To all the people that keep policing others about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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Everyone know what the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is. To raise awareness to a serious disease, people are challenged to throw a bucket of icy water on their bodies or encouraged to donate money to develop research and treatments. For those of you who don’t know how serious ALS is, this is the ALSA description of the sickness:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.” 

It should all be very simple, get wet and/or donate, until social media pricks started questioning it and speaking out about how things “should be done”. This is some of the ideas some people shared against the challenge, and my take on each one:

1) America is wasting tones of water, meanwhile in Africa people struggle with thirst. 

I agree with the idea behind this statement, which is: don’t waste something that others need to survive. But, at the same time, I can’t help but wonder why thirst in Africa is somehow a more important issue than contributing to find a treatment or a cure for ALS. How do we evaluate which cause is more pressing? And why do we feel entitled to criticize people that choose one cause over the other?

More importantly, if you really want to criticize the way people waste water, let’s agree that this one bucket per person will not make a huge difference in the long run. Tackling daily situations where you could be saving water and making it a priority is a better way to go, since its something that can and should be done every single day. What would make a huge difference overall is:

– don’t use your dishwasher or washing machine when it’s only half full;

– don’t spend more than 15 minutes in the shower, there’s no need for that;

– don’t let the water running on the sink while you brush your teeth;

– check your house and work place for leaks regularly.

For more tips, check out the Water Use It Wisely website. They have more than 100 ideas of little things you can introduce to your routine to really use water wisely.

2) ALS is a serious debilitating disease, don’t waste water. Just donate, they really need it. 

The other day a facebook friend posted a video of a woman showing off pieces of paper with facts about ALS and arguing that they need a donation more than they need a bucket of icy water dumped on your head. On her last frame, she sows off a hundred dollar bill saying that would be her donation for the cause. If you refuse to take the challenge because you have the means to make a donation and you prefer to do it, good for you.That’s awesome that you can contribute this way. But do you have to publicize it on social media and make a statement that your donation is more important then the acts of all the other people that helped raise awareness to the illness? I personally feel it is incredibly rude to imply that those that froze their entire bodies are greedy people that are not willing to make a donation. Other people may not have the money, so they dumped the icy water and promoted it on social media, challenging others to do it. Others that might be willing to make a donation, no matter the amount, and continue to spread the word. Each person helps the way they can, donating because you have the means doesn’t make you better than anyone.

3) ALS is important, but so are other diseases such as cancer, ms, and etc. Why are you not making a donation to them?

We all understand there is several serious illnesses that debilitate and kill human beings daily. And there is several other organizations that need donations to fund researches and treatments. By making a donation or raising awareness to one specific disease or one specific organization people are choosing to support a cause, not dismissing or forgetting there is others to be supported. Individuals can’t embrace the world and solve all the problems at the same time. But they can step up and help one cause when there’s an opportunity or a new campaign. Nobody needs you telling them there’s other causes out there, and making them feel bad about choosing one.

My point with this text is to tell all the people that keep policing others on social media and making their savvy comments that some things don’t need to be criticized or combated or challenged. They just need to run its course. It’s ok to be part of the mainstream sometimes, just join the trend. To me, this is one of the times we should be celebrating the power of social media and a well crafted marketing campaign to raise awareness to an organization and a disease. We should be pointing out that by some reason so many people came together and dumped feeling waters on themselves as a sign of solidarity, generosity and humanity. How beautiful is that?

 

Lean In: How to be a powerful and influential woman in the workplace

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Since I moved to Charlotte, 3 months ago, I have been attending different networking events to get to know more people in the area. I want to know people like me, who are very passionate about empowering women, having a positive impact in the community and creating media content that stimulates people to think critically. Other ex-pats who have multiple backgrounds and know how to use their diversity into their advantage when it comes to the workplace.

Last thursday was my first time joining the Lean In discussion group. The title of the meeting was Power, Influence and Violence, and we had two discussion topics:

1. Power and influence in the office: ​How body language, speech and actions can affect your authority and approachability.

2. Power, influence and violence in our lives: Constructing valuable dialogs​

Our discussion started with how you position yourself during meetings to best achieve your goal and be heard by your peers in different industries and how you alternate authority and approachability roles according to the circumstances. That itself was such a life lesson, I left the meeting thinking and reenacting all the professional encounters I had where I felt that I could have been more emphatic about my point of view, but I didn’t force the issue because I didn’t want to be perceived as another bitchy woman.  I came to the conclusion that most of the times I hold my tongue to maintain the idea that I am a pleasant person, open to dialogue and willing to give in to sustain a peaceful working atmosphere. But, at the same time, behaving like that might have prevented me from showing others how confident I am in myself and my ability to do a good job. I might have, unintentionally, played low for too long. And just by having the notion that this was something I need to work on is so important for my professional development.

The conversation took us on to so many other topics that relates to how women are viewed by others in society, how the media portrays us and what we can do as women to help others succeed, starting for instance on how you educate your kids. In a way, things I am more familiar with discussing.

Overall, an awesome night with awesome powerful, educated, influential women whose ultimate goal is the same: succeed in their careers. I left wanting to know more about Lean In – Women, work and the will to lead, a book written by Sheryl Sanberg which is the main reason this meeting exists, and the Levo League, an international community to empower professional women that recently open up a Local office in Charlotte.

Love, naturally

There is a Brazilian popular song called “Deixa Acontecer [let it happen]”, by Revelação, that tells the story of a couple who is in different syncronies: the girl is madly in love with the guy, but he doesn’t feel the same way, so he asks her to let love happen naturally, to have patience and he promises he will overcome his fears of falling in love again with her help.

 

It may seem odd to write about a song who is not known by its poetic lyrics or by the music quality or innovation. It’s just a popular entertaining song, a huge success amongst Brazilians. Even if a Brazilian is not a fan of pagode or Revelação, there is a fair chance he or she can sing along the chorus without issues. It is catchy, oh so catchy!

Why write about it, then?

First of all, it has been on my mind since yesterday. It is stuck deep in there, so maybe it will help me forget it for a little bit. Again, catchy.

Another thing is: pedantic intellectuals would never, ever confess that sort of thing. Some people judge things exclusively according to their taste and to me this is just a waste of time, a narrow view that only reinforces what they know and like. I am not a fan of the band, or the genre for that matter, but why not give credit when its due? This song has a  very clear and contemporary message: let love happen naturally. And this is what draws me to it.

Scrolling down my facebook timeline the other day, I found a post from a very popular page called Humans of New York where a woman states that “If I feel like there’s a chance of losing someone, I’ll always try to be the one that backs out first”. If you are familiar with the page, you know they always post a picture of the person interviewed and a quote of their conversation.

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That quote stuck with me for a few days, then the song, and I felt like they had the same underlying topic: fear of relationships. It is something universal. Not to be cliche, but I am sure yesterday night at a bar somewhere two friends sat down between beers (or cosmopolitans, or caipirinhas, or martinis, or pisco sour, or merlot) and had a conversation about relationships. Maybe the guy was complaining the girl expected more than he could give, because he didn’t feel the same way. Maybe the girl was interpreting his distance as a sign that he would dump her, and she decided to break things up before getting so deep emotionally involved that she would surely get hurt. Maybe it was the other way around.

When did we become so afraid of love that we feel the need not to feel it? Or, at least, to believe that we don’t feel it. How many times after breaking up because she was too demanding or he was too sticky we come to realize that maybe we loved them all along?

When did we start putting up barriers to avoid being hurt and setting ourselves boundaries to contain our emotions?  When did we start thinking about relations strategically? Oh, if I send a text at 3 a.m saying I miss her she will misinterpret as a booty call and she will lose interest. Oh, its saturday afternoon and if I call him now to make plans for tonight I might seem too desperate. How much of life and love are we missing by taking the safer route?

Sometimes, I think we are getting it all wrong. We are letting our brain take control of things that are not measurable, touchable or reasonable. And, in the process, we lose our minds with all the variables, possibilities and interpretations we are drawn to consider before making any relationship decision. Why not let things flow more naturally? Why not follow our hearts? They are pure muscle, you know? Work it and they will only become stronger.In this sense, the song sets a good example. Yes, the guy says he is scared of falling in love, but he also asks her for help to love again and he implies that because of her help their love may grow and be eternal. Their love, not their relationship I must say. But he is willing to try, and that is all it takes. Lets it happen naturally.

Movie exposes misinterpreted Hannah Arendt

 

Hannah Arendt is nowadays praised as one of the most important political theorists and philosophers of the 20th century, something that seem inconsistent with the many reviews her texts about the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 got at the time of its publication. The movie, entitled after her, recounts this episode, from the moment she offered herself to serve as The New Yorker reporter, her thought and writing process and the public’s response to the publication of her article and, later, book.

It is fascinating when somebody theorizes her own life experiences, or the experiences of her own generation, objectively. A sensible point of view, avoiding the danger of simplifying events, is something hard to conquer, and in her case, hard to advocate. Many people seemed to think Arendt was making excuses for Eichmann’s behavior, and consequently for the nazis behavior as a whole, when in reality she was reporting the perception Eichmann had of his own actions. He portrayed himself as a bureaucrat, someone who was merely following orders and not necessarily understood the consequences of what he did daily while working for Hitler’s government. From his perspective, all he did was sign documents and follow orders. Adolf Eichmann, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, was responsible for several deportation proceedings, including the transportation of over 1.5 million Jews from all over Europe to killing centers located in occupied areas of  Poland and the Soviet Union while working for the Clearing Activities division of the Gestapo between 1940 and March 1941.  As a result of the trial held in Jerusalem, Israel, in 1961, Eichmann was found guilt and sentenced to death. He was hanged in June, 1962, his body was cremated and his ashes were spread at sea, beyond Israeli waters.

Many of Arendt’s friends and fellow scholars expected a jewish woman and a concentration camp survivor to be more emphatic on his active responsibility in regards to the numerous deaths. Not only that, they never expected she would public blame part of Jewish leaders for their participation on the persecution of their own people, being known some gave valuable information on other Jews to nazis in exchange for their personal protection.

For so many reasons, Hannah Arendt is a must-see. From the recount of a historic episode to the discussion of philosophical, academic and scientific standards her work stand for, it is impossible to leave the room without reflecting about World War II, the banality of evil, to use Arendt’s phrasing, and what sort of changes society went through since 1940. Ultimately, it makes us think about the past that shaped what the world is now and it leaves us questioning the notion that we would learn from our mistakes, since ethnic and religion differences are still factors for crimes against humanity nowadays.

* A friendly reminder for those who don’t appreciate captions: Hannah Arendt is not an american movie, but most of it is spoken in English.

#GipsyFeelings

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Moving to different countries and states brings a very specific mix of feelings, from extreme enthusiastic anxiety to deep self doubting despair. It all starts with the notion that you can do it, it won’t be a challenge, on the contrary, it is a change much needed. New opportunities ahead, new horizons, a clean slate, a fresh fresh start. Its all very exciting, you can feel butterflies on your stomach, you research everything you can about the new city and you start to believe it is way better than the place you live now. Sometimes that is totally the case, but after moving you also realize that you might have been too hard on your criticisms and too enthusiastic on your praise.

The first time you visit, if you’ve never been, is as awesome as you would expect. Maybe better. Each restaurant or bar discovery is treasured, you start picking your favorite local spots and soon your choices will give hints of your taste, your social persona, your identity. It is very cool to see the neighborhoods with tourists eyes, get to know them, form an opinion and choose your new home accordingly. Having local tips, reading local news and blogs always helps.

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Packing is always a hustle. The troubling thing is, most of the time, we decide we need to take with us more stuff than we actually need. It is a good opportunity to let some things go, maybe that old high school jeans that doesn’t fit anymore, the one you keep just to make sure you stay on your diet. It helps a little bit, but no results so far, years have gone and the button still doesn’t close. Let it go!

Lastly, as moving day comes around the corner, you get that rush of worries: what if it doesn’t work out? What if I don’t fit in? What if I can’t find a job or make new friends? What if? Truth is, “what if’s” are conjunctures we conceive when we take risks, when we fear the consequences and doubt our decisions. There’s no way we can know if all the “what if’s” will become reality, not unless we decide to live, face the challenges and the fears. That might not be easy, but for some reason you thought a change was necessary, so stick to your instincts and give it a try. It might actually surprise you!

The Job Experience

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Being silent for a while has been a lesson about myself. Even when I was working 50 or 60 hours a week this past few months, my mind would write incredible verses, sentences, opening lines for a possible book. And as soon as reality came crushing, the words so craftily arranged on the back if my eyes would dissipate and be lost forever.

I started paying attention to people around me for the sole purpose of creating interesting, top notch characters. I saw my body detaching from the moment and moving backwards, like I wasn’t experiencing everything that was happening in front of me and my body was just a shallow robot following mechanic orders. Then again, I was working 60 hours a week, I was so tired it might have been the only way I found to cope with it all. Cope with the 10 hour work shifts, the low paying job I had.

I started working for Limited Brands at their warehouse last september thinking I would be the only one with a degree. Presumptuous, I know. I quickly realized some people there had BAs in Creative Writing and Masters in Marketing. It didn’t make me feel any better that I wasn’t the only one overeducated.

Single moms and teen moms were going after money to raise their children, hoping the seasonal position would became a full time job eventually. That would be ideal, because then they would have access to benefits, health insurance, security. Sometimes, that can be an overrated concept, but not in their situation. Substitute teachers looked for stability, an extra source of income, anything to help them pay their house mortgage and their holiday expenses. Married moms were looking for a way back into the job market.

When things got rough, women cried, picked fights or ran away, never coming back. They were either fired or just resigned, backed up by Ohio work laws. Here, differently than in Brazil, you are allowed to abandon your job without notice. You can also be fired and loose everything overnight.

It was certainly an emotional, stressful experience. But maybe, just maybe, it was the first step I had to go through to have a better job next time.

More authenticity, less excuses

by Marcele Folgati 

While talking to my single friends, I could observe a common feeling amongst them: they are not happy about being single and they blame men’s behavior for that.  Ok, we understand. But let’s think about it, go a little deeper into the matter and maintain an open mind?

It is a fact that many men nowadays don’t want a relationship, perhaps because they are afraid of women, or maybe they are immature, they even might not want a relationship and that’s it. But my focus in this text will be the women’s side and the phrasing: “I am single because men don’t want anything serious”. Who never heard anything like it?  I see things in this attitude that worries me. My first worry is the idea that being single is something bad, which is not. The second is not being the owner of your own frustration. We have the right to be sad, hurt and skeptical, who never got involved with the wrong person and had to seek her friends for comfort? Even the wrong person taught us something, it is part of a phase of your life. Truth is, there is no right or wrong, at that time the wrong seemed right, didn’t he? What we have to deal with, in truth, is our choices and consequences.  When deceptions seemed to happen over and over, feeling like history is repeating itself, it is time to stop and think on what we are seeking for, and what sort of men we are attracting. Change the pattern in ourselves might be a good way to find new ways to relate to others.

We, the women, own our lives and only we have the power to decide what we want, from the jacket we choose to use on a colder day to the type of relationship we want to have, a friendship or a sexual  or an emotional relationship. We are responsible for our choices and we need to be conscious of that.

There is a text published in a facebook page from Brazil that ended up going viral. On it, a girl (let’s call her Martha) states that the more time she spends being single, the more she wants to stay that way — Super well-resolved, isn’t she? No! After that statement, Martha explains how disappointed she is with the number of unfaithful guys she knows, men that don’t respect their girlfriends. However, the other day, she was involved with a guy that received a text message from his girlfriend saying: “I love you so much, I can’t wait for us to be together forever”. The guy closed his cell phone and continued to kiss Martha. Again: let’s think a little more about it? Even if Martha didn’t know about his girlfriend, when she chose to stand by his side after reading the message, she became as responsible as he for the situation, right? But to our protagonist, the problem wasn’t hers. She completes: “I felt relieved for being there just for being”. That’s the point: why would she consider herself exempt? We need to understand that being responsible for our choices is, in fact, freeing. Instead of doing that, Martha, like so many others, prefers to hide behind the “mistakes others make”.

The key to live intensively is to surrender yourself, and there is no surrendering without the willingness to embrace the vulnerabilities of life. In order to do that, it is important for us to not approve behaviors that might go against our values. I am not talking about false moralism, but about respecting yourself. If for Martha the indifference of a guy towards his girlfriend is shocking, I ask myself why she sustained that behavior? Why did she kept kissing him? It is said that men betray more than women, but I believe they betray equally and one doesn’t do without the other.

Going back to the beginning, your happiness cannot be conditioned to others. “I’d rather be alone because I am afraid of what I see around”? Why not staying single simply because being single is also very good? It is a phase in our lives with more freedom, filled with uncertainty and delightful surprises.

Let’s live! Surrender yourself. After all, being single, dating, engaged or married, we are all, always — again, ALWAYS! — subject to the twists of life and our would may be turned upside down overnight and what we thought was right escapes to our control. It is good when it is like this, simple. I’ll finish it up with a song I used to hear all the time in  my teens: “Girl put your records on, tell me your favorite song… Just go ahead, let your hair down…”.

BIO:

Marcele Folgati is a Brazilian journalist, one of my closest friends, and she kindly agreed to write (again!) a piece for quirksmag. For that, I am extremely grateful. 

If you liked this text, please visit Marcele’s last text, Punta del Este: where beach and countryside come together.