zondag 29 oktober 2017

Walking next to the fence

There are those moments that I am not up the fence because I rather like walking next to it.  That the view I am after is not on top of a mountain and that I feel so much more at home while wandering on the trail next to it.  I have been there numerous times on the fence.  Yes, Stallie has got very outspoken opinions.  This lady can jump on the bandwagon when she feels the urge to do so.   But there are as many times that I resist do so.  In the last decade I have kind of figured out that in order to stay in balance screaming, fierce discussions and debates won’t bring me what I need. Plus that there is sometimes a piece of the puzzle missing in order to feel strong enough to dive into the cool water. 

Last Friday evening it happened again while driving home.  I had just left my educational hot spot after a very interesting and at times mind shifting professional learning day.  It had been the perfect day to finish up the first half term of the school year.  I felt in balance professional and please believe me that this is a rare sensation.  The Autumn sun was out and I was tremendously looking forward to spend quality time with my family and friends in the week to come.  It was then that I did hear a person explain how his parents and he felt now that Catalonia had declared their independence!  This person was over the moon and I was not… I did not feel what he was talking about it. Nope, I did not.  There were no fireworks going off inside of my head. Instead I went blank.  Honestly I did and I know so well what this means. I am back walking next to the fence. 

Stallie tries to keep on top of things and still she feels she is not that well informed. That it does take more than just reading a few articles that Facebook will post in between all those exciting status updates.  It takes a lot of time to get the whole picture and up till now I feel that I just can not get my head around it.   I refuse to click on a vote button that someone will post on Twitter in order to find out what people think about all that is going on.  Not that I don’t try to see both parties their point of view. I constantly do but that does take up a lot of more time and energy.

Nope, I don’t think that you can only be for or against separation in cases as such. Sorry, if I hurt your feelings I just do not share that opinion.  After all that is my opinion and honestly I don’t feel the need having to come up with numbers and scientific research to justify myself why I feel that way when it comes down to such things.  My personal opinion I have put together by reading, listening and looking up things.  Still I am very cautious due to the fact that the internet is not always such a good ally when it comes downto spitting out nuanced and fundamental objective news.

I have been long enough around to have seen the world coming to terms that some things do change.  My own nation is certainly not the same as let us say 20 years ago.  I am very grateful to my parents that they have tried and still try to let me figure things out on my own.  Plus they are the ones that have always pointed out that you always have to be aware that there is more then one side to each story that is told. 

The picking side-element in nowadays society tires me out and I just do not feel that you just can always ‘gratuite’ shout out what you think and feel.  It does not work like that in my corner of the world where I try to ‘create and make’ a worth while living.  I don’t judge easily people by their looks and opinions. Rather I tend to wait and take a step back, observe and listen.  Oh yes, I might internal curse and I do wish daily that some of those loud humans who just look for the frontal confrontation to go out of my way and leave me alone. 

We have in Dutch this expression ‘kleur bekennen’, translated ‘confess color’ what means that you have to express your beliefs and opinions. Honestly I sometimes refuse to do so. Especially the matter at hand is one that is too complex to get my head around.  Okay, I admit my head might not function as many others. There are those moments that I even envy those who very openly express their opinion and stand by their principles no matter what.  It feels like they have figured out what I just do not seem to master. 

Tonight I did point out to P that I do not get it that chances are very likely that it will be the last time that we had to turn back the clock and that I did wonder who had made that decision.  Hey, we were not asked what we feel about that and how it might influence our lives in the Spring and Summer months.  It then will be much earlier light in the morning and it will get sooner dark in June and July.  Well, honestly I did wonder out loud if there will be a referendum to decide if this is something the majority of us wishes to deal with. Okay, I do get it that our biological clock, and especially that one of the very young ones, is messed up and causes havoc and chaos in the daily routines of many young parents.  I get that but I wonder if they look forward to even facing the morning light at an earlier stage than now. Just wondering…but then I am not a scientist and I have never faced any issues of that kind with A.  So I better jump of the fence before I say something inappropriate or hurt someone’s feelings.

Sure, the comparison between Winter and Summer time in comparison with Catalonia is perhaps not fair.  Still, this will affect me and I have never had the opportunity to express my feeling or opinion about it. Get my point.  But I also do not think you can compare a 15th century Europe to a present day one.  The world constantly changes but I do think that the world in which we live is more connected to each other than let us say 200 years ago. In my historical conscience there is not a lot to space for taking facts and opinion out of context. Especially if the context is not matching the one in front of me on a screen or on paper.  Or at least that is what I think about it…

It is rather confrontational to see, hear and read comments of people who do think that when you do not express your opinion that you then lack back bone.  Sorry I don’t agree!  Opinions are often linked to emotions and you know what responding emotionally is not always without ‘danger’. Sorry, perhaps was my mind set on Friday just not up for this ground breaking and historical news. Especially if you had a short workshop on decision making and how hard it is when you need to make that one call.

It is one thing to be able to read the outspoken opinion about the EU from someone across the ocean who considers many us leftist who most of the time have already screwed up the whole world by strange decisions. Certain things as health care, the death penalty, transgender issues, abortion, euthanasia, parental leave and social rights you just seem not to be able to explain to people who live in an other political and economical structure.  It is not that I have given up on it but I have just decided that I just can not put my energy into such a crusade.  Plus honestly I wonder if you have ever have walked in my shoes and more than 2 miles walked along with me.

By now you might already have jumped on the fence and start to curse at the screen.  Feel free to do so.  Yes, I understand you but it is like all men suddenly seem to feel that they had to speak out what had happened to all these women who have been facing sexual assaults.  The #metoo surely has opened up a debate but sorry no not all men are sexual predators. In a way I felt a bit out of place when some men I know from the past suddenly were posting things on social media that they feel sorry for not having spoken up and that they should have.   There are now even very out spoken men who start to speak about ‘fake feministic men’. Oh please,…sorry even if your name is Julian Assange who is on a crusade to ‘save’ the world then you do not speak for all men.

Including myself have not spoken up when something happened that many other considered wrong. I have been guilty of not defending the weak one in the room or stand up when I saw something that actually is considered discriminating when it comes down to gender, race, health status and much more. It has happened to me as well.  But I just do not consider all mankind guilty. Yes, I do think that dialogue and empathy and essential to get out of gridlock in many situations.  This involves energy of both sides and the courage to face the fact that you can not have it all. 

I don’t have outspoken opinions about everything and the ones I have I will rather express when you are up, close and personal with me in the same room.  When we have the chance to have a fair conversation about what drives us.  Momentarily it seems rather that he media and politicians have found that one weapon that we all fear that will over take us on a sunny day and that is fear.

Fear can paralyze us and seems to suck up all the energy that we demonstrate on good days. That this is not an easy thing to beat and only grant the air time it deserves is it either. Belgian psychiatrist Damiaan Denys will agree with me on that one.  He is even trying to write a book about it.  And you know what that even turns out to be a scary act.  There is a cover, a title, a price tag and there was a date of publication that he is now for a second time not making due to…FEAR.  The fear not to write it right is like a paradox he is facing constantly in the process of writing about this subject.   He does think that social media are the citizens and that they should feel free to express out there and write but that our traditional media has got a few responsibilities that it momentarily is not safe guarding as much as it could and should. And I do agree with him on that. I do…sorry I do.

So even if the psychiatrist now is stuck in a what he calls a strange kind of dynamics then I do think that right now many of us feel rather safer walking along the fence.  Feel free to join me and the moment you feel the urge to jump on the fence do not hold back either just do not forget about me or all the others that once in a while feel the need to catch their breaths.  Do not be surprised that you find me wearing different colors depending on my mood. Plus I am told to be a Autumn type so our colors might not match mine but together we might create a rainbow.  And who knows we then might then find that one pot filled up with gold the leprechauns have been hiding already for centuries!

donderdag 21 september 2017

Zen Hard To Come By

Okay here we go..I have been pondering a few days about sitting down and writing this down.  After all this not an entry that will be considered light hearted.  Please believe me that I have been overthinking this big time if I even want to put this down black on white.  Yes, Stallie her writers blocks are sometimes fake.  These are more moments that she decides rather not to scream out here what is going on in her life and her mind.

Before plunging into the deep and letting you in where it for the moment is storming I wish to point out a few things. First of all do not take it personal.  Most of these feelings have been evoked by total strangers or people I assumed knowing a bit but found out the hard way that is a big misunderstanding.  I still will be the same Stallie after you read this. Nothing has changed. It is still the same voice I am using.  So please beware of making any assumptions about me. You are very welcome to question me but if you know me well than you must now that I rather prefer to do this face to face in a place where there is candle light, some G&T and smooth back ground music. 

Second I know this is a phase. It will pass. The thing is that I can not predict when this will exactly will be.  Some things are beyond my control. Oh yeah, believe I have got a great Pinterest category by the name ‘Words I try to live by’.   I update that one weekly and I still grant these words supernatural powers.  

Thirdly I am a teacher and believe me I am very much aware that those are very hard kind of humans to get your head around.   Add September to these three and you have got a lethal cocktail that I would rather not consume but it is part of the job description. It will come around and around.  Please be so kind to keep this in my mind while reading the next entry. It certainly will help to put things in the right context.

So September it is and no we both are not good friends. Never were and never will.  Chaos all over over the place. In the beginning I try desperately to ignore it and try to stay on my own created safe haven where I try to fight off all the havoc that is taking place.  Three days that is what give and take I manage to stay on those safe grounds.  Day four the it is like hurricane Irma passes by and sweeps me off my feet and makes me dive into the deep and dark sea.  At this point I am totally disorientated and all my folders with good intentions and brilliant (at least what I did think while drinking George Clooney coffee in my cracked&made in Sweden- mug) ideas and intentions have already been sent to the mental bin. 

The last few days I have come to terms that I feel very lonely that I miss many people and things in my life.  Over the last few years I had to say goodbye to a few people I very much care for. People who know me very well. People who know the darkest secrets of me. These are most likely the ones that hardly read my blog. Some are even not aware of it’s existence. They are the ones that can read me very well.   I don’t see them often. Some of them even once in a decade. That is what life does.  Yesterday it just hit me big time.  The deluge had arrived….

Nope I am not easy when it comes down to making friends. Plus that being a teacher in international educational hotspot has certain side effects when it comes down to making friends. It is tough and honestly most of these places are exceptional in many ways.  I love working there. Every day when I walk in there I feel professional blessed.  Nothing has changed.  Still, I believe strongly in my teaching ethics and that I have been granted something that not everyone is.

Over the last six years I have found out that nothing is what it seems at first sight.  I feel more and more like I am trespassing on my own country. That the harder I try the less it makes sense.  Now before you jump to any conclusions. I was fully aware when I signed up for this job.  If you have been an exchange student, Erasmus Student and Socretive teacher you are fully aware that life is filled up with short and powerful encounters and that you have got to seize the day. That you need to enjoy it as long as it lasts.

Still I have got a hard time to integrate it in my daily routine. Not to take it personal that I do not seem to blend it or truly belong anywhere.   Yes, I can still fake the smile, wave at you and talk chit chat. That won’t change.  But it does not help that some idiots are trying to f*** up the world that I try to preserve and help to educate.  It already starts in the morning when a gigantic white Audi thinks he is granted a few extra traffic privileges. The last few weeks I have witnessed a record of red lights being ignored.  There is the everlasting rain that seems to think that it just will keep us close company and seems to be signing up for a long term relationship. My summer dresses and sandals I have already kicked into a corner and we have even turned up the heating. Oh yeah, baby we are on a roll here mentally!

Never ever have been so much aware how many people around me tend to just look through me. How many people think that they can bump into me and not even say a sincere ‘sorry’, how many people try to jump the line and coming up with insane excuses that they were not even aware that there was a line (oh please get a life!), a record of middle fingers went up in the air (including North Korean missiles that annoy many),  getting lost in translation (you think you speak the language but then there are all these loophole that not a single college professor or textbook has prepared you for),  unannounced changes (oh yeah, Stallie believes more and more that being a Capricorn in combo with being a teacher at the educational hotspot is sometimes rather a handicap.  ‘Let it go’-song is now my mantra when facing an other change that nobody has kindly informed me of)...and the list could go on and on.

Yes, there are the days that I don’t like being a teacher and parent in the same go.  I then feel lost.  Sometimes I stand out there on a hockey pitch or field and are total disorientated.  It does not make any sense what I am doing there. I don’t know what I am allowed to feel or not feel.   Walking into a building that then stands for my ultimate educational dream job is then tough.   Plus what I teach is also a battle. Oh yes, believe me teaching the Dutch language is not easy.  Still it was I signed up for. It is my personal mission. One that I will not forsake and take very close to my heart  but there are days that it is a bit of struggle. But that is rather challenging when the press points out that less and less French speaking Belgians even bother to learn a language that is not beautiful and consisting out of many exceptions. 

Pardon my French, but is so much to ask to dive into a language the majority of your nations speaks?  Is it so tough to sit down and concentrate on the conjugations of some basic verbs? Is it too much too ask to listen to some Dutch speaking radio stations or find some Dutch music on Spotify?  Is too much hard work to read once in a while a newspaper from the Dutch speaking part? Oh well, it seems that I fighting out there a battle that I will never will. Singing along with Ed Sheeran and opening a conversation in Spanish on the beach with good looking Carlos with a six pack is so much cooler and German will help you along in a board room or when skiing down a mountain. Do you see what I am up against? 

Still, it is my mother tongue and it is part of personality. It is my language. It is one of the three official languages spoken in this tiny and complex nation. Yes, it is not a straight forward language and it does not always makes sense. I do get that but it is my language. I love all four languages I speak. Plus I even trying to get my head around the Italian language by using the very motivating language App Duolingo.  So it is not okay that I more and more feel a bit the odd one out by the language I speak. 

It is not nice to hear over and over that my language is boring and does not contain as many lovely expressions as Shakespeare was able to reflect in this great works. Plus that there is nothing that sounds as poetry like as what for example Honoré de Balzac put down on paper. Sorry the Dutch language is nothing of that kind.  Still being able to order ‘vijfhonderd gram pralines in een geschenkdoos’ or ‘een Brusselse wafel met slagroom en een koffie verkeerd’ will make those things even more tastier. But who am I to tell you so? Plus then balancing with trying to coach A through his educational years is then rather tiring.

The feeling that I am the idiot in the room is creeping towards me and even tough I try to fight back it is very hard to ignore.  Act kind and you will receive kindness in return, I have been told over and over. Well let me say that in September that seems very hard to come by.  It has nothing to do with me missing the Summer.  The one who just had was not my best one ever. Too much turmoil going on. It will get better the closer we will get to Christmas and gift wrapping but still. It will pass but it is a everlasting battle. The rules of engagement I know very well and so admitting that  I am not happy momentarily is not easy due to me knowing what I need to do to snap out of it.

So momentarily I am  dragging myself into yoga studio in order to find back my center is then not very surprising. Thanks to my close colleague U who gently pushed me towards the local yoga studio.  Believe me it hurts big time.  My body and mind are aching and there is not a log of fun involved pushing into positions that are not natural looking at all. I mean I do not look like the Dalai Lama when even sitting with crossed legs and if you would see me how I desperately try to find my center in order to keep myself in check you would get a few laughs out of that as well. I suck at it big time momentarily but hey you know what at least I am trying.   Me at yoga is the first step towards contentment and finding my inner self again.  The only thing I need to do now is staying away from social media and not reading the morning newspaper.   

We will see where it brings me. For now I am just happy to survive my sessions and get through the work week. And managing all the things I need. So please be aware of me humming away and sitting with closed eyes in my car or in a meeting that all I am is trying to find the peace within.  You are happy to join in. Have seen many in need of it. Some of you even just bumped into me, skipped the line, ignored red traffic lights or pedestrian crossings, throwing cigarettes out of the car window,..  Namaste to all of you.

PS: So to go along with this one. One in my mother tongue by one Dutch older guy and a Belgian/Flemish young one. Believe it or not but this one Spotify granted me this morning...wonder why that is? ;-) The message they bring goes along very well with this one. The second one I picked out because Max Raabe can express in German the simplicity of life that is worth while to put your energy in. Very zen Max!  Get your German dictionaries out or go on Google Translate. Oh wait most of you know German, don't you?  ;-) 

zaterdag 19 augustus 2017

The Summer of Cracks

It is raining…again…it is not the first time and it won’t be the last time. The thing is that the last few weeks it has been raining a lot and that if  you happen to have a lot of time to do those so much loved typical Summer related things but the weather seems to conspire against your intentions this is a bit annoying.  Still it is what it is.  I have given up and no don’t think I get to wear quite soon that one colorful dress or skirt that only matches with sun and blue skies.  When I look out of the window I try to come up with some positive side effects that rainy weather brings along.  Well, remember how our farmers in June were almost about to perform rain dances due to the dry weather.  They were predicting a harvest that would rocket prices into the sky and they said that in order to save their crops they were need of quite a great amount of rain.  Not that these hardworking farmers were calling out for thunderstorms and a few depression above the Channels islands.  Nope, if I understood all the info correctly they were asking for consecutive days of wetness and rain that was not always coming down in a deluge.  Well, one look out of the window and it seems exactly what is on the weather menu.  So somewhere there must be a very happy soul who looks up to the sky and whispers ‘thank you!’. 

Contrary to the rather cold and wet weather it seems to have rather a hot spot in many places conflict wise.  Does it affect my life? Do I even care? Even when I look at the ‘poffertjes’ I brought back from my very adventurous trip to Amsterdam I do wonder if they have used any eggs containing fipronil.  I take a deep sigh and then take a sip of very artistic coffee mug that I bought while being in Summer modus.  It is a wonderful item and made by the hands of a very talented Swedish potter by the name Åsa Olofsson. It was love at first sight when I did spot this mug amongst all the hundreds of beautiful objects produced by loving hands and creative minds.  I had set my mind on that one particular mug. 

As expected did the outstanding object of my affection came along with a very ‘nice’ price tag.  For a second I was in doubt due to the fact that I never ever had spend that much money on a mug.  Still I had that one perfect mug in my hands.  All the colors added up and the comfort my hands sensed while holding on to it was undeniable strong.  Perfection right there, to have and to hold on even on a rainy day.  Face it you can not drink Aperol Spritz every single day.  Coffee and tea at the other hand always goes along with any weather condition or feeling.  ‘You live only once and you never know if you will ever come back here’-excuse made me get out my credit card. The attentive shop owner did wrap the mug in some carton in order to let it survive the trip back home.   After all this is a fragile object and could end up breaking before we made it back to Belgium. 

Well, can you guess… nope it did not make it into my cupboard unharmed. When I unwrapped it after spending the rather very long trip mostly in my son his back bag I did spot a major crack and some chips of paint where missing as well. I stood there in the kitchen feeling rather awful and empty.  All my joy that I connected with that mug suddenly went down the drain and the fact that I was standing next to our colorful trash bin was also rather tempting.  Perfection gone…imperfection arrived once again. Outside it was raining and I did wonder if there was a conspiracy going on.  Still this was my mug the one that I had big plans for. The one that I wish to share the good and the bad days with.  Still, just throwing it out because of some paint that come off and a crack was perhaps a bit bit too harsh. 

So the mug was granted entrance and moved in with all the other mugs that already kept up with my existence and longing for caffeine.  The last few weeks the mug stands out in my cupboard and yes it helps to get it through on a rainy day.  It still does wonders in combo with some of that black liquid that I pimp with some foamy milk.   It helps to digest the news of an other very painful terror attack or to hear that there are street names and statues that need to be removed in order to make many people feel at ease.   And I do fill up with this mug while two political leaders have their fingers caressing the red button.   It does hang out with me while hearing over the news that binge watching creates tired youngsters or how a visitor stepped into an artwork by the French Artist Yves Klein who mostly paints with International Klein Blue or IKB. The unaware visitor of the museum left a blue trace through out the room ruining the perfection and leaving behind of a trace of imperfection. 

There is a lot of imperfection surrounding me and has even invaded my mind this Summer. There was even a news report the other day that most of the time our Summer memories are not matching what our summer holidays in reality were like.  It seems we play tricks on our mind when it comes down to traveling the world or when we take time off from our daily business. Hmm, not totally agree because momentarily I have claimed my money back from air flight carrier who managed not to bring us back on the promised time and I am about to list a few complaints about a hotel downgrade ‘due to the booking system granting five people to book the same room’-situation.  Plus not to mention some other unpleasant things I had to deal with. Some have created total havoc in my mental state and are seriously testing me. There are even a few ones that I am still trying to figure out what the best rules of engagement are for in order to deal with them.  No, not all my memories of this Summer will be nice ones.  There are cracks everywhere in my life. Some of them are tiny ones and a few ones are rather deep and very visible ones. 

The thing is that this Summer I more and more come to terms with the fact, or should I rather call it perception, that being ‘blessed’ or is it a rather cursed with a historical analytic mind set causes sometimes turmoil.  A few months ago someone told me that I am the odd one out in a room.  That I have to stop expecting that many think along with me when I watch and listen to the news. And you know what I believe this person. Last night there was a professor of History in a news program giving his opinion about why certain statues and street names might not be fitting anymore in our present day society. They seem to stand out to some of us who seem to feel offended by them for some very clear or even less obvious reasons.  

At a certain moment during the conversation the presenter  asked him if it might be a good thing then to organize a referendum to decide what to do with these street names or statues that cause friction amongst citizens or human beings.  His answer was no and that it should rather be our politicians that have to decide what to exactly with these confronting signs, statues and symbols.  According to them it is their responsibility.  They are the ones that have to open up a ‘healthy’ debate in which they can make the decision.

Well, I am not going to tell you what I at the point did think but it does come down to the fact that yes I do agree that you can not ‘fix’ or ‘justify’ everything by means of a referendum. In the last few years it seems that elections and referenda their outcome have even caused more chaos and insecurity than ever before.  Was this person then calling for a dictatorship or despotism? No, that was what he was after.  Our opinions will never all be in perfect harmony and what you like I might detest.  That we all hopefully after a peaceful society in which hate, contempt, bigotry, corruption and many more rather negative words are not considered as the ‘normal’.  Many are still holding on to common values or at least that is what I hope. 

The reality around at the moment is a bit different and sends out a total different message. I will now admit I have grown a bit tired of trying to keep up with what it political correct. That the National Dutch Railways have decided to stop using ‘ladies and gentlemen’ when asking for our attention and that in some lectures are expected to use rather 'a person without or with a womb' instead of 'a man or a woman' when teaching biology is for me honestly one bridge too far. It is like I am expected to be able to expand and adjust my daily vocabulary daily. I feel like I am walking out there in minefield and trying very hard not hurt someone’s feelings by using certain words or expressions. 

The trained history teacher I do think it is very important to name the facts and not sugar coat them. I have spend enough time in a classroom with young adults trying to teach them a few things about what the past had in store when it comes down to extremists and ideology that was after supreme leadership and dominating one group over the other one. As much as I like 'Game Of Thrones' I hope it will never happen in reality. Despite the Mother of Dragons and Jon Snow I don’t think that the non fiction ever can be replaced by the fiction. 

I have always hated labeling people. Labels can come in handy but they also cause friction and give you less freedom when dealing with individuals or even yourself.  Still I do believe in structure, order and common goals and values.  Plus evidence based facts I consider very important.  Surely we should be granted enough space and time to believe what we wish to believe but still there are limitations within this continuum. Yes, I have got my limitations and believe me there are moments that you can push all my buttons. Some of you have done and some of you have only done it recently. It stull hurts and it will keep on hurting but I try to deal with it. Momentarily I have got all my fences up and I refuse to be put into one specific corner and being labelled. Also for the moment it does seem that my beliefs, vocabulary, goals and many more of the rather abstract words that make up my mental state seem now under attack.  Not that I am after perfection…I drink my coffee out of a mug close to perfection with a major flaw that will constantly remind of that.  The perfect crack…that is what the Summer of 2017 has granted me and perhaps I should be grateful for that. 

P.S. While the rain kept us company I had time to read the following: It might help to get a grip on what is going on in the world and beyond.  But watching an episode of the X-files might never be the same after having read this.

PS: The first clip is by a lady who while I was in Sweden I did hear her music over the radio and although I do not always understand what is singing I will forever link her with the sun and the happy moments I was blessed with in Sweden.  The second is by Sting and due all the rain, the cracks and the rather gloomy thing that are happening around me I still believen in the power of that one feeling he keeps singing about as well. 

dinsdag 1 augustus 2017

On the road to Passchendaele.

Grief…it is one of these words that can go to the core of my heart. It is one of these sensations that can fill me up with all kind of negative linked words. Words that evoke the worst side of being alive. After all it is one of these acts that only takes place when we humans are confronted with that one part of our existence that involves something that creates chaos and a lot of uncertainity. Surely many of you who read this modest blog know what I am talking about and I don’t need to go into more depth to explain what this act involves when it comes down to me.  Still, after this weekend and just having read the first few paragraphs of a specific news article I did feel the urge to write something about this word.

When my father died the first couple of weeks I don’t recall grieving.  That is something that only kicked in a few months later and then it fiercely attacked. It found a home inside of me where it seemed to feel very much at ease. The memories of that period of time are those that I consider very hard to deal with.  Nothing was certain and I was flying blind. It took me years to come to terms with the loss and the pain. I still have got days that I can curse while looking up to the sky. Not sure that I make sense but that is one of the things that I personally found out about grieving…it is a very personal thing.

I use the word thing and some of you might not even like me doing so.  Still I do it purposely. Like mentioned a few lines above did the first weeks my mind and also body seem to cope quite well with the loss of my father.  It was like an automatic pilot was active. I managed to do my job and I even can’t remember crying at the day of his funeral.  Yes, I have got very vivid memories of these first weeks leading up to him dying and being erased from our daily existence but tears are not one of them. 

One of the most confrontational things I experienced during that time was how my grandmother dealt with the loss of her son in law.  That was something I had totally underestimated. The day that my beloved ‘bomma’ expressed her personal opinion in a very open and straight forward manner my time stood still.  It was like a knife was planted into my heart and all the feelings I tried to keep under a lit of the boiling kettle suddenly were pushed out into the air. I will never ever forget that day when my 90 year old grandmother stood there in total defeat and her face reflected what she had just told me.  Her words were like daggers and landed into that one spot where some scar tissue was formed.   Believe me, she got her message across…very clear…

I have mentioned my grandmother before. She is one of the strongest people I have known in my life so far. The last few years I become more and more aware that what she managed to do was certainly not straight forward.  The war correspondence of my grandfather is one of those things that pointed out that my grandmother at numerous times must have been exposed to grief.  Did she ever talked about it?  No, she hardly ever told us something about that one person that we never had the pleasure of meeting.  Yes, there were pictures and in those we met up with a very good looking soldier in his uniform. Even in their wedding picture he was wearing that outfit. 

Neither will my mother tell us a lot about her father.  She was the youngest of 3 and was born after the second world war. The things she does tell us about him are mostly funny childhood memories. Even talking about how he died was done with not that many words. Like they all wish to tell us ‘less is more’.  I am never ever able to follow any of them there.  My grandfather stays an enigma  and only since reading those letters he wrote in prison I was able to feel some connection.  It was like a door was opened that my grandmother had kept closed. But it remains mostly firmly closed.

Yes, I did wonder how my grandmother had done that.  Why she never ever did think of handing us over those letters at a sooner stage in our lives. Why did we never ever had an in depth ‘meaningful’ conversation about what she must have felt when he was imprisoned, on the run and when he then finally died years later after the war… Reading those precious letters made something very painful clear to me and did also put what had happened between my grandmother and me in a meaningful perspective.  It did teach me something very important about life. Something that they write about in those self help guides dealing with depression or loss.  But let us be fair that what is written down on paper has never ever the same effect than what is spoken out loud. 

My grandmother had a lot of love to give and she shared in abundance what she had.  Many of our friends envied us and described us as being ‘cool’. To be honest at that time I did assume that all grandparents were like her. Was I wrong about that?  Still you only find out at a very later stage what the reality was.  That she in her darkest of her existence did express what she felt like must have been very hard on her. 

It is with this in my mind and all the things that I have been taught in history classes and English Literature lessons that I did watch the remembrance of the battle of Passchendaele. For those amongst you who ever been to Ypres and other spots where the first world war I guess you must know what I am talking about.  I was 14 when I did hear the Last Post playing under the Menin Gate.  I have biked and hiked and sat on the back of a motorbike while the landscape where many people gave their lives passed by.  I call these bitter sweet memories. For many reasons and even for the word grief that is. I was there with others but more importantly I was there all by myself.

The newspapers and many specialist have over the last few days expressed what the impact of that battle precisely is.  It is certainly necessary to repeat those wise insights.  The outcome is known. The effect of it speaks in the number of white crosses and the names of all these people that their life ended during that one battle.  And there are many rather invisible ones still at work.  But there is one thing that did make me dive back into my own grief, my own personal grief. Yes, I did put that one word purposely in bold here. Yes, I do think that word is vital in this context.  Why?

Well like everything in life are we always confronted with two sides of the medal. Even when it comes down to a medal that a soldier was granted post mortem/human or after the war he/she managed to survive physically. Nowadays social media and main stream media will gladly point this out to us.  I went on Twitter while the BBC and Belgian national television were broadcasting Helen Mirren bringing that one timeless poem about a certain flower. Overall many expressed their positive thoughts and opinions about this event.   But I did come across enough other opinions that did reflect the other side of the medal. 

Yes, it was very clear that this was a British affair and that even the Belgians were considered a foot note in all of this.  We were hosting and granted to stood along side all those people of a nation who 100 years ago had lost so many souls. All went smoothly and it was a well directed program of speeches, songs, poetry and evocation of a battle that has left scars on the should of many lives. 

It was also not very hard to notice that there was not a very meaningful connection with the German side of the grieving.  And in the view of our leading war historians the people responsible for organizing this they missed out on something vital.  Forty eight hours after the whole ‘pomp and circumstance’ I seem to read that many have not managed to make it even more meaningful.  Like we have missed out on building a bridge towards those others who have lost their lives in those fields.  Hmmm....not sure about that....but who am I?

Have you ever been in Tyne Cot and have ever stood under the Menin Gate on your own? All by yourself? In total silence...nobody around...and then closed your eyes...?  Just wondering?  I can tell you that when I stood there that I was all by myself. I don’t need speeches or a duke or a king who puts down a wreath of flowers to feel.  No, I don’t and even Helen Mirren did not manage to bring back what I felt when I did read for the first time ‘In Flanders Fields’.  I do think I have enough self criticism to know that there is not such a thing that will take away the grief of what happened there. The impact of that one battle is lingering around in the earth of those fields.

More and more we seem desperate to look for common ground in order to make sense out of the society in which we live. Unfortunate events seem to ignite always sensations that we are eager to share with others.  Hands are hold out and many hope to find an other hand which they can hold on to in order to make ‘sense’ of what they are experiencing.  It is like we are desperate looking for life lines that will show us the way out of the minefield.  When it comes down to grieving those that were taking away from us there are not suitable acts that we all consider well enough. It will never be enough.  When it comes down to grieving we walk alone…do we get lost and spin around in a minefield.  The moment you manage to leave that place and come across an other person who turns out to be grieving as well we do secretly hope he or she is holding out her/his hand. 

Last week while being in Sweden and having that one holiday that I had been so desperate after I ended up in a church yard. It was a glorious morning and the sun light created a certain glow that made me feel up with happiness.  The vitamin D was racing through my veins and I felt zen and then suddenly it was there.  In the middle of that church yard I was warped into that one specific spot. Right there in front memorial plaque of Germans…Germans who had lost their lives during the battle of the Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea. 

It felt awkward to find that memorial plaque in a such a place where only Swedish people were buried. But then this sea battle was between Russia (British were involved as well) and Germany. Sweden was neutral ground at the time. My Swedish friend C and I both expressed our ‘surprise’ while standing in front of it.  But then the names on that stone stand for so much more than a footnote in a sea battle.  The grief their mothers and fathers, children, family and friends must have experienced must have been as deep as the grief there is still for those that were buried around that stone.  I was sanding on neutral ground and I felt a shiver going down my spine.  Suddenly I imagined the ice cold water of the Baltic Sea, the screams, the explossions, the tears and so much more ignited by this act.  The moment I stepped away and turned away from it and was swept back into the sun light and the cheerful Swedish summer delights. But I had been there…I had found the common ground.

And so after this past weekend and all the articles I have read about Passchendaele 100 I just even more feel disconnected when dealing with grief and loss. Is this something bad and should I now panic about this? No…honestly I even changed channels last Sunday while watching the program. We still think that it is certainly is necessary to keep doing this.  But P and I had expected something else than what we got to see.  I did not even ask him what he had expected from it but it seemed not to be it what we were given. 

We did rather prefer that one program the Belgian national television called ‘Ten Oorlog’ in which three men travel along all those places where war took place. Humanity collided with havoc, disaster and loss. The stories that all these people told they did not needed any marching band or Hollywood rated actress to get their message across. It was sometimes in a smile, a handshake or even a deep sigh that they were able to suck us into their story. For a second they opened up their firmly closed door and gave us a peek into their sadness and their own history of loss. War stories are sometimes covered up by a blanket of heroism and tend to leave out what the deeper impact was over all.  Those stories were told by this format were told without bright spot lights and high tech effects.  They are pure and sometimes very raw...but that program still manages to do so much more...

No, I am not upset about last Sundays remembrance. Even the criticism that I get to read I find very hard try to ignore.  While changing channels it became so clear that I will never be able to share that one specific  feeling with someone else.  I just did recall standing in front of that one stone in Sweden..being on neutral ground and feeling connected in what many seem to have missed during this Remembrance.  Well, I did not…I found it within myself…deep down where nobody else can follow. Like my grandmother had pointed out so explicitly. 

Compassion is perhaps the closest we will ever come when it comes down to dealing with loss and grief.  In Flanders Fields I will forever find the constant reminder that being alive is so also about being on your own in a life where we are confronted with pain, chaos, blood, suffering, torture, loss and death.  The people who have lost their lives in what the British call ‘Dale of Passion’ in combination with what my grandmother taught me that is all it takes.

So no, I don’t agree with some of what people are now reflecting in newspapers.  I respect their opinion but then I am all by myself wandering around in those fields where crosses are planted and were poppies are wielding. You don’t need to follow me there…and chances are likely that I will not follow you when it comes down to this. Not sure if I make any sense…but that is okay… I can live with that… I can grief and mourn with that…  So next time your life is touched by 'a poppy' know that many are around…but that you are likely on our  own and personal walk of grief and remembrance.  Luckily there is that one flower to remind us of the fact that we more than once are all ‘on the road to Passchendaele’.

FYI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_%C3%85land_Islands

vrijdag 7 juli 2017

So Long (Distance) My Friend

Sees the best in you and celebrates along

Witnesses the worst of you but does not judges

Laughs with you in the sun

Cries with you in the rain

Travels along to many unknown places

Creative in so many ways when you need some inspiration

Rests with your on a bench in the park in total silence

Gives you a ride when you need it the most

Dances through out the night till we feel out of breath

Stands there in the dark on your front door porch

Writes meaningful words on tiny pieces of paper

Speaks the truth even if it hurts

Picks out great presents that last for a life time

Unwraps presents with a contagious smile

Climbs with you the highest buildings in NYC
Shares sweets when you needed TLC

Picks out great outfits for any occasion

Gives style advice you can rely on

Cherishes the love for a city we both will never ever forsake

Discovers the silver lining in many things when there is thunderstorm going on in your heart



That one person I call a best friend

Long&distance will now be part of our friendship as well.

Two words that I would rather delete from my vocabulary

but then I do know so well

Life and friends are the unpredictable and unconditional canon of adventure.

zondag 2 juli 2017

Teacher Detox

So the 2016-2017 school year is the past tense.  I should be happy and content and my body should start to feel more relaxed.  This weekend A already has left the house to spend his annual first week of Summer at the seaside with his grandparents and cousins. So this then means that I get to spend some time on my own and trying to detox.  When it comes down to this I know so well the signs of withdrawal.  On Friday evening I was still ordering professional reading material with promising titles such as ‘How to Use Questioning in the Classroom’ or ‘Visible Learning for Teachers’.  After all I will never imply that I already know everything that there is to know about teaching.  Also my biological clock is still in school-modus what means that around 6 in the morning my body is already awakening and my mind is up and about running wild. 

It will take some time to get used to not having to get up and start worrying about many typical work- and school related things.  Yesterday P and I just went out in the rain and walked to our favorite fresh market and we ordered some pre-dinner finger food and one glass of cider. It was then for the first time since Friday that I truly relaxed.  Outside the weather was rather Autumn like and my shoes were wet but I felt relief.  That the place was almost empty and the lounge like music that filled up the space might have added up to my state of mind but still…  I sat there and my mind was blank and I just loved sitting there and living&enjoying the moment.  

So I am granting myself just one more look over my shoulders before embarking on my summer that hopefully will bring bountiful moments filled up with sweet and bliss. Yes, airplane tickets and hotel reservations have been made and we know mostly where we are heading for but I am tremendously looking forward to just enjoying the stress free  and ‘no-deadline-to-get’-time. After all it has not been a very easy going year. There have been those moments that I had lost the will to live. Moments that I was not allright and felt out of tune.

In case you are wondering:the educational amputated state I still sense. After all I have been asked to give up something that I tremendously love and cherish. Nothing has changed on that side of mind.  The past year was in many ways rather a different story than the ones before and I had some very dark and emotional moments that made me feel rather empty and useless. Stallie knows so well that she takes a lot of things way too personal and takes many things to heart that perhaps many would consider not that important.  Yes, I still aim for perfection in my job.  And believe me, also my very driven coworker is.

My office/classroom looked at times like a battlefield and did depict my state of mind.  Yes, deep inside I am a rebel when it comes in teacher. After all I have got this Han Solo figurine standing in a corner of my office. It is a constant reminder of who I am deep inside.  Not that you will see me a lot acting like a die hard rebel or doing daring things that go against the stream. It is more in the inside that I am about to act like this Star Wars character.  But still… for instance I don’t believe in one set of teaching strategies when it comes down to learning and teaching languages.  One of my teaching mantras is:’It can never hurt to try.’ 

Yes, I have managed to try out new things with my students and I had the pleasure to embark this past school year with someone who is also very focused, passionate and driven.  So we did manage for sure to change a few things and we also tried out many new ways of teaching.  In many ways we both have tried to get the massage across how important we consider learning a foreign language.  And not just Dutch but any language.  Yes, we both take it very serious and have got very high expectations of our students.  But also of ourselves. 

I am fully aware that I am not the most easy person to work with. I take my time and yes, I not worry about a bit of chaos in cupboards or beyond.  It is like I wish to point out that in my work space I am constantly moving around and that there is not time to be wasted.  Still I have tried very hard not to change my classroom/office space into a mess.  On Friday I even took along home our two colorful orchids to spend the summer with me at home.  Last year I had forgotten about it and when I returned in September I faced a withered plant.  It stood there and it looked like a rather bad omen that I did try to ignore it but you know me that I am little bit to much into superstition to do so.   That not one but two made it to the end of the school year and stand her now on the windowsill and are both embraced by my 7 other orchids is surely an accomplishment!

Yes, I am rather happy that there have also been some educational accomplishments. Some of which I did consider rather mission impossible at the start of the year.  I have been cursing many times at my computer screen or just slamming doors due to frustration, having lost my patience with people, situations or IT-issues.  It has not always been all right.  There were my notorious morning moods who without the help of George Clooney coffee, colorful coffee cups by Blond and patience I would have not been able to overcome.  Plus baked goods and Haribo have helped me in cases of an emergency.  Luckily my coworker U had figured that one out soon! 

It has been a good year. Not my best ever but then I am very likely never ever to call a year my very best year ever due to me always finding something that could have been done differently or never ever would have planned in the first place.  Trial and error is still part of my daily job.   Still I am just very happy that I got to the end of the school year in one piece.  That I managed to tick all the administrative boxes and that I made all the deadlines that were set by the management or by myself.

A school year is always unpredicted and in most cases it is a bit like that one box of chocolates mentioned by Forest Gump. September is always a gigantic question mark and by the end of October I wondered if I was ever are going to get the hang of it.  November is the month in which I just tend to lose it all together and wonder if there will ever come an end to my worrisome state of mind and when I will feel content and satisfied in a class room. Once I started wrapping Christmas presents I even started to panic when looking at my term planning.  Timing often is not on your side when it comes down to teaching and planning.  January is the month where I tend to loose my voice and having to battle cold germs.  When February showed up I felt rather like the groundhog who has decided that a deep hole is the best place to hide out in. March was the month in which I just wonder if the sun is every going to come back and if students are aware that it is still a long time to go till the end of the school year.  In April I already started to write report card comments.  In May I took deep breaths at the Dutch sea side and got sun burned due have forgotten certain aspects of the sun.  And there was June where it suddenly hit me once more between the eyes…

June is were all the months come together where I can look over my shoulder and have to write that ISE document (a very lengthy self evaluation document that I honestly do like to write. Yeah believe sometimes those documents do make sense!) in which you have to reflect about your set goals and priorities I set myself. It is then I stare at my computer screen and can suddenly go very quiet and reflect about my past school year.  Fair to say that there is always room for improvement and next year there are surely a few things that I wish to do differently.  Professional and academic wise I can tick most of the boxes and call myself satisfied.  Unfortunately when it comes down to my personal well being and state of health I think I did fail big time this year.

Yes, I have the last 10 months not taken good care of myself.  I have lost myself amongst all the planning, worrying and never ever calming down the moment I walked into work. My brain has gone in over time more than once and I hardly ever felt rested.   All my good intentions about going back to ballet or at least test out the classy gym at work none I actually ended up doing. My body and mind have barely survived this year and to be honest it is not something that I wish to repeat.  The mindfulness button seemed to be in the permanent pause state. Not happy about that and there is no real excuse to justify what I have done to myself and my body.

Okay work sucks up a lot of my time and and energy.  My time table is not completely filled up but I seem to have felt obliged to spend as much time as possible at work to get the work done and to stay on top of everything.  In the short run this approach works but honestly it won’t work in the long run.  Yes, as you can guess have I made some pledges to some people and myself when it comes down to this.  We will see how I can keep these up.  Still it is worth a try. In return I will get so much more. I have done it before and know that it is the best way forward but still I will need some reminding.

The only thing that is unlikely to change ever is having to deal with having to say goodbye every single school year.  Having mentioned this before as being one of the less fun things of working at an international educational hotspot I know that June is the month in which I am forced to let go many people. Not only students and believe me there are many who I am going to miss next year in my classroom. Some are off to some very exciting places and will have to start from scratch when it comes down to finding their way around in a new school, getting used to many new rules and having to try to make new friends.  All of this is not easy peasy and so in the international school world friendships are looked at from a different perspective. Also when you are a teacher. 

Over the last 5 years I have already ‘lost’ a few extremely passionate, driven, creative, wise, daring, rebellious, IT inspired and child centered colleagues/heads/principals.   Some of them I got to respect and they did learn me a few things about teaching that I will never forget. There are even a few ones that I dare to call friends and those I still miss daily.  So the rather teary emotional state I end up in the last week of school I will never get used to.  This week many top notch teachers & one head have said goodbye and momentarily I can not see the silver lining in this.  But then you can only wish them the very best. It is their decision and their life not mine.  The memories I created with most of them I will cherish for the rest of my educational career.  

When I on Friday closed my door of my office and walked towards my car I felt relieved but at the same time I felt sadness.  Driving home is then trying to put things in the right perspective and coming to terms and that in September I will meet up with new student and coworkers who are are also very anxious. Most of them also hope that this place will bring what they are searching for when it comes down to teaching and education.  So I can’t wait to meet up with these new educational souls after all what Jo Cox said about diversity counts also in the world of education. We do have more in common than what divides us otherwise you not last a long time in this profession.

As you might can tell by now has it been a mixed school year when it comes down to many things . It has not been always easy and so it has not been the easy ride.  Still I am still breathing and and knew what I need to do in order to breath easier and find more energy.   So for now I am going to dive into some lighter reading and trying to tackle Outlander book 4 and reading up on Stockholm where I am heading for in a few weeks with A.  Hereby I wish all my fellow educators the best summer break they are after and that they will be able to take in a lot of vitamin D and feel refreshed by the time the new school year is showing up on the calendar.  Keep breathing you all great educators you just wrapped up an other memorable school year.

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 dissapointed....so must you feel like now and then as well...