As you know four of my books are available on Amazon.com in kindle version. If you want to purchase, download and read, you can also download the Amazon Kindle app for free.
The books available are:
The Blue House
Fireflies in the Summer (and other short stories)
A Second Chance
Art of Confessions
This morning I have reduced the price down to US$ 4.99. Why? I noticed that a lot of authors on Amazon do this after a certain period of time, so if you want to read on and find out more in any of these books, go to Amazon.com, type in my name (Jill Kramer) and the title of the book and then you are literally one click away from downloading to read.
As many of you know from my previous blogs, I have been recovering over the past two months from a fairly difficult operation and in plaster (now removed thank goodness).
Even though I have not been so physically active as normal, I have been very active when it comes to my mind and my thinking. I downloaded an app, called CALM, a while ago and in one word: it’s wonderful. A whole load of meditations, music, sleepy time stories, and other short courses to follow. Have to admit that I have never heard the end of a sleepy time story yet, because I always fall asleep, but it is great way to end your day. (I listen again the next day). Every single morning I have listened to the daily meditation (often very early at 5 am and such like) given by Tamara Levitt. It’s only 10 minutes and so easy to do if you say, perhaps set your alarm a little bit earlier than usual. Every day has a different theme and it basically concentrates on relaxing your physical body and concentrating on your breathing. Isn’t that a great way to start the day?
Now yes, breathing is one of our basic body functions and we do it naturally every single second of our lives, without giving it much thought.
It is however, surprising how many people do not really breathe properly, because basically we are in a rush all the time. Often shallow breaths do not really give the body or our mind a lot of energy. It is only when you stop and try to breathe in a different way; you start to see the benefits. So I have been training for a while now on taking really deep breaths, and exhaling slowly. One thing I learnt was about the small pause between our breaths. You may be wondering what I am talking about but just sit down and relax. Take a deep breath in through your nose, pause and then exhale slowly. Notice the pause that occurs naturally, before you breathe in, as you hold your breath and then breathe out whilst you do this repeatedly a couple of times. Feel the sensation of the cool air entering the nostrils and the warm air then leaving. It is quite something to think about.
In some countries of the world they are now teaching children the art of meditation. Good, this is something we should all learn because a little bit of meditation on a daily basis is so beneficial. Why do I say this? Well I have done a number of special online workshops over the past two months, run by the well-known Deepak Chopra (together with Oprah Winfrey) and another with Roger Gabriel (from the Chopra Centre).
These were actually free online courses, which were not only very interesting but also good for me (and you of course as well) as a person. It is proven medical fact that meditation is beneficial for so many things.
We all know that it brings both the body and mind into a quieter state. But the actual facts are: the heart begins to beat more slowly, our blood pressure can become lower, all sorts of beneficial hormones are released into the body. We feel calmer, less agitated, more relaxed and to be honest who would not want to try that? In studies done in the USA by well known institutions, it is now proven that meditation has a real benefit on our health and well-being. It can prevent a lot of disease like diabetes, obesity, some other forms of disease and why? Because meditation is beneficial for each and every one of the cells in our body. We feel better, so we not only eat better but we sleep better. It is easier to stop addictive habits too (like excessive alcohol, smoking or drug abuse). An all round winner.
You may be thinking, yea right, all sounds too good to be true, but these are not my words, these are scientifically proven facts.
So my question is: why would you not want to try? Why would you not want to give up a small part of your day and meditate? It is not hard, anyone can do it and with practice you become better and better. That is what I have found out myself over the past few weeks. And yes, I feel better, more focussed, more alive, despite the fact that my mobility is restricted. More inspired to get moving again, despite the fact that my muscles and tendons don’t agree because they have been still for a long time. But I am inspired to do it even pushing myself across ‘pain boundaries’.
At the moment I am taking part in a paid course by Deepak Chopra and Roger Gabriel about the ‘Pathway to Peace’. It is a course split into several sections, and even though I have only completed the first session yesterday, I can only say, it is the best thing I ever did for myself by enrolling. The reason was mainly because I heard the words ‘primordial sound meditation’ and even though I cannot tell you much about it in detail (as I have not got this far yet), these words really resonated with me. Why? Well this is all about a sound (a personal mantra) which with practice, will bring me back to my core essence. My authentic self.
In the hurly burly of the busy world we live in, this sounds perfect to me. Just by taking some time for myself, meditating and using a personalized mantra (which the Chopra Centre will send to me – having informed them of the exact moment of my birth, time and where) and reciting that silently in my mind, sounds wonderful to me. Because when it all comes down to the basics, why should I deny myself this? Wouldn’t we all like to come back to our core essence? The person we really are, free from the expectations of others? Free from obligations that life expects of us.
Why not indeed? That is a good question. Life expectancy is much longer now than it was say 50-odd years ago, so isn’t it up to me (and you too) to take each and every opportunity to improve life, well-being and mind by allowing ourselves the time to meditate each day.
Of course there are sceptics who do not believe in this. Think it is all far too ‘woozy woozy’ and spiritual, but it is a proven fact that people who live in Eastern countries, like Japan, China and such like who practice this technique every day, are much healthier and live longer than people in the West.
This blog is not a ‘promotion’ for the Chopra Centre, despite the fact that I like it very much (and you should just have a look about all the things they offer) but more of a wake up call to us all, that it is time to pause, we deserve it to give ourselves just a short moment each and every day to meditate. We are worth it aren’t we?
Today is the 6th June. A nice number combination: a double 6 and the day I have been waiting for over a fairly long period of time. Today is hospital day when they are hopefully going to remove my plaster cast.
It has been really tough at times, frustrating to say the least, constantly having to rely on things for mobility for just the simple normal actions in life. Even more so, being dependent and constantly having to ask for help. That is not me, I am a do-er and there have been some really deep moments of despair.
So the past is over and now looking forward to what is going to happen next? To achieve the original idea of a knee replacement, which was what this, was all about.
So before I go on let’s have a look at the word – Freedom:
As I suspected a word with a lot meanings because you can use it in many contexts:
The power or right to act, speak or think as one wants
Freedom of choice
Absence of subjection to foreign domination or a despotic government
Power of self-determination attributed to the will, the quality of being independent of fate of necessity
The state of being imprisoned or enslaved
The state of being restricted and able to move easily
Unrestricted use of something
The state of not being subject to or affected by (something undesirable)
A special privilege or right of access, especially that of full citizenship of a city granted by a public figure
Familiarly or openness in speech or behaviour
That is quite a lot for just one word. But each of them applies to the basic principle. And even though this blog all began about a simple plaster cast. I suspect many of you reading this have perhaps experienced something related to this word at some time in your life.
We all understand the basic idea why some part of your body has to be immobilised to allow it to heal. That is just a sensible thought, but to my mind one of the most frustrating ways to heal because you are so restricted. As I have written above just simple things in general become a huge task.
I always tell a lot of my personal friends about my thinking when it comes to the past, or perhaps looking back on things that have happened. There is just one general rule no matter what: you cannot change the past; it has gone, over and out. Of course you can have memories, pleasant or perhaps even unpleasant, but it all comes down to the same thing. No one has a magic wand to wave around in the air to change the past. It is more about the way you deal with it in the here and now and looking forward into the future. The future is something we really don’t know about what will happen, later today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. The only thing we can do is make choices as situations happen. What do you want? What choice do you make? Go or stay? Ignore or take to heart? Fight or run away?
But going back to this blog and looking forward to freedom from this simple plaster cast, which has been with me all the time since 10th April to 6th June. Nearly two months, all but 4 days!
So it was, as I knew, a very early start. I was actually awake at 4 am, the alarm set for 5am. So in the meantime I did some meditation and took a shower. Horrendous rush hour traffic but on time.
It is a very strange sensation when they actually remove the cast and my God, my leg is so much thinner, the skin looks almost snake like, it’s so dry. I cannot even feel my main leg muscle. Off to X-ray and then a chat with my orthopaedic surgeon who is pleased with the progress. So now I can use the leg for 50 % on crutches for the next 6 weeks then back again for all the final pre-operative screening (this time making damned sure about what anaesthetic I want and more important I want to be asleep through the entire procedure) and the new knee planned for August.
On the way back home in the car, my mind wandered off to the fact that today is the 75th Anniversary (well that is not exactly the word, remembrance is better) of the D-day landings in Normandy in France. We all remember I am sure, the films about this event, a turning point in the Second World War. It sort of brought everything back into perspective for me. Freedom, all those people who fought for our freedom and lost their lives. It is food for thought isn’t it. And so I say, my idea of being freed from a plaster cast is peanuts compared to a day like this, 75 years ago.
The remembrance of this event and this day, the longest day, to me is more about freedom. We should all remember this and think about it.
So many lives lost for our freedom.
Unfortunately there are still wars, disagreements and suffering going on somewhere in the world. Isn’t it time that we all made a much more positive effort to bring love and freedom back in to our world? End it once and for all? The big question is how!
I always think that it only has to begin with one person making a positive change and then like a ripple across the water, one becomes two and so on. We need to make an effort, not only for ourselves and our future, but in respect for all those like Winston Churchill said: ‘never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’.
Winston Churchill actually made this famous speech on the 20th August 1940. Many years before my own birthday on the same day.
When I started this blog today, I suddenly realized how many coincidences actually happened on this day 6th June 2019. 75 years later. There is some nice synchronicity in the numbers too: 6/6 = 12, 7/5 = 12
This is a 3-year (2019) and here we have it then three 3’s in a row.
So I will finish off with the words I received in an email today as well about the meaning of 333
‘You are in the middle of a divinely creative flow right now. Follow where the imagination leads, don’t worry about trying to understand where it is all taking you. The art you create will inspire and encourage others to make this world a better place, so great changes are possible if you stay true and commit to expressing your authentic voice. You are capable of having a powerful impact on masses of people’.
Isn’t it lovely when everything comes together, that we are actually given a sign that we are all making a difference and actually can. Let’s do it shall we? Why not begin today? Join in as one group, making the world a better place for everyone.
Images: Google. Thanks to Numerologist for the words about numbers.
Well, dear readers I have had an interesting morning for sure!
Yesterday I received a phone call from RTV Rijnmond, a local TV and radio station if I would be willing to take part in another interview for them. Can’t say no to that can I?
The theme this time, having taken part in a similar interview at the beginning of April this year about becoming a citizen of The Netherlands, ties in with the European Parliament Elections which have kicked off here today and go on in other European countries until this coming Sunday. Many millions of people all across Europe will be choosing new members of this parliamentary group.
It is a lovely sunny day here too, so perfect for TV interviews in the garden. Last time around it was such fun: talking and a lot of laughing, filming, re-taking until there is enough footage to prepare an item for the news today.
But a bit different this time around, because they are going to take me to go and vote. The election papers have been lying here on the table for a couple of weeks and to be honest I did not think I would be able to go, as temporarily extra handicapped as you all know from previous blogs, with my leg in plaster, a wheelchair, crutches etc.
I have come to the conclusion after this morning’s session that this is a really cool job, making such interviews, apart from that fact that you have to pay attention to each and every detail, however small. Often when recording live radio or television you often mispronounce words, or mumble something, your tongue gets twisted, you need to cough and so on. Then it gets tricky for the re-takes, as you have to remember what you were saying, where you were up to and how to carry on. Thankfully the wonders of digitally mastering the film back at the studios are easy. We had several moments going in and out of doors, getting into a large car, taking the wheelchair along to and the drive (about 8km) to the Polling Station.
Yesterday after the phone call I thought I had better use the afternoon by doing an online questionnaire about who I would like to vote for, catching up on ‘who is who’ in Europe (well those representing The Netherlands) and then for the first time ever, voting as a Dutch citizen.
When I had finished the questionnaire I had three choices of parties, all on 33% and to be honest none the wiser.
So what are my thoughts about this European Parliament? Well first and foremost I disagree that these people earn such exorbitant amounts of money, in their monthly salary (which is tax free), then expenses for this and that and believe me it is a really cushy job by the end of each month. Apartments in Brussels and Strasbourg, staff in both places, a fixed amount for expenses every month for having to commute between both places and so it goes on.
I have never truly believed since the formation of the EEC way back that you could actually make a ‘United States of Europe’. You can’t and it does not work because there is too much diversity between countries. Languages for starters, not to mention beliefs and customs too. And another big issue is the economic welfare of richer countries as opposed to poorer countries.
The idea of making one legislation for a large part of Europe just does not work. And if you are going to try and achieve that, then you have to make things the same in all member countries, like VAT for starters, or tax on things like cars, petrol, health care, schooling, grants, child allowance, unemployment benefit, the list is endless.
I am not going to go on and on about my thoughts on the EEC and bore you all to death, but it does not take a huge amount of intelligence to work out that basically it is a mess. A great idea, I suppose, of a single Euro currency, but as far as the Netherlands was concerned way back in 2001, then the rate of the old guilder against the new Euro was unfair. Basically everything was just halved, whereas the Germans got a better deal with the German Mark.
Anyway all that history put aside, today is voting day. I did like one of the slogans (‘Don’t let Brussels be the Boss’) of the SP party saying that they want to take back control of things here in The Netherlands when it concerns issues that are primarily Dutch. I agree. Why should people in Brussels or Strasbourg for that matter have any say about health care here, or when someone is eligible for their pension, or (and this is really a touchy subject) how many asylum seekers should be allowed into any one country? The Dutch (and that now includes me) do not want Brussels deciding on say: the public transport system, or the Dutch army. They think that people are more important than tax-evading multi nationals and they also want to stop the terrible wastage of monies concerning the EC parliament itself (as I discussed here above).
I could go on and on and make this into a very long story because there are so many issues. So to sum it up, I think I should vote today for the people who are saying the things I agree with. Even though I actually had the choice of three parties according to the online survey.
Of course during the interview this subject came up and I was honest and open about who I was going to vote for.
A rather ridiculous aspect of this whole circus is that the United Kingdom is also taking part. Having stated clearly that they wanted to leave the EEC, the famous Brexit story, they are now being obliged to take part! What a farce, because if the Brexit goes through, deal or no deal, these elected members will have to give up their places and same will be divided amongst other European countries. I think The Netherlands would be entitled to 4 of the 200-odd British places, in the event of a Brexit.
Of course we have our own thoughts about Nexit, that The Netherlands would decide to leave the EEC too, there are parties here calling for that too.
It is a confusing jungle of what to do and what not. But one thing that I think is really important is that our forefathers and foremothers fought very hard at the beginning of the 1900’s that every single person, male and female had the right to vote. So, let’s do just that. I heard on the news this morning that they expect only 37% of the population here will actually go and vote. That is too stupid for words. You have the right to have your say and you should exercise it. There is absolutely no point then afterwards moaning on incessantly about the things you don’t agree with if you have not taken the trouble to actually go and vote.
Again, to my mind trying to create one single European nation is something, which is never going to work, for the reasons mentioned above. For those of you who read my last blog on GDPR will realize that a single legislation becomes far too complicated.
One final thing that I will say which I think is important is that we all stop and think about our planet and that we all try and agree on some sort of legislation, not only in Europe but also across the entire globe and that is something sensible about climate protection. We owe it to the younger generations to stop polluting this planet. It can only happen when everyone agrees with one another and to my mind we are a long way off from doing that.
But in the meantime, I have ‘just voted’ and the TV crew wrote those words on my plaster cast.
It was a really fun morning, on a serious subject and I feel very honoured to have been asked again to make a short interview, which will be aired tonight after 5pm (Dutch time) on the RTV Rijnmond News.
I am sorry I don’t have the answers either on these difficult issues! But at least I have voted.
I am wondering how many of you who have just read the title of my latest blog know what it means?
As I have mentioned before I have downloaded an App onto my phone called ‘Calm’. It is a collection of meditations, short sleep time stories, music etc to either begin your day with the ‘daily meditation’ or end it with a ‘bedtime story.’ This week I listed to one narrated by Peter Jefferson.
Now he is quite well known as a BBC presenter who was most famous for his daily shipping forecasts. He also read the news; announced programmes and an actor and all of this he did for 45 years.
So what is GDPR all about?
Well I will tell you and I hope that you can keep awake until you reach the end of this short blog.
GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. This is one of the latest important regulations devised by the EU. This new legislation supersedes the Data Protection Directive from 1995. The former of course being introduced when more and more people started to use the Internet. But so much has changed since then. Hence the new legislation.
The new GDPR is basically to protect EU citizens on the following: data privacy, notifications, rights and protection. The document is 57.500 words long. Over 43 times longer than the American Declaration of Independence and 114 times longer than the Gettysburg Address. Even so, and let’s be fair, far shorter than the famous classic novel War & Peace by Tolstoy.
So Peter Jefferson is narrating a bedtime story and says he will start by reading just a short piece from the 107 page Introduction. I had to smile when he said: ‘I hope you can stay awake!’
Well to be honest I have to ask myself who writes such drivel? It is so incredibly repetitive that after about 2 minutes you are completely lost. Is this why parliament members of not only the European Union but also the European Council are paid so much? For writing stuff like this? Obviously they have never heard of words like ‘concise’ or ‘keeping to the point’.
Or summarizing! Even though it is a serious subject, I mean come on…
Even though this narrated story was only 33 minutes long in total, I am sorry to have to admit that I fell asleep before it ended. And not really surprising.
Of course I feel that as the worldwide web grows and grows it is a good thing that data is protected and certainly when it comes to things like personal information. How many of us fill in all sorts of forms online, when perhaps making a purchase, giving our name, address, phone number, and date of birth and more likely than not a credit card number too. Then we need protection, particularly as the news often speaks of leaks and that hackers have stolen data.
Really it is quite scary, also when you think about for instance the ‘dark web’ too. I know nothing about this apart from the fact that it came up in a TV-series I regularly watch.
So the EU made a new legislation and I hope that there is someone out there who can understand it. Yes, laws have to be detailed but this one really is unbelievable. I have listened to a bit of it again this morning before starting to write this blog and after about 5 minutes I still ask myself: ‘what an earth are they talking about’. I just wonder how long it took to write the thing in the first place?
Even though the world online is really amazing, you can find out anything you want, surfing on Internet. Whether we like it or not, it is a major thing in our lives these days. And we all use it regularly.
Many will agree then that it is a good thing to have protection. But to what lengths because a document like this is so intense and long, it is impossible to get a gist of what it is all about. Yes, our data should be protected of course, no argument about that and recently the majority of online sites have been obliged to ask your permission to not only share, but protect your data too.
It is quite mind boggling that WiFi is literally everywhere, so no matter where you are, at work, at home, in a bus, train, or even just walking down the street, with a mobile device, then your data is open to virtually everyone. You may think you are protected, but in fact you are not really. There are several apps and software for this purpose but my question is, how safe is safe?
I would not advice anyone to try and phathom out the real meaning behind these 57.500 word-long document, apart from its name GDPR.
But for all of you insomniacs out there, you can download the CALM app from the Apple or Android Store; you can have a free 7-day trial (but remember to cancel if you don’t want to continue in time) and have probably the best night’s sleep ever. You can listen to the narrated story about GDPR, guaranteed to send you off to the land of nod in minutes!
Thanks to CALM and Peter Jefferson for the inspiration. Images from Google.
Recently this word has been coming up again and again and during intense discussions with a friend of mine who is struggling to find motivation, I decided to think about this word more carefully.
So what is motivation?
MOTIVATION IS THE DESIRE OR WILLINGNESS TO DO SOMETHING (PREFERABLY WITH ENTHUSIASM)
My friend had a bad fall at the beginning of this year and has been finding it really hard to get back on track. During her entire process, which is still ongoing, she asked me to be her ‘buddy’. Someone with whom she could honestly share all her doubts and troubles. She had to have an operation and spent some time with a plaster cast too, which anyone of you who have had this yourselves will know; this can be a tough, impairing time.
The rather strange part of all this is that I just happen to be going through sort of the same thing. Not a fall, but being hampered in my natural movement by a plaster cast having had a pretty tough operation at the beginning of April. I think it was easier for me to relate to her problems as well, because basically I knew exactly how she was feeling.
Now some people just take literally everything the world throws at you easily whereas others have more problems. We must not judge on this score, some people are always positive and just get on with things and take each and every situation in their stride.
But it comes back to my word this week: motivation. How do you motivate yourself in trying or difficult situations?
During the talks I have with her, I became more aware of my own situation. Believe me there is nothing more frustrating that not being able to do things for yourself. A simple shower in the mornings turns into a major event, because you cannot step in easily and secondly you have to be careful to take precautions not to wet the plaster. What normally takes literally minutes, takes at least a half hour. But you get better at everything as you go along. Also having to continually ask for help is not easy either!
I think that basically I am a powerful person, positive and always know how to find a solution and move forwards. I have been doing this all my life in fact.
At a certain point I came to the conclusion that I had to take action. I had to find something to motivate myself. Surfing around the Internet I suddenly came across a 10-day yoga course (online), which I could do from a chair or even sitting on the edge of my bed. I started doing yoga absolutely years ago with my mother and loved it. I was really sad when I could not go anymore because I found getting down on the ground and then getting up again, physically impossible.
So I signed up and started and I can only tell you it was one of best decisions I have ever made having been confined to my special bed and a wheelchair now for weeks. The, what may seem, simple exercises, really get things flowing again; I actually felt the energy once more. You can do it all at your own pace when you want and where you want. I actually look forward to each day bring a new exercise and I can certainly feel my body becoming more supple and strong.
Another little idea I had, was I wondered if it would be possible for me to get out alone through my front door, and go up and down my drive, wheeling myself along in my wheelchair. It was a lovely sunny day and the first in quite a while. I had such a sense of achievement when I managed it and went up and down for about 10 times, back and forth.
After the weekend I decided to venture further out and go around the area in which I live, it’s all flat and easy. Unfortunately I have pulled a muscle in my upper arm and shoulder because I went too far, that is so typical for me, and forgot that I had to come back too. I could give in and not go for a couple of days, but have decided, no, I will keep going, finish what I started and build up my strength.
I have to, that is the whole point because when this plaster cast is finally off, I will have to build up the strength too in my leg. My physiotherapist reminded me last week when she came, that my muscles and tendons have been unused for weeks and my ankle will also be very stiff too. But believe me I will not be giving up and stop trying, because I think keeping yourself motivated is part of the story when you are recovering from any form of illness and such like. It is like another friend of mine says, regaining your confidence once more. So true!
Whatever is presenting itself in your life, remember this word well. It is the key to moving forward again. It doesn’t matter how you tackle things, just as long as you find the motivation within to make change. There is absolute no way that anyone of us can change the past. The only thing you can do is think about it and then release it with love. No one knows either what a new day, or the next will bring.
You can only ensure that you are open and willing to accept each and every experience and when you find yourself facing difficulties, find motivation. Doesn’t matter what, whatever makes you happy, but just something to get yourself back on life’s path. Continuing your journey.
This morning I spent, having published the latest blog about The Toad and the Scorpion, going through more than 1700 comments on my website. Thank you to everyone out there who takes the time to write back to me. I have read them all.
I so appreciate all the comments of praise saying how much you are all enjoying reading my blogs, this is what makes it all worthwhile. I do try to reply to a lot, but sometimes it takes me hours to read everything.
A lot of you ask me if it is OK to share my work in your own social circles. Yes is definitely the answer to that and thank you for asking. Also people ask if they can quote my work, as long as they credit the source with others, yes is also the answer to that too. That is why I write. I want you to share, the more people who read my blogs the happier I am.
Some of you ask me which platform I use and which hosting. The answer is WordPress supported by Hostnet Pro. Some say it loads to slow, others say amazingly fast, and I always find Google Chrome to be the best search engine despite IE being world leader.
A few mention spelling mistakes, sorry, I really do try my best to ensure that any spelling mistakes or should I say typing errors are removed, but even I go ‘word blind’ at a certain moment. Obviously of course there can be a difference between English spelling as opposed to American.
A lot of you ask me how I centre myself before writing. Well I just make sure than all the things that have to be done, are done and then I can concentrate on writing. Often with blogs, these are relatively short, so inspiration comes in many shapes and forms and I think about something to write, mainly asking you questions too, about what you think about a particular topic.
As far as comments concerning my books: These are available on Amazon.com (well 4 of the most recent ones) in Kindle version. My books are also available on www.bol.com or through the publisher Brave New Books who work in conjunction with bol.
When I get stuck, I often go out walking or cycling, clearing my head, thinking where am I in the story, what is happening, where are all the characters going. By the time I get back, I can carry on. Sometimes not and then I just close down the laptop until another moment.
I hope that in the post I have managed to answer some of your questions.
At the moment, I am too busy to ask help from guest writers, a lot of you ask if I need someone to take off the work load. I am OK so far.
Thank you all for taking the time to write comments on lots of my posts. I now have more than 100.000 people following this website on a daily basis. Wonderful.
At the beginning of May here in The Netherlands, we have Remembrance Day (4th) and then Liberation Day (5th). On the one-day, people are sad remembering loved ones and those lost in war. On the second day, it is a day of joy and celebration of freedom. It is extremely sad to think that still to this day, somewhere in the world there is unrest or war still raging.
I often say to people that fear is the biggest power imaginable. It is so true. It was interesting to see this year how many younger people are actively taking part in the remembrance of those who lost their lives for our freedom. It was touching to say the least including one programme I just happened to watch which was about the identification of loved lost ones from the war. Not a nice job for sure, opening unnamed burial plots, but with the wonders of DNA testing that a lot of the unknown have finally been given a name. This gave great comfort to family members who finally know what happened to their grandfather, father, husband, brother, uncle or nephew during the terrible war years here in Europe.
At the national remembrance event in Amsterdam a lot of young people took part helping with the placing of wreaths and also the laying of flowers around the entire monument on the Dam Square. I noticed how many young serious faces were in the audience. The respect of 2 minutes of silence at 8pm was enormous. Trains came to a standstill all over the country, planes neither landed nor took off from any airports, cars stopped on motorways, there were no transactions in shops, there was silence in theatres, cinemas and restaurants. All of which prove to me that people still actively want to take part and this is quite right. They want to remember.
I want to share a story with you in this blog, which comes from one of my favourite books (The Book of Love by Kathleen McGowan), which tells the story of the Toad and the Scorpion. I am not entirely sure what the source of this story is, but I think it is very old indeed, probably dating back to Europe in the 15thcentury. And it goes like this… (in my own words)…
One beautiful sunny morning, the toad was in his pond. It was an amazing pond fully of lilies and toad would often sit on their leaves in the sun, watching the world go by. He was a very modest toad, kind and friendly to everyone he met. When he got warm in the sun, he would jump off the leaf and swim into the coolness and depths of his pond, looking for something to eat, but he preferred to be above the water, just sitting, looking. Suddenly a scorpion appeared at the edge of toad’s pond. ‘Ah morning toad, I was wondering if you could help me?’ he asked. ‘In a bit of a rush this morning and I would like to ask you to give me a lift on your back to the other side of the pond. Could you?’ Toad immediately felt suspicious because of course he had been told stories about the scorpion and his deadly sting. ‘Eh sorry, too busy’, he replied. The scorpion laughed. ‘But you are only sitting there doing nothing. Oh come on, please do me a favour’. The toad tried to ignore him but scorpion was very persistent and kept asking. Eventually the toad opened up his eyes and looked hard at the scorpion. ‘I am sorry’, he said, ‘cannot help you because if I take you across the pond on my back, what would happen if you sting me with your deadly tail?’ ‘Why would I do that?’ the scorpion replied. ‘Well, I have heard stories about you and that your sting is fatal, so what guarantees do I have that you would not do that to me?’ Toad just wished he would go away and stop asking him for help. But the scorpion was very determined and for him to walk all around this very large pond would take him so long. He cleared his throat and asked again. ‘Oh come on Toad, please, you would be doing me such a great favour and why on earth would I sting you whilst on your back? To do that would mean that we would both die and sink to the bottom on this pond … please will you help?’
Eventually toad thought he is never going to go away and leave me in peace, perhaps I should just take him across the pond and be done with it. He thought hard about it, whether to remember all the stories he had heard or just take the chance and take the blasted scorpion across the pond, so that he could return to his lily leaf and watch the day pass by.
‘Oh all right I will’, he said. The scorpion thanked him profusely and climbed carefully onto his back. Toad began to swim across the pond slowly. About half way across he suddenly felt a painful sharp prick into his skin. He felt ill, dizzy and it was hard to him to swim on. ‘Why did you sting me?’ he asked the scorpion as he began to sink slowly under the weather?’ He never heard the reply, but the poison took effect and the toad died. The scorpion drowned under the water.
What is the moral of this story? Well, I will tell you the answer just as it is written in the book mentioned above. The point is that you can never ever change the character of people. Some people are just good, friendly and kind, whilst others despite the fact they try to be the same, always remain evil at heart. Just like the scorpion, he tried to be nice and friendly but his basic character was such that he always stung and killed his victims. It was his nature, even when others helped him, just like the toad had with the best intentions. We have a saying in English, that ‘a leopard will never change it spots’. This relates to this story too.
This is what Wikipedia says about the moral:
The moral of the story is that, like the scorpion, humans possess compulsions that they cannot repress even when it is in their best interest. Conversely, like the toad, humans can be too trusting and hence the importance of understanding others by their true nature.
Now my question to you this morning is: how many people do you have in your lives that you could compare to the scorpion? Just have a think about it. No matter how hard they try, you can never change the basic character. They often will do everything they can to be nice, friendly and kind, but it is just not in them. They just cannot help it.
It is something to think about isn’t it?
Now matter how hard we try, there will always be scorpions in this world. Always!
Image: Google Images
I have literally just published this blog when I got an App message from one of my friends who just happens to be in Corsica at the moment. He reminded me so say: don’t be a toad, never be a toad! Thanks Loek!
My word for this blog is DISAPPOINTMENT (or Disappoint/ Disappointing). It has come up several times already this week mainly inspired by stories other people have told me.
One of my friends has recently moved house for the second time in a short space of time. She is alone and as you can well imagine, packing up boxes and moving again is quite a task. And everything seems to work against it being a smooth transition. The removal men don’t just do what you expect them to, the timing is wrong, so you end up rushing and having to suddenly drive off to return the keys, even if the job is not entirely finished. She was telling me how disappointed she was that not a single one of her friends had offered to help. Now how many of you can relate to this? A lot I suspect.
The word disappoint comes from the French verb: desapppointer. And literally means:-
‘fail to fulfil the hopes or expectations of ….’
Hmmm, that sort of sums it up completely for her. She was disappointed that her friends did not fulfil any hopes she had of help. You could ask yourself, should she have actually asked them? Or should you sit back and wait that people offer by themselves? Tricky. Maybe if said friends were reading this blog they would be raising their eyebrows and saying – but no one asked!
It sort of sums up the feeling when you are disappointed about something that is it more about your own expectations and hopes. Do you set them too high? I personally think that we should always have expectations of what we want in life.
This week stories have kept crossing my path and this word too, so it seems to be a feature this week.
I could sort of relate it to something (very minor), which happened to me too. I suddenly read something on social media about someone I know and have been working with for many years. All about the new plans, new ideas and such like and I did not know a single thing about it. Not that I should really because it is an indirect situation, but all the same, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps it would have been nice to hear something about it before it went out into the open. Was I disappointed, no to be honest, more surprised I think. Did I expect too much?
At the moment the energy is very much about this topic. Things that have fallen into a routine for a long time suddenly come to an end. I am not sure why, but it is all about the energy for this year and what a lot of people, particularly spiritual ones, have been talking about. It is more a mergence of people coming together to create things together rather than as individuals. A sort of attraction of opposites, which in the first place may sound strange but often when this happens, something quite new and exciting can come out of such a co-operation.
Is disappointment something that hurts your feelings and if so, how to you deal with it? You can choose to just shrug your shoulders and think you will just get on with things or you could say something about it. What would you choose? I am pretty sure if you brought the subject up with someone they would look at you completely surprised, wondering what on earth you are actually talking about. In their hurly burly busy lives, the thought may have simply not entered their head. But my question is: if you feel disappointment , should you be honest and say so?
I think this is a difficult point. Because in some or other way you are hurt and do you just bottle up the feelings or release them? By releasing them you could just think, right, I will remember that for the future and allow the friendship to cool off, which is probably not what you really want, or find the right moment to speak out. But deep down inside the pain is there.
A true friend will be open and listen as opposed to what we all have in our lives; the ‘hanger’s on’. People who are just in our life who are really not true friends but more acquaintances. We all have a lot of those. Sometimes you can think about colleagues in this category too.
You know something I have experienced recently is that in moments of need, you really find out who your friends are! And sometimes it can be quite a shock when you come to the realization that they are so self-centred in their own lives that they don’t really have time for you. I am not saying that they do it on purpose, because the pace of life is really to blame for this. People just do not seem to have time anymore. Society puts so many demands on us these days we are continually rushing around. Until the moment comes when you cannot. Something crosses your path and brings you to an absolute stand still. These are big moments, which at the time are annoying to say the least, but I have often learnt that moments like these are the greatest moments of real learning. Really learning about yourself and in retrospect you look back and think that whatever happened to you, was really for a reason, because it made you stop and think.
The universe and our soul just work like that! It is a sort of message within that you are not either on the right path or continually subjecting yourself to things that are not right for you. This can be literally anything, from not being happy in your job, or in the wrong sort of relationship. Not taking enough time for yourself, or looking after yourself, not taking enough exercise, not eating properly, not getting enough rest or sleep. The list is very long. If you like it is as if your soul is disappointed in what you are doing and to be sure, it will give you a sign to make you sit up and take notice.
If you find yourself in a situation of disappointment, then you can do several things and it all begins with doing things that you like. For me this is writing, putting words onto paper (or my laptop), and telling a story. For others it is going out into nature, learning once again to appreciate how beautiful it is.
If you want to have grace in your life, then that is where it all begins, as I have said before, with gratitude. And many big spiritual influencers are saying exactly the same thing.
Every night before I go to sleep, I listen to a short story. Now 90% of the time I never hear the end, because I usually fall asleep which is the general idea after all. But those 20 minutes or so, of just winding down, listening to a pleasant story, breathing in and out deeply as you listen, makes you much more appreciative.
Appreciation and pleasure in whatever form they take is to my mind, perhaps the solution to disappointment? Just accepting too, a situation is what it is, and releasing the whole subject can be very therapeutic. There is no point whatsoever getting yourself wound up about it, thinking negative thoughts, or even blaming someone. It just makes matters worse.
Just let it go, and pamper yourself a bit by doing something you like. Works wonders believe me!
I was looking for some images to add to this blog and came across the first quote on Google. I am afraid I cannot agree entirely with it. Because I believe we should have a lot of expectations about what we truly desire in life. We have to have dreams, bucket lists and ideas. Maybe it should say, something along the lines that: ‘we should expect everything, but learn to deal and release disappointment’. Release the pressure we put on ourselves albeit with or without awareness!
One of my friends reacted to this blog on Facebook and said the following, which is a lovely quote from Robert Browning: ‘A man’s or woman’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what is heaven for?’
If you could literally see me now, typing this blog, on my special hospital bed, balancing my laptop on my leg, then you would really understand this title!
Today, it is two weeks post operation! Beginning to get to the stage where I cannot wait for them to remove the temporary plaster cast and this will be happening on Friday 26thApril. Everything is feeling ‘itchy’ and my leg seems to have now shrunk down in size.
Mobility ? Not a lot, I can manage to move from bed to wheelchair and using crutches hop about on one leg. Instructions were not to put any pressure on the plastered leg, but sorry, I am not a flamingo who can have one leg air bound all the time.
The word I am thinking about a lot at the moment is PATIENCE and how having patience is a definite virtue.
The official definition of the word, according to my favourite Oxford English Dictionary is:
Patience (noun): the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious,
This word originates from so-called Middle English or Old French from Latin (patientia) from (patient) suffering, from the verb ‘pati’.
Well now you know and why it is such a virtue.
And we might as well have a look at the word Virtue too:
One of the Paragons of Virtue is: a quality considered morally good or desirable in a person.
Well something to think about isn’t it?
And my goodness my patience is really being tested at the moment. I really feel for people who need assistance all the time. It is so frustrating having to ask someone to do something for you all the time!
To sort of calm myself down and just accept the fact that the next 4 weeks (after the plaster change on Friday) is an obligatory rest. Many of you may be saying right now: ‘I would give anything for a month’s complete rest!’ I understand that, because we do not get enough rest in our hectic lives these days. But there is a very thin line then between actually ‘having to’ or ‘wanting to’. A very thin line indeed.
I have downloaded an App onto my telephone called CALM. Just what I needed I thought, to calm down and just accept, it is as it is and nothing to do but rest. For a very active person like me, this is not easy believe me. I may be spending the majority of my days behind my laptop writing and yes there is a new story underway at the moment, but at the same time, I love the freedom of movement.
This Easter was probably the best on record and here I was stuck in bed. But all problems can be solved and when a bed has wheels, you can of course just get yourself wheeled out into the garden. That was lovely, lazing in the spring sunshine, in bed. And being able to adjust said bed into exactly the right position. Leg raised so that it does not ‘throb’ and back supported.
My Calm app is doing overtime. It is a mixture of music, stories and meditations. I particularly like the so-called ‘sleepy stories’. A short tale read by someone (usually well known people) who whisper a lovely story into your earphones. The first one I listened to was called ‘Wonders’ read by Hollywood actor Matthew Macconaughey! Wow, it was lovely and especially his soft voice in my ear! In the meantime I have listened to several, just before actually closing off the day and getting to sleep for the night. End result is that usually I don’t hear the end, and wake up next morning with my glasses still on and earphones in having fallen asleep in the middle. Which is probably the idea!
But a real recommendation for all of you out there who have problems with sleeping. I know there is a lot of talk about not watching TV before going to bed, especially violent films and such like, switching off your social media and no not putting the phone to re-change beside your bed! But how many of us actually do that? Not a lot I am guessing.
So my days are all about patience and making it a daily practice. But I know that for some or other reason, which maybe is not entirely clear to me right now, the universe wants me to have a rest. Be totally dependent on others. (Been there and done that a lot before). But I seriously think that sometimes things happen to us at a certain time and later when you look back on the event, you just know it was right.
You cannot explain it logically but you just have to accept it.
Recently during a 21-day meditation online with Deepak Chopra en Oprah Winfrey I learnt something quite important. The theme of the 21-day daily centering thought and meditation was all about ‘Gratitude and Grace’. I loved it, 20 minutes every morning to get myself balanced. Even though the last few days of the workshop I did in bed – post op. It was all about learning to appreciate small things in your life and that way you allowed grace and gratitude to become part of you. I can give you a small example.
Recently whilst having breakfast, I noticed two blue tits collecting stuff for their nests. White fluffy stuff, which I realized was coming from one of my dog’s toys. A ‘hula hula minion’ to be exact. He had left it out in the garden one time and these two were flying back and forth, beaks filled, making a nest. Such a joyful sight to see! It may not be anything really major, on earth shattering, but just a small simple gesture from nature to allow you to appreciate the world in another way.
As I said at the beginning patience is a virtue. Appreciate the smaller things in life, when you are maybe obliged to slow down and do something different for a while. Why not? That is a good question to think about. I have sort of come to the conclusion that by acceptance, I allow grace and gratitude to come into my life, at exactly the right time.
Some inspirational thoughts maybe for a midweek Wednesday?