Category Archives: Life

Breastfeeding in public

breastfeeding in public
Gabi feeding Novi in a park in Amsterdam

A child on the breast is one of the most intimate and loving acts out there. It’s life itself passed on from one person to another, from mother to child. It’s a beautiful process to witness how energy and security is shared. We see how much a baby needs this, not just for nutritional need but also for the baby’s emotional development.

As a third-person you may think there isn’t much to do for you. Though, nothing less is true. Mothers who breastfeed need to feel supported. And that’s just as important as the act of breastfeeding itself. Without support a mother wouldn’t be able to do it.

Support includes, among other things, the security of housing and food, as well as warmth, time for breastfeeding and love. But it also includes full support for public breastfeeding. There is quite some men that do not support public breastfeeding. As a result (among other reasons) many women fear to feed their babies in public. They use a blanket to cover it up or stay home. Since many babies don’t like to be covered when older, many mothers stop breastfeeding much sooner than desired.

Therefore shame on us men! I know it’s hard to disassociate breasts from sex. We rather not see a woman’s breast out in the open feeding a baby; it makes many of us feel embarrassed. This is a real threat. Because of many men who are unable to support public breastfeeding, babies get less of it. And because we see less of it, we are less able to deal with it in a natural way. And that’s something that really could use more attention.

Hello Debian

I bought myself a new laptop, a Lenovo Edge E130. I have tried to work with one of my four old ones, but I had to give up on them one by one. It was no use trying to revive them anymore and I decided it was time to finally buy something new for myself. It was the first time since 2010.

debianBut I didn’t want to buy a laptop and spend needless money. And with that I mean for example paying extra for a brand or for an operating system that I do not use. After searching for a while I found out you can buy laptops for pretty cheap in Germany. These laptops come without the Windows operating system. Hence you save around 80 euro, and even more compared to what I pay for the same laptop in my own country.

Next was deciding which operating system to install on it. I have been a GNU/Linux-user since 2003 and I have been attached to Arch Linux since 2008 or so. But I had grown tired of Arch as a rolling-release and having to update my system at least every week or else at some point you will have to fix stuff, while at the same time you are just to do something important with the computer. That sucks. I mean, why is it that the word deprecated is almost like the most used on the Archlinux website?

So I went for good old Debian. And it rocks! The installation went as a fly, I just needed to plug in an ethernet-cable to download the firmware for my wireless driver and after that it was all set.  Since that time I only have very few updates and my system has never failed on me. The only downside of running Debian is that you don’t always have the lastest software but this doesn’t kill me. The only software I really like to run the latest version is Firefox, and that’s easily to be solved through backports. So that’s it: from now on I will stick to Debian and will recommend it above anything else.

Free Pirate

Pirate_novi_manu_robino_westerpark
Parks in spring. I couldn’t help but smiling to the photographer who was sitting there to wait for the right shot… The balloon exploded in Novi’s hands a couple of seconds later.

Novi Led Weaning

Baby Led Weaning Broccoli

I believe that everyone wants to be free to make their own decisions. And thus the same goes for Novi, our baby. For him to make his own decisions we don’t have to wait until whenever. In fact, from birth on he’s been the king in the house: we just obey to his needs and give him love and care.

And now whilst he is growing we like to continue on this path to listen to his needs carefully and not to enforce things upon him. Which means we have him sit and enjoy his food the way he likes it. In addition to breast-milk, we now give him pieces of tomato, cucumber, courgette, apple, banana as well as rice-crackers. And he can eat whatever he wants.

We love this method, that goes by the name of Baby Led Weaning. Not just for the freedom it gives (and the Money we save, see the article in Dutch Geen geld en zwanger). But we also love this way of letting him eat because we really get to enjoy him eating. We don’t spoon-feed him and we don’t force him to eat anything, and in return we get a happy and self-learning baby who simply *loves* to eat.

The Value of Money

A woman asking for money in Kiev, the Ukraine

It was a long time I had not touched money. If not for the couple of times I just had to buy some cat-food or else kitten would starve, it was easily over a year. But suddenly I was feeling the touch of money. I smelled it and it felt crispy.

I was unsure what to do with the bill of 20 euro my friend Rene had given me. I was staying with him in Lyon, France, and it was my turn to go to the market to buy the veggies and fruits for the house. I thought it was good to let go of the idea of not using money, and to experiment again to use it; to get a sense of what it would do to me.

And to say the truth, I thought it would be fun. But instead I was hit by doubt and uncertainty: I simply didn’t know who to give the money to, from whom I wanted to buy the food. Maybe this woman with the nice smile, or that guy who is old? In other words, I wasn’t looking at the quality of the food, but I was judging the quality of the person.

Up and down the market I walked for some time before I finally decided to settle it and to ‘just buy something’. They were apples and I gave the market salesman the money – a piece of paper – looking at him with a weird glance in my eyes, as if I was still in doubt this was the right guy to give the money to, as if he was the one who would “deserve” it.

I ended up spending the whole 20 euro, and I came back home with a trolley filled with fresh foods. I was happy using money again, it made me feel better. Whereas living money-less was fun and interesting at first, at the market in Lyon I came to understand it was now limiting me: I had become a slave of not using money. And like this I came to understand the value of money: it is not what it resembles, but what it does to you.

September 2011. The story in Dutch is available at http://geldloos.nl/verhalen/de-waarde-van-geld.

Novi Son

Life, where does it begin? How does it come into existence? Where does it come from? What is it?

The journey of discovery just started. Everything is new, everything is a surprise, each moment again. The eyes are open, and through the ears we hear… recognition of a voice. It’s a process of learning by sensing it all. Smells, sounds, feelings, touchings, tastes.

Lying on your belly, looking up, turning your head, laughing, drinking mothermilk. Crying just a little, of some dismay, just enough to communicate that you need some comfort. And then your eyes wide open: hello world!

And now you’re in my arms. Four months old today. And see how much you grow, how much you learn, how much you laugh and ‘talk’. Welcome Novi, it’s me, your daddy. Welcome into our life son.

Add Life

Eternity is commonly reflected by the symbol of an eight, as two mirrored circles that crosscut each other at one shared point. I love to see life in the same way.

And so I am now at that point when the movement of the first circle moves into the next. At the point when things that used to define my life bring me to the next phase, moving into the next circle with a full swing.

Casa Robino is not shared anymore as it used to be in the past four years – or in other words: I have retired from it. But out of it comes new life. And that’s the most beautiful thing I ever experienced.

Being. Me

The walls disappear into the light of a rising sun. The space is endless. I embrace this space and I stay still. I let it fill me.

First comes nothingness, then everlastingness. And immediately you know: it is here already, it always has been. It is the edge of a circle.

And this is how it breathes life: through us, forever, endlessly, being space and time, being the relativity that we represent, being you, being me, being … explicitly inexplicable.

Moneyless Home-Country Walking

“Hello, my name is Robin and I walk through the Netherlands. I do this because I don’t want to go faster than my feet can bring me and because I want to discover more about the culture that I grew up in. To dive deeper into Dutch culture and into myself, I also choose to not bring a phone, computer, bank-cards or money, and instead to completely rely on people’s goodwill for food and whatever else they want to share.”

For a little over three weeks I walked through the Netherlands, from the west to the east, from the city where my house is at (Amsterdam) towards the German border. And it was fabulous: the things you learn, the people you meet and nature that you reconnect with. Most of the nights I slept in forests, of which there are surprisingly many around, falling asleep in my hammock around sunset and waking up by birds before sunrise.

After three months of money-less travelling in Portugal last year and now these three weeks of walking in my home-country (of which people said it would be “impossible”) I am getting better adjusted to it: the hunger you can feel sometimes, dealing with desires of the things you want and surrendering to whatever life brings you, at any given moment. And the funny thing, the more I experience it, the more I actually want it, because of what you learn from it. As such any experience is neither negative, nor positive; they are just life. And as such they are equal to the joy you feel when people give you food, invite you for a coffee or take you in their homes.

People’s responses are equally worth it. Some envy me, others think I am crazy and again others simply reject my life, seeing it as a threat to theirs. “Why don’t you go home and make money instead, you’re a fool!”, was one of the most extreme responses that I received. Most people though have a lot of respect for my decisions and thanks to them (and the occasional dumpster treasure) I’ve enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner at fast-food restaurants, exclusive hotels, lunch-rooms, as well in the intimate spheres of people’s homes, after variations of the introduction on the top of this post. And so far I’ve never ever really had, what you would call, ‘hunger’.

Every step I take is another challenge, every step is one that carries me further towards life and at the same time one that brings me closer to understand the self. And it ain’t over yet. This country has a lot more to explore. When I don’t know yet, but this is to be continued… from the place I left it – but I am sure that by then we will already be further.