What the recent attacks taught me.

Life  can end at any point.

Any time, any place.

I used to think that people died of diseases, or of old age. I assumed, but did not truly believe it. As a child, I remember stealing a knife from the kitchen and keeping it under my pillow. Just in case someone would barge in our house and try to kill everyone. Unlikely. But my imagination never let me forget. Especially at night. I grew up afraid of dying in my own home, killed somehow. But years passed, and as a young woman who takes care of my body and my mind, I swapped the knife for a rape alarm and a criminel identifier (old habits die hard), and went ahead assuming I would not die for a long time.

But then recently my home has been hit hard three times in the past year and a half, and people died at a concert. They died celebrating Bastille Day. They died writing a journal everyone reads.

And the fear came back in earnest.

I can die anywhere. Taking the RER. The metro. Dining at a brasserie. Going to a concert. Driving my car. Walking along a path. Going for a run. If the recent events have shown something, it’s that death can be anywhere and there is nothing you can do about it if you’re in its way.

So what now?

Do I stop doing everything so I can live a long, unfullfilled life? Do I cower in fear? Do I give up?

I think, all these deaths have provoked something in me. A want to live more. A need to be unafraid.

I spent a lot of time repressing my feelings, afraid I would get rejected, afraid it would do this or that… but kind words can never hurt anyone, and we should all spread more love to counteract the horrible, terrible things happening in our world. So what now?

What if you do get rejected? The worst that can happen is they say no, and you learn to move on. There is no bad scenario.

What if you aim too high and fall down hard? Again, as long as you breathe you can ajust your aim and try again and lower your expectations of instead aim even higher and keep falling until you succeed.

What if? What ifs are the bane of everyone’s existence. Many authors figured it out long ago: What ifs are evil.

“You’re worried about what-ifs. Well, what if you stopped worrying?”
― Shannon CelebiDriving Off Bridges

“Live your life without ever having to ask, ‘What if?”
― Ken Poirot

“You’ll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that.”
― Roald DahlCharlie and the Great Glass Elevator                                                  
“Don’t think about what you could have done, concentrate on what you plan to do; it is more useful.”
― Brian JacquesMartin the Warrior

And so I have decided to strip myself from my fear.

What if I die today? What if someone does get inside my home? What if a guy decides to blow up in the same train I’m taking to go to the movies? What would my last thought be? What is the worst thought I could have in my last moments?

“Shit, I should’ve done that”. “Shit, I didn’t apologize about this”. “Shit, I forgot to say that”. 

We are all ashes and dust. This world is heavy and wonderful and dangerous. Fear nothing. Be fearless. Take everything the world gives you, for it will all take it back, eventually. Maybe tomorrow.

Make plans for the future, but also make plans for now. Tomorrow. Next week. The present is all that you have with absolute certainty. Make it count.

This is my 2016 Goal: Say the things I keep inside my head. Be simple. Be real. Don’t mess people around. I could be gone tomorrow, and the last thought I want to have is “Well, at least I’ve done good things. Well, at least I’ve told NoName about my feels. Well, at least I didn’t keep fighting with my parents. Well, at least I kept putting efforts into all the people who mattered in my life.”a0dff2ddb82b9017d064b80545a0f1bd

This is what I want. To be able to die at any moment and have the least regret I can.

It’s a journey. But I am willing to give it a go. For the time I have left, no matter how long, I want to make it count.

Love,

Marion

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Book of the Month: ‘Poussière d’homme’ (Books #1)

I was not meant to read this book. I stole it from my sister’s shelf in her bathroom. You know, that place where you put magazines, a Sudoku book with a pencil but not an earser (dammit!), books you read the back cover hundreds of time but never actually start?

The title drew me in. I opened a random page, and poetry jumped at me. So I stole it, and started reading it on the RER on my way back to England. I had to stop.

This book could not be read on the train. This book had to be read in a place where I would be able to break down fearlessly.Capture d’écran 2016-05-16 à 18.33.43

So I landed, sat in my bed in a comfy shirt, with a cup of tea, and read it in one go. It is quite a short read, only a few hours, as the book is only about a hundred pages.

Now, if you know me, you know I hate France. I refuse to read in French unless it was originally written in French, I refuse to watch translated movies because, well, I have a weird aversion for anything French.

But.

This book may have been my way back.

The poetry in the sentences, the way the story begins with the end and draws us back to the beggining, the fact that it was a biography of sorts and not an invention made it so much more powerful for me.

This book packs a punch and will leave you crying on the floor and depressed for a few days. Which is why you shoud read it. Because it makes you FEEL so much. I love feeling things through words, because those words were felt, written, and the feelings somehow travel in the book and punches you in the face when you open the book.

What is the story? Well, you know you’re in for a ride when you realise that page 1 tells you that the main character has lost his precious person. And then proceeds to take you through their first encounter, all the way to his lover’s last breath.

Now, I am not partial cancer stories, as they are often overdone and do not feel ‘real’ but ‘made’ for the reader.

The fact that David Lelait is the main character, and that everything he says are words he wrote while the story was happening to him made it special. And the poetry, ah, the poetry.

I cannot stay away from a well-written work of art.

And neither should you.

 

Love advice for couples

It is incredible the amount of information you can get by being here and being silent while someone vents to you about their problems. Don’t talk. Listen carefully. To the tone of their voice, the way their breathing speeds up when they get to the centre of the problem. Stay calm and listen.

By staying calm and listening, I became the person people came to in order to speak about their intimate problems.

And I think it is very important for me to share what I have learnt so far.

 

If you are in a couple:

 

If you feel the love, show the love.

Nothing and no one should ever be taken for granted. You probably never should take anything for granted, but that applies even more so for a human being you love. Granted means forgetting. Forgetting that they have a right to leave you, that they have a right to feel sad you don’t show affection as you used to, that they are not just another object in your house that you get to talk to or use sometimes and put in corner when you’re busy.

Most people thrive on affection. Little gestures can make someone’s day. A brush on a hand on your lover’s back, a smile and a kiss, holding hands, sharing a private joke, throw cake batter at each other, wake them up with breakfast, whatever tickles your fancy.

Show the love, dammit! If you’re lucky enough to love and be loved in return, hold that knowledge and cherish that person every time you get the chance. Finding love isn’t a given. It’s a chance. Be grateful.

 

If you feel the love, talk it out.

A couple can never work without words. Words are the cement holding the bricks of your story. Tell you partner you love them, but also tell them when they’re being stupid or unhelpful.

The reverse is also true: listen to your partner’s voice. It’s not just background noise. If your partner seeks you out to talk something out, it probably means they’ve been holding it in for while. Take five, sit down, listen, and come to a compromise or a solution. This is the person you love. You can, and should take time to work out things that may not be working. And perhaps you didn’t notice some things weren’t working. That’s okay. Most things can be fixed if worked on.

 

If you feel the love, work on it.

Imagine your love as a garden. No garden has ever thrived on being left alone. What happens to a garden when abandoned? It grows weed, , some plants you forgot to water die out, and you can end up with a jungle. Hard to make your way through a jungle without a machete and some serious determination. That doesn’t have to happen if you take care of it a little every day. Weed out of the weeds, trim the plants, water the roses. Work on your couple. That can mean various things for various couples, but as long as you take care of each other, compromise without losing yourself in the process, then there is a solution.

 

If you feel the love, feel the love.

You can love someone and not be in love with them. You can start by being in love and fall out of love. You can love someone fiercely and not be in love with them. That’s okay. Analyse yourself. Do you love them? Do you really love them? Or are you with them for all the wrong reasons? Because it’s comfortable, you’ve been with them for a long time, because you’re scared of being alone, because you have kids, because you feel like you’re not worth anything if they don’t love you, because you know nothing else… Be sure you love them for them, because they make you want to better yourself, because you love them more or as much as you love yourself.

 

If you feel the love, don’t change yourself.

If you love someone, don’t change for them. They should fall in love with you, and you should fall in love with them as they are. Some things will have to change to accommodate your life together, but the price of a couple shouldn’t be the loss of one of your partner or your own personality.

 

But the most important thing is, if you feel the love, make sure you love yourself when you’re with them.

You are the one person you will have to live with for the rest of your life. No one else is a fixture in your life but yourself. Make sure you can look at yourself in the mirror and think “I’m enough all by myself, and I love myself”. If you can say this and love someone else just as much, put a smile on your face and keep it on. Go gardening and smell the flowers.

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5 tips for Lonely People

 

Lonely people have always existed, and in the past few years I have found myself to be a part of this category.

Now, lonely and alone don’t mean the same thing. You can be alone and lonely, but you can also be surrounded by people and still be lonely. Alone depends on the number of people around you. Lonely is its own little monster. It shows up, drags you down, and makes you feel all alone in the world behind the fake smile no one seems to see through.

Being alone is lovely. You get to think, listen to music and dance in your underwear, watch a great movie and eat all the pop corn by yourself (#NoShame), read an enthralling book (in one go) and no one bothers you.

Lonely sucks.

 

So since I appear to have gotten a master’s degree in loneliness, here are my top tips to be comfortably lonely.

 

Tip #1 : Go to a coffee shop. Not an industrial one like Starbucks. Scout the city, find a place where people aren’t in a rush. Take your time ordering a drink, ask the barista what he recommends, find something you haven’t tried before. Sit at a comfortable in the corner and people watch. Observe and invent people’s life. Smile at them, then pretend you’re busy so he/she doesn’t think you’re a stalker (unless you are, which is another issue entirely). Bring a journal and write your feels in there. Leave it for someone to find. Listen to music way to loudly and have no shame, mouth the lyrics and shuffle in your seat. Hum for a while, with various speeds and rhythm. I promise you can cheer yourself up. Just get out of the house, befriend the barista and entertain yourself around other people. The little interactions are like an aspirin against a headache. They almost always work.

 

Tip #2: Train for an athletic event. Anyone can train for a marathon, or a triathlon, or a race. A race is basically a little marathon, it’s only 10km, which you can walk if you feel like it. Why does it help? Because endorphins are great to give you a high and make you feel happy. But also because having an athletic goal gets you out of the house. Run a little, run a lot, walk around if you want, put on some music and move. It takes away a good chunk of time you would be spending feeling lonely. Exercise, in any form, takes time and makes you feel like you are accomplishing something, like you are working towards something. Not to mention the day of the event, where you get to meet great people (don’t take your headphones, I swear you can talk to anyone at a race), have free food and drink (and sometimes massages). For a day, you’re not lonely, because there are hundreds or thousands of people who trained for the exact same thing. You are a part of a group. For a day, sure, but maybe you’ll make friends for life? Encourage people, wave at the people on the sidelines and randomly yell at someone that his/her costume is amazing (there always are people in costumes cheering you up). Those events are all year long and perfect to shake off the lonely monster from your shoulder. After all, you’re running faster than him.

 

Tip #3: Bake the shit out of every complicated recipe you’ve seen on Bake Off. Watch food networks, find a really complicated recipe that looks delicious and spend hours trying to make it as perfect as the recipe. Put music, your favourite apron (go buy a favourite apron if you don’t have one) and destroy your kitchen floor like it’s nobody’s business. The messier, the better. Eat the raw batter, use fancy kitchen instruments like dinosaur cookie cutters to cut your eggplant or your sweet potatoe… or your cookies.

Don’t clean it right away. Sit down and eat the food while it’s hot in front of your favourite TV show.

 

Tip #4: Concerts. Go to concerts or festivals by yourself. If you’re ashamed to say you went alone, say that you lost your friends in the crowd. But frankly, if you tell it like it is, chances are you’ll get invited to a party or to share a beer with a bunch of people you don’t know. Feeling shy? You’re all here for a singer. Talk about a conversation starter, you all like the same person. Done. Conversation starter. If that doesn’t happen, go in the centre of all the fun and jump and sing with everyone. However, don’t drink people’s drink. Take care of yourself.

 

Tip #5: If one evening you feel very lonely, go get this book you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t. Put on some calm music like The Civil Wars, settle down with a cup of tea/coffee/wine and read all evening until your eyes start to close by themselves. Give in. Don’t even brush your teeth, no one will know. Don’t forget, books are temporary friends forever. They won’t replace the real thing, but they’ll do the trick for a little while.

 

However, if you feel lonely, I hope it’s only for a little while.

Take care

Dolphins in Oman (Dubai #2)

Oman.

Does it ring a bell? Probably not. Oman is a country in the Arabian Peninsula. Now, very little people know about the place. But luckily, I am here to tell you why you should go there. Capture d’écran 2015-01-26 à 13.54.48

Do you like dolphins? And by dolphins, I do not mean SeaWorld sad dolphins. I mean, real, happy, free dolphins, living in groups with their babies and all their fins intact. Yes? Then Oman is for you.

Do you like camping? Small tents, sand in your sleeping bag, the sound of waves to sing you to sleep, fire on the beach, random people to talk to, and a cloudless sky full of stars. Yes? Then Oman is for you.

Do you like Dhows? Those big boats open on all sizes, with tiny bathroom that have no toilet paper, amazing hot arabic tea and coffee, cushions all over the place to seat comfortably, and the open air and sun basking your body with Vitamin C. Yes? Then Oman is for you. img_8432

Do you like learning about cultures, people and their country? Meeting with people whose life could not be further away from yours, who have had countless adventures and stories to tell, countless food to make you try, etc. Yes? Then Oman is for you.

Oman is an amazing place to visit. Not only are the people lovely, always smiling and very helpful, but they will teach you very precious lessons about life, so keep your ears open. I had the chance to go to Musandam for a trip on a dhow/camping to see dolphins, and I want to share the experience.

IMG_1090To begin, I must say Musandam has a lot of options. You can decide, like we did, to camp on the beach the first day and then spend the other day of the dhow to visit coves, see dolphins and swin in the clear clear water full of fishes. But you also have the option to stay on the boat at night and sleep in the dhow (some friends have tried it… I hope you aren’t sea-sick ).

The way it works is, you get to Musandam and leave your car by the tourist facility you chose.

They will likely welcome you with tea and a smile. After that, you will be driven to a boat that will get you to a cove where the tents are already all set up. So you only have to get your bags in, and hop in the tent! The fun without the strain, ideal for the holidays. The site had several tents, so we were not the only ones on the beach, which allowed us to make friends over dinner. It also had thick rugs and cushions, ideal to lounge on with a cup of tea with a nice book, enjoying the sun.IMG_1091

The first day is rest day, which means your only job is to put on your swim suit and jump in the warm water for a quick soak, and then spend the rest of the day baking under the sun (don’t forget 50+ suncreen, the sun in Oman is truly hot. Protect yourself). Once the sun is out, pick out your little sweater (it will get a little chilly, if you go during the “winter” months) and wait for the stars to start shining. The dinner will be served hot with a choice of vegetarian food, nans and other Omanian speciality. It will be rudimental, but that’s the pleasure of camping isn’t it?

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After dinner, the staff (two people stayed on site with us to make sure everything was going well) will dim the lights and allow everyone to stare at the stars and discuss quietly.The feeling really is quite aerie, and I very much enjoyed it.

The bathroom area was, once again, a little… rudimental to say the least, but keep in mind this is only for a day. Deal with it.

Upon waking up, you will get a little breakfast and will be asked to pack your bags. Late morning will find you on the dhow with your swimsuit on, ready to tackle the coves and eye searching for those dolphins. We spent the day swimming, looking at fins flying underwater by the boat (the dolphins are now used to the dhow, so they often swim alongside us for a while) and at the other dolphins jumping up and down on either side of the boat, drinking tea and eating nans. The water was warm, clear and full of fishes, the dhow was warmed up by the sunlight, and it was fantastic to spend a full 32 hours without any phones, computers of headphones. The break truly feels sensational!

The end of the day creeps up on you without really realizing it, and by the late afternoon you are deposited back to your car, your mind reeling with all you’ve had the chance to see!

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A must-do experience!

Skydiving in Dubai (Dubai #1)

Skydiving.

A word for the hard hearted and the adrenaline junkies. Do I consider myself an adrenaline junkie? Not really. But I did decide to skydive nonetheless. I thought I would share my experience for those who might consider it but are scared of taking the last step… into the air.

My first and most important advice is : Think it through. Because once you are on the plane, backing away is, well… not impossible, but not recommended. Why? Because you will meet back down with the ones who decided to skyfall and you’ll be disappointed you did not have the guts to take the fall.

Do it, do it!

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I have only one advice for you : if you know the company is safe and you wonder what it feels like, do it. I fell with SkyDive Dubai ( http://www.skydivedubai.ae ).

Yes, you will fear for your life. On the plane. Once you jump, nothing will go through your mind except oh my god.

To me, this was the most thrilling experience of my life.

The process took a while, I arrived quite early in the day and only jumped at 3 in the afternoon. I had to sign certain things (one mentioning that you may die and it’s not their fault) that made me wonder why on Earth I was even here in the first place, but my mind was set. I was not going to bed without flying 5 kilometers in space. I was doing it. So I signed all the papers, shook a little, avoided my parents crazy eyes and focused on the task at hand. Calming my beating heart.

I was excited, terrified, thrilled, pertified, all of the above. As I waited, I watched a dozen people fall and land on the good old grass. I saw their excited faces and I wanted to be a part of it.

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The setting of SkyDive Dubai is great. You get to sit on couches and watch people skydive, people folding their kit, people watching their own movies of their fall, and the adrenaline never leaves the gigantic room. It only builds up as you wait for your turn, and make the almost unwilling, willing. I managed to convince a girl to do it. As all the begginers are put in the same space, you get to talk to everyone and see who is terrified and excited. And then, when it’s over, you get to share the exact same smile.

You get to meet with your savior just before the flight, and they explain what they need you to do, how it is going to work, and what is fundamental to remember. Once they’re ready for you, about 5 other people follow you into a tiny plane with no real seats.
This is it. Your cue to hyperventilate.

I felt like running around, my heart was beating too loudly for my ears, and I was pumped.

I won’t lie to you, the ascent feels horrible. Not because the plane creaks and the experienced skydivers mock you. Nope. It feels horrible because for twenty minutes you get to see the Earth going smaller and smaller, and you cannot help but think “why, why, why would I ever do this, is it too late to change my mind? Shit, they’re watching me, smile, okay, I can do this- no I can’t oh my god this is really high can I even breathe right now?“. And then, the red light becomes green, and someone opens the door to space. You get to wear super awesome clear glasses so you can see what is going on 5 kilometers down.

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You get strapped to a guy who does this around 7 times a day (I asked), so don’t feel uncomfortable, it’s all good. The tighter you are strapped to this guy/girl, the less chance you have of dying. Breathe. This person is going to make you live a crazy good experience. And then he motions you to the hole in the plane. And then, you jump. Well, really, he pressured me, but I couldn’t hold to anything. So I fell with him.

The first ten seconds of the fall, you heart stays all the way up. The closest I have ever come to this feeling are in rides when they drop you from a tower. The heart in your throat only lasts a few seconds, though. Soon enough, your heart catches up to your free fall and you get to experience the best 60 seconds of your life. Look around you, smile at the cameraman who looks at you and films everything with a GoPro while taking pictures of your floppy face in the wind. And observe the tiny ground where you could die, but thanks to the invention of the parachute, you get to land on safely.

There is nothing as incredible a jumping off a plane. You see a view you will never get to see again the same way, you wave at your terrified family members waiting for the other shoe to drop 4km down, and you yell it out, because, well, it’s amazing.

Once the fall is over, the parachute opens and you get dragged back up. Then, the fall gets slow and even more beautiful. My skydiver pointed out to me a few things in the city, told me a few facts, and made me control the parachute for a while. I got to hold the strings of my life in my hands. Fancy.

And when you can see the landing strip, it stings a little, because up there, nothing compares. But when you get to land safely on Earth, it feels good, and sad at the same time. Luckily, you remember you could have died, and this is probably the best outcome of your situation.

The main point of this article is, if you want to do it, do it.

Yes, it is expensive. My experience cost me 2000 Dhs which is the equivalent of 400€, or 328£, or 554$. Well, it was my 19th Birthday present. So I was very lucky. I had been talking about doing this for years, and my first try (on my 18th birthday) was cancelled because of the weather. Twice. Clearly they take their customer care very seriously. Which is always nice to know.

You must be over 18 to do the jump, and you cannot weight over 90kg for women and 100kg for men, which is what a normal BMI should look like.

I decided to do the Tandem dive, but SkyDive Dubai also has a school, which allows you to jump on your own after a few jumps (7 or 10 ?).

To sum up my experience, I would say it was all worth it. The team made me feel safe, I never felt threatened for my life, and I got back home with stars in my eyes. The scenery from up there was grand, especially with a city like Dubai to look over.

All in all, I would do it again… once I get my paycheck.