Spotlight on Fvert

Special Feature 10/23/2021
Fvert

Meet Fvert: A Future Funk music producer from Spain, who welcomes us to the ‘New Future Funk Era’, stating he ‘Just makes Future Funk’ and he ‘Hopes you like it’. He’s a member of Nightfall Collective as well as of Neon Japan Records and he loves UniBe@t. That is about all we’re going to get from his social media bio’s, but alright, here’s Fvert on Spotify.

My Kind of Music, with Fvert

How To Make BURNING JEALOUSY Still Sound FUNKY ASF.

Whoaa, today we’re going to Madrid, Spain, my fav country of all time! All you who have been following the blog know how much I love it there. The weather, the food, the people, it’s like coming home to us, every time.  But enough of that, today’s guest is a very young and very talented Future Funk music producer and I’m excited to tell a little bit about him and to share his music. Well a part of it, because he’s been pretty busy already and has released his music on several platforms. So let me start off with the first track he released on SoundCloud, about a year ago and so very sweet.

I don’t even want to think about how young Fvert was when he started producing music, I’ll leave it up to him to reveal that later, or not. But it’s obvious right from the start, there’s definitely talent there. Fvert released his first EP not much after that first track on SoundCloud, the album ‘Music Heaven’, where you can find his ‘early’ work lol. Man but this sounds almost ridiculous, but it just proves how young my previous Spotlights must have been when they started producing music as well. Most of them are in their twenties now – still pretty young – but are well experienced and know the drill. The same will happen with Fvert, since his enthusiasm and joy clearly shows through his music. No need to fake anything, this shit’s real.

Running into one of the most cheeky mixes of that One really cool hit EVERYONE knows.. Really made me smile. If there’s one thing that will always appeal to me, it’s the fun aspect. If it’s not clear the creator had fun putting it together, how would that even reflect positively on others? Well, Fvert got it. Listening to his music, I can only say, has been a real joy. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but Future Funk basically came to me as sort of a side dish with all of the jazzy/groovy/funky stuff I was already listening to whole of my life. Don’t get me wrong, but the genre feels like a natural evolvement of all that. And yes, reviving great memories for sure. I’m a sucker for it, I know.

Nice transitions, funky beats, loads of recognizable samples (and loads I’m still figuring out 😂), crispy chops and sunny vibes all over. What more can a girl ask for? It does feel a bit like music heaven tbh. Since I’m the upbeat type of girl, Fvert’s discography is certainly speaking to my soul, music made to dance and feel happy. And how did I even find him you may ask? I think we saw each other pass on social media while trying to help out a friend in need. And – yes I sound like a broken record – we may or may not have seen each other during Discoholic’s streams.. So sue me. I already mentioned that musical rabbit hole and I’m thoroughly enjoying it, just going with the flow ya know. Because yes, Fvert’s music falls into the right category…

Anyways, we became online friends after he responded to one of my IG stories and I started to share his music. Yeah that would do the trick hehe. But seriously, my first real introduction with Future Funk was when I discovered FIBRE, and I’m still grateful for that. Having him as this year’s first Spotlight was so worth the wait and I know, he’s one of Fvert’s music heroes, because he told me this himself. When I asked him if he was interested in doing a little interview and gave him the link to check out my site one of his first reactions was, I quote: ‘The page looks so great. And also big artists there…I saw FIBRE’. Yep. Y’all know how big of a fangirl I am and I can’t stress enough, how much some artists mean to me. Their music always lifts my mood, flavoring my day.

When I’d noticed Montaime started following me on SoundCloud – so unbelieveably cute! – and shared my thanks, Fvert responded with, I quote: ‘Lol, that would be a dream for me’. Well dreams do come true sometimes you know! I’m confident Fvert fits in with the heroes list perfectly, it certainly is one name y’all should be on the lookout for. If it wasn’t for all those cool artists, this site would pretty much suck, so it works both ways and if you want to support Fvert in buying some of his music, Bandcamp is the place to be. The first release there is the album ‘Fvert Year (2020) vol​. 1’, containing 18 tracks, which you may recognize from SoundCloud. So this is your chance to shine a little light and appreciation on his work, he deserves it.

One of my best friends is living in Spain – near Madrid in fact – and she kept me posted about how things were going during the pandemic. Fortunately she made the best of it and gave it all a turn for the better. Fvert obviously did the same, producing singles with titles like ‘Quarantine’ and ‘Wear a mask plz’. It hasn’t been an easy time, but seeing young people actually using their talent to help make others more aware of the situation is totally awesome. At the same time, Fvert shows his sense of humor, when he releases a single on Bandcamp, which you can buy for the amazing price of just €420 – for those of you who don’t know, the clue is in the amount, yeah you can Google that – and adds the comment, I quote: ‘If you buy this you are dumb’. Whoopsies.

Never take yourself too seriously. That’s what I keep telling myself, because somehow, that never seems to end well. Following Fvert online, there’s no doubt he frequently laughs at himself. Honestly, from what I’ve seen so far, you can’t survive in the music business without a healthy dose of irony, aimed at yourself. Maybe it helps starting out that young, though I also know, teen years can be the most vulnerable. Being able to laugh at yourself will get you a long way in brushing off the haters. I may not be a producer, but believe you me, I know what I’m talking about. Some of my best memories are from me laughing at myself before other kids could and dissing them at the same time, because they thought they were being funny. Sorry-not-sorry 😉

Going forward, Fvert released a whole new album called ‘Burning Jealousy’, the 25th of September this year. ‘Flashbacks’ is the closing track of that album and it delivers some very groovy Future Funk. The album title as well as all the song titles clearly speak for themselves: we all can relate to unrequited love and what kind of emotions it sparks. Jealousy, burning or not, is mostly topping the list. Young or not, those feelings can be all too real – I hated when people wouldn’t take me serious going through something similar when I was younger myself. Age doesn’t matter, the only thing that could change, is how we deal with it. The album is a collab with Cherry Condos, with whom he already released one track on SoundCloud earlier, called ‘My Love’.

You can be assured to find the songs added to my weekly SGM playlist since they’re all very well fitting. Now I can’t tell you much about Cherry Condos, but I did ask Fvert to tell us a bit about this collab, so we’ll have to wait and see what he’s got to say about it. However, the album feels like a perfect get-together and the end result is a juicy piece of music for us to dig into. Having followed the discussion online about the Wikipedia Future Funk page and how things are not quite correctly named, I’ll just leave it with the same thing I said before: Future Funk? It’s Past Funk for me, making me feel the music again (and again).

What is most important to me, is where Future Funk is coming from and what is basically contains, the latter topping MY list. The use of samples of songs by artists from the 70’s till the 90’s and then specifically from my fav genres like Funk/Jazz/Disco, makes the genre very approachable and an overall joy to listen to. I keep repeating myself, but it’s just so much fun to hear the appreciation for a music era that could have gone and passed without a second thought, but is now thoroughly being revived. I’ll keep my ears and eyes open, for whatever else is said about it, but in a way, and don’t get me wrong, it really doesn’t matter all that much to me. I get it might be important to those who actually produce it, but music should only tell me one thing: Does it Get to Me?

As a listener, music needs to reach my heart and soul. If it doesn’t go beyond my ears, it’s not for me. Which is fine, because there’s more than enough for everyone to enjoy. But as a Funk girl at heart, it’s exactly That, that will resonate and cling to me. However, if there’s one thing the Spotlights have taught me, it is to stay open to new musical experiences. And yes, I said STAY open, because Funk was definitely not the only thing I listened to when growing up. With an oldest brother who loved to dive into the more alternative music culture, I followed suit. Anyone who has read My Kind of Music 1 and 2, will be aware of that. So yes, I always try to stay openminded, though there are some genres that are definitely not my cuppa tea. Not Fvert’s music though. There’s no question whether it found my heart or not.

Fvert was fortunately pretty eager to go along with an interview, as a matter of fact, after I sent him the email with my questions, he replied, I quote: ‘I’ll answer them in a bit, will take some time on thinking about the answers haha’. After I reassured him he could take all the time he needed, he still came back later that day, saying, I quote: ‘Is it okay if I don’t send you the answers today and I do the thing tomorrow?’ Aaw, I do love it when artists are into it that much, but I told him to Pleaase take his time 🙂. This is exactly one of the reasons why I love my Spotlight artists so much though, most of them have been so cool about the whole thing, never been interviewed before and so much fun to work with. It’s why they’ve found a place in my heart, forever.

We’re reaching the end of my usual little ramblings and I’m hoping you have taken some time already to listen to some of Fvert’s music. I can’t stop thinking about where Fvert will be, say like 10 years from now. The talent he’s shown so far is already up there, so it’s going to be fun watching him grow not only in age but also – hopefully lol – in wisdom and creativity. As always, you can find all the links to his music profiles below, if you’ve missed them earlier and please, give his music a try on whichever platform you prefer. I’m just saying, my joy could be yours and it’s the reason why I’m sharing his music today.

This leaves me with only these last words: BIG Thank You Fvert! So far you’re the youngest interviewee on the blog – though there might just be coming someone soon who’s a bit younger still – and it’s been my pleasure to have you as my guest today! Your music is fun and funky and I’m looking forward to more from you in the future! We’ll keep in touch and I will add you to my Spotlight page as soon as possible, where you will stay indefinitely. For now, I’m going to end with the only track left from your new album, which should lift us all to another dimension.


The Interview

Let’s start with the obvious: can you please introduce yourself and tell us, who is Fvert? Where does the name come from, does it have a special meaning? Do you play any instruments yourself and/or do you, sing?

‘Fvert is just a Spanish guy who likes Future Funk LMAO. The funny thing is that Fvert doesn’t really have a meaning hahaha, the name just came up because I was chatting with a friend and I just spammed my keyboard, and Fvert came as a result, you can also see that the letters are so close to each other, I just thought it was a cool nickname and grabbed it hahaha. I played the guitar for 3 years when I was like 6, I’m not a really good musician haha, but I’m retaking it, really wanna learn’.

When and how did you start making music? How would you describe your music? Have you ever considered/tried, other genres? Where do you get your inspiration from? Who do you look up to in the music scene, how have they influenced you?

‘Hmm, everything started when my dad played a psytrance set on a travel we were doing, I liked it and started listening to electronic music, this was in 2016. I got stuck in genres like trap ( I was a big trap nation fan) and Future bass, even when I got my first computer 2 years later I tried to produce something, but I didn’t got anything good and left that over there.

Then in 2019 I discovered Future Funk, I quickly got the hang of it and liked it so much, then in March the virus got us all into a quarantine. I had so much free time and I started learning how to produce it. I was always trying to make songs with a desired style, but one day I was listening to new music on Artzie (since I was a bit new to the genre) and I found “Konnichiwa” by Unibe@t, that song is the reason why I’m here now. It made me realize that there was actually something else to do instead of just adding drums to an 80’s Japanese song, that is when I started making Fvert’s music style. I’ll describe my beats as something innovative and fresh to listen to, I always try to blend new sounds into the samples I use to make my music.

About the people that had influenced me, I could mention so so many names, such as FIBRE, desired, ev.exi, BarbWalters, Tokyo wanderer, tendencies, but I think the one that has done the most for helping me and inspiring me was Unibe@t, he made me realize that I need to do what I like and to not care what other people say about my way of being or producing, and the most important thing, to be unique’.

Can you tell us about at least one highlight and why was this so special for you? What do you hope to achieve with your music, as in, what are your goals?

‘I remember a year ago, I got followed by ev.exi and then by unibe@t in the same day, I could never forget that day, it was awesome to see how the producers that you love and you are getting inspired by, actually feel your stuff. I expect to get a million plays on my songs someday, that would be sick, but honestly the thing I care about the most is just doing music I like and still vibing with this awesome genre’.

Very recently one of your songs, ‘ Shadows’, was released on an album by Neon Japan records. Can you give a little bit of a background story as how this came to be? I believe some of your friends are also present on that same album?

‘I started chopping that sample like a year ago, I got inspired by a desired tune with it at that time. Did some chopping, but didn’t get a clear idea, then I retook it a year ago, made a fat bass with it and used some weird kicks, in my opinion, it’s a banger. I like it, and also the time I’ve spent producing it, it’s worth it for the result I got. I really wanted to also help my NJR bros and so I just said if they could put them on the volume 1 album and they said yeah, it resulted in one of the favorite songs in the compilation according to the members, but not as good as the Pure Pure banger there lol’.

Right after that, you released an album together with Cherry Condos, called ‘Burning Jealousy’. Can you tell us a bit about how the album came together? How did the collab happen and how does it feel to have a whole album out there?

‘It is funny that the whole thing started because we got paired on an event in the R/Future Funk discord server, I really didn’t know about cherry before that, he just typed me a few days before asking me for a drumpack I think. Then we did our Collab song “My Love” and I really liked how we worked together, something comfortable and funny to do. So I just asked him if he wanted to do a split album, and now here we are hahaha.

I really enjoyed doing this and people really like it, which is nice. I’ve never got a physical release of my music, and now I’m so thankful Alan from Coraspect Records accepted the album as a part of its catalogue, I just need to thank all of you who helped me during this journey’.

In fact, al your releases on Spotify alone, are from this year. Is there more coming? What can we expect in the – near – future from Fvert? More collabs, or more solo projects?

‘I am not a Spotify fan, if I’m honest I don’t like it, always loved sharing my tunes on SoundCloud, but I really wanted people to enjoy my music wherever they want, so I just made a Spotify account, and will be working more on it. I’m actually working on some music, some few more collabs and more stuff, since I’m taking a bit more time with my production style I can’t release songs so quickly, anyways something big is coming for the next year, and yeah, some more collabs with my bros :)’.

What would your first advice be to anyone who starts producing music? What has been the most valuable piece of advice you yourself got, regarding producing music?

‘Be patient, sometimes you can’t find a good sample or even get a good result on your projects, you just need to don’t stress yourself and if you need some breaks, just take them. When you are forced to do something you won’t ever get a good result, so just take the music as a hobby and some way to have fun.

And also, if you have any questions or you want to know how to do something that another producer does, just ask them, they can really help you and answer so many questions. In my case, it worked and so well, just be nice to them and try your best and be understanding :). The most valuable tip I got regardless producing music was about how to write a bass, FIBRE and ev.exi had helped me a lot with it, and I really need to thank you dudes’.

Is there anything else you would like to add/share, with the readers? Anything I did not ask about maybe?

‘I’ll just say that I am so grateful for the support I’ve been having during this years, you are such awesome people. Hope you’ll keep enjoying my jams and grooving even more with every new release.

I need to specially thank all my close internet friends; Your Tea, Lolicombat, Pure Pure, the mf Shanpu, Nes, Cherry Condos, Goodbye, Oceanus… This list is too Big to name it in here hahaha, also, the whole NJR collective, Nightfall, the r/Future Funk discord server, Coraspect Records, The New Cyanblue, and specially mommy Wien for making this possible <3′.


Again, Big thanks to Fvert! So cool to have young people talk about their music and dreams! And to you my readers: Yes, I go by many names, you just have to keep up people! Please give Fvert’s music a listen, you can do that right here:

Follow Fvert on: SoundCloudBandcampSpotifyInstagram Twitter

Wishing y’all a Happy Funky Weekend! The Future is Now!

Spotlight on OPTML

Special Feature 10/16/2021
OPTML
(Another Awesome Portrait made by the Lovely Instantreigen)

Meet OPTML: A house producer and DJ Based in America. Inspired by house music from the late 90’s from Daft Punk, DJ Sneak and Gene Farris, OPTML seeks to bring back classic vibes and make you groove. After forming the label Cockatiel records in 2018, it has been their goal to push boundaries and make people dance along with other artists such as Radd, Monte Hills and STEB. Source: About OPTML, Spotify.

Our Kind of Music, with OPTML

HOW IT FEELS? Believe Me, NOT THE SAME.

WHY? Because YES, you read that correctly, today’s about OUR Kind of Music, spiced up with a nice surprise for y’all, because today, for the very first time, I Have a Co-Writer!!

Let me introduce to you my very talented, very enthusiastic and very eloquent friend and Co-Writer of the day: Smittz! Another friend found in the Discoholic spheres and one that stole my heart because of his absolute magnificent, magical way with words. And oh yeah, his musical insight. How can I not be a sucker for that, tell me huh?! 

Smittz – Twitter

We were joking about the above a little while ago when I mentioned it would be great to have him write a piece to add to a Spotlight. Well Evil Wien – she’s been busy lately – dropped a little bomb only yesterday and asked him if he wanted to play a part. Really mean, because I basically counted on the fact he could not resist the offer muhaha. BUT seriously, I’m so grateful he wanted in on this because it makes this Spotlight all the better for it. I am positive he will out-write me and if so, it would only proof my point: He’s just as amazing as today’s Spotlight herself.

I asked him to choose a couple of tracks and to give his vision on them, or as he said so himself, I quote: ‘Creatively dissect’. I gave him total freedom, trusting in the fact he would be able to add something extra/special to this Spotlight, even, or especially so, if we would incidentally choose the same track…and whaddayaknow…You’ll find his amazing additions in Blue. He’s been writing until the early morning hours, I know this, because I literally saw him working on the google docs document – named ‘Colorfully Expressin” 🥰 – he allowed me to edit. I rest my case. Mind you, OPTML only found out about this when she got her first exclusive look (like, an hour ago)

We fly out to Tennessee to get some heat baby! How I wish, because temperatures there would certainly agree with me! If you remember – I know, it’s been a while, but c’mon – the Spotlight on Mr. Hoosteen, you may have noticed a shoutout to today’s guest. It’s a bit tricky for those of you who haven’t heard about her yet, because she is releasing music under different names. Yeah, I only found out about that recently. I will introduce all aliases here today, hoping to avoid any confusion on your behalf in the future. I promise the heat is on when you discover the manifold treasure that is called OPTML. I’m going to quick start with her, since this is her main profile and I got to meet her thus, blowing my mind with a track that seems to be written for me.

‘Man, it’s become a task in its own right just to keep track of all the great artists I’ve had the privilege of getting to know this past year – both musically and personally! Following Discoholic’s online presence immediately led to a treasure trove of independent artists coming to my attention, and among them were OPTML and the members of the label she runs, Cockatiel Records.

Even as someone who only recently hopped on this groovy express train, it feels like I haven’t missed a beat thanks to the picture OPTML paints through her music and interactions with other producers. It’s similarly stunning how rich of a career she’s been able to build up over the course of only a few years – with two LPs and a myriad of EPs and singles under her belt, there’s no sign of stopping for this musical maneuverer. And to think I haven’t even touched on her music itself yet!

It’s tough to choose just a few favorite tracks from their library, but I’d say the ones that resonate with me the most have got to be…’

So yes, we ‘met’ through Mr. Hoosteen – with Discoholic as our binding factor, can’t escape my No.1 artist – and together with the previous Spotlight on Instantreigen, it feels I’m completing a trilogy. Or am I? Since another musician friend is already lined up for a future Spotlight…It’s always so much fun to see how one Spotlight leads to another and I’ve seem to be fallen into another musical rabbit hole. Including the wicked Spotlight twist of ending up with a co-writer! It also means, I’ve been diving into more House music lately and I just want to be upfront with y’all, there’s still much to learn for me. Again, for me what counts is ‘How It Feels’, and in honor of Mr. Hoosteen – and because my co-writer is giving me a little bit of that today 😉 – here’s his version.

You all know I used to hate Spotify with a vengeance, but that has changed drastically. Now I am very much aware that it’s not a fav streaming service among artists and I fully comprehend why, but still, this was where I looked up OPTML first. I immediately fell in love with the album ‘Cœur De France’, where – you guessed it – ‘How It Feels’ is part of. The track was already added to my Some Groovy Medicine playlist at the end of June this year, but, as I tweeted earlier, since I recently got more followers – I flip out over every new one – I might as well add tracks anew, to reach a bigger audience this time. Tbh, even if someone would go through my SGM archive, the best tracks are destined to be heard multiple times, preferably on a loop. Just keep groovin’ y’all.

‘I can relate, having heard not great things about Spotify and its distribution process before picking it up at the beginning of this year. While I still understand and mostly hold the same sentiment, on a purely functional level the platform’s treated me pretty amazingly when it comes to keeping up listening habits and finding new artists – I guess you just have to feed its algorithms a specific kinda stuff to get worthwhile results. But I’m getting off-topic here!

How It Feels is a great opener to an even greater album, introducing a really sweet but mature mood that’s carried throughout the LP. The track’s intro section raises interest very well, laying some foundation with minimal percussion accompanied by only the sparkly chord stabs, and you can hear them present for the rest of the track’s runtime even after the main vocal sample and bassline take prominence. Not that I mind it in the least, the sample’s incredibly catchy and its usage here is top-notch!’

But enough about that track when there’s so, so much more! If you wish to check out OPTML’s whole discography, I recommend Bandcamp, where she is operating under different names. When we got to talk a little about her music, one of the first things she told me about were her different aliases, I quote: OPTML is my main stuff for music, then there’s Gravity Zero, which I originally started off with but changed my name as I changed the type of music I make, Gravity Zero is a bit more Techno. And finally there’s just Emily (or EMLY sometimes) and those are for very personal projects/remixes’. I realized I had some serious listening to do and find out about all three music profiles. The above mentioned track is actually from Gravity Zero’s album ‘ Mood Boosters’ and speaks for itself. Then, I just fell in love again with ‘Emily’s Edits (Vol. 1)’.

Emily’s bio on Bandcamp simply states, I quote: ‘Trans Disco DJ that likes to play with filters’. Even if I don’t get the meaning completely, I sure love the end result! Must be the very obvious Disco influences which my soul definitely gravitates to. The edits are catchy and of the happy kind, so what’s not to love. Next to a couple of albums filled with great edits/remixes, there are also a couple of albums with Emily Originals. The cover art all looks very colorful and inviting, one thing that surely tugs at my heart’s strings to go and have a serious listen. I always wonder – and sometimes see the struggle – about how artists come up with album/song titles. Y’all know it’s another one of my weaknesses, because I just can’t resist an intriguing title and they mostly prove me right…

There’s so much to discover and you only have to be ready to be pleasantly surprised, just as I am. OPTML is showing off her talents in different ways and refuses to be simply satisfied with choosing one path. This way I think it’s fairly safe to say, she offers something for everyone. You gotta take some time to sit down, listen and enjoy the variety of sounds that will be sure to tickle your ears. If you can’t find anything that pleases you, then really, What’s Wrong With You?! The Emily brand alone, released 7 albums so far and I’m sure there will be more to follow.

Sorry-not-sorry if I’m zig-zagging my way through – what’s new anyways – but let’s go back a little while to Gravity Zero. Here the bio’s only clue is ‘Techno’ and well.. It is. If you’re like me and started out with OPTML, you’ll definitely be in for something totally different now. I can’t escape the feeling of being thrown back to the 80’s (was it? I’m horrible with names and era’s, the last might be plain denial) and getting those synthwave vibes. Some tracks could’ve easily been used for those early suspense/sci-fi television series – if anyone reading is even old enough to remember 😂. So yeah, Techno is not my forte, but I’m always up for something ‘new’, stepping outside my comfort zone so to speak.  I told you this Spotlight is spiced up, and yes, that’s also what happened with my taste in music, listening to OPTML. We all need some spice of life to change things up now and then right?

Gravity Zero’s first album release was in 2018, I’d say about the same time OPTML started to release music as well. Again I’m counting 7 releases on Bandcamp, including a couple of singles, EP’s and albums. I can only be amazed when artists show this kind of creativity. In a way I’ll always compare it to the creativity I need to write – I know it’s not quite the same – and I did need a little break from that and focus on other stuff, life as it is. Seeing how much OPTML has produced in just a couple of years time is simply astounding. You should know, she’s also still studying and had to face a couple of exams while answering the questions below. All the while still busy creating new music. Just. How? She deserves for our headphones to be stuck to our ears, getting drenched in her music.

Now you may think we’ve covered all the brands that together represent OPTML, but we’re not quite there yet. I quote: ‘There’s a couple other names too like OPIUM_424 and DJ Cockatiel (a new project in the works right now) and those are also for very specific types of music, hip hop and Chicago House respectively’. When I expressed my surprise by saying: ‘O WOW, you’re one busy bee!’ the answer I got was not really what I expected. I quote: ‘No I’m just indecisive on the name I like’. Well Alrighty Then. Referring to OPIUM_424, the EP ‘Always Tired’ was released in 2020 and can also be found under the main character of this show, OPTML. Her bio mentions the same as well, I quote: ‘I’m a just bedroom producer who makes music for the fun of it. Local DJ as well’. I dunno, does OPTML ever take a break At All?

OPTML stands for 24 releases on Bandcamp alone. Pffieew. Quite a bunch of them released just this year and as mentioned before, I was swept away by the album ‘Cœur De France’. If you were an early listener, you probably caught several tracks from that album on my SGM playlist, including the bonus track, which is not included on Bandcamp. At least not as far as I can tell lol. The album to me is a brilliant mix of Disco and House, or should I say, French touch. It’s funky, with creative loops all the way through, making sure the listener never gets bored. It’s sweet with a bit of an edgy undertone here and there, which gives it all a nice little crunch. Aah well, you know how I love to compare music to food right? The album is just a very inventive dish, to tickle your taste buds. The extra track is a bonus indeed, dessert is served right here.

‘Armand’ alone was enough to catch my eye when first going through Cœur De France, guessing it was titled after a certain French Touch mastermind – and I’d say that link holds up well!

This track serves as a great way to progressively pick the album’s energy back up after the previous track Käfer was a sea of immersive synthwave, and the middle ground it strikes makes it just right to listen to even in the very early hours of the morning. (Something I am personally very, very guilty of when it comes to dance music, even at this very moment as I write this section. Who would’ve thought?)

The sampling work in Armand is once again excellent, with the thin spread of guitar helping to guide the beat along at a solid pace, and the little vocal accents that appear throughout add a really nice amount of warmth to the mix. It’s the kind of track I could just get lost in!’

When I mentioned how much I loved the album, I was recommended by OPTML’s friends to listen to ‘Back To Wax Vol. 3’ next. So I simply followed instructions and found they weren’t wrong! ‘Low And Dirty’ immediately blew me away – yeah it had me screaming okay? See I like a fair share of House, since it’s mostly giving positive vibes and that’s what we all need in life. Well, I DO. And Man, I need to get back to the DJ Cockatiel reference, because, well, I haven’t even touched this yet, but OPTML started the Cockatiel Records label not so long ago. Yep, no rest for superheroes. On top of this all, she’s also involved in the OMEAC label and yes, this is indeed run by…Mr. Hoosteen. If you like going full circle, I can assure you, OPTML has got it all covered. I’ll let her do the honors of informing you about it all. My time is up, though we’re not totally done yet… seems that Smittz has something more to add…but let’s get Low And Dirty first.

‘OPTML’s Back To Wax series of EPs is one I’ve only caught up with very recently, and I gotta say I’m kicking myself for not getting to them earlier! Each edition explores a ton of fun themes, with Vol. 1 focusing on some elegant yet danceable filter house-esque tracks, while Vol. 2 is full of ethereal acid tunes.

The third entry, however, is probably my favorite of the bunch, taking a bit more after future funk with an experimental production style – and while it was a close match between it and Koala, Shut It Down’s gotta be the best example of this.

From the moment the track starts the main riff it builds upon jumps right in your face, with a uniquely choppy combination of effects that give it just the right balance of tension and sleekness. And then the compressed horns are introduced, backed up by vocal accents that are just barely unintelligible – I’m a sucker for electronic tracks that add humanization in tiny amounts like this; it’s a great way to suspend part of the listener’s disbelief and keep things thematically interesting, even after countless plays! Speaking of which, I cannot get enough of the sample chops that first appear about a minute in, they’re so damn groovy’.

‘I was first introduced to STEB’s work through the recent release of this single, and both the original and OPTML’s spin on the track are amazingly well-done! While the original mix went for a chill, fluid housey feel, OPTML’s remix completely flips it on its head – it’s now an aggressive, venomous big beat track with some genius bits of sound design to really drive in that abstract tone. I was told by her soon after giving it a listen that this release was especially influenced by The Chemical Brothers and their work, and it immediately clicked – OPTML is someone who truly understands all the nuances behind the style of such a pioneering group! You didn’t hear this from me, but I wouldn’t doubt there’s more output like this lined up for the near future, shhh…’

Well, that’s it for now, though there’s a very cool bonus later, which I’m sure you don’t want to miss! For now, I just want to say; BIG Thank You OPTML! It’s been a ride, going through all your music and it has definitely broadened my music vision. You’re such a humble and driven person and it was great meeting you! We will for sure keep in touch, there’s no escaping me now 🙂. Now let’s hear what you have in store for us all!


The Interview

Let’s start with the obvious: Can you introduce yourself and tell us, who is OPTML? Does the name has a special meaning? When and how did you start making music? Do you play any instruments yourself or sing?

‘Hello there, I’m OPTML, and I am a DJ and producer from the state of Tennessee near the Nashville area. Because of where I live, music has always surrounded my life. Some of my earliest memories include listening to The Beatles and Queen in that car when I was a child. At an early age, I had always wanted to learn how to play an instrument. Around when I was 8 or so, my parents enrolled me in taking lessons to learn the violin, I didn’t really like it. When I was 10, I had decided I wanted to learn guitar instead, I didn’t quite like that either. I had always wanted to learn to play drums, but my parents wouldn’t allow it. However, that would all change once I entered middle school.

I had decided now was my chance, I signed up for marching/concert band with a couple of friends and the 3 of us had chosen percussion to be our instruments of choice. I believe this was the turning point into what really thrusted me into enjoying music more than anything else. Around my Junior and Senior year of high school, I started listening to a lot of House and Techno. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before. I knew that I wanted to make something like that, but I was unsure how to. I started a project called Gravity Zero and began to produce music on my laptop. I was having lots of fun doing it. By the Summer of 2018, I had finished 14 tracks and decided to release them for the public to hear. 

After releasing that album I had decided that the name Gravity Zero felt a bit too generic and I wanted something that would help me stand out a bit more. I came up with the artist name OPTML purely because I thought it looked cool and that it would grab people’s attention. So far, I think it is working’.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Who have been / are, your biggest influences? How would you describe your music? You are interested in several genres/styles of music, could you tell us what it is that appeals to you in those genres? Do you feel challenged by it and how?

‘I take a lot of inspiration from different artists that I’m listening to. I’m always finding a new sound that I want to pursue. Most recently, I have been listening to the UK band Underworld. I really love their blending of Techno with Pop elements. I also get inspired by my peers a lot, like Mr. Hoosteen, RADD, STEB, Monte Hills, and InstantReigen. They are all so awesome, and I’m so happy that I’m fortunate enough to call them friends. However, my heart will always lie with Chicago House and DJs like Gene Farris and Paul Johnson. 

I think the reason I always am working in different genres of music is that I’ll find a new track I like and then I’ll think to myself ‘Yeah I really like that, I wonder if I could make something that sounds like that’.

Most of the stuff I have made in my last 3 years of producing is house music, but I’ve been wanting to break from my mold a little and experiment with different things. I’ve dabbled in some Ambient and Hip Hop here and there but I’ve recently started to combine the two with my Big Beat projects. That stuff is inspired heavily by artists like The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, and Underworld.

There’s something nice about a sampled drum break layered with strange synth noises that I find really appealing. I think it’s because I get a chance to really experiment and try out new things while still making a track that can make people groove and dance. Can this be challenging sometimes? For sure, it’s almost like I’m learning how to make music again but that’s what I really enjoy about it. I like to push myself creatively and see where that takes me’.

Can you tell us a bit about how your creative process works? What do you consider fun parts of producing and what are the parts you are likely to struggle with? What keeps you going?

‘A lot of my creative process consists of me digging around for new samples, that’s probably the most difficult thing to do right now because of COVID. Fortunately, restrictions are starting to lighten up a little and now that I’m vaccinated I can go looking more often.

Because of where I live most record shops’ used section consists of old country music, which does not really appeal to me. I have been lucky though and found some really good old disco records that are ripe for sampling. Once I’ve found something I like I just mess around with it until I get something that I like.

There isn’t really a strict process that I have going, I just try my best to have fun with it. As long as I am having fun and enjoying what I make it comes pretty easily to me, I’m at a point where I’m making about 2-3 tracks a week right now and while some of them will probably not be released I do it to keep my mind flowing and moving through creative possibilities’.

Looking back, what piece of advice would you’ve loved knowing about earlier and would be the first thing to give to any new artist? Can you share at least one major change you went through while producing music, like a turning point maybe?

‘One important piece of advice that I’d give new artists is that they shouldn’t try and get too caught up with the details of their music when starting out. There’s probably a lot of things that you will wanna do but won’t know how to, and that’s okay. A lot of learning comes from experimenting with a lot of things and trying new things out. You’re probably going to fail, a lot, I know I surely did in the beginning.

I think the most significant turning point for me was when I joined OMEAC. I met so many cool people that also made music. Steen, RADD, and I became quick friends, and we’ve been inseparable since then. We’re always showing off the new stuff we’re working on to each other, and I think because of that, we’ve also taught each other some tricks for when producing too. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them’.

You’re involved in Cockatiel records as well as OMEAC records, can you tell us a bit about how you are/got involved and what your role is in both?

‘Cockatiel Records is the label that I started back in 2018 with my friend GrimmNemesis as a way for us to put both of our music onto one place and to eventually bring on other people whose music we liked. So far I feel as though we have a solid lineup, including me, GrimmNemesis, RADD, STEB, and monte Hills, as well as a couple of newer artists too. I wanted to make Cockatiel Records as a way to bring people together through music, both the people producing it and the people listening to it. There are no strict limits on how I run the label. It’s all about making the music you feel like making and doing what you want to do creatively. 

Around 2016 is when I started really getting into house music, and it’s also when I discovered OMEAC. I really liked the music all the artists made, I found it really inspiring. OMEAC was actually my main inspiration for starting my own label, I wanted to form my own community of artists and listeners. I believe I joined the OMEAC discord server in 2018 not long after starting my own label and that’s where I’ve made most of my friends. In 2020 I released my first EP on OMEAC, ‘Back To Wax Vol. 1’ and not earlier this year I released my single ‘How It Feels’ and album ‘Cœur De France.’ There isn’t really much that I do in OMEAC that’s more of Hoosteen’s project, and while we do often work together and share releases I think we both are still trying to go for our own sound and style’.

Looking back, what goals you’ve set for yourself you consider achieved? Can you name at least one highlight and why this meant so much to you? What would be the ultimate goal, or, what is a big dream in music production you hope to see come true one day?

‘I think I am at a point right now to where I am happy with where my music is. The fact that people actually listen to my music at all, and even like it, is amazing to me. I like the music I make, and I like the friends I’ve made along the way. The community I’ve made may be small, but I really appreciate it. I think the biggest highlight so far is releasing my album ‘Cœur De France’ on Cockatiel and OMEAC Records. I put a lot of love into that album and had been working on it since 2019, it’s probably one of the best-produced projects I’ve released recently.

My big dream in music production is to form some kind of band with like-minded individuals and produce an album. Like some kind of weird combination between ‘Au Reve’ by Cassius, ‘Audio Video Disco’ by Justice, and ‘Beaucoup Fish’ by Underworld. I’m currently picturing it as this strange fusion of Rock, Disco, Techno, Big Beat, and House. I have no idea at all how I will pull this off but it’s been a dream of mine for a while now’.

You only recently released ‘deep grooves for not so deep people’, maybe you can give us a bit of background info on how this album came together? And you describe yourself as: ‘I’m a just bedroom producer who makes music for the fun of it’. What can we expect for the – near – future? Will you keep exploring other genres, or do you feel you’ve found your way?

‘When I made ‘deep grooves for not so deep people.’ I wanted to explore a slightly different style of house than what I usually make. My typical style of house is very inspired by Funk and Disco, this EP takes a slightly darker route with ethereal chords and deep basslines. It’s a little bit more chill and low-key to what I’m used to but I think people will like it. 

As for what’s in the future you can definitely expect more experimentation, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of doing that. I’ve got a lot of big beat tracks that I’ve finished so there will probably be an album for that in 2022 if all things go according to plan. I want to explore some more genres of music soon so we will see what that brings in the future. I feel like it’s going to be very exciting’.

Is there anything else you would like to add / share, with your fans / the readers? Anything I didn’t ask about maybe?

‘I’d just like to give a shout-out to all my supports and friends. Especially the peeps in the Cockatiel and OMEAC Crew, you guys all rock. And a special shoutout to all the people who have helped me along the way with both improving myself and my music, I wouldn’t be here without you all’.

Wow, Thank You again OPTML! Putting this Spotlight together has been something else for real. The Artist, the Music, another very cool portrait done by Instantreigen and the fact Smittz has been co-writing, it all adds up to a fantastic end result in my opinion! Not to mention the way we’ve all met, which we have to – again – thank Discoholic for.

Since OPTML did a really terrific job remixing ‘Discadance’, by Discoholic, I think it’s only fair we end today with sharing a little bit of that Spotlight by sharing that remix. I told Smittz we would both comment on it, but honestly, I’m already biased enough as it is 😂 So Smittz, you have the stage and also: You made me very proud to have you here today, let’s do it again shall we?

I forget just when it started, sometime around mid-August maybe? First sparked by I believe the Elite 6, a bunch of producers in the Discoholics Anonymous Discord server had decided to remix Discoholic’s 2020 single for the hell of it, which led to more artists wanting to take a creative crack at at the track and joining in over time – and man, nothing but good has come out of it ever since!

From Mr. Hoosteen to Monte Hills and Mere Notilde, it was only a matter of time before OPTML came down with disco fever too. Her take on Discadance is unlike any of the others, opening with a trippy, dissonant version of the chord pattern that was at the core of the original. It’s a bold move that works wonders at setting an anxious yet polished tone that lasts for about the first two minutes of the mix. Right around that point, though, any sense of musical worry’s taken off your shoulders by a smooth, crystalline beat that sprinkles in Discadance’s characteristic vox samples at a really interesting rhythmic point.

These two sections mingle towards the end of the track after both have been made more intricate, followed by a DJ drumloop buffer as is customary for a ton of house mixes. Even as someone with no actual connection to the DJing scene, there’s always something fun about seeing them pop up in tracks, haha. Overall, OPTML’s Brick Haus Mix is a rock-solid creative take on what I’d easily consider one of Discoholic’s best tracks to date!’

‘Alrighty, I think that should just about wrap things up. Passing the mic back to you, Wien, it was such a pleasant surprise getting to be able to contribute to this week’s Spotlight! I’m still really flattered that you hold my writing in such high regard, pfff… Only learned from the best! Thanks a bunch again for giving me a platform to present some of my thoughts on a great artist and great friend, it’s really the least I can do to try and give back, y’know? Keep on keeping on, I say’.

Follow OPTML on: Spotify Bandcamp SoundCloud Twitter Instagram Website

Follow Smittz on Twitter!!!

Wishing Y’all a very nice weekend, I mean, I know How It Feels, you just wanna relax

Homemade Discohol

9/23/2021
See that happy face?? Yeah, just finished one…

Homemade Discohol

(or how I drink my disco)

🍹 Today is Cheat Day. Yep, another recipe, because we all need some more fun and this recipe is sure to give you some. Also: Me Lazy this week and trying to have a life beyond the blog – whahaha as if this article did not take me just as much time. If you like the taste of coffee ‘sweetened’ with some alcohol: I’d describe it as a Very Fancy Coffee Milkshake so if you hold on to that thought and just try to imagine the taste, you got the idea. And oh yeah, for those who don’t follow the Spotlight section, sorry-not-sorry, but here’s some disco in disguise for ya. A tiny crossover which could very well end cross-eyed.

🍹 Disco is in my veins, so I was destined to DISCOver this drink – take a wild guess where I heard about it 🤐. You can imagine there just had to be a moment in my life, I was going to make this. Maybe you think this would have been better timed when summer was still at its peak, and yes, you probably seen my post on my birthday, but hey, this tastes incredible whenever. During wintertime, I suggest you simply get under the covers with this sweetie and enjoy. Did I just write that out loud? Aah Well. I know you Dutchies love your coffee, so for you at least, this is a must! Maybe consider it a fancy dessert, whichever way, I’m sure you’ll love it.

The original Discohol recipe is NOT mine and very easy to follow, so I will start with that if you want the easy way out. I’m not judging. Really. Not. Really.

4 oz of vanilla ice cream

2 oz of Kahlua

2 oz of Baileys Irish cream

Blend alcohol with ice cream & the result looks something like this:

It’s NOT mine, Look it up will ya

🍹 However, since I wasn’t able to get Kahlua the first time, I searched the internet and Lo and Behold, Kahlua can be made at home. I’m telling you, it’s really pretty easy and to be honest, when we got the real Kahlua the second time, we both agreed, the homemade version was actually better. Kahlua producers if you read this, I hope you’ll follow my recipe next time – because yeah it’s tweaked. It’s here, it’s free. Just Sayin.

🍹 Me being me, I wasn’t satisfied with only a half-homemade drink, so when searching again, I found evidence Baileys can be made at home as well. Now here’s the catch, the people who did try gave different, or, not ANY measurements at all… I know what you’re thinking…me and measurements in my recipes given here. Uhuh 😏 You’re right, I learned how to cook like my Mom: follow a basic guideline but always trust your personal taste! In other words: Own It Baby.

Balls You Need

🍹 Yesterday I finally decided to go for homemade Baileys because, yeah. It took me some effort trying things out, but the tastings in between made it all worthwhile hehe. So, if you wanna give it a go, I basically figured out the recipe for you. I already adjusted the amount of cocoa and granulated coffee, since I freely admit, my Baileys looks a bit on the dark side, but let me assure you, the taste enlightened me, so there was nothing lost to me, simply working on my color scheme ya know. Feel free to adjust anything to your taste. Here We Go!

Homemade Kahlua – What You Need:

See that tiny little cup? It’s like a shot of vodka, but hey, use a pitcher if you want. Of course you need normal cups for the coffee 🙄

Step 1️⃣ – Make Coffee Syrup: In a saucepan, bring the coffee and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Step 2️⃣ – Combine Ingredients: Stir the vanilla extract and alcohol of your choice into the cooled coffee syrup until they’re well mixed, done!

Step 3️⃣ – Store: Pour into clean bottles, cap tightly and store in a cool, dry place.

Homemade Baileys – What You Need:

Feel free to use your fav brands & oh yeah, same little cup was used. For the whisky!

Step 1️⃣ – Combine Ingredients: pour cream, condensed milk, instant coffee, cocoa, vanilla extract in a bowl and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds.

Step 2️⃣ – Finish: Add the whisky and mix for another 30 seconds, done!

Step 3️⃣ – Store: Pour into clean bottles, cap tightly and store in a cool, dry place.

🍹 Go crazy, I mean, there are many possibilities, for example, my hubby loves whipped cream, so yeah, ours is topped off with it. If you don’t like disco – Why Are we Even on Speaking Terms?? – maybe you’ll like this instead. Anyways, it’s How I Drink My Disco, CHEERS!!

Wishing y’all a very Disco Weekend, plz sent pics after you had a couple of these

Indestructible Joy

9/16/2021
You can’t see it, but…yeeeeey…I can wear both earrings again!!

Indestructible Joy

(or how happiness is surpassed by joy)

💫 A lot of what I’ve been talking about lately can be filed under – no, not whatever – Positivity. I mean, you gotta need a positive attitude to be able and willing to help out others and to keep choosing to look upon life without losing hope. It’s not that I never lose hope, I’m just as human as y’all are, but I always end up choosing for the good part. And you know why? Because JOY.

Unlimited Resource

💫 I first want to clarify the difference between happiness and joy. Though joy never goes without the uttering of happiness, the other way around is not guaranteed: happiness is not always a sign of real joy. Wait. WHATT?? Happiness is basically an outwards expression, while joy is an inner feeling. Joy has been won through trials and hardship and is of a lasting kind because of it: you could say it’s the harvest of what gives your life meaning and purpose. I can pursue happiness, but Joy, I Choose.

💫 Does the above makes sense to you? Let me try to elaborate. I can find happiness in a lot of things and yes of course, within people, but it’s a feeling that mostly doesn’t last. It is caused by an external happy occasion – there you have it – which could be anything really, from a nice card, to winning a prize in some raffle, you name it. I agree that some happiness will last longer than others, but it will eventually pass. No matter how hard I try to hold on to that feeling, as soon as the occasion has passed and the aftermath dies down, that happy feeling will slowly but certainly faint. I can only hope the next event will bring me that same happy state of being.

💫 Now JOY…when mentioning ‘joy has been won through trials and hardships’, this is what I have been talking about all along and what I mean: no matter what I’m going through in life, no matter how hard, and oh yeah, sometimes it seems unbearable, if I Can’t Manage to STAY Positive, I Will eventually CHOOSE to go back to that state of mind. Because choosing to go back, means going back to love, peace and thus… joy. There is no greater joy, than the one we feel when we manage to overcome our hardships in life. When we know we’ve defeated those trials that have been at us for so long. It’s more than a passing feeling of happiness – though we sure experience it that way – it’s something nobody can take away from us again. Well, unless we let them…

💫 There is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing happiness. We humans thrive on the feeling, so it will definitely make us reach further and helps us grow. However, when the euphoria passes, it can leave us ‘hungover’, coming down from that mental high can be pretty tough to deal with. it’s like waking up from a beautiful dream: the only thing we wish for is to fall back to sleep again and carry on dreaming. It’s just how life is, with its ups and downs and the higher the ‘ups’, the deeper the ‘downs’ seem to be afterward. Happiness is like a drug and I’ve known people who would do anything to pursue and capture that feeling again and again.

💫 I remember a conversation I had with a woman, one half of a couple, who was convinced they were the only couple who were dealing with marital problems. Uhuh. In her opinion, her pursuit of happiness was a daily failure, one she was not shy of sharing about at all to anybody who wanted to listen. Her complaint was rooted in the fact ‘she had never been happy – she didn’t consider her marriage a success – and didn’t know how to get there’. Asking her what that happiness should entail, wouldn’t render a logic answer in any way, so you could say she didn’t even know herself what exactly she was expecting out of life and more specifically, out of her marriage. I discovered years later, she was divorced.

💫 Now I’m not judging that divorce. There are a lot of reasons why that could happen to any couple and I’m not even going there. But if I am solely depending on my hubby to make me happy, that’s asking for trouble… I’m not saying this because Steve isn’t able to add to my happiness and even better, to my joy, because he definitely is! And one could argue the fact that spouses are responsible for each others well being, because yes.  But my responsibility towards my joy is first and foremost my own. I can pursue happiness with everything that’s within me, apparently succeeding, while ‘jumping’ from one height to the next AND still feel empty in between. OR, I could choose to stay in love – now there’s a double meaning for ya – and have joy even when circumstances would assume the opposite.

💫 So in short I could say: happiness is temporary and obviously fluctuating, while joy is constant. If you’re in the first group, I hope you’ll find all the happiness there’s to be had for you, but just know, there’s more beyond that. If you feel you’re in the latter group, good for you! You’ve surpassed the happiness limits, to upgrade your existence within the JOY realm. While happiness can be chased and still stay elusive for many, I can choose joy as a way of living and become fairly invincible when it comes down to fighting the daily negativity and stress of life in general. Wow, sounds great, so what does it look like to live joyously?

Here we Goooo

1️⃣ Joy is (a) Constant

💫 Well I’ve already mentioned this one, but let me just add: do you realize that ‘constant’ literally means ‘unchanging factor’ and in other words ‘a situation that does not change’. Is It Even Possible, you may think. Well, it is, if you choose so. You see joy is more than a feeling and though it may be impossible to define and hard to describe, most of us do have a sense of what it looks like, how it ‘feels’ and more important, how blessed we are if we reach that state. Joy is directly linked to love and peace, better yet: Love is Joy and so is Peace. You want to argue about it? Didn’t think so…

2️⃣ Joy Inspires Creativity

💫 You know the saying ‘bubbling with joy?’ Real joy has the tendency to flow over, coming from within you, flowing into the world. It simply cannot stay unnoticed for long and I’m sure you’ve either experienced your joy affecting people around you or you being affected by someone else’s joy. It’s infectious in the very best way and encourages to express yourself in any creative way that suits you. The opposite is also true unfortunately: whenever we’re down or sad, or worse, depressed, in short, without joy, our sense of creativity feels clogged. It’s one of the things I hear most from the artists I am in contact with all over the world, (feelings of) depression will keep them from creating because they’re basically fighting for emotional and mental survival first. It’s a particular tough one, because creating can bring healing… I can vouch for that, since writing is a lot harder when I’m stuck in my head and keep focusing on all the bad stuff that’s around me. Therefore, The Choice.

3️⃣ Joy is Often Unreasonable

💫Aaah I Love This One! If you’ve been following my blog you can already sense where I’m heading at. You see, I believe real joy is something supernatural, since we humans tend to live by our emotions/feelings, which are not always that positive and joy is not depending on how we feel. Wait, whatt? Well of course joy is giving us all kinds of good, positive vibes, but even without them, joy can still rule over our lives. Joy goes beyond our natural feelings and can only be taken away when we allow it. O dear, now I’ve done it… more on that later. Anyways, joy is the reason I can make decisions that go against reason or common sense. The choices I’ve talked about, the ones that were looked upon with doubt and disbelief… the joy – read: also peace and love! – we had, made us do it. My real joy comes from my faith and that goes beyond any human limit.

4️⃣ Joy is Untroubled

💫 Oeff, is it? Yes I guess for me it is. A state of joy will make me look upon the bright side of life even when amidst of trouble. Can you look beyond yours? Can you ‘see’ what lies behind the ‘enemy lines’ ? Can you imagine, No, believe, you can get through it without losing that joy? It won’t be easy, far from it sometimes, but real joy also includes trust. Trust that everything will turn out just right, or, maybe even better. Since real joy is linked to peace, I can feel okay with making unusual or unexpected choices, I can also live without fearing the future. Listen, I’ve said this before, but I’m not in control of my life anyway, not really. There are so many things way beyond my control and worrying about it does not make me feel any better, nor does it have a positive effect on the people around me. That’s not the vibe I want to radiate. Does it mean I’m never troubled? Oh man, I wish, but I CHOOSE not to hold on to that. Repeatedly.

5️⃣ Joy is Enough

💫 I don’t know about you, but the above leaves only room for this conclusion really. Joy is Enough, because it includes all the main ingredients for a fulfilling and yes, indeed, happy life. It’s not a coincidence the Bible puts Joy right after Love and before the rest: Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. These 9 together are called fruits of the Spirit and it’s obvious joy happens on a much deeper level. In my opinion it is almost impossible to have real joy in your life if you don’t know love. Love is where it all starts – and should end to go full circle – it’s the basis on which we build, it’s the rich soil on which we sow and eventually, reap a plentiful harvest for a satisfying life. Of course you don’t have to agree with me and let me add that I really do feel for everyone who’s missing love in their lives. Whether it be the love from your family, or the love from a partner you are so desperately hoping to find. I do hope you will love yourself first though.

How-To

How do I Choose Joy?

💫 Now that we’ve gone through the characteristics, you might be wondering about how nice this all sounds, but you also have no idea how to get there. I wish I could give guarantees with every article I write, but there’s no such thing unfortunately. However, I have been trying to describe what real joy looks like, let me summarize. After you’ve realized you have a choice available, you have to be aware of the following: Choosing joy is similar to choosing love, it’s not a one time thing, it has to become a habit. Like with all new things we have to learn, the key is to repeat and repeat it many times a day, every day. I can say it will become a true habit at some point, maybe not as in, you will never feel unhappy again, but returning to your new basis will become easier and easier. Simply because you will be convinced that it’s the best way to cope with circumstances in particular and life in general. You’ll learn to look beyond it all and focus on the bigger picture.

How do I Make Joy a Habit?

💫 I’ve mentioned before it seems easier for us to hang on to the bad things than to rely and focus on the good stuff. This is certainly true when it comes to bad habits, they just seem to put up the least resistance and fighting them daily, repeatedly, is a drag really. It requires effort and, dang it, commitment. If we want to make joy a new habit, we have to turn our focus outward, again, repeatedly. Our attention should no longer be on our troubles, difficulties or even, ourselves, so yes, it requires self-control and some selflessness…it helps to connect with the ones around us who seem affected also. If we look again at the shortlist where I believe joy is a part from, it makes sense to reach out to others, to support, to aid and to receive it back. Though it’s not an easy road, it’s how joy will be cultivated and multiplied.

Destination Joy

💫 Now you might be on your way to joy, but it’s still not quite the same as actually Being Joyful. It means you’re on a journey and the road can be rocky at times. With every step you take you’ll be learning to anticipate the traffic, as in, the people around you, as well as the bumps in the road. Together they will make you realize the choice is up to you again and again: will joy stay yours along the way? We all get side-tracked sometimes and we might have to turn around a couple of times to find the correct path, because there’s no way we will be able to do it all perfectly and in one go. But that’s OK, we learn while walking and we can consider every successful step as – little – victories, encouraging us to go on.

Joy as a Resource

💫 Last but certainly not least: you might not be aware of it, but you’re the only one who decides if you allow your joy to be taken away by circumstances or people. It’s exactly the same as with Love and Peace and all the other ones in the list. Their ours to ‘own’ and ours to ‘give up’. Free will, free choice, every time, every day. Yes again, every day, because joy is an unlimited resource! Joy grows joy, it multiplies itself, spreading when given away. Sow joy and you’ll reap it too. It’s just how it works even if you won’t see it immediately, the good will come back to you, sometimes when you least expect it but need it the most. If there ever was a time I needed this unlimited resource, it has been these last 2 years, dealing with the pandemic in my personal life. No matter how hard it was at times, holding on or, returning to joy, returning to the Giver of Joy, has been my saving grace. Every. Time. Indestructible Joy, get it while you can!

Source: Common English Bible

Wishing y’all a very Joyful Weekend, pass Start & go straight to Joy jail. You’ll be FINE

Little Pineapple Delight

9/9/2021
My hair is turning whiter by the day but my eyebrows are still black…also, some new earrings messed with one ear, so wearing just one now…lemme just rock that new look anyways. “Let Me File That Under Whatever”

Little Pineapple Delight

(or how I forgot baking this is way past therapeutic)

The Ingredients

🍍 The recipe I’m about to share today, is a tweaked one: the original recipe was from my mother-in-law and she never shared it with me – tbh, I never asked – so at one point I just tried to figure it out myself. It’s close enough for me, but I need more practice baking. Bear with me here, the last time I’ve baked this was before we came to Ireland so that’s at least 6 years ago lol. And man, did I forget what a job it is..in ‘Trick-and-Treat Yo’self‘ I already briefly mention this very delicious cookie, which I’ll be calling pineapple jam cookies. I’ll be the first to admit, on that pic they do look much better, BUT, I had to make do with less kitchen tools here (when will I learn lol) and in the end, how it tastes is the most important. Believe me, I wasn’t disappointed!

Of course the jam is sweetening the cookie, but maybe not enough for you? Add to personal taste, but 50gr. is enough for me.
What it looks like if you don’t have a proper rolling pin & cookie cutter…amateur…Electric oven at about 160 degrees Celsius

🍍 The challenge starts with finding the actual pineapple jam. It wasn’t easy in the Netherlands – at least not where I lived – but here…I mean, I didn’t even try. So you can imagine my surprise when I found it just a couple of days ago, in an Asian shop of all places! I’d already walked through that particular aisle a couple of times, when suddenly my eyes caught the jam selection and in particular, the pineapple jam! It is epically called ‘Grandma’s’. Well if that wasn’t a sign I don’t know what is. Of course I took the jar and said to my fam: ‘You know what this means right?’ Oh yeah, they got the message. The next thing I thought: ‘Well if I’m going to torture myself baking this, why not also use it for the blog?’ I know I’m ready for some sweetness, how about you?

Make the ring stick to the bottom with the egg white! I’m sure I’d found an easier way to do this before, just forgot about it LOL
it is in fact, easier to first apply the egg white and not – like I tried – afterwards, when the jam is already in there…fool…

🍍 Well if you’re up for it, you could of course make your own pineapple jam, though I have thought about it, I never took it that far, because you know, it’s already enough of a challenge to bake this little delight, hoping it will come out as tasty as I remember. As always, the recipe is a guideline, most of it is done by feel and personal taste. And since I kind of had to figure out myself what it’s made of, you can imagine the amount of guess work done here. Don’t let it hold you back though, the result is just so worth the effort! And if you don’t like pineapple – but seriously, what’s wrong with you? – you can of course change the jam flavor. I always make a couple with strawberry jam for example, though without the cinnamon.

The result is so shiny!! BUT wait till they’ve cooled down, the jam is HOTTT
Strawberry jam is just a fav, though I wouldn’t mix it with cinnamon… You pick yours!

🍍 What more can I say really? Either you’re tempted to bake them yourself or you just stick with having watched a couple of pretty unsatisfying pics, taken by moi. By now you’ve gone through the ingredients and steps. It’s really not that hard, I was just very lucky to be baking on – again – one of the hottest days of the week. And yes it does take some time. The amount of ingredients will be enough for about 30 cookies, unless you like them bigger, I wouldn’t blame you at all. I hope you try them, I promise, they will change your life forever. Where my thousand-layer-cake is my absolute fav cake, this is definitely my absolute fav cookie. They’re both kind of a pain to bake, in a way that feels like going beyond any therapeutic benefits lol. But man…they’re GOOD.

ENJOY!!!

Wishing y’all a very Sweet Weekend, it seems it’ll def be weather for a lil bakeoff

Oh SNAP!

9/2/2021
“Don’t smile so hard, we can’t see your eyes” Ugh..

Oh SNAP!

(or how I reach beyond-boiling point)

🌀 It’s one of the most delicate points for me to reach either in a situation, a conversation or – the worst – a relationship. Reaching boiling point can be tricky, going beyond that is definitely asking for trouble and might leave me with cleaning up the mess I created. Does this knowledge stop me from doing it? When in a better mood, probably. When having a bad day, it sometimes actually feels worth it.

🌀 I’ve been telling I had to learn – in a way still learning – how to deal with confrontations in life. It doesn’t really help when my character is one to save up insults until I simply can’t no more and my words are lava. Eruption is completely unexpected for the other party – unless they can read my face and run for cover in time. Of course through the years it has become better, or so I think, but there are still moments my mind just goes: Oh SNAP!

🌀 I’m still trying to convince myself, some people won’t ever learn if I don’t literally reach that point, though experience has shown, those people will most likely never learn at all. There are numerous situations that can lead for me to reach boiling point, but it takes a couple of triggers to go past that. Trying to figure out if I could actually pinpoint these triggers is not all that easy, because in my memory, going beyond the rational is greatly depending on my emotional state of that particular moment.

🌀 Looking back on certain highly combustible situations, there were times I really did surprise myself keeping my cool, while I was sure to handle it completely the wrong way, if asked upfront. Emotions obviously always play a big role in how we interact with our fellow human beings. When dealing with aliens, I guess I would just skip to the eruption part…wait…naah…couldn’t be that easy…

🌀 So maybe it’s helpful if I could finally figure out which triggers I should be aware of, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could gain total control over future flammable environments? Hah, if only. But I sure can try to be better! I need some help though and since the internet has a lot to say about everything – and boy I mean EVERYTHING – why not see if there’s anything useful about this particular topic. As always I will go through the different points – in this case, triggers – applying it to myself and how it feels to me. Let’s see how that goes.

🌀 The first thing that hits me, is the fact there’s actual talk about Emotional Triggers. I know it might not be surprising to you, but it sure is a confirmation to me. If there is any volcano about to erupt, it comes from deep within the earth. If I’m triggered to lose it and snap, something deep inside me has been moved: the mental and spiritual balance has been disturbed and is rebelling. Reading through ‘How to Identify and Manage Your Emotional Triggers’, seems to be spot on, written for me. Just keep in mind, I’ll be giving my personal view, which will be quite different from yours. It seems to all boil down – no pun intended – to this: Here we goooo.

Common situations that trigger intense emotions include:

Rejection

🌀 Wow, this feels like diving in head first, no prisoners taken. Having talked about feelings of rejection before – or rather, the importance of feeling accepted – this hits home. I wish I could say I never felt rejected in my life, but again, I wouldn’t be talking about acceptance if I hadn’t had the lovely opportunity to feel rejection first hand. Rejection and feeling rejected has happened in different ways in my life and though you’d expect the level of pain to be equal to the level of served rejection, it doesn’t always work that way does it? It’s common knowledge words can cut deeper than actions if they’re sharpened enough by an evil tongue. I’m not talking about not getting that job, though I agree, especially depending on how the interview went, the feeling’s not the best.

🌀 Like most of you, I felt rejection after harsh words were said but also when even harsher actions were taken. The combination can be destroying lives, especially when said and done to young people. Through the years I’ve learned to better deal with rejection, but again, my mood is deciding how my first response will be. Lashing out might give relief at first, but it’s afterwards, when alone and thinking and rethinking what happened, the real emotions seem to hit. ‘Could I have said or done anything differently/better?’ Often such a waste of energy.

🌀 Recognizing what caused the rejection might help. Was it done out of spite or jealousy? Is there anything worth of me reviewing? Is there anything in there I should be taking personally at all? So when possible, taking a step back, counting to 10 – at least – might help before taking my whip out. Don’t let the initial hurt blur my vision and take away my sensibility. I know…emotions right? In my case I would go a step further and simply…say a little prayer for help. Help to hold my tongue, to not repay rejection with something I might regret later. Do I always succeed? Ah. No.

Betrayal

🌀 If your soul has never been betrayed I’m definitely happy for you, but it’s an estimated guess you’re not that lucky. Neither am I. It comes in many forms and the worst part is, it often happens in an underhanded, disguised way. Sometimes even with a drip of friendliness and love at the side: ‘I did it with your best interest at heart’. Uhuh. It might also be a consequence or even cause, of the previously mentioned rejection. I could say there’s nothing worse than feeling betrayed by a close friend or family member, but of course I would be wrong. Things can always get worse.

🌀 I remember one situation where Steve and I particularly felt betrayed – and rejected! – from a long time ago. Do I still have any feelings about that time? Sure. I just don’t let them rule me anymore. We were helping out a group of people who just left their church, to set up a new one. They basically asked us, and though we were always kind of reluctant – the responsibility! – we both felt this could be a good thing. Boy were we wrong. It started out very well and next to taking things seriously as to not make the same ‘mistakes’ as they’d seen before, we had a lot of fun. However, things took a turn for the worst on a Sunday afternoon, a couple months later.

🌀 Long story short: we were asked to join them for an apparent intervention, because they had found ‘evidence’ we were imposters and liars, even worse than they had seen in their church. I don’t even remember everything that was thrown at us – let it go people – but I do remember feeling utterly perplexed and sad. They had listened to something that couldn’t have been further from the truth, and behind our backs they’d talked about it and decided we were evil. They basically gave us no chance to defend ourselves, already sure about our wrongs. They even tried to convince us to review our beliefs. Right.

🌀 We didn’t even resist, because in our eyes, it was a lost case as well, only in a different way. We always followed our rule: if our actions do not show you who we are, then our words won’t convince you otherwise. In the end, people will only see what they wish to see. Me and my smart mouth could have been triggered that day, big time. But we just silently accepted their verdict and kept the honor to ourselves. When we got home we felt defeated even though we knew we did nothing wrong, still the hurt of being betrayed, not given the chance to even explain ourselves, was pretty bad. Forgiveness is the only way for us to really let go. But believe me, I’m not always that quiet when I discover someone betrayed me. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world and has the ability to shatter any trust I have in humanity.

Unjust Treatment

🌀 Well, the above story falls into the same I guess. It’s ‘funny’ to see how our kids react when wrongly accused of something: they will definitely NOT take that lightly. Want to see them angry, there’s your clue 🤐. While some might say acting up while knowing you’re not in the wrong makes you look more guilty, the feeling of being accused from something they didn’t do absolutely triggers something in them. Can’t blame them either. When we’re wrong we’re wrong. Might take a little time to acknowledge it, think things over, but we will.

🌀 It’s the feeling of injustice that’s the trigger. Taking blame and suffering the consequences for something done wrong, is right and yes deserved even. I won’t like it at all, but if it’s fair, it’s fair and I got to have the balls to admit when I’m wrong, even if it hurts. I certainly wouldn’t want any body else to take the blame for me. However, taking the blame and suffering consequences for something I didn’t do. Nu-uh. Unless…maybe…to help someone out who’s in real trouble.

Challenged Beliefs

🌀 So far it feels like the above mentioned points are all linked together for me, but yeah. When I only just started to go to church and built my faith I could get really snappy with my friends when they questioned God or the Bible. They didn’t even directly questioned my beliefs, but it felt like a personal attack all the same, since they were criticizing everything I believed in. Man I could get really nasty sometimes and I’m sure it only confirmed their doubts about faith in general and God in particular. Now of course I’m talking about my beliefs as in my faith in God as the most important, but next to that I would count the faith I have in my hubby and kids and yes some special friends. Or, the causes I believe in that need my attention. You fill in where your faith lies.

🌀 I’ve gotten way more relaxed when I do get challenged in this regard now. I learned. But it is a challenge to not give in to the feeling of needing to defend or justify yourself in general. The people who already know me don’t need it and the people who don’t know me, well…they don’t need it either in a different way lol. Though the reassurance might feel good, the people who know me have already given that and the people who don’t know me, might never get to that point.

Helplessness or Loss of Control

🌀 How well these two go together when you think about it. When we were stranded at the side of the road on our way to Ireland, it could have been easy to snap at each other. Stress levels were surely going through the roof after all we went through before even getting on the road, and this was just the cherry on top. We totally lost control of the situation at that point and had to eventually depend on other people’s goodness. It always gets worse before it gets better, so the days before we were finally ready to resume our way, were filled with even more tension. Situations like that can definitely trigger the worst in me if I let them. Fortunately it didn’t come that far.

🌀 Helplessness I feel, when referring to my friend in need I told you about in the previous article. He has a roof over his head, but it’s not a safe place, and he’s in desperate need of one. My emotions ran wild a couple of times, but I managed to at least keep it indoors. It’s hard when you’re in a very rough spot, to make smart decisions. Especially if you have to choose between two evils… I might be from the outside looking in, thinking this one would be best, but when you’re down like that, nothing makes much sense anymore. Trying to guide him through it to the best of my knowledge, while still respecting his choices is not easy. Losing my temper and snapping at him would only lead to more disaster, so no, that’s not an option at all.

🌀 If you ever face a hopeless situation, please take a breath, it won’t have any more negative effects on the already bad things going on, but it might give you a moment of clarity or maybe even the chance to reach out for help. Losing your cool is getting you nowhere fast.

Being Excluded or Ignored

🌀 I couldn’t stand it when – in my last job – an issue was brought to my attention, I started working on it, and next thing I knew, they shut me off from figuring out the solution. And that’s just one silly example. It happened several times and the condescension I had to deal with would enrage me, sometimes to the point of exploding. Well, sorry-not-sorry. There are of course way more serious situations you can think of, but I guess everyone knows the feeling. It’s all very well if you’re being excluded form stuff you’re not interested in in the first place, I mean, who cares right? But when it comes down to things that you or someone you love, are involved in and you’re being intentionally left out, it’s not easy to stay calm, not for me anyways.

🌀 Being ignored is taking it a step further in my opinion. Now I’m not one to let myself being ignored easily. Whenever I feel I need to rise to the occasion I’ll definitely let my voice be heard. I do tend to wait just a little too long sometimes, so that’s where the snap might come in. Other than that I can’t say I’ve suffered being ignored very much. People might try but if I don’t feel it’s worth it to step in, I don’t really care if they do: they think they know best? They can go right ahead. I might come back later though, when everything else failed 😉

Laterrr Byyee

Disapproval or Criticism

🌀 Hmm. Not something I deal with very well at first and therefore definitely up for a sharp retort from me. In case of disapproval I would try to find ways to go around it if I see any, I just hate to give up too fast especially when I’m convinced something has to be done about it, like yesterday. It does depend though on how the disapproval is given, it could be very reasonable, leaving no room for any other option. If it’s the opposite, I’ll try to shoot it down with all that is within me. Eager much? Uhuh. If you cannot convince me otherwise, I will keep searching for a way to get things done.

🌀 In case of criticism…well I could say the same. Is it given to build me up or to break me down? I really don’t like it when being criticized in public – but who does? – but a good private conversation could clear things up pretty quick. Or not. It’s tough not to feel like I’m being personally attacked and keep an open ear to eventual meaningful comments that can help me grow more, be better, do better. My ‘defense mechanism’ might strike out, just to not lose face, though after taking some time thinking about it, I might actually agree…we can change you know.

Feeling Unwanted or Unneeded

🌀 Now I think the key word here is ‘feeling’. It doesn’t necessarily mean I am actually unwanted or unneeded. It’s a trap I can fall into without much effort. As a mom of adult children it’s easy to tell myself: ‘Well, they have their own life now, they don’t need me anymore’. Sometimes this is a good feeling, knowing they DO have their own lives and that all’s going well – no need to worry – and sometimes it can make me feel like I need to find new goals. Well here we are! No but seriously, of course it’s a lie to think they wouldn’t ever need me anymore. These feelings are nothing compared to the many children though, who feel unwanted by their own parents/family.

🌀 I’m talking about stuff that could go on for years, but they do build up and will eventually lead to a snap that can be heard in the next county. The snap is not only coming forth from their mouths, it’s also coming from their breaking hearts, though the cracks have been there for a long time already. It’s basically how I have been feeling within my family. Not my close family, my hubby and kids, but the one I was born and raised in. A black sheep. I know it sounds harsh, but I can’t even imagine they’re not seeing me exactly the same way to be honest. And yes it took me years to come to terms with it, even better, to feel kind of proud of it, if you get what I’m saying. Let me be the one that’s different, it’s OK.

Feeling Smothered or Too Needed

🌀 Oh, well, that’s the opposite. Can’t say I have much experience with these two, but I have seen the effects on others and it’s not nice. Again my examples mostly refer to raising our kids, but smothering them is not making them into responsible, strong persons. I’ve seen people going wild after they reached adulthood and were allowed to ‘do what they wanted’, simply because they were under the strict regime of their parents and kept on a tight leash. There’s love and then there’s love. Go figure it out.

🌀 Too needed? Dare I say I think that’s something you’re probably doing to yourself? Sorry if I’m upsetting anybody, but we have to set boundaries ourselves and as difficult as that may be, there’s no one else who will do it for us. If I don’t respect myself – and my sanity – enough to set the limits, how can I expect others to keep them? I could feel flattered all I wanted when I would be the only one at the job going for the solution and fighting my way through the woods, but ehm… was it worth it? Of course personal satisfaction counts as well as personal reward, but unless I live hoping to receive any honor for it, no. Just No. It wasn’t worth the exhaustion and frustration, nor the jealousy and backstabbing from others. I’m not needed THAT much thank you very nice. That snap is just a snap away.

Insecurity

🌀 Without a doubt a part of life and something I had to kind of outgrow. Though I had this smart mouth for as long as I can remember I did tell you about struggles I had inside myself. It made me fight all the harder to not get overlooked. So in a way that snappy attitude became a part of my armor. I discovered quite early if I wanted to survive in this world I had to stand up for myself and not let anyone overrule me. Easier said than done, but I think I came a long way. Does that mean there’s no insecurity left in my life? Wow, I wish. But with every new step there will be questions which can grow into new insecurities if I allow them to. Stepping into new territory can bring back that attitude where I shoot first and ask questions later. It’s pure self defense to overcome the gap until I reach my new comfort zone.

🌀 I choose not to let any insecurity rule, because I already know it will keep me from learning and thus, growing. Fake it till you make it baby, it does work for me. And now, ‘living’ in an online world, full of young people whose language I hardly speak, it’s all I can do to try and keep up. Sure, I could step out, but where’s the fun in that? Life is meant to be lived and lived to the fullest. Whenever insecurity tries to interfere with whatever I’m diving into, Google is my friend and asking never hurt anybody. No need to throw up new defenses, just go with the flow and learn as I go.

Loss of Independence

🌀 I would say very close to loss of control…it’s a tough place to be in and surely can get me worked up. However, it may be my life to live, I still hang on to my faith and believe my life has a goal and a meaning, which is filled because of the things that are brought to me by that same faith. In short: I never really believe I’m in complete control of my life anyway. I think I’ve been pretty honest about that. If you think you are.. Well, good for you.

🌀 To me, Loss of independence in any way, might at first feel like I’m at the mercy of circumstances, but in my heart I know I’m not. In my heart I know I’m at the mercy of God and what He wants for my life. Is that always exactly what I want? No, not really, but if it does come out different, it’s mostly better, so there’s no complaint from me. I realize though, that loss of independence for a lot of people means, they have to look up to others, others they might not want in their lives. It could also mean you’re so lost, there’s literally nothing you can do but let circumstances take over. Drown in your sorrows. It can be a terrible place to be in, unless you run into good people, who can create better circumstances and make sure there’s something good coming out of it all. If you’re there, that’s my wish for you.

🌀 Conclusion: Did this help me in any way? I guess it did! It’s funny though that none of the mentioned points are actually surprises to me, they just provided me with the correct descriptions. They all make perfect sense, even the ones I’m not that experienced in personally, are very recognizable. It’s called Look and Learn right? I do realize we all have to make our own mistakes to Get It, but looking at others and how they are dealing with stuff can be a real eye opener, if I only stop and think about it. Let’s see if this little analysis will help me in the future, by keeping me from boiling over. Oh SNAP! That Would Be Cool!

Cool you say? It’s my middle na- never mind

Wishing y’all a very Quiet Weekend. New Shots Fired next week

HELP! The Unheard Cry

8/27/21
Thank goodness for filters, man I’m tired 😂

HELP! The Unheard Cry

(or how my ears are overruled by my heart)

🌸 So I’ve talked about support and about SELF-ish care, but what about an actual cry for help, even if there’s no sound heard? Don’t worry, I’m not hearing voices – well at least not in the way you’re probably thinking. But I do hear cries of help, coming from the hearts of multiple young people. Somehow, the last couple of articles seem to all be a part of a series. You can consume them in random order, the main ingredient remains LOVE.

Unfortunate Reality

🌸 Sometimes it seems my ‘online’ life is way more exciting – not always in a good way! – than my real life, but let me assure you, I’m very much aware of its paradox. However there’s no going around the fact, some real things are happening online if I make the effort to read between the lines. (Un-) fortunately for me, I seem to have a hang for that. It’s not always a feat I’m happy with or particularly proud of, but it kind of brings me ‘all over the globe’, to places I can only hope to visit some time in the future for real.

🌸 I know it’s not the first time I’m mentioning this, but since I’m pretty sure y’all have not read all of the articles yet – and if you did, thank you very nice! – some things need repeating. That’s one of the happy things about this being my blog you know. But seriously, this is also something our hearts have been moved to work with for years. You might call it a sixth sense and it sometimes does feel like that to me too, but we believe it’s something supernatural working through us and to be specific, God’s Spirit speaking to our spirit. It’s more than a feeling, more than a sense, it’s KNOWING with our minds and hearts.

🌸 This is what I meant last week when I said, quoting myself: ‘I will ‘see’ something, others don’t’. Am I always right? Hah. I wish. But I did learn to follow that feeling, that hunch, that, however-you-wish-to-call-it, to not have to accept I’m actually saying I feel lead by God’s Spirit. I don’t really care how you’d describe it, but I do know some of you have the same sense when it comes to people in need. Let’s be honest, it’s no rocket science to figure stuff like that out, it basically has a lot to do with – again – if you’re willing to make the effort to invest in others, especially if you believe they’re worth it. But wait… every soul is worth it…but not every soul is accepting.

🌸 This week I’m going to tell you a bit about another young man I met online because of his music production skills. My first impression was one of him being a very social, funny guy, who was very much into his music. He was very engaging and most people reacted positively on his encouraging attitude. There was no sign at all of any possible problems bothering him, he was never complaining about anything really. One of the first things he asked me about was the blog and he was very nice about it too. We basically chatted in the general group on discord, but then he messaged me privately and we started to talk about our music tastes and what he was into.

🌸 He sent me a private link to the music he was working on and of course I listened to it. Because the day he sent me the link was our anniversary, it took me some time to give him the feedback he asked for. Well, he didn’t, but I heard the question anyway. So we kept talking music for a bit and then I asked if he actually did release anything on Spotify. His answer, disguised with a joke, was enough for me to have alarm bells ringing. I couldn’t not ask and eventually got the story out. I won’t get into too much detail, but it broke my heart and had me crying at my laptop. There are things in life I will never understand as a parent and one of them is making your kids move out by force.

Perseverance

🌸 Unless we’re talking bloody murder or an addiction beyond saving, I just can’t understand how you can get rid of your kid all the while knowing they have no place to go and not enough money to survive: a lousy paid job is not getting them anywhere fast. I’m not saying the kid is innocent per se, but to be honest, as a parent we can just take responsibility and see if there’s anything we could have done better. How’s kicking your kid out in circumstances like that even going to help them? Maybe try to find some help first…but hey, who am I to talk right? The only thing I know, is leaving them on the street to fend for themselves is usually not automatically getting them on a better path.

🌸 This guy was not asking for any help from me. Understandable, because who could he trust anyways? Even now, a couple of weeks later, I know it’s hard for him to word anything close to sounding like a request for help. Reading between the lines is a must, if I want to get him the (structural) help he needs. Because obviously, from the other side of the world, there’s only so much I can do. Luckily I could join forces with some online friends and we all are doing our best to get him settled and safe. And let’s not forget, fed. Asking for help won’t come naturally to most, but when you’ve gotten so low, it might feel like it’s hopeless to even try. Trust in humanity is gone by then and most are convinced they have only themselves to blame and are destined to live like this for the rest of their lives.

🌸 Asking for help doesn’t come naturally to most. Yes I said that already. But be honest, how easy is it for you to ask for help? I know there are people who seem to have no issue with asking for help with work, school or even what kind of clothes to wear. But if you’ve ever been in deep trouble, how did that feel? Fighting the overwhelming emotions of guilt, failure and shame, how easy was it to reach out to somebody? I know how it feels, I know it very well. Because after you’ve ‘fallen’ in the eyes of man, after you’ve been scrutinized and judged, it’s not very appealing to put your trust in anybody. Doesn’t matter if what happened was your fault or not, you’ve been ‘weighed and found wanting’. Done for. So you struggle alone, though you really don’t have to.

🌸 Then there are those that might actually offer you help, but only under their – strict – conditions. Okay, okay, not all conditions are bad, some might actually be in place to protect us, but those are not the ones I’m talking about. I’m talking about unreasonable, unrealistic conditions, do you get what I’m saying? If you do ‘feel’ someone needs help even if they’ve not reached out to you, because your emphatic that way – or are you? – how do you go about it? Or Do You Even? The Unheard Cry for HELP can be the loudest one if we would only listen. Body language – though not applicable here – can certainly add to convince you somebody is in desperate need of an outstretched hand, or should I say, an open ear? No, better yet: An Open Heart.

🌸 It’s within my Soul (Feelings, Mind and Will) and my Spirit (Intuition, Conscience and Faith), I see/feel when something’s wrong. Sometimes deeply wrong. Put the two of them together, my Soul and my Spirit and I can easily say, I Feel It In My Heart. The worst part is, when my body gets involved and it pours out into…tears. And I was in tears when hearing my friend telling his story. I’m sure I don’t even know half of it and to be honest, I don’t really need to. The way he communicated to me made it pretty clear he had quite a rough time of it and needed help. Stat. We really don’t have to accept all that life throws at us. Sometimes we just need to duck, evade or simply run in the opposite direction.

Share the Burden

🌸 It’s not up to me to judge whether his situation was his own fault, it’s not up to me to put the blame on anybody, It’s Not Up To Me to Judge. Is it that easy? Nope. It’s not. But if I take time to think about it I will always come to this same conclusion. I will never know the whole story so I will never be able to act as a proper judge. I simply don’t have the wisdom to do so. Even more so, I’m not called to be one. The cry for help was never worded, yet I heard it loud and clear. Does it happen all the time? No, because I wouldn’t survive playing Atlas, taking the weight of the world on my shoulders. Just guessing I would need a tiny bit more workout sessions for that.

🌸 When my heart is ready to hear that cry for help, I should also be ready to respond: it’s not a monologue, it’s a conversation. If you’re one wanting to do all the talking, you’re definitely not ready to hear something so profound yet silent. On the other hand, if you’re one to keep your mouth shut at all costs, your response might be just as non-existent. What’s the middle ground for me then? Hah. Good question. Talking about a conversation – a good one! – there are at least two participants. Unless you talk to yourself of course, though those conversations are sometimes the best, especially when your answers are taking you by surprise. The most important ingredient for a good conversation would be my ability to listen. O dear, am I back where I started?

🌸 Once the cry has been heard and responded to, my quest begins. Action speaks louder than words and ain’t that the truth! How empty would my words be, if not followed by action! After my friend agreed he did need help, we decided a fundraiser might be a good idea. However, he already tried this before and ended up deleting it, since people did not seem to take him serious. Oeff. Now if we had been in the position to gift the whole amount ourselves, we probably would have done so. It’s not uncommon for us, because, if you can, why wouldn’t you? Unfortunately this wasn’t the case at the moment and since I felt the idea of a fundraiser certainly had merit, I took it upon myself to start something similar. And booked no success whatsoever.

🌸 My faith, my God, will never leave me hanging though and when I DID hear His voice, telling me: ‘leave it with Me’, I knew things would turn out for the better. Next thing that happened was I unexpectedly and unintentionally, connected with one of my friend friends. They saw my post – which lead to nothing much – and responded to me asking, I quote: ‘My friend needs help’. It took a hot second for me to discover they didn’t know who I was talking about and for them to realize Just Who I was talking about. Bingo! They actually are in the same group of music producers, and what a coincidence! Yeah…No. Seriously, it only happens so many times in your life, you meet people who are absolute treasures, luckily God made me a map to find them. Without their help, we wouldn’t have gotten this far.

I Heard You

🌸 Long story short – ahahahaha – this friend lives an hour away from where our friend in need stayed, and decided to pick him up to take him back with him, to apparently, the place our mutual friend was born in. He encouraged me to set up a proper fundraiser and the whole time we kept encouraging each other to make sure our mutual friend would get the help he needed. Are we there yet? No, but we’re certainly off to a good start! Our friend has a roof over his head for now and got his old job back. Still, to cover the gap until he is back on his feet again, the GoFundMe is in effect and don’t you pretend to not know where today’s story will end! Exactly. With me encouraging you, to click on the link below and if you can, show my friend some love. If only for the fact they advertise saying it’s all so easy but still took me about 3 hours to figure it out lol.

🌸 The effects of time zones are hilarious, when my friends are ready to get active, I’m about to dive into bed, and figuring out the GoFundMe took me most of the night. The link went live at around 3:30am 8/26/21 and can I just say how freakin proud I was?! Yes, thank you very nice hahah. I basically haven’t had much sleep ever since the morning I got the report that brought me to tears – hence a day delay again! – but hey, what else is new really. Was it worth it? YESS, ABSOLUTELY. Again, we’re not there yet, but we have high hopes of a happy ending. Time + encouragement + love and yeah in this case + some money, aka SUPPORT, will make us achieve our goal. If you ever hear HELP! The Unheard Cry, your heart is ready. It’s up to you if you will be that first responder or not.

Y’all Know This

Wishing y’all a very Peaceful Weekend, hope you’ll be hearing something soon

Be SELF-ish

8/19/21
When the going gets tough, the tough buys a freakin Hot Pink dress. With POCKETSS 💖

Be SELF-ish

(or how self care should come first)

❇️ One of my truest followers and BFF in real life, gave me some nice feedback after the previous article. Mentioning how in some way my weekly themes are often ‘too on point’, she suggested a great next topic. I immediately agreed this would be a good follow-up on The Effort that’s Called Support: What about Self Care? In truth, this should be the prequel.

Source quote: Katie Reed

❇️ I must say, lately the articles coming together is starting to feel like giving birth in some way. Deciding on a topic has always been a bit of a mental struggle, but now, even when knowing what I want to write about, while at it, the articles seem to grow. I don’t know how better to explain, but I feel like diving into the deep every time. It’s not a bad thing, quite the opposite, but it takes a lot out of me and the way the articles are building up inside me, makes the moment of publishing like I’ve just released something new into the world. Where there was adrenaline before, there’s relieve added now. Birth. Dramatic? Maybe, but it’s just a little peek for you inside my otherwise slightly chaotic mind.

❇️ So yeah, what about self care? I hinted at the impossibility to give, when my own cup is running empty and you don’t have to think long and hard to acknowledge it as being true. I was very happy to be ‘back’ at my supportive role, since I have been – again – confronted, with a young person who desperately is in need of some. My heart breaks a little with every new sad story and I would be taking all of that way too personally if I did not take care of myself, well, see the last article 😉. If you’re one of those people who only care about themselves, this one’s definitely not for your ears, let alone heart, you’re already taking way too much care of yourself as is. However, if you’re one who likes and needs, to take care of others, I hope this one is going to be of some encouragement.

❇️ The first thing I noticed when I Googled self care was the fact this is quite the hot topic and why doesn’t that surprise me? Especially while this pandemic is still going on. I looked into the self care quotes section and yes, those were available in abundance too. I will share some of those quotes here, but if you feel you need more, just go ahead and find them: there’s a little self care for ya! Anyways, how much explanation would it need to be honest? Well it might not be the explanation you need, it might just be the incentive to take it seriously, it’s never too late for that. Or even when you do feel like I did at one point, you can make a fresh start and change your focus a little bit.

❇️ It’s all too easy to get lost in taking care of others and completely forget about taking care of yourself. In a way I hope most of you will recognize yourself in this, though the downside is obvious: you just can’t go on like that forever, without being ‘punished’ somehow. This might sound severe, but if common sense rules – does it? – it’s the expected outcome. There are many situations in which taking care of others can make you cross the boundaries of your mental and spiritual health, unfortunately we’re no super humans, though we might feel and act like it. The danger lies in the fact, we may only recognize we’ve gone too far when it’s too late already. It’s a valuable lesson to learn, when to stop and take a breath.

Source quote: Cecilia Tran

❇️ When we returned from one of our trips to Spain – not a holiday! – we ended up in a small village. And when I say small, it was blink-again-and-we’re-out-of-here small. I would never have chosen to live in a place like that, after having been used to a lively environment, but beggars can’t be choosers they say. To be honest, the surroundings were breathtakingly beautiful, smack dab in the middle of one of mother nature’s most gorgeous spots in The Netherlands. We stayed in a wooden cabin – former boat house – in a half closed community, with only holiday homes. Since the season just ended there were no other people around and we were left to our own devices.

❇️ It was one of the most needed recovery periods in our lives, even if we could only acknowledge that after being there for a couple a weeks. We were surrounded by lush green and we had deers, foxes, rabbits and other small animals visit the garden. Since it was a former boat house, it was situated at a little lake and so our view was something dreams are made of. When winter came and snow started to fall, the perfect picture was complete, speaking of which by the way, we still should have stored…somewhere 😂. I’ve never in my life felt like I felt living there, completely isolated from the world – though the next village was only a mile away. Peace and quiet in spades. We lived there for some time before we started to go ‘back to normal life’.

❇️ For me it became clear just how much I needed it, when I would wake up in the morning, thought to ‘close my eyes for just a couple of more minutes’ only to wake up 2 or 3 hours later. The first time it happened I couldn’t quite believe the clock and I was totally disorientated, because this was so far out of character for me. I’m an early riser, always have been and though I always take a couple of minutes before getting up, to make sure I am actually awake, that’s it, I’ll be up and about. After a week of this same behavior it was clear I must have been truly exhausted. Tired to the bone. Shredded. Not only mentally and spiritually, but apparently also physically. Funny how these always seem to go so well together. Body, Soul and Spirit.

Source quote: Audre Lorde

❇️ I can’t even remember if we at that point made a conscious decision to never let it get that far again, but in my memory it never has. Though I might have skirted my outer limits a couple of times, I seem to have gotten the point. It’s in us/me, to give a 110% whenever I feel the cause is worth it even if everybody arounds me keeps saying it’s not. This is simply because I will ‘see’ something, others don’t. Doesn’t really matter if I reach the goal or not, because I do realize that’s not always entirely up to me alone. I just have to know, I gave it my all and yes, more. So I had to learn the hard way, not to let myself go to waste. Apart from the fact nothing is worth that, there’s no caring for anybody or anything else after that.

❇️ We shouldn’t feel selfish at times we have to put ourselves first but I know that’s easier said than done for some people. Being a Mom certainly doesn’t encourage me to put myself first, but where would my kids be when I lost myself? And there are many more scenario’s in real life, just fill in yours. So the key is to have boundaries and to recognize when you’re in danger of approaching these, whether it will be in a stealthy, sneaky, round-about way, or head first at full speed: Hit. The. Breaks! To be honest though, this might be looking at it backwards: if we allow ourselves to have ‘me-time’ on a regular basis, we should never be able to see those boundaries approach. We would well stay within safe limits. Act SELF-ish.

❇️ So when and how do you take care of yourself? Do you feel you’re reaching – crossing?? – those personal limits way too often? Are you taking things way too seriously sometimes, but you’re never on that list of important things yourself? If you have a daily to-do list, are you somewhere up there at all? I know it’s not common for me to put myself on my to-do list – if and when I make one, but I should be up there. If I can’t stomach being first, than at least somewhere in the middle or even, at the end. Doesn’t really matter at what time during the day I’m inserting me-time, but it should definitely be there, this is merely a practical matter. Since I’m a morning person, the early mornings are perfect for me to take some time ‘off’. Whatever works for you, Do It.

Source quote: Southern Living

❇️ ‘Taking time to do what makes your soul happy‘, that sounds great. So how would making my soul happy, affect my whole being? If you consider that our souls consist of our Feelings, Mind and Will, it might be easier to grasp. I talked about this in My Kind of Music (1), if you remember. Doesn’t really matter where I am in this, my Will is the first to agree with making myself happy, simply because I Want To. My Mind is basically already persuaded, since in my mind, I simply Need It and all this will lead to me Feeling Good: Step 1, my Soul will be Rejoicing. From here on it’s just a little skip to step 2, because it’s not hard to figure out our Body and Spirit (= our Intuition, Conscience and Faith) will follow suit. Our soul is our inner person, if we’re happy on the inside, it simply has to come out. We all know, when the tables are turned, it will also show on the outside…😳

❇️ So what about making time? What makes your soul happy? Ever thought about it for real? A lot of things are easy fixes I think. My BFF mentioned for a lot of women it will include skin care, after which we both immediately agreed this wasn’t us lol. Taking the restrictions we all had to adhere to lately in consideration, a lot of those easy fixes were unfortunately unavailable to us. I mean, that facial, the needed haircut, a swaggy new outfit, a drink with friends and more like that… let alone the more fancy fixes…Some things have gone back to some kind of normal, but we still have to make due with what’s available, mostly simple things while staying at home.

❇️ For me, going back to a little workout routine – a couple of weeks ago – early in the morning, was one big step towards self care. When I started the blog I was used to doing this every weekday, but somehow the blog started to consume more and more time – it still tends to do that if I’m not careful – and it became easier with time to just skip my morning routine and start writing. I mean, seriously, my workout takes about 30 minutes, just enough to get the blood pumping and the muscles to stretch – not that it’s not intensive – but ehm, excuses much?? Those 30 minutes give me enough energy to last the day and the knowledge I actually do something good for my body, seems to also work wonders for my mind as well as my spirit. Winning!

Source quote: Jack Kornfield

❇️ Other ways of self care for me are a new Hot Pink dress (after a long, long time), listening to groovy music, read a historical romance novel – well sorry-not-sorry, or simply take a nap if I feel I really need it. Some small things and some bigger, like reading a couple of Bible verses to encourage my spirit and soul. Did you know self care stems from the Bible? For you it might be something totally different though, but I just want to urge you to take that time. Though the whole pandemic era might be giving us the illusion of an abundance of free time, that time is not always well spent, as in, well for our mental health. I know how easy it is to just let time pass you by without getting anything constructive done. It’s great to have time to relax, but it’s also easy to let everything just overwhelm us and let time get the better of us. Time we’ll never get back.

❇️ Take care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything big, baby steps will work just as well. Make sure you will stay able to take care of the people you love, by taking care of yourself first. I cannot love another, without loving myself first. Self care is all about loving yourself enough to make sure you’re nurtured and not only by having three meals a day. Our soul and spirit need a healthy body for sure, but we’re more than a body and in a way it’s beautiful how the three – body, soul and spirit – can work together to make us wholesome. It’s up to us to find that balance, what might be good for one, isn’t necessarily good for the other, but if you use your God given common sense, you should well be able to figure it out. If not, don’t be afraid to ask for help, it’s out there.

❇️ Put yourself first on your to-do list, it’s OK. I find it easier to face a new day when I start it out right, by making sure I’m fed the right way. In this day and age, where life rushes by in all that technology has to offer, it’s up to me to hit the breaks and hit them in time. I can only hope that reading my blog is something that will add to your self care. I sure hope the impact of my articles lasts longer than the time you need to read them. I challenge you to find – and do! – the things that will make your soul happy. You can stop the merry-go-round for a couple of minutes per day, and focus on yourself and what you need that particular moment. Give yourself permission to pause and Be SELF-ish.

Source verse: King James Bible

Wishing y’all a very SELFish Weekend. Love, to me, myself and I. Oh well, and you

The Effort that’s Called Support

8/13/2021
Sitting in my ‘may the force be with you’ shirt is not really helping finishing this article. Ah well…only 1 day delay…

The Effort that’s Called Support

(or how this is totally NOT IT-related, though that takes real effort too)

💝 Who or what do you support? And where do YOU get your support from? Is it possible to go through life without a proper/working, support system? I really don’t think so, we all need some kind of safety net to fall back on when times get rough and maybe, just maybe, others are relying on us to to be the same to them.

💝 Looking up the word support, you’ll see it can be used as a verb or a noun. In the end, there’s not much difference in its workings as far as I can tell. We either Give it or Receive it. Either way, it’s much needed everywhere.

Source: Google – Definitions from Oxford Languages

💝 I would say in ‘normal daily life’, we support the ones we love and are close to us first. Well it should be normal anyways, although I am very much aware that doesn’t always seem to be the case. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and found myself in kind of a trap, thinking my support to the people around me was a given, self-evident. In a way it might have been, because it’s one of the cornerstones we’ve built our family on, but as with a lot of things in life, the moment something becomes more a habit than an actual act – of love – it’s time to question myself. How real has my support been lately?

💝 Giving support can take many forms, from something small, to something grand. If you love to also encourage other people besides your close ones, support can be anything. Anything that might mean everything to the person or organization, you’re giving your support to. However it would make sense to me, it starts within your own home/family – and that doesn’t necessarily speaks about being blood related at all! Could be any community really.

💝 I wouldn’t go as far as saying I am the one holding up all the weight, bearing all the responsibilities of keeping our family going, I’m just not that good and it would simply be a lie. But yes, I do have a part to play and as weird as that may sound, It IS my part to bear. When you’re a part of a family you share the responsibilities for that family. Maybe not yet when you’re at a tender age, but you will be soon enough, when reaching that point you can actually contribute.

💝 By sharing this, you support each other, not letting everything fall on one and the same person. But not only that, by sharing you can relate to each other and encourage each other to keep going and thus divide the weight and the burden. Sounds pretty clear right? Of course in theory it sounds pretty easy too, but most often we can be faced with trial, when support to our loved ones is challenged by circumstances. I mean, as long as all goes well, giving support almost comes naturally to most of us, no, it’s when the ‘going gets though’, support could feel like becoming a chore.

💝 Now the point I’m hoping to make today, is that giving support – of any kind – although given freely, will be a choice we’re making, whether we’re aware of it or not. As automatic as it may be in many cases, it’s still something we choose to do for someone else. I mean, responsibility may claim we Have To, but we all know We Don’t Always Want To. Taking care of our kids is just one of the ways in which we Have To show support. Same goes for our partners. Supporting our family is something we hardly ever think about, because we love them and it’s easy. Or is it? And before I get lost in the assumedly tough parts, let’s not forget, supporting each other most definitely also brings a lot of shared joy!

💝 Support, help, aid, assistance, there are enough definitions that are included in this one word and though our given support might be direct and literal, it can of course also be done by means of substance, money being the most common one. Though just simply lending a hand when needed can already mean a lot to our fellow humans, especially when they do not expect it. Support is all about Giving and in a way, Receiving, and sometimes you might actually be the only one – without knowing – that’s reaching out. Whereas families, communities and/or, organizations, can count on a support system, that one single person might have no one else but you to rely on.

Source: Google – Definitions from Oxford Languages

💝 It’s when tough circumstances barge into our lives and threaten with a hostile takeover, support might start to waver. It’s to be expected, organizations lose support when, for example, the general economics are diving into an all-time low. But what happens on a more personal level? And I don’t want to only talk about monetary support either. Support Means EFFORT. But let me just be clear about one thing: though it sometimes might seem easier to just donate a certain amount of money for a good cause – could be world peace, but also that neighbor that’s in desperate need of a meal! – money does not come easy to everyone. So yeah, there can be real effort there too.

💝 But even if your finances are perfectly fine, supporting others by donating money is still a worthy effort. I mean, your showing you obviously give a sh*t. As a parent, supporting our kids by monetary means is kind of inevitable, though I have been told some parents would find elaborate ways to avoid this. Of course, talking about something so personal, I can only speak for ourselves, when I say: whenever it’s needed and we can, we will support them thus, because why not? I’ve been told more than once, we should not make it so easy for our kids. Well, I can safely say, the people who were so bold as to mention this, had no clue about our lives at all. So thank you very nice, we’ll do as we not only please, but also as we feel is needed.

💝 In my opinion though, it’s not the monetary support that takes the most effort. The true effort that’s called support for me lies in the mental and spiritual help/encouragement, that is needed. Being there for your family members or for a friend or neighbor – and yes, even a total stranger – in true need AND keep on being there for the long run. Not giving up on them when things don’t seem to change for the better immediately, when their choices seem (!) wrong and leading to more distress – it’s not up to me to judge – when they’re mentally exhausted and want to give up every other minute or, when they have serious difficulties accepting your helping hand, while at the same time being aware of desperately needing it. The ‘push-and-pull’ can be frustrating in situations as such and it takes a lot out of ourselves to persevere and be a true supporter till the end.

💝 It always baffles me, how sports supporters can go to any length to show their love for ‘their’ team. Football is of course the sport where this is most visible and sometimes leads to terribly awkward, but also disturbing and even criminal activities. The zeal of the supporters can be commended, if only we could have a little piece of their overflowing optimism about being able to come out as victors in the end. I’m not talking about cases where help is not actually helping anymore, if you get what I’m saying. Sometimes you do have to draw the line and acknowledge the given support is wasted and should be better spent on someone/something, more worthy. You’re the only one who can decide when that point has been reached.

💝 So it got me thinking the last couple of weeks, how my support to the people around me was actually still in effect. IF it actually still had any effect. Having grown so accustomed to just ‘be there’, I felt I had reached my own limits in regards to what I was able to mean to anybody. Covid has been easy to blame for feeling drained and it’s a much heard complaint, but I should be able to take courage from my faith. And sure enough, it does help, I mean, my faith – read: my God – is the best personal Supporter I could wish for, but this still is something I need to keep alive, by keeping my part of the relationship going. Feeling drained is not something that makes keeping relationships alive easy, quite the opposite. Talking about a downward spiral.

Source: Definition of Support, by Merriam-Webster

💝 I do so hope, you’re all able to keep up a positive vibe during these weird times, because I’m not ashamed to say, it feels pretty bad to me sometimes. How could I even consider being supportive – read: Giving – when my ‘own cup is running empty?’ It even gotten to a point where I started to withdrew into myself and that’s not a good place to be for me. I mean, I’m all for self-reflection and all that, but this is a whole different ball game. It’s where I start doubting myself, where I find myself lacking, where I feel I’m not only letting myself, but everybody around me, down. It causes me to act like nothing and nobody matters to me anymore, though nothing could be further from the truth! 

💝 It’s like going straight to this homemade jail and I’m not getting the bonus either. During this self-inflicted jail time, I tend to close myself off from everything and am basically tempted to distraction, to wallow in an ongoing pity party. I’m fighting the almost constant urge to lash out to anybody who dares to come near and I’m just overall being a very, VERY, unpleasant person, in very real danger of alienating myself from everyone. Any of this sounding familiar to you? No? Good For You! Think I’m depressed? I don’t agree and you may think that’s denial speaking, that’s your prerogative. But yeah, FEELING depressed for sure. Since it’s never my intention to stay there for long periods of time, it’s definitely time to break free!

💝 That’s when ACCEPTING and receiving support comes in and the reason I mentioned possible difficulties accepting it, is because I very well know how it feels. Nevertheless: A wonderful thing about being supportive is that it will always come back to me at some point and that point is most often when I really, really, need it. Reap and you will Sow, Give and it will be Given to You. Sometimes through my own close loved ones, sometimes through long-distance-practical-strangers-but-still…friends. And when the stars align: from both. Yeah. Timing Is Everything. This received support is enabling me to ‘fill my cup’ again and stock up on the much needed overall positivity, reassuming my supporter role. God Sent, whether you believe it or not, I Do.

💝 Thanks to the above, I ended up having a really great birthday, with so many sweet bday wishes from sides I never expected. And yes I needed that boost, because honestly, one could never receive too much loving-kindness right? The shown appreciation counts as massive support in my book and so my ‘harvest’ was a generous one for sure. I felt center-staged, surrounded by love, had a very relaxed day with my hubby and from there on I was able to share positivity again. Pay it forward people. Support is needed all around us, we really don’t have to look that far, if only we want to see it. If only we want to make The Effort that’s Called Support.

Source: Common English Bible

Wishing y’all a Wonderful Weekend, I Thoroughly Support all your awesome plans

Spotlight on Instantreigen

Special Feature 8/5/2021
Instantreigen

Meet Instantreigen: An artist I really encourage you to discover, because of their enormous talent expressed in their incredible use of colors. Their designs do not merely exist on (virtual) paper, but are also brought to life through other objects, like for example, pins, stickers and t-shirts. Designs so vibrant, I couldn’t resist asking them to be my guest here today. If you’re a true follower of the Spotlight section, their name should ring a bell, because they already played a part in a previous Spotlight and yes, that’s how I discovered them myself. At first glance, do you recognize their special brand of art from that particular Spotlight?

Any Use of the Art Shown on This Page Without Permission, is Strictly Prohibited!

My Kind of Art, with Instantreigen.

“I’m the person who rotates the square in Tetris”.

Today music plays a secondary role, though you’ll find out a lot of Instantreigen’s art is inspired by musicians and their music, a lot of which I also like. If it wasn’t for music, I might not have found today’s guest at all. By now you might have figured out where their name and art popped up before: in the Spotlight on Mr. Hoosteen, it was their drawing that made for a really awesome – and exclusively made!! – profile portrait. Let me display that piece of art one more time, since it’s just as marvelous as Instantreigen’s self-portrait above, of which they btw said, I quote: ‘I’m surprised by how well it turned out, when I draw myself it usually looks nothing like me’. Excuse you me, it’s AMAZING.

Mr. Hoosteen

So yes, we met through Mr. Hoosteen – and isn’t that just how things always seem to happen on my blog – but to be even more specific, we met through Discoholic, since we we’re all joining his Discord server. It’s a pretty happy bunch up there and getting in contact with new people – most of them artists of some kind – has never been easier and more fun for me. Right after the Spotlight on Mr. Hoosteen was published, we got to talk about it and I was so happy to ‘meet’  the creator of that incredible portrait. The first thing that really moved me, was how humble Instantreigen is about their own work and how very easy and pleasant to talk to. Not gonna lie, though their art has this really cool and strong vibe, their sweetness definitely shows too.

This is a sample workflow of Instantreigen. They often start out with just a rough sketch and abstract shapes to get the idea on the canvas.

I told them how grateful I was and how this was the first time ever, someone did something so special for one of my articles. I still can’t express in words how that even feels. From there on it didn’t take me two breaths to throw in the ‘can-we-do-a-Spotlight-on-your-art?!?’ bomb and so here we are. I only ever did one previous Spotlight about art – about visual artist SleepPattern – so it shouldn’t be a surprise today’s article will be something a bit different. But it’s nice to shake things up a little, to prevent it all from getting too predictable. So throughout this page, you see some of the designs done by Instantreigen and I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. I recommend you look them up on Instagram, where more pieces are shown and I’m telling you, their page is pretty neat.

The next step is lineart – something they truly despise, but they know good lineart results in an even better illustration.

Where I would normally talk about the music productions from the artist of the day, you could say I’m trying to do about the same regarding Instantreigen’s art. Art should make you feel, just as music does. Instantreigen’s art hit me the same way some great music does and I cannot deny, their use of colors was the first thing that blew my colorful mind. I mean, Hot Pink?! You got me in the blink of an eye. However, Instantreigen immediately explained to me, that particular hot pink was Mr. Hoosteen’s exclusively and they had their own, signature Red-Pink. It’s what you see reoccurring in the art displayed here. Oeff. It’s all so bold and yet so friendly and happy, in my opinion very hard to overlook let alone dislike.

Next up are flat colors. They help to determine the depth of an illustration, but they are often replaced and edited multiple times throughout the whole process of shading and polishing.

The only offical art class I ever had, was the one in highschool, where we all had to choose a one week event, to spend either with all things sport, music or art. I have always been into water coloring, but drawing was something I never really mastered. That week I did manage to pick up some tricks, but I ended up just accepting it was not my thing and I would stick to my water colors. So I am not gonna pretend I have any idea how Instantreigen creates all this. During that week however, we did visit the – at that time newly reopened – Vincent van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, where an exhibition of Keith Haring was displayed. It was something that truly made an impression, because of the very particular art and again, use of colors. Well, it was nice to discover, Instantreigen also finds some inspiration in Keith Haring’s work.

When nearing the end, they draw more lineart and shade existing flat colors to get a glimpse of the final illustration’s potential.

Anyways, I’m very honored to have Instantreigen as my guest today, since they have been extremely busy with assignments, exams and even a newly installed kitchen. So much so, they barely had time to celebrate their birthday! So, Happy Belated Birthday Instantreigen! It always makes me realize how much work any independent artist puts into their art. It’s easy to forget they have to actually go to school/university, and/or, work a job (or 2!), as long as their art is not bringing in enough revenue to live from. It’s deceiving to only look at, or listen to, the end results – which are most often amazing – because it will make us forget the many hours it took to actually get there. Supposedly free hours. When recently one of them tweeted how they ‘needed to be artists of many mediums’, because it ‘all falls on themselves’, I felt that.

To finish the illustration, they often add lights and texture to their drawings. Something critical for them to know an illustration is complete is messing with hues and values, overlay-layers, and stylistic choices like photo grain. Instantreigen knows when an illustration is ready to see the world when the changes they make to it neither add nor take away from it.

As much as I realize it is their choice, it definitely earns my respect: without their devotion, we would not be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor! I was so very happy when Instantreigen sent me their replies and artwork! I really, really hope, it will be an encouragement as well as an inspiration to you all. And as for the interview that we’re about to dive into: Instantreigen told me something that only confirmed they needed their own time in the Spotlights. I quote: ‘I’ve always imagined giving answers in interviews as a kid so my inner kid is SCREAMING right now hehe’. Isn’t that just the cutest thing?! I remember all too well I used to walk around with my tiny cassette recorder as a little girl, ‘interviewing’ people around me. Well, this might be a bit different, but we both get to live our dream. Enjoy!

Just. WOW.

The Interview

Let’s start with the obvious: Can you please introduce yourself and tell us; Who is Instantreigen? Does your name have a special meaning? And when (and how) did you start drawing ? Besides drawing, do you design other things as well?

‘ Yes of course! Hello, I am Ezgi! I am a digital artist/illustrator from Berlin, Germany with roots in Turkey. However, most simply know me as my artist persona – Instantreigen! There honestly is no special meaning behind that name, but I like to explain it to people regardless. When I first decided to join social media, I was looking for a username, this was Summer ’17 if I remember correctly, and the first platform I wanted to join was Instagram. I thought to myself, okay, this is Instagram, and it would be cool to have a username beginning with “instant”, so I tried every combination possible, instant-noodles, instant-coffee, and so on and so forth but obviously those were already taken! At the time I had a big obsession with the Anime Mob Psycho 100, so I decided to just pick my favorite character’s name – Reigen Arataka haha. Looking back it is kinda childish, but I like it honestly so I am keeping this name!

I think I started drawing before talking or walking. It has ALWAYS been my favorite thing to do, and still is! I remember drawing with my mother and my father and impressing everyone at kindergarten and elementary school with my drawings of SpongeBob SquarePants (this might not show in my art, but that show had a huge artistic impact on me!) and doodling during classes all the time – even today at university! However, I think I only started taking it seriously around the end of 2016, and I started going digital in September 2017 with a tiny drawing tablet that I still use to this day!

I do design other things too! From Flyers to Websites to Enamel Pins to Mockups of a broad variety of things (more about the last two later ;)), I try to expand my artistic skillset as often as I can, though frankly my skillset in drawing and digital art is certainly the most developed one hehe’.

You designed the portrait of Mr. Hoosteen, for his Spotlight – which I Totally Love and Appreciate! – nobody else had something like that on a Spotlight before! What’s the story here?

‘I am so glad you love it! That drawing was really well received, I think. To be honest, I always wanted to draw him, and my other friends too (shoutout to Radd and Emily, both very talented musicians and wonderful human beings – still gonna draw you two too!) and he told me about this Spotlight he was going to have here and asked me what I thought would fit the best for the gallery. I was like, oh my god wait! I wanted to draw you for so long!! So, I sat down the night before it was published and just poured everything onto my digital canvas, it was so refreshing and so much fun! He still feels bad about it because he is convinced it must have been tiring for me, especially this late, but it was one of the most rejuvenating journeys ever’.

You’re (obviously?) inspired by Daft Punk, but who or what else inspires you? And could you tell a bit about how your creative process works?

‘Oh boy where do I begin! I feel like almost anything in my life can inspire me to be honest, in some way or another. I would say my main influences come from the 90s to early 2000s pop culture, comics and animation, but also from music, especially (French) House, Disco, and Big Beat, and ESPECIALLY from fellow artist friends, like Mr. Hoosteen or Emily. To name a couple of people rather than concepts, Jamie Hewlett, So-Me, Keith Haring, Yashar Kassai, Patrick O’Keefe and more have such unique styles and I like to incorporate some of their characteristics into mine! And music videos too, gosh I spent so much time in front of my TV or computer watching music videos all day long!

As for my creative process, it varies from time to time honestly. The only rule I have set for myself is that I will only draw when I want to draw; in my opinion forced art does not look good. Usually, I get an idea either randomly throughout the day (I sketch/write it down somewhere to not forget it), by looking at other art, outfits, mood boards etc, or by ideas that friends give me. Sometimes I just sit down and actively think about what to draw too, that usually happens when I want to draw something big and important. What comes after that is easy, I sketch out my idea and refine it until it looks good, then I either clean up my sketch or in most cases do line art based on my sketch, and then I color and shade and give it a background. Sometimes the order of these steps is mixed up, but all in all that is about it!’

What would you consider the ultimate personal achievement, in regards to your art? Can you share at least one highlight from your years of creating art and what it meant to you?

‘I think my ultimate achievement so far is my collaboration with the amazing Veridis Quo Design-Team! We made a handful of Daft Punk inspired enamel pins, and our goal was to make them as authentic, detailed and well-designed as possible. It was a nice challenge for me since I had never previously designed anything that was going to be a real, physical product, everything had to be perfect. I learned a lot of new techniques and what it means to create a clear, detailed and good looking design that will be timeless. It didn’t stop at just the pin either, we also made promotional artwork and limited edition signed posters too! I felt like a tiny businessperson haha. People have mistaken them for real Daft Punk merch so I think I did pretty well there!

The overall positive feedback on that project is astonishing, especially seeing how far those pins and posters travel all around the world! People from the USA to the UK to Europe to Australia were so kind to purchase the fruits of our hard collaborative work and it makes me so happy they found a caring, loving home. We are currently working on unveiling another pin concept we had in the works for months – a set of two! Not sure how much I am allowed to say, but I can already say it is gonna be nothing like any other Daft Punk Pin!’

How do you look at your fellow artists: do you consider the ‘competition’ fierce or how do you manage to ‘stand out in the crowd’?

‘To be honest I rarely ever view other artists as competition, unless it is an actual contest I am participating in. I like to view fellow artists as sources of inspiration, and I hope to inspire them back. However, it is sometimes necessary to stand out in the crowd, and I think I do a good job with my use of what my friends lovingly call the Instantreigen Red, I try to incorporate it into many if not all my drawings in one way or another. I think that combination of heavily saturated colors, (complementary) contrasts, the way I draw people and my relatively bold line art helps me stand out!’

You love to collab with others, are there certain things you look for specifically in a collaboration? Or the other way around: do people find you because you have something specific they are looking for?

‘I have been collaborating with artists big and small ever since I started drawing digitally, I think, and to be honest I do not think I have anything specific I look for in a collaboration. For me it matters the most that my own personal chemistry with the person or people I want to collaborate with is right; I wouldn’t want to paint with someone as skilled as Bob Ross with a Gordon Ramsey personality! I usually collaborate with friends for that reason, in addition to that I am actually quite shy so asking people who I don’t have a bond with is kind of out of question. I like to create with people who either have a really similar style to mine – or a completely different one!

The other way around happened with my Veridis Quo Design collaboration though! They reached out to me because they thought my Daft Punk fanart I had posted online had that certain edge and cyberpunk vibe to it and they’ve been meaning to capture that in a pin. More generally speaking, I think when people want to collaborate with me they value my use of colors and my attention to detail apart from a possible already existing friendship’.

What I’ve seen so far from your work – I tried to look up as much as possible 😉 – I love your use of colors – well, obviously – it’s all sending very strong, positive vibes in my opinion. If you had to choose 5 pieces of which you’re most proud of/which would show off your skills, which ones would that be?

‘That is such a difficult question! I love all my drawings like they are my own children, and I am just as proud of them. However, for the sake of this interview I will present my all-time favorites:

‘First off we have what I think would pop into someone’s mind when they hear Instantreigen, my broken helmet Daft Punk drawings!’

I drew them as sort of a teaser for the VQD collab, and I’ve been using the Guy Manuel one as my social media icon for a long time! I love the minimalistic color palette, and the grain filter makes it pop in my opinion! This is what people associate me with the most I’d say’.

‘Another piece related to the collab is our design reveal post! I have never shared this in full resolution anywhere, so this is exclusive content haha!’

‘It was so cool to come up with the weapons and choice of clothing, I love experimenting with colors and concepts and twisting and tweaking around already existing concepts to make them meet my desires.

Something unusual for me was making mock-ups. I never thought I’d be good at it but apparently my knowledge from other art departments was sufficient enough!

That is why I want to share this mockup I made for Mr. Hoosteen’s upcoming single “I Want 2 Be Your Tomorrow”

‘Featuring his album artwork and my symbols on the disc itself I think this is one of my favorite side-projects! I will definitely keep doing mock-ups for products and ideas, and I am looking forward to learning more techniques and how to work more efficiently. This was done in absolutely unprofessional free software in an absolutely unprofessional way, but hey, it works haha. I honestly love how well his and my aesthetics melt together – we both are big fans of the color pink! It is a wonderful color. Speaking of it…’

‘This is perhaps one of my absolute favorites, a drawing of Pedro Winter aka Busy P on a skateboard’.

‘I don’t think I have ever put as much detail into a drawing before this one, from the shoes to the Napoleon Dynamite shirt to the sock and tattoos and clothes and all the stickers on the board, I probably spent an entire day just planning these out and researching how the things I drew actually look in real life; another one looking up skating poses and cool pants for this cool guy. I am especially proud of the board; I even repurposed some parts of pervious artworks I made for it. Try and count as many references as you can find!’

‘Last but certainly not least I would like to show my drawing of Cassius – truly one of the greatest duos in history’.

‘This drawing was the last one of my Ed Banger Artist Portrait Series – Heavily inspired and influenced by the great So-Me. I made it exactly one year after Zdar’s unfortunate death, and I did get very emotional referencing his face and knowing he was no longer with us. With this one I hope I reached some people who were mourning with me – and I hope they are all as happy as I am that we were lucky enough to experience such a brilliant mind in our lifetimes’.

Is there anything else you would like to add / share with the readers? Anything I did not ask about maybe?

‘I think it might be a good idea to end this with the most important thing for anything really, but especially art and illustration: Motivation. To be honest, I have been struggling to motivate myself to draw recently. Life is keeping me busy and too occupied to be as creative as I would like to be, but one thing I wanna tell you and the readers is the following; if you are a creative person or like to pursue creative hobbies, do yourself that favor and push yourself to create if you can.

Obviously I don’t mean to ignore important events and deadlines, but from experience I can say that just doodling and sketching for five minutes every day keeps me from entering a huge art block. I’ve started to pick that habit up again, and I even managed to do a full illustration just for this article! Put on some music (I have a Spotify On Repeat playlist if you are curious!), take that coffee shop napkin and a ballpoint pen and just doodle to your heart’s desire. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but for me at least it gives me some motivation to continue to draw, since drawing is honestly exhausting sometimes. And I get to keep a cool looking napkin!’


WOW! Just WOW! Thank you so, so much Instantreigen! Thank you for all the effort you’ve put into this and also adding your workflow to the DeLorean pics, I never could have written that. I love your art and feel truly blessed you wanted to join my blog and share some of your wonderful work, amazing! I will add you to my Spotlight page asap, where you will join all previous Spotlights and remain indefinitely. Oh and @Emily…I haven’t forgotten 😉

And to you my readers: Look them up! Show them a little love, it’s not that hard, just

Follow Instantreigen on: InstagramTwitter, or simply go straight to their Website

Wishing y’all a very Artsy Weekend, draw something, if even the line, relax your mind. Peace, Love & Unwind

Any Use of the Art Shown on This Page Without Permission, is Strictly Prohibited!