JANA ŠIMENC: "I come from a family of strong women."

July 11, 2020

Black and white photo of woman

In this Woman2Woman interview we talk to Jana Šimenc, Ph.D. in medical anthropology. She is a passionate researcher exploring eHealth/digital health, the relationship between the (new) technology, health, innovations, and humans. Recently she is exploring the social dimensions of organ donation.

Based in Slovenia, this nomadic researcher, sensitive to human inequalities, strives to make innovative connections where they don’t exist. She believes individuals with knowledge and power have a responsibility to contribute to a better and more compassionate world. She is an Eternal idealist, explorer of human experiences, sea lover, a walker, and a big dog lover.

Who are you today, and what is different than ten years ago?
Despite many disappointments, I am still an idealist. The difference is, I need to remind myself more often, why it is vital to keep the enthusiasm, sincerity, sensitivity, and passion for ideas, which I believe, might contribute to a better world for all.

What are your guilty pleasures?
Enjoying an afternoon sun on the balcony with a little or no clothes on.


How well do you know your darker side?
I am still learning to let myself fall into a darker side.

In what relationship are you with it?
Exploration.

Who do you let in your home?
In the last years, I moved a lot. But I always let family, friends, and captivating people in the house.

And who do you let to you?
That is far more limited, only a few.

Where or what is your happy place? How do you find peace?
Seaside. For me, nature is energy, perfection, sites of ongoing transformations, and instability where I find my stability.

How important is a connection with nature for you?
Extremely. For the last 20 years, I lived in a house by the woods. I had the privilege to work with a view of trees. I am a careful observer; I learned all the sounds, shapes, forms, and transformations of nature faces every year, and I like to stare at the clouds.

How do you take care of your body, mind, and soul?
I do not separate them as entities. For me, it is equally important to explore intellectual, psychical, and meta-psychical dimensions of life. Fortunately or not, my body, mind/intellect, and soul are very responsive to surroundings and external triggers. I try to find meaning in intellectual endeavors, keep the flexibility and strength of the psychical body with pilates and walks, and be in harmony with the universe. All three are part of self-cultivation.

How do you take care of your skin?
I prefer a “holistic” approach. I try to nourish it with enough sleep, by proper interior hydration (drinking a lot of pure herbal tea and water). I strive to eat clean - fresh vegetables from the garden (raw if possible), long daily walks on fresh air (preferably woods), and inner peace. Years ago, I took a face yoga course out of fun, but few exercises stuck in my mind, especially the so-called “joker I do when I am stuck in the traffic jam. The side effect is, it helps to lift facial muscles. I wear makeup; red lipstick is almost a must. I do not experiment with face cosmetics, and for body care, I prefer natural oils only.

Which is your daily, monthly, or weekly ritual?
In the mornings, I enjoy drinking Turkish coffee. The preparation itself is a small ritual for me. When I put spoons of coffee into boiling water, I count to three in Spanish. It is always, un- dos-tres. I believe these words add a spice of balance into the taste of perfect coffee. I drink at least 3 cups and turn the coffee cup around. After, I read the signs and symbols. Every day I am curious, what my day will bring me. Of course, I do not take the cues as an absolute prediction. Coffee reading is a little game, also part of my family tradition, I introduce into my mornings.

Which piece of wisdom from your grandparents or parents do you carry with you?
I come from a family of strong women. My mother is amazing and extremely generous. Both of my grandmothers were really witty, resourceful, and outstandingly courageous persons. With our closeness, I got to know their fascinating narratives very well. They had to rebuild their lives over and over, and they both started their families in a foreign city, with no financial of emotional backup from their parents. I “inherited” a proper wisdom legacy and sensitivity towards all the less privileged. Their advice was many; they contributed to my emotional capital.

Which wisdom will you deliver to the others?
I believe it is essential to be tolerant and oriented towards the good and the light. When it gets tough, do not think far into the future. Focus on one day at the time. A man can always find enough energy for tiny steps. Do not try to be ordinary - normality does not exist. And do not let yourself be overwhelmed by the dictates of happiness, perfect relationships, and beauty. Strive attention to the power structures of industry, marketing, and ideological discourse of individual responsibility behind it.

Woman to woman. What would you advise yourself at 15 years of age?
Well, I always tried to go with the flow. Somehow we imagine that our lives will get better with accomplishments in education, in finding stable relationships, a satisfying job, a place to live, and similar. Well, the reality is that life becomes even more complex and challenging, and there is no rest. We regularly need to learn how to embrace the (unfair) reality as it is. My advice is to search for a balance between patience and impulsiveness, and between responsibility and indulgence.

Name your five favorite books?
Paul Auster: Oracle night
Nancy Scheper-Hughes: Death without weeping
Edward W. Said: Orientalism
Michael Cunningham: Hours
Animals - World encyclopedia.

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