maandag 30 maart 2020

Caring Hands

Today I am having one of these days that I am just fed up with social media and all the access I have got to information about Covid19.  A few minutes I was about to throw my phone and laptap through the window and just go an dig a hole in our back yard and only come out when the air is clear.  Yeah, the dark side is fully at work for the moment.   By now I am so far that every single thing that my body communicates is already the doomesday scenario. Yes, I am very busy with all those things that I am strongely advised to do. My hands remind me rather of the ones my grandmother had when she was 80 something.  My hands surely reflect the ongoing battle.  All the handcream that has been collecting dust in my bathroom cabinets come now in handy.  But still it are my hands that tell the story.  They are the borderline where my live crosses over from the safe zone to the danger zone.

Hands....they can tell stories and in the middle of this pandemic they surely can fill up lots of non fictional ones. I refuse to give my handwashing up not matter what.  Every time when I splash soap on them I have internal conversations with that tiny little virus.  I squeeze all my energy in to my hands and keep rubbing the liquid into my skin and then let the hot water glide down on my skin and take a very deep breath.  Relief washes then over my sould for a split second.  For that one short moment I am then in nobody's land before I am forced to move back in to the dangerzone.

The dangerzone is for example a walk into a supermarket.   It is then that I  try to let those hands stay away from my face.  'Keep your hands down...down is the only place they can be...put them in your pocket and please do not touch an other package of cheese if you do not intend to buy it...oh where have they moved the mustard was here last week...EGGS...there are are again eggs!!!...why did everyone needed to buy fried onions? Pfff... I am out and now get that alcohol gel out of your packet asap!'  Yes, going to the supermarket is rather walking through a minefield that I only dare the face once a week.  As a result I try very hard to explain to my teenage son that food raids will not be left unnoticed.  'If you think that I will run back to the Foodlion to get you an other package of crisps, then come gain8  NO WAY!!!', and my hands then go up in the air.

Hands that I usualy love to use & touch so many things that I love and care for.  Momentarily there is a strong paradox at work that makes me wonder when we will ever be able to go back to normal.  Not that I do think that normal will be the same even without all of this. Every year something that we consider normal changes and turns into the new normal.  We face that reality already daily, weekly and yearly.  The world keeps spinning around but the people that inhabit it make so  many decissions on a daily basis that even without this viral rave party we are forced us to make certain changes.  Some for the better and some for the worse.  Still for the moment many are in shock and we can not even put our hands in front our eyes in order to hide from what is going on.   Hands are now the one thing that keep us not that safe anymore...

Still, I would not be the person I am when I don't try to find something that helps me to stay grounded and sane.  And yes, I use Jane Austen for that...that one author that understood so well the language of hands.  Bodylanguage in her stories is to be find all over her novels.  In Austen her stories health is also mentioned more than once.  Darcy informs sincerly after the health of Lizzie her family when they meet at Pemberley.  It is the turning is when the male protagonist lifts up his dark veil and reaches out.  It are those words that he uses to point out that he does care and not only about the person in front of him. It is the moment that I as a reader did think:'Hey, he wonders about even about the people he not fully agrees with and does not take a liking to.  Something is changing within!'  It made me feel hopefull and I did wonder if Lizzie had noticed it as well.

After all in the time of Jane Austen also many people fell ill and health care was surely not close to what we know now to be the normal health care package.   So that one sentence makes a world of difference.  Darcy reaches out with words but he stil not holding out his hand towards Lizzie. He still is holding back and does not cross the border.   He keeps his hands next to his body because he is afraid that if he too moves into fast into the zone he might cause dissapointment and pain.  Darcy keeps them close to his body but in a restful state.   Just like now..the moment that my hands are relaxing they are perhaps the most effective place to hang out at.

Letter writing is an other moment that those hands come in action.  Everytime that hands are used in a Jane Austen they are done purposefully and delicatedly.   I have to say that I am for the moment turn off now and then my phone so that I can stay away from new information that has been typed against a social media mentaly tires me out.  It does not keep me makes my hands cross over the borderline between sanity and a place where I am about to get totaly lost.  This is also the reason why I hardly blog anymore since a few years.  Too much havoc going on and the hands that have been reaching out or have been communicating were sometimes sending out very confusing messages.

The moment that Darcy decides to write to Lizzie to clearify a few things is an other key moment in the book.  Honestly Darcy did not seem the guy who woud quietly sit down, dip his feather in black ink and carefully select words to write a letter to the one woman who has already driven him to the borderline of his mental sanity.   Austen depicts him as a man of not many words and you do wonder what is going on behind that face when he shows up in ballrooms and drawing rooms.  That specific letter he writes is for him the ultimate way to tell Lizzie why acts the way does.   Not that this letter solves every single issue...nope it does not.  It even makes it worse in a sense...for all involved but it is a new beginning.   A letter can be a blessing in disguise....

A few weeks ago there was this one open letter showing up in our press that I do think has made the difference.  No, it was not a fun letter to made you wonder if it would ever work out and if we are up for the fight...the battle...if it will ever be enough... and yes that one letter was composed by a person who worries about the health of so many people.  People he does not know.....and people he will never ever get to meet or needs to agree with.  But he worried like hell about his sister, being a health care worker who would be facing the virus in the frontline and wondered if he was the only one out there with his concerns. Yes, I have to say that when I read it I did have shivers going down my spine but I already knew that it would be a one fo these letters that would stick with people and not only with me but so many others. 

Letters you write because they can go the distance...they evoke emotions, they can make people change their opinions...letters are the one ultimate tool that people can use in a crisis to make sure that they are noticed and that they get the attention they deserve.   Needless to say that since that one individual wrote that one open letter that went virtual my nation is not the same anymore...and the person who wrote it admits that he did not know what effect it would have on people.  That is the thing with letter is letting is reaching out with your hands but not knowing if the person opposite you who reads your words will read what you wish them to read.  Are they in the right place and mood to get it and to see the urgency of it all?  Will they be able to filter out those things that you wish to stand out amongst all the lines you wrote.  Reading a letter involves also empathetic skills and to be able to put everything in perspective. Lizzie Bennet did read Darcy his letter but she at that moment was not able yet to see it with clearity.

In the case of that one specific letter about the nearing Covid health crisis it seemed to be the case. One single letter ladies and gentlemen might be the trigger to make things that not seem to move as fast to suddenly make speed again. Next time when someone tells you that letter writing can not cause change then please walk away from these people.  Many classic authors knew that one single letter can ignite a mind shift...for the better or the worse.  And yes, nowdays we plant our hands on keyboards and let them glide over them and are even able to delete and rephrase what we wish to say.  Jane Austen and many authors had not that luxery.  Yes,  they had drafts but still every single word their hands produced was a produce of hard labour and the love for language.  No, most of them had not clue of if their stories would be bestsellers and even finding a publisher was in most cases mission impossible. They were flying blind and that is surely an other sensation we now experience as well.

Austen was one of these authors who had to go the distance and was rejected many times before she got noticed.  She also was not able to use her talent and skills at full potential due to being a woman.   In that time many women had their path set out by their fathers and also overbearing mothers.  Their hands were the guiding ones who basically showed the way...a way that most them had been on themselves. If you refused to listen and take risks and follow your own path you did have to take into consideration a few things that made the life of others very unpleasant.   The hands of your parents were the ones who you were reminded many times of that.   In times of crisis we also look out to leading hands that dare to point in certain directions.  And today we find out that most leaders seem not know where to hold out their hands.   They point at different directions and some even tend to keep them in their pockets.   Hard to follow such people whose hands seem to be paralysed and frozen due to fear. 

In Pride and Prejudice hands are the most powerful in the ballroom and when out in the open.  Dancing along with Lizzie and Darcy and listening into what they feel and think is finding out that there is certain disdain going on between them but for the sake of all they stick to the etiquette.  Their hands touch but also push away!  I even tempted to say that there is still some social distancing going on even when couples danced together in those days.

In times of Covid hands are rather pushing away everything. We seem not to be able to use them for what we use them the best and that is loving and caring!  Our health care workers even have to pack them in many layers before they can take care of us!  No skin on skin warmth but outspoken clinical and sterile.  It will add up to the coldness and the lonliness that this virus brings along. Not that our health care workers are not aware of this lack of sensation. It is heartbreaking in so many ways.  Heart shattering and it makes them feel so helpless.  It reminds me bit like those moments that Darcy in the most recent film adaptation shows his fists and seems not to be able to relax his hands.   Fighting back to let his fences down....not opening up because he then might slip into a situation he does not have under control!  That moment that we as viewers for the first time see him with relaxing hands that smoothly help Lizzie is very powerful!  That simple act takes Lizzie by surprise...offering a hand is in the world of Jane Austen crossing a line makes a world of difference.

Helping hands are now the biggest challenge because the ones that need to use them at full capacity need enough time, protection and space to operate safely.  They ask us to stay home to give them more time and to save a life!  Mentaly that is tough and I do have moments that I even wonder if it will be enough...  So of the time being we rather hide our hands  and are not able to do with them what we usually do.  And more than ever we do become aware that our hands are our most powerful tool we have to make the difference in the world.   Jane Austen knew her world so well...

So please take good care of your hands, wash them (I know that message is already growing old but that virus detests soap that has not changed since the last scientific report that has been plastered against a social media wall) and let them speak in the ways you see it most fit in the circumstances you are.  Yes, it will first get worse before it can get better but with your hands you can still make the difference.  Not matter what...Darcy knew that and he won over the heart of that one person who had sworn she would never ever let him come closer.

PS:  I did pick out a Dutch song that is perhaps a bit strange to pick out at times as this but I do think that this might be a song that will become very popular. It is earwurm and it is also a cover by an other Flemish artist Gene Thomas whose songs are very strong by being straight forward in language.  One of our leading DJ by the name of Regi (and he also has this thing with hands!) did wonders with it and the title 'Kom maar dichterbij' means 'Come closer'.   Momentarily not the best message to send out at times at this.  Still, coming closer and reconnecting will be important the moment we will be allowed to reconnect.   And the two scenes of Pride&Prejudice I picked out to illustrate what I mean by the language of hands.   Plus honestly I look myself very much forward to that one moment to hold the hands of P back into my own hands.  After all his hands were one those body features that caught my attention when we met for the very first time.  I still love them and I miss them...ardently! 

zaterdag 29 februari 2020

The V-word

Over the last 6 months I have taken a step back from this spot to find out what makes me trigger and when do I snap into my Darth Vader modus and am so tempted to use my light saber to express my frustrations and opinion. I still fail big time to find my zen modus that I will need big time.  Especially now that the world around me is dealing with a v-word that is not easily to be controlled. It will first get a lot worse we are told before it will get better.  That now scientists (no I do not know any of them personal) even are telling is to stop comparing the statistics to the flu is not making any easier.

People who know me a bit better is that by every single outbreak of the flu or of a virus I do go mentaly in overdrive.  When Ebola showed up on the radar I just lost it big time.  So yes, I do panic I do. No, I do not wish to be one of those 1%-2% (there are even statistics to be found that will tell you that the death rate is even higher) who dies. I also worry about the people I hold close to my heart and work with. Hey, I am only human.   It is easy and very tempting to do the maths when it comes down to Covid-19.  After all at the moment not that much is know about that little tiny thing that is invisible to the bare human eye and that causes total havoc.

Yes, people are stocking up and even I have done some shopping myself.  I plead guilty on that account!  Still, I don't have one single mouth mask and so when I start to run a fever and coughing as crazy I might infect others. After all I might already be a carrier.  Yes, I have been in Italy last week and momentarily there is one reported case in the region where I have been.  Mentaly that number is already enough to make me go mental. Believe me I can not put this into perspective because at the moment there does not seem to be that much perspective.  Science is not offering us a 'waterproof and fully secured' life line to hold on to and the media is bascially reporting non stop about what just fuels the creation a dark jungle in which you easily can get lost.  

Not healthy either and that then the WHO (yes, many of us do not trust those fellows and I get that.  Still imagine that there would be not such an organisation we now would scream for it!) called it not only a physical challenge but also a mental one makes total sense to me.   One day I can deal well with all the chaos but then the people around me start to ask questions and even will admit that they have been buying extra toilet paper, medication, canned food and water.  Yes, you are allowed to so and as I have stated here above I have done some shopping myself but still I do not feel prepared at all.  Even the WHO has stated that at this point the world is not well prepared to deal with a health crisis of this scale.  And I do believe is what it is.

We are not in control of this virus.  Seems that we have forgotten that we are not even in control when we run up and down a staircase.  But the riskfactor of that action is in our mind 0% compared to catching Covid-19.  Just to give you an idea: over the last twee weeks I almost fell three times down the stairs and if I had done so I would have fallen on my back and or the back of my head.  So far every time my reflexes have saved me but that it doesn't mean that it won't be the last time it is going to happen.

So honestly I never feel prepared I never have.... and that is a personal fact.  What I try very hard is to trust the people who are in charge of health care and yes that there are now stories out there about people trying to figure out what they might be doing with dead bodies and how they will decide who will get care in case it will get totaly out of hand is surely not that fun to read. It makes you wonder.... No there is no medication available and will at least take 18 months before one 'safe' vaccination will available.  Yes, I do think that Covid will be something that will remain on the radar. Just like flu and other virusses. It won't go away anymore.  Because when I was little my father has tried to explain what a virus wishes to do and that is to stay alive.... but then it needs us as well. Sounds very contradicting.

Within me there is a even a certain fascination with the science of it all.   It is tiny little thing that can cause total havoc within us and all around.  The statistics go through the roof and we do wonder when it will give away all it secrets.  Well, it won't. That is nature of the beast.... No, it is not like the flu but I do think that in the future  it will be now included  in the package of those virusses that we will have to monitor constantly.  Ebola is also still at work (and there stil is not a fully approved and safe vacccination for it either) and numerous communities in Africa that will always be more vulnerable than others.   So that virus has also never left.... so that we now have to deal with one that affects all of us seems to trigger our adrenaline production. Big time...

That there then are still people out there that then think that is a hoax and that it will just go away that is also wrong. It will will is a fact.  P says that the mix of science, media reports and your own opion causes something that is mentaly beyond.  I agree, I am guilty myself of that but it amazes me that people will be also upset that when they get ill and call a GP and then are told that he or she will not come over because they can not buy mouth masks anymore or that they are out of stock.  For weeks we have been told that those masks are not the answer but still.... but health care workers need them big time!  They are the ones that need to stay at work and help us in case we get critically ill.

I am very down to earth about this aspect. No, as stated I don't have mouth masks (when it broke out in China I have said to P that by the time it lands here that most of the mouth masks will be already be bought by others) and I am very sure that I won't find any online anymore. But I want doctors, nurses and scientists to stay safe and also that the people who then are asked to put on can do so.  Seems that many around us have made their own personql risk assessments about those masks and 'just in case' got them.  So that then means that when I get the virus that I will not be able to wear one. I won't...get the message... we created this partly ourselves.  We add to the make up of a virus. No, don't start me on that governments should have been more prepared. In China they even could not keep up with the production of them.   In China...the spot where so many of things you and me own including protective masks and other safety gear...check your house for labels and you will be amazed.  SO DO YOU GET THE PICTURE????

Yes, go and check some online pharmacies because there you will find out how we have been stocking up for Covid-19.  There will be companies who will benefit big time from this virus and there will be many who suffer.  It is human to do so and it the emotion fear that makes us do so and I even bet that many of us who have seen the movie Contagion or read that one Doomesday inspired fiction novel now feel as if they see reality in front of them at work.   It all adds to the cocktail that we are mixing, chilling and serving ice cold!  There is not a lot positive to find out there when it comes down to a virus that just wishes to be party big time.  Sorry for using the word 'party' but I already have an issue with the vocabulary used when talking about virus outbreaks.  It is having a rave party and it will enter our life without we even have asked for it.

I am not a calm person. My constituition when it comes down to these kind of things is rather anxiety and therefor I do for the moment feel as if I try to stay afloat in a big ocean filled up with people who are splashing their hands in the icecold water and seem to have forgotten that they can swim themselves ashore. That there is equipment available around them to stay above the water with and that the huge rescue ships need to be reserved to those that need help big time.  No, I do not wish to sugar coat this and I do try to stay very hard away from calling it hoax that is used by politicians or other conspirarcy theories.  But please make sure that we just keep each other safe and that includes those that have chosen to take on this virus.

 Yes, I do envision me being home in the weeks to come and I am already preparing professional for that.  It will be the next chapter in my teaching story.  So I plan to be a bit more out here as well and hoping that in the weeks to come the world will spin a little bit less out of control.  But then there is this one quote by Deborah Harkness that keeps me company and reminds me that even after all these centuries we still do not seem to master a certain skills.   There is one vampire who so well is able to put it down in words and they will never grow old.  Even after this virus will have travelled all around and there might be something that will help us to calm down...we then move on to the next thing that triggers those emotions.

Please keep all safe, take good care of yourself and the ones you love, keep you wanderlust a bit under control and yes wash your hands it can keep many safe, including yourself.

PS: I choose a rather recent one and an oldie to go along with this post. I am not going to explain why...;-) 

dinsdag 24 december 2019

Christmas...within the heart

Christmas…within the heart

Let is be the time that you feel connected
with those you love
the ones that you once had close by
the ones that you have to miss
the ones that you consider your dearest
the ones that you can count on no matter what
the ones that you have given the benefit of the doubt
the ones that you feel connected with no matter what
the ones that you share the good and the bad with

It is the time to be grateful, joyous and loving
for what you have been given without having asked for it



state of mind

Christmas can be the festival of light within your heart

Yes, you will miss something or someone as well at this time of the year... no matter what

But then that is when Christmas comes at live….

Stallie wishes you all a very festive season.
Let is be that Christmas you are after and in case we end up seeing each other over this break I am so grateful that you are hanging out with me even when I tend to be a rather a grinch or Darth Vader at this time of the year.  Missing many at this time of the year!

woensdag 10 juli 2019


Wear sunscreen….it is for sure very straightforward advice and it is very logical advice.  I found out when I was 14 when the sun made my skin burn and in a way ruin my vacation.  The anger my father demonstrated I will never forget because I had fallen asleep at the side of the pool and they had not been around to remind me.  So when my father saw in what state my skin was he just lost it. Or at least that is how I remember that moment.  The pain that followed once the stars and the moon where out also was unforgettable.  Yeah, the Côte d’Azur has left scars and so sunscreen is no luxury when it comes down to advice. 

So when I did hear for the very first time ‘Everybody’s Free ‘ by Quindon Traver I felt so connected with the lyrics.  Yes, I do envy those gorgeous looking individuals who look as if they walk out of a travel brochure with their sun kissed tan.  My face and especially my legs communicate ‘polar expedition’.  Nowadays sun triggers allergy and will make me go into hiding in the shade.  Beach holidays are a no go for me.  When I go out for a meal I am the one you will still find inside one a blazing summer day.

Now that school is out and Summer is not the calendar I feel very energized by the sun but I will cary in my bag sunscreen where ever I go.  Yes, I am fully aware that when I come back of a skiing trip that I even look as white as the snow but I don’t care.  It is my skin that I care about that is not the only thing that I like about those lyrics. 

For those that are not aware this is song that is based on an essay written in 1997 by Mary Schmich, a former columnist with the Chicago Tribune.  She won the Pulitzer and is amazing gifted writer and most of us do not know who she is.  When I did hear this for the very first time I did wonder if this had been rather a collection of quotes mixed into something that Baz Luhrmann managed to sell.  It is not and only by clicking a few times further you do find out how this ‘song’ was born.  The words ended even up being linked to one of my favorite authors Kurt Vonnegut.  He felt flattered but Schmich herself was afraid that she would be accused of plagiarism.  Having to use the cliché excuse ‘I wasn’t aware that someone already had written this’, is one you seriously wish not having to say out loud when you are an author.   

Still years later after hearing this for the first time I still like this advice and I bet that to many of us it does makestotal sense. In case you wonder if I myself do remember the commencement speech that was given at my graduation.  Nope…I don’t.   Don’t get me wrong because there are quite a few educators that I do remember and that have made an everlasting impression.  Some have given me very wise and serious advice that I still keep close to my heart.  But the speeches given at my graduation did not include some of the words that Schmich has included.

I do remember when I did hear it for the first time and that I did think:’Oh this is useful…especially that about the sunscreen.’  Plus that I do think that once you are passed 40 you might still wonder what you are going to do with your life.  Some of the things mentioned it I do try.  The sing one I prefer to do when I am all by myself and I am still not brave enough to do everything day something that scares me.  Stretching is nowday more of essentials and a must in order to get out of bed. 

So to all the young minds in the world who did graduate and are part of the class of 2019 or managed to get their hand on that Phd or Masters that they worked so hard for please dispense the sunscreen in big amounts not only your skin will be grateful….and please stay as eager you were when you were writing your college application essay or as focussed as when you wrote your thesis that made you curse and forsake tons of social functions.  The world is a scary place but when you do wear sunscreen you at least have one extra layer of protection on you. 

I do hereby want to wish all of you a great summer and enjoy the free time you get to spend with your friends, family or total strangers you might come across while discovering places.  Be bold and brave and embrace new experiences.  Put stay away from the street food if you are blessed with a sensitive digestion system.   Plus try not go wild when it comes down to selfies and social media.  Memories that last a life time do not necessary need to be posted on Facebook or Instagram in order to add that extra spice to your life.  You are the living proof of that…just use sunscreen because no matter what you will always look better without a sunburn. 

P.S.:  This is a link to an article that I found about Mary Schmich and the background story of this mock commencement speech/collumn she wrote.

zondag 30 juni 2019

High up in the (educational) sky!

Outside the sun is having a great time and I am suffering of sun allergy but…I am still smiling.  Yes, there are those days that even bumpy and achy skin can not get me out of my good mood.  Surely it helps that school is out and that the next two months my alarm will not tell me to snap out of sleep modus in order to educate children.  So it is that time to look one final time over my shoulder before diving into my huge stack of summer reading that I carefully have been putting together. 

School years are in a way very predictable they kind of follow the paste of the four seasons.  September is like detox in disguise and by October you know that it is useless to fight back and that it will tire you out.  In November you run to the pharmacy for a vitamin booster to make sure you make it into festive and hopeful December.  January is full of good intentions that then in February seem to have been made up for the sake of nobody.  March your body and mind might hit  rock and bottom.  April brings chocolate eggs into the mix and when May is on the calendar you suddenly are aware that your year planning might have been a bit too ambitious but the sun is out and the birds are back.  And then there is JUNE that one month were all the other nine+two months are blending together into a intoxicating and addictive summer cocktail.   Yes, I love my professional calendar but it comes along with very fierce and strong emotions that I sometimes still can not rein in. 

Yes, it has been a very emotional rollercoaster ride the last school year and I can not deny that there are still certain sensations that will make me doubt if I did the ‘right’ thing and made the correct choices professional.  In education there are not that many guarantees and that is something that especially people next to the sideline seem not think of when then vent their very outspoken opinion about what they think in a school should do for their children.  Yes, I have read a lot about education over the last 10 months and no I not always have agreed with people have been tweeting or have been yelling on Facebook.  Most of you DO NOT HAVE A CLUE.  Sorry, to break the news to you but as long as you have not been within a room filled up with all unique young minds with aspirations, hopes, hidden talents, outspoken opinions, mood swings, never-ending energy, self doubt, fierce emotions and an ‘secret agenda’ of their own you do not know what it like out there.  But that is okay…I am the one who signed up for this job.

This year I found out that it will be a never-ending educational adventure with destination unknown.  The school year might be emotional predictable but all the rest is beyond my control.  Therefor it is no wonder that there are still many educators who one day might wake up and have to show the white flag.  If the circumstances in which you have to perform and have to give your best for all involved then some of us will run out of energy.  If this has happened to you know that it is perhaps the longest battle you will have to fight.  And even then there will be people who will question you why you suddenly have given up.  But what if there is no sufficient answer to give to the people why you had the walk out of your classroom.  Taking care of your self is after all perhaps the one thing that many of us consider rather easy but in reality it takes a lot of hard work.

I have been in so many fascinating places this year with or without anyone else.  There have been those times that I was sure that I had figured it out and that I knew what changes to make to a lesson in order to make it better accessible for all the ones that I have under my educational wings.  There were the days that it all fell in place and that it just made sense what we were doing together and that it felt like real teamwork.  Yes, that is where I got my energy from and fueled up for all those moments that you were about to bin a lesson plan or even think that you have chosen the wrong profession. 

In my educational hotspot I have found out that nothing will remain the same and that you will be ready to deal with so many unforeseen circumstances.   And if you then not have people around you to support you then it all becomes a bit harder.  We need each other in order to be better teachers.  Those who assume that once you close the door of classroom we forget all those others that are involved but believe me we don’t.  We take so many along on our educational voyage and the responsibility and stress that comes along with it most of us experience it.   Oh yes, there are those teachers who seem to wear a hero cap and seem to be immune to it but believe me we are only human and once in a while we need a break and a shoulder to rest on. 

I am a bit tempted to compare working in education to being a F16 pilot.  Those pilots I have a very outspoken respect for and no that is not only due to Tom Cruise.  These men seem to be cool once they get into their million dollar worth aircraft filled up with technology and weaponry but something essential happens when they are up in the sky on a mission.  These pro have survived hard training and are willing to dive into very dangerous situations and even tough they have gone over a plan a thousand times they are fully aware that in a split second everything can change. When the slip into their seat they feel at home and they become one with the aircraft they have been granted control over. 

Once they are high up in the sky they go into a very focused state of mind and even tough they get to fly over the wonders of the world they are still fully aware of their mission.  They are not just flying over for the sake of flying…there is always a mission…ALWAYS even when they are in peaceful circumstances.  They share their expertise with others and when they leave they will tear up because they leave something behind that has made so much sense that day they signed up for.  And even tough they are all by themselves in that small space they are still surrounded by a framework of people who they can rely on.  There are so many involved in order to bring a mission to the wished for ending.  And then there are the wingmen flying next to them.  These are the coworkers that look out for you, who are with you in the hardest times and who you can rely on when you might run out of ideas.   See what I mean even these people need a team to make it work….

My last 10 months were again an unique mission and now that I am allowed to get out of my office/classroom for a longer period of time I also have to say goodbye to many great wingmen and wing women.  They take a piece with them of me and they leave something behind of their expertise, wisdom, inspiration, drive,  joy, passion, critical thinking, creativity, positivity and aim for excellence.  Some them are after something else, some of them retired, some move on due to other circumstances and some did get an offer they just could not refuse.   You all have your own very justified reasons to move on to greener pastures. 

No, I don’t take for granted the opportunities that I am offered when I am working in education.  It is where all the worlds collide and and I am finding out more and more that we teachers are the last line of defense.  That so many seem to have a certain opinion about teaching, learning and education in general says it all.  We are all have been touched by a teacher or two in our lives who made have the difference and not always for the good reasons.  That we therefor then wish the very best for all when it comes down to education is so logical.  Well, what seem so straightforward on the ground might be less straightforward when you once up on there high in the sky all by yourself.  

That we teachers are then always looking out for experts to lead us back into the field and make us better educators is then not always a piece of cake.  We also sometimes need to look within ourselves to find that force within us.  So that many of us over the next two months will be leading a more carefree existence is for many something to be envious about but the thing is that during the coming 8 weeks are already preparing for the next major mission high in the sky where it all happens. 

So I hereby I wish to thank all the wingmen/women who I got to work with over the last years and I had to say goodbye to last week.  You will be missed and I wish you the very best in your next chapter. I do envy your future squadron that gets to fly into battle with you because the flights we had along side you were surely unforgettable ones in so many ways.  You will still be up there with me in spirit. 

And now bring on that first book…hmm what to choose ‘The Monkey-proof box’ (a book about curriculum design) or ‘De Bourgondiërs’ by Bart Van Loo… oh wait I have also that one book by Moriaty that awaits me.  Oh and that bottle of prosecco and Saint Germain to prepare a great cocktail  is also chilling in the fridge.  Summer here we come...

P.S.: The songs I opted for are both lined to the unforgettable school year.  The one by Take That we got introduced to by the amazing Y2 students who used it in their year group production, danced on with the whole school on our sportsfield and we wrapped the school year up with it during our last whole primary assembly.  The flow of energy that I got experience during that moment was as if their was a force released that you wish to hold on for a very long time. The second on is rather an oldie and did one of our wingmen mentioned during his farewell speech. Yes, I am still having the time of my life when I am high up there in the sky but I do know more than ever that I also need some experienced wingmen/women next to me in order to stay safe, healthy, in good spririts and grounded.  And you are always welcome to fly next to me....just bring along some Haribo it work do some magic.

zondag 14 april 2019

One bridge too far....Insieme?

When it happened I cried…it were rather silent tears but they were gigantic and they fell on the carpet in our bathroom that we normally use for spilled bathwater.  That there were numerous tiny wet spots showing up on the light blue fabric while outside the sun was shining made my stomach even go more into a twist.  I felt totally lost and a new black hole was about to be formed inside of me. Because it was a normal workday and I seriously detest coming too late I gathered all the broken pieces in a record time and swallowed the sadness down because life goes on no matter what.    

Ever since that specific day I do try to stay calm and move on.  Not that I have not shared my opinion with people about it, but it hurts in a spot where not that many people can follow me.  Is that then the elite sensation that many people voted against?  I am lost here…and totally flying blind.  Believe me I try very hard to understand why people want out of something that has not lived up to their expectations. Do not worry I get that for 200% but it remains mind-boggling what some people give me as their personal reason why they voted for Leave.  But believe me, I do understand.  You must have very good reasons to do. I get it...I do and please believe me...okay?

No, I don’t consider the EU as being perfect.  In my humble opinion are words such as 'excellence', 'perfection' and 'outstanding' rather an utopia that mankind reaches out for but never manages to get right 100%.  Politics are surely a minefield and most of us vote for 'change' when we are called to the poling station to cast our votes.  Over the last decade I have ended up having less and trust in politicians.  Hey, they all have their own private agenda and many of are addicted to power.  It is a drug and how would you feel that they would take away that one cup of tea or coffee you desperately need in order to function?

It will never be enough… I have figured that out by now.   The moment I am experiencing ultimate bliss might only last a split second and the next I am about to explode and very tempted to behead a follow citizen who thinks that he or she can ignore the traffic regulations.  There is this very thin line between happiness/satisfaction/joy/love and fury/sadness/disappointment/insanity/hate that pushes me forward but also can paralyze me.  It is like the perfect storm that suddenly shows up on the mental radar.  There might have been a few warnings beforehand but despite those you have decided to just dive into the abyss where darkness prevails.

That spring in combination with things such as Brexit can have such a deep impact on me is of course linked to my personal DNA. But still there are days that I do feel a bit out of control and this that the world was a bit less complicated and would be able to find the common ground that we all need in order to function a bit better than we momentarily seem.  Newspapers and social media are full of outspoken opinions why people are not happy and dissatisfied about how it is all going.  It is mind-boggling how many people scream out that they feel discriminated, wronged, hurt, angry, abandoned, cheated on, lied to,… I can go on and on with the list of less happy sounding words.

About 17 years ago I made a promise to a person who also was very good at expressing his very straight forward opinion about the world we live in.  He never added sugar to the medicine to make it down more easier.  That was not his style.  Yes, I sometimes do have imaginary conversations with him because it is perhaps the only way to keep myself in control.  To not slip… and to focus on what matters and what can help to make the day end with a smile. Also I have always listened very careful to advice that my parents, host parents, my other significant one, siblings, mentors, ballet teachers, coaches, friends, coworkers and even strangers  have given or still give me.  I breath those wise word in and then hope that they will make one day the difference.   And they do..still do.

Yes, I kept my promise and still do I go on and try to embrace life at the fullest knowing that it will not always bring 100% satisfaction.  Plus I strongly believe that are so much around to be grateful for that we sometimes consider normal.  Perhaps one thing that Brexit has taught me is that many things that we take for granted are not.  That we do have more in common and share than we ever imagined.  It does not take away the rather gloomy outlook I have about this whole political ‘soap’? Sorry for my choice of words but almost three years further down the line I start to feel a bit like it. Whatever the future will have in store one thing I do now for sure It will never ever be enough…there wil be one more thing we will have in common and that is that we all have lost something.  Something that one day seemed to be enough to feel a bit more unified.

I am trying more and more to bridge the differences I came across within and that seems not that straight forward.  Sometimes I do wonder if a walk over the Peace Bridge across the Foyle, Northern Ireland would do the trick?  There seem more and more be painful moments that it seems that we rather would like to destroy that bridge we have constructed over the last 50 years and only will hold up if we all put in some extra energy.  Now do not get me wrong…I do understand that for some of us the whole EU bureaucracy only has complicated their daily lives. There are even people who wonder what happened to their villages that once where so prosperous and where raiding a family was good.  Nostalgic stories and pictures are then the only proof that is left of a life once led.

Yes, I have already said 'sorry' when talking to people aboout this subject.  I feel sorry that it seemed not enough to hang in there, to take a risk and keep those values we share in a joined venture.  Personal I do wonder if we should have tried harder to make it clearer and less complicated.  Yeah, Stallie takes so many things personal.  Democracy is a nice sounding word and people seem less and less connected with politics.  Well, honestly I do thing that there are people out there that do have a hidden agenda when it comes down to Brexit.   Those people I do not know personal and they do not know me personal.  That is not going to change once that final signature is put under the divorce papers.  So yes, I am already sorry for that we are all going to have to wait longer when we wish to visit eachtother or having to pay more if we wish to taste our delicacies. sorry...that is when you wish to leave and leave behind something that once seem to work but now has only defaults.

It seems that we might have went one bridge too far.  For those who know that movie with a four star cast (Sean Connery and Robert Redford in a less wrinkled state!) know the famous words by the English soldier Frederik Browning.  I guess that is for me the best way to momentarily deal mentaly with Brexit.  Having to say that the mission was not accomplished is surely not easy and does not call for a parade.  Politicians and lots of civil servants/bureacrats/diplomats/lobbyists and other EU staff are fully aware of that.  And that is the least I can say about the whole painful political chaos we are momentarily facing.

The future is unknown and Brexit demonstrates that so well.  There are circulating many other comparisons on social media in order to explain what is going on.  There is this one of using that you try to take something out of a baked cake. Impossible but hey there is now something called vegan cake? No?  Might work, no?  Sorry my fantasy is running away with me once more. Yes, I do not always tell out here what I truly think and feel because the last thing I wish to do is hurt people or give them the impression that I do not understand their feelings or opinions.  Believe me, I don't but I also have those and I do think that it is important that the EU works hard to uphold those values and keep us safe.   Lots of those safety, health and economic regulations are there for a reason and sorry if they might have created only disspleasure in your daily life..... do you get why I rather talk face to face to you about this?

Still, when it comes down to the EU I do have a very outspoken opinion.  I can be very passionate about it and it has changed my life in a very profound way.  In case you wonder how then just ask me. I will happily buy you cup of tea and a scone with cream or cupcake before sitting down for a long chat.  But promise me to bear with me and walk along with on that fragile bridge.  Not that I can make you any promises that you will be any wiser and understand me fully.   Sorry it doesn not work like that...building bridges is about tying to find ways to bridge differences and not withening the gap further. Sometimes that is a very time consuming and complicated process.

For the moment there does not seem to be a way that we can come to an agreement to end the relationship so that we can all move on in peace, foremost peace of mind.  And therefor we will have to put up with each other for a bit longer.  I don’t mind but it is not something that I did foresee that one day that I woke up and found out that the UK was going to file for the divorce.  My love for that nation is now so much interlinked with who I am and therefor even after our joined EU story comes to an end I do hope that there will be enough that will keep us connected.  That is what I hope for and that might be a hope in vain.  But I never ever have taken for granted what the EU has given me so far and that is not going to end the day that the UK leaves. 

That I then momentarily might have to look in very unexpected place for hope is perhaps the hardest challenge but the moments that I do find it are gigantic energy boosts. It can be in very tiny acts.  A text message of a friend living at the other end of the world, a picture of my niece J who now can walk in the colorful dress I bought her for Christmas, sharing chocolate and drinking a cup of George Clooney, walking by myself through Tervuren Park while the sunlight reflects in one of the ponds, a cupcake of Lilicup while you recall all the colorful memories you created with your special friend N, reading that about 600 page book by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (a very fitting book to read at this time in the whole Brexit saga), is getting lost in your capital and observing tourists that buy ‘tourist trap’ chocolate, is tasting yuzu sorbet at Gaston at Place Catherine, buying bright yellow tulips to brighten up your living room, mowing the lawn and smelling the perfume of freshly cut grass, waking up with the sound of a rooster who announces that the day is running already late and foremost being amazed by the pure power that nature exhibit all around….and that happiness you also create yourself but sometimes it just involves a bit of work or peace of mind. 

There is a lot going on in the world that is beyond my control and it is thanks to spring that I am fully aware that I do have so much to be grateful for….so ever since that one year spring is so much more meaningful and do I know that I am someone who for all seasons but for sure feel most connected to many things, people and the planet I love during SPRING .  And concerning Brexit we will have to see where it ends… To be continued I guess….with or without a scone?

Het Gelukslied

stel dat het bestond:
geluk in dozen of per pond.
geluk in potten, per dozijn in een karton;
gaf je er geld voor als het kon?

stel dat het bestond:
geluk kwam zomers uit de grond.
geluk was onkruid in een bak op het balkon.
liet je het groeien als het kon?

stel dat het bestond:
geluk, meteen al in je mond.
geluk als water uit een borrelende bron.
werd je dan dronken als het kon?

stel dat het bestond.
geluk in huis, als kat of hond.
geluk was eetbaar als fruit of een bonbon.
wat zou je kiezen als het bestond?

Ik zou niet kiezen als het kon.
geluk is regen in een ton.
of dun als lucht in een ballon.
geluk is gratis als de zon.
als ik dit lied een herbegon?

                                             Bart Moeyaert

P.S.: That I added a poem by Bart Moeyaert is not random. He won about a week ago the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and that is fur sure grand and happy news! Sorry that I did not translated it but it only comes to full bloom in my mother tongue.   I did not choose Vivaldi to go along with this post but rather for the music by Mari Samuelsen.  Surely a violinist who can make me feel moved by music.  Also music  by the Italian artist Raf called Infinito and a walk next to a  gigantic bridge.  And as a bonus that one song about Europe that even won Eurosong.  Yes, there was a time that you could win Eurovision with a song about an unified Europe.  Ask Toto Cutugno he knows everything about that..  In 2006 he even did perform it live in Moscow...perhaps that was that one bridge too far?

Fragile Hope

HOPE…it is a very powerful word and I still consider it one of those words that can lift up my mood.  Even if the weather is less Spring like and temperatures seem to linger around Wintermodus.  That the final season GOT where the last 10 years Winter was announced is about to kick off and the cherry blossoms are all around seem a bit controversial but in a way it is dark and light in fragile symbiosis.  Yes, I have become a great fan of the series and unexpectedly I will have the pleasure to even hear one of the actors (one of the few who survived the last 7 seasons) talk about one of my favorite subjects but that is something that I hope to get back to in my next blog entry.  Spring is there and it will remain my all time favorite season.  When magnolia trees show their pink-white outfits there suddenly is new force at work and when the grass suddenly finds back the urge to aim for the sky then I know that it is time for Vivaldi his music to being played a bit louder than normal. 

I also then try desperately to find other signs that Spring is a catalyst for better times to arrive.  The energy that I can find while staring at a bunch of tulips or the first chocolate eggs that I buy in my local supermarket and will hide till that particular Sunday have a similar effect on me.  There is a lot to be amazed by when it comes down to the seasons but the effect this on has on me is beyond any mindfulness meditation or a day at the spa.  That it is the same season in which my father said farewell to the living surely makes it very intense but he then also was the one who made me fall in love with the music of Vivaldi.  Yeah, I danced on my ballet slippers over the landing while that record from the Deutche Grammophone was played one more by him.  Outside our garden started to show its force and there was the perfume of freshly cut grass and the first invitations for weddings or holy communions arrived with the mail. 

That nature can have such a major impact on my mental state I keep considering fascinating and also tells me that me moving to an island where there would be one season might not be such a good idea. One look at the sunset and the leftovers it still beams over our grass tells me that I am a girl for all seasons but for sure function best when spring is at work.  My house might not reflect the effects of the mental spring cleaning but still ‘the force’ is at work within.

More than once I have told here that I momentarily I am bit in limbo when it comes down to the news digestion and how I perceive the world.  That I write less when I am in a such state I do not consider a blessing but rather a curse but it is very hard to write about something that you just refuse more air time than it already gets.  There are enough people out there who against all odds keep trying and pushing but these people might only do this in the margin and not always search for the limelight.  We all know what happens to many of those who suddenly jump on stage with their story and then someone finds the dirt and starts to throw it around in abundance. Plenty of examples to be found.  We all have a dark side and stories that we will not share that easily but still… if hope it needed to make the difference than I am very willingly to rather concentrate on what will create rather than destroy. 

So yes that a few weeks Dominique Persoone, the Belgian chocolate wizard/rebel announced on his Instagram that he had exciting news for a joined venture with Virunga Park in Congo  made me feel so hopeful.  We are here talking about a national park in a country where my nation has got some bills to settle with.  Mental bills…daily I am reminded by what happened ‘in de Kongo’. Do never assume that I did not read between the lines or not listened to what others have to say about what my nations caused there.  Every single day that one building will remind of unfinished business and that there is a very thin line between hope and despair.  The recent added sculptures that you will find at the outside of the building will tell you so much more than any educational video you will be shown during your visit.  

That a Belgian by the name of Emmanuel de Mérode is now connected with the word hope is something that makes me ponder how much work you need to put into something that you strongly believe in.  That you will have to make sacrifices that you will have to take many risks and stand up for those that can not use their voice and are less powerful than you.  That the man of chocolate now joined up with the conservator of Virunga Park is perhaps a joined venture that also is very good marketing but I challenge you to read a bit up on who Emmanuel is and what he tries to do.  This individual goes the distance. Yes, he is privileged and thanks to his pedigree he surely manages to get things done that most of us are unlikely to get done in five life times.  But hey, since that he and the crew he put together (one of them is the charismatic pilot Anthony Caere) are now trying to preserve a very fragile part of our globe that we never ever should take for granted I am with them on the same page.  Emmanuel does not beat around the bush when it comes down to his job.  He is not romantic and does not add any sugar to make the medicine go down easier. But he made pledge on the flag of a nation he now works for and he takes that job very serious dead serious.  That he looks for allies in order to find that spark of hope can make me feel hopeful as well.

Yes, the state in which the globe is very concerning and deserves perhaps an army of people such as Emmanuel de Mérode.  Dominique Persoone admits that he was not prepared for what he has seen in Congo.  It is not going to be easy mission that he now embarked on with and he hopes that it will work foremost for the people of Virunga.  His skills and experience he hopes to pass on and let bloom in one of the most fragile national parks in the whole world.  I am with him…after this planet is the only one that has got chocolate…. and imagine that this might now end up in that black hole we since this week know looks like!  No way I wish it to head that way....

P.S.: I add this TED-talk that Emmanuel de Mérode gave in 2011. Surely worth to watch because it explains very well what the fragile line he constantly walks on but searches constantly for hope.  And I added the fragile voice of Stacey Kent who sings one of the hallmark songs by Sting.  'Nothing comes of violence...must we forget how fragile we all are...'