0

Lent and Self Promises

Posted on 12.3.14


I'm a bad Catholic. Awful, really. One might say I shouldn't be allowed to call myself Catholic.
I disagree with the Vatican and my grandmother on a number of religious subjects, I haven't attended mass since Christmas (to which I was late - not my fault!), and I don't go to confession because I don't regret most of my actions the Church views as sins.

But, I believe in the Holy Trinity quite unequivocally, I carry an image of St. Expedite in my wallet at all times, say a prayer a day, and try to be an overall good person in the Gospel sense of the term.

I also tend to do okay with keeping my promises at Lent. Besides being a bad Catholic, I'm also bad at keeping promises to myself. Especially the self improvement type. You know, you have the same list, I'm sure.

This past year (and for the past 15 or so odd years of my life), I've pledged to do an assortment of things to help myself:

1. Eat better - follow that menu the nutritionist so thoughtfully made out for me. It turns out I think I'm eating more than I should, since I now have added the 3 small meals she asked me to add, cutting out the fruit of some, and continued with my massive lunch and dinner portions which I should have cut out.

i like cooking things with lots of coconut milk, savory spices,
and of course, french fries. 
2. Exercise - I joined a gym last May. I went pretty well until I started getting a bunch of visitors in October (a friend from college, my dad), and then there were the holidays... And then I worked a lot, and then... Yeah, I hate the gym.

strangling ourselves after an at home workout session.
3. Drink less - Don't get me wrong, I'm no lush or anything. I just drink... more frequently than I should. This hinders number 1 and 2 above and probably 4 and 5 below as well. I start on these alcohol "fasts" for 5 days-2 weeks, but then I go right back to drinking or cheat with "it's just a glass of wine with dinner."

i'd like my caipirinha with lime. lots of it.
to make it seem like there's less cachaça.
4. Be more productive/Lower Stress/Be more organized with money - These are all related in my life. I have tried an assortment of methods from meditating (for about 2 minutes), to Pomodoros, to napping (the anti-stress part), to being social whilst not spending money, and etc. But I still constantly check my Facebook page and whatsapp, and haven't gone more than 3 days filling out one of those expenses spreadsheets. It seriously took me 3 days to write this post between many distractions...

this picture makes me happy. it's at my friend's country home.
where there's no wifi and no chance of checking work emails <3 td="">
5. Embark on a love life that's meaningful - A lifelong work in progress? Or I just suck at dating? I've been on countless dates in the past year, and even had a few temporary "relationships", have lowered expectations (and stopped watching romantic comedies), but have yet to "fall" for someone. Again, I may just suck at dating. Or be a teensy bit traumatized heartless busy with a bunch of other things.

this is me not being the least bit romantic during carnaval.

So for lent this year, I've decided not to cut back on beer or meat or chocolate. I'm not quitting Facebook or anything silly like that. Nor am I pledging to give that "kind of really unattractive, not too bright, and somewhat boring, but really nice guy" a chance because the world tells me I'm too picky.

Instead. I'm running. Every. Day.

my trusty trainers (how british, i know) and i,
lazily heading down the elevator for a run

The closest I've gotten to running every day, in my life, was lacrosse season, in high school. I've always wanted to like exercise, but hating the gym has gotten in the way. It's been a week now since I've been running, and I only didn't run on Friday when it rained so hard I didn't run in fear of getting struck by lightning (but like lacrosse season, we didn't have to run when it was hailing outside).  And I'll make up for it. Like snow days, I think I can keep running after Good Friday, right?

I guess there's no real point to this post, and it might be more for me than anything, but... In just one week, I'm loving my newly discovered lent ritual, and for once I've realized that making a lent promise that's a "doing" instead of a "quitting" type healthy habit, I end up affecting my other bad habits positively, and maybe that my attempts of being a good Catholic, or God loving and respecting person in general, have always been more active. Praying, helping others, being honest, etc. is much more constructive than restricting myself from certain things in life. Maybe I should focus on disciplining myself by taking action and not focusing so much on what I shouldn't do to be more productive or happy or sexy healthy or God loving.

This always reminds me of why I always take Lent so seriously. For the rest of the year, I'm so caught up with work and my list above, that I stop thinking about God or reflecting on the health of my soul. And I suppose that's what Lent should be all about, right? Self reflection. Not about 40 days of suffering. I doubt Jesus came back from the desert after 40 days and, like a good Jewish boy, told his mother Mary* all about it and said, "Man, that sucked. Let's throw a party!" I would  like to think he came back and said, "Wow, meditating in the desert for 40 days was really eye opening. You should do it too, ma."

*I also think that if Mary were given the opportunity to write her own gospel, we'd know a lot more about the real Jesus!

0

The 2014 World Cup's Biggest Debate: Pros and Cons of Hosting in Brazil!

Posted on 13.2.14

I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks now, so that it doesn’t come out as yet another Brazilian raving or ranting about the World Cup

+We’ll start by keeping things light - a completely sarcastic soundtrack to listen to whilst reading this post.
And now let's get serious:

Over the past few weeks and months, there have been a slew of articles on the World Cup in Brazil, and many of them take one of two extreme stances:
or
  • Brazil shouldn’t be hosting the World Cup, and you’re all soon to be frustrated idiots if you’re thinking of going.
As a travel agent working on incoming travel to Brazil, and a fan of analyzing the media and politics, I’m no scholar, but I’m involved in the ongoings, and can probably be a little bit more apolitical and rational than this girl and especially this dude.


I’ve decided to start with a list of pros and cons: 

CONS 
  • Prices are ungodly 
  • Protests 
  • Our politicians are corrupt 
  • Some of the stadiums aren’t worth the investment 
PROS 
  • Brazilians are happy and friendly 
  • Protests 
  • Prices are ungodly 
  • You’ll get a wonderful cultural experienceOur politicians are corrupt
Notice how some of my cons are also pros? Aha!

This is my main point. Most World Cups up until now have taught the world about that particular destination. Let’s take the last three:

- In 2002 in South Korea and Japan – the first World Cup in Asia in two different countries showed two beautiful and different countries! (Not all Asians are the same! Tá-dá!)
- In 2006 in Germany – people realized Germans have nothing to do with their Nazi past and are friendly and welcoming to all!
- In 2010 in South Africa – the world was overcome with a nation of happy people and beautifully developed!

I think it’s timely I write this today, because of what’s going on in Sochi, and how comments of the issues in Russia going around the internet is exactly what Brazil needs, so the world can help us spread the word on our reality in this country!

Politicians + Corruption
Brazilians are a people that are very self-conscious and self-deprecating of themselves and our country. We feel our government is corrupt, and although there are over 100 other countries that feel even more so than we do, I’ve heard time and again we have the most corrupt government in the world and everything here is the absolute worst.


Let’s face it, 2014 is election year in Brazil. Dilma and her posse are smart enough to know these stadiums need to be ready, and Brazilians must have our international guests leave happy, and our pockets and stomachs full by the end of the Cup, in order to get reelected. If we’re left with half-assed stadiums, and terrible infrastructure, people getting mugged left and right – we’re bound to kill our multibillion (if not trillion) dollar tourism industry! The government will not allow this to happen. The people might though (see protests below)!

I’m not talking ethics here, we can leave this for another day. But do you really think these politicians will want to look bad in the face of the world and their people and risk their access to their corrupt money? I didn’t think so.

Protests

This has a little/a lot to do with the previous item. I hope there are protests during the World Cup. Hell, I hope there are hundreds of them! Every frickin’ day! All around the country! Millions of people should join! Gringos included! I’m hoping and wishing and praying for non-violent beautiful protests galore!

Why? Because the world will finally realize Brazil’s not just a country of samba and football and folly, but also a country whose citizens care about where their tax money is going, and clearly haven’t seen much of this, because of our current bureaucratic and corrupt system, yes. But also because of people who only know how to bitch and moan at the local bar, and don’t do anything about it but that!

If there aren’t any protests, we’ll go back to being the foolish idiots whose government tramples all over them and who don’t know what democracy is.*

English
You have no idea how many people are trying to learn English now! Language schools are making so much money, and people are really making an honest effort to learn! From cab drivers, to salon owners, to business executives and yes - even prostitutes - everyone’s using the World Cup as an excuse to learn English.

Will there be a boom in the country’s population speaking a second language fluently by the time the World Cup comes along? No. Not at all. Hence this also being a “Con.” But people will have started. At least some of them will continue. And they will provide for a more educated and affluent Brazil in the long run.

Prices
The prices are a whole economic formula involving the taxes discussed above, corruption, high import tariffs, and internal red tape all mixed with “big demand” greed. So it’s really just a take it or leave it issue that, if not dealt with, and people leave Brazil unhappy – whoever’s adding their greed tax to their prices will not be getting much business in the future. And I think this is a lesson well learned.

All of this being said though, I’d like to point out that violence is a not a non-issue for foreigners, but it’s a lesser issue for them. The violence that takes place in Brazil is for the most part in the outskirts of cities, or far away from where tourists will be staying. If you’re concerned about getting mugged, I always tell guests and clients to just act as if you would in any other big city around the world. That seems to work for most people. I suspect security will be covered by city governments, so there are very little assaults on foreigners, and most Brazilians are also saying a little prayer with this same hope, so you’ve got most of us on your side!

Which Pretty Much Means... Pros Outweigh Cons
 
If you have the means and would like to experience one of the most culturally diverse and exciting World Cups everI urge you to attend! You’ll be making history and helping to tell the Brazilian story by encouraging others to either visit because your stay will be so wonderful, or to help a Latin country out, because you’ll see up close how Brazil needs to tomar vergonha na cara, and do something about our many socio-economic issues.

Plus, you will be helping an economy out! Despite the obvious rip-offs, I can guarantee you that after seeing the economic results from Confederations Cup and World Youth Day, and working on reservations for the World Cup itself, a lot of super honest small travel businesses, local restaurants and lower class workers will benefit dearly from your foreign money and cultural exchange, and they’ll be more than thankful for this!

And no worries, I’ll give you tips on how to overcome the prices and safety issues.

There’s a lot more to be said on the topic and would love to see your comments on this below and in other articles you can point me to! This is just a Brazilian girl’s opinion on the matter.

Beijo!

*Contextual footnote: For those who aren’t aware – Brazil’s current state of democracy is only 27 years old. We opened our country to the economy in the early 90’s by the most corrupt president Brazil’s ever seen and who was impeached. He’s a senator now. We have a lot more to work on than just bridges and healthcare. We’re still working on the “business plan” so to speak – just like the US had wars and depressions decades after Independence. Just like Russia (and – ahemthe US as well) has gay rights issues today. So gringos – stop being so hypocritical. And Brazilians – parem de reclamar tanto de barriga cheia e se mexem ou calem-se com seu pessimismo sem embasamento. #porra.

2

#ChangeBrazil Protests and Manifestations in São Paulo + Beyond

Posted on 17.6.13


It's not about the 20 cents.

Go straight to the links below the video on how to help or keep reading for background:

For those who know me well - you know I love me a protest and manifestation against the unfair and for the good! However I have not been to any of the manifestations here in São Paulo - yet. First, because I didn't know about them until I went to the bar one night and saw Av Paulista on fire (literally) before jumping into the metro.  Secondly, because I didn't know how I felt about going onto the streets and rebelling against something that seems menial compared to other problems in the city. And then once I realized it was more than that, because I promised my mother I wouldn't and because of the violence that had arisen from it.

Those who are wondering what these protests are all about and questioning the revolt against a 20 cent hike in bus fares, it's not about that at all - it may have started as that - but now it's a manifest against the whole system. Brazilians here and abroad are protesting against violence caused on passerbys and passive protesters by police officers. And here, we're especially focused on the money that's irresponsibly spent by our government on overbudgeting and their own corrupt desires, all these years we've been made into fools by policy makers! We want an end to the crime and violence we're exposed to or afraid of facing each day. The poverty we see on our streets and in our familie. And above all - we're fighting for democracy!

A journalist who I follow on Facebook posted a quote that I think is perfect for this occasion: 







The quote by Clay Shirky states - "A democray works when its citizens are happy enough to not go to the streets; when they do, it's a sign that something's not right." 


And that's what we should do - whether you're on the streets or tweeting/blogging/telling all your friends, or hanging a white sheet or curtain on your window


SPEAK OUT!





I'm still not sure if I'm going to attend tonight's manifestation (due to my promise to my mother!) which is going to be the biggest and hopefully most successful - but I will say I am proud of those involved who have commited to the cause sans violence and property destruction, and if you are keen and able - attend tonights rally and support those of us who are fighting to change Brazil one way or another - for the better! 


Here's a list of links + a great video on the protests and what you can do to help! 



#changebrazil 







If anyone has any more links or useful information - please collaborate in the comments below!

And remember -