relate to the entire universe, we need to be present. Being present allows you to live in connection to all that is, was and has been. If this law sounds odd, try meditating and see if you can feel what this law means through first-hand experience.
7. The Law of Focus
You cannot focus on two thoughts at one. So, when you focus on the positive, you cannot simultaneously focus on the negative. Training your mind to focus on the positive will naturally make you less negative.
8. The Law of Giving
Selflessness can only be shown through our actions. Being virtuous is pointless if the kindness is only directed to ourselves. If we want to grow spiritually, we need to learn to become selfless.
9. The Law of Presence
This law can be best explained with a well-known Zen story about two monks and a woman. Buddhist monks are not allowed to touch women. One day, an old and a young monk saw a woman who was unable to cross a river. Without hesitation, the old monk picked up the woman and carried her across the river. Afterward, the two monks continued on their path. A few hours later, the young monk exclaimed: ‘How could you have touched that woman? We are not allowed to do that!”. The older monk responded: ‘I dropped off the woman hours ago, but it seems you are still carrying her.”
10. The Law of Change
Lessons will repeat themselves until we learn from them. We need to use our history to grow and evolve from it, or the same thing will keep happening to us. Growth is not possible without change.
11. The Law of Patience
We cannot influence divine timing. All we can do is work diligently and trust that the rewards will come in their own time. Enjoy life as it comes, rather than waiting for a magic end-result.
12. The Law of Significance
Each of our contribution matters to the Whole. Contributions with a loving and kind intention bring life and joy into the Whole. Simply said, this law states that you should be the change you want to see in the world.
Looking at all these laws, we can extract two main lessons: be present and be kind. Regardless of your religion or whether you believe in karma, you can apply these ‘laws’ to your life. Not only can this create a better world. It will also make us all a little happier. So, if you cannot remember all these laws, keep in mind to be present and kind. That will guarantee to make your life a little sweeter.