MY TRUE STORY (a book by Karin Bloemen)

At the moment I am reading a book by Karin Bloemen called ‘My True Story’ or in Dutch (Mijn Ware Verhaal). Maybe not a lot of you reading this blog know or have heard of Karin Bloemen. She is one of the funniest, happy, most joyful people in the Dutch theatre world and tells wonderful stories, which have you in fits of laughter within minutes. She is quite a generous-sized person but this does not in any way deter her from making fun of herself on stage.

Recently she underwent a double knee replacement operation. Now you have to one ‘tough cookie’ to do both knees at the same time!

In her book Karin tells in her own words all about her youth in Schagen, the north of Holland with her mother, father and sisters. She has three in fact, Karin is the youngest. Her parents divorce and a new ‘father figure’ comes into her life Ben Kuijt. I am typing his name openly in this blog, as I think he does not in any way deserve anominity, or other members of his family either.

The book tells stories of how life was in the late 50’s early 60’s in a small village in Holland. But the underlying theme of the book is about the sexual abuse,

Karin and her elder sister are subjected to by their stepfather.

It is quite disgusting the means and ways he snares them into his dirty little world of smutty sex with minors. And disgusting is putting it mildly.

Now I know unfortunately, this whole issue and the me-too subject is almost a trending topic at the moment and enormous respect for those who dare to speak out about it. 

I don’t think anyone can make any judgement about how a person either feels or deals when they have been sexually abused.. It makes a scar on their soul and the damage lasts for life. So great respect for anyone who finally dares to tell their story, like Karin does in her book.

Other comedians here in The Netherlands were aghast as they read through her book. They have been friends with her for many years but never knew the terrible secret she had been hiding for so long. It is a book that you want, (no have to read), if you too have been abused. 

As I read on, with horror from page to page, it made me very sad. Almost tearful that a man could behave like that. But anger came into the equation to, because my only thought was, God I hope someone finds out and deals with him in the end.

The thing that always amazes me is that the mother figure never seems to notice. Why? Surely there must be signs? Or do they just ignore, afraid for their own position? Whatever the case may be, is there ever an excuse?

Of course each and every situation is different, and I have often asked myself this question when stories like Karin’s come to the surface. What would her biological father have done if he had known? Probably something quite dramatic to Ben Kuijt. And rightly so. 

The painful thing in these stories is that the victims, like Karin, are terrified about telling anyone. Even slight hints to other siblings are really scary things to discuss.

There may be many of you out there, who have found yourself in a similar situation. Personally I cannot comprehend in any way that a grown up person does this to a child, but I am sorry to say it happened and is still happening. Maybe we should take a leaf out of the laws of Ancient Egypt, when men were eunuchs. Perhaps that is the punishment for offenders?

In other words, when there is no desire, then no abuse will take place?

I know this is a very sensitive subject and perhaps one that not a lot of people would dare to write about, but having read Karin’s book, realising that she, like me, was a child growing up in the 50-60’s and why were things like this swept under the carpet? One thing that made my blood nearly reach boiling point was the part where other members of the Kruit family (her step grandfather and uncles) tried to sexually abuse her too, because they had heard stories from her stepfather, how much she enjoyed the escapades she had with him. Oh come on, seriously. How low can you go?

I am not at the end of the book just yet, but with the turn of every page, I just hope that Ben Kuijt gets what is coming to him in the end. That is one of the laws of the universe – ‘what goes around comes around’.

I salute you Karin Bloemen who I would describe as one of the happiest, funniest people is who graces our stages. Thank you for speaking out, I think like me, people will have enormous respect for you and justly so!

I have finished the book in the meantime and I will not spoil either the rest or the end of the story for you. A highly recommended read for those of you who may have unfortunately been subject to this too.

Take a leaf out of Karin’s words: ‘when people ask me why don’t you leave the past behind you, I reply I cannot as long as the past doesn’t leave me in peace’.

No matter how ashamed or how much judgement you think there will be: speak out! It is not your fault.

Images: Karin Bloemen, Google.

Acknowledging all copyright in the book Mijn Ware Verhaal

EMPATHY OR SYMPATHY?

EMPATHY OR SYMPATHY?

Although you may think it is not so, there is a big difference between the words ‘empathy’ or ‘sympathy’.

So before I go any further, I will quote from the Oxford English Dictionary, the actual meaning of the words:

Empathy: is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Sympathy: is the feeling of sorrow or pity for someone else’s misfortune. Understanding between people, a common feeling. The state or fact of responding in a way similar or corresponding to an action elsewhere.

At first glance you may be thinking, this is perhaps all the same. But it is not.

If someone tells you something which has happened to them which has an effect on them, by offering them sympathy you simple join into their energy and pity them.

It is so much better in such circumstances to offer them empathy. This is saying; thank you for telling me about your problems. I understand how you are feeling. In this way, you are then not pitying them but supporting them by the fact you confirm you know how they are feeling. The energy is completely different then.

Many people confuse the two words, which is quite understandable. But there is a difference and maybe it is something for you to think about when a friend shares a confidence with you, tells you about something that has overcome them, a sad story, a loss of something. When you give them empathy you are offering so much more support to them, than when you offer them pity.

There are of course many stories, which I could refer to, or a lot of quotes about this subject, but one of the best ones is from the app CALM.

EMPATHY IS:

SEEING with the eyes of another

LISTENING with the ears of another

And FEELING with the heart of another

Another nice quote is from Barack Obama:

He said: ‘listening to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that is how peace begins. And it is up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character than can change the world’.

I am going to keep this blog short today, mainly because it’s only just after 10 am and here in The Netherlands, have a summer heat wave on the go. The temperature is climbing and already 25oC. The next few days are going to be scorchers, with temperatures rising up to about 40oC.

Whichever part of the world you live in, you may be thinking ‘is that all?’ But living in a country where a lot is under sea level and the amount of water in lakes and canals, this hot weather creates a very hot and humid sauna effect.

My advice today is starting your week in a peaceful and restful way. Don’t rush, why should you really? Plan things that you have time to walk instead of run. Drink plenty of fresh cool water. Take care and also take care of others. 

And give some thought to the word ‘empathy’.

Image: Running Water by Richard Thomas – Fine Art America

Quotes from Google

TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS

In this blog I want to write something about Toxic Relationships. The word toxic can easily be replaced by the word ‘poisonous’. But the word relationships is more complex because you can have relationships with people in many different ways: A relationship with your partner, your children, your family, your friends, your neighbours, your colleagues and even go so far to say a relationship with someone perhaps in a shop or a petrol station. Anyone in fact when it concerns a situation that you both know one another and see one another regularly.

Internet says when it concerns partners:

By definition, a toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner. … A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, control.

But as is always the case in the world as we know it, said relationships can either finish, become less, change and even go so far as to become toxic. I mean this in the way that they affect you personally. The effect can in turn take on many forms, either make you sad, depressed, give you stress or come to the point that it can take the form of an obsession. The mere mention of a name brings everything to the surface once again. Good or bad.

So what can you do if this happens to you? Over the past few weeks I have been learning a lot from several online courses in which I am participating and I have discovered that one of the biggest things that can influence our health and general well being is: Stress. 

So if relationships become stressful, then eventually the stress can have very negative effects on your actual physical body. We all know that cells have memories; so said memory remains in the cells and eventually they cannot work properly. This is of course in very extreme circumstances. For example: Say if you are living with someone who abuses you physically. You regularly get knocked about. but from fear you hide yourself away and don’t talk about it. Because you know if you do, then the abuse will continue and become even worse. Your whole being begins to take on a new ‘you’ because you are suppressing so many negative things. The pain, the fact that someone stoops so low as to do this to you, you begin to blame yourself, your self esteem becomes less and less, you shut yourself off from family, friends and loved ones mainly because of shame. And there are also the physical effects of said abuse. This is a toxic relationship without any shadow of doubt and an extreme example.

A toxic relationship can also be about someone who constantly talks about you behind your back, stirs up feeling of animosity about you with others, tells lies and fabrications about you. In the end (because we all know that someone always feels the need to tell us) you become angrier and angrier. Your first instinct is to avoid them, hope that you do not meet them under any circumstances, but this does not stop them. Your anger can reach such a pitch that you begin to obsess about them and subject yourself to more and more stress. And as said above, the stress affects you in many ways. From stopping you sleeping at night, not eating properly and generally not taking care of yourself.

The thing about a toxic relationship in whatever form it takes, means that there is only one thing to do and that is sever the relationship. Do this in such a way, that you ensure you break away completely from it.

In the example of abuse given above, you have to seek professional help and leave. Either you or the abuser. This is serious.

The other example I mentioned is easier to deal with and being a writer I often find that actually writing things down makes it easier for me personally. It is as if the words literally take the problem away.

Quite by chance this week I came across a wonderful quote on social media, which says:

This actually made me laugh out aloud! It is genuinely funny but behind the humour there is some truth of course.

It was if it was a signal for me to get on with something I started earlier in the week and do what my original plan was. What a coincidence (or not) that this subject came up in my online course as well. The advice in the course was to do everything I could to end this toxic relationship for my own well-being.

Now when I write things, I am of course the person who chops and changes the sentences all the time but at a certain moment, the story was ready.

So what was my answer to the quote above?  … email to the person concerned.

I can only tell you that as I paused to press the button ‘send’ a final moment of doubt crossed my mind, shall I or not? In my mind I suddenly heard the words from my course and instantly pressed ‘send’.

It was then as if a huge dark black stone like ball left my body. It came up through my body and out of my head and exploded way above me like a firework. I suddenly felt free and in control once more.

I have decided under no circumstances will I ever speak this person’s name again. A bit like ‘he who will not be named’ in the Harry Potter books, but in my case this ‘he’ is a ‘she’.

So my advice to you is, if you have someone in your life who is involving you in a toxic relationship which you want to end, do not hesitate a second longer. Find a way, which suits your own particular circumstance, and end it once and for all.

Believe me it’s worth it. Because you are worth it. You need and have to come back into your own power, which means looking after yourself in the best possible way. Taking care of your body, your mind and your spirit.

Stop it once and for all and then relax, breathe and step into a new moment.

Images: Tiny Buddha.com and Google

MY BOOKS OM AMAZON.COM

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.

I hope you enjoy!

MEDITATION

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? 

Thanks to Tamara Levitt (CALM)

The Chopra Centre

Images from Google

FREEDOM !

Freedom

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:

Freedom is:

  • 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.

JUST VOTED!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: Google

ONCE UPON A GDPR …

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

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

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

So what is GDPR all about?

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

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

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

Bored already?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sleep well.

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

MOTIVATION

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

So what is motivation?

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

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

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

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

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

Not easy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMAGES: GOOGLE

Thank You !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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