FAMILY … FRIEND OR FOE?

This is a bit of strange blog, but the words suddenly came into my mind and thought this is a subject which may resonate with many, because I wonder how many of you out there actually have a happy family? I am not talking about the basic unit: mother, father, siblings but more about the family as it grows, with aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws.

It was a childhood dream of mine to be part of a large family, being an only child until the age of 11. My father and mother both came from the north-west of England and were part of fairly large families. Even though they were only children themselves they seemed to have copious amounts of aunts, uncles and cousins and I remember that because all family trips up north involved the rounds of ‘visiting the relatives’. As a child this was boring for me as there were no young members of the family apart from a couple of my parents second cousins. I did not have any aunts, uncles, or cousins myself.

One thing that always happened during these family visits was, even as a child, I noticed that they all gossiped so much about the other family members and their spouses (which is often the biggest problem in families all round). They would all tell stories of someone said this, someone said that and all in all, for me as a child, it was so dull.

When my parents married, they moved down to the southeast of London and all family contact was by letter. My nana would write every week with news to her daughter (my mother) and vice versa. Almost unthinkable in today’s age of internet and smartphones and of course, not forgetting the big foe WhatsApp! All communication these days seems to be through this medium and I can only admit I use it myself, even with my own children.

Letter writing is a thing of the past, even in the business world.  Everything goes through ‘communication channels’ on the net.

When I moved away to Europe and had my own family at first, I was quite pleased with the new family members I had acquired, prior to the birth of my own children. But again, I noticed that same non-stop talking about those who were not present. My new in-laws had the same issues and so much so, that my mother-in-law had no contact whatsoever with her brother who lived only a few miles away. She and her sister were constantly at odds about such trivial things, so this was not only a British issue, but also a European one too. The same applied to cousins and aunts and uncles. So that is my big question is a family a friend or a foe?

Of course, there are families out there who all get along wonderfully, so there must be an exception to the rule somewhere surely?

When the Christmas film season starts, it is all about amazing families who all descend on their relatives and have a wonderful Christmas time, but do they for real? I doubt it.

Recently my horoscope has been inundated with messages about letting go of people from my past and would you believe it, it is actually happening! I have had words with not only a couple of relatives, but also some friends. Is it because we are less tolerant with one another, caused by the worldwide situation or is it just that we get older and wiser and suddenly what was a good friendship say 25 years ago, suddenly goes sour and why?

To my mind the biggest problem is the gossip. You know, ‘he said, she said’ and then the story gets totally filtered. It is a bit like that game we used to play at school called ‘Chinese Whispers’. Someone would start a simple story, one sentence only and they whisper it to the person next to them and so on all around the circle. What was said by the last person had absolutely nothing to do with the original sentence at all.

We all filter every single piece of information we receive, either in the written or spoken word and make our own interpretation of things. It’s a human trait. And we all do it! Whether you think you do or not!

One of the cousins, ‘cold side’ as we say, had a real ‘carp on’ about things with me. I could go on and write a reply but to be honest, can I really be bothered? No, so simple answer is to block any chance that they keep rambling on. Can’t remember the last time I actually saw them in person to be honest and have I really missed them, no is the answer. And of course as tempting as it is to get into an exchange, just remember this: reaction is action!

It is sad that this happens but there seem to be many people who have this experience. They grow up with siblings and all is well, but the moment, they get partners and their own family unit, there seems to be nothing but gossip and troubles. It only takes two wives or two brothers not to get one and off you go, the family starts to split.

I think personally it is a good thing to be honest and speak your mind, but how far do you go? If you are the type who is like this, the answer may be too far in the end, because you cannot tolerate the b.s. anymore. 

Another thing I have noticed is that when people in families have problems, like health, for example, this is the hardest test ever who takes the time to keep in contact. Yes, yes, I know we all lead busy busy lives, but is a phone call occasionally too much? 

The cousin I mentioned above, lives less than an hour from me. His cousin is terminally ill and in the past 20 months he has only called once. Blamed the lack of contact on Corona, and yes this is to a certain extent true, but you can’t catch Corona through the telephone line. Instead, he rambled on, several long app messages about this and that, a load of excuses and genuine rubbish and then the decision was made to sever the cord and let it go. Yes, you can get yourself into a tizzy and want to say this and that but adding fuel to flames which are already on fire, really has no purpose at all.

Brave are those who hold their heads even higher and don’t get tempted to reply.

NEVER KNOWINGLY UNDERSOLD!

It’s a bit of a strange statement, isn’t it? As a child growing up in England, I remember well the chain of stores – John Lewis. Their Christmas windows were magical and when you stepped in through the doors the entire store oozed quality. This was and still is I believe, their motto. It seemed a strange one as a child but later I realized what they meant. If you deliver quality goods for a good price, not too cheap, then you are never knowingly underselling.

This statement applies a lot to life in general. In my line of work, which I do on a freelance basis I am often approached to do work for others. Always happy to do this, if I have the time and more important if it’s a subject matter that resonates with me. In the past I have translated some documents, which are extremely difficult to do, unless you have some knowledge of the subject matter, like legal contracts for example. Find the exact right legal text. But over the years and all the words I have translated for many, I have of course gained more and more experience. And the statement above applies to me too. Often, I am asked to translate books, which is such a huge number of words, that it is impossible to give a word price. It takes me a while to come up with an idea of a price for a large piece of work. Noting the hours and charging an hourly rate is often tricky because sometimes you ‘take a break’ and must keep a concise note about the time you spend on the project. This is not my first choice. I prefer to almost make an intuitive decision about what to charge but at the same time never knowingly underselling myself. My time and effort is worthwhile and I have a lot of experience to bring to the table, not only in the actual translating, but editorial experience having done that sort of work for many years and of course my number one selling point – I am a native speaker and no matter how much anyone tells you that they are totally fluent in any language which is not their native tongue, you never have exactly a hundred percent affiliation. It is the same for me in Dutch. I speak and read it fluently, but I would never claim that it is a native language even though I have been speaking and reading it now for more than 40 years. There is just not that same natural feeling as a native speaker.

So, when people approach me to do work for them and I have been working now for a very good friend for more than 16 years now and he is my priority person, I take the time to read the document and to think about the charge. Again, coming back to the thought that if I ask a price that is too cheap, I am virtually underselling myself and I don’t want to do that knowingly. If you have quality to give, then people should appreciate that. This applies especially when a lot of other people recommend you as ‘simply the best’. A huge compliment of course and that is why I often take on other projects apart from my own work as an author and blogger.

Recently this happened to me. I was asked to translate a book for someone and recommended by many. I am enthusiastic about any new project. So first of all, I ask for the whole document in pdf format and read it thoroughly. In that way I can get a good feel of the book and of course naturally along the way as I read through, my mind is already thinking of exactly the right words to keep the same energy in the book even if in another language. My language. It is true to say that a book written by someone say in Dutch and then translated by me into English contains both our energies. A literal word for word translation makes nonsense and often sentences have to put another way around to create the same flow in a new language. Happy to say that most of the work I do for my friend works this way and over the years, there is a full trust that I will produce a document in the same ‘tone of voice’ but in perfect English.

But back to this project. I read the book and was thrilled that so many people recommended me for it. I picked a random page and translated it and then sat down for several hours to puzzle about the price for the work. This isn’t easy believe me. On the one hand you are going to deliver your very best work, but again you cannot undersell yourself and ask for too little. It is shortchanging your quality. Eventually, after a lot of deliberation I came to a price which I thought was fair and I was ready to go. Offering as I always do 50% when commencing and 50% of the price paid upon completion, including any alterations the author wants to make.

And then silence. It is 6 weeks since I was asked. This means that I slowly begin to doubt myself and think the price is too high. But at the same time, it has to be realistic as the famous phrase ‘time is money’ comes into the equation too.

I have resisted asking the question: well, do you want me to do the work or not? It is obvious then to me that the person is shopping around for a cheaper price. To be honest I could have done the work and it would have all been finished and ready to go by now.

This makes me wonder, what is the underlying thought and why do they ask in the first place? They know if they have written and published a book that this is a costly experience and some you win, some you lose as you never know how many people will actually buy and read your book. Also, the fact that a lot of people prefer to read e-books means that the prices are much lower that hard copies. And you have to take this all into account. 

Writing for me as a passion. I love it and am always happy when inspiration suddenly comes up and a story is underway. Sometimes I am well into the ‘plot’ and then all my ideas dry up and I get the well-known ‘writer’s cramp’. I don’t worry unduly about this because I know at some stage, something will happen and my mind will be filled with new inspiration, often from a direction I did not expect. Writers are creators, weaving words into a story, whatever the genre and really the same applies to translators, like me. I always want to take on a project to give the very best version of the work in the same way the original author wrote it.

This morning I woke up thinking should I just put this down to a bad experience. To be honest if my price is too high, I would much prefer that people come back to me and we have an open discussion about it. Sometimes I have worked on larger projects with staged payments which makes it maybe easier. I am open to suggestions as I would be the same if it concerned my own work. I have only ever translated one of my own books into Dutch and that was done by someone I have known for a long time and someone I knew would do an excellent job. But an excellent job comes with a price and I was happy to pay it too, knowing that my Dutch version was just the same as my original English one. You must love words to not only write them in the first place but translate them too.

So, what is the way forward? What would you do if you were me? Forget it and get on with other things or ask? It is a quandary. But one thing I know for sure is that I will never knowingly undersell myself.

Really it means, setting a fair price for a quality product!

CHANGE

Saw this great quote today which I would like to share in this blog, because I think many of us are confused. There is a lot going on in this crazy world. Each and every day, you are overwhelmed by the stories from all over the planet. The unrest, the violence, the protests, the increasing of Corona rules (again!) and maybe you, like me, are beginning to wonder when will change come?

Change

You can start something new, whenever you want. You can start today, or next week, or next month. You can start when you feel you are ready, of you can start even if you feel you are not ready. You can start when you know nothing about it or when you feel that you know enough… The truth is that you can change your life whenever you want, whether you feel ready or whether or not the timing is ‘right’. You can pack up and move to a new city. You can change your career. You can talk to that person, you might end up being the one. You can start reading that book that might change your life … so don’t be afraid to try something new today because you never know which raindrop will start a hurricane.

Nikki Banas | Walk the Earth

So, what is our excuse then? Fear? Afraid of standing up above the crowd, afraid of what others may say or how they judge us? Fear is a huge power and it is very good to be aware that you are not held captive in another’s power. Of course, there are certain rules and things you must adhere to but, being in fear is not at all positive and then it is time for change.

All around me I notice the discontent in people having had yet another Press Conference from the local Government. Corona is rearing its head again and the issue seems to be about whether you want to get vaccinated or not. But can you really trust the statistics or the news you hear? Often it sounds totally contradictory. Then this, then that and we all end up confused.

But the thing I think with a choice (for change or not) is the fact that it is your choice and yours alone.  You do not have to defend yourself to others. That is what we have been almost brainwashed to feel. But the important factor is, you have to ask yourself what feels good for you? What feels right for you? And then the consequences, do they feel correct for you, or do you want to change them?

I am not going to get into the discussion about the vaccination program as I have mentioned it before in previous blogs, but I still come back to my standpoint that it is a personal choice and what another thinks or whatever reasons they tell you why you should or should not, it all comes back to the simple words: what is your choice?  We have gone way beyond the obligation as the statistics are now so confusing.

You can stand still today and ask yourself the question: Do I make a choice for change? Pretty simple. Even though others may call you egoistic and remember I wrote about this in an earlier blog, it is the choice that you feel is one hundred percent for you. Nothing else matters. Re-read the quote above. These are wise words.

Have a great day!

THANK YOU!

TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU WHO COMMENT ON MY BLOG POSTS. I GET ON AVERAGE ABOUT 1500-2000 A DAY AND ITS IMPOSSIBLE TO REPLY OR APPROVE ALL OF THEM. I READ THEM AND THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME AND TROUBLE TO WRITE.

AS MY LATEST BLOG IS ABOUT EGO, JUST PUBLISHED, I DON’T WANT TO KEEP APPROVING COMMENTS TO MAKE THIS SITE INTO MY OWN GUSHING GALLERY!

BUT I DO WANT TO THANK YOU ALL FOR READING AND COMMENTING.

HAVE A GREAT DAY

YOUR EGO, FRIEND OR SOMETIMES ENEMY?

The Ego, it’s a strange thing. We all have one. We may think we have it under control because everyone knows that too much ego can turn you into something you maybe don’t want to be. Ego is a word that comes from Latin and means ‘I’

Generally, the word is used for the identification of yourself when ‘I’ is the subject. But more often the word ‘ego’ is used for the identification of self with the wrong image. People talk for instance about a ‘big ego’ when a person thinks they are more important than others. Or when people believe that absolutely everything, they say is the truth, no matter what anyone else adds to the subject. Their own opinion is all that matters and nothing else. People are then called egocentric and people then talk about egoism, which is more related to greed for oneself. So, summarizing when ‘ego’ becomes the object instead of the subject then get ready, problems are on the horizon.

So, it is a bit of a double subject don’t you agree? On the one hand you talk about yourself which is quite normal but, on the other when it becomes oppressive or overwhelming, then it turns into something overpowering.

I have an example of course:  Over the years as a blogger, columnist and journalist and with a website with more than 1.5 million subscribers, I have a huge amount of ‘source’. When people comment on my blogs, which they do every day and I receive a huge amount over a week, someone always wants to share information with me about their own personal experience. Over the last couple of years, I have spoken a lot about romantic scammers and unfortunately been the subject of it myself a while back. I often pass the information on, when I feel it’s important to others, but under the strictest conditions that I never reveal my source. This is an unspoken agreement or rule in any form of journalism.

So, when you think you are doing your best and passing relevant information on and have built up a fairly good rapport with people then it comes as a huge shock when they react in an impolite (read rude here) way. After all you are just passing information and not gossiping. It is all and only for the greater cause for all the victims of scammers and to create more and more awareness. That is the whole point isn’t it by making subjects discussable and informing people in the hope that they will not become victims themselves. It is baffling that however much this subject is brought out into the open, that people still become victims. Forewarned is forearmed I feel.

But when ego comes into the equation, people who you think were really doing a marvelous helpful job for others, change. They don’t realize it themselves. It is the downside of becoming more well-known. This is on the one hand very good, but when the ego takes the upper hand then things go wrong….

Often this can be caused by something simple like being mentioned in a newspaper article. This is good that journalists research and write said articles and mention them as such for their involvement, but it is not then a ‘free pass’ to allow the ego to come into the equation. So, it’s the journalist, then the editor of said newspapers, like for example the Huffington Post, who bring these subjects to the attention of all readers using examples to make the point. Pretty normal don’t you think?

I passed on some information I had heard; I actually know the person being discussed and I wanted to point out that there are sometimes more sides to people than seems apparent at first. And of course, ensuring that your facts are right is important.

I was shocked by the very bitchy, rude reaction I got back and said so in no uncertain terms. Accusations of not ‘liking the retaliation’. What? And this is exactly what I mean can happen when ego’s take over. People change. They believe that everything they think or say is the truth. No matter what. Their ego has the upper hand and I wonder what is the solution? How do we control this?

This is then the moment when I think and decide I don’t need this crap in my life. I delete and break all contact and retire to the background. It is perfectly OK to have an opinion but make it a fair one. These people were (and still are) doing excellent work and helping many people across the globe with information about scams, but I am afraid I am done on this subject. Once and for all. I have written and said enough and with all the warnings, people should sit up and take notice of a very simple sentence: ‘DO NOT CHAT TO PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW PERSONALLY AND NEVER EVER SEND MONEY TO THEM’.

Journalists and factfinders base their stories on facts, information that is passed on to them. It is a bit of a twilight zone, where sources are never revealed because of privacy issues, but the intention is always to pass on facts for the greater good of all.  That was certainly my intention and it was sad that they accused me of things that were simply wrong. But there you go, as I said in the beginning, the ego is necessary, but it is important to keep it under control.

It is their loss not mine as I will never contact them again!

Image: Google

WHO IS AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD WOLF? … I MEAN WORLD !

FREEDOM. Freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of choice, freedom of will, freedom for all … sounds like we all hoped the world anno 2021 would be. But we seem far from this utopian idea. Far from it.

Each and every day, it seems as if we are being told more and more what we can and cannot do.

What happened to any form of democracy? A world which works together instead of people creating more and more little egoistic islands? We all had a dream, didn’t we? Why does it feel as if the world is going retrograde (in other words backwards)? 

Let’s take the dreaded subject of the Corona vaccination as an example. Despite being told that extensive tests had been performed on this beforehand and all those who have any knowledge in the pharmaceutical industry will know only too well, how long it actually takes to test a new product and actually get it approved for the markets. But in great haste and because we were told that it was necessary, a vaccination programme was started worldwide. We all looked in admiration to Israel who got the entire population vaccinated in no time. It was much much slower in all other countries and now do we really trust the figures we are being told.

I have actually had both vaccinations and now the rules and regulations concerned Corona have been seriously relaxed, suddenly the news hit the headlines yesterday that we will definitely need a booster of 2 vaccinations in 2022. What? 

To go into any restaurant, museum, cinema, wine bar, café or whatever, you must be able to produce your personal QR code. This is an app on your phone. For those without smartphones the proof of vaccination certificate is OK too. Then and only then are you allowed inside. Sure, you can have a drink on a pavement café but going inside to the restrooms is now allowed. Great! What do you do then?

But it all comes down to the way I started this blog, how much freedom is being taken away from us?

The latest news re banking is that if you deposit money, you must pay a fee, if you withdraw money, same applies and now it is not allowed to have more that Euro 5000 cash. What the fuck? Whose money, is it?

Again and again, we are confronted with restrictions in all our actions. Some people are totally convinced that we will soon be a world state like China, where you are rewarded for being healthier, doing what you are told and virtually controlled in all you do. I know I will get a lot of criticism for this remark, but it is true. Remember that the wish to have a family was seriously governed, one child only and people gave away their babies!! Everyone wanted a son as their heir and female children were frowned upon. It almost sounds that the worst possible SF film doesn’t it. With the latest news that the Netflix series: Quid Squad is now world-wide favorite, then this raises more questions, even though it is fictional, or is it?

For many years we have been told by great inspirators to live from our heart, to follow our dreams and to do things that make you feel happy and worthwhile. Self-love is an absolute must to achieve such a State of Being and tell me please how do you get this when we are on the other hand being constantly told what we can and cannot do.

When are we, as mankind in this world, going to stand up and say: Enough is Enough! We are no longer going to be dictated to by a bunch of egoistic, narcistic beings who only have one goal, themselves! And being in power.

As we all know for centuries, power relates to fear. The more power the more fear. Like in wars. When crazy individuals take the leadership, then others follow. Do any of you remember the famous film: Wave? About how easy-peasy it is to get a crowd of people to agree with you even if they are unsure to what they are agreeing to.

It is getting pretty scary, isn’t it? Even though people have the right to have a vaccination or not, not having one is now making you a pariah in society and you are definitely restricted in your social movements.

Personally, I feel that long term the effects of the vaccine have not been tested enough. Having worked in the pharmaceutical industry for a large part of my working life, I know how many trials are performed. This is before a product even reaches the official governmental approval stage, like the FDA in the USA for example. I am not either for or against the vaccination, I feel it is a personal choice, which people should be free to make. Some people are vaccinated because of health reasons or risks. So, it is a difficult choice, isn’t it? Do you dig your heels into the mud and say no, but at the same time are confronted by rules which you didn’t ask for in the first place?

Tricky subject, isn’t it? On the one hand we are told again and again that it is our moral obligation in respect of others to have said vaccination, which is a sound argument, but when all the rest in some or other way does not add up, what do we expect?

In 2020 I had a flu jab for the first time ever. I am pretty healthy I think and normally I would not have done this, but a personal circumstance with another family member, made me think, maybe it is better this year, because the risk of getting flu could have a serious effect on their health too. I had no reactions whatsoever, same with the Corona vaccinations but deep down I still have that gut feeling that this vaccination was rushed through because of the multi-million-dollar budget which was made available to do it, but what is the long-term effect? Certainly, the world-wide opinion of respected virologists is very different from what we are being told.

So how afraid have we become? How afraid are we to speak out? When recently a restaurant in The Netherlands refused to control the QR code of its customers, there was a public outcry. A crowdfunding exercise for the owner resulted in over Euro 200.000 in just a day or two. The end of the story was that the local mayor decided to shut down the restaurant for the time being and this person is now faced again with months of no income, no customers, no work … which illustrates my point exactly. How much longer are we going to accept everything at face value and not question? In fact, restaurants are just opening up again after months of obligatory closing! It seems crazy to me to be honest. Are we going to introduce social distancing for people with a common head cold soon?

I think to end this blog that the best policy is to do what feels best for you. If you don’t agree then you will know when that little voice inside tells you. It is time for each and every one of us to stand up and believe in our rights. Constantly creating the said little islands of fear will never lead to a world of love and unification, will it? We need so much more love, working together and respect in this world.

IMAGES: GOOGLE

SOCIAL MEDIA SUCKS! AGREE OR NOT?

I know I have spoken out on this topic many times before, but each and every day it never ceases to amaze me how much influence social media has on all of us.

An example: I came across someone on Instagram about a new product, which I am trying out for them and of course once connected, my Instagram has had daily posts and stories from said person. I can only say how flabbergasted I am about how much this person (and I will not name them) shares about their life on social media. It never stops. In less than a month, I know where this person lives, I have had a guided tour around their apartment, I know the place, the location, what the weather is like, and almost an hour-by-hour account of literally everything going on in their life. Isn’t this strange then that the same person complains when inundated with messages and comments, they really do not want to hear. So much so, that I feel that I have to write this blog, using them as an example on how irresponsible it is to post so much. It really is believe me.

Recently said person is in a new relationship and I know just everything there is to know. When and where they meet, their holidays, the food they eat, what they did on holiday. And even worse I know all the holiday plans for the rest of the year because they both made a big announcement about it. Now isn’t it really dumb these days to tell people online that you are going to be away and the exact date? You might as well leave the front door open and tell everyone to help themselves, because as I said in the first paragraph, the location is absolutely no secret whatsoever.

What makes me really sad is when children get involved in the social media frenzy too. And we get every tiny piece of information about their progress (or not) and that is wrong. People do not realize that behind the scenes there is a very evil dark web collating images of children for reasons none of us want to think about. Personally, I never share images of my own family, mainly out of respect for them, but definitely never of my grandchildren, having been scammed myself when someone stole images and published them out to all my contacts. You know the famous saying: ‘once bitten, twice shy!’ If you have had this happen to you as well, then you know exactly what I mean.

But back to the subject. As the new relationship was someone who has had their photos stolen by scammers and complains daily on their own social media about it, it was an absolute foregone conclusion that this would open the door for ‘hate messages’ and people claiming that they are in the same relationship too. They think they are because they are being scammed by someone else. And as sad as it is, one must raise the question, isn’t it their fault if they post so much information?

Last night, I was flabbergasted to read in a discussion that said person is going to have her eggs frozen for future use. This really is the limit; I feel that this is such a personal thing and why shout it out on social media and then of course get inundated with good advice and good and bad comments. Why discuss at all? Surely this is something to talk to your partner about. It is particularly disturbing when a normal healthy young woman is carping on about this nonstop for those who have great difficulty getting pregnant or are undergoing IVF treatment which is a long, hard and often sad and disappointing road. Not always, but certainly the stories I have heard from friends and such like is that it is a project where you have to be ready for the ups and downs.

Isn’t it just too amazing for words that there are doctors in the world who recommend that you start saving your eggs and have them cryo-frozen just in case you want to start a family at a later date? Now I know technology has come a long way over the past years, but to me this seems rather unnecessary when basically you are a normal healthy young person and have already had one child, albeit from another relationship. 

The point with social media influencers is that we all know it’s big business. Look at Ronaldo Christiano, one of the biggest social media earners, by appearing on a few billboards here and there and posting out about a product, brings in a very substantial extra revenue. One then asks the question when it is ever enough, as one of the highest paid footballers in the world. Same for actors and  stars who just happened to be in the front line at the gene pool. A few sprays of Boss Bottled gives Chris Hemsworth a huge extra annual income especially when you are the leading person for the brand, worldwide. Does he really need the income as one of the highest paid actors in the world? Yes/no? Everyone loves seeing his handsome face beaming down from billboards across the globe, but hmmm …. it makes you think doesn’t it? I just wonder if it might be more fulfilling/rewarding to donate the earnings to charity and then feel it had been worthwhile, or to those with less? But it seems that the old idea, the more you have the more you want, applies here.

People of lesser status also generate income by promoting and selling brand names. Advertising is an expensive business, like a full-page ad in the dailies, so anyone who is willing to post out on social media non-stop, often goes into a ‘paid partnership’ for a brand, clothing, an energy drink and so it goes on. These are the smaller fish in the sea compared to the big well-known names. But all the same, it’s a very lucrative business, for the company selling the product and the one who posts. Also offering discounts to others using their special codes, all very interesting if you want to boost your followers, but in the end who is actually following you? Do you really know. The figures look good, but do you want 50 million followers when you know a large amount belongs to the scamming world?

I often find myself asking the question: at what cost long term? And do you really want to share every waking hour with everyone around the globe, making yourself so susceptible to people who then steal photos and use them in scamming. Scamming as I have written about many times, it a global problem, not only for the people who are actually scammed but also the people whose photos are stolen in the first place and people really believe they are in a relationship with this person. For those of you with Netflix I highly recommend that you watch a short new series called Clickbait. It a real eye-opener and exciting right through the last few minutes of the 8th episode. 

So, to end this blog, my only conclusion is to say to people, post less, no matter how much fun you think it is to share everything with everyone. Be more selective, you can share things with your personal friends through other media, encrypted WhatsApp for example but again and only when it is to people you know personally when it concerns sharing personal things.

The person I used at the beginning of the blog has had a really hard time over the past few days and although she thinks she is helping people by talking about it even more, I can only say, if you keep adding fuel to the fire, it will never go out. Enjoy your life, your relationship and your posts, but stop posting personal things, like for example, the freezing of eggs. That is far too personal and you end up with loads of people commenting. Do you really want that? It may be advice well-meant but come on …..

A while ago I wrote about how open the apps are on our smartphones, tablets and laptops. Check it, check if you are giving out your location 24/7, whether your camera and microphone is on or not. Hackers are brilliant people who can be in your space in literally seconds and taking control of your life, your family and your friends. Be warned!

Stay safe everyone.

A RANT ABOUT THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT!

This year there were General Elections on the 15th March 2021 for a new Government in The Netherlands. This was actually the first time that I was eligible to vote having taken Dutch citizenship a while back. Now normally, one would think that the Government had been formed (a coalition) by now, but sorry no, it’s now 10th September 2021 and they are still squabbling like a bunch of very irritable children about who wants to govern with who?

What I hear you asking? The people have voted haven’t they and the Government should be formed accordingly. Yes, agree it sounds simple doesn’t it, but believe me they have not made it so far. It seems that the actual votes are really irrelevant, because before the voting has even taken place, parties are already stipulating about who they would be willing to form a Government with (or a Cabinet for that matter).

The Netherlands boasts the fact on a worldwide scale that this is a democratic country. Modern thinking and all the rest. Well, that is quite disputable I am sure you will agree when a group of adult politicians are still arguing in an infantile way. It is shameful really. The problem is that there are so many parties to choose from, some a simple one or two people parties and spin-offs from other parties too. One would seriously begin to question why these people get a salary, which is quite decent and they act so badly.

The Dutch Parliament building in The Hague

There have been several people called up and taken out of the cupboards to help form the Government (and then the Cabinet – which really means who is Minster of what and who is Secretary of State). And so far, they have all failed miserably. Scandals about leaked documents when one minster was caught on photo by the press holding confidential papers under her arm, of course any fool can zoom in to read the content and this caused the resignation of the minster concerned.

And so, it goes on and on and on. We, the public, are totally bored to death by the whole subject and you begin to ask yourself why you actually bothered in the first place to go and vote at all. Maybe that is the answer that next time around no one turns up to vote. Now that would give them all a big wake up call.

It seems to be in the times in which we live, when the aim of society is to work together in a democratic and fair way, that all the Dutch politicians, from the Prime Minster to others have completely lost the plot and it has become a game of egos and they act like naughty toddlers all throwing, at some stage, their toys out of the playpen.

We are just (almost) coming out of more than 18 months of Corona problems, lockdowns, businesses shutting down, people working from home, schools, offices, universities, theatres, cinemas and such like all closed and this has had a really disastrous effect on not only the economy in general but the livelihoods of people as well. Lack of, or no income at all for months and many have not survived this financial crisis.

It is just one blunder after another as far as the Government are concerned and basically the Dutch one has become the laughing stock of Europe.  6 whole months wasted with ego based, bad decision making.

Isn’t it time they all grew up and listened to what the people voted for? Does that sound too simple for words? I wonder.

To me it seems the only way forward and the coalition government should be formed as soon as possible in order of the votes. No more ‘namby-pamby’ about who wants to get what position and talking about things like not wanting for form the Government with this or that party. Getting on with the job they are paid to do! Seriously get on with the job, form the Government and rule the country.

It is not that difficult, is it?

THIS IS BY THE WAY: the motto of the United Kingdom of The Netherlands, and it means ‘I will maintain’. Good advice all you politicians, read it and get on with it.

Images: Google

A BLAST FROM THE PAST

Isn’t it strange that sometimes things are right in front of you and you have not seen them? My horoscope has been saying, for several days, that I would be thinking of memories from the past, particularly childhood ones, with the idea of ‘cleansing all unwanted thoughts’ and ready to move onto the next part of the journey. That seemed strange to me, because in the main, and certainly the years at primary school, were happy ones. 

I lived in a small village called Shepperton in the then county of Middlesex, south-east of London. It was a small village which grew over the years, but as I actually lived directly opposite my school, I was, so to speak, right in the middle of the hub.

VERY CUTE DON’T YOU THINK?

In England you start primary school at the age of 5 and I remember the date was 8th September. My first day at school. Strange at first being away from home and in a class of children I did not know at first, apart from those who lived in the same road as me. But the teacher was sweet and kind and I remember the first afternoon, having gone home for lunch, riding a tricycle all the rest of the afternoon, around the what then seemed large playground.

Basically, as we got older we were a firm group of friends and all our parents knew one another too. After school and afternoon tea, as the majority of children had warm school lunches there, we would go off and play on the local recreation ground.

I actually enjoyed my time there a lot and one of the teachers had a pretty huge impact on me and inspired me to be the writer I am today. It was a man called Vernon Goslin, a historian, ex-Army man, who had the most amazing stories to tell, which he did every day just before the lunch break. All about an army soldier called Fatty Montford (of all names).

Sadly, at the end of my time there, my father decided to move the family away to another place and I did not go on to Grammar School with a lot of my friends and lost touch with them, apart from one or two. I often wonder, what would my life have been like if we hadn’t moved and I had gone on to school with them. My father in all his wisdom (and goodness knows why) did not choose a grammar school close to where we went to live, but one miles away meaning that every day I caught the 8am train to Farnham, and then the 4pm one back being out of the house for a long day. Then of course there was the dreaded homework in the evenings and that was my life Monday to Friday, getting up early, walking to the station (just over a mile), going by train, a walk uphill to school and the whole process reversed in the afternoons. Five days a week.

Just by chance I came across a page (on Facebook) about my old primary school, filled with old photographs and you remember how many you all have too in your collections as every event was marked with a class photo including the teacher and the head of the school. I was surprised as I scrolled through, how many faces I recognized and had to rack my brains for the names. One of two people had filled in the gaps and there I was transported back to my children memories, just like my horoscope had said.

It was compelling to scroll on and on, and I found one or two names, including one from my ‘bestie’ at school. It was quite easy to find her on the socials and I sent a screen shot of the photo of us, where we are looking sweet and innocent, saying remember this?

Over the weekend we got into quite a chat, via WhatsApp to catch up and another extraordinary thing, she had been in many of the places I actually visited over the years. I remember her wedding well, in our local parish church, where I was actually baptized myself, and then her leaving for a new life with her husband (of course!) in Europe. It all seemed romantic and exciting at the time, and I never imagined that I would end up only one year later leaving the UK and moving to The Netherlands.

The reason was my job as I was working locally in England for a Dutch company and because I was an English native speaker of course, they transferred me to head office in Delft to work there. Supposedly for only two to three years, but I am still here would you believe? Even though I left my job when my daughter was born in 1988.

Learning to speak and write Dutch was obligatory, and even in the beginning when I thought I would never learn such a difficult guttural language, I did and I remember after about 6 months here I was able to have simple conversations with people. Seems strange now as I am totally fluent and never think for a single moment about switching between languages. 

I think maybe the years when my father was working in Paris for UNESCO, helped me a lot as we were there during all school holidays (and there used to be a lot those days) and I was fluent in French, talking my O and A levels in one go and passing with ease. I think because I am so fascinated by words, that languages are a natural thing for me. This winter I am going to pick up on my Italian course again and finish it. Once you have got over the nervousness of making a fool of yourself when you try to speak another language, it is plain sailing from then on. And people respect you for at least trying. Basically the English are lazy expecting everyone to speak their language, but it is not the same.

Of course, once you start delving into the past in your mind you suddenly come across other things too, and would you believe it I found an envelope with some of my old school books and reports (and we will not talk about those!). I know that I could read and write before I even started school, but finding one of my exercise books where we wrote a story every Monday morning about our weekend, mine are filled within a couple of weeks, whereas others had the same book for the entire term.  I also came across a ‘certificate’ where I won a national writing competition for Cadbury chocolate. I remember that, and of course being a huge fan and having such a sweet tooth it was easy to wax on lyrically about chocolate in general. But there you go writing even at that tender age and still doing it all these years later.

So, I asked myself this morning, what are the childhood memories that I need to clear up then? The majority are very happy ones. Picnics in the summer, swimming in the gravel pits (goodness just imagine that we were allowed to do that unsupervised as they are extremely deep), playing at the Watersplash with a huge swing across the water. It was all just fun and we were a tight knitted group of friends. Strange though how you lose contact with them and why? Obviously, we grow older, move on, make new friends and in my case actually leave the country.

I found an old school photo of myself which I posted onto the site and immediately people started to react. They remembered me. And I asked myself then, why not? I remember them too.  Even other siblings reacted to the post and I found out that a boy in my class now lives in Sydney in Australia and I have been there too! 

Ah, happy days ! I will puzzle on about what memories I have to release? No idea at the moment.

BEAUTY IS … IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Wouldn’t it be a nice way to start this new week with something positive. Something interesting.

In these strange times when social media offers every opportunity to comment and often shame people about their appearance, everyone seems to have forgotten this famous phrase. Fat-shaming for example for those of us who may carry a few extra pounds than someone else. Shaming people for their sexual preference. Shaming people for what they say or ridiculing them. It seems as if social media has become THE platform to be absolutely horrid to people sometimes. Not always, but I am often really surprised myself when I read comments and the suggestions people feel they have to make to people they don’t even know. Why? Live and let live is my motto!

We have been taught from a very young age that beauty is everything and from about the age of 20 plus, reminded every day that we need to preserve our good looks, our skin, our hair and just be beautiful. You are only a success if you are. Well, I don’t believe that for starters, as to my mind, beauty lies within. You may look like a Hollywood star, but it is the person you are inside that is important.

So, social media reminds us constantly of all the products that are available and in copious amounts too, to just make ourselves ‘a special kind of wonderful’. I may go so far as to say the suggestion is made that if we are not beautiful, we no longer count! This is complete nonsense in my opinion.

Writing this makes me think of my paternal grandmother. A sweet woman who used only Nivea cream her entire life. You know those famous blue pots of cream. She lived in the north-west of England, Cheshire to be exact, where the chilly winds blow off the Penines and it often rains a lot. She would get ready to go off to the village every day to get her groceries and before leaving apply Nivea and rub it into her face. Roughly. Not with small gentle circular movements, but literally smear it all over her face. Then apply a quick coat of lippie (lipstick) and go out. As she was the biggest chatterbox in the village, as the pastor’s wife, would then be out for hours. To the day she died she had the most perfect, wrinkle free complexion I think I have ever seen. I use it too, with a bit more care than she did.

For those who care about their skin, their hair, their general appearance there are so many products available on today’s market that it is overwhelming.

But today I want to talk about a product I discovered just by chance and that is a Lash Serum, made by Gran Cosmetics and invented by Madeleine Schneider-Weiffenbach and Iqbal Gran (hence the name). 

Our eyelashes get a battering over the years with the daily application of mascara, because come on, we all want amazing long fluttering lashes, don’t we? This serum was developed over a period of 2 years and contains wonderful products which have been clinically tested, hypoallergenic and non-irritating, vegan friendly.

No animal testing either. And containing ingredients such as biotin (vitamin B) aloe vera, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. So, I am having a go and see what the effect is for my own lashes.

Well to say I am flabbergasted is putting it mildly! I ordered and the product arrived really quickly in a beautifully designed pink box and wrapped in delicate tissue paper. The serum packed in a similar color tube and proper well written notes about how to use it. And it is so simple. After removing any eye make-up, which I do with Micellair Water, and the lashes are completely dry, then apply a thin line (like an eye liner) above the upper lashes and go to bed. That is all you have to do. During the night, miracles happen. Really.

Just within a couple of days my lashes are thicker, and longer. Yes, honestly! It is not my intention to make an advertising pitch, but to truthfully say, try this product right away. If you are a person who has lash extensions every few weeks and it is costly, then stop. Treat yourself to a present of this amazing product. You will have a natural look within several weeks and one thin coat of mascara has an incredible effect. The eyes are, as we all know, the windows of the soul, and often the first thing you notice about people. Eyes are our first impressions about someone, the color and the attraction or not. Similar maybe to why butterflies are attracted to flowers of a certain color and perfume.

I love this product and I am so glad that I just came across it by chance. Well not true really because it was meant to happen (as coincidences don’t exist, they say). Everything happens for a reason. I saw this on social media and believe me I am not a big user of Instagram, but there you go. Thrilled that I did take note of this post. Something positive at long last!

Beauty is in the eyes (or lashes) of the beholder!

www.grancosmetics.com

Instagram: @pilotmadeline or @grancosmetics

Images: Google (Gran Cosmetics)