Posted in News

The Gilded TRUMPet

Once upon a time, there was a Gilded TRUMPet, carefully polished to an artificial shine. A shine that was a bit too bright to be real. His whole life he had longed for a pedestal. As a wind instrument, he had always been taken by the hand, but now he wanted to stand on his feet. People tend to look up to you just a bit easier when you’re on top.

He watched the real Golden Trumpet parade, and its beautiful, authentic luster racked his eyes. He wanted to be like him! He blew and blew, his TRUMPet mouth much larger than the others. The noise rose, swelled and drowned out the collective melody completely. Soon other instruments were impressed, tone deaf as they were. They did not know it was not real gold that glittered. Continue reading “The Gilded TRUMPet”

Posted in Culture/History, Technology

Evolution – by Dove

In Generation M! I wrote about the influence of media on the image men and women might want to have nowadays. Imperfections brushed away by foundation and photoshop.

A friend of mine sent me this video, called Evolution (thank you Peter). About an imperfect (but genuine) duckling who turns into a beautiful (but fake) swan in front of our eyes. The film was made for Dove as part of their Campaign for Real Beauty, with the message:

No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.

An excellent initiative!

Posted in Culture/History

Generation M! ~ Impact of Media

Can the image of men and women as presented in media and culture nowadays be an expression of misogyny? Or even enhance it? As I’m writing a series on the demands of ‘beauty’ throughout the ages and their effect on women and men, these questions strike me as highly interesting.

An excerpt of the Media Education Foundation’s 2008 documentary, “Generation M: Misogyny in Media and Culture.”

The accompanying text of the foundation:

Despite the achievements of the women’s movement over the past four decades, misogyny remains a persistent force in American culture. In this important documentary, Thomas Keith, professor of philosophy at California State University-Long Beach, looks specifically at misogyny and sexism in mainstream American media, exploring how negative definitions of femininity and hateful attitudes toward women get constructed and perpetuated at the very heart of our popular culture.

The film tracks the destructive dynamics of misogyny across a broad and disturbing range of media phenomena: including the hyper-sexualization of commercial products aimed at girls, the explosion of violence in video games aimed at boys, the near-hysterical sexist rants of hip-hop artists and talk radio shock jocks, and the harsh, patronizing caricatures of femininity and feminism that reverberate throughout the mainstream of American popular culture.

Along the way, Generation M forces us to confront the dangerous real-life consequences of misogyny in all its forms – making a compelling case that when we devalue more than half the population based on gender, we harm boys and men as well as women and girls.

Slim, tanned or white, faces without imperfections, muscled. Sexy, provocative, aggressive. All imperfections covered up under a layer of foundations, lipstick, hair extensions. All perfections emphasized by a minimum of clothes. And the things that can’t be obscured are photo shopped – or whatever other program is used.

These sexy role models give the impression of glamour, of success in life, of friends, parties and money. Of a happy and exciting lifestyle.

Do these messages in media and culture demean women? Demean men? Lead to misogyny? Young people can easily be influenced by the message media are giving on desired behaviour and appearance. If you look good, you are good. Talk and act tough. Appearance over personality. And though the examples given in this documentary don’t all apply, still the overall message is true in my opinion. But to focus this merely on America is nonsense: it is global!

People can not live up to the images as presented in the media. More importantly: people do not NEED to live up to that image. Where is the intellect? Where is individuality? Where is growing older with grace and pride? Where are YOU? Age and life in general have an effect on the way we look. And we are good enough as we are, damn it!

Mind you, I’m not saying we should eat as much as we want to. Or not try to be fit – taking care of our health is very important. Or dress nicely if it makes you feel good. But the impossible ‘standards’ as overall presented are ridiculous and even undesirable.

Sending out a personal call for more natural role models in the media. For the importance of personality. For mutual respect.

Tell me. What is YOUR opinion on this subject?

In this series also:  Padaung, the Long-Neck Women and Chinese Foot Binding.

Posted in Inspiration, Music

Music: Alanis Morissette

Alanis Nadine Morissette – small frail woman with a big heart and an unmistakable unique voice – was born on the first of June in 1974 in Ottawa, Canada. She is the daughter of Georgia Mary Ann (née Feuerstein), a Hungarian-born teacher, and Alan Richard Morissette, a French-Canadian high school principal. She has an older brother Chad, and a twin brother Wade – also a musician – who was born 12 minutes after her. Alanis is singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer and actress. Her website is called Alanis.

Her albums:

  • Alanis (Canada-only, 1991)
  • Now Is the Time (Canada-only, 1992)
  • Jagged Little Pill (1995)
  • Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998)
  • Alanis Unplugged (1999)
  • Under Rug Swept (2002)
  • Feast on Scraps (CD/DVD, 2002)
  • So-Called Chaos (2004)
  • Jagged Little Pill Acoustic (2005)
  • Alanis Morissette: The Collection (2005)
  • Flavors of Entanglement (2008)

I chose the song ‘That I Would Be Good’, because I absolutely love the lyrics. To be loved and cherished, no matter what. To feel safe and cared for, no matter what. That it is OK to be YOU. Please listen to:

That I Would Be Good:

That I would be good, even if I did nothing
That I would be good, even if I got the thumbs down
That I would be good, if I got and stayed sick
That I would be good, even if I gained ten pounds

That I would be fine, even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good, if I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great, if I was no longer queen
That I would be grand, if I was not all knowing

That I would be loved, even when I numbed myself
That I would be good, even when I am overwhelmed
That I would be loved, even when I was fuming
That I would be good, even if I was clingy

That I would be good, even if I lost sanity
That I would be good, whether with or without you


Source: Wikipedia

Posted in Stories

The hero in YOU!

Day 34 of the ‘Post A Day 2011′ challenge

Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Jeanne d’Arc, Chief Sitting Bull. Five names with an important story. Stories that still touch everybody’s life, even if only in the tiniest aspect. And there are many, many others who have changed the world we live in for the better. They have my utmost respect and admiration.
Thank you!

But heroes don’t need big names. As we speak, people are fighting for freedom and justice all over the world. Our military forces; groups of people who gather and stand up for the rights they believe in; police officers and fire men who risk their lives daily to protect and serve; animal rescue services. They also have my sincere admiration and thanks.
Thank you!

But in this post I honor

The Hero in YOU!

‘Normal people’ heroes, like you and me. Brave acts in daily life that show character when it matters:

  • by getting up and get dressed, when you feel you can’t face the world;
  • by smiling, when worries are trying to get you down;
  • by fighting, when all you want to do is run and hide;
  • by finding patience when everything inside of you is on fire;
  • by helping a total stranger to cross the street;
  • by standing by your friend, when everyone else turns on him;
  • by finding your way when darkness threatens you;
  • by sticking to your beliefs in the face of defeat;
  • by allowing yourself to be proud of what you do;
  • by toiling long hours to provide your family with food and shelter;
  • by being brave and strong in the face of sickness;
  • by speaking the truth, even when it hurts;
  • by improving yourself through study, while working also;
  • by believing in yourself;

You are all heroes in your own way, big and small, and I greet you with a smile and respect.
Thank you!

Would you like to add your thoughts on this subject and show me the hero in YOU?


Posted in Stories

Salute to part-time students!

Day 19 of the ‘Post A Day 2011′ challenge: Describe a time when you witnessed bravery in your profession.

As some of you may know, I work at a university in the south of Holland. Since 1997 I’ve made it my job – my calling – to harass and torture students, to make their lives utterly miserable at every step with my stupid actions and rules… at least some of them might think so ;). Among other things, I’m exam coordinator and e-learning coach of our Academy.

It’s not a job where screaming fire trucks head out into an inferno, nor police officers rescue a victim in distress. Life at our university is pretty well organized, even fire drills can’t raise any commotion. Except complaints that there is no coffee outside.

Most students study our program full-time, which means that they spend one third of their time at school following courses, another third in internship and the rest in self-study at home or in Xplora. This adds up to approximately 40 hours a week.

Part-time students (mostly adults) on the other hand, come to school on Tuesday and Thursday nights ’till 10 PM, have to participate in daytime internships , PLUS most of them have regular jobs. Can you imagine this? These students have to have a high level of dedication and commitment, they sacrifice precious free time in studies – not only of themselves but also of their families – and have to study in weekends and holidays. Often for four long years. They have to bring offers daily to be able to get their dream job: teacher.

These part-time students are my heroes and heroines and this post is dedicated to them. I want to honor their bravery by saluting them with a deep bow and giving them my utmost respect.

You ROCK girls and guys!

Posted in Nature, Stories

Mother Earth

Day 2 of the ‘Post A Day 2011′ challenge:

Name someone who deserves more credit than they get. And how to change things so they get more.


When I read this suggestion, immediately my thoughts went flying towards my parents, my Mom and Dad. I love them dearly. Then they spread towards my family and friends. Without them, my life would be in ruins. They dragged me through disastrous relationships and a difficult divorce. And during this all plus after, my friends have always been there for me, to lift me up when my thoughts spiraled ever down, to offer companionship and solitude. Crazy women and stubborn men, who never let me stray too far on a lonely road. THANK YOU so much, you know who you are. You already have all the credits I have to offer and more.

Then – snuggled warm and cozy in my bed – it struck me: the one that deserves far more credit than she gets, is most definitely Mother Earth.


Though not a mother in the strict sense, man- and womankind owe everything to her. She provides us with natural supplies, plenty of resources and fuels, a climate we can live in. Where we can even travel towards other regions whenever we long for sun or snow. A wild diversity of possibilities. We can find shelter on her skin, breathe in her breath. The earth is alive with flora and fauna in abundance, both on land as in the water. Mother Earth is a growing field, her oceans are filled with fish. Volcanoes provide the most fertile soil there is. She’s given us paradise.

And what do we do to thank her? We abuse her, destroy her precious ecosystems on small and large scale. We pollute the seas and oceans, which are our very life source. We dump nuclear waste deep down in the ground or in the water, piling it on the heads of future generations. Ancient forests are destroyed for building, for clearing space for human ‘culture’. In doing so, we are destroying the natural lungs of the earth, while in these same forests a myriad of flowers and herbs could be flourishing. And destroying a possible cure for fatal diseases.

What can we do to turn this thing around? In what way can we maintain the comfort of modern society while stopping the disaster course we’re on? To start with RESPECT is needed – for each other, for people present and future, for nature, for animals and resources, for the entire earth. It is needed so badly! When we have respect for the world around us, we will change our way of thinking, and with this our actions. We have to stop living our lives and simply taking without considering the costs. We have to give something back before it’s too late. Let’s focus our thoughts and surveys on this field, in stead of warfare and trying to be the richest nations.

Is this the way for children to behave? Mother Earth, I’m so very sorry. You deserve much more credit than we are giving you!

Posted in Poems, Stories

Lines – beauty or curse

A new soul meets the day
When a little baby is born
Face contorted, still unsure
From mother’s womb he’s torn

Toddler’s chubby cheeks
Irresistibly beg for a kiss
Smooth, soft and round
So ignorant, full of joy and bliss

Then tooth is gone, covered in sand,
A new phase comes rushing in
Puberty soon wins the battle
With disfiguring acne on her chin

Beard grows, voice drops
Body develops into woman, into man
Goodbye innocence, bye games
Intriguing character is at hand

Then adulthood sets in and stays
Fine lines are drawn onto your face
Wrinkles of laughter, wrinkles of worries
Fun, love, sadness, sometimes disgrace

Lines, silent witnesses of emotions
Gathered as trophies for the win
You can try to rub them, fill them up
But never from within…

This is a photo of Jane Goodall, who started her daring chimpanzee research on July 14th, 1960 in Gombe, Tanzania. And this beautiful woman has had a full and interesting life, a woman who chose to fight for her beliefs.

Do the lines on her face bother you? I think they’re magnificent!

Each line is telling a different story about challenges, self sacrifice and victory, of sadness and ecstatic joy. About daily worries and quiet happiness. Despair, loneliness, boredom and passion. Lines of expressiveness, a face that is never still.

Why are we trying so hard to get rid of those lines, when every single one is part of who we are, who we have become through the years?  Let’s be proud of the way a lifetime of emotions has shaped our face.

Lines, respected jewels… no curse!