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 endless...so 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….

Light

Hope

Faith

Patience

Love

Bravery

Empathy

Compassion

Passion


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...


 ...Promise! 

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:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/trump-us-politics-poor-whites/


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/21/trump-nixon-parallels-campaign-rnc-cleveland

http://www.vox.com/a/hillary-clinton-interview/the-gap-listener-leadership-quality (The Ezra Klein-article I refer to)

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-ca-cm-0529-shakespeare-trump-20160518-snap-htmlstory.html


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

https://youtu.be/WQhgnJv1P1Y

https://youtu.be/rbWataLl9k8

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…:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2014/11/21/why-wont-the-u-s-ratify-the-u-n-s-child-rights-treaty/

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….


zondag 4 september 2016

Believe Own Way


Going back is never easy… it even feels a bit like cold turkey… my body and mind are then suddenly using all their resistance.  Surely, teachers are blessed with a very long Summer and that is so nice.  Still believe me that having to get back into the saddle can be sometimes rather painful.  Not that I could function optimal without a classroom but this year my mind had decided that it needed more time to get completely disconnected. 

The first weeks of July my mind was playing tricks on me and did I still woke up at the exact time that I had to wake up in order to get ready for work.  Plus Freud would have had a great field day with me on his coach and hearing all the insane dreams and nightmares that invaded my mind during my power nap.  Stallie was not close to a mental break what so ever by the 2nd week of July.  Why?  Well, last school year something was taken away from me that I just adore.   Something that surely makes me love my job even more so interesting and challenging.   It is now a thing of the past and chances are very unlikely that I will ever get such an opportunity but sometimes life serves you lemons. 

Now, I do know that you then need to make some lemonade and find the silver lining in all of this. Yes, I am very much aware of that but it just did not work.  Like mentioned in  a previous post I have been crying a lot, screaming internal, cursing at many, running out of patience and foremost I have been taking it very personal.  That is me, 200% and I know so well that I then can act like a drama queen.  Still it was a very deep cut and it did not stop bleeding as fast as I wished for.  

Now over the last 6 months I did talk with many and some people have been very clear about my options.  A few even have pointed out to me that this is a new opportunity, others have tried to calm me down and tried to make me look at the half empty class as being rather half full.  P has demonstrated a lot of understanding and was even able to tell me that it would take some time to feel back a bit like the ‘old’ Stallie.  The thing is that P is everything so much faster than I am.   Plus I feel amputated in a way.  That is what it feels like and it is hard to replace that one limb that has given you so much joy and has pushed you over the edge professional.  

So yes, when it happened I did something else that is so not me, I did then book that one trip to Japan.  Now this entry is not the one I wish to get further into that trip. I promise that I will post a Japan entry very soon because on that trip I was granted what I did need so desperately. It has happened before.  On Mount Nebo, while looking over the Gran Canyon, on the top of World Trade Center, waking up in Yosemite Park and many other placed but believe me this time it was so much more intense. Even mindblowing!  Nothing is the same anymore since. 

Yes, I have been granted a very intense moment in Japan and I will never ever forget that exact moment. It can still give me shivers down my spine because I knew that the power of mindfulness can do miracles but still I had never experienced at full power.  There is even a picture of the setting shortly before it took place. I faced the worst Stallie in Japan and the one I so much wish to be when I tackling life in these heck of the woods.  One look at that picture and I am back…. I hold on that picture dearly… can you blame me? Hopefully not!

I was told that going back to work would be harder this time and so I tried to face the music with a smile.  About 120 seconds I was able to keep up appearances.  I am told to be an open book although there is a part of me that only a select group of people is allowed access to because they will take me off guard.   Plus I listen also very carefully when these people talk to me and so I was warned what was about to happen.  So yes, Stallie was not a happy  bunny when she had to unpack for the third time boxes in one year.  

That I had to move from A to B and then quite quickly to C and then 6 months later to D created havoc and chaos in my mind that was already in overdrive.  The thing is in order to function optimal I need a quiet office space to retreat to once in a while.  Coffee and a biscuit won’t do the trick. It is the silence in the morning and the first 30 minutes after school when I am all by myself that I am able to reset my mind or that I try very hard to put things in a perspective.  Now I was facing a mind that I just could not reset at any point.  During lunch time I felt broken en disconnected.  Like I did not fit in anymore.  The rest of the day I spend in a bubble and even took a few serious blows right in my face. 

Best part of that day the chat I had with my head of department.  She sincerely asked me how my day went although she already had seen what it had been like.  In those 15 minutes we talked I spilled all the beans.  Her smile and her eyes communicated that force that made me calm down.  She then asked me a few questions.  Simple questions with very easy answers.  Next she told me to go home and have a gin and tonic.  What I had not seen before or had forgotten about was suddenly visible.  Still it did not take the feeling away that this day had been a waste for me. 

So I drove home with a splitting headache and all I longed for was my bed. Yes, all the demons were back and I still wondered if I was in the wrong profession.   A gin&tonic was very tempting but then my brain was communicating only five letters: S L E E P.  Yes, Stallie went to bed shortly after nine.  What is extremely early for my personal standards. P must have been relieved at that stage because it meant that he was freed from a very dark Stallie.  It took me about 1 hour to find my way to the land of the dreams.

Sleep can be powerful and yes I had hoped that it would work. Fortunately it did.  That the sun was out as well and that I did mange to get into our new parking lot without hitting anything or getting stuck between the automatic doors.  The whole day I did manage to keep up my more positive outlook on the situation.  All went smoother and I even got into that one state of mind that I need to perform optimal my profession.  The sparks were there and made me feel more adequate than the day before. 

Satisfied is Stallie not… Not that comes as a surprise.   This teacher is after fireworks when it comes down to her job. A job I take very seriously.  Perfection I still strive for and we all knew that that is something not easily to obtain.  But I still aim for it… knowing that I will never ever be 100% good enough.  This school year will be challenging, no doubt about that.  That I on Friday did experience that brand new feeling that I created while I was in Japan getting lost and then found then seconds later something that gave me energy boost is certainly one big step forwards. 

Tomorrow students are expected back at the educational hotspot and I will be ready.  The cookies tin is filled up again till the brim and I have a brand new coffee mug.  Empty but very colorful folders that are screaming to be filled up with new ideas and a ‘new’ office that also will be my classroom where I do hope to educate and entertain my students. 

Yes, Stallie is ready. There will be days that the darkness will be looming around the corner and then please bear with me.  I promise that on the teaching frontier I still only go for the highest standards. I am not about 19 years in the teaching profession and not one single year has been the same.  Bored I have never been in all those years.  So bring it on the academic year 2016-2017.  We are back in business!  And I do believe my own way is the right way to walk when it comes down to my profession. 

PS: While being in Japan I found these boys and girls popping up on my Spotify.  Yes, they do sound rather tacky but once you have been in Japan it all makes more sense.  Even the music this nation listens to.  In a way they remind me of Steps.  More about Japan in the following posts. For now I can only say that there is a Stallie before and a Stallie after Japan. AAA will help to remind me of that.  No doubt about that!  I believe in myself, my students and the school I teach at.... that is all it takes to have that awesome and incredible academic school year I am after.  And to those all educators out there who also are about to kick off or already did for some time: I believe in all of you!!!! Please believe in your way!!! Your students also believe....

(You can find the translation of that song here: http://www.jpopasia.com/aaa/lyrics/291901/aaa-10th-anniversary-best/believe-own-way/)


maandag 1 augustus 2016

Sweet dreams!!!???




I am leaving in about 11 days for my very longed for trip to a spot that I never imagined to travel to. Thanks to working at an international educational hotspot where lots of people come and go and then are spread out over the whole globe I do end up going to very exotic places.  That is very nice side effect but still there is also a downside to it.  Close friendships are rather surrealistic. As a result most of my close friends or at least who I wish to call close live not close by. Most of the people who know me very well and know my dark spot I might end up seeing not that many times in a decade. 

I miss many and very good friends who have moved away made me feel 'empty and lost'.  I feel mostly like the one who is left behind. That my Christmas card is destinated to go global is surely a nice side effect as well but it is hard. Especially when it comes down to sharing the good and the bad times.  But hey, next week I am boarding a flight to travel to that one spot that hopefully will help me to relocate my zen spot.   Because it is very urgent and I am about to get myself checked in to a psychiatric ward. Yes, believe me that is how bad my mental state is at the moment.

And it even got worse when today shortly after taking one glance at the weekend press I had wished to read up on due to having attended a very nice hen do in the UK (Yeah, I go the distance for my friends) I had a total meltdown. I was about to lighten that bunch of papers and to throw it over the hedge.  The fact is that I am not that handy with matches and I also try to keep our neighbours at peace with us.  Instead I tried very hard to push out all my emotions but the harder I tried the harder my mind went in overdrive.   Not one single article I came across made me put things in perspective.  Nope, I was about to ask for political assylym after my first cup of George Clooney coffee and I am very serious.  It was that bad.   What had triggered it?  Well to be honest that was not even a news article. Not it had been certain words spoken with so much conviction this weekend that I wondered where the world had come to.  It was like that what happened over the weekend was just the tip of the ice berg.

So what happened then? Well, as mentioned I did head out for the UK last weekend for a hen do. No, please do not get carried away it was nothing in the sort of dressing up in an onsie and having cans of Pimms (as much as I love that drink I can only have it after 7 and in the perfect setting so not while walking over the streets and hiding them in a paper bag) for lunch and having gin and tonics in dozens for dinner.  Nope, this lovely bride to be had wished for a rather quiet and stylish hen do. As a result Stallie had to dress up roaring twenties style and pretend to be lady Sue Suspender in a murder mystery. Yes, you can let your imagination get carried away! It is allowed but I won't be posting any pictures on here for you to enjoy.

It was such delight to end up with 18 ladies dressed the part and have fun.  Yes, many outrageous funny, or at least accorrding to us, selfies were taken with our smart phones.  The bride to be was a very happy princess and every time when she saw most of us she almost started to cry.  Certainly she was not your ordinary bridezilla but rather a very sentimental and happy girl who still carries her heart at the right spot.  Lots of emotions passed by that evening.  I started to let my fence down and I felt rather relax.  Our carriage heading back to the hotel even arrived before the Cinderella hour and I was ready for my bed.  Glad that we got to create many new fond memories that I plan to cherish for a long time.  'I can't stop the feeling' by Justin Timberlake made for once this Summer so much more sense and I almost danced into my hotel room.  Picture perfect night, ladies and gentlemen!  Nothing to add!  Well you know what happens sometimes when you are holding on to perfection... Yeah, exactly.....

One moment I was dancing the Charleston and twisting my legs in funny positions and the next I was blocking my hotel door and even did not dare to go to bed. Now I call myself a frequent traveller and I have never ever in my life felt unsafe in a hotel.   Okay there was once this hotel in Turkey (remember N?!)  where only men did hang out in the hotel lobby and we were told to put our suitcases as an extra security tool in front of our doors for just in case. In general I have always felt very safe.   Well, things were about to change soon...

The moment I arrived at my hotel door there was a guy hanging out in the hallway and he asked my friend and me to party along with him.  We both politely declined and then got into our seperate rooms.   Not sure why but my body and mind suddenly went into a mode that I had not experienced ever before.   So I locked my door and put the chain immediately in the lock as well.  These are actions I normally do shortly after brushing my teeth and turning of the lights. In most cases I even forget to lock my door.  Yeah, I trust the hotel to take the security seriously.

Well, seems that man who had invited us for a 'party' decided that he was going to use the hallway for exactly that.  But not a fun party. He started to yell and used very foul language.   While I tried to take off for the land of dreams I was forced to follow along a 'conversation' between a man and a woman that I can only describe as being very abusive.  I had goosebumps all over my body.  First I did think they would settle their argument quite soon but that turned out not to be the case.  No, the moment that they did seem to quiet down the volume went up again.   Doors were slammed, knocking on doors, shouting, loud cries and many more sounds that kept me awake.   Now, I guess that you would have called reception and asked for 'help'.  Well, my brain was screaming out SOS and my body was in lock down.   I have never ever before in my life called reception.  When I need help with something I do prefer to go down and see them face to face.  So I felt reluctant as well to do this but this time there was no way that I was opening my door while the heat was on outside my room.

So why did I not called them?  Well, you know Stallie and at exact that moment her brain went in overdrive. I pictured the security guard coming upstairs saying the following words to our aggressive drunk guest:'Sir, would you mind calming down we just had some complaints.'  'Complaints?  Who complained? I bet it were those ladies that refused to come and have a drink with me.' I pictured him then starting to knock on my door and yelling at me that I was 'white trash'. He had used those words numerous times before and they are still echoing in my head.  The idea that 1 security guard wasn't able to keep 1 hostile guest in check was enough for me to abort my intention to call reception.

Yes, I did not understand why at this moment nobody else had called yet.  My friend was the only one who I knew was unable to call the reception due to the fact that her phone was not working.   Still the hotel seemed to be fully booked. We were surely not the only people trying to sleep.  Well, you know how it goes you just keep low at such moments and hope that it does pass as soon possible.   So I then decided to get my Kindle out and tried to dive into Outlander, part 3.  In the hope that fierce and determinted looking men in kilts would help me to ignore all the action that was going on.   For once Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall seemed to be outwitted by 1 very loud drunk English man.  Normally those two can take on every Red Coat.  Not this time and they had to get the white flag out.

There I sat then in my 'sweet bed' (I am serious that is what the beds are called at this hotel chain) wide awake and my heartbeat went wild, my skin did not cool down either, my brain was all over the place....By now it was close to 3.30 and I wondered if I would even dare to sleep.  I was scared to even sleep.   Still I did finaly managed to close my eyes and I did fall asleep.   Rude awakenings we all know what they feel like and that was what I experienced about 3 hours later. Yes, I did have a headache and no that was not alcohol related.  Stallie felt and looked also like a zombie. This was rather due to my biological clock that got messsed up since having a son.

Over breakfast I found out that my friend was not a happy camper either due to what had been going on.  We then both went up to see the receptionist. Now at this stage of the story I need to point out that this friendly person seemed to be a very hardworking man who had to do more than cheking in&out guests and settling bills.   This was a individual who did not seem to take it easy, seemed to be rather on his own most of the time and so he mastered multi tasking.   But still dealing with complaints comes along with his jobdescription as well. Or am I already wrong to assume this?

So we went up to see him and told him our nightly adventure. And as expected he did then wonder why none of us had called.  Now I was not hoping he would offer us a free night. Nope, that was not what I was after. I wanted him to take us serious.  We told him in what room the loud and aggressive sounding guest was staying.  By the way, this guy had the 'do not disturb' sign out in the morning and that had made me almost scream and knock on his door very loudly.  But I did restrain myself and did try to tell myself that ladies do not behave in such ways.  The message we tried to get across was that we had not felt safe and that we wondered what they were going to do about it in the future when it would happen again to other guests.  At this point some other people were standing next to us and overheard us taking.  'Oh, we did hear that as well going on.', was their input.  I then did wonder:'So at least we are not making this up.  So why did you not call then?'   They did hang out with us for the rest of the conversation but not made any active contribution.  Not that they looked like happy bunnies either but they kept rather quiet.

When my friend had ended her story I then kept my fingers crossed that the nice looking fellow would come up with some sane sounding reply.  The four of us looked at him and he must have felt that the pressure was on.  'I am sorry.  But what do you want me to do about it?  This is Britain.  It is out of my hands.'  And then it happened... right there in a hotel lobby in Yorkshire I lost the plot.  I wanted to jump across the reception desk (would have broken my personal record high jump by doing so) and plaster the guy against the wall and strangle him.

My innerself was screaming:'WHAT THE FUCK!!! (pardon, my French) I CAN NOT BELIEVE WHAT YOU JUST SAID.  ARE YOU EVEN SERIOUS?  IS THIS WHERE THE WORLD HAS COME TO?  DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE IMPLYING?......'  I went in total over drive and was so angry, upset, sadd, dissapointed, furious and some more negative sounding words.   Why you might wonder?  He had said sorry. Yeah, he had but he should have sticked to that one word that had been the safer option.  Because it were all the other words he had used.  Those made me furious for so many reasons.

It seemed like he was passing on an other message and a very negative one. One that I am trying to stay away from whatever the cost is.  But now this person had expressed that I was to suppose to give up and settling for this situation.  That this was normal in nowdays society and that he as an individual could not do anything about it.  So that I had to get used to feeling unsafe even in a hotel where I paid for my service.  That 1 drunk person has got more power than a whole hotel and the management. That Britain is a nation where people like this are common and that I better get used to it. EXCUSE ME!!!!???? COME AGAIN!!!! 

On top of that I had just started to read Bill Bryson his newest book about this 'small island' called 'The Road to Little Dribbling'.  It is the sequel to his best seller 'Notes From a Small Island.'  The people who know Bryson his work know what makes him such a well received author. His witty writing style and story telling can make you LOL numerous times.  The UK he so skillful describes that is what I am after and have already experienced, that is the nation that I love and hate, that is what I think of when I hear the letters UK.  Bryson nails again in this one and had already gotten under my skin before the hotel incident. But now I was in serious doubt and did wonder if all what was going on in the world (yes including Brexit!) was something I had to get used to and was the new 'normal' and most importantly 'out of my hands'?  It was like this hotel receptionist had 'killed' Bill Bryson his vision.  And not just that nation but to me he did even question an other human being who once said:'Ask not what your country, ask what you can do for your country.'  Bryson even mentions this fellow in this book and so that is why that receptionist got so much under my skin.  This is one of my mantras I live by and do strongely believe in those words.  After all fear is a bad councelor. 
ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn109213.html
ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn109213.html

I felt defeated and on my train ride home the lack for sleep did kick in and I did wonder if this was the summer that I had to exchange my Bill Bryson book for a survival guide after a nuclear disaster.  Fear after all is an excelent salesperson.  A certain Republican nominee who is running for president masters this skill masterfully.  Many others seem as well to be able to spread fear into our evereyday society like a very aggressive form of cancer.  I see, hear, read and experience on a daily basis what fear can do and it seems that yesterday a friendly but rather helpless sounding hotel receptionist had already given up.

WELL, I REFUSE!  I STILL DO.   That I did already dare to tell him that I felt unsafe in his hotel was already one step further than I normaly would have taken on this road.  As a result I did then decide that I had to give Bill Bryson a hand and that I could not leave this great nation with some extra help and I did then decide to buy the newest Harry Potter story.  So before jumping on the Eurostar I got my hands on copy of the recent published 'Harry Potter and the cursed child'.   That the story deals with a thirty something Harry who is close to having a burnout and wonders if he has made the right decissions in his life I forgive the author for.  JK Rowling ('We've got both light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That is who we really are.')  and Bill Bryson (That's the trouble with loosing your mind; by the time it is gone, it's too late to get it back.') that should do the trick and will surely make my mornings more magical than reading the newspaper, don't you think?  Reading a newspaper should come with a healh warning.  And next time when I travelling to the UK I book a room at Hogwarts. I already now where platform 9 3/4 is located. The rest should be child's play during my next journey. 

   


PS: In case you wonder if there will be any further action concerning the hotel with the 'sweet bed': Yes but that will mostly take place on paper and won't be directed to the nice hotel receptionist who seems to need a hand because I do believe him that he can't fix this on his own.

vrijdag 15 juli 2016

Nice and beyond....



There are many reasons why someone who loves to write suddenly decides not to write.   I have wondered why now and then that happens to me.   More and more I wake up in the morning feeling the urge to write something down.  The drive is still there and the therapeutic power of my keyboard has already proven its strength. No doubts on that frontier.  Inspiration enough out there to use for many entries.  The world seems in over drive in many ways and as an individual who tries to make her life worthwhile in many ways it gives me a lot of food for thought.  No missing stepping stone and I surely still have the power to write.  There is something else at work which the last 18 months has made it so much more challenging.  What?  Well let me try to explain it to you.  The positive flow I feel when I wake up is killed by the time I put toothpaste on my electric toothbrush and try to get rid of the creepy bacteria.  It is when I stare in to the mirror that it happens. That it the moment that all my creativity and urge to write is killed!   Fear then takes over. More and more I am scared to write something that others might hurt.   

Let us be honest 2016 has not be kind to us so far. It is not the year we can and will be able to boast about in glossy magazines.  So many events have ‘killed’ something or someone. Ideology and ideas seem to be rather the force of destruction.  I have never felt so helpless due to what is happening in the world.  Even rather naive.  The people that shortly after an other destructive event post messages of love on their social media accounts are easy to find.  Yes, Stallie believes in the power of love and compassion. The problem is that I dare not to write about it for the moment. Like I feel jinxed.

I have cried a lot in the last few months. Not that I have that many personal reasons to do so. My family, friends and I are in good health,  I have a very challenging job that I still love, I still can enjoy all the things that I need in order to stay in balance.  Above all, I live in a nation where there is ‘freedom’ and where the human rights are taken very serious.  I don’t take all of that for granted.  So...but still...I feel so empty, lost, flying blind into a world that less and less makes sense. 

Today someone told me that the closer it happens to home the more you feel connected with it. I could not deny that.  That is how it works.  Something that you experience skin to skin you will never ever forget. It becomes part of you, your personality and it shapes you.  It has found a way into your body and mind. Chances are very likely that it will influence your way of life and the decisions you make.  In the 21st century we are in many ways connected.  Modern technology has helped us to find old friends we lost track of and science surely benefits of progress.  I can’t deny that I experience this myself. My smartphone has given me access to a world that about 2 decades ago was harder to enter.  My blog also has given me a lot over the years and that I am still very grateful for. Nope, I don’t care that much about the number of people who read this.  Wait, I do care but it is not the number that I care about but rather the people itself. 

Why? Well, we are all different and we all have got our own priorities, dreams, wishes, hopes and motivations that push us forwards.  Thank the Lord for diversity.  At work I see daily the force of it at work. Still, it also does create friction and tension.  It causes pain and it can even you push into the direction of the red button. It makes you tip over and going totally ballistic.  If chocolate and George Clooney would not be close by then I don’t know where my mind would take me.  Being the analyst of words and loving to read between the lines has tired me out this year.  It got that far that I do not dare to express my own opinion out here.  P, my family and some good friends know that I am holding back and that I do not wish to hurt anyone in the process of creation.

I now read and read and just swallow… I now sit here and feel empty… I stare at my screen and search for hope but do not find that much of that out there…it is like I feel more and more the elephant in the room.  When someone tells their story and their opinion I do care and I know now after 4 decades that I am like a sponge.  My skin is not thick and I do feel responsible in many ways when something happens like in Nice, Istanbul, Brussels, London, Madrid, Atlanta,  Lesbos, Aleppo, Bagdad, Dallas and many more places where this year something happened that made life come to a total stand still.  Sorry, if I have forgotten that one spot close your heart. Believe me that I do not do that consciously but these are just a few places that jump to my mind and have actually hold me back of writing.  You see why it is holding me back?  Is it clear? Do you get the message?  Please tell, me that you do!

Others have done that job for me and they have done that with conviction and very loud voices.  Many have created something with words, images, pictures and songs that carry out their opinion about what is going on.  Thank you all for sharing your opinions and stories.  Truly I appreciate that but the problem is that I not always fully agree with you.  But what I am after more and more is peace of mind.  I do no wish to be judged by the color of my skin, my race, my religion, the politicians I voted for (obligated to do so)…let us face the fact that the last ones I mentioned hardly ever do what they promise and make many things even worse.

None of us wishes to be judged by those things.  We hope that our personality, good nature, character and values are what matters. Now, many of those things are embedded in the religion that is passed on to us by our parents. Please, do not feel offended that you might be an agnostic or an atheist.  Do not worry, I respect your choice and your conviction and I leave you in peace.   That I not openly practice my religion that is actually something that is very private and my own choice.  I am creating my very intense journey of faith.  It is the deepest layer of my existence and I hardly share it with anyone. Not that I am ashamed of it.  I am not!  But I do not shout if of a roof top and I try to use at it a potential that creates positivity in my own life and that of many others.   It just do that in silence and when I practise it then I do that rather when nobody is looking. You can't see it when I walk over the street or you will not find me in a church every Sunday.  Nope!  Still, I cary my faith very close to my heart.  That it does collide with some individuals and ideologies that now seem to tell me that I am 'wrong', not pure of heart and that I have contributed to wars and killing others, I now fully understand. But still,.....

Nope, I do no point the finger at anyone in particular but I have come across a lot of news that has silenced me.  News, opinions, columns, reports, facts and figures, graphics, poems and songs that surely have very much gotten their message across. Believe me, I listen when I am spoken to.  But yes, at the moment I am rather Don Draper. I would now rather like to walk into a pub that is dim lit and where tumblers are filled up with Canadian Club whiskey.  I would then swallow the burning liquid down in the hope that it would numb me for a few precious moments that I don’t feel a thing. I long for that moment… I do because for the moment I don’t know what is the right word to use and to make sure that I not offend one single precious soul.  Seems for the moment that this is rather mission impossible.  I am desperate calling for Ethan Hawke instead of Don Draper. 

Silence is at the moment the loudest message I try to answer with.  Sorry, if you not agree with me but this is my personal reaction.  Deep inside of me there is this sleeping volcano who is desperate to erupt to create a flow of words.  All I can hope for is that the people close to my heart know what I try to tell by not talking.  In case you, like so many, might be wondering ‘Et maitenant?’ I wish to tell you are not the only who then only finds silence.  Many of us are in this together…