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Blog

As may be expected of a blog, it is an ongoing affair. For the moment, we publish here three types of texts that suit the definition of a blog.

  • in English: texts that Touché and Guy post with a certain regularity at LinkedIn.
  • in Portuguese: contributions of Touché to Brasil com Z, a blog by expat Brazilians about the countries they emigrated to. The cooperation stopped some time ago, but Touché's texts are still interesting.
  • in Portuguese, Dutch, English and even French: whenever we travel, we send newsletters to friends in several countries. At first, these messages appeared only in Portuguese, later a Dutch version was added, and in 2016 we were crazy enough to add a French and an English newsletter during our stays in New Zealand/Australia and Costa Rica. We will progressively post some of these travelogues, going back in time.

Note: the latest post is at the top. Use the menu at right or scroll down for older messages.

Touché at LinkedIn in 2019

Before this revolution starts

A deep historical research would be needed to trace the facts around breast-feeding vs women-at-work and this is not really what this article is about. Not because of lack of fascination regarding such a study but for practical reasons leading to the question: how would profound historical analysis bring light into our present situation as to help us take positive decisions and move towards positive resolutions? Probably not much.

Probably not much, why? The answer can be simple: globalization is a modern fact and what we are facing now is directly linked to our times. When we consider all the technology around communication it becomes easy to understand that the sense of privacy and community has suffered some dramatic changes along with other social ways of being together, sharing problems and finding solutions.

My mom can breast-feed me anytime!

My mom can breast-feed me anytime!

Breast-feeding then. Surely an all-times situation faced by women since we are on Earth, specially by women who had to spend time working, be it in a tribe or in a metropolis. Everywhere and always, there have been pregnancy, work, babies, work, breast-feeding and… work places. Considered as a feminine matter – yes, for sure – caring that a baby be fed requests special organization and women have proved to be united with each other to support mommies who had to stop their activity to feed their babies.

This ‘I give you a hand so that you can give your breast to your baby’ always worked well and most employers never cared to think how did their female professionals manage after the official mother leave is over. As long as the lady in question is back on the work scene all is ok.

But all is not ok just by decision of bosses. More and more women in work places necessarily meant more and more babies being born and the complexity of the working conditions has made it complicated for those babies to enjoy their right of being breast-fed. Many doctors and scientists advocate in favor of the babies but not many employers have applauded this marketing to the point of creating nurseries in the companies. Women have counted on their women colleagues to solve the practicalities about breast-feeding and they have done so silently and efficiently for many and long years.

This silence is now broken by some daring ladies who decided to ignore conventions and give their babies the good milk during their work hours. In August 2018, in Germany, Madeleine Henfling, politician of the Green Party, was not allowed to vote in a state parliament because she had brought her baby with her. A month later, Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister, caused strong reactions when she flew with her infant daughter to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Some days ago, on March 19, Mette Abildgaard, group leader for the Conservative Folk Party of Denmark was requested by the Parliament Speaker to leave the parliamentary hall in Copenhagen, when she brought her five-month-old daughter with her.

At this point it becomes crucial that law makers focus on women’s reality. Things are different when women-at-work occupy high political positions and can afford all the financial onus and – most of all – face whatever surprise and criticism their attitude causes. By breast-feeding their babies or bringing them to parliament halls in order to carry on with their work, these ladies are not only acting ‘differently’.They are making History and exposing facts that demand new action from those in charge of working places.

Hello, entrepreneurs! Hallo CEOs, Human Resources Directors, Headmasters, hello everybody. There is a Mommy-Baby Revolution on the way and you would better keep moving and organizing nurseries and hiring professionals who can take care of young children so that your female professionals can perform their job. You want to do that before your company starves, don’t you?

We are talking baby-milk here. Better not mess around with young mothers!!! Yeah?

Touché Guimarães, published on Linked In on March 24, 2019.
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Crisis for Evolution?

Does anybody want crisis? It sound naive or even stupid to think someone would deliberately look for crisis, in fact this decision would fall into categories of mental disorders, emotional disturbances, intellectual nonsense or whatever, because truly speaking nobody would welcome a crisis. For example, there is no marketing to sell live crisis. On the contrary, the idea is that our lives be programmed as steady and explicable as possible, everything on its right place, and ‘being in control’ is a highly valued slogan, inside corporations or even personal relationships. Who in a hell would create a crisis and get compliments for that?

Well...rules need exceptions to confirm them. Maybe this is the reason why people who usually create crisis have their special role in most societies: they are called ‘artists’, meaning they have social permission to dare go against what is considered to be the good way of living. They create crisis, live in crisis, spread crisis and... sell art!

Grand Prismatic Spring (Yellowstone N.P.) - Full color earth crisis

Grand Prismatic Spring (Yellowstone N.P.) - Full color earth crisis

Artistic considerations apart, most crisis happen either when we thought all was fine or because it was already there... and we refused to admit it. In this case, it always borders despair, as there is this sense of too late. Observation and perception failed and that’s it, here we are, deep in a black hole.

Avoiding crisis demands wisdom. Getting out of it requests creativity and a deep belief in life, that strong decision of moving forward and the courage of fighting for happiness. Those actions speak of intensity of feeling and – on the practical side – of the way to make a turn and go towards the unknown, leaving behind what was there with no regrets, no attachments, no sorrows. It is not a question of walking away. From a deep hole the only way out is to fly.

Look up, spread wings, fly. There is an exciting open horizon to be conquered, but new opportunities won’t knock at nobody’s door, specially not when we are locked up in a crisis.

It is when we take the decisive move towards ‘whatever’ that we can find ‘whatsoever’.

This process can be excruciating and painful. But it is wonderful.

It is called Evolution.

Touché Guimarães, published on Linked In on February 18, 2019.
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SPECIAL EDITION:
Open Letter to Malena Emman and Svante Thunberg

Dear Malena and Svante,

At this moment in history when we are lost in the chaos we created, much has been said and falsely demonstrated to prove that nothing is as bad as it may seem, bla bla, a voice speaks loud and clear, fresh as water from a natural source.

You two have all the reasons to be very proud of your daughter! Her fragility is the strength no-one can deny. Her voice and shy way of speaking do not let anyone pretend they hear nothing. At such a young age, your girl has been discussing deep and grave matters with the knowledge and wisdom that come from those who speak from the heart. Yes, you have a very special kid, there.

Greta Thunberg, a new light in the horizon

Greta Thunberg, a new light at the horizon

Now, I wonder what it is like to be parents of a genius. How are you coping with the fact that your teenager is not one of a million enjoying the possible fun of being an adolescent but a world famous lady, who abdicated her right to those pleasures in order to help all of us stay alive?

I wonder how was the day when your little girl started questioning about ‘adult’ matters, and even more, the day when she decided to start an unprecedented strike… how was it? Did she say ‘hi mommy and daddy, today I am not going to school because I am going to start changing the world’? Most probably not. Most probably neither of you ever considered the possibility that this was what it is now. How was that for you when you saw her sitting all alone in front of a building that symbolizes high power, just by herself, that skinny and lovely girl, that daughter of yours?

Did you try to convince her to go home? Did you stay there with her? What about the other members of the family? Were they worried? Did you go on with your usual lives while she was there, sitting next to her backpack, having a simple sign at her side? How did she come home after hours of lonely protest? How did you two react to the comments about her strike from people you know?

And then… one day there was a reporter. And then… there is mass media. And then your little daughter became famous, an example to other youngsters who are asking what is this world they are receiving as heritage, a leader for those who were hopeless, a… threat for those who are used to fool people and remain unpunished. I wonder: how is it for you to be parents of a world famous ‘climate activist’? Probably some big part of your privacy has disappeared. Maybe you were not prepared for the many calls from newspapers, tv channels, invitations for lectures that keep flooding your letterbox.

I wonder if you ever imagined your baby would become an adult at such young age. What about yourselves, have you ever imagined being the parents of a world leader? I don’t think so. Anyway, now this is your life and I want to express my admiration for you, who brought up such a special human being. This must not be easy. I confess: if Greta were my daughter I would not be able to have a single night’s sleep, I would be worried all the time.

Please accept my deep compliments for being the parents you are. I sincerely hope Greta will keep on marching toward the fantastic new horizon she has opened to all of us and that her words will be heard and followed.

As Greta, I also do not believe in words that are not backed up by actions. I sincerely hope everyone will take action.

My sincere respect to you and my deep admiration for Greta.

Very kindly,

Touché Guimarães

written on Fur, Denmark, on January 31st, 2019

published on Linked In on January 31, 2019.
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Long live idleness!

One of the serious contradictions of our time regards the way we discuss idleness, not because the term requires much linguistic knowledge to be explained, but due to the controversial aspects contained in it. However, no matter how strongly favorable someone can refer to being idle there is no doubt about the negative connotation usually attributed to this concept. Maybe some analysis can help find out why this is so and why this should – or not – remain so. Hopefully it should NOT.

In Old English, ‘idleness’ meant ‘vanity, frivolity, emptiness, vain existence’, and certainly none of those synonyms appeal to good comments. Definitely the ‘state of being unoccupied, doing no work’ does not describe the ideal conditions for societies and groups which should be using their time to produce. Being defined as ‘idle’ is not exactly a compliment. Etymology dictionaries mention the adjective ‘idel’ (empty, vain, worthless) as originated from Proto-West Germanic ‘idla’ which is also source of Old Saxon ‘idal’, Old Frisian ‘idel’, Old Dutch ‘idil’, Old High German ‘ital’, German ‘eitel’, and none of those words are positive.

Enjoy the fun of it!

Enjoy the fun of it!

In English some new labels have been ‘glued’ to the first definitions and ‘idle’ became also a way to describe someone who is not employed or doing work, evidently indicating that this is not the best social behavior. ‘Lazy’ and ‘slothful’ are also other moral judgements that became part of the adjective ‘idle’. In late 15th century the verb ‘idle’ became used as ‘make vain or worthless’ and in modern times, in 1916, it was first recorded as ‘run slowly and steadily without transmitting power’ (as a motor). Not nice, at all.

With all these bad historical records it is very improbable that someone will declare him/herself idle and even worse praise idleness as his/her favorite way of spending time. However as many other fossilized ideas the idle state demands to be reviewed as it becomes more and more evident that without idleness creativity is not possible. The simple question is: how can somebody dive and fly in the world of imaginings if rush and pressure is all there is around? Practical examples are easy to find in all fields of art, but not only there. In any work place there is room for idleness as the possibility to find solutions for problems that seem insolvable and generate so much stress just because those who have to make things work have their minds occupied by the need to solve those failures as soon as possible.

It is only when we do not have to think that we can… think. As it is only when we do not have to dance that our bodies flow in the great swings of life. Idleness means quality of life. And tranquility to experience it without the fear caused by criticism and rejection. Being idle gives us the opportunity to find new questions to old answers, new melodies to repetitive sounds, new movements to paralyzed minds.

Yeah. Maybe it is not so bad to run slowly and steadily without power after all. People are no motors! Long live idleness, folks!

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"Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good."– Søren A. Kierkegaard

"Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything."– Floyd J. Dell

Touché Guimarães, published on Linked In on January 24, 2019.
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