Literally hundreds of you are writing to me every day in the comments section about The Blue House, saying how much you enjoyed the first two chapters and that you want more! Well you can have more. The Blue House is just one of my books and if you want to find out what happens next? You can!
This book and three others (A Second Chance, Fireflies in the Summer and The Art of Confessions) are now on Amazon.com in Kindle version. (US$ 9.99) You can have a sneak preview of these books too, on Amazon and I have also shared this on my own feed as well in previous posts.
How can you find me? Easily. Just type my name and the title of the book into the search after you have logged on to Amazon.com. This will bring you to my own ‘author’s page.
Then you are literally one click away from purchasing the book and downloading to read on and find out what happens to Grace and Matthew in their Blue House.
I have literally replied to each and every comment about this on my feed, telling you that you can now carry on, so adding this one single post today so that it is in the feed. Happy Reading!
I was thinking this morning about the right to demonstrate: Why? Well, this morning is the feast of St. Piter in Friesland (Grou to be exact). This is a little village in the north east of Holland and it is only celebrated in this one village. Nowhere else!
Those of you who might have read my book ‘A Second Chance’ will know I referred to this in that book.
Well it is today and before it has even got started people have said that they are going to demonstrate against racism. Now the idea of demonstrating about something you oppose is one of our fundamental rights. Does it do much good? I wonder.
The feast of St. Piter is a children’s’ time. Young children still believe that St. Piter comes to give them all presents (which in a way is similar to Father Christmas during Christmas etc). So why I ask myself, do grown up people feel that they have to be standing there too, spoiling all the fun. With their banners and shouting remarks into the crowds, which after all are only children and their parents in one (actually very small) village in one small country. Do they believe they will actually make a difference?
Local government is having to take action before the fun has even started and today the local mayor allowed demonstrators to be on the other side of the harbor, where St. Piter’s boat arrives. Well one plus point the wind is so strong today and hopefully in the right direction, so maybe people will not hear a single word they are all shouting about. I hope so.
Although the meaning of DEMONSTRATE is the following: (and I quote from the Oxford English Dictionary!
to give a practical exhibition and explanation of how a skill, craft or machine works of performs
a demonstration how to cook something
to show the existence of the truth by giving proof of evidence
to show or qualify one’s actions
to take part in a public demonstration
So in the five descriptions, only one applies!
And to be honest sometimes I wonder what is the point? Do people honestly believe that anyone is really going to take any notice apart from irritation? Like in Grou today, that these demonstrators are spoiling kids fun and a happy family day! Really?
This week here in The Netherlands, secondary school children all ‘had a day off school’ to join in a protest about climate change. Now this is something I think could be seen as positive. It is good that younger people are sitting up and having their say about their future planet.
Although I will give some the benefit of the doubt that they really do care, I guess a huge amount just thought it was great to have an extra day of school and spend hours making banners and such like. Someone I know posted up a photo of a cinema after the young people had seen a film and left. You would not believe the amount of rubbish and plastic bottles they had just thrown to the floor. Er … climate change wasn’t it?
And if you are serious about making a statement about climate change, will you just then go off to MacDonald’s or Burger King? Doesn’t it really defeat the whole point behind the protest? Believe me politicians are not really going to listen at all. Here is The Netherlands there is already a fuss about the fact that the Dutch Government are not going to get anywhere near the target agreed for CO-2 reduction. Not anywhere near it all! And so the ‘green’ politicians are coming up with one more stupid idea after another, things that they know are unachievable. But I suppose they have to earn their salary some way; agree?
Another thing I have been following is the number of people who seem to be able to spend each and every day in front of the House of Parliament in London, demonstrating about the pro’s and con’s of Brexit. Don’t they have anything better to do like work for example? Take care of their children and families? Yes, a demonstration is perfectly OK if there is a valid point to be made. As far as Brexit is concerned, the government is miles away from making any agreement with the other EC countries. I had to laugh at a comment by Boris Johnson in the newspapers yesterday, about it being better to have a discussion with Juncker before lunch rather than after!! Enough said.
Also Tusk has now upset everyone with his comments! So negotiations are going nowhere, despite all the people parading up and down every day with banners and balloons. So what is the point? Is anyone listening at all?
We used to have referendums here in The Netherlands but the government has abolished them. If you want to know what people think, then have a referendum, yes or no, simple as that and then act on what people want. Not what politicians want, they only want to leave their stamp or mark on some piece of legislation.
Then the next question has to be why do we all bother to go and vote then? Not only in a referendum, but also in elections. We elect people to actually represent us, not to behave they way they often do. Those of you who have ever watched a live broadcast from parliament either here or in England can only agree with me, it sounds like a cattle market. Probably the cattle are better behaved to be honest.
A slanging match back and forth, words being said that are so over the top and the poor speaker only shouting ‘Order’ above the masses, but they really pay no attention whatsoever. Here in the Dutch parliament this week a very heated, strong worded discussion (well it was not even that, I think I would define it as a personal slanging match) between two people in parliament because let’s be honest the room is half empty most of the time anyway, and no speaker thumping her fist down on the desk saying Enough! Just the comment in an interview afterwards that ‘it was regrettable’. For goodness sake!
I vote for bringing inspiring positive people to the forefront who actually say something that will make a difference for a change. There are many examples in our society today. One that springs to mind was a post on social media this week saying: Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama for the White House in 2020. Why not? It could not be worse than it is at the moment. And yes I know there are those of you out that who support Trump and others not. But my point here is, if you are a so-called ‘influential person’ then use your influence for positive things instead of always negative.
Negativity is a killer. All discussions finish at that point. No demonstration whatsoever is going to change anything from that point.
As far as Brexit is concerned the question is simple. In or out? Then get on with it. Just leave things as they are in Ireland, is the whole deal breaker, one simple border on one island in the Irish Sea. Even though others are making barriers preventing help to come into the country for the good of their own people (Venezuela to name one). Mexico as another example.
Coming back to demonstrations: Yes, if you think it is going to have any effect whatsoever, then be my guest. But wake up to the fact that it is not! Just like all those people standing there in Grou making an issue about a children’s’ event, well do they really think they are going to make a difference? Of course not, just create negativity and the young children who probably have no idea whatsoever what they are demonstrating about.
Time for a turning point I think do you?
Just have a look at all these positive words when you want to say something about your values!
Images thanks to Google Images and Chantal Henderycx
I do not by any means, claim to know a lot about astrology, but I know that it has been something that has fascinated me since I was a child. The planets, the stars, the signs of the zodiac.
This week I received an interesting email from someone who was talking about an astrological occurrence, which I want to share with you.
Its already February and this month CHIRON is moving into the star sign Aries where it will remain for the next 8 years! In other words this means in all the revolutions around the sun, Chiron will remain in the star constellation Aries for all this time. It is quite unusual.
Now way back in 1977 Charles Kowar discovered at Mount Palomar Observatory that there was an ‘object’ moving between the planets Saturn and Uranus in an eliptical circle around the sun. On all the photos Chiron only looked like a small dot and people thought there might be a new small planet and gave it the name 2060. The name was Chiron is derived from the Greek mythology as something that was half man/half beast. What they really noticed was that Chiron continued to remain in the movement around the sun between the two planets mentioned above. Some people wondered if this was a comet because of its pointed form. Chiron is often referred to as the ‘wounded healer’.
Now what is so interesting about Chiron going into the star sign Aries and remaining there for the next 8 years?
Well for starters, this is an unusually long transit. Longer than any transit by say Uranus, who spent 2 years in Libra. There is apparently a lot of work to do. And that is why it is going to be on-going for 8 years as well. In Aries Chiron aims to heal the deepest wounds of them all : our identity!
So what will this mean for you personally. As Chiron has left a part of the zodiac and moves perhaps into an area which had not been explored until now, Chiron will show you which area of yourself you need to heal so that you can become whole again. And it is going to be an opportunity for the next 8 years.
Now 8 is an interesting number in itself because it represents the never ending lemniscate. A symbol, which goes back to ancient times. You often find it in ancient monuments, churches, art etc. It is also called the Vesica Piscis. It is a ‘fish’ shaped form used in depicting an aureole around religious figures, such as Jesus Christ. Another name is a mandorla, which comes from Italian and literally means ‘almond shaped’.
So what is this healing all about? Why should we pay attention to Chiron being in Aries for the next 8 years? This healing has nothing to do about what is expected of you, it is more about the healing of your identity.
It is important to remember that you are exactly who you are and who you were meant to be. You are in exactly the right place. Your existence is no accident whatsoever. And as if often said: you are here for a reason.
If you like me, wonder many times, what is the reason then. Believe me it may not always seem crystal clear, but it is true.
Astrologically speaking there is a lot happening this month. We have a new moon coming up on the 4th, in Aquarius giving us positive, supportive aspects and making it as they are saying: ‘one of the most auspicious new moons this year’.
If you are planning a big project in 2019, then this is your new moon. Start something now and you will have more opportunity for success. So use this moment to finally decide about a plan you may have been mulling over for quite a while. This new moon will influence a specific area of your life, from health to abundance. It all depends on which house it occurs in your own chart.
I certainly cannot explain all the in’s and out’s of a natal chart to you in this blog, I do not have the expertise and there are many people who do, but the zodiac is made up of 12 houses and 12 signs. Depending on the moment of your own birth, if you know the exact time and place, you can google your personal natal chart for free on Internet.
I will try to use mine as an example. I was born 20thAugust at 03.45 am London time. At the exact moment of my birth I had several planets in my first house, which is Leo. The Sun, Neptune and Pluto. My ascending sign is also Leo (a fire sign). There is a photo further on in this blog.
Just in case you are wondering what I mean by a ‘fire sign’ this is a summary of the signs:
Fire: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius
Earth: Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn
Air: Gemini, Libra and Aquarius
Water: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces
So what are the general characteristics of each element?
FIRE signs are passionate people, dynamic and sometimes tempermental. Full of energy and drive. Fire keeps you warm or it can be very destructive. A fire can burn out very quickly when not tended regularly. But at the same time can regenerate power from the ashes (a little bit like the phoenix who rises from the ashes – some of you will probably remember Fawkes from the Harry Potter books). A single spark can set off a forest fire. Fire signs need to be nurtured and managed carefully.
AIR signs are all about action, ideas and motion. The ‘wind of change’ so to speak. Where some people may be true life ‘airheads’ others are as powerful as gravity itself. Air signs bring a breath of fresh air when things start to go stale. Like a breeze you just cannot catch them and you will never know where they will drop you as they sweep you up. But it will always be an adventure.
EARTH signs are keeping it for real. Exactly like the saying ‘down to earth’. They remind us all that you need to start will a solid foundation. Slow and steady, builders who are loyal and stable and stick by people in times, which are harder. Practical on good days, at worst very materialistic and too focussed on the surface to really dig deeper.
Finally the WATER signs: Intuitive, emotional and ultra sensitive. Mysterious a bit like the oceans themselves. Refreshing or they can actually drown you in their depths. Intense dreamers ,which can go so far as almost being psychic. Security is really important, after all water needs to be in a container otherwise it dries up and disappears!
So now you know a little bit about your own sign, then we will come back to the month of February and what is in store?
February 10th, Mercury enters the sign Pisces. Imagination and Inspiration are the words here. A lot of artists are born in this situation because Mercury reads thoughts. Creative project? Then re-discover the artist in yourself. Not necessary taken literally, but in other forms too.
February 13thMars is conjuncting with Uranus. Action, Identity, Freedom and Liberation. Want to make a 2.0 version of yourself, this is the moment.
On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, Mars will enter Taurus. Mars is the planet of action and this may prompt you to take initiative in love and relationships. So speak up. Perhaps tell someone your feelings, which you have never dared to say before.
February 18th: Chiron enters Aries. The most eventful day of this month. A really significant long lasting transit. Exactly at the same moment Venus conjuncts with Saturn in Capricorn. Chiron is a big deal in Aries even though it actually would prefer to be unnoticed. If we bring this together with the word: Identity and the thought of a wound which never heals, which when triggered brings up feelings of shame, guilt and worthlessness, then you will get the reason why this is such a big deal! Astrologically speaking. Because how many of us out there know these feelings all too well?
Chiron ‘feels’ exposed in Aries because say for example if Chiron is in the deep waters of Pisces he can remain there happily undetected. But not with Aries, because it is all about ‘coming out of hiding’.
The idea that you can finally deal with something that has been in you for a long long time.
February 19th: Full Moon in Virgo. A very Aries like full moon this time. So the healing will begin almost teasing us all with the promise of if you keep going, there will be freedom.
So how can we all heal the wound of identity? And liberate ourselves. Answer through Virgo. Virgo is a sign which is all about reconciling a matter and the spirit, in a sort of half man/half beast way. Chiron wants to heal both sides of himself, the man and the animal. So what is the lesson here? Be aware of the two separate parts (almost the same idea as your masculine/feminine side – we all have that!). So in a nutshell remind yourself you are half human and half divine.
February 23rd: Venus conjunct Pluto, which brings intense emotion, strong attraction. Touched by Pluto Venus knows how to use her power exactly and get what she wants.
February 26th: Venus conjunct the North Node (yes there is a South Node too). The nodes and their position are all about karmic destiny and past lives.
At this stage your heart knows that really there is no such thing as complete and utter perfection. But the never-ending journey of trying to find said perfection, the endless climb to the top, is worth it in the end. The journey is always more interesting than the destination, but the view when you get there is magnificent. Scenery has changed. Life has changed. Without really noticing you have become a better version of yourself. The wound may be healed once and for all. Remind yourself of this.
And this is only what is going on in one single month: February.
Astrologists use the term Conjunct when planets are in the same sign. Semisextile means 1 sign apart, Sextile 2, Square 3, Trine 4, Quincunx 5 and Opposite 6. Seven in total.
Other major aspects are T-square (3 planets at ‘war’). A Grand cross or Square (4 planets at ‘war’). A Grand Time (3 planets in harmony and Yod is the so-called Finger of Fate (sextile, quincunx, sextile).
This is a photo of my own Natal Chart, which is free and you can download your own, but just to give you an idea of the houses, the signs and where the planets were exactly at the time of your birth.
Remember Chiron is going to be in Aries for the next 8 years!!
So a suggestion, connect with a fire person who you know who will help you to get passionate and full of energy. We can manifest anything we want really when we really start to pay attention and get into second gear!
By the way Venus is on a mission this month too, to find the perfect love!
Having made this blog today, on a rainy Saturday morning, I am filled with thoughts about the arrival of my granddaughter this month. Of course we all want her to arrive to keep the tradition going in the family on the 20thof this month (her actual calculated due date is the 23rd). But I have the uncanny feeling it might just be the 18th!
Images: Google and special thanks to astrologers Kari Samuels and Astro Butterfly for your inspiration and regular posts.
Well, its official my daughter has now started her maternity leave. All her work is done, files cleared, email box emptied and now rest … awaiting the arrival of her daughter, our granddaughter.
36 weeks (officially 4 to go) although we have all sort of convinced ourselves that she is going to arrive early. Latest visit to the midwife, confirms, she has turned around, head engaged, so getting into the position to be born.
My daughter still seems incredibly calm and has, just like she has had all her life, definite ideas about how she is going to go through the birth process. No epidural, no painkillers, pure nature, no gynaecologist. Great plans and as I have told her now several times (well actually she is probably bored by me saying), the whole essence lies in the breathing.
I used to be a huge yoga fan (still am) and when I lived at home went with my own mother every week. Coming to live here, I continued on for years every Monday evening after work. Yoga breathing that is what is all about, clearing mind, body and spirit. Breathing is after all the essence of life itself. If you can do this successfully you never need any painkillers for a headache, just a simple breathing exercise clears any symptoms within minutes. So why this breathing for the birth?
Of course all women reading this blog will know that contractions are painful and that they come in waves. A lot of people tense up so much, they actually forget to keep breathing and then the contraction itself really does not have any effect. By controlling your breathing and allowing the body to adapt step by step for the birth, means that you soon reach full dilation and then it’s all about pushing and puffing. Once the head and shoulders are born, all the hard work is really done.
Not that I say I was an expert. Not at all. I had an epidural when my daughter was born, so a pain-free experience and my son was born by c-section.
But I remember my own mother giving me the same advice, ‘it’s all about the breathing’ she said. I agree.
My own emotion is in between excitement, worry to some extent that all will go well and also the idea; what will it be like to be a grandparent? How will I actually feel when I hold her for the first time? Will all the memories flood back from 30 years ago?
I remember when my mother arrived at the hospital, that I felt a huge sigh of relief. It was all very new and I felt unsure, but the moment my own mother arrived with all her experience, everything was under control. Even though she would only be there for a couple of weeks and have to return to the UK.
She was just a pro, could pick up the baby much better than I could as a first time parent. She would say, the baby is much stronger and tougher than you think, true, but all the same, first time around it is all such a learning curve! Agree?
My daughter said to me the other day that she is not going to ring us in the middle of the night, because we will not be able to sleep but surely she must realize that I will instinctively know. I have already had several dreams where I have seen the baby’s face already, and no she has not had one of those special 3D echoes done either. It’s a sort of trip down memory lane if you like, my own memories keep flooding back.
It was a really hot month in May when she was born all those years ago and I had one sundress, which still fitted my whale shape body and I spent the majority of the days sitting relaxing in the sun. I was as brown as a berry apart from one huge white lump in the middle. I had three friends who were pregnant at the same time, and when the first baby was born, it brought it all so much more into perspective. I was actually the last of the three of us.
I wonder why people often love to tell the tale of their ‘traumatic experience’? It can be so off-putting when you are still awaiting your own birth experience. When you think women in Africa and such countries are often working in the fields, give birth, bundle the baby in a special cloth on the back and carry on! Perhaps we are all too pampered here in the western world?
Anyway one thing is for sure, the birth will happen. No baby has ever ended up staying the womb forever. It is all a natural process going back to the beginning of time. And of course every single woman in the world experiences it in a different way.
It is getting exciting, not only for the ‘parents to be’ but for the grandparents too. How will her little dog Duvel, the Jack Russell react to all the attention the baby will get? He is already wondering why the room is all changed around; well there is this sort of cage (playpen) already assembled. Duvel is an unusual dog for sure, but it almost as if he has a seventh sense about what is going on.
Although we are not planning to turn the new baby in a social media hype and post up loads of photos, I will add one to the next blog when I introduce her to you, but in the meantime, we all literally all counting down… and breathing …
Image: Private Collection Jill Kramer (copyright) my daughter (left) with best friend Sophie, both on the same due date 23rd February!!
To be honest, those of you, like me who live in Europe are probably sick to death of this subject! But things are getting out of hand. So much uncertainty for so many people not only European nationals living in the United Kingdom but also for British nationals living in the EEC as well.
The newspapers are full of it, it’s on the TV, but tell me is there anyone anywhere who knows what is actually going on? Apart from one definite fact: Brexit is going to happen, hard or soft 29thMarch 2019. No matter how many unruly discussions take place in the House of Parliament or how many times Theresa May goes back and forth in Europe seeking support. It is just over two months to CUT OFF TIME!
I myself, am a British national living in The Netherlands, you know that small country just across the North Sea! I have been here since 1977. When I first arrived I actually needed a sort of ‘work permit’ to reside and work here. Well I had a fulltime job so it was not a problem. I had a permit, which needed to be renewed every five years. You would think no problem at all, apart from remembering to renew and paying for it! All costly and time consuming.
But when the referendum took place and people in the UK voted to leave the EEC, everyone was in a panic. How, when, what will be the effects and so on?
Recently I received a letter from the Authorities here that as a British national I will be allowed to remain here even in whatever form Brexit takes, because I have lived here for more than 5 years and speak the lingo (it would be a pretty poor show if I didn’t after all these years) and more important I am married to a Dutch national. My children were born here and have Dutch nationality. So no worries. But, to be on the safe side they suggested that I need to renew my expired pass so I am officially entitled to be here.
Thank God, I had visions to being deported back to the UK!
However, someone informed me that actually I have the right to become a Dutch citizen; I meet all the necessary criteria. So I rang to find out how to do this, because why not?
First of all I need an Apostille Stamp on my birth certificate. Now mine is one of those hand-written ones, almost falling apart it is so old and I have to have one with this Apostille Stamp to start procedures here. Ok, these days should be easy to order online. It was. Cost GBP 75 !!!!!!! For a duplicate piece of paper with a stamp on it. There, take it or leave it, I have no choice. I have ordered and it should be here within 8-10 days working days. Am I missing something here, printing out a single sheet of paper from the records and stamping the damned thing and posting is going to take that long?? In this day and age and computers?
Next step I have to go to my local council offices and fill in some forms there, take my new stamped Birth Certificate and my currently valid British Passport and then they will make checks on me? Er what? Yes, to see if I have any outstanding fines or debts to governmental or official organisations and to see more important, if I am a citizen of ‘good standing’. In other words: No Police Record.
And yes, I speak English and Dutch (tick that box).
Cost Euro 187,00 !!
It will take about 2 months for this procedure, goodness I thought the Brits were slow, but … and then when everything is approved I will be invited to a special ceremony with the Mayor who will welcome me to The Netherlands as a citizen. Yippee! Are you bored with this blog already?
Then I need a Dutch passport too (Cost Euro 71). I can keep my British one too! Good, that was an emotional idea actually the thought of losing it!
Well I think you will agree with me this is an expensive exercise but I am shutting up and just getting on with it, mainly because I literally have no idea, like everyone, what is actually going to happen long term. And I want to stay here. That is the issue.
It is the UK going to hold another referendum about what people think? A lot of my friends in the UK told me when I asked them, that there was not enough information before the last one and no one realized the consequences. The British are a proud folk and want to do things their way, but as far as business, trade and an endless list of other things, like fishing rights in the North Sea for example, all of this is going to be affected. And now they know that, are they so sure they agree with leaving? Of course there are also ‘pro and against supporters’ who have apparently nothing else to do at all, but parade around in London with balloons and banners!
And the Dutch too are fed up of all the rules and regulations in the EEC. That highly overpaid people determine what is happening in each and every member country. To me it seemed at the time that trying to create a ‘united states of Europe’ was mission impossible. It just does not work too many countries with different languages for starters; different beliefs and very different economic climates cannot just be all thrown into one big melting pot with a label EEC. The only positive thing I think about is a single currency; because it is really handy when you say go into France, Belgium or Germany (our neighboring countries, that you don’t have to exchange money because we all have the Euro. And don’t get me started on ‘the Euro’ either!
Today a friend in the UK told me that the CEO of Dyson (you know they make those very posh vacuum cleaners) having had a Governmental Grant of GBP 2.8 million in one year to start his company and is a strong campaigner to leave Europe (so pro Brexit), as he wanted to keep jobs, trade and income for the UK is moving his HQ to Singapore. As my friend said: ‘not putting his money where his mouth is’. Booooo! Humbug! Order!
See how crazy this is all getting?
Why aren’t politicians (either the UK or the EEC) actually listening to what people want. What people in for example Eire and Northern Ireland want? What farmers, fisherman, tradesmen and literally a huge list of people want? Why? How can we have a so-called EEC when literally every single member state has different rules? Pensionable age just as one example.
Differences in taxes for another. Pricing in general.
Perhaps it is time to re-think the entire principle behind the EEC and give it up. Yes, agree a trade agreement which makes it possible, without about a thousand rules and such like and mountains of paperwork, easy trading but let’s be honest, all of us, it just doesn’t work does it?
Send those highly overpaid Euro-parliament members home, stop the huge amount of costs involved in Brussels and Strasbourg. Allow national income to be distributed in each and every country by not sending grants back and forwards where there is only one winner – not the people, but the EEC.
I don’t have an answer, I really don’t but I do think it is time, to stop all this going backwards and forwards. Make a decision. The people’s decision! And then get on with it. Just like my friend remarked this morning, its like a sticking plaster, either pull it off or leave it on!
Images: From Google Images (acknowledging any copyright of course!)
Special thanks to you Imran_the_Umar for your comment on IG this morning!
My latest and 9th book published yesterday! Date was just perfect, 19.1.19 which gave me a row of three 111’s and then it cleared for published online at exactly 11.11 hrs (Amsterdam time) too. So a lovely row of 7 1’s. It was by chance a good day as far as the energy was concerned too. Well known astrologer, Kari Samuels, wrote: ‘it’s the 19th day of this 2019 year so double 19/1 energy. 1 is the beginning of a cycle and 9 is the end of a cycle. 19/1 is directive from the Universe to consciously release aspects of your past so you can begin a brand new way of being’. Sounds pretty good don’t you agree?
So just to ‘wet your appetite’, here is the introduction and prologue of the book…. It will be clearing soon through the book channels, Central Book Archive Online, bol.com and I am going to also release through the UHMI section of this website. You can also contact me if you want to purchase the book. Guideline Price is around Euro 20. The cover is made by a dear friend of mine Annette Barel. All rights reserved of course.
So read on please…
Introduction: (this is the back cover to the book).
Little did Joanna Taylor-Broome know when she decided to organize an art retreat in Devon, England, that her advertisement would attract the attention of seven people (eight including herself) from all over the country and even the world. It had been her dream to do this for a long time, together with her daughter Rosie, who would help her with the catering.
Joanna had been a keen artist all her life, but she was surprised as the seven totally different people arrive to take part. How each and every person in the group has a story to tell and how they all bond together.
Devon cream teas, sunshine, beaches, deckchairs, sea and sand, all the perfect ingredients for a week’s retreat. On the Sunday afternoon, after a roast lunch at the pub, the first guest arrives and Joanna realizes she is going to really have her hands full … much more than she thought.
Seven Women and one man, all together in a house called the Lemon Tree, perched up on the cliffs overlooking the sweeping bay of Woolacombe. They all came from all over the country, one of them from another continent. But in some or other way, they had all caught sight of the advertisement for an Art Retreat, for a special reason. It would be run by Joanna, an art therapist. It was the first time she had ever done this. Normally her workshops would be one-day events, but this was a whole week with a very mixed bunch of people. Two of them, she did know, two old school friends, who she too had met on several holidays in her summer cottage over the years.
To say she was a bit nervous, would be an understatement and she knew of course that as they and the week progressed, a lot would come up. That was the nature of her entire course, allowing people to express themselves through art. And even more important bring things to the surface that had been held within each and everyone of them, in their individual lives. Confessions, secrets, things that they did not really want to tell about themselves, especially to complete strangers.
As the week went on, around that well-worn wooden table in the kitchen in the Lemon Tree, it would of course all come up whether they wanted it to or not. What would come to the surface in Joanna herself? Even though she could distance herself to some extent from the group as she was organizing it, but deep in her heart she knew that events like this were ones where you could not really make plans at all! It just evolved. Apart from a basic idea what they were going to do each and every day, the art would create the opportunities. Some would blossom, others would literally run away when things became too confronting, which they could not and would not cope with anymore.
Well, everything was ready; she had everything packed and a fairly long drive down into the western corner of the United Kingdom, to one of the best-loved counties in the kingdom. Rugged coast on the northern shores, two wild moorlands, famous for the ponies that roamed freely there and the sandy coves and Riviera type resorts, which people have been flocking to for years, for a breath of sea air. Where palm trees could be found along the southern shores, thanks for the warm Gulf Stream in the Atlantic. Quaint chocolate box thatched cottages dotted on the hillsides.
Yes, Joanna was looking forward to the entire week, who was coming; she only knew some of them by name. And a man too, that was very interesting, not of lot of men actually enrolled for her events. An American too, he had sounded really nice on the phone.
Starting her car, together with daughter Rosie, they set off, chatting along the way. Leaving the busy main motorway leading away from big cities to the West Country. Along secluded lanes, they finally drew up in the car park at the Lemon Tree.
It looked a lovely house, inviting, cosy and a beautiful garden to the rear. Yes, Joanna thought as she stepped out onto the gravel, this was going to be a very interesting week for sure.
Image: Jill Kramer/Annette Barel (protected by copyright)
I just knew it would only be a matter of days before I wrote something on this topic. Probably the main reason behind this is, that I am currently taking part in an online ‘challenge’ (for 5 days only) all about the Art of Forgiveness being organized by another friend of mine: Veronika Rutten (www.veronikarutten.com). Believe me highly recommended!
So what is behind this word?
Forgiveness: is the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.
Forgive: to stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) or an offence, flaw or mistake.
OK a big topic then, which applies to all of us I think.
During the challenge I surprised myself how many thoughts and insights on this subject came up. A lot!
So I will share a personal story of my own as this illustrates the subject in one of its many forms.
For a long time, more than 25 years to be exact I had a friend. We shared a lot with one another, mostly concerning our children, school issues and so on and she was also my hairdresser. I lived in the same town as she did until I moved away in 2013. Strange in retrospect, the friendship became even stronger when I moved away. We had so much more contact and often talked about how many wasted moments there had been when we both lived in the same place. I knew her husband and children well too and vice versa.
It was around the time before their 25thWedding Anniversary that she began to confide a lot of things with me. She no longer loved her husband and over the past 5 years had sprung from one affair to another. I will not write about some of the very personal things she told me, but to be honest I was shocked on some matters. Not so much about the fact that she was not in love with her partner anymore (that happens all the time and is quite the norm these days) but more about the nature of the affairs. I had often wondered how anyone could be so tolerant of another, that she kept managing to be constantly either ‘out or away’. So really there were so many signs that this marriage was doomed and it was just a question of time before it was going to end. So you may think maybe her husband was far too easy and should have put his foot down more often? Probably, but he didn’t, because he loved her so much!
And end it did. The marriage finally stranded after she had been away yet again, across the world and came home and announced she wanted a divorce. I knew of course at the time, that there was already a new partner waiting in the wings. But I kept my mouth firmly shut. After all that is what friends do don’t they, respect confidences?
The divorce was tough and it hit her husband really hard. He was in one word – devastated. Why? He did not understand and she never really told him why. In the summer I was actually staying with them for a few days. What a weird situation, officially divorced but still under the same roof? That happens a lot these days, purely on a financial basis, if a house has to be sold, also her business was there too and the clients still came and went irrespective of what was going on ‘next door’. One evening during a long discussion with her husband, he actually asked me upfront: has she met someone else? I had to lie. That is so against my nature, but his pain and sadness was so great, who was I to inflict even more? I so regretted that moment and I thought about it a lot all the time.
Later in the same year, she visited me with the new ‘man in her life’. He seemed nice enough, I suppose, but my underlying thought was – it wasn’t quite right. He was almost like a gigolo, she was so in love, completely blind for absolutely anything anyone said (including her own family, even the children) and it was ‘utopia’ as far as he was concerned, a pretty new, very willing girlfriend who paid for everything too. Fill in the spaces yourself between the lines! Twice divorced himself, a number of children from different wives. I sometimes thought, it was perhaps not the best of choices? But she was my friend and even though I basically knew she could do so much better and eventually the shine would wear off as they had very little in common, apart from the physical. I kept quiet.
Quite by chance, during another visit the ‘new man’, accidently (or not?) said things to my family. Things that I had really shared with her in great confidence myself. Because that it what happens, of course in any dialogue with someone you consider to be a really good friend, things get shared. Often perhaps just as a comparison to make a point, to offer advice, to show your own vulnerability. The end result was that I was absolutely furious that she had told him things I had said in confidence. And even more so that he thought it was his place to talk about it too! I hardly knew him after all.
I was in the first instance, speechless, literally. Shocked, disappointed, incredibly hurt but most of all – so angry. Angry at whom? Well in the first instance with her, because she had gone so beyond the norm as far as I was concerned and this is my friend? Eventually when I had simmered down a bit, I wrote an app to her, saying upfront and to the point, what I thought, and when I think back, we used to app each and every morning for months and months so this was quite normal. Not just the easy way out.
The response back was not what I expected. She blamed me for everything! That shock was even bigger. So I decided to ‘control, alt, delete, (as we say) literally everything and break all my contact with her. It was not easy believe me, because in the end I felt guilty. I took a lot of the blame upon myself mainly because I did not just understand. I felt enormous pity for her ex, her family and her children, because suddenly I saw a side of her that was totally strange. It was the ‘easy way out’ for her because I never heard another thing. Nothing, complete silence. A friendship ended like putting out a sack of waste into the garbage! That is tough.
It played around in my mind for a long time. But I did not do anything. I did not try and reinstate the contact. Why? I just got to the point when I could not, that is the only answer I can give you all.
However, something changed a lot when I took part in this 5-day online challenge, which was all about forgiveness. You may be thinking that it was all about eventually forgiving her for such abuse of a friendship. No, it was about forgiving myself. I have spent sleepless nights going over things again for sure, wondering what went wrong. I still have some photos taken this summer during the week I stayed with her and there are a lot of happy memories there too.
So what is forgiving yourself all about? Well it makes you look once more at things purely from your own side. True, I had taken on all the blame, but there are always two parties or more in any conflict aren’t there?
It is actually Day 4 today, final day tomorrow and it has only literally taken me a few minutes every morning to start my day. Writing down short answers to short questions. But good questions because the answers were the same. Each day brought a new theme, looking at a certain thing in a certain way, like for instance today is about: learning and growing.
Is this true? Yes, because today I feel as if there is suddenly more space. I have finally been able to shed all feelings of guilt and that the ending of this friendship was my fault. It wasn’t, I just got caught in the slipstream of basically her insecurity, her faults, her blindness, her egoism. She suddenly was no longer a friend and I grew because I know now that this friendship is well and truly over. Why? Because there is no trust anymore. From my side. When trust has gone and is so damaged, it is better just to release and let go. By forgiving, because I do, I allow myself to grow. I have learnt and grown.
I think a lot of you reading this will be able to identify with this yourselves. Every single story will be different. For sure. There may be much bigger issues and reasons than in my story. But sharing it with you was my way of explaining the words: Forgiveness and Forgive. You can do that too you know. You don’t have to debate about it for a long time; just really it is all about forgiving yourself. It may sound strange, but just try it!
I did not realize the importance of the words really. And the power that lies behind the action of forgiving yourself. I talked about it a lot with family and other friends and they all said: she is not worthy of your friendship. I think that too, but at the same time, I can forgive, first of all myself and then her.
That is really important.
And when you can do that, you will really surprise yourself how much you grow!
I am not entirely sure how this word seems to come up today, especially as I am ultra busy in the final stages of preparing to publish my latest book on the 19thJanuary 2019.
But it did, and of course it got me thinking as usual!! What does rejection mean?
Literally: The dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea etc.
Now that is a bit vague, even for the English Oxford Dictionary, because to me there are so many things I can associate with this word.
The meanings can range too; from something quite innocent and perhaps insignificant. Like for instance rejecting food or drink. In other words eating or drinking something that your body rejects. It makes you ill. You might be allergic to something in it?
But today I want to look at the meaning of how it feels when you as a person feel rejected and believe me, this is not nice! (understatement).
At the moment, between loads of other things, I am taking part in a 5-day online discussion about ‘Forgiveness’ (and yes maybe I will come back to this word in another blog). A friend of mine is running it and to be honest it is bringing so much more to the surface than I really expected. I actually like taking part in online things, when they only take a small amount of time; well you think they do, when you start. But in actual fact just thinking and writing down a simple list of names (that was the first exercise yesterday) actually got me thinking a lot. Why? Well it is because often forgiveness is about something someone has done to you, or you to them and rejection. And forgiveness begins with you. I learnt that again yesterday. There is so much power behind forgiving yourself.
One thing about being rejected by someone is that you should always remember that, in the majority of cases, it is really more about them, than you. Why do people do it then, you may ask? If you could imagine that you, in this case, are just a mirror for their own issues. Yes, it can be very hard and tough to understand at the time why someone reacted you in this way but always remind yourself that it has more to do with them than you! That is important. Because it happens much more than we realize.
Now everyone will agree with me I am sure that we are living life in the very fast lane these days. Time flies by, a week starts, you have all sorts of plans and before you know it, its Friday again and have you actually even done one or two things from your list? I find this happens to me too. After a weekend, Monday comes and I do actually make lots of lists and sorry to say that not even 25% is crossed off by the end of the week. Why is that? Well, because there is always something going on, all the time, and a lot of distraction (often from social media). Even though I know that we are all very much into social media, me included, it is good every now and again to literally put your smartphone, tablet of whatever to one side and ignore it for a while. Switch it off if you prefer. I too, often find that I am in the middle of something, my phones makes a sound and I automatically pick it up. That means that I have lost my concentration.
But back to my word for this blog: Rejection
The feeling of being rejected by someone or something can be really difficult to deal with, especially when you are left with the question, which you do not know the answer to: why? It could be that someone you have considered to be a friend for a long time, suddenly does something you did not expect and pours ‘rejection’ all over you. This could mean the friendship ends, and it could if you don’t talk about it. But not everyone wants to get into a conversation about the ‘why’. So how do you deal with things like this?
Well first and foremost you and the ‘rejector’, like everyone is human. It is perfectly OK to make a mistake, we actually learn more from mistakes than anything else. But is it an excuse to actually reject someone else if you make a mistake. In other words blame someone else? The answer can only be: no. It is not right and not fair for starters! You would actually feel so much better about yourself if you were more open and actually said when and if you had made a mistake. People will appreciate you so much more.
But what if this happens to you through no fault of your own. Then I come back to my statement about being a mirror to the person who rejects you.
This subject often comes up in a lot of workshops and believe me I have done many over the years.
When it is through no fault of your own and you are rejected for whatever reason, it can stop you in your tracks. It can be painful. It can make you angry, disappointed, hurt, left with a feeling of ‘what hit me there?’ or just complete uncomprehension.
Like me use another example. Imagine if you know someone, you like them a lot, it does not really matter in what capacity: a friend, a good colleague, a family member (who you think you get on with more than others). The list can be quite long. You have a gut feeling that its mutual and then completely out of the blue, rejection! Have you ever thought that they might do that because they are not in control of their own feelings? So it is easier to take the short cut and reject. It would be so much better for them to talk about it with you and vice versa, but they don’t. It may be that it falls into the category ‘of not being the done thing’. Whatever that might be, because basically: wrong and right are just two sides to the same coin aren’t they? And think back to what I wrote about how beneficial the learning curve can be from ‘mistakes’.
Something else I can link in with this word, is this. How many people have, when buying a house, had their offer rejected or been outbid by someone else? If another offer is again rejected and you lose the house you thought was exactly right for you, you may feel just awful. Angry, sad, disappointed and so on. But how many times have you looked back, maybe years later and come to the conclusion, that the rejection at the time was terrible, but in retrospect it was the right thing. Because the house you thought was just right was not in the end, for whatever reason. This is just a simple example but it all comes back to my word again.
Makes you think doesn’t it?
One very old cliché you can think about in times of rejection is quite simple: Their loss, your gain. Sometimes it is hard to see it at the time, but in the end, when the pain has gone away, it is so true. Really, even though you may feel that they are to blame, they cannot help it really because they are literally projecting their fears, doubts and uncertainties on you! You are just the mirror.
Sometime we all need to remind ourselves of that old cliché.
You may not see it immediately but it is ‘their loss, your gain’.
Think about it.
What a lovely quote this is to put things into perspective …
How strange is that? Yesterday, I write a piece about the interpretation of the word – Tolerant – and just as I have published my blog, some news hits social media about the so-called Nashville Pact. And the fact that one of the political leaders in The Netherlands has signed. What is it all about?
Well, to keep it brief as I suspect many of you are actually following the news, this is a pact signed by many people across the world, based purely on belief. Nothing wrong with that you may think? But this was something so incredibly biased and wrong and made a lot of people feel as if we are stepping back into the previous century.
So my word that comes up today is: INTOLERANT
Literal meaning is: not tolerant of views, beliefs or behaviour that differ from one’s own!
So yesterday I offered the thought out that the word Tolerant means that we are almost afraid to speak out anymore and here comes its counterpart Intolerant.
So what was all the fuss about?
The Nashville pact is a document drawn up by Christian people about the do’s and don’ts of their beliefs. One of the things that social media went absolutely ballistic about yesterday was the mention that same sex unison (marriage, partnership, friendship, relationship) is in the eyes of God – distasteful or soiled.
Now The Netherlands on that score is one of the most ‘tolerant’ countries in the world. Meaning that the Dutch believe that people have the right to do what they want. This may sound in total contradiction about the things I wrote about yesterday, but in the mass of this hysteria and literally thousands of prominent people having their say on social media channels and on national TV, here is quite a statement!
So my question this morning before I get on with some other work is: who thinks that they have the right in this troubled world to compare themselves to God? That they speak as one voice representing God? (Irrespective of your own personal beliefs, I am using the context God as The Creator).
When surfing around Internet for some background information I came across something interesting:
One of the most prominent people in the USA (Nashville, Tennessee, one of the southern states, as you all know) is a lesbian priest and one of the biggest well-known TV preachers.
She signed the pact, treaty or document (what is in a name?)
This document originated in 2017. It is a strong supposedly Christian document in which people are against any form of same sex unison. One of the prominent leaders here in The Netherlands (Kees van de Staaij) signed too, declaring that he considered that homosexuality is a sin and unclean (soiled) and here we have another new word cropping up ‘transgenderism’. (A state or condition in which a person’s identity does not confirm unambiguously to conventional ideas of male and female).
This document was launched at an Evangelical Congress in Nashville. The driving force behind this was the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). An organization that speaks about ‘complementarity’ (a relationship or situation, which two or more different things improve or emphasize each other’s qualities) an institution for more than 30 years!
In simple words it says: that man and women each have a different role in life given to them by God, both in the Church and in the family. The man is the leader and there is no place for women as leaders in the church. Er … excuse me, wasn’t one of the people who was so in the forefront on this pact a lesbian, leading preacher? Or have I missed something here?
We are supposed to be moving forwards into a new year, 2019, 19 years since the Millennium and nearly into 2020 … and it feels like about 1820 to be honest. What is the matter with everyone and the outcry yesterday confirms that people are actually not going to tolerate such, well for want of a better word, unchristian thoughts.
Tell me who on this planet really thinks that they can speak for the creator?
Answer: No one. Yes beliefs are perfectly all right and I have no judgment whatsoever on this subject. I believe that each and every one of us has the right to think and be, what we want. To walk our own paths, irrespective of what other’s think or say. But I do not agree that some people think they have the right to spout their beliefs on what I consider to be a ‘fragile group’ of people who actually dare to be vulnerable and speak their truth. The only important word as far as they are concerned is Love. Didn’t Jesus say: ‘love thy neighbour’, irrespective of anything?
My grandfather was a lay-preacher in the Zionist church in Cheshire. So I have grown up and learnt at an early age in these circles, but he was an open unbiased man who judged no one. I must have taken on this opinion at a very early age.
To my mind this Nashville pact (treaty, document, call it what you like) is something that belongs in that amazing, round shaped filing cabinet, called the wastepaper bin.
Control, Alt, Delete.
And just before I go, Kees van de Staaij was on one of the most popular talk shows on TV last night saying … perhaps he should not have signed! Honestly, make your mind up please!
One comment I read on social media, I think it was Instagram, was that someone wrote: ‘Imagine being married to a man like that’!