REACTIONS TO MY HEART BLOGS – A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE WRITTEN!

Today, the 3rd July 2018 and a very hot summer’s day, I have worked my way through more than 400 reactions (just from the last couple of days) from you all to my blog. In total there have literally been thousands! The personal blog about my heart, which I wrote with my cardiologist, Dr. Lukas Dekker, seems to have gone viral! On his behalf too, I am extremely pleased and would take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for your feedback and comments. Most appreciated. I have tried to reply to each and every one, sorry if any have been missed. The subject matter has definitely touched everyone’s heart!

A lot of you have asked, if there is more? Yes, parts two and three which are on the feed as well. So hopefully you can go and read them too.

Glad to say that all is well, my heart still in a perfect sinus rhythm and when I go back for my check up on 14th August I will see if we are going to write another blog. I remember that Lukas once remarked to me that once operations have taken place, he does not hear much more from patients, because in the main they are cured. That was the reason why we decided to do these blogs together and also produce them in Dutch, as we are both based in The Netherlands and onto the platform www.hartvolgers.org. which he started a few years back.

Hartvolgers (Heart Followers) is a platform where people can ask questions and advice from cardiologist about their hearts. It was his idea and it had been and still is a huge success. Often people feel intimated about asking their doctors or overwhelmed by the subject matter and it is wonderful that you can subscribe as ask what you want and get a reply even if you have another cardiologist. A lot of them are all on site, so you will get a reply for sure.

In the meantime, I am writing this little message to say a huge thank you for all your positive remarks and feedbacks and also for subscribing to my feed. Some of you are also receiving notifications when new blogs appear and this morning I have had a new idea so there will be something appearing in the next few days. A simple remark from a friend has also given me an idea for a new book. That is the way is happens with writing.

Again many many thanks for all your reactions.

 

A PERSONAL BLOG: THE HEART TRILOGY: how do you mend a broken heart?

I thought it might just be a nice idea to finish off the series of my blogs about my heart, with a third and final one, which is more about hearts in general and foremost, the big question:

How do you mend a broken heart?

Obviously I am not talking here about a physical heart, more metaphorically speaking about what do you do if your heart is broken and why? What are the reasons? And more important what can you do about it?

The first thing that springs to mind about having a broken heart is all about love. A relationship that is broken for whatever reason. I am sure that many of you reading this will remember your first love affair. Whatever age you were (or even are), that seems to be the most painful for everyone and one, which is engraved into your memory.

Personally I remember that I was about 15 or 16 at the time. I used to go out regularly with school friends to the local youth club, or sometimes to a disco in the next biggest town, Guildford. It was nearly Christmas and I remember meeting a boy called Brian, who kept asking me to dance. At the end of the evening, a few kisses and the exchange of our home telephone numbers. This was long before the era of smart phones and the social media app’s we have today. He rang me up a few days later, asked me out for a next date, and so the relationship went on. He was older than me I remember, studying at the London College of Hairdressing and Fashion in Oxford Street. Often I would go up by train to London to meet him there, it was all so exciting and fun. We all felt so grown up! He would sometimes come and visit me at my house and vice versa. He was highly talented and I thought he would go on to become a famous name in this industry, like many of the students who studied with him have done and their names are worldwide brands. The relationship went on for about one and half years and then all of a sudden he broke it off. I was devastated; never saw that coming and then he re-established his relationship with a previous girlfriend. It was right before my final college exams and I remember my mother being quite furious with him about the timing. He wrote in my diary (yes, we had them in those days), that he would always love me and never forget me. Yes sure!!

I often bumped into them and once my ‘broken heart’ had repaired, I got into a new relationship as well and then he was jealous. As if he had the right to be?
In the end when actually my anger suddenly bubbled up out of nowhere about the way he had treated me, was the moment when my heart was truly mended. So in other words my conclusion about this was that when another emotion took the lead role that my heart recovered and healed. Sadness had been replaced by irritation.

The last thing I heard about him, a number of years later was, when I went to see him get married to girlfriend number one and was absolutely flabbergasted when I heard that he was going to be a butcher in a local village shop. After all that training and being really good too. What a waste it seemed, from making people beautiful with extravagant hairstyles and fashion, to go on and spend your working life, cutting up animal corpses!

How many of you reading this, are now thinking about the very similar situation? The loss of a first love is the worst, my mother always used to say. Of course, looking back and several relationships further on, it would have probably never worked anyway long term, even though I am willing to say that there are some people who meet the love or their live in a first relationship, marry and have a wonderful life together and are as much in love as in the beginning. Well done if you are one of those!

There is no pill or band-aid plaster or any cure actually, to put on your wounds. They literally just need time to heal. It may sound like an old cliché and it is, but you will recognize even if you think you won’t. It is that moment when you suddenly realize you have not been thinking about it for an hour, a few hours, the whole morning of afternoon and eventually a day. Then a week and a month. You can pat yourself on the back; you are healing all the time. The ‘pain’ has suddenly gone, just as quickly as it came. You feel better, more composed and generally life is possible once again and suddenly you are smiling and laughing again. There is light at the end of what seemed to be a dark tunnel.

It may then be hard to actually remember how awful you felt. You actually don’t want to remember. It can remain a memory deep inside and often a piece of music on the radio or someone suddenly says something; back comes the memory and that is perfectly OK, but that intense feeling of deep pain in your heart has passed. It is mending or it is mended. Memories are things we all have and it is good to have them. Good to know what things we did or achieved in our life, good things, bad things, things we might have done differently in retrospect, but it is all part of our own personal growth.

There are of course other aspects of having a broken heart and the next biggest one is loss. Loss of a child, a partner, a parent, a friend, a colleague, a neighbour, a pet; the list is long. Loss and perhaps death walk hand in hand and you feel as if your sadness and pain will never leave you again. Believe me it will eventually, but we all have to actually go through a process of loss. Loss can be something small or something big. Something, which may remain with us for the rest of our lives. Then it will become a memory. Because life is actually going on at its own steady pace and even if you feel you have completely dropped off the bandwagon for a while, that too is perfectly OK. You need time.

Again with loss, just like love, time is the healer, even though you will be confronted for a long time with special moments and memories. But they are good aren’t they? It would be awful to think that when you lose someone you have forgotten all about them all of a sudden.

Even though I personally think that time is a bit of an illusion and something that we humans have created ourselves, time is a healer in many ways and we should be grateful for that. So that seems to be the answer about how do you mend a broken heart? Be strong, be patient and get yourself involved in your own projects. Do something completely different, do something that makes you feel good, something you like to do. Enjoy. During the process it is perfectly OK to have happy moments too because it all contributes. Be authentic, be you, this is all about healing you personally. It is worth taking time. It is important. Just remind yourself that you are worth it. Everyone deserves happiness don’t they?

Finally just want to share the words of a lovely song written by Barry & Robin Gibb © (Warner Chappell Music)

I can think of younger days
When living for my life
Was everything a man could want to do
I could never see tomorrow
But I was never told about the sorrow
And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart
And let me live again
I can still feel the breeze
That rustles through the trees
And misty memories of days gone by
We could never see tomorrow
No one said a word about the sorrow
And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart
And let me live again

 

image from Google Images

A PERSONAL BLOG: HEALING MY HEART… PART TWO

 

22nd May 2018

My computer warned me that that the traffic was bad to Eindhoven! Understatement, it was a nightmare! Stop, start all the way and I am going to be late. Have in fact to make a phone call to say, nearly here, expect to arrive in about 10 minutes. Then a huge sigh of relief and calm as we drive into the car park. My daughter is with me.

We ‘checked in’ at the Reception in the Heart Lounge and after the preliminary checks go through into another part of this new complex at Catharina Hospital, which has an atmosphere, which I can only describe as, homely. Putting in an IV drip is causing problems, but no doubt someone will manage it. I settle myself down into an extremely comfortable chair having been told that I am scheduled at around noon. I actually manage to read one single sentence of the new book I have brought with me (a Dutch book called Stromboli by Saskia Noort) and then a nurse comes to tell me it is time to change and get ready, the operation before mine is finished.

Yet another visit to the toilet even though I have not drunk anything since midnight the day before, just put it down to some sign of nerves, although I am feeling incredibly calm and not at all nervous.

Once in bed in my charming operation gown, the patient who was before me arrives back in the room. Wesley, a really friendly young man is in charge of the sedation during the procedure and he manages to finally get the IV drip in, so ready to go. On the way to theatre, one of the people wheeling the bed asks me if I am from England and then we launch into a chat about Ireland as he is going on holiday tomorrow along the Wild Atlantic Coast. It is incredibly beautiful there, where huge Atlantic waves crash against the coastline and have created one of the most spectacular wonders of the world – The Giant’s Causeway. I tell him what is it and definitely not to miss!

Once in the theatre which is number 5 by the way, then we suddenly start to chatter on about the Royal Wedding the previous Saturday which literally everyone has seen. England in its full glory, all that pomp and circumstance. All that normal stiffness has literally been swept away by a very new type of service. Lukas intervenes and says ‘shall we get on with things!’ Yes of course.

Then after the normal pre-op questions I then have to get out of my bed and onto the actual operating table and that in a gown, which is about the size of a tea towel. I make a remark but come on its nothing they all have not seen hundreds of times before. The table itself is quite narrow and hard as stone.

My ‘tea towel’ is removed and a mass of people are putting on ECG leads and preparing for the actual ablation itself. I have a totally unflattering hat on my head and now an oxygen mask across my nose and face. I glance up at the clock at the time is coming up to exactly 11.11 am. Wesley says it is time to start putting me to sleep and then everything goes blank.

In actual fact, as I have already told Lukas, I go right out of my physical body and leave it behind on the table for them to get on with their work. I have made this journey out many times before and it always starts in the same way:

There is blinding white light, I am going through it and eventually come into a space which is so totally different than anything from the world as we know it as humans. My soul is making this journey; my physical body is left behind on an operating table in Eindhoven.

The first thing about this place is it is totally serene. The sounds are different, the colours are different and as I begin to move into this world of in between, there is a small bridge crossing a river. To the left is a field filled with the most incredible flowers, all colours and a heady perfume scent. There standing in the garden is my spiritual father. He is pleased to see me and holds out his arms to give me an embrace. It feels incredibly familiar, which it is and perfect.

I make my way further, seeing things along the way I have seen before.

My next recollection is that I am travelling to somewhere completely new. I can move extremely fast and without any restriction whatsoever and space and time itself fade away. This new place is something I will write about another time, I still have to absorb the impressions and things that happened and try and put it into words. As I write this blog several days later, I know I need time. This place is where I am going after this life here on this planet. It is something totally new.

Suddenly at about 1 pm I feel someone moving my physical body. I have a moment of hesitation, do I actually want to come back, yes or now, there is split second of time, but I do because I know I have promised to. It is not right to pass over at this moment that will happen later on a date I have known actually since my birth on this planet, all those years ago now in England.

Now Lukas will take over this blog again and tell you exactly what he did. The reason I asked him to do this and be so specific is that a lot of people (more than 1400) have reacted to my first blog and all want to know ‘what happened next?’

“After Jill fell asleep I punctured the femoral vein twice in order to place 2 catheters in her heart via de inferior caval vein: one catheter in the coronary sinus for pacing the heart and one in the left atrium. The latter catheter enters the left atrium via a puncture through the atrial septum. This is a routine procedure in our centre. This is all the equipment we need, as we try to minimize the number of punctures and catheters for patient safety. The procedure went perfectly according to plan, normal anatomy and optimal electrical isolation by inflating a cryo-balloon (freezing) in the pulmonary veins. We believe this is the most effective and safe procedure for atrial fibrillation. It took about 80 minutes from start until removing the catheters”.

Suddenly, I can feel incredible pressure on my groin, hard fingers pressing deep into my flesh. I know this is happening stop any bleeding. A pressure bandage is wrapped around my groin and having moved myself back into my bed, I am now on the way back to the room where I started. Have to lie flat now for several hours. I sleep the rest of the afternoon until Lukas appears and tells me that everything has gone really well. He and his team accomplished what they were going to do. I actually ask him if my heart has stopped? He reassures me that it did not and they have only given me cardio version to re-set my heart after the procedure, because after all it is mended now, to ensure there is a good rhythm. Totally logical of course!

In the meantime several other people have come and gone during the afternoon, the majority of which I have missed entirely because I was in such a deep sleep.

The nurse comes to ask if I want something to eat, yes, suddenly feel hungry and attempt to eat something lying down, which is in my opinion totally impossible.
When I am allowed to sit up, I wait for quite a long time before even attempting to stand up. Everything feels stiff and I have real cramp in my leg from lying in one position for so long. Once the feeling of dizziness has passed, I can walk to the toilet.

Unfortunately, there is a sudden huge loss of blood and I have to rush back to tell her. Apparently this can happen, when the catheter has been passed through one of the major veins, but the urgency is that I have to lie flat as soon as possible and they have to stop the bleeding. This happens and I have to lie flat for about an hour or so.

Around 9pm I am moved together with two male patients to the so-called Night Stay. Restless night, filled with dreams, a lot of which I cannot remember.

After breakfast and a shower, which makes me feel human again, I can go home and start on the procedure of healing. The major job is done, thanks to Lukas and his team and it is up to me now to take things easy and slowly build up my activity once more.

The most amazing thing is that for the first time in a long while my heart is beating in a perfect sinus rhythm. A rhythm in my body but also beating in time with the universe itself. All is well, all is perfect.

Back in August for a control and in the meantime enjoy the most amazing summer weather. I am actually typing this blog in the shade in my garden, which is filled with roses and lilacs. The scent is almost intoxicating. It’s a very hot day here (30oC) but a gentle breeze coming off the sea is making my wind spinner turn and the wind chime is playing its tune too. Life is so good.

I hope that any of you who are reading this blog, that if you have heart concerns, worry no more. The techniques, the equipment, and the way cardiologists work with their teams of experts are changing so much now. Just like our world is changing each and every day. It is very important however, to have a good rapport with your cardiologist as that in my opinion contributes a lot to how you feel as a patient beforehand and how you go into the actual procedure itself. A feeling of complete trust, and complete surrender to their expertise. I certainly had that and I am incredibly grateful that it all went that way.

It was wonderful that there were so many other things that all came together on that day, now one week later. Each and every day I am getting better. Stiffness is subsiding and I feel incredibly well.

Jill Kramer (May 2018) © & Dr. L.R.C. Dekker, Catharina Hospital, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

 

THANK YOU!

Logging in to my website this morning I have received over 1370 reactions to my posts. Amazing and I want to thank each and every one of you who has taken the time and the trouble to write me a message especially to say how much you, your friends and colleagues are enjoying my work and also sharing it amongst your own social groups. I really appreciate this, so a big thank you.

I thought that I might be able to reply to everyone individually but the numbers have gone up so fast it will take me ages, hence this general message to you all – thank you.

I am working on Part 2 of my blog about my heart. For those of you who have asked me how I am progressing – very well. Each and every day getting better and my heart is still beating strongly in a perfect sinus rhythm. I have had a little ‘time out’ from my writing to actually allow my heart to get used to this new situation. Remember for years now it has been desperately trying to work!

I am going to finish the trilogy about my heart with a more general blog which I hope everyone will respond to – how do you mend a broken heart. By this I don’t mean your physical heart but ….. watch this space will be released sometime next week.

We are soon approaching mid summer or mid winter depending on which part of our planet you live. Enjoy this season.

Thank you all once more, I am really honored by the comments and really appreciate them all.

Jill

 

Image from Google, artist unknown

A PERSONAL BLOG, COUNTING DOWN, A SECOND CHANCE FOR MY HEART! Part One

COUNTING DOWN, 3..2..1

06.30 am 22nd May 2018

A second chance for my heart, the story starts ..

12THMarch 2018

Finally months and months of waiting are over. Tomorrow is my appointment with my cardiologist, Dr. Lukas Dekker, at Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven. An early start, the traffic can be busy around Tilburg and I want to be there on time. I want to be at least half-an-hour early so that I can settle myself into a chair with a coffee and wait my turn. It is the last appointment of the morning session but I know him well and he is always either early or on time, so I want to be all relaxed and ready.

The discussion tomorrow is going to be about finally taking the decision whether or not he will do ablation in my heart. I have had arrthymia now since 2009 and under his care since 2012. Believe me a lot had happened in the past 6 years. I have had my medication changed many times, several echo’s done and three sessions of cardioversion, when they stop and re-start your heart, hoping that it will stay in rhythm. It is always a case with the cardioversion (as they say in the hospital: ‘guarantee to the door’) I have been quite lucky on that score. My heart seems to go back easily into its proper rhythm but eventually the electrical circuit in my heart goes haywire again and it is all over the place. One minute slow and often missing beats and then racing along, far too fast.

It is hard to put into words how this actually feels. First of all you are constantly thinking about your heart and its rhythm whether you want to or not. You feel the beats in your throat, because of the major arteries and veins running up to the brain. When you lie down in bed at night, you can hear it in your ears. Lying on the left hand side is sometimes impossible because you put extra pressure and weight on the heart itself and it feels weird.

Quite by chance one day, way back in 2012, I just happened to see something on Twitter about a live operation happening in Eindhoven. This was a new method to actually cure my problem.

When I first met Lukas I knew instantly that he was the right person to take on the care of my heart. I felt a calm feeling of complete trust and all through the years I think we are basically a good team together. I knew deep down inside that because of the previous history I have with my heart, that he would always try to choose non-invasive treatment until we reached the point where nothing else was working and that ablation was inevitable.

I remember that very first meeting in 2012 when I told him about the heart operation I had had in 1974 in London, England and that the world famous Christian Barnard and John Parker had repaired my mitral valve and yes, here I was, living proof that surgery done all those years ago was still working. I remember him saying how amazed he was; not only by the names, but that techniques done in the pioneering years of heart surgery were incredible. It was in December 1967 that Christian Barnard performed the first heart transplant in South Africa and then he went on to teach other cardiologists around the world including those in London. All of whom are, or were, famous names. What a lot has changed since those early pioneering days.

All the time I have been under Lukas’s care it was good that we can communicate well with one another. Each and every change made in medication was discussed and the consequences too. It is so important I feel to have a good connection between doctor and patient. A mutual feeling, which is built up over the years. It was therefore so easy to say if I felt something was not working well at all, for instance when he put me on beta-blockers last year, I had a really tough six months, my heart was beating around 40 beats per minute (bpm) which was so slow that even getting up and walking around became a huge physical effort for me. I was so glad I could actually say so and he made the decision to stop them.

Taking a lot of medication every day is something I do automatically now. I am thankfully on Pradaxa (anticoagulants), which means that I don’t have to have my blood checked every few weeks to see if it is OK. The risk of blood clots forming in a heart, which does not beat properly, is high in the case of arrhythmia, and because of the danger of having a stroke. I seem to be able to tolerate this medication well.

Over the past few months I have been losing weight. That was a criteria. Not easy, but I have done my best I think. Cut back on a lot of things but at the same time I did not want to become ‘a shadow of my former self’ not at this age. I cannot change the basic framework and bone structure of my body, and I don’t want to become skinny and old, whether it is enough, tomorrow will tell. I have done my best that I know.

Personally I don’t like scales and getting on them, so I haven’t mainly because I cannot work mine (too complicated) and it can be so depressing when you think you have done your best only to find that you have lost one ounce. But my clothes are just so much looser; my very tight jeans are now billowing around my legs.

With this appointment in mind tomorrow, when I think we will have a discussion whether or not ablation is going to finally cure my atrial fibrillation, has had me thinking a lot over the past few months whilst waiting for this appointment.

There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever about my own cardiologist. Lukas is the best and excellent at his job and I trust him implicitly, so what am I thinking about?

It is my own mind-set, which is at ‘sixes and sevens’: On the one hand, I know he will do a brilliant and professional job, but I also have to play my role in this operation too. I have to go into it with, as I just said, the right mind-set. To be honest I don’t have that today as I type the first words. Why not? I keep asking myself.

This morning I was awake early going through hundreds of different scenario’s about what am I going to say tomorrow. I know the first thing he will say when he calls me into his room is ‘how are you?’ and what is my answer then? I am feeling emotional already. It is easy to talk to him but the time is limited and I just want to be really sure, one hundred percent sure, that I am absolutely in the right frame of mind which is another way of saying mind-set. Is that my big question?

I know that I can do all sorts of meditations and other spiritual exercises to boost myself, so why not? Everything helps and maybe I will feel a bit calmer, but tomorrow my heart will be racing like an engine when I have my ECG done because I just know how much is at stake. I really want to be cured of this problem once and for all. To literally get my life back. Perhaps that is what I have to concentrate on. Not about all the details, potential risks and such like, just go into this whole procedure knowing the best man in the country will take care of me. That has to be enough. Just as long as I am in tune with him on an energetic level. What is wrong with that? Nothing of course.

I will explain. An energetic level: by this I mean that there is always an exchange of energy between all living things. Each and every person, animal, tree, herb, flower etc has its own energy field. In people we call this an auric field. So when two people are in one room, their aura can literally fill the room. Not everyone can literally see this, but many can feel it. I have seen auras since I was a child, so I can easily ‘see’ the movement of the energy. It is almost like an exchange If you like, that is so why it is so important I feel to be in tune energetically with someone when you are literally putting your heart in their hands.

To be perfectly honest I am not entirely sure what the matter is with me? Nerves or taking a big decision perhaps. Normally I am pretty cool about everything. In November last year during our phone conversation there would not have been one single second of hesitation. So why now? Isn’t my priority to get cured once and for all?

Of course it is and having just typed that I am saying ‘come on get a grip and get organized’. So with less than 24 hours to go to my appointment, going to spend the rest of the afternoon doing just that. Not going through endless possibilities, ideas, shall I say this or that, doing something completely different and going tomorrow with a fresh mind, fresh ideas and just see what happens? That is the best I feel.

 The actual appointment 13th March 2018

It is the most horrible day imaginable weather-wise. Totally uninspirational. Grey, thick clouds and pouring with rain and cold. Traffic will undoubtedly be busy. Always the same when it rains, more people go by car.

Now having said that Lukas is either always early or on time, his clinic was really busy and he was running late. After my ECG and chat with his assistant, sat down and waited until he eventually called my name. But I know in between he always finds me somewhere in the waiting room.

Strange how our conversations seem to pick up just as if I was there the day before. We are able to talk easily with one another, especially over the years, when the doctor/patient relationship has really become more of a friendship.

It was a good conversation, we talked about the procedure and when he suddenly asked: ‘do you want me to do it?’ I nearly fell off my chair. What a question! It is him or nothing, which is exactly what I said. So, yes decision made. We are going for it. A few formalities like filling in a form and having my blood tested and now it is a waiting game until the email or phone call comes giving me the date.

The lovely thing was on the way out of the hospital I was just about to stop and visit the restrooms and we bumped into one another again in the corridor. He just said: ‘don’t worry, ready to go and I will take really good care of you’. I mean no words needed anymore. I am ready and waiting to take this second chance. A second chance. To get my life back, feel fit and well.

Now ‘patience’ is the key word, playing the waiting game …

 

Lukas takes over this blog: (26thMarch 2018)

Doctors want to prevent and cure diseases. And, at least equally important, doctors want to prevent doing harm. Primum non nocere (Latin for “above all, do not harm”) is a classic principle in medicine.

Therefore, curing people in a safe and effective way makes the day for each doctor and nurse. We constantly aim at making our way of working safer and better. For me, it is a joy to work with the best equipment and, more importantly, with experienced nurses and technicians. This team, the collective of skilled individuals that know how teams should communicate, is the most important determinant of successful treatment. I, therefore, fully understand patients who are critical and demanding, as they will also appreciate a job well done.

Pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) clearly exemplifies how this works. The Catharina Heart Center is the largest EP-center in the Netherlands, performing about 1500 ablations per year.  We perform about 500 routine first PVI-procedures, using a cryo-balloon in the left atrium in patients with a fibrillation.

This procedure is a routine procedure that should be as safe as possible, with optimal outcome. The success rate after a first procedure is about 80-85%, and major complications are extremely rare. I truly believe in this technology.

So, Jill, you are not the worrying type, and we will not disappoint you.

28thMarch 2018

He is right no doubt whatsoever in my mind and I am not worrying at all. I know that I will be in extremely safe hands with my doctor and his team. Just waiting, waiting for the date. It is Easter this coming weekend, so a couple of days will not be available for the planning. Originally I thought that the date would be 5thApril 2018. This is actually a nice date for me numerologically: First of all this is an 11-year (just add up the numbers). When double figures occur we don’t split them down in a single digit because this is a so-called ‘master number’. Eleven crops up a lot in my life and then 5thof the 4thmonth makes a 9 (again another one of my numbers). It will be interesting to see if I am right and my original first thought too.

4thApril 2018

Easter has been and gone and now into the month of April. Still no date! Why not?

I have moved so much in my own agenda around so that I was free and ready as instructed!  Quite by chance and probably a good thing in retrospect, found out that I will not be on the list until at least after the 23rdApril. Lukas has holiday plans, which by the way is perfectly ok by me, I am pleased for him that he is having a well-deserved break from his breakneck schedule. But, all sorts of strange emotions come up inside, from irritation, impatience and several others, which I will not mention. I see myself stepping back in time to the wrong mind-set once more. I should probably say to him next time around don’t say anything about the time schedule. But I won’t. Just leave it and practice something, which is not really easy for anyone – patience. It is a virtue as they say and the majority of us, in these fast moving times, me included, just want to get on with things. Of course I would have preferred it all to be done by now, but obviously some sort of ‘intervention’ has taken place and so be it.

This morning woke up with a song going around in my head – from Rag ‘n bone Man. ‘I’m only human after all, don’t put the blame on me’! Too right, we are all that.

So relax and wind down again, nothing is going to happen until at least after 23rdApril so I can now get on, in peace and quiet, with a lot of projects that I pushed to one side.

This morning read a post by an astrologer friend of mine, Kari Samuels, all about the month of April. She says, today is a 4/4 day – four represents stability, earth and practical matters. OK. When many 4’s are present it is time to square your corners and find freedom within restriction. Boundaries can be your best friend at the moment. Squares have 4 corners, today Mercury in retrograde squaring fiery Mars in Capricorn. Stabilize ambitions and ground before you put your plans into action. Sometimes (and this is the most relevant part for me) the slow way is the quickest way. Build deep roots and growth cannot be rushed.

The best is worth waiting for in the end.

16thApril 2018

They say time flies, how true. Have been side-tracked by the death of my former boss and friend. Funeral was at the weekend and the entire day went just as he would have wanted it. Celebrating his life and not being sad. The nice part was re-meeting old colleagues after 30 years. Men I remember being in their prime are now into their 80’s. But it was a good day; weather was perfect and afterwards catching up on stories and memories. When someone says to me that I look exactly the same 30 years on, wow what a compliment. In the end the whole weekend turned out to be a ‘trip down memory lane’ and we all left with the idea if Hans had been watching us, he would have been so thrilled that his final journey had been that way.

Today is the start of a new week, so getting on with projects and keeping myself busy. Chatted to a friend in Chicago who I have not spoken to for a while this morning, 7 hour time difference so my breakfast time and in the small hours of the morning there. We suddenly realized that we had been talking for over an hour and half, and that it was now 4am Chicago time, so finished off the conversation. You always know that despite the time in between, such friendships just pick up from the moment from where you left off, just as if it was yesterday.

So I wonder if I am going to hear anything this week? To be perfectly honest I have just pushed the entire idea completely to one side now, we shall see.

Moving on but at the same time keeping connected.

25thApril 2018

Where has all this negativity come from? I can see that because of all the things that are going on all around me that my personal level has dropped down considerably so much so that I sent off an email this morning. Lukas replied really fast and we are going to talk by phone tomorrow. It will be 7 weeks exactly since my appointment on the 1stMay! I asked myself after a really weird dream, why this was happening? Normally it is very simple for me and there are countless ways to do this, keep my energy at a steady level, but I think the ‘unknown’ was to blame. Not knowing when and if a date is going to happen. I allowed myself to be literally ‘pulled down’ why I don’t know? Just too much going on and my concentration being distracted (interrupted) by this and that all the time. So after the chat tomorrow when there may be more clarity and the status quo restored, going to do some things which do not involve me typing words on my laptop, but something more grounded, like the garden, filling the pots with flowers, doing something creative and I have a nice idea in my mind, having visited the Spring Fair last Saturday in Kats. It is time for a real ‘time out’, cleanse out the frustration of waiting and do something completely different for a change. Celebrate the King’s Birthday on the 27thwhere there will be a lot more going on that usual everywhere.

11thMay 2018

Well you know how I keep saying that everything happens for a reason. Well it does. Today is the 11thMay and I have finally received a notification about the date: 22 May 2018. My goodness it does not get better than this for number combinations: seriously.

2018 is an 11-year, (just add the numbers and because this creates a double digit number we do not change it from there), now I have the 22 to add to it and then by adding the two 11 and 22 we get 33. So a triangle combination of three master numbers. The triangle represents the three-sided shape in sacred geometry, the building blocks of the universe itself.

New Moon in Taurus, 15thMay, which always opens a moment for a new energy. Another one of my numbers, which always comes up is a 9, and guess what I have to arrive at the hospital at 9am. So even though this has been a very long wait and has caused me frustration, in the end, as I know all too well, everything, literally everything happens for a good reason. The date of 22ndMay just moves into Gemini, the sign of the twins, creating another mirror or double combination. The sign for Gemini is like a mirror, each sign reflected. Taurus is an earth sign, very grounding and good for two people with fire signs.

Gemini is also the third sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of stars under the same name. Gemini is represented by the sign of the twins, Castor and Pollux (stars), one mortal, one immortal. They were granted a share of immortality after the death of the mortal brother Castor. The element is Air, which fans the flames of the Fire. Ruled by planet Mercury.

The moon on the 22ndMay is exactly at the high way mark between the new and full moon and exactly 50% visible, the half.

Also a friend told me that there is a reference to the 22ndMay in one of my most favourite books: ‘The Book of Love’ by Kathleen McGowan. It is the story of Mathilda of Toscane and the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. Mathilda was born on 22ndMay, as well as Sara Tamar (the last daughter of Jesus and Mary) and Fatima from Portugal.

See what I mean when everything suddenly has so many reasons and why the wait was necessary?

So the countdown begins, 11thMay to 22ndMay, 11 days ………..

22ndMay 2018 (06.00 am)

A very early start this morning as the morning traffic can be horrendous and there is nothing worse than arriving either at the last moment, or late.

Feeling very calm, just as if I am personally holding one of the last pieces of the puzzle. Lukas probably has one too.

New beginnings, a new moment and finally feeling fit and well again with a heart beating in a steady normal rythmn.

 

To be continued ….. in part 2

 

 

Photos: Private collection Jill Kramer ©

© Dr L R C Dekker, Catharina Hospital, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

THE BLUE HOUSE (a new idea)

So many of you have reacted to the first two chapters of the Blue House that I am going to try something new. You may have noticed that there is a plugin to a creative platform called UHMI and they have advised me that it might be a completely new idea to release the full book in sections of two chapters at a time. There are 40 in total, so there will be 20 sections. The first two chapters have been published for free. UHMI is a platform where you can either pay or donate for creative content. So if I release the book in this way, it will be possible to pay to read via the UHMI plugin (its a small blue triangle on my page. But what would be a fair price? The book is currently retailing at Euro 19,99.

After taking advice I have decided to release each section (two chapters at a time) for a payment of Euro 0,50. The whole idea behind UHMI is micro credit and many people. In this way, to read the entire book will only cost Euro 10.00.

So how can you pay UHMI. At the moment, you can pay by IDEAL. This is for Europe and linked to European banks. By the end of the week UHMI are hoping that all credit cards will be accepted through this same payment module. There are no transfer charges for you as the reader and by signing into UHMI via the plugin, you can upload money into your own personal wallet and pay as you read on. There is also no time limit. This book will become available all the time once I have split it into sections and uploaded. I am working on this right now.

I think that a lot of you who have been so incredibly positive about this book and the first two chapters may now feel that you can read on without all the rigmarole of purchasing the book, awaiting its arrival and high postal charges.

What do you think, who is keen to do this? I always like new ideas and if this is the way to get my book all across the globe then I am more than happy to oblige. Bear with me please, I need to now split and upload and I want to do this properly and not rush.

Watch this space, once the work is done, I will let you know. I hope that this will inspire many of you to read on about the adventures Grace and Matthew get up to in their life together.

Jill Kramer 7th May 2018

WITHOUT A TRACE

 

 

Without a trace may seem a funny title for my latest blog, but it is inspired by a programme we have here on TV. It is a programme called ‘Spoorloos’ (so literal translation is: Without a Trace). In this programme, which has been going for years now, the presenter tries to find missing family members for people.

The thing that strikes me the most about this, is that more than 90% of the people who make requests are adopted children. Often from countries far away, like South America and such like. Despite the fact that they left the country as babies and were adopted by Dutch parents, there is a certain moment in their lives that there is an enormous desire to go back to their roots. Even though they have had a wonderful childhood here and grown up with loving parents in a country which is basically economically sound, they long to know more about their background, where they came from and more important why their mother or father gave them away for adoption.

The programme it a real tearjerker every week, such sad stories about mothers finding themselves in impossible situations for numerous reasons, who have no other choice than to give their babies away. The thought itself I find very difficult. Being a mother myself and having brought two babies into this world I would hated to have to give my baby away and never even see it in some cases.

Now we all agree (I hope) that the stigma about being unmarried and pregnant has changed dramatically over the years, but a lot has to do with either religion or economic situations. In other words people were just too poor to feed another mouth or too ashamed for religious reasons and the agencies that handled adoptions were only pleased to take the newborns into their care and then when suitable parents in spé were found, pass the baby on. Often small babies merely a few weeks old, left their roots and travelled half across the world, to their new families and homes.

Now don’t get me wrong I make no judgement at all. Living in Europe and the economic climates here is totally different than say, for example in poorer countries in South and Central America or Asia.

The thing that strikes me the most in these programmes is that despite the fact that the adopted children actually grow up here in The Netherlands (or other European counties) and have a good life, an education and the possibility to go into adulthood with not only a roof over their head, but the prospect of a good job. But at a certain moment, there is a craving to know more.

It must be hard actually for the adoptive parents who were so enthralled to have a baby, when perhaps they could not have one themselves, or maybe just from the goodness of their heart, they welcomed such adoptive babies and small children, to actually give them a better start in life. I always feel a bit sorry for these parents when they are confronted with the fact that the child they have looked after for many many years, suddenly wants nothing more than to find out about where they came from and who their biological parents actually were and more importantly the big question: how could their parent(s) have given them away?

I don’t know a lot about the rules and regulations for adoption to be honest but I know they are very strict and it takes absolutely ages for everything to be put in place and a decision made if you are deemed to be a fit parent or not. Strange actually that any other normal person can make the choice to get pregnant and have a child, whatever the circumstances.

It is amazing to see how the presenter of this programme manages to trace the families. Sometimes in the most remote areas, in the middle of mountainous regions, or in other words either in big busy cities or in the back of beyond. But they manage it somehow; despite the fact that these days there is such a fuss about our rights on privacy and often it is hard to convince people why they are actually searching for someone in the first place. Often it is not allowed to film such moments, for instance visiting an official record office, which is understandable.

Then when they find the person in question, mother, father, perhaps even siblings who remained with the biological parents, the thing that is similar in each and every case is that mothers have had their hearts broken having to give up their babies and are over the moon when they find out that their baby, maybe 20 years later or so, is desperate to find them. This is when the real tearjerker stuff starts!

The pain and suffering the mother or father have been through giving up their child, not knowing where they are, how they are doing, or even what they look like many years later. It must be awful to just not know. How happy and emotional and often completely overwhelmed they become when the presenter tells them that their son or daughter wants to meet them and shows them a photo. The gratitude is amazing. Finally all the questions they have been asking themselves for many years are answered.

When the actual meet up takes place, it is incredibly emotional as you can imagine. Often despite language barriers, mother and child are reunited and that is all that matters. All is well and peace returns. It is a hard wrench when the child leaves again and goes back to the adoptive family and more often than not, that there is just not a possibility to remain there. Of course they can visit and with current social media (Skype, facetime and such like) they can keep in contact. I just wonder how the adoptive parents feel at this moment? Are they glad or do they feel disappointed deep down in their hearts, feeling that they have done their utmost to give this child a new start in life and then it comes down to the crux that the child longs for contact with the biological parents.

I know that becoming a parent is one of the biggest things that happens in your life, it certainly was in my case and I would have never been able to give away my child whatever the reason. Again no judgement from my side as I live, as I said, in Europe in good economic climes and things have changed so much over the years anyway.

The reason that I was inspired to write this blog, was not only watching the programme yesterday evening but also the fact that whatever happens in your lifetime, you always remain connected to your roots.

I have to agree on this score having been born in the UK and moved to The Netherlands more than 44 years ago, but I still feel that my roots are really on England’s ‘green and pleasant land’. Don’t ask my why, because I don’t know and I really cannot give a reason, but when I go back and that is not often these days, there is just some inexplicable connection that always makes me feel that I have come home.

Often when I write stories, blogs or columns, I talk about places I know well in England and then my memory is reminded of the fact that this is where my roots lie. Strange when you think I have lived longer in The Netherlands than I actually did in England.

I know that people who emigrate all over the world and believe me the Dutch go everywhere but the one thing they all have in common is that they always miss their homeland.

For those of you who are reading this blog and find yourself in a similar situation, an adoptive child, or someone who has left the land of your birth, it might be nice to try and strike up a discussion with one another. I notice that some of you are asking for this in the feedback and my conclusion is that this subject is so huge; the programme on the Dutch TV is just the tip of the iceberg. One thing that is also interesting is that siblings are delighted when they find out that they have other siblings elsewhere. These connections are extremely strong. They have longed for it all their life whatever the age.

So is the conclusion to this blog that you always remain attached to your roots whatever the circumstances?

 

Look forward to receiving your comments in the feed!

 

Image copyright Wikimedia Commons (Google Images)

 

 

A VERY STRANGE WEEK …

Today is Wednesday, the sort of half way moment of this week. Weather is just wonderful, early spring, warm sunshine and beautiful. It is amazing how the bare winter bushes, trees and twigs have suddenly burst into leaf. Everything is filled with fresh green growth. This is my favourite time of the year.

Last week I published a blog written in 2016 and I went to my friend’s funeral. Well, I can only say it was very tasteful, exactly how he would have wanted it. A celebration of his life, some tears but laughter too. I met 4 of my old colleagues who I have not seen for more than 30 years and it was wonderful to share old memories and laugh about some of the things that happened all those years ago.
I came away with the feeling if Hans had been there he would have loved it all.
And when they say to me that I have not changed at all over the years, yes, the greatest compliment imaginable.

My working week started very positively, lots of news, good things and just like my horoscope said in the newspaper, projects that I have been working on for quite some time will suddenly come into fruition. There will be more about this in future blogs.

I decided to spend less time behind my laptop and get out into the spring sunshine and went cycling. It is amazing to see what a difference a day can make with flowers and bulbs, which were just green leaves out of the ground and now carpets of colour appearing everywhere.

Yesterday I received a message from a friend of mine that accidently he had deleted his entire website and content and was basically completely offline until everything is put right. Yes, shit happens and it is a moment to remember I think always to have everything backed on either files in Dropbox or on a separate USB stick. I know I am quite lax about this myself. Some of you have been asking me this question, so it is good to re-address it.

His theme for this week was a hologram from several years ago: Ultimate Return. What does this mean exactly? What is an ultimate return? Ultimate Return is all about becoming the authentic you once more. Before birth even. If you like shedding all the ‘spam’ in your system, which you have picked up along the way and coming back to the real you.

I actually have a print of this hologram hanging on my bedroom wall. It was from a workshop I did years ago with him.

It is so easy in this fast moving life we live in at this moment, to literally pick up a lot of energy, which really does not belong to us. Just like spam, cookies and such like on a computer.

So at that moment he said to me, ‘what do you choose, love or fear?’ If you go into the feeling of fear then you allow so much negative energy to enter into your own system. Of course it is incredibly frustrating when something like this happens, but in the end and perhaps some weeks later you will receive the confirmation that it happened for a real reason and in retrospect you will be glad. You may not have that feeling right now, as frustration (and fear) have taken over but if you can move yourself into a feeling of love and contentment, then you know, always and every time, things happen for a reason.

Perhaps after the winter months; after all we had snow in Holland only a few weeks ago, this week is a moment to just let everything glide to one side and enjoy the simple things in life. Enjoy how nature is literally changing in front of your eyes. All in the space of a simple 24 hours. Back to the basic feeling of no matter what is going on everywhere in the world, nature is purely following its cycle. As if it is reminding us, it is time to release all the things we suppose are important and remind ourselves how much beauty is literally unfolding before our very eyes.

How many people reading this blog would love to clear their own system of spam and unwanted cookies? Well you can! Make a choice for yourself. Push everything to one side and get yourself out into nature. It does not matter where you live, what season you are actually in, nature is a constant cycle.

 

Have your lunch if you are working in a park nearby. Don’t sit and eat behind your desk, get up, move and get outside. Believe me you will feel so much better for it. Even if you work in a big busy city, there are always places of peace and tranquillity.

There is also a lot happening astrologically at the moment because the biggest planet of all, Saturn has gone retrograde (this means going backwards). Saturn is all about slowing down time, making space to literally think about your plans. Being patient. Instead of plunging head first into a particular project, take the time to analyse, think and decide. Also Chiron, the ruler of deep karmic patterns has moved from Pisces (the last sign in the zodiac) into Aries (the first sign). Chiron was in Pisces since 2010 (8 years ago) giving us time to heal on a spiritual level. Now in Aries this is all about healing on a personal level, the ultimate return to the authentic you. We will re-discover ourselves; heal ourselves, our courage, confidence and identity. Chiron stays in Aries until 2027 so don’t rush; there is plenty of time. We were all working on healing old wounds, previous lifetimes, physical and emotional pain whilst Chiron was in Pisces. Healing to rediscover your authentic self.

Isn’t it lovely when so many things happen that everything all comes together? Despite the fact that maybe in the first instance we are not sure why, but when we dig a bit deeper, the answers all appear.

So close off your social media! Get outdoors. Enjoy the simple things. Take your time, don’t rush, time is an illusion we have all created. See the beauty all around, literally unfolding right in front of you.

Images: Photos from Jill Kramer

THE SUBTLETY OF LANGUAGES

YESTERDAY I RECEIVED THE VERY SAD NEWS THAT MY FORMER FRIEND AND BOSS, HANS W. RAVEN HAS PASSED AWAY AT THE AGE OF 88! IN HIS MEMORY I AM RE-PUBLISHING A BLOG I WROTE WAY BACK IN 2016, THE LAST TIME WE WERE IN CONTACT. MANY REGRETS ABOUT NOT MEETING UP AGAIN AND NOW IT IS TOO LATE! STRANGELY ENOUGH I DREAMT ABOUT HIM ON SUNDAY NIGHT, THE ACTUAL DAY HE PASSED OVER. PERHAPS HE WAS SAYING GOODBYE?

There have been a number of events this week, which have inspired me to write a blog about the subtlety of language. I have been on a trip down memory lane.

As many of you know I was born in the UK so English is my so-called ‘mother tongue’. However in 1977 I was transferred by the company I was working for to the Head Office in Delft, The Netherlands. Thinking at the time and at the age of only 22 that this would be quite an adventure and something to do for a couple of years. Travelling and visiting other countries has been a passion since I was little. I used to collect travel magazines when I was young and cut out the pictures, then paste them into scrapbooks, thinking at the time: one day I will visit these places.

So in the summer I arrived here, quite young and innocent (that did not last for long!) and was suddenly confronted with a language, which I really knew nothing about whatsoever. The Netherlands is a very small country in Europe so as you can imagine there are not a huge amount of people worldwide who actually speak Dutch, but for some or other reason, not only are the Dutch excellent at other languages, which they have to learn for the reason just mentioned, but they get everywhere across the globe, so there are people speaking Dutch in more countries than you can imagine.

I hadn’t been here very long before I used to go every Monday afternoon (as stipulated by my employers) to learn Dutch, as I just had to be able to communicate with people, as one of the things I actually had to do in my job was answer the phone every now and again!! I remember that first afternoon so well, a small group of 10 people none of which has the same nationality, all there for one purpose, to learn Dutch. Our teacher the lovely Mrs. Mulder only spoke Dutch as she told us that was the only language we were going to not only learn, but also communicate with one another over the next few months, when attending classes.

My goodness what fun it was and what a group. Personally I could chat to one or two of them, I was fluent in French (having been to Paris so many times as a teenager because my father lived there) and a smattering of Italian and Spanish. But we were a close group, not only during the lessons, but would often meet socially as well.

My boss, Hans Raven was the Director of the Pharmaceutical Division of Gist-brocades and passionate about languages and I owe him so much for the help he gave me. He would patiently explain the different vowel sounds and write ‘tricky words’ on post it notes which I taped to the lid of my IBM Golf Ball (remember those?) typewriter. This was long before Word Perfect, Word Processing and computers and I would also type out things in double spaced drafts for him to correct before actually doing the real correspondence.

And bit-by-bit I learnt more and more. Our little group got better and better on those Monday afternoons and after lessons we would cross the road to the local café and continue on a more social score.

I recall it was around Christmas time that year that I began to actually feel confident about attempting to speak. Of course I had my English accent, still have that. I sat in a room with other girls, most of whom were jealous of me and quite bitchy, but there was one, Anneke Flikkema, a really shy girl from Friesland (which is one of the counties here in the north of the country) who helped me the most. Her dialect had several similarities with English or I should say Scottish and bit-by-bit she gave me confidence to be more daring. Eventually I moved into my own office as I became more proficient, the idea being to put me in a room with other Dutch girls to learn the language faster. Well she was the only one who made any effort on that score!

When our mixed group did our first lot of exams in the summer of 1978 we all passed with top grades and this stimulated us all to carry on to the next level. Eventually nearly three years later, there were no more ‘Dutch for Foreigners’ classes to attend, we had done the lot and all passed with flying colors. We all said farewell to Mrs. Mulder who retired and decided to go on with yet another level; Dutch Basic Knowledge and found ourselves that autumn in a class of only Dutch people. I recall the teacher a man was absolutely horrid, we disliked him intensely, and he laughed at us from the first moment for being so stupid to even attempt such a class. But this stimulated us all to go to heights we never thought we could reach. He set the bar really high and actually inspired us all. I am grateful for that, and luckily he was able to admit his amazement that we all passed with top 10’ s (yes all 10 of us, and this would be the equivalent of English Grade A’s).

At Gist-brocades where I worked until my daughter was born in 1988, my boss had such a ‘wicked’ sense of humor and he would teach me things in Dutch which I in all innocence would repeat making people laugh until they cried about what I had said. Luckily I have a sense of humor too and I could laugh about it and I virtually had my own front-page article in every edition of the company newspaper headed with expressions I had said to someone each week. I was well known in the company or more than 3000 people in Delft alone, not to mention the entire companies across the world (the same as the one I originally started my working career in England all those years ago) who contributed to the same group.

Words were already my passion having written, as you all know, since school days, and now I had another language to not only add to my belt but also to explore and I got better and better. Now, almost 40 years later and doing something entirely different now, apart from the everlasting passion for words, hence this blog, I look back with fondness on all those who helped me become fluent in Dutch.

So here we are in January 2016 and this week I have been reminded again about the subtleties in languages. Your mother tongue is always there and always will be but you have added more to your collection.

I spend the majority of my days working with words, either writing books blogs or actually translating words from Dutch to English. Over the years it has also become second nature to flip from one language to the next, but I admit openly and truthfully that I can always express myself the best in my own language, even though I have others in my portfolio.

At the moment I am learning more Italian, a lilting language that I just adore, love to speak because it sounds like singing and this is my other little on-going project at the moment. I did some very basic stuff in 2014 and surprised myself that once you step over that boundary of actually daring to speak how rewarding this is not only because you respect those you actually talk too, and often your hands, face and eyes help you along the way when you can’t find the actual word you are looking for, but it is just fun and I love it.

I also have great conversations some days over an afternoon cup of tea with one of my neighbors, a retired policeman about the Dutch language. Recently I have taken up doing the Dutch crosswords in the national newspaper and as I pass the newspaper onto him after I have read it he usually finishes the clues that either my husband or I have left unfinished. We talk a lot about the nuances between the languages and as he is an avid football fan, we inevitably talk about the famous Louis van Gaal the Dutch football trainer for Manchester United Football Club who actually lives in the UK and the absolutely hilarious and the sometimes rude mistakes he makes in the English language, when he tries to literally translate word for work instead of listening and thinking, about what pours out of his mouth. He has taken English to a new level and both of us sympathize with the British that they have him in their country and what a disgrace he actually is and how we can imagine that the fans will be glad when they get rid of him because he is actually no good as a trainer either!!

I have two hilarious books in my cupboard which are written by a man called Maarten Rijkers, a former Director at the Dutch beer company Heineken of phrases collected during his working life (he has retired now) of things he colleagues said in English. It is so funny and titled “I ALWAYS GET MY SIN” which is such a dreadful mistake in English when trying to say the Dutch words “ik krijg altijd mijn zin”. It may look the same and even sounds similar but we all know that ‘sin’ in English means something entirely different from actually saying ‘I always get my way’. I really recommend them if you feel confident and fluent enough to read them and they make me laugh out loud every time. I actually bought and send them to my former boss, Hans Raven for his birthday one year, because knowing him so well after all those years and his incredible sense of humor that he would enjoy them too. He did!

So language is such a huge and inspiring subject, I see it a lot in the work I do translating as well. Often sometime the hardest things to translate once you have obtained the realization that you cannot literally translate (and no Google translator and auto correct you really CANNOT) are phrases we often call proverbs in English. Sometimes they come up in texts I am looking at and working on and each and every time I have to rack deep down into my brains with the thought, how do we actually say that in English?

The one that comes to mind most of all over the years is a Dutch phrase about the so-called “doofpot” literally translated as ‘deaf pot’. I have to admit that many years ago I did actually just leave these words in inverted comma’s in a text just because I did not know how we said this in English. Eventually the penny drops when you suddenly hear the phrase at the least expected moment. In English we say that often subject that we all know about but don’t talk about is ‘swept under the carpet’ and this is what they Dutch mean when they talk about things they all know but don’t talk about. They shove it all in the so-called Deaf Pot.

That is how a passion for words begins simple phrases and playing around with these words in languages and how huge the differences can actually be and how in all innocence you can either write or say in another language. You mean well, but often you can get it totally wrong or actually be offensive (like our friend Louis).

I think I am very privileged that my ‘work’ is my passion. I am happy to play and work with words, I started when I could first write and when we moved house three years ago, I found some of my very first school books when I would write stories on Monday mornings at primary school that would have my teacher laughing and telling my parents when they came to the meetings at school about the things I wrote that had happened in our lives. Some would be true, others would be fantasy, and I loved to write about goodies and baddies, witches and fairies and such like. I remember too that my mother was really embarrassed one time when I wrote about the rats behind the coalbunkers in our garden, and how the man from the council had to come and put out poison. About how we had had ‘sosigis’ (sausages) for tea at my gran’s house!

 

But coming back to the way in which I started this blog about the subtlety of languages it always remains such a huge learning curve, ongoing and ever increasing. The best language you know, speak and write is your mother tongue. I admit that I can write the same in Dutch, and a little bit in other languages but each and every one of my sentences will not be absolutely perfect in another language even though I may have lived here longer than I actually did in the UK. I will always ‘anglesize’ my words and get sometimes the order of the words wrong every now and again. In English we always put the verb in a sentence in the middle, in Dutch is usually at the end.

And don’t get me going about numbers! I still have problems to this day. In English we say for example twenty-one but in Dutch ‘one and twenty’. We say half past three in English referring to the proper time (sorry readers we did not ask them to make GMT – Greenwich Mean Time in London of all places) but here in Dutch we say half four or in other words it is half an hour before 4. Imagine how confusing that is and how many times I have either been too late or too early for appointments. Hilarious if you think about it and how many phone numbers I write down backwards if people don’t say the numbers one by one. I still count in my own language even now.

I hope that this blog has made you smile and think about how subtle the difference in how words can actually be between one language and the next and I am going to finish with one of dear Louis’s best ever-English total rubbish phrases.

“If you not listen to what I said, death to the gladiols, my words are different cook”.

Work on what the hell he is talking about here!!!!!

 

Jill Kramer 2016

FLIRTING ON THE NET

I am dedicating this blog to a very dear friend of mine who was courageous to share this story with me!

In these times we are so connected with one another all across the globe in a web of social network. You rarely come across anyone who is not on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Whatsapp, Facetime and all the rest. It is considered to be quite ‘unsocial’ if you are not on the net and not sharing your entire life with everyone. It is true some people are so incredibly addicted to social media that they spend the majority of their time watching what is happening on their own time lines. Every day they post up about the weather, what they are doing, where they are thinking of going on holiday, their emotions, their families, you name it we share it! All notifications are switched on, they don’t want to miss a thing!

We also like or comment on all the posts of our friends, it is a wonder really that we have any time to do anything else. We are all in groups of ‘friends’, ‘professionals’ and ‘like-minded’ people. Virtually everyone has a smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer and with the speed of today’s wifi, we are literally seconds away from being in touch with one another.

Often because we place ourselves in ever increasing circles of friends, we get messages from people who we do not know personally. The best rule of thumb is if you don’t know them in that way: then do not accept or enter into any kind of exchange. But we are curious people by nature of course and we see that several people we know are also in their group, so often we accept such a request without even a second thought.

Then all of a sudden there is a message, which usually begins in a very simple way: ‘Hello’. More often than not we will reply in the same way and so a conversation is underway. Then often follows a question: ‘How do we know one another?’

This conversation increases in size because it literally becomes a chat online about them and you. They can say, ‘oh I was browsing the net looking for someone and I came across your details and I think I perhaps know you from your work?’ Such an easy innocent pitfall, which you plunge into.

Then you rack your brain, it is so feasible, that it could be the truth. Then they suggest, shall we talk further on something like Google Hangouts? To be perfectly honest even though I think I am up to speed on everything on my computer and smartphone I had never heard of Google Hangouts. Apparently it is a free way to chat with friends, through your email, either by writing, video or by phone. And all for free. What could be better than that?

The conversation now becomes a little more intimate. Questions are asked back and forth and answers given. You discover you have a lot of things in common. You may even be chatting in a different language than you normally use, but it is all ‘fun’ and seems ‘innocent’ and gradually you begin to feel you are really forming a friendship with this person (male or female).

They ask you to send a photo, you do of course because by this time, so much information has been shared … you get a photo back and of course it is a really handsome man or beautiful woman. Always is.

An innocent message has now become a ‘full-blown chat’ in which all sorts of topics are discussed. You make arrangements to be online to continue at a certain time and in the end you are looking forward to those moments. It feels as if you have met a person who understands you completely, thinks it is absolute destiny that your paths have crossed. They like the same things you do. Any subject it does not matter. What you don’t realize is that they have completely combed your social media already and know what you favourite colour is, which flower you like the most, if you prefer red or white wine, because yes guess what, these are all the innocent things we share with one another on any social network. How many people reading this can say that they have never posted a photo of themselves, sitting somewhere enjoying a drink. Yes right, all of you have done it sometimes and even tagged the people who are in the photo with you. No matter where you are. No matter what the subject matter is.

We are all guilty as charged, myself included.

At the moment when you begin to feel really comfortable with this person, who seems to be, by this time, the most perfect person completely in tune with you, then the rot begins.

By this time, you have said when your birthday is, and they have said theirs too, so then they ask questions like: ‘what would you like most of all for your birthday or vice versa and of course you reply, because it is all such fun and seems so innocent.

They tell you what they would like and then … such an innocent question isn’t it? Would you buy that for me? It is bound to be something expensive for sure!

Eventually, just like the person who shared this story with me, you are completely caught up like a innocent fly in their sticky web and you have shared so much about yourself and they have to. You feel too comfortable, as if they have become a real friend even though you have never met them in person.

They innocently avoid, with numerous excuses, why they cannot talk to you directly online, the best one being is that their mobile phone is old, they need to upgrade their subscription, the camera on their laptop doesn’t seem to work and of course they are so incredibly busy in their top line job (because they all have wonderful jobs with huge incomes) and have no time to go and do something about it. No sorry they say, never heard of Whatsapp or Facetime, they supposedly cannot download that on their phone. Despite promises to get modernized and get a good one, this never ever happens. They fob you off with numerous reasons why not.

The first seed of doubt is now sown in your mind. But you are hooked and chatter on with them. You really want to believe that they think you are special, the nicest person they have ever met, a few romantic words flash by in the middle of the conversations and your ego is flattered. Don’t think that this will never happen to you, because it could and many have gone before you in similar situations.

Your family, friends and acquaintances begin to remark how happy you are, how good you look at the moment, because believe me flattery is the best thing ever to pep-up your self-esteem.

Life is good; everything seems to be going really right for you. If you are unattached, you are seriously thinking about making arrangements to meet one another. The chat is almost now comparable to a sort of dating site. You actually have feelings for this person; despite the fact that ‘rational you’ tells you that you have never even met. You don’t care really. This person understands you and talks to you in exactly the way you want to hear. It is almost like a form of brainwashing. And even if you are reading these words and thinking: how stupid, this would never happen to me, believe me every single one of you becomes vulnerable in such situations.

Then the bomb is dropped. All of a sudden they say they cannot chat tomorrow, they have something unexpected. The range of excuses is huge: an operation, a business trip (because in the meantime they have convinced you that their job is marvellous) a family member has died and they have to go to a funeral. The list is endless.

You actually miss them, but a few days later, they are back and on you chat once more. Then they tell you a really terrible sob story and ask you if you can help them financially? Of course they will reimburse you but things are a bit tight and again an excuse can be one from simple to completely over the top. This is the moment when you seriously should stop and ask yourself, is this for real? The majority of us would say that at that moment we are sensible, but there are others who have been so drawn into the story, they believe it and actually are willing to help. It is incredibly sad that people are so cruel and can go to such lengths to gain such control over people.

But it is true and at the end of the day, you may or may not succumb. If you send them money then you can be absolutely sure that there will be something else and more and more excuses. Yes they want to meet you; can you send them the money so that they can travel to where you live. Believe me this really happens, I know of several people who have fallen into this trap. A complete sham and they have been taken in totally.

However, the painful side to this story is that people really become damaged. They have fallen for all the crap they have been told, because none of it is really true. The photos have all been taken off Google images, the person who chats to you is not the person you think they are and probably do not even live in the country they say they do. But it hurts you and is painful, when you come to that realization and you do, because at some stage they will become indignant with you when you don’t fulfil their requests. Terrible stories like, they need an operation immediately, and their health is at stake and will often sign off in a chat when you say: tomorrow at 11 hrs, ‘well I hope I am still alive’! They play totally on your sympathy, that you sign off and then worry for hours on end if they are actually OK.

It is all nonsense! That is what you have to tell yourself and be strict with yourself. It is good to confide in someone you trust and tell them your story, just like my friend did with me. It was when I said, come on this is all too good to be true and cliché’s like that, they suddenly opened their eyes and realized that their soul has been ‘hacked’ by some really evil person. An evil person who made them feel good. Offered them all the things they felt they were missing in their own lives, a listening ear, which understood them better than anyone else on this entire planet!

But it is all rubbish! It is all geared to make you become vulnerable and to stop you thinking sensibly. They pray on some of your weaker points. When someone says you are the most beautiful/handsome person they have ever seen, we all feel good. Be honest, all of us!

As I said, a web has been woven and you are stuck inside it. But be strong and have the courage to talk to your closest friend(s) about it. Tell someone what is going on and allow them to give you a hand, to help you get out of it. They are your real friend(s). Your heart knows you can trust them and they will make no judgement at all. Just offer you that hand, that listening ear and help you to regain yourself.

Then the next step is delete everything. Really everything! Report them to the social media. After all the fuss this past week with things like Facebook and some other hacker gaining everyone’s passwords. Be ruthless, report, delete and never open the account again. That is the only way.

Change your passwords. Funnily enough this was a trending topic on the national news yesterday evening and people are far too sloppy with their passwords. Often software (Apple) offers you a secure wallet to save your passwords, but remember to change the password to the wallet regularly too. These hackers are brilliant but ruthless.

A tip is to make a password a sentence. A simple sentence that means something to you. Perhaps you have a favourite book, saying or such like and add capitals and spaces. Far too many people use family names, dates of births and such like.

My friend is shaken, but fine. They did not send any money of course. Had the courage to tell and ask for help from the people they trust and I have huge respect for that. I made absolutely no judgement whatsoever. Remarks like: ‘how could you have been so stupid?’ is like rubbing salt into a bleeding wound. Don’t do it. Be compassionate. Understand. That is what a true friend is for isn’t it?