JUST VOTED!

Well, dear readers I have had an interesting morning for sure!

Yesterday I received a phone call from RTV Rijnmond, a local TV and radio station if I would be willing to take part in another interview for them. Can’t say no to that can I?

The theme this time, having taken part in a similar interview at the beginning of April this year about becoming a citizen of The Netherlands, ties in with the European Parliament Elections which have kicked off here today and go on in other European countries until this coming Sunday. Many millions of people all across Europe will be choosing new members of this parliamentary group.

It is a lovely sunny day here too, so perfect for TV interviews in the garden. Last time around it was such fun: talking and a lot of laughing, filming, re-taking until there is enough footage to prepare an item for the news today.

But a bit different this time around, because they are going to take me to go and vote. The election papers have been lying here on the table for a couple of weeks and to be honest I did not think I would be able to go, as temporarily extra handicapped as you all know from previous blogs, with my leg in plaster, a wheelchair, crutches etc.

I have come to the conclusion after this morning’s session that this is a really cool job, making such interviews, apart from that fact that you have to pay attention to each and every detail, however small. Often when recording live radio or television you often mispronounce words, or mumble something, your tongue gets twisted, you need to cough and so on. Then it gets tricky for the re-takes, as you have to remember what you were saying, where you were up to and how to carry on. Thankfully the wonders of digitally mastering the film back at the studios are easy.  We had several moments going in and out of doors, getting into a large car, taking the wheelchair along to and the drive (about 8km) to the Polling Station.

Yesterday after the phone call I thought I had better use the afternoon by doing an online questionnaire about who I would like to vote for, catching up on ‘who is who’ in Europe (well those representing The Netherlands) and then for the first time ever, voting as a Dutch citizen.

When I had finished the questionnaire I had three choices of parties, all on 33% and to be honest none the wiser.

So what are my thoughts about this European Parliament? Well first and foremost I disagree that these people earn such exorbitant amounts of money, in their monthly salary (which is tax free), then expenses for this and that and believe me it is a really cushy job by the end of each month. Apartments in Brussels and Strasbourg, staff in both places, a fixed amount for expenses every month for having to commute between both places and so it goes on.

I have never truly believed since the formation of the EEC way back that you could actually make a ‘United States of Europe’. You can’t and it does not work because there is too much diversity between countries. Languages for starters, not to mention beliefs and customs too. And another big issue is the economic welfare of richer countries as opposed to poorer countries.

The idea of making one legislation for a large part of Europe just does not work. And if you are going to try and achieve that, then you have to make things the same in all member countries, like VAT for starters, or tax on things like cars, petrol, health care, schooling, grants, child allowance, unemployment benefit, the list is endless.

I am not going to go on and on about my thoughts on the EEC and bore you all to death, but it does not take a huge amount of intelligence to work out that basically it is a mess. A great idea, I suppose, of a single Euro currency, but as far as the Netherlands was concerned way back in 2001, then the rate of the old guilder against the new Euro was unfair. Basically everything was just halved, whereas the Germans got a better deal with the German Mark.

Anyway all that history put aside, today is voting day. I did like one of the slogans (‘Don’t let Brussels be the Boss’) of the SP party saying that they want to take back control of things here in The Netherlands when it concerns issues that are primarily Dutch. I agree. Why should people in Brussels or Strasbourg for that matter have any say about health care here, or when someone is eligible for their pension, or (and this is really a touchy subject) how many asylum seekers should be allowed into any one country? The Dutch (and that now includes me) do not want Brussels deciding on say: the public transport system, or the Dutch army. They think that people are more important than tax-evading multi nationals and they also want to stop the terrible wastage of monies concerning the EC parliament itself (as I discussed here above).

I could go on and on and make this into a very long story because there are so many issues. So to sum it up, I think I should vote today for the people who are saying the things I agree with. Even though I actually had the choice of three parties according to the online survey.

Of course during the interview this subject came up and I was honest and open about who I was going to vote for. 

A rather ridiculous aspect of this whole circus is that the United Kingdom is also taking part. Having stated clearly that they wanted to leave the EEC, the famous Brexit story, they are now being obliged to take part! What a farce, because if the Brexit goes through, deal or no deal, these elected members will have to give up their places and same will be divided amongst other European countries. I think The Netherlands would be entitled to 4 of the 200-odd British places, in the event of a Brexit.

Of course we have our own thoughts about Nexit, that The Netherlands would decide to leave the EEC too, there are parties here calling for that too.

It is a confusing jungle of what to do and what not. But one thing that I think is really important is that our forefathers and foremothers fought very hard at the beginning of the 1900’s that every single person, male and female had the right to vote. So, let’s do just that. I heard on the news this morning that they expect only 37% of the population here will actually go and vote. That is too stupid for words. You have the right to have your say and you should exercise it. There is absolutely no point then afterwards moaning on incessantly about the things you don’t agree with if you have not taken the trouble to actually go and vote.

Again, to my mind trying to create one single European nation is something, which is never going to work, for the reasons mentioned above. For those of you who read my last blog on GDPR will realize that a single legislation becomes far too complicated.

One final thing that I will say which I think is important is that we all stop and think about our planet and that we all try and agree on some sort of legislation, not only in Europe but also across the entire globe and that is something sensible about climate protection. We owe it to the younger generations to stop polluting this planet. It can only happen when everyone agrees with one another and to my mind we are a long way off from doing that.

But in the meantime, I have ‘just voted’ and the TV crew wrote those words on my plaster cast. 

It was a really fun morning, on a serious subject and I feel very honoured to have been asked again to make a short interview, which will be aired tonight after 5pm (Dutch time) on the RTV Rijnmond News. 

I am sorry I don’t have the answers either on these difficult issues! But at least I have voted.

Images: Google

ONCE UPON A GDPR …

I am wondering how many of you who have just read the title of my latest blog know what it means?

As I have mentioned before I have downloaded an App onto my phone called ‘Calm’. It is a collection of meditations, short sleep time stories, music etc to either begin your day with the ‘daily meditation’ or end it with a ‘bedtime story.’ This week I listed to one narrated by Peter Jefferson.

Now he is quite well known as a BBC presenter who was most famous for his daily shipping forecasts. He also read the news; announced programmes and an actor and all of this he did for 45 years.

So what is GDPR all about?

Well I will tell you and I hope that you can keep awake until you reach the end of this short blog.

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. This is one of the latest important regulations devised by the EU. This new legislation supersedes the Data Protection Directive from 1995. The former of course being introduced when more and more people started to use the Internet. But so much has changed since then. Hence the new legislation.

The new GDPR is basically to protect EU citizens on the following: data privacy, notifications, rights and protection. The document is 57.500 words long. Over 43 times longer than the American Declaration of Independence and 114 times longer than the Gettysburg Address. Even so, and let’s be fair, far shorter than the famous classic novel War & Peace by Tolstoy.

Bored already?

So Peter Jefferson is narrating a bedtime story and says he will start by reading just a short piece from the 107 page Introduction. I had to smile when he said: ‘I hope you can stay awake!’

Well to be honest I have to ask myself who writes such drivel? It is so incredibly repetitive that after about 2 minutes you are completely lost. Is this why parliament members of not only the European Union but also the European Council are paid so much? For writing stuff like this? Obviously they have never heard of words like ‘concise’ or ‘keeping to the point’.

Or summarizing! Even though it is a serious subject, I mean come on…

Even though this narrated story was only 33 minutes long in total, I am sorry to have to admit that I fell asleep before it ended. And not really surprising.

Of course I feel that as the worldwide web grows and grows it is a good thing that data is protected and certainly when it comes to things like personal information. How many of us fill in all sorts of forms online, when perhaps making a purchase, giving our name, address, phone number, and date of birth and more likely than not a credit card number too. Then we need protection, particularly as the news often speaks of leaks and that hackers have stolen data.

Really it is quite scary, also when you think about for instance the ‘dark web’ too. I know nothing about this apart from the fact that it came up in a TV-series I regularly watch.

So the EU made a new legislation and I hope that there is someone out there who can understand it. Yes, laws have to be detailed but this one really is unbelievable. I have listened to a bit of it again this morning before starting to write this blog and after about 5 minutes I still ask myself: ‘what an earth are they talking about’. I just wonder how long it took to write the thing in the first place?

Even though the world online is really amazing, you can find out anything you want, surfing on Internet. Whether we like it or not, it is a major thing in our lives these days. And we all use it regularly.

Many will agree then that it is a good thing to have protection. But to what lengths because a document like this is so intense and long, it is impossible to get a gist of what it is all about. Yes, our data should be protected of course, no argument about that and recently the majority of online sites have been obliged to ask your permission to not only share, but protect your data too.

It is quite mind boggling that WiFi is literally everywhere, so no matter where you are, at work, at home, in a bus, train, or even just walking down the street, with a mobile device, then your data is open to virtually everyone. You may think you are protected, but in fact you are not really. There are several apps and software for this purpose but my question is, how safe is safe?

I would not advice anyone to try and phathom out the real meaning behind these 57.500 word-long document, apart from its name GDPR.

But for all of you insomniacs out there, you can download the CALM app from the Apple or Android Store; you can have a free 7-day trial (but remember to cancel if you don’t want to continue in time) and have probably the best night’s sleep ever. You can listen to the narrated story about GDPR, guaranteed to send you off to the land of nod in minutes!

Sleep well.

Thanks to CALM and Peter Jefferson for the inspiration. Images from Google.

MOTIVATION

Recently this word has been coming up again and again and during intense discussions with a friend of mine who is struggling to find motivation, I decided to think about this word more carefully.

So what is motivation?

MOTIVATION IS THE DESIRE OR WILLINGNESS TO DO SOMETHING (PREFERABLY WITH ENTHUSIASM)

My friend had a bad fall at the beginning of this year and has been finding it really hard to get back on track. During her entire process, which is still ongoing, she asked me to be her ‘buddy’. Someone with whom she could honestly share all her doubts and troubles. She had to have an operation and spent some time with a plaster cast too, which anyone of you who have had this yourselves will know; this can be a tough, impairing time.

The rather strange part of all this is that I just happen to be going through sort of the same thing. Not a fall, but being hampered in my natural movement by a plaster cast having had a pretty tough operation at the beginning of April. I think it was easier for me to relate to her problems as well, because basically I knew exactly how she was feeling.

Now some people just take literally everything the world throws at you easily whereas others have more problems. We must not judge on this score, some people are always positive and just get on with things and take each and every situation in their stride.

But it comes back to my word this week: motivation. How do you motivate yourself in trying or difficult situations?

Not easy!

During the talks I have with her, I became more aware of my own situation. Believe me there is nothing more frustrating that not being able to do things for yourself. A simple shower in the mornings turns into a major event, because you cannot step in easily and secondly you have to be careful to take precautions not to wet the plaster. What normally takes literally minutes, takes at least a half hour. But you get better at everything as you go along. Also having to continually ask for help is not easy either! 

I think that basically I am a powerful person, positive and always know how to find a solution and move forwards. I have been doing this all my life in fact. 

At a certain point I came to the conclusion that I had to take action. I had to find something to motivate myself. Surfing around the Internet I suddenly came across a 10-day yoga course (online), which I could do from a chair or even sitting on the edge of my bed. I started doing yoga absolutely years ago with my mother and loved it. I was really sad when I could not go anymore because I found getting down on the ground and then getting up again, physically impossible. 

So I signed up and started and I can only tell you it was one of best decisions I have ever made having been confined to my special bed and a wheelchair now for weeks. The, what may seem, simple exercises, really get things flowing again; I actually felt the energy once more. You can do it all at your own pace when you want and where you want. I actually look forward to each day bring a new exercise and I can certainly feel my body becoming more supple and strong. 

Another little idea I had, was I wondered if it would be possible for me to get out alone through my front door, and go up and down my drive, wheeling myself along in my wheelchair. It was a lovely sunny day and the first in quite a while. I had such a sense of achievement when I managed it and went up and down for about 10 times, back and forth.

After the weekend I decided to venture further out and go around the area in which I live, it’s all flat and easy. Unfortunately I have pulled a muscle in my upper arm and shoulder because I went too far, that is so typical for me, and forgot that I had to come back too. I could give in and not go for a couple of days, but have decided, no, I will keep going, finish what I started and build up my strength.

I have to, that is the whole point because when this plaster cast is finally off, I will have to build up the strength too in my leg. My physiotherapist reminded me last week when she came, that my muscles and tendons have been unused for weeks and my ankle will also be very stiff too. But believe me I will not be giving up and stop trying, because I think keeping yourself motivated is part of the story when you are recovering from any form of illness and such like. It is like another friend of mine says, regaining your confidence once more. So true!

Whatever is presenting itself in your life, remember this word well. It is the key to moving forward again. It doesn’t matter how you tackle things, just as long as you find the motivation within to make change. There is absolute no way that anyone of us can change the past. The only thing you can do is think about it and then release it with love. No one knows either what a new day, or the next will bring. 

You can only ensure that you are open and willing to accept each and every experience and when you find yourself facing difficulties, find motivation. Doesn’t matter what, whatever makes you happy, but just something to get yourself back on life’s path. Continuing your journey.

IMAGES: GOOGLE

Thank You !

This morning I spent, having published the latest blog about The Toad and the Scorpion, going through more than 1700 comments on my website. Thank you to everyone out there who takes the time to write back to me. I have read them all.

I so appreciate all the comments of praise saying how much you are all enjoying reading my blogs, this is what makes it all worthwhile. I do try to reply to a lot, but sometimes it takes me hours to read everything.

A lot of you ask me if it is OK to share my work in your own social circles. Yes is definitely the answer to that and thank you for asking. Also people ask if they can quote my work, as long as they credit the source with others, yes is also the answer to that too. That is why I write. I want you to share, the more people who read my blogs the happier I am.

Some of you ask me which platform I use and which hosting. The answer is WordPress supported by Hostnet Pro. Some say it loads to slow, others say amazingly fast, and I always find Google Chrome to be the best search engine despite IE being world leader.

A few mention spelling mistakes, sorry, I really do try my best to ensure that any spelling mistakes or should I say typing errors are removed, but even I go ‘word blind’ at a certain moment. Obviously of course there can be a difference between English spelling as opposed to American.

A lot of you ask me how I centre myself before writing. Well I just make sure than all the things that have to be done, are done and then I can concentrate on writing. Often with blogs, these are relatively short, so inspiration comes in many shapes and forms and I think about something to write, mainly asking you questions too, about what you think about a particular topic.

As far as comments concerning my books: These are available on Amazon.com (well 4 of the most recent ones) in Kindle version. My books are also available on www.bol.com or through the publisher Brave New Books who work in conjunction with bol.

When I get stuck, I often go out walking or cycling, clearing my head, thinking where am I in the story, what is happening, where are all the characters going. By the time I get back, I can carry on. Sometimes not and then I just close down the laptop until another moment.

I hope that in the post I have managed to answer some of your questions.

At the moment, I am too busy to ask help from guest writers, a lot of you ask if I need someone to take off the work load. I am OK so far.

Thank you all for taking the time to write comments on lots of my posts. I now have more than 100.000 people following this website on a daily basis. Wonderful.

THE TOAD AND THE SCORPION

At the beginning of May here in The Netherlands, we have Remembrance Day (4th) and then Liberation Day (5th). On the one-day, people are sad remembering loved ones and those lost in war. On the second day, it is a day of joy and celebration of freedom. It is extremely sad to think that still to this day, somewhere in the world there is unrest or war still raging.

I often say to people that fear is the biggest power imaginable. It is so true. It was interesting to see this year how many younger people are actively taking part in the remembrance of those who lost their lives for our freedom. It was touching to say the least including one programme I just happened to watch which was about the identification of loved lost ones from the war. Not a nice job for sure, opening unnamed burial plots, but with the wonders of DNA testing that a lot of the unknown have finally been given a name. This gave great comfort to family members who finally know what happened to their grandfather, father, husband, brother, uncle or nephew during the terrible war years here in Europe.

At the national remembrance event in Amsterdam a lot of young people took part helping with the placing of wreaths and also the laying of flowers around the entire monument on the Dam Square. I noticed how many young serious faces were in the audience. The respect of 2 minutes of silence at 8pm was enormous. Trains came to a standstill all over the country, planes neither landed nor took off from any airports, cars stopped on motorways, there were no transactions in shops, there was silence in theatres, cinemas and restaurants. All of which prove to me that people still actively want to take part and this is quite right. They want to remember.

I want to share a story with you in this blog, which comes from one of my favourite books (The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan), which tells the story of the Toad and the Scorpion. I am not entirely sure what the source of this story is, but I think it is very old indeed, probably dating back to Europe in the 15thcentury. And it goes like this… (in my own words)…

One beautiful sunny morning, the toad was in his pond. It was an amazing pond fully of lilies and toad would often sit on their leaves in the sun, watching the world go by. He was a very modest toad, kind and friendly to everyone he met. When he got warm in the sun, he would jump off the leaf and swim into the coolness and depths of his pond, looking for something to eat, but he preferred to be above the water, just sitting, looking. Suddenly a scorpion appeared at the edge of toad’s pond. ‘Ah morning toad, I was wondering if you could help me?’ he asked. ‘In a bit of a rush this morning and I would like to ask you to give me a lift on your back to the other side of the pond. Could you?’ Toad immediately felt suspicious because of course he had been told stories about the scorpion and his deadly sting. ‘Eh sorry, too busy’, he replied. The scorpion laughed. ‘But you are only sitting there doing nothing. Oh come on, please do me a favour’. The toad tried to ignore him but scorpion was very persistent and kept asking. Eventually the toad opened up his eyes and looked hard at the scorpion. ‘I am sorry’, he said, ‘cannot help you because if I take you across the pond on my back, what would happen if you sting me with your deadly tail?’ ‘Why would I do that?’ the scorpion replied. ‘Well, I have heard stories about you and that your sting is fatal, so what guarantees do I have that you would not do that to me?’ Toad just wished he would go away and stop asking him for help. But the scorpion was very determined and for him to walk all around this very large pond would take him so long. He cleared his throat and asked again. ‘Oh come on Toad, please, you would be doing me such a great favour and why on earth would I sting you whilst on your back? To do that would mean that we would both die and sink to the bottom on this pond … please will you help?’

Eventually toad thought he is never going to go away and leave me in peace, perhaps I should just take him across the pond and be done with it. He thought hard about it, whether to remember all the stories he had heard or just take the chance and take the blasted scorpion across the pond, so that he could return to his lily leaf and watch the day pass by.

‘Oh all right I will’, he said. The scorpion thanked him profusely and climbed carefully onto his back. Toad began to swim across the pond slowly. About half way across he suddenly felt a painful sharp prick into his skin. He felt ill, dizzy and it was hard to him to swim on. ‘Why did you sting me?’ he asked the scorpion as he began to sink slowly under the weather?’ He never heard the reply, but the poison took effect and the toad died. The scorpion drowned under the water.

What is the moral of this story? Well, I will tell you the answer just as it is written in the book mentioned above. The point is that you can never ever change the character of people. Some people are just good, friendly and kind, whilst others despite the fact they try to be the same, always remain evil at heart. Just like the scorpion, he tried to be nice and friendly but his basic character was such that he always stung and killed his victims. It was his nature, even when others helped him, just like the toad had with the best intentions. We have a saying in English, that ‘a leopard will never change it spots’. This relates to this story too.

This is what Wikipedia says about the moral:

The moral of the story is that, like the scorpion, humans possess compulsions that they cannot repress even when it is in their best interest. Conversely, like the toad, humans can be too trusting and hence the importance of understanding others by their true nature.

Now my question to you this morning is: how many people do you have in your lives that you could compare to the scorpion? Just have a think about it. No matter how hard they try, you can never change the basic character. They often will do everything they can to be nice, friendly and kind, but it is just not in them. They just cannot help it.

It is something to think about isn’t it?

Now matter how hard we try, there will always be scorpions in this world. Always!

Image: Google Images

I have literally just published this blog when I got an App message from one of my friends who just happens to be in Corsica at the moment. He reminded me so say: don’t be a toad, never be a toad! Thanks Loek!

DISAPPOINTMENT – Disappoint or Disappointing


My word for this blog is DISAPPOINTMENT (or Disappoint/ Disappointing). It has come up several times already this week mainly inspired by stories other people have told me.

One of my friends has recently moved house for the second time in a short space of time. She is alone and as you can well imagine, packing up boxes and moving again is quite a task. And everything seems to work against it being a smooth transition. The removal men don’t just do what you expect them to, the timing is wrong, so you end up rushing and having to suddenly drive off to return the keys, even if the job is not entirely finished. She was telling me how disappointed she was that not a single one of her friends had offered to help. Now how many of you can relate to this? A lot I suspect.

The word disappoint comes from the French verb: desapppointer. And literally means:-

‘fail to fulfil the hopes or expectations of ….’

Hmmm, that sort of sums it up completely for her. She was disappointed that her friends did not fulfil any hopes she had of help. You could ask yourself, should she have actually asked them? Or should you sit back and wait that people offer by themselves? Tricky. Maybe if said friends were reading this blog they would be raising their eyebrows and saying – but no one asked!

It sort of sums up the feeling when you are disappointed about something that is it more about your own expectations and hopes. Do you set them too high? I personally think that we should always have expectations of what we want in life.

This week stories have kept crossing my path and this word too, so it seems to be a feature this week.

I could sort of relate it to something (very minor), which happened to me too. I suddenly read something on social media about someone I know and have been working with for many years. All about the new plans, new ideas and such like and I did not know a single thing about it. Not that I should really because it is an indirect situation, but all the same, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps it would have been nice to hear something about it before it went out into the open. Was I disappointed, no to be honest, more surprised I think. Did I expect too much?

At the moment the energy is very much about this topic. Things that have fallen into a routine for a long time suddenly come to an end. I am not sure why, but it is all about the energy for this year and what a lot of people, particularly spiritual ones, have been talking about. It is more a mergence of people coming together to create things together rather than as individuals. A sort of attraction of opposites, which in the first place may sound strange but often when this happens, something quite new and exciting can come out of such a co-operation.

Is disappointment something that hurts your feelings and if so, how to you deal with it? You can choose to just shrug your shoulders and think you will just get on with things or you could say something about it. What would you choose? I am pretty sure if you brought the subject up with someone they would look at you completely surprised, wondering what on earth you are actually talking about. In their hurly burly busy lives, the thought may have simply not entered their head. But my question is: if you feel disappointment , should you be honest and say so?

I think this is a difficult point. Because in some or other way you are hurt and do you just bottle up the feelings or release them? By releasing them you could just think, right, I will remember that for the future and allow the friendship to cool off, which is probably not what you really want, or find the right moment to speak out. But deep down inside the pain is there.

A true friend will be open and listen as opposed to what we all have in our lives; the ‘hanger’s on’. People who are just in our life who are really not true friends but more acquaintances. We all have a lot of those. Sometimes you can think about colleagues in this category too. 

You know something I have experienced recently is that in moments of need, you really find out who your friends are! And sometimes it can be quite a shock when you come to the realization that they are so self-centred in their own lives that they don’t really have time for you. I am not saying that they do it on purpose, because the pace of life is really to blame for this. People just do not seem to have time anymore. Society puts so many demands on us these days we are continually rushing around. Until the moment comes when you cannot. Something crosses your path and brings you to an absolute stand still. These are big moments, which at the time are annoying to say the least, but I have often learnt that moments like these are the greatest moments of real learning. Really learning about yourself and in retrospect you look back and think that whatever happened to you, was really for a reason, because it made you stop and think. 

The universe and our soul just work like that! It is a sort of message within that you are not either on the right path or continually subjecting yourself to things that are not right for you. This can be literally anything, from not being happy in your job, or in the wrong sort of relationship. Not taking enough time for yourself, or looking after yourself, not taking enough exercise, not eating properly, not getting enough rest or sleep. The list is very long. If you like it is as if your soul is disappointed in what you are doing and to be sure, it will give you a sign to make you sit up and take notice.

If you find yourself in a situation of disappointment, then you can do several things and it all begins with doing things that you like. For me this is writing, putting words onto paper (or my laptop), and telling a story. For others it is going out into nature, learning once again to appreciate how beautiful it is. 

If you want to have grace in your life, then that is where it all begins, as I have said before, with gratitude. And many big spiritual influencers are saying exactly the same thing.

Every night before I go to sleep, I listen to a short story. Now 90% of the time I never hear the end, because I usually fall asleep which is the general idea after all. But those 20 minutes or so, of just winding down, listening to a pleasant story, breathing in and out deeply as you listen, makes you much more appreciative.

Appreciation and pleasure in whatever form they take is to my mind, perhaps the solution to disappointment? Just accepting too, a situation is what it is, and releasing the whole subject can be very therapeutic. There is no point whatsoever getting yourself wound up about it, thinking negative thoughts, or even blaming someone. It just makes matters worse.

Just let it go, and pamper yourself a bit by doing something you like. Works wonders believe me!

I was looking for some images to add to this blog and came across the first quote on Google. I am afraid I cannot agree entirely with it. Because I believe we should have a lot of expectations about what we truly desire in life. We have to have dreams, bucket lists and ideas. Maybe it should say, something along the lines that: ‘we should expect everything, but learn to deal and release disappointment’. Release the pressure we put on ourselves albeit with or without awareness!

One of my friends reacted to this blog on Facebook and said the following, which is a lovely quote from Robert Browning: ‘A man’s or woman’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what is heaven for?’

Isn’t this lovely and oh so true!

Quotes: From Google

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE !


If you could literally see me now, typing this blog, on my special hospital bed, balancing my laptop on my leg, then you would really understand this title!

Today, it is two weeks post operation! Beginning to get to the stage where I cannot wait for them to remove the temporary plaster cast and this will be happening on Friday 26thApril. Everything is feeling ‘itchy’ and my leg seems to have now shrunk down in size.

Mobility ? Not a lot, I can manage to move from bed to wheelchair and using crutches hop about on one leg. Instructions were not to put any pressure on the plastered leg, but sorry, I am not a flamingo who can have one leg air bound all the time.

The word I am thinking about a lot at the moment is PATIENCE and how having patience is a definite virtue.

The official definition of the word, according to my favourite Oxford English Dictionary is:

Patience (noun): the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious,

This word originates from so-called Middle English or Old French from Latin (patientia) from (patient) suffering, from the verb ‘pati’.

Well now you know and why it is such a virtue.

And we might as well have a look at the word Virtue too:

One of the Paragons of Virtue is: a quality considered morally good or desirable in a person.

Well something to think about isn’t it?

And my goodness my patience is really being tested at the moment. I really feel for people who need assistance all the time. It is so frustrating having to ask someone to do something for you all the time! 

To sort of calm myself down and just accept the fact that the next 4 weeks (after the plaster change on Friday) is an obligatory rest. Many of you may be saying right now: ‘I would give anything for a month’s complete rest!’ I understand that, because we do not get enough rest in our hectic lives these days. But there is a very thin line then between actually ‘having to’ or ‘wanting to’. A very thin line indeed.

I have downloaded an App onto my telephone called CALM. Just what I needed I thought, to calm down and just accept, it is as it is and nothing to do but rest. For a very active person like me, this is not easy believe me. I may be spending the majority of my days behind my laptop writing and yes there is a new story underway at the moment, but at the same time, I love the freedom of movement.

This Easter was probably the best on record and here I was stuck in bed. But all problems can be solved and when a bed has wheels, you can of course just get yourself wheeled out into the garden. That was lovely, lazing in the spring sunshine, in bed. And being able to adjust said bed into exactly the right position. Leg raised so that it does not ‘throb’ and back supported.

My Calm app is doing overtime. It is a mixture of music, stories and meditations. I particularly like the so-called ‘sleepy stories’. A short tale read by someone (usually well known people) who whisper a lovely story into your earphones. The first one I listened to was called ‘Wonders’ read by Hollywood actor Matthew Macconaughey! Wow, it was lovely and especially his soft voice in my ear! In the meantime I have listened to several, just before actually closing off the day and getting to sleep for the night. End result is that usually I don’t hear the end, and wake up next morning with my glasses still on and earphones in having fallen asleep in the middle. Which is probably the idea!

But a real recommendation for all of you out there who have problems with sleeping. I know there is a lot of talk about not watching TV before going to bed, especially violent films and such like, switching off your social media and no not putting the phone to re-change beside your bed! But how many of us actually do that? Not a lot I am guessing.

So my days are all about patience and making it a daily practice. But I know that for some or other reason, which maybe is not entirely clear to me right now, the universe wants me to have a rest. Be totally dependent on others. (Been there and done that a lot before). But I seriously think that sometimes things happen to us at a certain time and later when you look back on the event, you just know it was right.

You cannot explain it logically but you just have to accept it.

Recently during a 21-day meditation online with Deepak Chopra en Oprah Winfrey I learnt something quite important. The theme of the 21-day daily centering thought and meditation was all about ‘Gratitude and Grace’. I loved it, 20 minutes every morning to get myself balanced. Even though the last few days of the workshop I did in bed – post op. It was all about learning to appreciate small things in your life and that way you allowed grace and gratitude to become part of you. I can give you a small example.

Recently whilst having breakfast, I noticed two blue tits collecting stuff for their nests. White fluffy stuff, which I realized was coming from one of my dog’s toys. A ‘hula hula minion’ to be exact. He had left it out in the garden one time and these two were flying back and forth, beaks filled, making a nest. Such a joyful sight to see! It may not be anything really major, on earth shattering, but just a small simple gesture from nature to allow you to appreciate the world in another way.

As I said at the beginning patience is a virtue. Appreciate the smaller things in life, when you are maybe obliged to slow down and do something different for a while. Why not? That is a good question to think about. I have sort of come to the conclusion that by acceptance, I allow grace and gratitude to come into my life, at exactly the right time.

Some inspirational thoughts maybe for a midweek Wednesday?

QUOTE: JOYCE MEYER (FROM ‘BRAINY QUOTES’ GOOGLE)

IMAGES FROM GOOGLE

NEVER A DULL MOMENT!



Well last week was, I think, one of the most innovating in my life. As the title says, never a dull moment.

Monday I was having coffee and cake with the Mayor for my Dutch naturalization, Tuesday doing filming for the local TV news and Wednesday having an operation in Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven.

Don’t think you can have much more variation all in the space of one week do you?

Monday was a special day and a lovely moment. Quite moving I thought and it was extra nice being there with my daughter and granddaughter, so we have some lovely photos for her book for later. Of course she was oblivious to everything going on at only 7 weeks old. But stealing the show of course as she is too cute!

Had such fun on Tuesday too, doing the filming for the News and also a radio interview. With all the talk about Brexit, it is a trending topic of course. I don’t know if any of you reading this have ever done this sort of work before, but the humour is in the repetition. Often because they are filming and you are all wired up with a microphone, you sometimes for no apparent reason, mispronounce words and then have to do a Take 2, Take 3, Take 4 and so on. The problems happen when you have to remember were your legs crossed, how were you holding you cup of tea? Not to mention the moments when you get the giggles, all about nothing. A just a simple glance to one another, sets you off again.

For those of you who have seen the film on my Facebook page, the most hilarious bit was with the flag. That was my gift from the Council, a Dutch flag, which I personally thought was a really good idea. Raising the flag, in quite windy conditions, without it blowing into your face or sliding down the pole again, is a recipe for laughter. But the end was the funny bit, trying to look serious whilst tears or laughter are in your eyes, look sensible and thinking about this being a special moment. Several takes later, we finally made it. When I look back at it, it still makes me smile. 

And a huge response from everyone who suddenly saw me on the News or heard me talking on the radio.

Wednesday was a bit of a drama day. Another operation. Not only was this a very tricky operation as neither I, nor the orthopaedic surgeon knew beforehand, if it would be successful. But the idea was to try to remove a surgical pen, which had been placed way back in 2003 when I broke my lower leg in 4 places. It has been there for 16 years! Enough said and sorry for those of you who are squeamish.

Having had several operations now, I can keep myself really calm and cool and the epidural is fine. You know there are just some people who are absolutely brilliant at this. However, there was a small miscommunication with the Pre-Operative Screening and they had not written down that I wanted to have complete sedation. In other words ‘knock out’, I don’t want to know or hear anything once they start. Happy to chat on until the last moment, but I did not want to hear any drilling, sawing or hammering. You would not believe the table of instruments, before they begin , you start to wonder if you are taking part in one of those DIY programmes on TV.

Also you feel movement, half of your body feels like a senseless breached whale, but you feel it if they move you about. It all took two hours, double the time they thought but when I heard that they were finishing off and clearing up, my orthopaedic surgeon, suddenly produced the ‘offending pin’ above the screen and said ‘surprise’! To be honest, I did not know whether to laugh or cry. This piece of surgical steel has been imbedded in my leg for 16 years and now its out. My God! And you would not believe how heavy it is either!

Huge compliment to Remco van Wensen and his team, because it was truly ‘mission accomplished’ and when all this has healed, he can place a new knee joint. Can’t think about all that just yet.

Back in my room, the pain was really intense and no matter how many painkillers they gave me, the three wounds bled profusely, completely soaking the plaster and in the end, back down to theatre again when I had more morphine and ketamine through my IV drip, and eventually the best thing ever: a what they call – block sedation into the major nerve in my leg and hallelujah I didn’t either feel the prick of a very large needle, but the pain disappeared like snow before the sun. Bliss.

I slept restlessly that night, awake every 15 minutes or so, having the weirdest of dreams and about people standing by my bed. Probably on some sort of ‘high’ from everything they had given me during the afternoon and early evening. The other patients in the room said I was chatting on all night! Sorry.

The next morning, they replaced the plaster cast, which is a temporary one for the next two weeks, then another one for another 4. 6 weeks in plaster in total. I am incredibly restricted in my movement, have a special bed in my lounge, a wheelchair, a walking frame, crutches, a stool for in the shower, a bed pan and enough tablets to start my own pharmacy. The theory behind the phenomena pain when it concerns bones and nerves, is that you have to keep the level up and not wait until you are in pain. Sounds logical and I have to keep a record of the times and what I have taken every day. Believe me the list is really long!

In some or other way, every day is different. I was home on Thursday evening fairly late, Friday washed out, but Saturday noticed that I could suddenly lift the plastered leg back on to the bed. Today (Sunday) is not a good day, so giving my attention to writing this blog, and the simple rule of thumb for the next 6 weeks is REST. 

My hospital like bed is strategically placed, so that when the weather gets better and they are promising lovely spring weather and temperatures up around 20oC that I can move in one straight line, bed and all, into the garden. Or what I really mean is that someone can wheel me outside!

You know life is sometimes a bit like the weather, some days are darker, cloudy and a threat of rain, but literally behind each and every cloud, there is sunshine and a ray of light and hope.

That is what I am focussing on, the hope that in a few days time, I will be getting stronger and better. Like Frank Spencer used to say in the TV series: ‘Some Mothers do have Them’ – every day and in every way I get better and better.

IMAGES: GOOGLE

NATURALIZATION AND JUSTICE!

The Netherlands, Hilversum, 07 February 2013. Dutch naturalisation ceremony at municipality of Hilversum; non-Dutch citizens acquire Dutch nationality.

Well everyone, next Monday (8thApril) I have been invited to attend my own naturalization ceremony with the local Mayor. Coffee and cakes and then the big moment when I become a citizen of the kingdom of The Netherlands.

The literal meaning of the word is: the admittance of a foreigner (me then the British citizen) to the citizenship of a country.

Wow!

Also, which is rather nice, there are two of us next Monday, both ‘Brexit’ people as the invitation states. So someone else going through the exact same procedure as me.

After the ceremony we will then be eligible to apply for a Dutch passport and still retain our British ones. Good.

My favourite dictionary goes on to say: the naturalization process can be intimidating? What? Why? I actually have met the local mayor who is a very nice person and I cannot imagine for one moment that a thought of ‘intimidation’ will come up in my mind.

We will see how it all goes, taking my daughter with me, only available family member to accompany me and my granddaughter as well. 

And all because of a complete no effect referendum two years ago. I have seen that several other more ‘prominent’ Brits like me here, have taken the same decision, because I no longer believe that there is a single person alive on this planet who has a solution to the ‘stale mate’ about Brexit. So much has been written on this subject and yes I understand completely all about British pride and their longing to once more be an independent island. Probably if we were all totally honest people in other EC countries would prefer to leave the fiasco known as the EEC.

The thing that struck me on the endless reports in the newspapers, on the radio, on television is the lack of tolerance political leaders have for one another. Doesn’t really matter which country you are referring to or how high they are in the EEC ranks, but I seem to remember years ago, that the sole purpose of forming an EEC was to create a common community bond on many facets. Listening to other EC politicians and in particular to the totally useless PM for The Netherlands, Mark Rutte, it amazed me how outspoken he was about the Brits and ‘that they must just get on with it’. Excuse me; I seem to remember that the Dutch King and Queen whilst in Buckingham Palace were both talking to QE II about the close relationship between the two countries. Is it me? Or do you agree? This is just what I mean.

Tolerance, help, advice, suggestions, compassion, and empathy you name it but forget it. Just let them all get on with it!

Yes, there is frustration that grown up people cannot under any circumstances seem to agree about anything. Thankfully the Speaker at the House of Commons, John Bercow is the only person who puts a smile on your face when he says one more time ‘the no’s have it, the no’s have it!’

Each and every single vote on whatever compromise ends in yet another dead lock. I truly believe that they will not sort this out next century, let alone this one. We shall see.

JUSTICE !

Another word, which is in my mind today, is: Justice. I think I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs about being taken to court about my house. Not the one I live in now, but one I sold way back in 2013. Yes, 6 years ago.

This is far too long a story to tell in one simple blog, because to be honest I could write a book about it. Before the actual sale and all the legal ‘kerfuffle’ went through, the new buyers had a building survey done. The result of said survey was that the house, including 3 extensions was perfectly in order and based on this, they went ahead and bought it. 

End of story you may think! Sadly no!

A year later there seemed to be a problem involving cracks and we were immediately threatened with a very offensive legal letter that it was basically our fault and large sums of money were mentioned because it had to be repaired and was spoiling their enjoyment in the house. What a lot of nonsense.

Let’s just step back: Justice is about the quality of being fair and reasonable. The administration of the law or authority to maintain same. You are all very familiar I am sure with the so-called statue of Justice, I am sure. A woman blindfolded holding a upright sword in one hand and scales in the other. In other words, a person, who does not take sides and bring the justice into balance for both parties.

So to continue: years have passed by and so many people have done surveys, that I now have two completely full Lever Arch files of the correspondence. In fact, it is absolutely impossible even if you wade through the masses of reports to find a conclusion. As a writer I actually consider myself (and please correct me if I am wrong) that I possess the ability to create a fairly short concise summary about something! Well I try to at least.

The whole thing boiled down to the fact that in 2000 the third and final extension to the house had, as is normal here in The Netherlands, been underpinned with special supporting poles. It is completely normal practice here (because let’s face it more than half the country is under sea level) and yes of course, I did not do the work myself, it was all done and carried out under very strict control by the local council too, by a well-known builder and several sub-contractors.

In some or other way, and for a multitude of reasons, rain, storm, extreme dry summers, harsh winters, a tree close by, the vibration of traffic in the road and so on and so, something has happened in the ground that has caused some form of subsidence meaning that the whole extension is gradually pulling forwards away from the original house and subsiding.

Let’s be honest, this entire planet is constantly moving and under the effects of all the elements.

In the final technical report someone said that the underpinning poles were not long enough? And that could be the reason for the subsidence.

But please someone tell me how do you compare a situation in 2000 to one 18 years later when the report was written. Or even better, how could the man who put in the original supporting poles know, 18 years ago that the ground would have moved for whatever reason. He is not a bloody psychic!

The upshot is, that is has to be repaired and that is going to cost money. A lot of money!

Yesterday was the day; the ‘official’ hearing in court. Well for those of you who might know the building in The Hague, this has to be the most depressing building on this planet. Situated on the edge of a busy motorway leading into the city (parking impossible) and after the usual heavy security checks you come into a place with long dark corridors, low almost claustrophobic, ceilings and rooms going off in all direction. It is a mass of lawyers, wearing their black frocks and white bibs and people waiting and looking very harassed. The energy is incredibly negative and probably for a good reason, as this is stressful even for the toughest.

There was so much paperwork, so after several sessions of stopping the ‘hearing’ we were almost pushed into making some form of settlement.

The thought sprung to my mind that perhaps way back in 2014 if the buyers had contacted us directly this would have been solved years ago, because we would have of course contacted the man who originally put in the poles and he would undoubtedly have been insured to put it right if necessary.

So all this Justice and hours and hours spent by lawyers and believe me the buyer’s lawyer was awful and really someone who put shame to the profession (and yes I hope you read this blog Mr. Meeusen) Constantly interrupting, almost shouting from one side of the room to the other and so on and glaring aggressively all the time.

Then back into the dismal corridor again so that a sort of ‘bartering’ session begins, almost makes you feel that you are at the market and bidding on the price of food. We make a suggestion; they come back with their offer, to and fro and then stalemate. No deal.

The judge stepped in and said: ‘split the difference’ and within minutes the clerk is typing up some sheet to be signed and that’s it. All done and shut up and pay up.

I am left with the idea this morning that this is all so totally unfair. I mean how can the judicial system work when (as an example) someone who is drunk knocks down and kills a family (two grandparents and a small child) out on their bikes cycling and gets a sort of punishment helping in the community of a number of hours and then we get penalized heavily financially to pay for the repairs for something we have not done or in any way been responsible for. You tell me! We knew nothing about. Just acted in good faith at the time, that the extension had been done properly and under supervision and everything was perfect until 2014, one year after the fact we were no longer owners.

Sorry Mrs Justice, you may have been blindfolded but your scales yesterday were certainly not in balance at all. My faith in the system has gone. Take off the blindfold and pay more attention and make sure that judges are fairer. That the final adjudication is right. I will only say that I am grateful and as I always say, there is always something positive in even the darkest depths, as from tomorrow we will no longer have anything to do with the buyers (thank God) and the chapter is closed. Even if the entire house falls into a pile of rubble when they start the repair work, it is no longer anything to do with us (big sigh of relief).

Obviously for now, this is the end of me having my ‘little carp on’ about it and it will be continued. We will HAVE to pay the money and then try in some or other way try to get it compensated from the people who built it in the first place. Don’t hold your breath! I am not either. Just feeling nauseous, that the so-called fair judicial system is such crap.

I want to end with a smile so here goes: The no-no’s have it; the no-no’s have it!

Images: Google Images and Hilversum Council 2013.

COPING WITH STRESS

Another new week begins and suddenly this word has come up in my mind. I have a really long list of things to actually do today, but cannot resist writing a few words. Because, be honest, how many of you reading this can say: Stress? I don’t have any stress!

We all do!

I believe each and every one of us, at this moment, has some form of stress, so how do you cope, or even better how do you get rid of it?

Stress is, unfortunately, a sign of our times. The pace of life is so incredibly fast and we are all expected not only to keep up with it, not fall behind, but more important take on more and more pressure! And not complain about it either. Just get on with it!

So what is stress? Stress actually has a number of meanings and interpretations.

The noun STRESS actually means pressure or tension exerted on a material object. And get this; the degree of stress is measured in units of force per unit area. What are they talking about?

This is a much better explanation: Stress is a mental or emotional state of strain and/or tension, resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

Now a lot of us can relate to that I am sure. The thing is to my mind is why do we allow ourselves to be so pressurized? In the main, a lot of people are afraid of just missing out. We feel obliged to keep up with literally everything. The idea of going off social media for 24 hours almost horrific to lots of people. 

A big fact of life is that we are subject to stress, yes all of us, whether we like it or not. But it is up to you, whether you literally succumb or take the time to deal with it. In other words, make choices for change.

Stress can take many forms, worry about money for example. When you think that money is only really a form of energy exchange, then perhaps you may be able to look at it differently. Lack of money, or not having enough is a sign of the world we live in today. But what then happens to the lucky few who either have loads (so no worries on that score) or the people who say, win the lottery? Even lottery winners have stress! Money is a stigma really. In our world ‘money’ is just a digital substance now. Many of us rarely have ‘old fashioned cash’ we tend to pay with our smart phones or cards. Banks as we knew them, maybe 10-20 years ago, no longer exist. Well here in the Netherlands, a lot are being shut, as everything is now done online. Long gone are the days when wages were paid weekly in little brown envelopes and people put money aside for different things. As I type I can still see a metal tin box my grandfather had when he put coins in the slots for gas, electric, rent etc. Now that everything is digital do you think we have all lost the conception of money in its cash form? Now it is just an online figure?

Stress can also be health related. When fear of health comes into the equation and health is something you cannot buy, then stress is the obvious result. But even then, depending on what your illness is, or a word I really think says it better is: dis-ease. Even then you can take action too. Literally your body is telling you in the form of dis-ease, that something is not right. I am not going to generalize here on life threatening illnesses. But did you know that people around the ages of 25-35 have more burnouts than ever before. This is the age when you should really be in the prime of your life. Young, energetic, full of life, starting out in life and yet this is the age group most affected by stress. Because a burnout is just a trendy term for stress.

So how can you cope with stress? Well one way, if it concerns something work related. Either you are expected to work all hours, or because of lack of funding or cut-backs, forced to work more than the normal average day; what can you do? well one thing is to speak out about it. If you don’t say anything, no one will ever know that you are feeling either overwhelmed or under such pressure that you are reaching the stage that you cannot cope. A lot of people don’t say anything and keep soldiering on regardless, until the pressure becomes so intense, they break. Not literally of course.

I was thinking about the factor stress in my own life. Because I have it too. At the moment, I am feeling under stress on a number of matters. First of all I have a court case coming up at the beginning of April. Being taken to court by people concerning the sale of my house nearly 6 years ago, this coming September. I won’t go into all the (boring) details, but these people have been constantly going on and on about things that are not true. They have a very aggressive lawyer, who come what may and to whatever expense, thinks he has grounds to take action. My own lawyer disagrees. But you can well imagine after all the correspondence, which is a big full lever arch file now, it is stressful!! Often I find that when I wade through the paperwork yet again, that the best thing for me is to try and make a conclusion in writing. One short paragraph that sums it all up. And I can’t. I cannot find anything in this mass of paperwork that I can conclude about anything. So take a deep breath and then write down how I ‘feel’ about it. Well, hardly dare to write in this blog what that is, but I try and stay calm and keep to facts. In some or other way, just writing down a few lines, brings it all back into perspective. And the pressure of stress about it is relieved.

Also I have a medical issue coming up and a two-phase operation. I have written about this in another blog, but it is still hanging in the air and has been for the entire month of March and I am waiting for the date. I could worry about this literally each and every day, but I don’t. I just let it go and trust that at exactly the right moment, the date will come and I will just go. Of course I can give myself sleepless nights of worry, but I don’t. I just accept it as a fact, I can’t do anything about it, just think, experts will take care of me and when their work is done, and I will take over and recover. Simple as that really. Although I know that a lot of people have terrible fear of not only hospitals but also operations.

Stress is something you can give into or not. That is the way I look at it. Of course I have days when it all ‘gets a bit too much’ and then I make the point of doing something to distract me. In other words something that takes my mind off things and gives me something else to do. 

It may all sound ‘easier said than done’, but I come back to something I often say to other people and that is ‘mind set’. If you can get your mind organized, then the stress diminishes. Concentrate on something completely different, it does not matter what, and then you suddenly find that you have not thought about it for a couple of hours, or the whole day, or a whole week. You have perhaps even made the ‘stress’ go away. Why? Because you have not allowed yourself to be ‘overwhelmed’ by it.



You can drive yourself literally crazy if you allow stress to get the upper hand. That is the way I feel about it. I have a lot of friends undergoing stress at this moment and I give them all the same advice and this is a small but important statement:

You can do anything, but you don’t have to do everything. In Dutch we say ‘alles mag, niets moet’ which literally translated ‘everything can, nothing must’.

Often, when stress is part of your life, the best way to deal with things is to not put any more pressure on yourself. Set yourself small tasks and don’t try and do everything all in one day. I do that during a recovery process. I am good at that, I know, but when I am building myself up again, I don’t go out training for the marathon all on the first day. Start slowly, taking small paces and then build up. That is a way to attack stress too.

First of all acknowledge it, talk about it with people close to you, talk to employers and colleagues. If you do the latter, often good ideas come up where the pressure is lifted off everyone. Working as a team and not as an individual often gives solutions too. But again this all starts with small steps leading to bigger strides.

You can allow stress to take over, or you can make up your mind to do something about it. Even driving to and from work every day in an endless traffic jam, is stressful. You could talk about changing hours or working from home to avoid the rush hour. Obviously in some jobs this is not a possibility. But if you don’t say, no one will know.

Stopping stress becoming a part of your life, to such an extent that you feel no longer at ease with yourself (hence the splitting of the word dis-ease), begins with you. Acknowledging it and then doing something about it. If you don’t a ‘burn out’ is the next stage.

It is a fact of life at the moment that more and more people are stressed out. Time for a change don’t you think? Make a choice; do something, anything to start the ball rolling to get rid of it! 

Images: Google Images (acknowledging any copyright).