zaterdag 13 mei 2017

The Last Cookie....

There is this one song by a Dutch band called ‘Het Goede Doel’ dealing with friendship.  It is a song that is very cliché and covers the so typical things that happen with friendship.  I momentarily do not get my head about the concept friendship. Perhaps too much technology got in the way and makes this concept rather a very hallow feeling. 

Last weekend I even walked around like a zombie and blame myself for kind of messing up things when it comes down to hanging around the friendship frontier.  It seems I hardly hang around there anymore.  I just don’t find the time… not good and now please believe me, I don’t do it on purpose. IT JUST HAPPENED AND STILL HAPPENS AND WILL KEEP ON HAPPENING!  You might wonder why I get so worked up about it and why I just don’t let it go…well sorry, this I just can not sugar coat with the lovely Frozen song. Sorry, I need to get it out of my system.  So here we go…

Working in the educational hotspot is a very challenging and takes up a lot of energy.  I love it and I still give that place more time than what I am expected by my time table.  It is very hard to resist when you aim for perfection or always will find something that can be improved.  Now, there is nobody who tells me to come earlier on my free morning or stay longer but I have noticed if I do not put enough time into my job that I then feel rather ‘empty’ and feel not as satisfied.  There are other factors involved as well but it does basically come down to the fact that Stallie does not mind to spend more time at work than her contract states. But then there are the side effects due to my personal work ethics. 

As a result I am rather tired at the end of the work week. Plus that I recently seem to need more time to reload my batteries.  I have now more ‘boring’ weekend than very adventurous&exciting ones.  Not that I would not love to hang out with my family and friends but I just seem to not handle my time that well to fit in everything that I have to do and wish to do.  The to-do-list I most of the time seem to be able to handle.  The wish-list on the other hand only seems to grow longer and longer.   So many things I really would love to do and just do not seem to get done.  Just because I first need to do the groceries, ride my A from A to B and then from B to C, get lunch ready, do some cleaning, check my mails, do the laundry and ironing,  do some bank transfers,  mow the lawn with a lawn mower that almost is about the break down, face the weekend traffic (yes, I live in area where traffic can ruin my mood even on a weekend!), stop by the post office to pick up those packages that do not fit in our mailbox, come up with some awesome new lesson plans and creating differentiated worksheets, I can go on and on….  This is my life over the weekends and that is what I call a normal one… by the end of such a weekend I am tired…believe it or believe it not…

If I manage to fit in seeing some friends then this is a very nice extra.  Stallie takes friendship very serious and I have got my own expectations about it. The last 5 years lots of things have changed and I seem have less an less time for my friends.  Many have moved away even further and their life seems so much more exciting from my point of view. They post lovely things on Facebook and seem to fit in those things that I fail at.  Plus they seem to succeed at what I do not succeed at. Now do no start me about jealousy and all other negative feelings. It is not about that…it is about something totally different and it is more complex.

Now some of these humans are very structured and very organized people.  They seem to be able to be awesome at time management and they can plan months ahead.  These are the friends that I have got lots of respect for.  Their agenda is well planned and they can tell you ahead of time when they will be available or when it is no go.  So they can already tell me in January that seeing them over the summer might not work out due to an already filled up to brim agenda.  WOW!   Well, what can I say good job! It does not seem to work with me that way and believe me I have tried but it did not work out. At contrary...

A few days ago someone told me that I should then try to make more time for my friends.  I could not deny that this person was not right to state this.  The issue is that my ordinary life more and more seems to take up more time.  The moment that I plan something out of the ordinary I seem jinxed. Or my mailbox is filled up with urgent work mails that need to be taken care before the weekend is, my lawn mower is falling apart while I am not even half way tackling our green pastures, the line at the bakery is getting every morning longer and longer (not to mention how annoyed I get that most of the ‘locals’ still not seem to be able to tackle Dutch words such ‘chocoladebroodje, 'boerenbrood', 'stokbrood', 'rond', 'lang' and 'de cijfers van 1 tot 20'), the lovely people at the local Foodlion whose cart is always in the way of mine and who seem to stalk me from the entrance to the cash till, A his home work that also demands some attention of me and he also has a weekend social/sport/youth club/art school agenda (momentarily I am learning a lot about the river the Demer for Geography and the fascinating history of the Mughals also keeps my brain fit) , the chilly and rather rainy weather that I try to survive with an umbrella that never seems strong enough,  people who think that parking on the sidewalk (so tempting to plaster myself to their front window to proof my point but I resist) is the best spot while you walk home with two filled up grocery bags and then still give you the ‘evil eye’ when they get into their car and you happen to walk by, P whose private consultations will always go over time unless he needs to be somewhere else than home, the laundry basket that never seems to be empty and resembles an ‘never ending story’, traffic jams that are so much out of proportions (believe me that even if you would ask me over on a Saturday and Sunday that chances are very likely that I will stand still for about half an hour to and from your house)  etc…

Yes, I have canceled lately ‘fun’ things due the above and I do not feel okay about but all these things are momentarily ‘my ordinary life’. And there is this other thing that a bit annoys me.  The thing is that when I do manage to see my friends that I wish to spend time with them alone and that seems not that obvious.  We all grew older, have now families and some of these modern and 21st century families are not that straight forward either.  Some of them have got their own complex planning and priorities and guess what it seems that when I have got time that many of those people do have other things at hand.  No grudges towards anyone out there. 

There is also the fact that I do not live close by to some of the individuals I consider my friends. I have up till not mastered the art of making new friends in this corner of the country.   Some of my friends live now in other parts of the world. There are even those I only see once in every decade.  There quite a few I hardly see anymore and I feel so bad and sad about it momentarily.   Even Trump gets in the way.  Yes, I do not plan to visit my second home for the moment because the idea that a border patrol officer will demand access to my social media and will read my blog and then consider me a national security safety threat freaks me out. Believe me I now not even dare to post certain things on Facebook and Twitter because of this. 

Still, it does mean that when I wish to see some of my friends I need to make major travel arrangements and these also cost money.  Not that I mind but to be honest some of my friends have moved to very exotic spots in the world that come with a very nice price tag.  I am willingly to save money to get there. It is worth every single coin.  The memories I create with them over there are priceless.  No, Skype and FaceTime just do not make up for this.  I want a real conversation. Not just a five minute chat while in the background your toddler is about to turn the kitchen in a war zone and you really only have got five minutes. Sorry to break that news to you.. and do not take it personal.  Your child’s safety is more important than having to hear how I am holding up in my life.   We will hopefully find then an other more safe moment soon to catch up. Not sure when that will be but I then will not pressure you to tell me exactly when you plan to call me back.

And you know why? Because I can not give you any guarantees that I will find very soon the right moment to call you back either.  The moment I put down my phone life goes on… I don’t bear any grudges towards anyone of you when it comes down to last minute cancelled dinners or meeting up (kids get sick and then there is that teacher that suddenly thinks that Monday is the best moment to have a science or math test) or when you have to reshedule due to other more urgent and perhaps even more or less fun things.  That is fair and this is fine…that is how life works… or at least that is the impression I have got.

Plus sometimes I do not feel welcome.. I don’t… and do not take this personal...please…it just happens that my radar then picks up vibes that seem to creep into my brain and make it shift into a certain paradox that I can not seem to shake off. I then over analyze every single text message or telephone conversation we ever had or shared  and then I take off…crash and burn as a result…. that is how I work and I then wait very patiently for you to extend your invitation to visit or to make me feel welcome… for some of you it then seems the end of the friendship… what is fair enough..but be aware that it hurts and will cause me pain and even sleepless nights for a while… You know me well enough to know what I do function like…don’t pretend you don’t…

Oh yes, I know I do cancel sometimes arrangements but that is mostly linked to that the planning of my beloved men is suddenly and unannounced, colliding with my personal arrangements.  In a way I even expect that my planning will not work out and that something will get in the way.  When P is late then I suddenly feel a bit more obliged to do mow the lawn (on Sunday you are not allowed to do this anyway) so I better then get the mower out the garage. Next I try to untangle the very long cable that goes along with it. I can tell you that the battle that then goes on in our garage depicts in a way what I feel like… you would crack up but I am about to crack into million pieces.  To settle the score and calm down after this whole garden adventure I need chocolate and a good cup of George Clooney coffee or a gigantic glass of Italian lemonade.

Still, I feel lonely lately… it happens a lot around this time of the year… May Day is always this time that the past seems to catch up with me… then I dive into a dark pool where there is not much to see besides all the things that I wished for but never will be… sorry, I still miss him and that will never change…just saying…it will never pass but it is not easy and I will never be able to totally let go. I have tried but it seems that there is this scar that will never totally fade.

The last few months have not been easy in many ways and it seems that many are rather a bit disappointed in me. I have said sorry and I mean this from my bottom of my heart it but I just can not offer you the guarantee that things will change in the near future… some of you have also kind of made choices and decisions that now kind of influence your planning.  Sorry if this not seems enough and that you had different expectations about our friendship but then in my life I try to live with the word unconditional when it comes down to friendship…

PS: Once again sorry for this rant and I promise that it won’t happen that much out here but the thing is that I wish to make a point about how I work when it comes down to friendship…because with some of you I do not manage to meet up in person anymore or even have a long and private heart to heart over the phone..   The thing is that this week even Sean Spicer did hide out in the bushes when he was afraid to face his ‘friends’ of the press to break certain news.  And today in the national newspapers there is this article that many teachers constantly flirt with burn out and have a very hard time to balance family and work life… what can I say???  The Aperol Spritz is chilling and the weekend is here… Big hug.. you lovely readers…you lovely friends.. I miss many of you.. believe me that many have given me so much I cherish...hold very dear...very grateful... but it does not exclude now and then feeling lonely and must you feel like now and then as well...

zondag 16 april 2017

Happy Bunny Moments

So finally it is Spring break and today we celebrate Easter.  For those who do know me up, close and personal do know there is something about faith connected to my personality.   Not that I will openly scream out my love for the saviour but I have been raised by parents who have given me the freedom to discover my own personal faith.  Yes, today I do take the message of peace and hope very seriously.  That the world out there at the moment seems to be rather tupsy turvey and that some world leaders have the tendency to be brain twisted and show their muscles I just at this point try to put into perspective.

This morning I put out on display all the delicously smelling and delightful looking Easter chocolate and P suddenly demonstrated this youthful smile.  I even walked to a bakery to pick up some hot cross buns what surely added some more colour to our Easter breakfast.  Stallie is in Spring modus and yes I do now and then still cross over to the dark side.  P lately advises me to even cancel my Facebook account so that I can calm down.  Yes, in a way he surely is right about that. Social media sometimes messes up my mind and can get me into the fringe.  Still....

Now don't worry I am not going to dive once more into my brain that lately is constantly under attack.  For the moment I am counting my blessing and I am fully aware that what I have already been given is so much worth than the things that all those things that are beyond my control.  The last few weeks I have tried to zoom in rather than zooming out.  As a result I at the present I am heading to the spot where zen does make sense.  Oh yes, it does help that this weekend the newest trailer of the new Star Wars has been released.    Yip, they killed my favorite character and I do daily mourn for him by staring with a nostalgic smile at the pop doll that is standing close to my office desk.  That tiny doll helps me get through the most grey, rainy and dull days but also reminds me that at the end of ride we all end up in the same spot.

The last months I was forced to focus a bit more where I come from and this is always confrontating.  Last Wednesday I did travel to the ancestral house of my family.  Not sure how many people who can state that they can have a pint of lager in the place where once their grandparents raised his/her parents.  My family is a very colorful collection of individuals and yes they are very honest with me when it comes down to my personality.   'You are not normal...', one of my beloved cousins told me and you know what I did not deny it.  I did sip of my bitter lemon and did smile and felt at ease by what this person had just told me.   That the whole place hangs full of memorabilia that even relate to my family did ofcourse made it even more intense.  Many of the faces in the pics are not amongst us anymore but there smiles they showed in these smiles are a very strong reminder that the carpe diem spirit is a very strong in this family.  The negative luggage that I carry aldong in my genes

Two days ago I did walk on the beach of Scheveningen while above my head there were seagulls were having a blast, the sound of waves sounded like the most wonderful concerto that Mozart composed,  the air felt so fresh and the wind did lift up my hair.  A was also having his time of his life by jumping up and down on a trampeline with in the background the sound of splashing waves of the North sea.  I did sit there and my mind was completely blank and I was fully embracing all what I was given.   Yes, I still miss certain people&thinggs and I still have specific dreams&wishes.

I am a restless soul and chances are very unlikely that I will end up in that one zone that Budhist rave about.  The last few weeks I have been also concentrating on some music, art and books that have added some color to my grey and dull life.  And because I am in a very genrous mode I am going to share a few things and artists  with you that have added some magic to my life.  At this moment I am calling them my happy bunny moments and for the sake of Easter I am very willingly sharing them with you the joy,the laughs, the happiness, the fun and much more happy moments I had while enjoying them.

1. Lindsey Sterling:  a few weeks ago I did go all by myself to a concert of this fierce and very passionate violinst/dancer.  The girl whose parents could only afford a 15 minute violin lesson and who could not make up her mind between playing this instrument or dancing ballet.   She stays an enigma to me even after that concert.  The passion, the drive and the sincerity she demonstrates while being on stage vibrates all over the place.  Nope, she did not bring alond a whole orchestra or a troop of dancers.  This lady manages to keep it rather low profile on stage but communicates everything by using an instrument and moving along on her own music.  You envy her for that because it is the pover of music that she manages to live by.   In case you wonder who I am talking about check her out. 

2. Totoro: sounds a bit weird that word, doesn't it. Well, I first I did encounter him on my trip in Japan.  We met up in a shop and I was so intrigued by him.  I am talking about an animation character created by the renomated  Hayao Miyazak.  Unlikely that name will ring a bell but believe me it is such a delight to watch this movie.  Not going to spoil it all for you by giving away too much details.  Still this a gem when it comes down to animated movies.  The story line is simple and very straightforward.  I ordered the DVD online to make sure that I did not have to get my Japanese dictionary out constantly.   It is certianly added some color to a very and rainy Friday evening and I now constantly rave about Hayao Miyazak who is a true master of Japanase story telling by images.  If you do wonder and wish to find out more:

3. Binch watching Once Upon a Time: yeah I know, Netflix is so much more than DVD boxes but I still stick to bying them and I do get them out when I need to tackle wrinkled blue shirts!  Being a big fan of fairy tales of all kinds I just do not get enough of the inhabitants of Storybrooke.  Yes, I cheer on Hook that he will finaly be able to tame Emma who thinks that the happily efter can and will never be the ending of her own story.   At the moment I am into season 4 where ice princesses and queens seem to have taken over the village.  Certainly enough action to heaten up my iron. I still miss the sheriff/the huntsman Graham for some obvious and less obvious reasons.

4. La La Land: I loved the movie...I just loved every single second of it.  Yes, some people did not admit very openly it was just not there thing but it certainly is my thing.  Yes, I am a very big fan of the two actor who star in it.  Every since I saw the movie Crazy Stupid Love I was graving for Gosling and Stoone reunited on the big white screen.  The soundtrack is also a hit right between the eyes. That they did and then a few seconds did not got the Oscar for best picture made the news big time.   For those who do wonder why I do cheer on Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling this short clip and I do hope that I then get the message across.

5. Liefde Voor Muziek: now this is a series on Belgian/Flemish television that puts 8 musicians together for a about a week and they have to perform each others song.  In the beginning I had my serious doubts about the the whole concepts but then last year did a certain young adolescent by the name of Ian Thomas 'covered' a song by Dana Winner.  I got goosebumps all over and I had to change my opinion about both artists because of that program.  Last week the program kicked off for a new season and it already happened again.  Isabelle A who I do not have such a high opinion of when it comes down to singing did last week something extra ordinary.  She sang a very quiet version of a power song by Natalia  that I scream along in the car when I need some girl power.  What she pulled of is very impressive! 

6. Classical music in general.  And today I was blown away by Mahler.  It happens more than once that music manages to do this this composer I don't consier that easy to listen to. There is even a certain modus operanti necessary to get my head around his notes.  Seems that Easter Sunday is the perfect day to get into Mahler.  Not that I had not tried to listen before to his compositions.  Today while cleaning up the last crumbs of our Easter breakfast they were playing it over the radio.  It was like I did discover something completely new.  The composition itself is so interesting. In my ears I did hear so many things at the same time.  Like I was walking through the mountains and came across green fields where mountain goats where enjoying the grass and then got to enjoy the imposing view from the top,  then ran down hil to face gigantic waterfalls, and then ran into dancing people in long dresses at a royal court... guess my imagination can take me anywhere in the company of Mahler.  Nothing more fitting to listen to on Easter Sunday that music that later on got named 'The Ressurection'!

I had even some more great happy bunny moments and there is one that I plan to write my next blog entry about.  For now I wish you all a lovely Easter Sunday.  In case you celebrate the day that Jezus left the dark side to show us the way to the light I wish you day filled up with hope!  And to all those who do not share this belief I hope that the egg hunts or runs were very successful and that you did fill up your baskets with delicious and fun memories. 

PS:In case you wonder what the picture is about and where you can find these then you might want to check out the folowing website (one of our favorite chocolate spots in Brussels and around Easter his shop is filled up with lovely creations)

maandag 10 april 2017

Biting the dust!?

'Give me a break, please give me break!'
'Not now, please not now..'
'For crying out loud....'
'WTF!!!!!' (pardon my French but it is necessary evil at this stage)

Getting the picture?  Yeah, Stallie is in an total overdrive momentarily and I have the last weeks being not the most optimistic person to be around with.  Not that I am not trying to fight back.  For those who know me they do know me well enough that I do not crawl into a corner and cry till someone comes and gets me out of it. I am not like that but it are challenging times and momentarily I am counting my blessings...big time...

I have those days that I do wonder why I am even around on this globe.  The 'Moeder, waarom leven we?'-attitude all over my face and not a sparkle of joy to be found in my bones.  I feel rather like Kylo Ren running a marathon on the Death Star and ready to get out his light saber!  Totaly ignoring the tiny Han Solo figurine I have in my office to remind me of the fact that some rebel attitude and a few good jokes can save the day.

Yesterday I did think that I had turned the tables on Kylo Ren and had given his father the benefit of doubt to run my emotional household once again.  But unfortunately, it was rather a mirage!  Yes, I have been in the mountains lately and I did manage to bring back primary children in one piece.   The mountain air, the snow, the speed, the sun light and the sounds the birds produced on slope 10 in Pila were my vitamin booster.  But this time I came less refreshed home.  That I did sleep that well as I usually do in Dolce Italy must have been one of the reasons why things from that moment only seemed to go down hill.

I did stare at the picture of that school journey rather feeling numb.  That A had been last minute been detained of joining me on that special trip has surely not made it any eassier.  Fortunately there was a surprise visit to the sweet Lindt shop included in this one.  But still momentarily my mind seems to be over analysing every single detail.   The reasons are complex and I am trying to come to terms that I am going to be the grey goose in the room for a while.   The world around me seems to have a great time.  Including that one specific person in Washington DC who yesterday did feel the need to give Bundeskanzler Angela Merkel a hand shake.

Not that it came to a surprise to me.  Still, the fact that she had even dare to ask for one but then got ignored made me stare at the screen with a certain uncomfortable feeling.  Yes, I do wonder if this is the new cool.  If this is okay?  If we just can create our own standards and facts to life by.   The press has been publishing many new words that are now daily business.  Nope, I am not having an easy time to digest them to give them air time they deserve.   Unfortunately many seem to copy&paste this attitude and even create havoc close by.

The list of news that made me turn into Kylo Ren is a long one. In case you wonder why I have been holding back?  Well, to be honest the idea that a border control officer will demand my smart phone and will check out my Twitter TL and Facebook posts is not a very promising prospect.  We even put our plans to travel to the US this year into the freezer.   Yes, I have been holding back of giving comments on what certain individuals have been posting about many national and international issues.   In a way I did (and still do) think that Facebook and Twitter are not the ultimate tool to create a good debate.   I am rather the person who has got the Dan Draper attitude and will only open up when you buy me a nice drink and sit with me in a dark spot or on a bench in the park.

I don't believe in the instant outburst of emotional language because there is this moment that it comes back to you. And the speed with which those emotions can be slapped into your face can be lehal.  Whatever goes around comes around!   Many seem to be able to ignore the elephant in the room and I know I tend to be a person who sometimes creates an elephant when there is not a real need to create one.  Still momentarily many around are not living up to my expectations.  No, don't you worry many of you still do. 

The problem is that I daily face the world and not those where I feel most at ease with, where I am able to be 100% myself with and even dare to goof around with.   Yes,Stallie can goof around and even can do some daring things but I lately have not been in the mood or found the time to do so. I do feel numb when an other mortal soul decides that highjacking a truck is the best way to get his message across.  That these humans find justification in their deeds just makes me furious. Nope, I do not agree with policy makers who think that can get a grib at the situation by sending out so F16 or some war ships who then drop some explosives on airfields that then also land on civilians and even hospitals. No, I do not agree with what some of the elected humans say loud and clear in the press.  I just at this stage not know what will 'help' to make it better.  But still,.....

Last night my 13 year old son did wonder why so many people need to suffer in countries where now so many children die of starvation. He stared at the television screen and when P&I did try to explain to him that in these nation are war zones he did reply in a very simplistic manner:'Well, then they should stop making war...'  Neither P or I were able to add something sensible to the conversation. 

Yes, I am a bit tired of the everlasting battles that seem to go on and on.  That people like Asad, Putin, Trump, Erdogan and other major and even minor politicians seem to be high jacking many things to justify their cause I am a bit tired of.   For months I have not written a blog entry because I even felt guilty if I would describe how happy I can be when I see my son enjoying himself and shows up with a good science test.  Or when I enjoy that cup of George Clooney coffee with a great tasting croissant of the local bakery.  The intense  moment that you read a good book and love each word that the author managed to come up to tell the story he or she wishes to tell.  Walking around in Brussels with a friend that you have not seen for a long time and running into a protest march that just leaves you numb but you do know that the person sitting next to you knows why you feel so hurt by such an act.

Simplicity seems very hard to justify.  Everything is so complex and I do wonder once in a while when and where I can put my fences down.  Yes, there are people out there who I can confide in who I feel comfortable around but it is the outside world that seems to be having a very hard to time to get their act together.  Newspapers are rather collections of news that can get the worst out of a human. Okay, fair enough, their mission is to report back to us why someone thinks we need to close down slaughter houses, why we should use less a car, what makes us sick, how many travel back and forth from Syria, what politicans have screwed up once more,  there is still a pay gap between men and women,  article 59 is now reality, why one victory does not make the difference.... I could go on and on...  many of these things have hold me back of writing or taking a stand. 

Yes, I am very busy with my job, running a household (that btw still not comes close to ones that I come across in those glossy magazines), beating morning traffic (A knows how my morning mood turns for the worse in a car), planning lessons (and still think that you have not delivered),trying to find the perfect holiday destination (A&I are heading this summer to a place that I had on my bucket list for already quite some time), missing many whose life seems so much excited than mine (the grass is always greener at the other end), waking up in the middle of night and wondering why your body decided that 4 am is the best time for turning into a zombie,....the list is very long....

I am not a happy bunny momentarily if it comes down to current affairs local and globally but today I did decide that I do not need justification to enjoy the very tiny joys that life offers me.  Suffering, death and hardship will not leave my mindset but then there was this one little macarons I had with one of my great coworkers in the sunshine while she told me how blessed I am, how cool my life is,  how many people do love me and how lucky I am in many ways that was perhaps the best moment of my day, any day. My life is momentarily a bit like a macarons: hard from the outside but from the inside it does taste so good that it will melt on your tongue.  The thing is that I will only open my box of tiny delights while sitting in the shadow where I do not need to justify myself why I am enjoying myself and for a split second just life the moment and forget every thing else?  Capisce? 

For those who celebrate soon Easter enjoy the holiday.  For those who don't just one message: chocolate eggs don't need any justification in order to be consumed.   Just enjoy, just let go and just treat the egg for what it is... just a chocolate egg... (you see here I go again...)  Run run Stallie...fill up that box of macarons!  Yes, I still refuse to bite the dust....

zondag 4 december 2016

Advent Musings

So Advent is amongst us…the first Christmas trees are popping up and the first cups of Glühwein are consumed on a Christmas market near you or far away from you.  In these heck of the woods Sinterklaas is wandering around in the company of a white horse and his friend who I will not name out her because that will cause outrageous.  And across the ocean many already did digest millions of turkeys and survived Black Friday!  So the holiday season is at our doorstep 

A loves this time of the year and he anticipated lots of things still with the same enthusiasm as when he was a toddler.  This year he even wished for rather practical things to be found in his shoe that Sinterklaas is reminded daily to fill up.   The magic of Sinterklaas en Santa Claus he still appreciates and I have to be honest that I am very happy that he never hold a grunge against me or anyone else when a few magical bubbles were bursted.  He is aware how it works but he still embraces everything. 

Yesterday he did point out that he can’t wait to travel to his grandmother for the Christmas festivities and meeting up with his cousins and the rest of the family.  He did not mention the presents that will be awaiting for him.  It seems the older he gets the more the materialistic advantages are replaced of something that is so much more complex and magical.  It is something that is in the air… I bet that most of you know what I am trying to explain to you.  And there might be some amongst my readers who do not celebrate Christmas then I do still think what I mean.  That one sensation that you experience when there is something in the air that makes evaporate all those other feelings that take up so much of your time. 

Myself I had magical Christmas celebrations as a child.  My parents went the distance when it came down to trees,decorations, presents and food.  There was abundance in so many ways and my dad who sometimes was on call on the Holy Night even then would put on the open fire and bake some sausages and he would faithfully put on that one record that I will for the rest of my life connect with the Christmas spirit.  The house did fill up with cinnamon and vanilla.  Our cat did hang out around the tree where she did decided one day that the manager was the best spot for her to take a nap.  Who was I to blame her?

There are so many happy memories I can link up with the holiday season and I still create my own memories.  It only seems a bit harder than it used to be.  Lately many (global) issues have made it a bit harder to be positive. In a way it even seems that the holiday season is rather escapism instead of a time of celebration of peace and hope.  Two main ingredients of the world I do wish my own son to grow up in and find his way around. 

Being over 40 qualifies me to already being aware that gingerbread not always tastes that good as you wish for.  The last 3 years I even wonder if I am allowed wandering around on a Christmas market and feeling festive while there is a terror alert that is unlikely to change in the near future. The government even warns us that it not be the best spots to hang out at due to those people that wish to ‘kill’ and spread terror.   They have taken hostage that one feeling that I do consider so ultimate important in society and this is the cement and glue in our society and that is TRUST.

I have never felt so empty the last 6 months when it comes down to that sensation. It is still lingering around in the back of my mind and conscience but it is having a very hard time.  Nobody seems to grant me a break and even dare to be hopeful anymore.  The last few weeks have been rather down to earth when it came down to trying to find the positive and hopeful spirit I so much need to keep my faith going in mankind. 

Do now now expect me to start about a certain entrepreneur or about a guy who makes jokes about the Russian borders.  Nope, not this time I came across some things that just blew me of my feet and that made me wonder why I still even try.  Not going into depth wat exactly happened but ever since my trip to Japan I do wonder sometimes why so many people have got trust issues. Yes, I had to trust some strangers on my trip and I had to let go.  You might have noticed that I have not posted a post yet about my trip and that is due to the fact that for once I can not find enough words to describe what happened to me while being over there.

My mother predicted that it would be the best trip ever and that anxiety of having to face a nation whose language I will never understand fully would vanish quite soon.  People have asked me what I liked best about it and even that is not a question that I can answer easily.  What I experienced on the trip comes very close to the sensation I have during the holidays.  That is how deep it travelled into my heart and mind.  It touched me in unexpected ways and it made me feel hopeful. Totally zen and only living in the present.  Facing only opportunity where one moment before was only obstacles to overcome.

That it did happen in Japan of all places I do consider a blessing.  I had hoped I would experience it in that spot but there is no guarantee you will encounter it.  Yes, meditation helps and it has saved me in the last few years to find a safe harbor in the very wild ‘mind’-storm.  What you get return of going back to your own center and trying to find your balance is sometimes very hard to define. 

So what did happen then exactly? I have tried to explain to my mother what happened to me when I walked out of that one temple so many people wish to see when they are in Japan.  It is one of those spots in the land of the rising sun that speaks to the imagination of many: Kinkaku-ji .  Enlightment and Budha are very much intertwined at this place.  It is one of those temples that most guide books rave about and by the time you visit wonder if most travel book authors have been given gift vouchers to comment on in positive wording. 

I had decided to keep myself low profile expectation wise.  That sweat was running down my spine when I entered the place and my water bottle was already less cool made it a bit less appealing.  The line of tourist is wonder I did wonder if would manage to even get to see the Kinkaku-ji temple visit so many talk about.  Well?  It did start very promising by the view of that one amazing looking Golden Pavilion.  Even tough it is rather overcrowded in many ways my camera managed to capture the building itself in one of those images that I cherish for the rest of my life. 

At that stage of that visit I was content and did I made a stop at one of these typical kiosks where they sell prayer cards in little wallets made of fabric.  Yes, I had my doubts about spending precious yens in such places. In the land of Hello Kitty I rather felt tempted to spend money on a cat than a card with calligraphy that I was not even able to read once I got home.  But hey, the big number of local tourists who lined up at this one did convince me that such a card might come in an handy on a rainy day.  So I left the place with a few Yen less and a nice looking prayer card that I can not read.   While heading for the exit I was already trying to find out how to get to the closest buss stop and then it happened…

I did walk into a magnetic field of positivism and I can only describe it as a mind blowing experience.  Not a single word was exchanged at that moment. It happened unexpectedly and blew me almost of my feet. It filled up with warmth but also gave me goosebumps.  It still haunts me on those days that I do wonder if it is still worth to keep trying and if I can trust strangers or even the people close to me.  I was empty but at the same time so full of energy.  My knees were about to give away and at the same time I was so much alive that fireworks went of.

Yes, I know it must sound like a lot of hocus-pocus.  Nope, I don’t expect you to believe me. You were not there with me when it happened. I was all by myself and I was not able to share the moment with anyone else.  In a way it filled me up with sadness that I was traveling all by myself. It has been my most intense travel experience ever mental wise.  It is a very unique moment that I will never able to copy.  All I can state that I was fully aware that all my senses were optimal at work in that state of mind.  

Yes, I did try to stay as long as possible in that moment but you know what?  That is exactly the mos challenging about it because it was due to an other human being that I experienced it in the first place.  We were with two when it happened…. someone else seemed to have passed on this force field.  It was in the most simple ways ever… and I still do not get my head around it… Getting the picture?  It did not happen when I did look up to one of the biggest statues or washed my hands in once of the numerous water sources to cleanse my soul. Nope nothing of that sort. 

I knew at that moment that I would snap out of it when the person would have lost eye contact with me and walked away… It did fill up me up with sadness and I wanted to scream out that I wished to stay one second longer in this paradise of serenity… but sadly it does not work that way.  The status of zen expects practice and patience. So I had to let go… the only thing that I can now state is that from that moment on my trip even became more adventurous.

In Japan I suddenly was forced to do let go and keep calm when I was about loose it all together. I had no choice and I had to trust many times that I would get there. Yes, at a certain point I even had to trust total strangers.  In Japan ethics are different than in many Western nations.  Nothing is what it seems and you sometimes are forced to slow down and keep zen to get to the bottom of certain things.  My friends and locals warned me that going back to where I came from would be harder than any trip I had to come back from. 

Yes, they were and are so right.  I now get even more annoyed but certain things that in Japan not seem to be an issue or are questioned.  Not that this nation is perfect it does faces also big challenges and it is also fully aware that in the 21st century lots of things they take for granted are under attack.  It are tiny things that make such a big difference. The nicest memories I have from my trip are not related to very exciting or adventurous things.  More than once I found something in simplicity that I might have forgotten about while trying to stay ahead of the game at work and home. 

Japan has caused a mind shift and I now face daily that the western world in which I try to function seems to have lost some of it’s moral compass. Last weekend even somebody told me that ethics is not essential anymore.  Not kidding!  While sipping from pink bubbles I was told by a very educated forty something that many values and principles do not stand a chance anymore. Now I am not 100% sure he was pulling my leg.  Stallie does take everybody serious who she talks to and this person did not give me the impression that he/she was pulling my leg.  Nope, it was like one of us had too much alcohol into our system either.   The sensation that then filled up my body I can only describe as fear and anxiety.   Shivers went to down my spine and I went very silent.  

Hey, Stallie is fully aware that she might not sound as upbeat out here as I used to. Not that I do not try to find the silver lining in many issues and challenges.  Many people now scream that they are fed up and wish to be taken serious.  That they feel forgotten and left out.  Like mentioned in my previous post I UNDERSTAND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU BUT….  and here comes now what I wish to get out of the open.  Do you ever feel tired when you keep trying to understand everyone and wonder if you are even taken serious… Now do not start me that society does not work like that.  Duh?  Excuse me?  Societies are made up by people.  Diversity and multi culturalism have changed many nations and I still rather wish to consider this is a blessing rather than a curse. 

Let me try to say in poetry what I mean and experience mentally:

You told me that it was useless

That the sun would only shine behind the dark clouds

That there is only destruction and rage to be found in ashes

That hope is an empty promise

That borders will consist of walls that go up high into the grey sky

That what your faith is is not mine and will divide us even more

That what I call a promise turns out to be lie or a disappointment

That love is hollow and will never last

That prejudice and pride have taken over from compassion and sincerity

That happiness is only a box filled up with chocolates

That safety needs guns, knives and soldiers in order to be guaranteed

That the minority needs to scream and shout to be heard by the majority

That to expect kindness and gratitude in return is naive 

That trust is non existing and only exists when black on white

That running behind paper that blows in the wind is useless

That a smile is never what seems at first sight

That ethics are over due and old school

That facts are sometimes fairy tales

That religion justifies destructions and death


I have been told many things by others but still….










are my powers that I wish to use wisely

you were not there with me at Kinkaku-ji

but I was and someone else was with me

a total stranger, a human being, a kind person

who showed me the way to that one place that

I will never wish to leave….

The imprint it left on my heart will never be erased by any fierce storm.

Kinkaku-ji and I are now ‘lovers’

Every single cold rain shower and waterfall will remind me of this...


In case I won’t find that much time over the next few weeks… have a great Holiday Season. I love you all and I believe in all of you. 

Thank you Japan and all the people I met on this trip for reminding me that it does take so much more to keep the faith but that it does start with a verys simple gesture and act: a smile!

C and J a big hug especially to you!!!  Believe me you made this a trip of a life  time.  Even tempted to state the best one ever… I will never return home from it…

donderdag 17 november 2016

What did you expect?

So the wake up call of Stallie on Wednesday morning was P with the words:’Het is Trump.’  My response was :’I know… I have always known…’  Since Brexit I know in what moral disorientated  world we seem to be living and that nothing is what it seems at frist sight.  I then got up, brushed my teeth and got dressed.  I did look into mirror and kept telling myself very bravely:’You can do this, Stallie! It is going to be okay!  The children are going to help you through the day and in the next four to eight years!’ (nope, I don’t think that Trump will be gone after 4 years!  The Trumps are putting a dynasty in place!  Not that there are any facts to be found on the internet or in a high quality  (what ever this means!) newspaper to support my prediction!   My son his priceless comment, while I was throwing our work and school bags into the car, was very promising:’Damn, I would have preferred George Clooney.’  P did respond to this rather playful comment to that by saying:’Oh, that might have worked…’   Yes, let us try to convince George Clooney to run for office in the 2020 race.  That one race that now for once seems year lights away.

By the time my colleague U arrived ,I was still smiling and telling myself over and over that everything was going to be okay…in the end.  That today the earth was still turning and that I still had a job and that my family is in good health,….  I then did sip of my George Clooney coffee, took deep breaths and tried to focus on what is my daily responsibility:’Educating and inspiring young minds.’  I charged up my batteries with many positive thoughts and then dove into my daily routine. 

At the beginning it seemed to go smoothly.  The day passed by like nothing much has changed and most children smiled and laughed on the play ground.  I did secretly think:’I am going to get through this day differently than when Brexit polls were spit out to the world!  Seems I have found an emotional harnas that will protect me in the long long long 4 years to come and beyond.  Well done, Stallie!’ I then took a deep breath and peeled a juicy tangerine in a rather calm mind setting. 

Well, you all know what sometimes happens if you think you have covered all bases.  Yip, and that is what exactly happened on that day.  I am not going to describe what exactly went on in my class room but the result of what happened was a teacher who felt like a fail.  That is the only word I can come up with to describe what I did feel by the time that I got home. Talking to my lovely and rather down to earth mother did not help either.  ‘Have you seen Hillary her speech?  I have to say a good one and I guess she is having a hard time…’  It all did not help and for a while not much will help. 

We have now tons of people that are telling us that they had seen it coming.  Deep down I also did (read my previous post) and I do think that over the last 20 years many people feel like they are left out.  No, not all people who have voted Trump into the White House are racists and will grab a woman by the pussy,  believe that aliens have constructed the pyramids and that women can not have control over their own bodies and mind, that climate change is a hoax, that Obamacare sucks (sorry not apologizing for the language I am using), want to get out of NATO, have a gun in the house and will shoot randomly people with it,….. You are getting my point here, I do hope if not that then you do have got a real issue. 

As a teacher you are constantly confronted with fear and anger.  Yeah, it is not all peace and honey in the classroom and children do reflect about world issues.   Children are not the whole time happy bunnies and not constantly jump around high on a sugar rush.  We all know that you can not keep reality away from them. All young minds have aspirations, hopes and dreams.  Over the last 20 years I have seen many dreams come true and some of the most doubtful ‘cases’ have amazed me in very surprising ways.  Benefit of the doubt has been my closest ally in my classroom and on the play ground and beyond. 

That I on Wednesday could not sugar coat or deny what they said was my real wake up call.  Fact checking was not even necessary.  In a way that was very scary and made me fill up with horror.  It is that creepy feeling that now lingers around in the back of my mind.    It is a sensation that I hate to let come up to surface due to the fact it will paralyze me.  Why?  

I am now almost 20 years in the teaching profession and many students have passed by.  It are those  students who have given me hope and nope no fake hope.  Young minds were able to open up for perspective and debate.  In my classroom deep going debates have been taking place.  Very  fierce debates and yes, children will run into your classroom being totally pumped up or wondering why things can not go their way if they work hard, do what is expected of them, why nobody asks that one question they wish to answer openly and hope that they won’t be judged for that one specific opinion. 

Many time I wish that others would be able to hear what is going on in my classroom.  That I am the one to witness and moderate those extra ordinary moments is a privilege but also make me aware of the responsibility I have to carry around on my shoulders.  That I on Wednesday was not able to contradict anything my students said about what was happening in the US was in a way perhaps even positive.  Still it did in way cut very deep into my heart!  It is what it is…and we are going to have to deal with it. 

The last few days I have been reading as much as I can and I have to say there is for the moment no silver lining to be noticed.  No doubt that many Americans did wake up feeling like the finally got the news out that they are not happy citizens anymore and that they want change…. big change and that they do not wish to be called ‘stupid, ignorant, racist, biased, uneducated, extremist,…’ if nobody seems to have cared for them. 

Now I am not going to defend what Donald Trump has all been saying openly and is saying and is predicted to say and what he has been Tweeting.  His political transition team is being put in place and he is ‘hiring’ the people he wishes to be close when calling the shots.  Some of these individuals are not your ordinary politician from just around the block.  The names that are now going to make the news and policies are people coming along with a different kind of luggage and back ground story.  After all Trump promised he would clean out DC… well that is what he seems to be doing.  Not that it all seems to go smoothly according to some sources but Donald then grabs for his phone and tweets out to the world that all is going well and that he is the only one who knows the finalists.   Does it remind you of an episode of ‘The Apprentice’?  What did you expect?  He is very good at being a builder and businessman.  So nothing new under the sun. 

The thing is that we are facing now is rather scary and gloomy.  Or at least for those who are not at the end of the Trump perspective. People are now waving their hands and pointing fingers at each other.  Behind the scenes many are making phone calls to Trump Tower and want to take ride in the golden elevator of the very president elect.  Many powerful people are already taking back their words they once said about the man who was given many names and mocked.  It seems that many Americans seem to vote rather the underdog into the most powerful office in the world.

Most importantly is that Hillary won the popular vote but that does now not count….in a way it does count but not to get into the White House.  Democracy comes in different shades and momentarily it is rather a dark one.   But then there are people on the Trump his team who have already made some very deep going comments about democracy and the people that make up that democracy.   I am trying to get my head around how ‘pragmatic’ the future POTUS is and you know what?  I fail to do so…I even dove into the dictionary to find the meaning of that rather serious sounding word. There are many online dictionaries but the one that gave me the simplest explanation was Merriam-Webster:’dealing with the problems that exist in a specific situation in a reasonable and logical way instead of depending on ideas and theories.’ 

Okay, now that does not sound like a person who is going to unleash the third world war and I do like logic thinkers.  Still, at the present it does just not matches up with what I have seen and read (I read a lot, a great deal and I even have done my fact&source checking and not just randomly clicked on head lines) about Trump (but then I do not live in the Trump-world) is ‘reasonable’.  Now me being the European (my continent seems also not that reasonable anymore when it comes down to coming up with good ideas that work for each of us. Many even want jump of the wagon now that they found out that it is so much more hard work and that changing a system from within is not easy peasy)  am fully aware that it not that fair to just point the finger at all these people who voted or not voted. Also remember that other specific exit story we are still trying to digest and it causes heartburn in the political system that seems now to be rather worn out.  Still, using the word ‘pragmatic’ in the same sentence as the word Trump causes in my case a mental meltdown. But then I might be on the ‘wrong’ side of the spectrum.

If you vote for change people then do have expectations and believe me that I do not think that the outcome of these changes always live up to our dreams and wishes. I have voted too many times in a surrealistic country of which the capital has been described by Trump as being a ‘hellhole’.  (Very ‘pragmatic’ use of vocabulary! to be in total denial when it comes down to this.  There are people on the Trump transition team who have very outspoken opinion about so many ethical issues.  Issues that matter a great deal and have already created global turmoil.  The signals that Trump&co are sending out are not very promising when it comes down to environment, immigration, women in general and in the work force, health.  The Dream Team that Trump is putting together is a mental tour de force. 

Yes, internal when reading many headlines and articles about American and global politics I do scream out frequently:’THAT IS NOT FAIR!’’ and then have to face a total meltdown. My parents have taught me that this is part of growing up and that the world is not a ‘fair’ spot.  Tough lesson and being a teacher I am almost daily confronted with young minds who figure it out by themselves. My parents seem to have been trying to get across many times that when something was not going our way.  'What did you expect?', is more then a tag-line in my family.  It is very deep going question and I always have been given the opportunity to then admit my faults and learn from my mistakes and prejudice.  Pick up the pieces and move on.  Life is out there and it won't offer you many chances to get it right.  Better hurry up then!   Seems that many now think that Trump will pick up the pieces that others have left behind and bring better times. 

There other words that I link up with Trump but at this stage I don’t think it is worth to give them any air time.  For now I am going to have to let go and sometimes even take a break from social media when I feel like there is no light at the end of the very long dark tunnel…. There is a certain soft drink awaiting me in a chilled status and it kind of screams out ‘what did you expect?’.  After all when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!   Still I might need some time to try out some recipes before I found the one that will enable to overcome the Trump era.  I promise that I will keep you posted and that I hope to share in the near future my successful recipe.  Please share yours with me if you come across. None of the above options is what I am after!  Cheers!  

PS: To make sure we do end this entry on a lighter note then we started out with.  Yesterday did P receive a phone call and did someone tell him.’I am American and I wish to tell you that Trump is a good man.’  P did respond by saying:’Hmm, I am not sure what you wish me to respond but how I can I be of any service to you.’  The response was rather mind boggling:’No, I just wanted to say that.’ The phone then went dead!   Guess this person wished to use her/his constitutional right and that is freedom of speech.  Such a precious one!

* I choose for Sting to go along with this one.  Sting was the one who this last week made the Bataclan stage at Paris coming back to life.  He is there with me when it is very tough... when there is not a lot of light but you just refuse to give up...

zaterdag 5 november 2016

Child's Play!?

Today many of my national newspapers scream that Donald is ahead of Hillary!  Okay, where is there a big hole I can jump into and only can come back out 4 years later.  Yes, I had it with American politics. Not that this comes as a surprise.  Momentarily I have had it with many politics and politicians who are running rather a tabloid newsworthy show instead of creating columns worthy to be published in the The Economist.  Today I even dared to do ‘Are you a Trump or Hilary voter?’-test.  The outcome was no surprise but P did call it in my case rather a close call.   Not that I had not expected to agree with Hillary or disagree with Trump completely. 

Both candidates have got their strengths and weaknesses.  They are both humans that have already lived a full life and are dragging along quite some luggage.   Hillary or Trump have things in common and their is even footage from Donald hoping that Hillary sticking with Bill in the aftermath of a certain White House love affair.  She did, she did stick to her man.  Not that many did consider her strong in doing so.  Nope, including me I wondered why?  Hilary just did and that was it. 

In 1992 I was pro Republican…. don’t try to understand me… don’t go there… all you need to know is that at the time I was a 18 year old exchange student in Ohio (yeah, one of these crucial swing states) and I did try to get my head around what president did fit better for 50 states.   Yes, I did watch Fox News and nope there was no internet at the time to compare sources or read up on the candidates their programs written by different journalists.  Still I did not consider Bill fit enough to lead a nation as ‘huge’ as the US.  At the school I was asked what I would vote and I did say openly that I was not sure.   After all, this was not my nation. I was only a guest and I was very busy observing the nation that did not seem to be what many of us think while being observing it from the outside. 

So nope I was not a happy bunny when Bill moved into the White House and I had some explaining to do when the guy from Arkansas got a very warm welcome in Brussels.  Believe me that was something that many Americans did not get.  Do not try to understand Americans it is a mission impossible and next Tuesday when the votes are counted many of us will wonder what was going around in their heads when casting their vote. Remember the morning after Brexit? 

I am embracing that feeling momentarily. This time I will be ready for it to happen…. It is the Americans who vote and not us.  If they wish to be a person in charge of their huge nation who had made them huge promises than that is their right.   It is their vote not ours.  That the outcome of that vote has got consequences for all us that many Americans do not care about.  In the voting booth it is only you and a pencil or touch screen.  Polls I do not believe them but recently who know that lots of last minute votes will make the difference and that in nations and elections where you are not obliged to vote the outcome is less clear.    My nation is still scared of turning a vote into an individual right rather then a duty.   Easy gain at least many politicians have to ‘work’ harder to find votes in their favor than in my nation.

There are reports now that people feel intimidated to go and cast their vote and people get phone calls explaining to them why they should not vote for a certain candidate.   Scary and surrealistic what some campaign people come up to drag voters over to their side.  ‘Et alors?’, must have Mitterrand said when reading these reports.   Believe me what many of us in Western Europe consider ‘insane for words’  many Americans consider ‘the truth’.  No, please do not get into a discussion with a Mormon, Bible Belt Christian or Amish about certain issues. You will never ever win them over.  Safe your energy

Now you might wonder if I even talk with Americans actively about all of this. Yes, I do and even with strangers.  A few years ago over lunch in a tiny cozy Italian restaurant my friend N and I got into a conversation with an older American couple.  I have forgotten where they were from but they were so friendly to share their opinions about European politics. Believe me, they did not get it.  All what we consider ‘progressive’ but with a dash of ‘conservatism’ they described as being communist.  Guaranteed access to health care that is something that can create a huge hole in your federal deficit and never recover of.  Affordable education?  Why would you make that affordable if in return there are not enough jobs?  We rather let our younger generation start off with a sub zero fortune once they graduated.

That lovely couple openly told us that they will for the rest of their lives vote republican because a democrat was too ‘red’.   At that point I felt like I was considered a KGB-spy.  Nope, they had not a single nice word to say about how we were running our nation.  ‘What seems to work for you will never for work us.’, their main message was.  Plus they do not get their head around why we need so many governments in the first place.   I was very temped to start about the death penalty but something made me hold back.  

So no, I have not tried to convince them otherwise. I was already happy that they were going to spend some money and dragging boxes of Belgian chocolates back to their nation.  Most likely they will boost about the quality of food they were served but they might consider the portion rather tiny compared to what they are used to. No offense!  

I am quite sure that I have got friends who will vote for Trump.  There are points in Hillary her program that are not to their liking and will make them turn of.  Besides she has already screwed up before.  Not that I am going into that for now.  Many amongst us will be able to come up with at least two to three or even more issues/situations that Hilary has not dealt with in a ‘wise’ and ‘responsible’ manner. 

Personal I had one big issue with Hillary at the time and that that she did seem rather ‘fake’.  Many people will get my point.  It will be rather a mission impossible after 8 years of the rock&roll style and attitude of Michele&Barack Obama to be as cool as them but still this lady has certain boundaries that she seems never to cross.  Hillary is everything that not a single politician is that moved into the Oval Office.  And you know what?   She is fully aware of it.  The lady knows what will be awaiting her.  She knows the pitfalls and the backfire that will be the consequence when she once again has not fulfilled what she had promised.  Chances are unlikely that she will even reflect about it in any personal mail.  Servers do hold secrets and even the ones of your ‘friends’ and coworkers can make you end up in the danger zone. 

Hillary has been there and she has got numerous badges sticked on her girl scout’s outfit that should be proof that she is capable to run a nation with such a complex social make-up.  Nope, this lady from Arkansas who considers now NY as her home state is not a home maker and will prefer attending meetings about health care issues and educational reform.  She has been blamed for saying this out loud and many ideas (believe me good ideas) she got up with were sent to the bin. 

After all these years this lady has got trust issues and you know what many of these we have inflicted upon ourselves.   We have never given her the benefit of the doubt.  Remember that health care idea she came up with?  Profound research and traveling all over the world went into that project. Still, the First Lady was told that this was surely not going to work. 

Hillary is been told more than once that it is in vain.  The lawyer of Arkansas has been pleading numerous times in the desert.   So that she more than once has not found any support and wonders when she will be taken serious for who she really is that I consider rather the natural outcome of everything that happened to her in the past.   Trump must been having a party digging into her past.  The other way around also many have been dishing up many less appealing facts about the self made millionaire/business guy. 

Last night a Dutch television station aired this very interesting documentary called: ‘Nixon by Nixon.’  There was one central thought on my mind while watching that interesting HBO documentary.  ‘Oh my dear, DT resembles in so many ways Nixon!’  Not that I had not that read before but then I also think that more and more politicians globally use Nixon like language to gain the populist status. That one status that will grant them access to power.   What mostly did strike me was that Nixon did not like to share information. He kept it to himself or only did share it with a small circle of confidants.  Hey, we all can keep secrets but there are certain secrets that you just can not keep under the lid.  Especially when running a public office like a presidency. But then secrecy seems to be rather the general rule in the 21st century.  Ask FBI presidents about secrets they take every single secret seriously.  Tapes are replaced by servers in the 21st century and HR and DT know what they can do to a campaign and the out come of a poll.  

The thing is that many Americans are fed up with the establishment and they wish change.  They want their jobs back and the wealth that comes along with it.  Very understandable and there is also that one thing that one objects that a great number of Americans carry close to their heart and that is a gun.  Believe me that DT will safe guard that right is for them enough to vote for him. They will forgive him for all the rest.   Lots of them feel like that were left behind in the last decade.  One ride through Detroit and beyond you can see the debris that has been caused to communities that once were prosperous and booming.  People are fed up and they wish to be taken serious and nope they don’t think that Hillary Rodham takes them serious.  They don’t like her and she is responsible for so many things that are going wrong.  Some even want to kill her and imprison her.  

So I have changed my mind about Hillary and yes, in my humble and honest opinion she would get my vote. I would face thunderstorm, blizzards and heat waves to get the voting station.  Nope, I don’t like her personal and I would never invite her for George Clooney coffee and a piece of Belgian chocolate.  Neither I would let DT in for a chat.   But then it is not about being liked that you can run a country.   DT reminds me too much of a Shakespearean protagonist in one of his beloved dramas and we all know what happens to those ‘heroes’ at a certain point.  He is very eloquent when on stage and knows for sure what words his audience love tho hear.  But that only brings you to the doorstep and we all know when you have to pass the threshold and it does get tough…

No, Hillary is not without flaws and faults either but she knows her ‘stuff’.  There is one article by Ezra Klein that I read over the summer that did make my change my mind about this lady.  It is a challenge to read it but if this how Hillary functions then yes she can use Air Force One and once a year give pardon to turkey.   I did also google the person who wrote this article because in time of campaigning you do wonder who is on the pay roll of whom.  He came back ‘clean’ as far I can get my head around the data that I found out there. 

Now, deep down I am preparing for DT to win this election. After Brexit everything is possible and let us be honest many of us are fed up with the establishment and wish to have different people in charge.  Fully understand that and in the end I am not an American citizen who has the right to vote for the person they wish in charge.   It wil be their president not ours.  Still, that their vote matters to so many lives (indirectly my own but I don’t think that someone in the heartland of the US cares about that)  does make it bit hard to accept the outcome when it is not to our liking. 

Me being a teacher I did try to find out what plans both candidates have for teachers and education.  Well, that seems rather to be unclear.  Neither of them seems to have the answers and an effective and waterproof plan or at least not yet it has seen the light. Not that my nation itself is doing a good jog at the educational frontier but we all secretly wish to copy&paste Finland. But it seems to be very hard to do that and I wonder if something as easy to copy as child’s play (in Finland children hardly ever get homework because then they have time for there more important issues like playing and hanging out with their peers) takes so long.  Still access to education is something I hold very close to my heart.  So I do hope that DT was rather kidding when he used in Nevada the words:’I love the poorly educated.’  Sorry I do take these words now out of context but still it did not make me smile either.

All I can hope for is when DT receives the keys and finally is granted access to the Oval Office that he then turns out to be slightly different than he is acting out now.  That many things he did say out loud were not that serious.  That he does surround him with reliable people and specialists who can convince him of their ‘right’.  That the ego ends up once in a while in the corner of the office when he needs to make tough decisions.   I wish to give him the benefit of the doubt and that he then stops acting and scratches out the word ‘huge’ in any speech he will deliver.  Unless when he does one thing and that is when he dares to hand the UN Children’s Rights to the Senate to ratify. The same for Hillary.  Obama failed to do so and did proof that this was not the child’s play he might have imagined it to be. Get the picture here?  Once in the White House you do need a plumber to let water come out of the tab.  Hillary and Trump must be very aware of that fact because no plumber is no water.

In a nation where many long for dreams to come true and anything is possible it is rather awkward that they still have not ratified that international document.  They have signed it but that is two steps away from ratification.  So if DT dares to do so that then he might even end up in my good books.  Even Hillary who has written (with the help of a ghost writer many say) a book about raising children and knows that already takes a village to do so.  She must know that she needs to do what others before her have not dared.  Including Obama who has not managed it either.

If DT or HC do make it happen then I am going to use the word HUGE in his or her favor.  That is a promise!  Let that dream please come true and it would certainly help to restore the faith that dreaming can help you to make things happen in a nation as the US.  That it is not only voting that is child’s play.   So Hillary or Donald please don’t let the children down… please make it happen… you can make it happen… you have proven many times that it can happen… one close look in the mirror and you both can and must see what I mean… A HUGE THANK YOU!!! 

I read many interesting articles in the last year about the candidates. But these are a few that stood out: (The Ezra Klein-article I refer to)

I watched these and had great time and even some laughs  on the sofa and did learn a lot about American politics as well.

One article I came across when I was wondering why the US has still not dared to sign the UN Chrildren's Rights convention.  Honestly I do not know how hard Obama has tried and if anything has changed since this has been written but it does matter…in my personal opinion it does matter… I know that for a fact…:

The music that goes along with this one, is by a boys band that did not like that Trump did used their music for his mission.  I could have chosen so many others.  The list of musicians is long and distinguished and includes Bruce, Adéle and Beyonce.  But this one did stand out and because in a way we all want it our way, don't we?

zondag 25 september 2016

Still Falling For You

Many of you know that I am a teacher.  Also do many know that I teach in a very international setting.  For the moment do run over 70 nationalities around in my educational hotspot.  Oh yes, I drive every weekday into a habitat that is very colorful in many ways.  It is surely what I have dreamed of for many years.  The day that I found that one mail in my mailbox that I got hired was one of my best days ever.  My life has surely changed since that day.  Not a single regret on that frontier.

It have been already very challenging years since I joined the staff.  A school is not a static place.  Educators will for sure know that a learning environment is very fragile when it comes down to changes.  Not a single year or even a day is the same.  IT and administration and many stakeholders have made education so much more intense and I have to admit even tiresome.  The moment you think you got your head around everything there will pop up a new educational innovation that you are politely asked to integrate into your daily job. 

Now the core business of a teacher should not be writing perfect planning papers, filling out tons of assessments or other official documents. Do not get me wrong these are all very important but they do take a lot of time to get them in order.  Before you get to the effective teaching most teachers have already spend some time outside the classroom preparing, justifying, assessing, grading, analyzing, creating, programming, anticipating, downloading, etc.   These are all verbs and need action and take up already some of your energy.  As I have said out here before the automatic pilot is non existing in a classroom. 

So yes, the best part of my job is the teaching bit. It is that part where all the other things I had to do sometimes seem to fall in to place.  A bad day on paper can suddenly turn out to be best lesson of the week.  That this is due to my target group, the students is not a surprise.  They are my jury and it is thanks to them that I need to stay focused and open minded.

The new academic year is now 3 weeks old/fresh and have to say that it already has been quite nice out there in the classroom.  Surely, coworkers still have to deal with my notorious morning mood. This year also a new chapter started for me as a teacher due to some changes in my job description. My target group of students is slightly a bit different.  The subject is still the same and that is the super cool language Dutch.  Undoubtedly have most of you never ever spoken a word of Dutch in their life and most of you never ever will feel the necessity of doing so. 

It is not a very ‘sexy’ language and most of the students I teach will admit that they will move in the years to come and never ever will use the language actively in the far future.  Plus that also not all students are blessed with a talent for picking up easily foreign languages.  Some of my students even come into school not knowing one word of English. These students go into a kind of crash course of English with some of the best teachers we have at our school. It is amazing to hear the progress they make in one year. 

The big difference between those oscar worthy teachers and me is gigantic.  The fact is that I teach a one hour subject in a primary school and that is the same number of hours as music.  Once a week I walk into classrooms with only 1 mission and that is to teach the world Dutch. Nope this is not a piece of cake.  Even in secondary I noticed that if students had to make up their minds my mother tongue did not stood a chance to poetic French, businesslike German and the so sexy Spanish. 

An other handicap I face is that some of students are very outspoken that they do not feel the need to learn an other language.  English does make the world go round in the life of many of my students.  When I try to explain to them why it can be useful to learn any language they sometimes stare at me like I come from Mars. When I try to defend my case students come up with many reasons why Dutch is waste of time.  Like once a student said:’I already know 7 languages! I think that is already enough, don’t you think?’ I stood there and was speechless.   The next few lessons this student went on a strike. It felt like I had to win this kid over why it was useful to dive for the eight time into an unknown language and facing a move in the unknown near or far future.  In the end it worked out for the two of us but it did cost time and patience.

I can assure you that the battles I fight inside of a classroom are not that always easy. Yes, I even admit that I loose sometimes some of them.  Not that I am happy about it but it is reality.  So this means that I also feel a bit like the ambassador of the Dutch language in my school.  A job I take serious and I still not give up on. 

The thing is that this year I am given the opportunity to focus on the mother tongue students and the ones that have a talent for languages.  Something that makes my job a bit less complicated.  I still have to motivate many of them because as the language teachers amongst us must know is that the school language is the dominant language in their life.  Many of my students even speak at home an other language than English. 

Trying to maintain all those languages is hard work and let us be honest a primary child needs space and time to be a child.  Plus that not all students learn in the same manner what even makes it a bit more challenging.  Over the last ten years I have surely discovered that learning is very fascinating and that there is not one straight forward manual to guide your class through the process. 

Plus that it is very important that you as a teacher keep an open mind about all learners in your room. I have to say that when you suddenly find the right route for one your learner after a serious detour that this is an ace feeling.  About a week ago I had the privilege to witness such a moment. Seeing a student suddenly coping with the learning, taking initiative and applying correctly what you have been pushing into their system is so intense. It is like they cross the finish line in a personal best time.  It gives me shivers down my spine.  Suddenly I am for two seconds in a bubble where I only have eye for that one student.  High in the sky and in teacher heaven!

Students are blank canvases when they walk into your classroom but we tend to pick out the colors rather quickly they are allowed to use to create their personal learning journey.  Okay, the box filled up with colours does not contain an endless combinations of colours.  Many of teachers have to make do with what they have been given.  Creative thinking can help us in many situations but when you run out of resources or your patience.

So when I am questioned what the outcome of my learning I do sometimes panic because to be honest students all have their own way of learning.  I can assure that I did witness my Y3 students using their Dutch correctly in an active way outside the school and that is the ultimate sensation.  The thing is that it is so unpredictable and in some case you do wonder if it even makes sense to some of them. 

The odds are sometimes against me, but the days that I am winning and foremost my students are gaining confidence, independency, self confidence, are resilient, dare to take risks and are willingly to go on the learning journey with me I am a very content teacher.  The ones that leave my classroom with a smile also make my day brighter.  Yes, after all these years I am still falling for you….