2017.

Hello, 2017.

It seems these past years I am always late in welcoming a new year. And I rarely get the chance to reflect on the past one. It is something that I miss, something that Bas always says is intrinsic to me, and I think he it right. But in between the hurrying to finish work, the taking care of the children during break time (Bas works during the holidays) and my sister who always visits around Christmas, I have not had much time to myself. Do not get me wrong – I enjoy the Christmas holidays. But I do miss time for myself and for these sorts of things.

So here I am, sitting down to try and catch up. Sort of.

I won’t go into 2016. It was a very special year for me (our daughter, Emmi), a hectic one (work-wise), a worrying one (the world). I find I have very little to say about it now, except that I am so grateful for Emmi. She is the happiest girl and simply holding her cheers you up.

On to 2017.

I feel I should have a ton of good intensions. But the exact contents feel a little personal, or not defined enough yet, to share. I did single out 12 themes (which seems to be the thing nowadays and obviously it got stuck in my mind), that I would loosely like to focus on:

  1. PhD
  2. Career & work
  3. Health
  4. Environment
  5. Read Up
  6. Social Justice
  7. Planning
  8. Kindness
  9. Finance
  10. Create
  11. Memories
  12. Fun!

Some of these are inevitable (I will have to come up with some sort of plan work-wise, since my contract ends in April). Some are things I want & need to finish (PhD thesis!). Others have to do with this feeling of wanting to be more engaged with the world, social issues, politics. Some affect my personal life most of all. Most are a mix of the small and the big picture.

2017-goals-2

I will probably tell you more about each of these over the course of the year. I would not be me if I did not have sub-items for each of the themes. Things I might want to work on in small doses, or little projects that might be done in a month. Some are entirely too optimistic (saving money when you are about to lose your income? Then again, until April, this is probably the wise thing to do), others should be achievable. But that’s what goals are for right? To have something to strive towards, not to end up with a perfectly checked-off list. Also, I noted them down and now that I look at the subitems I ofcourse already want to change things around. But: onwards!  (I have to encourage myself, because I tend to become embarrassed about this sort of stuff, and sharing it makes me feel vulnerable).

Mostly, I want to do good, better. I want to stand still and appreciate the little moments. I want to overcome some boundaries. I want to listen. I want to learn to speak about things. I want to engage. I want to work towards something meaningful. I want to hug and appreciate and be kind to loved ones. I want to create time and calm in the midst of the multiple storms. I want 2017 to be a good year, despite the political odds. And if those dissapoint, I want to at least be part of doing something about it, and not just sit and watch and be sceptical and afraid.

So yes, I have plans. Even if they still are, and probably sound, extremely vague.

Last but not least: I wish you all a happy, loving and healthy 2017.

On Blogging

Starting Anew: On Blogging

I never yet told you that we had a daughter 6 months ago. My silence was not intentional, it just sort of… happened. There were multiple reasons at play. First, of course, was the utter chaos having a baby brings. Particularly one with colic and reflux. Particularly when you find out once again that you are not good at being a stay-at-home mom (though also not a good full-time working mom). I admire those who can face those first three months and talk only of the joy. I will always talk about mixed blessings (note: this certainly does not mean I do not love my children unconditionally).

But there were more reasons. And this is where my blog truly comes into play.

Returning to blogging about books has felt a little.. strange and strained. More happened in the past few months other than the fact that home life was a central point of reference: the world came crashing in. It happened in multiple ways that have collided and escalated in recent months, but that have been building for some time now: Brexit, Paris climate talks, US election rhetoric, Dutch politics & political debates, and the overall discomfort with my acquired academic ability to deconstruct which has to some extent resulted in an inability to be socially involved.

And so for months now, I have been pondering and going back and forth on how I want to reshape my blog into a place where I can write about these things, ponder them, figure out a way to (probably inadequately) work with some of these issues.  And I am not sure if I can do so through books only. If I were as smart and engaged as Ana is, for example, I might. But instead, I have found that I often use writing about books as a fall-back option which allows me to signal things, but not act per se. Or to simply ignore these issues altogether. (I am not saying that this is wrong: it just does not work for me at the moment).

Had you asked me one month ago I would have told you something along these lines: I was going to reshape this blog into something beyond books. I’d try to turn it into something that acknowledged the manifold Iris-es that the internet apparently makes you separate from each other in order to be a better “branded” blog. It would be about the small joys of my life, about something related to the work I do, about children, about books, about politics and it would trace the small steps through which I was trying to become more involved in social, political and environmental issues.

And then, of course, Trump happened. And suddenly the world tilted yet a little bit further. Right now I am not sure if I can comfortably talk about my “small world” in face of the bigger picture. I am also not sure if documenting imperfect engagement is worthwhile, and whether I should not leave words to those who have thought all of this through so much better.

But here’s the thing: In my years of blogging (and I have done so in many forms, beginning with my livejournal account during teenage years) I have always sought to find meaning and shape my life through writing about it, in one form or another.. Yes, I could simply use a private diary, but a blog’s semi-public setting helps me to keep myself accountable and to find comfort in like-minded souls. Or so I hope. I never set out to have a perfectly branded blog, and I do not need to do so now. And I only ever waste a small amount of space on the internet, if my words are a waste at all. For all the ways in which I wish I could simply reinvent my blog to reflect what I really want it to be, perhaps the first step is to hit [publish]  once more and see if there are still people willing to read along.

This is why I am not moving domains. This is also why, for now, I have put my previous posts on private: I need the feeling of a blank slate, but in the context of my familiar circle, to explore how I want to give shape to blogging and my life in general. How I want to relate to a world that seems to call for more immediate engagement and activism lately, or, very probably, it has always done so and I have only begun to realise it in these past 6 months. A blank slate, also, because it allows for space to figure out how I want to address the balance between political awareness and social engagement on the one hand and my daily work and small joys on the other hand.

My blog will always ever be imperfect (and this is me counselling myself), but I know that my safest bet to feel I am meaningfully adressing my life and the world is through keeping some form of account. I know how often I wish I could read more on how people can be multiple things at once: friends, parents, readers, labourers, thinkers, contributors, activists. How people imperfectly try to work towards a better world, for so often I feel that I can’t do it right so perhaps I shouldn’t even try. If this is what I’d like to read, perhaps this should also be my aim? It need not be perfect (another reminder to myself), and it is alright to focus on one of these themes in certain periods if that feels more comfortable. But I would like to proclaim my blog wide open for all of these things. And hopefully I will be able to actively reshape it in that direction in the upcoming months.