Monday Musings, Week 12, 2022

Blessed Ostara everyone! Today we’re celebrating the Spring Equinox and welcoming spring into our lives. Yesterday Bren and I did a short ritual where we planted seeds and put our intentions for our own personal growth into them when we planted them. I’m really hoping to grow as a writer this year, but I also wished for growing creativity, love and health for ourselves and our kitties. I planted red chili peppers, because I just love spicy stuff and I thought they’d symbolize that burning desire within me to reach my goals.

Monday Musings 12

On Writing

Yesterday I spent some time writing on my novel again and it feels so good to be in the saddle again. I’m looking into making it a more habitual thing now, where I just sit every day to write a little bit. One of the things that I love about these new novels is that while I already have a base, pretty much everything else is a blank canvas for me to paint on, theoretically speaking. So, while I’m working towards a certain end, the rest in between is all up to me to decide. That feeling of creative freedom is one of the best you can experience as a writer.

On Spring

As you could read from the introduction paragraph, we are celebrating the coming of Spring and I’ve been looking forward to this season so much. Although I don’t suffer from winter depression, I really started to take a dislike to January and February as being boring and gray months. Perhaps it would’ve been better if we had had some actual snow here in the Netherlands, but with the global warming and all I doubt we’ll be seeing old fashioned winters in these parts. But we’ve been having some absolutely lovely weather now and with several trees blossoming and seeing nature awaken, I feel that I myself am more awake as well. Perhaps it’s a bit of a mindset thing, but it does help that we’ve had some really sunny days these past weeks and that the temperatures are very mild. Perfect weather for taking long walks!

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On Reading

I’m currently reading two books, All the Bright Places and Stolen Focus and the first one is half finished, while the latter is almost done, so expect a review on them soon. Stolen Focus has really managed to capture my full attention and it’s amazing to find out how the world has changed so much around us that it really is no wonder we have so much trouble focussing these days. What also amazes me is that it’s not just the technological distractions that make us focus less, but also things like pollution and the way in which children are raised nowadays. As someone who has trouble focussing I find this book to be very enlightening and although there are a few things we can do to reduce being so distracted all the time, a lot of changes need to be made globally if we want to get our focus back. More on all that in my review and upcoming mindfulness blogs!

On Gaming

Yesterday I spent some time playing Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom on Switch. I’m expecting to finish it somewhere this week, so it’s time for an in-depth review for the game, including a comparison between its predecessors, mainly Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, which is one of my most beloved classic games from the SEGA Master System. I have to admit that while the game is fun, I do have a constant feeling that it just isn’t really as good as Wonder Boy III, but maybe that’s because I’ve been playing the game through the rose coloured glasses of my nostalgia and maybe comparing isn’t what I should have been doing. Yet, I think this is something I should dive into when I review the game and see if I can also make an honest, unbiased and objective review, looking at the base gameplay elements.

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Upcoming blogs

Well, as you can see, I’ve got plenty of ideas for upcoming blogs this week on several different topics, so stay tuned for all of them! 😉 I hope you’re all going to have a great week!

Happy Monday!

Jeffrey

Monday Musings, Week 11, 2022

March is turning out to be an exciting month. Not only did I spend some time finally writing on a new novel again and sharing my thoughts and ideas for some major plot ideas with Bren, we also worked on putting a little bit of content on the new webshop of The Green Dream. By the end of this month, we’re hoping to have everything up and running, offering a wide selection of handmade items that Bren created to a large audience with shipping to a lot of different countries.

Writing and experiencing flow

Last Saturday Bren wanted to have a create night and she decided to craft some new jewelry and asked me what I wanted to do. While I wanted to join in on the sculpting with clay fun, I had a constant nagging feeling that I should really start writing on my new novel and decided to finally take some time to start, which I did. I put on my writing playlist, which consists of orchestral music without any vocals (or at least lyrics) and after getting over a hurdle that had seemed to be there for so long, I was finally writing again! First I penned down some basic plot ideas, then I sat down to actually write a short part of the third chapter of the novel. I checked when I had written the first two chapters and that had been somewhere in 2020! Although I did finish a novel in between, this really felt like coming home and I can’t wait to continue writing this story, which draws heavily on the current state of our real world. After all, most novels.

Monday Musings #11

Evaluating my 2022 goals

As I stated last week I want to review my annual goals, seeing as we’re reaching the end of the first quarter of the year. I’m quite happy about the progress I’ve made, but I have to do some serious evaluating to check if my goals are still all on track. The secret goal of proposing to Bren has been completed, so it’s 1 down, 9 to go 😛 Of course, I’ll share all of this on my blog, to give you all some insights into how I do this.

Stolen Focus

I’m currently listening to Stolen Focus by Johann Hari and it’s such a good book! Just like him, I feel that humanity is losing touch with themselves and how we always feel tired, disconnected, or even depressed by how life in the modern world is and how rushed everything is. This of course has inspired me to write a a couple of blogs on this subject, as I too feel that we need to find our focus and flow and stop being distracted. It’s such a struggle to find peace of mind for a lot of us and even though I have a good meditation and work-out cycle going, I too am subject to distractions, procrastination and the inability to focus on reading for longer than 10 minutes at a time. But I am working on it and I’ve made so much progress over the years, but it sure as hell isn’t easy.

Upcoming blogs

Long story short, this week I’m hoping to post a couple more blogs about focus, finding your flow and goal evaluating. I hope you’re all having a great week and hope you’ll give my blogs a read!

Happy Monday!

Jeffrey

Twenty-two, Two, Twenty-Two, “I do”

Every year around December I write down ten goals for the next year. Ten things I really want to achieve, most of them revolve around writing and blogging, because that’s what I enjoy doing in my spare time and writing is a skill I want to keep developing. Usually I share these goals on my blog, but this year, there was one goal I wanted to keep a secret, but I can now tell I have achieved and this is the story of how I did it.

Part 1 – It was a cold day in December…

Well, not really, but I just didn’t know a good title for this chapter. I was having two weeks off work at the end of last year and the start of the new one. I always sit down in December to look back at my annual goals and deciding what I want to focus on in the next. Sometimes this feels a bit like a drag, because I have a tendency to copy/paste a lot of my previous goals. But this year, I really wanted to shake up things and push myself to do new stuff. One of them is obviously working on a brand new novel, which I plan to finish this year. Another was taking up my hobby of drawing again, although I started doing clay sculpting and I have to admit that I’m enjoying myself a lot doing that. And well, the other was something I wanted to keep a secret from everybody, because it’s not every day you ask someone to marry you. In fact, my intention is to only do it once in my entire lifetime. You may call me old fashioned, or some hopeless romantic, but I really do believe in true love and the relationship Bren and I have is just what I always imagined a healthy relationship to look like. We really support each other in areas where the other wants to grow in, we share our feelings, although I have some troubles doing that sometimes. Sure it isn’t always easy, but we’ve been through so much already and I had always imagined that whenever I found a girl like Bren, I’d be in in for the long haul.

So, with all that in mind, I penned down this goal: Propose to Bren, by March 2022 (22-2-2022, 22:22?)

And my key motivation: Bren says she doesn’t want to get marry after her 40th. I figure that 40 for me would be a perfect age to ask her to marry me. I am still madly, deeply in love with that woman and I want to make her mine, forever.

Granted, I was a bit scared, because we both turned 40 last year and Bren had always been pretty adamant about not wanting to marry after her 40th birthday. Since 22-02-2022 was a date we won’t be seeing any time soon, I figured that if I wouldn’t do it then, then when would I. I then wrote down my next actions:

  • Figure out where and how I could propose
  • Get a ring(!)

Easy, right? Right?!

Part 2 – Ring, ring, ring

Since it wasn’t really that hard to settle on a date to ask Bren, that left me with just one more problem. A ring… How could I possibly get a good ring in such a short time? Because by the time I had penned down my goals it was almost the start of January, which would give me a full month and some weeks to get it. One thing that I already knew was that I didn’t have to buy her a big fat diamond ring, because that’s just not her style. Luckily I am good at remembering gift ideas. I even keep a list of ideas whenever something is mentioned by someone, just for future reference.

So, I heard Bren mention Atelier Wolfstone a couple of times and she showed me a bunch of their work on Instagram. What she showed me looked really good and their style really seemed to fit with Bren’s tastes. The first thing that came to my mind when I was thinking of where to buy an engagement ring was to contact them and see if they could do a custom design within about 1.5 months. I filled in the form on their website and pretty soon after I was sent an email with a reply. After that I kept in touch with Huib from Atelier Wolfstone and we discussed my wishes and what elements the ring should have. I told him that my wishes were a ring with a labradorite gemstone, an Ygdrassil theme, because Bren loves the Tree of Life and a text engraved on the inside of the band in Gaelic: “Mo Anam Cara”, which means My Soul Friend.

Huib and Kaat really came through with the design and everything. The sketch and the actual end result are so close to one another. That’s real craftsmanship, if you ask me. They managed to convert my wishes into something real and tangible. But the road to creating the ring wasn’t easy and I was a bit stupid in asking Bren for help as well, while still keeping all of this a secret.

Some time ago last year Bren gave me a small wooden box and I had kept it in the top drawer of my desk, knowing that I wanted to use it for the engagement ring at some point in the future. So when I was discussing the ring design with Huib, I also brought up the little wooden box and whether he was able to make something nice of it for the ring. Huib said they could, but he would need some pieces of fabric to create the padding on the inside and asked if I could provide that as well. With some manner of confidence I searched through all of Bren’s stuff, but seeing as she crochets and rarely uses any fabrics, I decided to ask her if she could provide me with some green fabric, if she ran into it. When I asked, she asked in return what in blazes I could ever need pieces of green fabric for, because I never use any of that stuff for the things I do (which is mainly writing, of course).

And so began a long, long month of Bren asking me almost every day if I wanted to confess my secret and what the fabric was for she had provided. I never told anyone else at this point and I’m glad I didn’t, because I’m sure someone would have probably told her. In the meantime I was also in contact with Huib almost every day, whenever he had questions about the ring and the design. It was quite nerve wrecking to keep a secret for such a long time, I have to admit.

Then came the day when the ring was finally delivered to us. The timing could have been perfect, with Bren being downstairs, but alas, the mailman decided to show up shortly after Bren came home and when the doorbell rang I knew I just said: “It’s for me, so I’ll get it!”
I clearly remember Bren saying that she was already close to the door and she didn’t understand why I was so adamant to be the one to open the door. My heart was beating like a drum in a death metal band. Luckily I was prepared with a decoy of sorts. The mailman also had a package for Bren, which was already a nice way to distract her from the package I had received and eventually she did ask me what was so important. I simply held up a copy of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire for the 3DS and told her I had ordered it cheap.
“And I thought you weren’t going to buy any games this month? So far for that…” was her reply. I was just glad that she hadn’t seen the actual package, but it was a bit too close for comfort. But the most important ingredient for my proposal was finally in my hands. A beautifully crafted engagement ring.

Part 3 – The Big Day

Bren must have wondered why I had been so adamant about wanting to have 22-02-2022 for ourselves and that I would at least take that day off from work, maybe the entire week. I ended up opting for the latter, because I just wanted us to be able to do the things we weren’t able to in the first week of this year, because of the lockdown here in the Netherlands.

It had always been a wish of ours to do some museum visits in the near future and so I decided that this day would be perfect to go to Naturalis in Leiden, the museum for Biodiversity, which is also a large research station. Ever since they had renovated I hadn’t visited and one of their key exhibitions is the dinosaur one. The addition of Trix the T-rex was one of the biggest in the museum’s history and it’s one of the most impressive things you’ll ever see in your life, along with the rest of the dinosaur skeletons on display.

One of the funniest moments was when we were finally seeing Trix and I had already told Bren a lot about my love for dinosaurs and how impressive Trix was in real life. When we finally stood there, she said: “Why don’t you ask Trix to marry you?” and I couldn’t help but laugh and think If only you knew what is coming up tonight!
We had such a great time in the museum and even brought home a couple of souvenirs, gemstones and a rock crystal geode.

We spent the evening eating vegan food from our local Vegan take-out service Mr. Vegan and after dinner we spent time building LEGO sets together, along with some music and talking about our great day at Naturalis. And so, time crept forward at an ever decreasingly slow pace for me. At about 22:15 I had set an alarm, but somewhere around 22:00 Bren said she was going to crochet for a bit, because she didn’t have the energy to keep building her LEGO bouquet and I was thinking Please don’t go to bed, because that’ll sort of ruin this perfect little moment that’s coming in 22 minutes!

But truly, once the time hit 22:15 I was completely taken over by a nerve wracking panic attack or something and I remember going to the bedroom to pick up the ring and pouring us both a new drink. I sat down next to Bren and I had prepared a little story in my head, but once I opened my mouth nothing even close to it came out. I said something along the lines of:

“Bren, we’ve been together for some time now and today is the twenty-second of… ehh… twenty, eh… ”

And Bren, kindhearted soul that she is helped me to get the date right and I just kept babbling before remembering that I should have gone down on one knee and then I asked her if she wanted to marry me and she replied: “No, really, are you all right? You don’t look good.”
For some reason that’s when I managed to finally reveal the box and the ring and ask the question again and she did say “Yes.” that second time! Score!
As you can see, I was extremely well prepared and everything went super smooth, just as I had rehearsed in my head a couple of times. We are engaged to be married, but not for some time, yet, we are going to take our sweet time preparing and actually enjoying this period. Both of us don’t like to stress about things and a lot of people’s first question after announcing that we’re engaged is: “Oh, what’s the date going to be for your marriage?” We both don’t know yet and why should it matter so much for those folks anyway? Well, I hope you enjoyed this little story about my plan to ask Bren to marry me. It sure was a big adventure for me, but the real adventure is yet to come!

With much love,

Jeffrey

Monday Musings, Week 8, 2022

With the Netherlands opening up a bit more after a soft lockdown in January, I decided to take a week off from work, so Bren and I could finally have some quality time and do the things we love to do. But this week is also a great week to start plotting my new novel. I already made a little start last Sunday, by writing in a brand new notebook. I have a good idea of how I want to structure the new novel and this week I’ll finally have some time to sit down and really consider where I want the story to go. Since it’s going to be a five novel series, I have to plan ahead a little, or at least have a faint idea of where the story is going in the course of these novels. This also means that I’ll soon be able to share a little bit about my methods as a writer.

The raging storm

Last weekend we had a visit from storm Eunice, luckily we weren’t affected by the storm, but a lot of trees here in Hilversum have fallen over, branches caused a lot of damage and we heard that some people had problems with their roof, with roof tiles flying off. I love being on Reddit and there’s a certain subreddit that shares posts from people who believe in all kinds of weird conspiracies. One of them apparently is that these storms are caused by our government to push the climate change agenda. I don’t know how stupid people are to believe theories like this, but it takes a certain kind of stupid to do so. If anything, storms like these are the sign that climate change is a real thing and we can only expect more like these if we don’t make a change for the better. What I find odd about people believing these theories is how they justify why our government would willingly want to destroy so much (of their own) property to push a climate change agenda. Anyway, I digress, the storm has caused a lot of damage and I hope everyone came through it safe.

Finally some time to relax

It’s quite odd how you can have some time off work and still not feel like you were able to relax. We experienced this in January, when I still had some time off and everything was closed down. This week we can finally visit a museum, do some thrift shopping and well, whatever we like. It’s quite odd that you experience a lockdown almost as being locked up yourself when you don’t have the freedom to do the things you love, but I suppose that it’s something we all experienced over the last couple of years. We really miss the big festivals like Castlefest the most.

And to get some stuff done

After I finish writing this blog, I’ll sit down and have a look at everything I want to do this week. There’s still some chores around the house that need doing. For instance, we received a couple of WiFi enhancers that I still need to install and there’s definitely some other things that I just never seem to get around to that I’m hoping I’ll be able to do this week. Time always flies when you have one week off, in my experience, so I’m hoping to find a nice balance between getting stuff done and relaxing.

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I’ve also taken up a new hobby. I started doing sculpting/modeling with Fimo clay. I’m still working on a little project, but I really love doing this stuff and I intend to make all kinds of fun stuff. Bren is making amazing jewelry with it (as you can see in the picture above!) and some of that will be up for sale on the Green Dream Shop this week! People reacted very positively to them on our Instagram, so it’s definitely something Bren would love to put more energy into.

Well, that’s it for now, I’m off to make my To-Do for the week and wish you all a great week!

Jeffrey

My Dread Journey: Two Months

I can’t believe it’s already been two months! Time flies, it seems. Two months ago Joeke from SoraOrigins came over to make a start on my untameable (with a brush) hair, to turn them into dreads. At first we were planning only to do the lower half of my hair and I would leave the rest of my hair loose… But that same night we decided otherwise, hahaha, because my loose hair wouldn’t stop tangling and I really didn’t want to damage my new dreads with a brush. So, that same night I asked Joeke if she could do the rest of my hair as well. We had a good laugh about it, because well, we hadn’t really expected anything else after her first visit. The second appointment took quite a while, however… because the Netherlands went into lockdown, but thankfully the wait wasn’t too long.

This was my hair before dreads

In two days the rest of my unruly, long hair was turned from a complete chaos into an organized one with dreads! I was so happy! In total I now have 77 dreads and still have two loose strands of hair at the front. I’m not sure if I’ll keep those loose. It looks great, but it still tangles so much and it makes me mad sometimes. So, who knows… But for now I have 77 beautiful dreads.

During day 1 of getting dreads 🙂

I really love how my baby dreads evolve into young dreads and how they are changing. Not a single one is like the other, some are thicker, some are thinner, but I love them all equally. This hairstyle is so me and I really don’t want anything else anymore. In the past I used to have synthetic dreads a couple of times, they looked great and I would even consider wearing some along my own dreads now, when I go to a festival, for instance, but a full head of synthetic dreads just isn’t entirely my style. Another downside of synthetic dreads is that it’s not wise to keep them longer than three months at the most, to prevent your own hair from felting. Removing synthetic dreads at that point can be very hard and painful. Luckily you don’t have to do that with real dreads, of course, because they’re permanent. You could always comb them out, but in all honesty, I hope I’ll never have to do that myself! I also didn’t like the added weight of synthetic dreads, because it was really heavy. I had about 120 of them and they really added a lot of weight in addition to my own hair. So, now, after so long I finally got real dreads and OMG I love them! The whole process is so enjoyable, because that’s what it is!

The first two months I’ve palm rolled my dreads on a daily basis. You do this to make sure your dreads keep their round form and don’t become flat. I’m not going to keep doing this on a daily basis, because it’s good to let them form on their own, but I’ll still keep palm rolling about twice a week. I use tightening products from Raw Roots and Dollylocks (Patchouli Fields) for this and order them at DreadShop. OMG these products smell so incredibly good, I can really recommend them to anyone with dreads. There are many different fragrances to choose from and I can’t wait to use them all, like Nag Champa… Another thing about them is that they’re made using all natural ingredients, so they’re not harmful for our planet, and as you know, this is very important to me! I’d also like to try their shampoo bars for real dreads, they seem so great!

Here are some of the products I use! 🙂

I wash my scalp weekly (relax, I take a shower more often than that, but I wear a special shower cap to prevent my dreads from getting wet. This shower cap is awesome and allows you to take a shower normally, because otherwise you’d have to position yourself pretty oddly to prevent your hair from getting wet and you really don’t want to risk a back injury! I wash my scalp with a shampoobar from Flyway Hair from Lush, I let the shampoo wash away along my dreads, so that they get clean too. This is a bit faster than when I really wash my dreads, because that is a bit more time consuming and something I usually do on Sunday mornings when we don’t have any appointments. Of course, when I wash my dreads I turn the shower off when I’m soaping my dreads, because otherwise I’d waste a ton of water and I don’t want to be wasteful. I rinse out my dreads to make sure no soap remains in them and pat dry them. After that I keep a towel on them for about 15-20 minutes and the rest of the day I’ll have to entertain myself inside, as long as it’s still winter at least. It takes until well into the evening before my hair is finally dry. Luckily, I was already used to that taking ages before I had dreads, hahaha.

When I told people that I was going to get real dreads this was met with some resistance from a couple of people, because they said I’d ruin my beautiful hair (spoiler alert; it doesn’t!) and they thought dreads were the most horrible thing ever. Not that those negative nancies stopped me from doing it anyway. This is what I want and it’s my hair, not theirs. To be honest, I’ve never felt more me than I have now that I have real dreads. They make me feel complete. I have quite a past and was barely allowed to be myself and taking dreads has really blasted myself forwards, finally being able to do what I want and like. That freedom is a true blessing.

One of the most shocked questions people ask me about dreads is: “But can you wash them?!” Ehh, of course you can, it’s still hair and just with any other person, you can wash them. Another question is: “Aren’t dreads really dirty?” Nope. They’re not, depending on the person who has them, of course. Of course, there are some people who don’t take care of them at all, but most dreadheads are very clean and have dreads that smell amazing. I’m afraid there will always be prejudices and stereotypes, as long as people don’t want to utilize their brains. Aww well, I don’t care and don’t bother with those folks. Trust me, the day you choose for yourself and you don’t allow others to tell you how to look, it is such a liberating experience.

I’m really looking forward to seeing my dreads develop and evolve further and I’ll keep you all updated, also about which dread products I use and recommend and much, much more!

Here’s a picture of my dreads from today, after two months with dreads. I am so incredibly happy with them! #dreads4life

Would you like to maintain your dreads and take good care of them? Real dreads, or synthetic dreads, it doesn’t matter. Just head over to DreadShop for all of your dreadhead products and if you want, you can use my code for a 10% discount. ^_^ Just fill in the discount code: greendreamdreads when you check-out at the shop and enjoy your wonderful products! 😀

Love,

Bren Medusa

Review: Fairphone 4

Hello everyone and welcome to my review of the Fairphone 4. I’ve had this phone for a couple of weeks now and thought this was a perfect time to share my thoughts on it, now that I’ve had some time to experience daily use over the course of a few weeks.

Sustainable. Long-lasting. Fair.

This is the tagline that Fairphone uses to describe the Fairphone 4 in a few words. As you know, Bren and I value a sustainable lifestyle and we try to live a low-waste, environment friendly life. Is the Fairphone 4 a match made in heaven? The Fairphone 4 is made using as much recycled materials as possible. As they describe it on their website:

We go one step further to conserve the precious materials used in manufacturing electronic products. When you buy a Fairphone 4, we responsibly recycle or give one old phone a second life.

This means 100% compensation for the material we put into the market. This is first in the smartphone industry and it’s exactly the kind of dedication you won’t find anywhere else!

Unboxing the Fairphone 4

First off, I really like the box design. It’s simple, but looks great.

Fairphone 4 1

Then, when you remove the cover, this is what you see next:

Fairphone 4 2

There’s no fancy carton, just simple old skool with the text “Change is in your hands” on it. I thought it was pretty nifty, because it can be interpreted in a couple of ways. Holding the new phone in your hands, one that was manufactured the way it is, is change itself. But I thought it was also a good reminder that change is in all of our hands. Not only our choice of phone, but our entire lifestyle, we are the change if we want to make it happen. And well, here at the Green Dream Blog, we most certainly want to be the change! 🙂

Fairphone 4 3

After removing the lid there’s some more info before you finally remove that last flap that shows us the actual phone. As you can see the Fairphone 4 has a modular design. I was so happy that I was finally able to remove the backlid of my phone again. Something that was really missing from new phones from brands such as Samsung and Apple. Also a horrible change, because you can no longer replace the batteries or any other part of the device yourself. With the Fairphone 4 you can do all of that once again, as it should be. All the other brands should be ashamed of themselves for enabling the throwaway society in such a horrible, horrible way.

Fairphone 4 4

And here it finally is, the phone itself and some more nifty information about the phone! 🙂 And as you can see, here is the tagline once again on the phone cover itself.

Fairphone 4 6

And finally the phone itself with the quick start guide. I had to remove the back cover to install the sim card, which I was a bit scared to do, because the cover doesn’t come off quite easy and I was anxious whether or not I would put too much pressure on the plastic, forcing it to break. But thankfully, the cover is quite sturdy, of course, you rarely remove the cover, so that helps too.

The phone has a nice, big screen of 15.24 cm, or 6.3 inches in diameter, which is just perfect for me. Although I don’t play games on my phone anymore (I quit that last year and it saves a lot of time), I do use my phone for taking pictures and to post content on Instagram, check WordPress for both of the blogs I write content for, and for mail and chat. So I do have some demands on what I look for in a phone, but I don’t need a high-end phone that will cost me 1200 euros, because let’s be honest, that is a lot of money for a phone. I’m really glad that the price for the Fairphone 4 is € 649,- for the 256 Gb version, which I bought.

Android, but slightly different

Using the Fairphone 4 is a bit different from what I was used to with my old Galaxy Note 8, but the overall functionality of Android is the same. What I do like about the Fairphone 4’s version is that there are some exclusive apps on it, among which is a Fairphone app which you can use to challenge yourself in reducing your carbon footprint. It includes challenges you can do and can ask you at an interval of your choosing to take a survey to check your current footprint based on a short questionnaire.

What I also really like about this phone is the Digital Wellbeing and parental controls part of the setting. At 23:00 every day my phone goes into Bedtime mode, which means the phone will go into a Do Not Disturb mode and the screen goes to greyscale. It’s really weird, but I’ve found that this drastically reduces my interest in my phone, causing me to not engage in checking Instragram, or Reddit.

The Camera

One thing I noticed when I was looking up reviews for the Fairphone 4 was that a lot of them were mentioning that the camera wasn’t that great. I use my phone to take a lot of pictures, so naturally I was a bit bummed out to find out that so many people weren’t very happy about the camera. But another thing that was also mentioned was that this was mostly down to the pre-installed software for the camera not doing any touch-ups on the pictures you take. Personally, I love that the camera takes the picture as is, because this gives you all the freedom to adjust the picture with filters and whatnot. But so far, I’m really not unhappy about the camera and it does what it should do. The only thing I miss a little is various settings such as “food” and “live focus”, but I’m sure there are apps that can do this if I really need it.

Fp4-dual-camera

No cables, charger or headphones

Another thing to mention is that the Fairphone 4 doesn’t come with any accessories at all. It’s just the phone and nothing else. This is done because at Fairphone they believe you already have the charger you need and everything else. They’re not wrong, because we do have plenty of USB-C cables and I already had a pair of earbuds too, so I really didn’t need any of those things at all. Less waste!

Overall

If by now you don’t know that I’m really really really really enthusiastic about the Fairphone 4, you haven’t been reading this review and just scrolled down to see how I would rate it. Well, I won’t exactly give the phone a rating in numbers or anything. All I can say is that if you really care about the environment and making a change for the better for our planet, then choosing the Fairphone 4 is one step in the right direction. You can also send your old phones to Fairphone and they’ll salvage any part they can to reuse in a new phone. I think we owe it to ourselves to be more mindful of all the waste we produce and really try to use our phones longer than just the 2-years the contract lasts before choosing a new toy we don’t really need. I intend to use this phone as long as possible and since I’m not a high-end user, I think it’ll last me at least five years, hopefully longer. Not only does this help reduce the carbon emissions, it also saves a lot of money. So it’s a win-win-win. Win for the planet, win for Fairphone and a win for me. 🙂

Have a nice day!

Jeffrey

Monday Musings, Week 6, 2022

Hello there lovely people! It’s the second week in February and this morning, when I left the gym from my morning routine, the sun was shining and that was the first sign to me that spring is on its way! Such a lovely feeling when you don’t return home in the dark. Things are quite busy at my office job currently, which is a really good thing too. It’s as if a lot of companies are finally getting the confidence to get back on track. You can really tell everyone is “done” with COVID-19 as well and if things keep up like they do with the current Omicron variant, hopefully it won’t be long before the virus loses its pandemic status. I think I’ll set a reminder for myself in a year time to read this blog again and see how everything panned out. 😉

Monday Musings #6

Busy making the Green Dream work

As you all know, Bren and I have been working hard to get the Green Dream blog started, but last week I also spent some time trying to see if we can start the merging process of the shop being added to the website. It’s going to take a little while, but hopefully at the end of the week we’ll finally be able to put Bren’s items for sale on our very own webshop on the blog. Besides all of that Bren’s busy behind the curtains with all kinds of great stuff that she’ll be able to tell more about soon 🙂 Her post on Imbolc was our biggest success to date and we’ve seen our followers on Instagram grow rapidly, which is really awesome to see. All in all, we’re really happy with how things are going and this year is off to a great start.

Writing and drawing, the process begins

Last week I told you that I was going to re-read what I had written for my upcoming Kevar novel and this week I’m going to start writing a brand new chapter for this story. I’ve not really settled on the style yet, but I am confident that this will come to me naturally as I’ve had enough time by now to think about where I want the story to be headed and how I’m going to focus on the first character of the five. Yesterday I also spent some time to finally draw a little bit again and although I would really love to develop myself in this regard to the point where I can make my own (concept) art, I thought I’d just share where I am now with you. It’s definitely not my best work, but you have to start from a certain point and this is mine. I really hope that one day I’ll be able to truly portray on paper what I have in my mind, because it is so infinitely cooler than what I’m currently capable of drawing. But this is a process that takes time and I’ve found several good tutorials that I’m going to try and develop my skills in that regard as well.

Kevar Drawing

I really hope that I can take all of you along for the journey of improving both my drawing and writing skills and how I go about writing this scifi novel, because it does take a lot of imagination and we all draw inspiration from things in our direct surroundings. This process is a lot of fun, but can also be a bit scary, especially if you don’t have any idea of what you’re writing is any fun to read for anyone else. So, I’ll go about a few things in upcoming writing blogs, stuff like how I like to plot, how I develop characters, come up with names for them and how I always let someone else read my material to see if it resonates well, or not.

Other upcoming blogs

A couple of weeks ago I finally received my new phone, a Fairphone 4. Bren told me all about these phones and how they’re made of recycled materials and that this phone is the phone if you want to buy something that is more sustainable, while at the same time on par with the quality you’re used to. I plan to post my review and unboxing later this week. I’m also nearly done with The Power of Now and a review for this book will be posted on my own blog too. You can read Bren’s review on our blog The Book Dragon’s Nook.

I hope you’re all going to have a good week!

Happy Monday!

Jeffrey

Review: Earthshot – How To Save Our Planet

Genre: Non-Fiction / Climate Change & Sustainability
Uitgever: L.S.
ISBN: 978-90-245-9760-4
Edition: Hardcover
Page Count: 335
Release Date: September 2021

Cover text:

As Prince William, founder of The Earthshot Prize, said, “The Earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate, and problem-solve. People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth.”

Earthshot - Cover

Earthshot – How To Save Our Planet is not an easy book, and that’s a very good thing in this case. It’s a very confronting book about all of our current day problems regarding our home world. Pollution, climate change, deforestation, plastic, carbon emissions, mass extinction, you name it and this book covers it. But despite showing us what all of these problems are, this book also gives us hope that we can make a change for the better. With the added caveat that we need to hurry if we want to prevent irreversible damage to our planet.

Earthshot is divided into three parts. The first part is all about this crucial decennium. The years ’20 should be spent on preventing more damage to our planet, lowering or even nullifying damaging effects and changing our way of living to become more sustainable. Five crises have been identified that we need to work on:

  • Reduction of nature
  • Life in our oceans
  • Air pollution
  • Climate change
  • Waste management

The book also states that although things look grim, we shouldn’t become pessimistic. There are plenty of examples of people, or even whole countries doing a great job to bring about change for the better, by reforestation, designating no-fishing zones and coming up with all kinds of clever ways to recycle things. Careful optimism is what will ultimately set change in motion and that’s exactly what we should all have when it comes to saving our planet.

The second part of the book handles all five aforementioned crises and what can be done to reverse the damage we’ve done. It gives us examples of how we can go about doing all of this, but also tries to create a complete, but slightly distilled view of our problems. This felt a bit like how Bill Gates handles his book ‘How To Avoid A Climate Disaster’, which I read last year. But where I felt that the latter sometimes had maybe too much of a “birds-eye-view” of the problems, Earthshot shows us what some people are already doing to bring back nature, or reduce carbon emissions. What becomes clear is that it’s impossible for each person to do something about all of this individually and we’ll have to rely on everyone to help in any given area that needs our attention.

Earthshot - 1

The third and last part of the book tells us how we should try to handle each of these problems, but also gives the reader tips on how to do something themselves. That’s also what Bren and I have started this blog for, to help share ideas for a better, healthier and sustainable lifestyle. The book not only tells us what we can do individually, but also as a collective. The thing is that never before we have known just how bad all of our problems are, but this is also a time where we have all of the means to make a change for the better. This book was inspiring to read and it has shown me even more that we should all be doing our part for our planet. There is no planet B (definitely not within reach for us with our current technology) and we should do everything we can to save our beautiful world. If not for ourselves, definitely for future generations.

Earthshot is one of those books that’s characteristic for its time. We have lived in a very unsustainable way for a long time, even when it was already clear that carbon emissions were harmful to our planet, that plastic waste is very bad and we have just let everything linger on. The urgent message of the book is clear: “We only get one chance to do it right and we shouldn’t wait any longer to make changes for the better of our planet.” Bren and I are doing our part, having changed and continuing to change our lifestyle to be more sustainable, but it’s important that not just individuals make a change, large corporations need to show us that they care too and governments will need to enforce laws that punish anything that damages our beautiful planet and ecosystems even more. This is the way.

Cover: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Storytelling: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Originality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Content: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Font: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Paper Smell: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Happy Reading!

Jeffrey

The Modern Stoic Approach #1: What Others Think of You

Hello everyone! As some of you may know, I fancy myself somewhat of a modern day stoic. Stoicism has been around for ages and it is a take on life that makes life a whole lot less miserable. One of the main principles of stoicism is that you don’t care about anything that’s going on outside of your head, especially if you don’t have any influence on it. This applies to a multitude of things and although I agree with this old axiom, I think there’s a multitude of instances where we should care about stuff outside our control, as long as we have enough influence to make a difference. Today I want to share a bit about handling what others think of you, and how not caring about this will give you more peace of mind. You can’t control what others think of you The only thing we have control of is what’s going on in our own mind. We are responsible for our own thoughts and behaviour towards others. This means that others are in control of their mind and their thoughts as well and you have zero influence on that. Sure, you can do all kinds of things to make someone like you and have good thoughts about you, but in the end, their view of you will always be different from what you think, or want them to be. In other words, it is impossible to control what others think of you, although being nice goes a long way to influence their thoughts about you. What Others Think of You What’s more important is the people who have a negative view of you, for whatever reason and somehow, their view of you affects you. You want them to like you, but for some reason you can’t. And these are the people that probably most bother you. Why can’t Karen from HR like me? What did I ever do to her? Well, maybe it wasn’t anything in particular. Sometimes people just don’t like you, for whatever reason. Or maybe it’s because you stole her lunch from the office fridge that was clearly labeled Karen’s lunch, don’t touch!:P Or they might just hate all people, like a good misanthrope, or maybe they just don’t like the looks you’re giving them. You have zero control on this and realizing this can be a good first step towards acceptance of this fact. Not everyone will like you, even though it is almost ingrained in our nature that we want everyone to like us. Stop getting onto the thoughttrain to “People don’t like me”-ville An important part of meditation is not giving attention to your thoughts. Recognizing that you’re thinking, observing this fact and then letting go of the thought. I find that practicing this makes it even more easy to let go of thoughts like “Why doesn’t person X like me?”. It also helps that I no longer feel a a need to have fictional conversations with people who clearly don’t like me for whatever reason, or trying to figure out why exactly this is. All these kinds of thoughts are fruitless and even if you think you’ve gone of all the different options in certain conversations they’ll always be different in real life. I know, because I used to be a heavy overthinker. Stop Overthinking I know it’s not easy to stop our thoughts from taking us for a ride. But recognizing that we are thinking makes it a lot easier to let go of them. Especially if you’re thinking in what-ifs and if-only type of thoughts. Does that mean that we should stop caring entirely about what people think of us? Well, no, of course not. I still think it’s important that Bren and my best friends and family think well of me, but the only way you can achieve that is by not being a total douche and just being a nice person in general. And you can only achieve that by being genuine and doing things for others without expecting anything in return. Unless it’s a business transaction where you agreed upon service X for payment Y, you should never expect anything in return. The simple fact that you’re doing something for someone you love or like should never be with the intention of being rewarded for it, or to keep it close to the subject of this blog, you shouldn’t expect someone to like you more if you keep doing them favours. That’s a perfect way to end up becoming a doormat and you really don’t want to become one. Letting go of the urge to be liked When I was in my twenties I used to go to a lot of parties and I had dozens of “friends”. Even at that age I was already making a clear distinction between my best friends and people who I considered friends, but I knew would never reach that same level of deep connection as my best friends. Time can only be spent once and you have to carefully choose how to spend it and on whom. At least, that’s how I think about this. But back then, I wanted to please everyone and so I would rarely miss any party, for fear of missing out (I’ll write more about “FOMO” in a future article), but mostly because I didn’t want to let other people down. Skip forward to 2021, where I had my burn-out and finally could admit that I was doing it wrong all this time by cramming my schedule full of appointments just to please my friends. I knew that this approach was exhausting and I was finally able to admit that it is okay to so “No”. In this modern day and age it is very easy to get busy really fast. But honestly, people will understand if you are honest and say “No” to coming to their party. If they don’t, that is their problem, not yours. You can always say that you’re really tired and need some time for yourself and that you’d love to see them at some later time. Very often this is even better, because you can just meet 1-on-1, giving you both the time to catch up. This is something that you can’t really do at parties, because there are a lot of people around and the one throwing the party is often occupied all night long talking to everyone, and keeping the party going. Do You Like Me The best kind of people are those who understand that you’re a human being and that you can’t always be there all the time, because you also need time for yourself. And if they get angry, or frustrated, don’t question yourself, but them. It always says more about them than it does about you, remember that. If you have a legitimate reason for not wanting to go, and that includes a need for rest, then just be honest. They might not like what they hear, but at least they’ll know you are an honest and genuine person and that’s better than sacrificing your own (mental) health just to please them. Sometimes you have to put yourself in first place, so everyone can enjoy your company for a long time to come. What truly matters is what you think about yourself So, hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought. In the end, what matters if whether you think well of yourself. If you’re a decent human being, you can always look into the mirror knowing you’ve been true to yourself and that you don’t care too much about what others think of you. I know I said you shouldn’t care about what others think, but there are a few exceptions, like your spouse, friends, family and children. The ones you are willing to invest time, effort and love into. But with just the right amount of not caring about what everyone else thinks about you, you should save yourself a lot of energy and most importantly time. Thinking in what-ifs and if-only thought patterns is a big waste of time. Surely it can be nice to fantasize sometimes, but I’m referring to the overly negative ones whenever something went wrong and you wish you’d done things differently, or you wish the outcome of a certain event had gone different from your expectations. Always keep your expectations low, and you’ll rarely be disappointed. There are just too many factors outside of your control, most of the time, anyway. But there is always one thing you have complete control over and that’s your own thoughts and if there’s one thing that really helps me it’s not caring about the wrong things and giving just enough fucks about the things that are important to me. I’m happy I’ve reached this point in my life pretty early on, because I know a lot of people my age (I’m 40) and over are still struggling to find ways to deal with stuff like this and I always find it hard to offer any solid advice, but I hope I manged to do that in this blog! Did you find this read helpful, or do you have any tips of your own? Please let me know in the comments below! 🙂 Happy Life! ~Jeffrey

💚💚💚 Blessed Imbolc 💚💚💚

💚💚💚Blessed Imbolc💚💚💚

Imbolc (Oimelc, St. Brigid’s day) is the festival that marks the end of winter and brings us the hope of warmth and light, we’re getting closer to spring time. Normally around this time of the year the ground is covered with snow and it’s so cold and freezing, everything happens underground, but if you look closely enough you might see a little Snowdrop peekaboo above the cold ground. As if it were saying: “Keep hope, it won’t be long now till the cold is over.” And that’s what Imbolc stands for, with this festival we celebrate the hidden forces of nature and ourselves. Of course, we’re still living in the cold and darker season but it’s time to get ready for the period of growth. The first lambs will be born and we start to reflect on our plans for this year. What will we achieve and what do we need.

Imbolc_1

Imbolc also stands for cleansing, purification. We’re putting away the midwinter decorations that we might still have around and clean our houses and ourselves, getting ourselves ready for this new growth. Clean your house with some Florida water added to your mopping water and clean the floors with it. You can also add it to your bucket of cleaning water and clean everything while thinking about cleansing out all negativity and feel how it surrounds you with new and clear energy. Take a walk outside through nature and focus and fantasize on what you will achieve. Which seeds you will plant and how they will turn out. What is it that you really want to achieve. But stay silent, look around you and observe, when you’re home you can write it all down in your magical diary. Try to take walks as much as possible even when the weather is not that likable. With those daily walks (even it’s only for a short while) you are showing yourself that you’re ready to leave the winter season behind and starting your new path. You will get so much energy from it!💚

Imbolc_7
Of course there are many more rituals for celebrating Imbolc. Letting go of what we don’t need anymore and leaving it behind. Visualise what will sprout from the seeds that you’ve planted.

This is my altar for Imbolc (see picture below). You can decorate it as you like, of course. This year I chose to make it look like this. Also this is the first Imbolc for this antique secretaire that I bought at a thrift-store when we moved into our new house, and yes, i knew it when I saw this secretaire that this would be my main altar.

Imbolc_2

I crocheted little snowflakes and spread them around, cause it’s still winter and for me snowflakes are a sign that belongs to this year-festival.  Also there is a cute and oh so pretty little spirit doll that is especially made for this festival, created by the talented The Needle Witch (on fb) she’s surrounded by sea salt and herbs that stands for protection and make it look like shes dancing in the snow. I won this cutey in a give-away along with some items for a spell, and that spell is what you can see on this picture.

Imbolc_6

Before I started my ritual I purified myself, our house and my altar. I lighted up some candles as you can see, with my intentions and plans for the upcoming year in mind. The things I really want to accomplish, like that my shop will become a succes and that I can make my living off of it. That’s such a big wish of me and it’s something I wanted for such a long, long time and I finally took the step. With Yule I made decisions about how I want my life to become and what I need to let go of and do for that. And now with Imbolc I see it even more clearer, the decisions that I made are the right ones, I feel that trough my whole body and soul and I just have to stay focused and have faith and trust in myself that I can accomplish that.

Imbolc_3

You can also see on top of my altar that there are several plants, I love plants like many people know already, but I keep plant seedlings on my altar to see them grow. For Imbolc I just thought that this is pretty cool and it fits great with this festival, cause you can also see those little baby plants grow and getting stronger, just as your plans and intentions for this year will grow and become what you want them to be. Just thought about that, and wanted to share that too with you. I’m a plantmom, can you tell? 😀

Later today I will do another Imbolc ritual and make a Brigit Cross, also Jeffrey will be joining the ritual tonight. He’s new in the art of witchcraft and doesn’t calls himself a witch (yet), but he really enjoys how pure rituals are and how its all about being thankful for what we have and what we receive, how green traditional witchcraft is about old traditions and nature. It’s such a blessing if you ask me, if your partner is totally okay with you as the person that you are 😀

Imbolc_5

In this case his life is like one of a fairy tale, every time he comes home, that witch is on the couch (or somewhere else in our house, cooking, or whatever) hahaha.

Okay, time to close my screen and hop on to the kitchen and make some Imbolc nommies, a cake! (Will post a picture of that later on our Instagram page)

I wish you all a happy and Blessed Imbolc💚

Love,
Bren💚