All I want for Christmas

‘War Is Over! If you want it. Happy Christmas, John & Yoko.’  Billboards in eleven world cities showed these words. It was 15 December 1969 and The Beatles singer John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono launched the peace campaign War is Over (if you want it). The peace message appeared on buildings and walls in the streets of London, New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Rome, Toronto, Athens, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Berlin and Tokyo. At that time the Vietnam War was raging on with no end in sight. 

Not just advertising, the couple must have thought. John and Yoko’s message was accompanied by a Peace For Christmas concert in London to which famous musician friends, such as George Harrison and Eric Clapton, contributed.

Ukraine

Fifty-three years and some wars later, not much has changed. We may disagree on an aweful number of political issues, no one wants war. In the last month of the year, there is no prospect of an end to the war in Ukraine, which was unleashed by Russia’s invasion at the end of February this year.

After two difficult and uncertain ‘pandemic years’ for many, 2022 has also by no means been a jubilant year. First, the outbreak of war on the European continent, not even that far from our safe havens. Second, all sorts of crises, such as the energy and Dutch nitrogen crisis, which have created chaos and uncertainty among countless (Dutch) citizens. And leaders don’t seem to know the way out of the chaos and noise. 

Disunity

As facts have become opinions and opinions have become facts, the social climate is unstable with ever-increasing strife. What is truth? For instance, climate change, besides natural climate change also at the hands of humans, is for some a leftist ideology, a belief. And a belief, of course, only serves to instil fear. If it isn’t the earthly sacrifices for a place in heaven instead of hell, it is the hell and damnation hanging over us if we do not act now. Fear as a driving force, in other words. Don’t fall for it, say the deniers. As if the unprecedented, apocalyptic floods that hit Pakistan this year and the ongoing drought and water shortages in southern Europe in particular, were not clear signals that we must start living differently.

Culture war

Rather, we war – between the believers and non-believers, the liberals and conservatives. Not bombs and grenades as war language, but rather moral superiority for instance in the battle over climate, one of the main subjects of the culture war which blew over from the United States. According to the non-believers, we can sit back, nothing is wrong. With Christmas just around the corner, the steaks and pork tenderloin are served in large numbers because “they won’t take that away from us”. Some think we will soon find ourselves in such an unlivable world that freedom no longer has much value and others think our freedom is being taken away under the guise of climate change. 

‘War is over! If you want it’  fifty-three years later is not just about the war in Ukraine. It is also about the culture wars that divide countries and families and friends to the bone. Verbal violence may one day no longer be the only weapon.

Awareness

John Lennon said the following about the campaign at the time: “When we stick posters around saying, ‘War Is Over – If you want it’, we’re trying to promote an awareness in people of how much power they have, and not to rely on the government, or leaders, or teachers so much that they’re all passive or automatons. They have to have new hope.”

For hope and confidence in the future, we do not depend on governments and leaders.  A universal and timeless message. A billboard can’t change that wars will always be there, I hear you thinking. By the way, the campaign is still running – after all, the desired result is still lacking – and posters can be printed from a website to stick on your windows. I once saw such a poster on a window in Amsterdam and I had to take a picture of it. It may be just a seed, a pebble that ripples in the river as soon as it hits the surface of the water. But that seed grows and the ripple effect reaches further than you think. If enough people want something, it happens. The idea of the billboards was to make people aware of this power. Enough people actively wishing for peace can make war stop, John and Yoko thought. Naive? Maybe, yet we all know what King and Ghandi set in motion.

Anti-war Christmas song

Two years later, the War is Over slogan turned into a Christmas song with an anti-war message, Happy Christmas (War is Over), and – it took a while – eventually became a worldwide Christmas classic. And every time, the images of the music video give me goosebumps. 

‘So this is Christmas and what have you done.’

In spring 1969, John and Yoko proclaimed their peace message at the Amsterdam Hilton from their hotel bed. For a week between white hotel sheets, the famous hippie couple called for world peace. For this, they invited photographers and journalists to spread their message. “It didn’t smell to fresh in there,” said Henk van der Meijden, a tabloid reporter at Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, and John’s hair remained unwashed. A crazy idea, but the bed-in got a lot of publicity and worldpeace became a mantra – without, incidentally, the desired result.

Band Aid

Flowerpower may be decades past, but wouldn’t it be nice to hear a similar message from contemporary musicians? The time is now I tell you! Just like Band Aid at the time. Musicians coming together to record a song with a (political) statement? As happened in 1984 with Do they know it’s Christmas to raise money to fight famine in Ethiopia. Later in 1985, USA for Africa followed with the legendary song We are the world

Music connects and makes hope come alive. I can only think of old(er) rockstars, like Bob Dylan, Bob Geldof and Bono, who remind us – through music – of the power of the individual to start a movement that can make a difference. Is the power of the individual perhaps weakening in individualistic times we live in? Are today’s famous artists too busy with themselves?

Concert for freedom

U2’s singer and guitarist Bono and The Edge played at a Kiev metro station in May this year, at the invitation of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, in solidarity with the citizens of Ukraine. A concert for freedom.

John & Yoko’s War is Over, Band Aid, USA for Africa, U2 for freedom, that is what I want for Christmas. Europe for Climate maybe. Who will lead the way? You don’t have to be a floating hippie or a sentimental old geezer to know that music is the catalyst for change and connection. It is a primal feeling and I dare say it’s what we all crave so much. 

Merry Christmas! 🌟❤️🥂🎄

Con Amor,

Eva

Taking back control.

Life is good on Mallorca this January month. The days are sunny and soft, mostly 13 or 14 degrees Celsius, it feels like a mild spring, like always this time of year. But the nights are cold. Colder than other years and colder than when we lived on Ibiza. It’s around freezing temperatures and when we wake up I see the plants and earth covered with a thin layer of ice.

Early mornings in January are cold when you live off grid. Sometimes I light the rocket stove and make a fire straight when I get out of bed, but today it was so cold I went back under my warm duvet. Soooo good, especially with a warm cat next to you! Dorus was already on his way to his building job he’s doing at the moment. He cycles each day 1,5 hours to get there. Yes, on this cold morning under my warm duvet I thought of him on his bicycle, and I said to myself: just enjoy for the two of you, to feel guilty is a waste of time girl!

Still practising to lose that guilt and to silence the Calvinist little voice in my head. Slowly making progress. While I was still in bed this morning I thought about my family, especially my mum and sister. It has been a year since I saw them. Luckily my brother and sister-in-law visited us last June. Next April my mother will turn 82. It’s hard for her to live alone, I know that so well. But still, knowing this doesn’t make me a frequent caller, and when we call we mostly talk about the state of the world, and guess what, covid is still part of it. 

Hope

It’s a fascinating time we are living in. The developments around covid, such as the covid-passport and the coercion to get vaccinated are disturbing. We went to a protest in Palma two weeks ago. Walking through the streets of Palma with so many people, some of them with drums and whistles, young and old. It was moving. It was peaceful. Police was only present, that’s all. No fights or aggression like you see in other covid protest around the world. None of this here. It gave me hope, although we still have the covid-passport and exclusion of a large group of people and medical discrimination are daily business in most European countries. 

Protesting against these shameful policies around the world is necessary, but there’s more than covid. More other crises yes, but also more life. Since the new year I promised myself not to dive into the media on this topic that strongly anymore, as I felt negative about it all.

Especially the cold November month was a difficult month because we lost our cat, Liefje. He disappeared and hasn’t returned. I miss him so much. Lately I have dreams that he’s back again, scruffy and hungry. But deep down I know he won’t return anymore. He now lives in cat heaven, leaving a little hole in my soul. 

Donate a compost loo

Dorus wanted to do something with our sadness around his disappearance. In December we received a message from an animal sanctuary here on Mallorca. They needed a compost toilet and asked us if we could make one for the animal sanctuary. Dorus did and we donated the toilet to them. Dorus felt he should do this in remembrance of our cat Liefje. I think this was such a sweet gesture. The animal sanctuary is a wonderful place, with abandoned, neglected, and handicapped cats, donkeys, pigs, sheep , etc. The owner, Nicole, does a fantastic job. 

To donate this toilet gave us a good and positive feeling. That’s why we need to support the things we believe in. To transform the sadness into something meaningful, into love and trust. I felt that too during the manifestation. To move into action, even if it’s just small. That’s what I try to do this new year, so I’m in the driver’s seat again (the symbolic one, as you probably know, I am carless 😉

Support what you believe in

That’s also why I gifted us a membership of the Dutch Party for the Animals over Christmas. Because we only can vote in the Netherlands, we want to support this party for its important work it does for humans and animals and planet. Also with regard to covid, the Dutch Party for the Animals are doing the right thing. In contrary to all other Dutch leftish parties, they are the only party that rejects the covid passport and the covid law and defends everybody’s freedom to choose to get vaccinated or not. Proud of this party! In Spain we have a Party for the Animals too, PACMA (Partido Animalista Contra el Maltrato Animal). Their approach is a bit different though, more case to case, instead of seeing the bigger picture like the Dutch party does. Anyway, maybe I will join them too in the near future.

Turning sadness into joy and positivity and hope doesn’t mean we don’t allow ourselves to be sad. Feel and sit with our sorrows first, accept we feel this way, and then turn it into a (small form of) action.  And to know what feels right and doesn’t feel right, such as for me, not to be overwhelmed by (social) media, is something to be more serious about.

Speaking about control…You remember this one? Janet Jackson’s Control. Always loved this song (and the moves..)

Here she’s again:

Con Amor,

Eva 

Landed on Mallorca: Cold Showers and Heart Warming Soul Food

Words as “new beginnings” have this openness to new possibilities and chances that may cross our path and give us purpose. They carry hope. Who doesn’t love to be in this kind of state when the world looks so incredibly messy and hopeless?

Letting go

Especially these last days of December which tend to be nostalgic and introspective. I believe we all deserve a second chance and an opportunity to do it better. And to start anew is the best we can do or sometimes the most courageous act in our lives as often we need to let go of that which gives us certainty, comfort and clarity. Sometimes we need to let go of the things that usually aren’t bad for us, but neither do they bring us a step closer to the lives we wish for ourselves.

New beginnings

“New beginnings” are going to school again as we’re never too old to learn.

“New beginnings” are becoming a mother.

“New beginnings” are to change jobs as the work no longer serves us.

“New beginnings” are ending an unsustainable relationship.

“New beginnings” are buying a house as we want to invest in a place to live and so we can.

“New beginnings” are moving to another country where nobody knows us.

“New beginnings” are changing our bad habits.

During our lifetime we all live multiple lives and each life asks us different things and presents us different values.

Embrace change

The “new beginnings” on Mallorca ask me to embrace uncertainties and change. My landing on this new island has gone well so far, together with my man and two cats, and it’s all still very new.

This is our new place:

This cozy “shed” is located right next to the house of the Argentinian landlords, who have a little daughter, a Golden Retriever and a Persian cat. The family lives consciously with water and their solar panels are very limited so we constantly need to be aware of this. However, the generator is there to help when there isn’t enough electricity available.

This morning I had a really cold shower as the water sometimes doesn’t warm up. We don’t have a bathroom, but we use the bathroom in the family’s house. It isn’t ideal, but it deserves time to adjust. Our Eco tiny home on Ibiza used to be comfortable and we never experienced a lack of electricity and warm water. So this is new for us.

Warm bedroom

Christmas Day we spent in the upper north east of the island. It was a long and beautiful bike-ride. Our good friend, who wasn’t there, gave us the key of his house. We sooo appreciated the warm showers we had and the electrical heater in the bedroom! These things we always take for granted are actually quite special. Because honestly, isn’t it a miracle that there’s always water running from our western taps?

It’s good to realize that these normal things that seem to have become a luxury, actually aren’t so normal. I don’t know how long I can do this though, but I feel there are far more worse things to live with, and despite those inconveniences I already have started to love this basic, tiny home on the gorgeous countryside, 4 km outside the closest village called Algaida.

Ancient village

Algaida has the looks of an ancient village with its brown stone houses, hand crafted wooden doors and classic yellow street lights at night. The old village has a square, a church, a couple of cafes and small supermarkets, an ecological wine farm and a postoffice.

The other day a Mallorcan friend ~ with whom we collaborate to start a small, sustainable community ~ was so kind to invite us to have lunch in a nice restaurant here that serves traditional Mallorcan dishes. On this sunny Monday the restaurant was packed with locals having lunch and drinking red wine, talking in a language I don’t understand a word of: Mallorquin. Our friend who was born and raised on Mallorca, passionately explained the Mallorcan food culture to us. I wondered if I could do this in the same way when it’s about the Dutch kitchen.

Warm belly

Most of the Mallorcan dishes are made of animal products, but I was able to choose the day menu which had vegetarian options! The Mallorcan Tumbet, a stew of gently fried aubergines in extra virgin olive oil with a tasty tomato sauce on top and a fried egg was rich and nutritious and warmed up my belly nicely (great food for cyclists too!).

It’s good to mention that Tumbet, without the fried egg, is a vegan dish. We drank a bottle of supple red wine from the local ecological wine farm. I find so much pleasure in finding local ingredients these days, so this local ecological wine farm needs our support! The day menu in Hostal Algaida was also economically very attractive. We will come back.

Food video

Talking about food…right before we went to the restaurant that afternoon, I watched a video that was spot on and thought provoking. It completely confirmed my motives to eat plant-based. Although it’s a very serious topic, you can’t suppress a good laugh at some moments. It’s satire and this Dutch guy, Arjen Lubach, is good at it.

The video is in Dutch, so for the Dutchies amongst us, I share this video. I’m not a fan of the words “must-see” or “must-read,” but this video I would call a “must-see”.

Here it is:

Perhaps for you this could be a “new beginning” too.

I would love to help you in any way I can. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

With hope and compassion,

Eva

Conversations With The Stars

A girl sits in the window, staring into the sleepless night. There’s a heaven full of stars. Some of them are shining so bright, like they want her to be known. The moment before she was looking into an old photo album with photographs of her family. A picture of her mother when she was a little girl in her favorite flower dress playing the piano. Photos of her grandmother with big curly hair making chickensoup in the small kitchen. A photograph of an old aunt celebrating her birthday with homemade apple pie whilst blowing out the many birthday candles. Images of uncles smoking cigars who later went to war and never returned to their homes. Photos of cousins, nephews and nieces. Faraway family. Most faces she hardly knew, lives she didn’t have any idea of. A photo of her mother suddenly fell to the ground. There was a brown spot on the back of the photo which once must have been the sticky glue to paste it on. Many lives have been before her, before her mother’s and grandmother’s, her father’s and grandfather’s life. Before all these family photos were the lives of her ancestors.

Times were different back then. There was not much in times of poverty and war, but they had each other. She picked up the picture from the ground. Her mother must have been eight or nine, wearing a bow in her long straight hair, looking into the camera with a grin and big eyes full of wonder. A little princess face. A whole life lied at her mother’s feet, not having a single clue what it would bring. Sunhine and rainbows would happily fill her life; dark, bursting clouds would fight for a place in it as well. The girl tried to see if the picture already showed any trace of her mother’s misfortune that shortly happened after the photo was taken. She softly slid her finger over her mother’s cheek, kissed her beautiful eyes and held the photograph close to her heart. Death doesn’t announce itself through smiling children’s faces, but chooses its own unfathomable way. Sometimes death is sly and slow, other times it’s quick and merciless. On an misty October morning the girl’s mother found her young mother dead; she died in her sleep. Yes, death could be soft too, almost understanding. It broke her mother’s little heart. The only time her mother didn’t cry was at night when she gazed to the stars, picked the brightest one and imagined it was her sweet mother. It was her light that spoke to her and lulled her to sleep.

Many stars and years later the girl sits in the window talking with the stars like her own mother did. They’re telling her she can go to sleep now. There’s no need to be afraid. The starlight will guard her, just like her father, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles do. And her ancestors. Long after they’ve gone.

Schermafbeelding 2017-05-23 om 19.35.02
Photo source: Pinterest. Artist unknown.

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