Extreme weather

29 06 2011



Yesterday, my psychological and emotional state resembled the weather in the Netherlands. The weather forecast had predicted unstable weather. The royal meteorological instituted had even had released an extreme weather alert. The forecast revealed to be rather accurate. At the end of the day, we had heavy rain, strong wind gusts and some serious thunder and lightning. Somehow, it felt good the weather agreed with me; it was time to release some tension.


I started my day rather absentmindedly, I somehow was unable to land in the now. At eleven in the morning, I finally had the clarity of mind to stop doing and listen to my body. It felt heavy, like the weather. I felt like crying and sleeping. So I went upstairs to sleep. In the middle of my sleep I was woken by a ringing telephone. I answered. It was my husband. He had two simple requests. My brain short circuited. It seemed I was unable to process requests with more than one variable.  Even one variable would have been challenging. After that I cried. I cried and could not stop. I cried because was stressed, frustrated and I felt guilty. Guilty for not being able to take some load of his shoulders. Guilty for not being able to be the wife I want to be. Guilty for being stressed over nothing, essentially.


I twittered about it. That was not easy, because I know from experience that most people only see a drama queen, having a pity party, fussing over nothing. But yesterday, there also were people who understood what was happening, who could relate to what I was saying. That meant the world to me. There was a sense of recognition, of connection. It was priceless. One lovely lady called it a ‘discharge’. And that landed me in the now. Because that’s exactly what it was. A discharge of tension that had built up for days. My easily stimulated brain was overstimulated and needed to discharge to get equalized again.


As the day progressed, with one drama after another, some small, some really ugly (I sweared like a fishwife at the idiot who through uncareful driving, almost hit my girl and her friend while they crossed the street using a pedestrian crossing), I turned my mind around. I was doing my best. Only today, my best was different than my best on any other given day. And that’s okay. I am not proud that I snapped at my daughter, but I am proud at the moments I did not snap. Proud that on a day with almost zero tolerance for stress, I was capable of caring and compassion. Proud I was able to put my daughter’s safety and emotional needs first (most of the time). Proud I was able to turn my guilt into pride. Proud I twittered about my discharge like other people twittered about the weather.


photo by Ronny Beliën

There are no accidents

24 06 2011



Last week, on Twitter, I replied that “@ieniemienie *does not believe in chance* #therearenoaccidents.”  Unintentionally, I hit a very tender spot with a mom who lost her son through an accident. In this blog I’ll try to put into words what can not be said in 140 characters.


I don’t believe in accidents. I don’t believe in predestination either. So what do I believe then? Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that which makes most sense to me, on all levels, is the concept of ‘concurrence’. In Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary, concurrence is described as ‘a situation in which two or more things happen at the same time.’


Have you ever watched ‘Aircrash Investigation’? This TV show, aired on the National Geographic Channel, examines plane crashes and near-crashes. Each episode is a recount of a (near-)crash and how it happened. It is a detailed investigation into what went wrong. Interestingly, it almost never is one thing that went terribly wrong. Usually, the crash is a concurrence of choices, a lot of seemingly small and everyday choices from a lot of different people that come together in a catastrophic plane accident.


We make choices, every day, all day. Most choices are automatic, because they’re habitual. But our choices, however small and insignificant, almost always affect other people. I guess the most famous example is the radius of a smile. My choice to smile is essentially nothing else than the choice to put my lips in a certain position. Yet, the consequences can be far-reaching. By putting my lips in the smile position, I change my physiology. What was but a pose, becomes a feeling. When I smile at other people, they reciprocate, an automated psychological process, and  in turn their physiology changes, making it very likely they will adress the next person they meet in a better mood, maybe even smiling. I believe all of our choices can be as far reaching as that smile. Our choices, however insignificant they may seem at the time can have enormous consequences, good and bad.


I believe every choice has an underlying intention or motivation which eventually determines the outcome. Our intentions can be rooted in fear or in love. Fear (the ultimate fear being ‘not being good enough’) creates painful experiences, while love creates constructively. In an episode of  Air Crash Investigation, there usually is a mechanic, somewhere down the line, who, because of lack of time, chose to do a small checkup when he actually needed to do a full checkup and not told anyone, thus missing a potentially catastrophic problem, or a mechanic who did a full checkup found a small problem, chose not to repair it at the time and forgot to mention it in the checkup plan, leaving the next mechanics who according to schedule only needed to do a small checkup unaware of the growing problem. I’m not pointing my finger at those mechanics. Their mistakes, however catastrophic, were human. I could have made them. Yet, I’m sure their intentions were rooted in fear. Fear of not being ready in time, fear of not being good enough, fear of losing a job, fear of – you name it. I know for sure that a healthy sense of self, a love for repairing planes, a genuine love for people, and the sense of meaning that comes from this combination would have led to different choices, creating a different outcome.


I don’t believe in accidents. I do believe in a concurrence of choices. And I believe the dominant intention of our choices determines the outcome. As a consequence, I believe life is about clarifying our intentions, and learning to make choices that are rooted in love. I believe that if we do just that, tomorrow will be a better day.




For Ragna

14 06 2011



People say social media are shallow, that online friends are not real friends. I say social media are as shallow or deep as its users, social media are nothing more than a mirror of what we are willing to give and receive. Social media have added to my life; I have met people that I would not have met otherwise. People on the other side of the world, but also people closer to home. People that enrich my life in ways I could not have imagined. Sweet and caring people, authentic people who are willing to show their true faces, their real lives. I am blessed to have met them.


One of these people is the beautiful Ragna. Although I have never met her in real life, she is as real to me as real can be. She’s a feisty lady with cutting edge humour, she’s compassionate and caring, she is sweet and an overall good person. And I love her. It feels strange to say that about someone I have known only for a few months, someone I have never met in real life, but what else could be this feeling that has invaded my heart, the warmth I feel when I see her picture, the joy when we exchange information, the pride for her accomplisments, the tears when she’s hurting, the need to comfort her and hug her, the anticipation to meet her again the next day, this nauseating feeling when I think of the possibility that that could very well not be the case.


Ragna and I intend to meet in real life. Sometime, soon. I can’t wait. I close my eyes and imagine giving her a warm hug. Feels so good, more real than I could have ever imagined.  We just talk, we laugh and we cry, like we do online, only more intense. I hope I get the chance to meet her, I really do. Just once would be great. Meeting her more than once would be a dream come true. It would mean all went well. The neurologist repaired the blood coil that posed a risk to her health, he was amazed at how smooth the surgeries went, and he is confident her recovery will amaze us all. Tomorrow, he’ll operate on her for the first time to see what the situation is. After that, when everything goes all right, he’ll operate again to repair whatever needs to be repaired.


It will not be easy, but I intend not to worry. Instead, I’m going to imagine Ragna and I walking past rows and rows of blooming peonies at the nursery nearby. Laughing, making fun and choosing our mutual number one, trying not to spend too much money on peonies we have no clue where to plant and not too eat too much of the delicious pie the lady of the nursery bakes herself. It may be a dream, but I’d rather dream a gorgeous dream than worry the day away. Will you please join me and let the wonderful energy of your dreams be the wind in the sails of this lovely captain who is courageously steering her ship by starlight.


Want to know more about Ragna? Look at her Ted x Maastricht video This is your captain speaking and be amazed by her spirit.







Building bridges

8 06 2011






When things are bothering us, big things, small things, people often advice us to let go. But we usually have no clue how to do that. And mostly, we feel that it is impossible to let go or even that we don’t want to let go. I’m no buddhist monk, but in 10 years of actively letting go, I have learned one or two things about this proces that I really would like to share with you.  So, ‘letting go’ what does that mean?

We all have pains, big pains, small pains. And we all suffer. Yet pain and suffering are not the same. Pain is a physical experience, suffering is a story we tell ourselves about our pain. Letting go primarily is a proces in which we work on acknowledging that our story is a story we tell ourselves, and that our view only is a small part of a greater picture. Letting go is a proces in which we softly allow ourselves to see that greater picture, a proces in which we soften our resistance to the whole picture. It is about accepting that things may be different than we believe them to be, that there are many things we cannot know for sure and then choosing the story that does justice to all we are and / or to all involved. Letting go is like a building a bridge. A bridge between the story we tell ourselves that is hurting us and the story that may be equally true, but would give us peace instead.

Read the rest of this entry »