Thursday, 29 December 2016

Trust or disillusionment, hope or despair

" Did you watch tv last night? That programme about how unsafe internet is. I think it was called " big brother is watching you - not sure, but that was the message. Quite scary really."

I was having lunch with a friend recently. We were at a lovely little cafe, busy but relaxed. Nice atmosphere, safe, trendy and welcoming. Somehow, the urgency in which our neighbours at the opposite table were conversing, didn't quite fit the scene. This is where I come to relax and enjoy some time out. And for some reason because of the contents of their conversation, tension had gathered around them and I could feel the anxiety that the young woman exuded. I wasn't going to let it spoil my lunch but did let my thoughts run riot.

My companion also caught the tail end of the conversation, looked at me and said, " oh yes DID you watch it too? It was quite revealing. Glad I am not caught up in all that stuff. No digital anything for me thank you." I mentioned to her that she used Whatsapp, Skype and FaceTime not to mention Google for email. I left her to think that through- and get the feeling she may go through life 'phoneless'! I detected a feeling of DISAPPOINTMENT settling on her. Life is full of uncertainties and insecurities is her final analyses. This reality wiped her good mood away and doom and gloom showed on her face. Our conversation lost its happy and bubbly content. No matter what I said- her mood had shifted to a PONDER! Hence my BLOG content.

Who do we TRUST - or more to the point Who CAN we trust?

Is BIG BROTHER interested in my Internet lifestyle then;
Are my emails interesting reading material?
Do my phone calls make enjoyable eavesdropping?
Are the sites I visit interesting? Who cares whether I like cooking?
Do I get more readers on my BLOG?
Do the number of connections I have on FB make me the envy of those who have less contacts?
Although my bank has a safety net and offers protection - do I need to worry who sees how much ( or rather how little) I have in my bank account?

And then on the ' real life' side of things. Not on internet but in the here and now. In our countries. The events of the past months have highlighted many twists and turns of people in leadership positions. Promises made - promises broken. Yesses turned into Noes and dreams into nightmares. Positives thoughts crushed into negative realities. Who can we TRUST if not those enTRUSTed with the leadership over our countries. In decision making positions of which we are all dependent. Taxes, safety, work and income, relationships with other nationalities ( formal and informal) trade agreements, global and closer to home. All ingredients for a secure and safe existence.

The thing is - deceit and unreliability are fast gaining momentum. Now is the time to turn the tide. The solution lies within our own grasp. All change must come from ones' self. If I want to create a trustworthy situation- then I must start with myself. The more TRUST I show and portray- the more people will regain that feeling. Every step is one on the road to recovery.

I took inward look and realised that there have been moments that I didn't fulfill my own promises to others. Not on a daily basis but it has happened. Not through ill will but circumstances- but none the less- I have appeared and become untrustworthy in some situations and I so regret that.

Recently a BLOG friend asked - what word would you choose to focus on in 2017 so that at the end of the year you might feel that you made a difference? I have chosen -

TRUSTWORTHINESS

It is my intention to be more aware of the pitfalls of broken promises. Of unfulfilled commitments.
I want people to regain their faith in me - that when I say YES or NO that I follow up on that promise. That I can once again look myself and others in the eye and say, " you can rely on me - you can TRUST me.

In doing so I hope that others too find the courage and energy to do the same.

We need TRUST, HOPE and the total COMMITMENT from ourselves and those around us - to make this world a better place to live in, enjoy and tend. For it is our responsibility - each and everyone of us, to live up to that which we ourselves hold dear: TRUST in EACH OTHER. We can always find fault with others and overlook our own failings...

Let us all work together to restore that which is ( almost) lost to us. Before it is too late.


Which word would you choose to honour the coming year?

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Reflection

My last blog post was some time ago. There were a number of circumstances why this happened. One technical and a few personal.

The technical aspect has finally been resolved causing me more confidence to actually start up my computer en enjoying the use thereof. Nothing more demotivating ( well one of the 'things' anyway) than trying to use a computer and it not 'wanting' to co-operate in any way of form. Add memory, sort out files and rid one's self of 100's of unnecessary photos and hey presto! More memory, more workspace and no hassles using Office or any of the other increasingly larger growing programmes due to the updates.

The other stuff, well we all have our moments of euphoria as well as dips in our lives I am sure. My mind was preoccupied with stuff that clouded my naturally positive demeanor. I became insecure, unsettled and lacked the confidence I am usually so blessed with to complete some of the tasks at hand.

Funny how 'we' tend to gloss over the down side of our existence. Most of the messages on Social Media are about "happy moments'. Well generally speaking that is. About the party, the friends, the outings, the new job, lover, baby. That the sun shines elsewhere and life is flourishing. I am not talking about those who spend time downing everyone and everything. Those who continue to attack, denigrate and insult others. Obviously for lack of morals, other things to keep them occupied and/or attention they seek, be it negative or positive.

When do you start your day by writing on your page, "Not looking forward to today. A difficult morning at work and feeling the lead drop into my shoes. Maybe I will stay home and ring in sick!" Instead it is, " Slept well - hoping your day goes well too, lovely sunshine today."

What if we were a bit more honest? You see, there are times when it appears I am the only one who has lost the car keys ( because I admit to it), burned the potatoes ( because I admit to doing that) and slept badly ( because I tell someone about my sleepless night). That my administration is a nightmare waiting to be solved, that I forgot to post the birthday cards on time, that my bank account is lower than I would like and I really can't afford to go out with my friends for dinner but DO because I don't want their pity or judgement.

I hardly hear about stuff like that. So I feel inadequate when the sun doesn't shine on my day. Where or what have I done wrong? Am I really the only one with a 'bad hair day?" Well no, don't worry, I am not depressed, I just wanted to use this as a shake up to see if we really are prepared to be honest, to not gloss over stuff and share our worries and concerns. Because at times life is tough. Sometimes that smiley facade just isn't thick enough to stop te hurt, find the solutions or help us through the night. That is one of those moments when we need a friend, when we are allowed to admit to not coping, not managing, not enjoying - some of what life throws at us.

No, I am not advocating filling social media with sad personal messages- but I would like to rattle the doorbell to say, " Call on your friends when the going gets tough. You don't have to gloss over the ripply bits. And if you gauge your friends good enough you will know who to call for whatever ails you. Admitting a struggle isn't weak- ignoring it is. In a time of political uncertainty, job losses galore and unstable financial times, lack of trust in those in positions of 'power and leadership' we need each other more than ever.

Be a friend, be trustworthy, be open, be human. But most importantly- CARE!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Sunset and what went before.

Today is the 30th November 2016. As the hours fade, the 1ste of December quickly approaches as does the end of 2016.

I don't know what sort of year you've had, but mine was very unsettled, full, enjoyable. messy, uncoordinated at the best of times and also rich in blessings and memorable events.

For some reason I seem to have organised times and totally 'free wheeling' times when a routine is as far away as the moon. This affects my writing process as well as my drive to be consistent - even though the thoughts, feelings and urge to write are there. Somehow I just don't push myself enough to 'get things done'. Not chaos in my life but also no structure. And I guess I am not alone. The unsettling events that occasionally rear their heads and cause ripples in my being have played havoc with me these past months.

As our days shorten ( northern hemisphere) and the nights lengthen I look back with a nostalgic glance at all that has been- and look with glad anticipation to what is to come.

It would be foolhardy and naive of me to think there will be no bumps in the road and I am always aware that everyone has their burden of sadness, joy or sorrow. My humble opinion is, that it is how we 'carry' ourselves during these times, which shapes our lives and strengthens our ability to cope. When I look around me at those less fortunate than I - I see courageous, strong and positively inclined individuals conquering their sadness and adversity and soldiering on. Being not content with their lot, but grateful whilst they re-initiate their energy and commitment to carry on.

As I stated, it has been a year of ups and downs, of struggles and conquests, of dreams and disappointments- and for all that I am grateful.

The sun is setting on 2016 and I am enjoying the view. Slowly the skies are turning red, darkish and purple. The moon is taking it's task over from the sun, the stars are raring to sparkle in the frosty sky and I am in the privileged position to be able to take it all in and revel in the beauty of all that is happening around me. I feel and know that I am, blessed.

No, I am not going to wish you a good 2017 yet..there is time and space for more things to come.

Live for today, cherish yesterday and be eager for what tomorrow will bring.




Wednesday, 14 September 2016

How I shape my world- and how you can help to reshape yours!

It doesn't take the brain of a rocket scientist to understand that there are many issues being faced in today's world, that give cause for concern, sadness, unrest and insecurity.

One only has to read the paper, watch the news, go online and at every turn the 'news' reveals another sad tale of pain, destruction and hardships.

There are ways of 'dealing' with this daily overload of information, mostly negative rather than positive, and I am trying to alter my way of looking at these events in the attempt to better 'handle' the effects it has been having on me of late.

You see, I was becoming more and more concerned and slightly pessimistic about the world my grandchildren are growing up in. The youngest being only 3. I felt a sadness and gloom taking hold. The 'what-ifs' danced in my brain and the doom scenarios paraded it's film in my mind's eye as I struggled to get to sleep at night.

Did it help? NO!
Did things change? Of course not! 
Was I well rested in the mornings? Not on your nelly!

So why did I allow myself to slide down this tunnel of mire and sludge? What difference had I made by allowing my downward spiral of defeatism to take charge of my mind, my daily activities, plans hopes and dreams for a happier, better and safer world?

You see, in my optimistic self I have always known, it isn't up to 'others' to change the world in which I live, but for me to do my utmost to be the best tenant I can be. Somewhere in this fast changing society I had lost sight of, let my grip loosen and failed to act so as to be the person I need to be to change my own space. In doing that I know for a fact I will be able to cause my own ripples in life's pond with every intention of bringing about positive acts of kindness, of smiles on faces,  happier moments and more positivity not only in my life but in that of those I love and whose lives I touch.

Somewhere somehow, the balance between expecting things to go well, and bringing about good deeds and shared responsibility needs to be reinstated in me, in us, as a people. We are all in this together.

I do not believe in coincidences but believe things happen for a reason. And just 10 minutes ago I read this article online: Woman looking for her hero! And it put a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart. I cannot explain more clearly how my/our world can be a safer and more enjoyable place, that the events in this article can.

My dad's and for many years also my motto to strive to live by;

To Live justly
To love tenderly
and to walk humbly with my God.
(Micah 6:8)

Smile, YOU are worth it. 
Laugh and the world will laugh WITH you.
Share your joy and help someone
- see the light at the end of their dark tunnel!



Tuesday, 6 September 2016

In gratitude

The 28th of September 1982. What a special day that was.

My husband, two children and I became the proud parents and siblings of our youngest child.

On the 6th of September, just 3 weeks prior, was his birthdate!

After soul searching his birth-mum decided she wanted him brought up in a family situation... and we were the chosen ones for the task, the privilege, the honour.

Within 24 hours our family altered in shape and form. How blessed and happy we all were- and to this day are!

Then the reality stepped in. My thoughts went out to the young mum who had made this enormously unselfish decision. Our joy was her sorrow.

Lots and lots has happened over the years. Birth parents have connected with 'our' son and the grandchildren are inundated with many grandparents. We share the love, so to speak.

The 28th of September is also a special date I hold dear. In my heart I thank the young woman who made this possible - her sacrifice which became our joy!

The 6th of September has always been the BIRTHDAY moment supreme and so it will be again.

It is a time of celebration, of joy of remembering.

Happy birthday son. I love you to pieces and always will.



Monday, 5 September 2016

Ready to face the challenge.

Each morning as I awake and catch the first sparkle of the day, I am thankful. My nights have become more restful of late as I seem to have regained my recipe for a good night's sleep. Don't ask what secret formula I use as it is a combination of tricks and challenges- but somehow, whatever it is- it works for me.

A while ago- 10 weeks ago to be exact, 2 friends and I started on a 'we are going to get fit and loose those excess pounds' challenge. ( see blog on the subject) Well, CHALLENGE being the operative word! Slowly, painstakingly slowly the ounces are slowly disappearing. We knew it wasn't going to be 'a piece of cake' but that it would be this CHALLENGING- no! But I take heart in that I am not alone in my quest- and that the improvements are a reward for keeping on keeping on. Seeing the salad season slowly drawing to a close, the CHALLENGE will continue as the stews and roasts re-emerge from the kitchen.

Lots of events, unplanned and pre organised, have kept me occupied these past few months. It is time to get a grip on my time, my week and my diary. The summer holidays are drawing to a close as schools have all re-opened the doors. Office staff are mostly all present again and 'life' in general is re-assuming it's recognisable shape. Work, play, rest and other activities are order of the day once again. It is called structure- for many something to hold dear and cherish- for others a stifling and limiting experience.

A few years ago I left my teaching job and attempted to make a success in a private venture. It didn't work out as I had hoped, dreamt or planned. I have been very hard on myself- downing my entrepreneur skills and failure to succeed. That has taken it's toll on me as a person. Negative energy was a result. Feeling a failure although I knew I had given it my best shot. I have a few loose ends to tie up and get the paperwork done so the book can be closed on the subject- so once those last steps have been taken I will be ready to move on.

There is a seasonal change in the air. Both outside as well as in. I am looking forward to the CHALLENGE to get a grip on my life as it now is taking shape. I still enjoy those things which kept me occupied- baking, photography, nature etc. It is now time to give them a bit more space in my life- to regain my drive and enthusiasm I once held so dear. It will be, just like the weight thing, something that will take time to show results - but every step I take is one to a better and more satisfying and healthier life. Of that I am certain.

This year I had elected a theme word - Tevredenheid = Contentment/Satisfaction ( I find the dutch word more descriptive of what I want to say but the two english translations will combined - suffice). I am excited and enthusiastic as to the CHALLENGES that may lay ahead.

Life- in all it's beauty, every season bringing with it the joy and discovery of something new. The colours, the diversity, the opportunities and the enjoyment of the moment.

As I wave the summer goodbye I look forward to a colourful Autumn.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Reach out for peace

I wrote this yesterday - the day before the tragedy in NICE France.

Oh people - PLEASE - pray for peace, for sanity, for deliverance, for calm, for acceptance, for the pain and sorrow in the hearts of those grieving.

PLEASE, PLEASE - let the terror stop and the LOVE flourish!



After my recent post I was aware of messages from many thinking along my line of thought.

We want PEACE in this world of ours

More and more people are realising that an "eye for an eye" hasn't brought the desired results.

Guns only kill people - they don't bring about peace or security. Only fear.

I saw this picture and it captivates my sentiments. LOVE makes good things happen.

Hate destroys everything in it's wake.

Anyway, that's all for now.

Have a safe wekend everyone and enjoy whatever comes your way.




Tuesday, 12 July 2016

With mixed emotions

With mixed emotions I commence my day. The world population struggling with so many issues I just feel a bit, not confused but well, ' out of sorts' one could say.

Leaders who have lost sight of why they are in the position they are in- a prerogative to serve their people - and not for self gratification. The trigger happy American community ( guns and America have always 'gone together' ) The racial and ethnic conflicts that rage in too many countries to even list them all. The inability for humans to tolerate and accept one and other in all their diversity and uniqueness - gives me the odd moments of despair. I fear for what other 'eruptions' of unrest that might rear it's ugly head - which adds to the uncertainty and safety of this planet and it's inhabitants. Including that of my my grandchildren - who represent the future.

Because you see, I did choose for a family. I did have the privilege of bringing up 3 children to adulthood. They in turn have chosen to do the same. Not thinking that the world we then lived in - even with some of the above but certainly in less acute state than we now experience - looks headed for heavier conflicts, possible war or worse it's own destruction. Because what I see are situations that have lost all control. Speeding down a steep incline and not
having the ability to curb itself.

Am I alone is this feeling of helplessness? I wonder. As a child I learned that charity (=love and acceptance) starts at home. Love and respect for parents and siblings and extended family. This caused a 'natural' spread to those maybe not family but certainly close in friendship. And so the ripple spread.

WHAT HAPPENED to disturb that ripple effect??? is a question I ask myself almost daily.

What ever happened to the saying; " Love makes the world go round?" I still believe that this is TRUE.

The 3 main ingredients/rules in life for humanity to hold dear
FAITH

HOPE 
                                  LOVE 


and the greatest of these is LOVE

Lying, cheating, fighting, hatred and envy - kills all sense of joy, love and promise of the good things that this life here on earth holds in store for us.

Sow that seed of love - in your children. Let them know that difference isn't something to ward of but to embrace, learn from and most certainly accept. As each one of us is unique. Every molecule, every hair on our heads, freckle on our face, colour of our eyes and skin - it makes this world a treasure trove. We NEED diversity.

Spreading love- begins at home - as it always did. And I know the world has always had it's moments of despair and history of losing it's way- but maybe it is time we stand still and acknowledge that it is time to call a halt to al the hatred and persecution in today's world.

PLANT THAT SEED: Containing the atoms of love, joy, satisfaction, contentment, caring, sharing, acceptance and all those elements that will help drag away this dark mire which pivots above our heads waiting to emerge us into a world without laughter, peace and joy.

Now I could start by saying: Turn to God! But some of you aren't 'into' religion or God- and I have heard many say ' why doesn't God stop all this then if GOD is so good?" Well people, God isn't going to fix something WE created. We need to take responsibility for the mess we have gotten ourselves into. Help is there for those who ask for it. I know I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't accepted God's assistance for my sorrows in the past. But that's my belief - and you are welcome to join me - but it must be something you seek of your own free will.

Let's all start somewhere- by extending a hand in friendship. By visiting someone lonely, by accepting our new neighbours and extend a warm welcome, by showing your children how to be a good neighbour, do an unselfish act by helping those in need, by picking up the litter in your street- not because YOU put it there but because it ought not to BE there. Be humble - not subservient - but HUMBLE. It is easy to help someone you like or know- be daring and reach out to someone who NEEDS your help - someone you would normally avoid or cross the road for to avoid them.

I know- it starts at home LOVE! Let's all START at HOME and let the message spread out the door and into the street.


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Trying to get a grip on a healthier me!

No, I am not on a health freak trip. No I am not fanatically racing off to the gym every day and NO I am not suffering from any eating disorder. I am approaching the mid 60-ties and notice that my body and my health are not quite lined up.

I am overweight. Not by more than 10 kg but then - 10 kg is 10 kg too much.

So that means I need to get a grip om myself before things get out of hand. "It slowly creeps up on you". I have heard that said often and really do understand. Yes, I have 'caused' this excess to settle around my waist and YES I am responsible - but it still did just slowly creep up on me and I have decided that SOMETHING needed to be done to avoid a further slide 'up' the scales so to speak.


And I am not alone in my plight. Many many women ( and men but let them tell their own story) who have passed their menopause notice changes to their body that for some are cause for distress. Some just can't seem to get the pounds on - and others just have to look at a piece of apple pie and gain weight. Our shape also seems to change even though some of our weight stays the same. each body reacts differently to this 'stage' we are going through.

My sleeping pattern is also out of balance. From the 7-9 hours recommended I manage half or slightly more. That appears to also have an effect on ones body weight.

And I am going to grab this 'stage' and do something about changing course. But not alone- as that hasn't worked till now. Two friends have joined me. We are our own little 'groupies' and stand tall and strong. Supporting one and other without prejudice or envy. As we each have different 'problems' and our levels of weight excess are varied.

Plan of attack:


  • Believe we/I can do this.
  • Vow solidarity without judgement
  • Be honest especially to yourself
  • Don't crash diet - starving isn't dieting
  • Be realistic- one step at a time
  • Take your time - every day is one step closer to our goal
  • Exercise - just step this up gradually
  • Celebrate each day - every day is a gift
  • Time plan - 12 months
  • Invest in yourself - you are worth it
Once a month we get together- and weigh in either at home or together ( personal option)
Keep diary - in provided exercise book. The highs and lows and if preferred the daily intake- it reduces when you realise what you are eating and when ( believe me)
Goal set - 1 kg per month off - it arrived slowly, so let it go to stay away. Crash dieting only causes a ping pong effect.
Deposit €2,00 every Monday morning into piggy bank - for a special 'girlie day' at the end of the 12 months.
Reward:  Girlie day= a treat like a facial, make over, buy a new dress or whatever and yes, a yummy lunch would be nice.

I started this adventure at a time when we had 5 dinners out in one week- and a weekend away to be followed by a birthday visit.

Before leaving, and after 2 dinners, I weighed myself- and when I came home - I was sooooo proud. I stayed the same weight. So it can be done. Believe me I had a lovely time, ate my 3 course meals and enjoyed hotel breakfasts - I just didn't go for all the extras. So silly at my age to be so actively immersed in this 'programme of own design'. But it feels good and I am going to stay focussed. 

Looking forward to July 2017 and my meeting with the scales and mirror image.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Snippets of thoughts- for a better world

I don't know whether you have ever experienced this - but some days I have 'snippets' of thoughts that don't necessarily belong together. At least not at first glance.

For instance I just had this mini silent conversation with myself about how peaceful everything looks outside, and how surreal that is because in so many countries war or other insecurities are order of the day. This to be followed by; I wonder what she will be wearing to the party next Friday? Only to drift off into a space in which I recollected my youngest son's 5th birthday 28 years ago. As closing thought I realised that the afternoon is fastly fading into early evening and my 'day tasks' are not yet fulfilled.

Call me muddled - call me mixed up - I just wonder how it is that the thoughts can be so diverse, so 'not connected' and still be so meaningful to me at the same time?

Now I am not a ditherer, or unsure of myself. I just have the odd days where my mind goes wondering on a track all of it's own. It does take me to places I enjoy to visit- like my son's 5th birthday. And I guess this isn't even very interesting to most people- but as the other 'wondering thoughts' proceeded to pass me by- I guess I just had a moment to stop and reflect- that our minds wonder at will - and go their own way and will continue to do so unless we 'bridle them in' or send them where we would prefer them to go.

Is it not the outer stimuli we get from all those interesting things around us that make our minds wander? I have tracked my thoughts and found that;


  • the view from my window is so tranquil - I would like that everyone had this privilege that I have to enjoy such beauty, safety and peacefulness.
  • the invitation to the party was open on my desk
  • and one party thought led to another- with my grandson's birthday around the corner.
  • - the clock that quietly minds my business - is on my screen and the list of to-do's left of me.

So really, I am not wandering off at all. I am being led by my environment.

Which leads me to conclude- that in the case of our young people- who appear to the outside world to not have their thoughts channeled where they ought to be - schoolwork, homework, tasks at hand or other 'important stuff' have the same distractions and mind jogging possibilities too. We just need to look at with what they surround themselves with - to know what's on their minds.

And this, my dear reader, also shows that if we surround our youth with positive examples and inspirational people to look at ( not up to but AT), then we may yet lead those youngsters to the better world we all aspire to live in.

These are my ramblings for today. Guess I will be back with more later.

Have a great week.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

North meets South: The sights

Nederland may be a small country - but heck we pack a lot in small places.


I had to make some sort of plan so that we didn't waste any of our precious time - Friday to Friday. And to think- those Fridays were the arrival and departure days. So a level head, logical thinking and good planning was essential for Annette, my husband and I to get the most out of our time together- including 'down time' because there is nothing more frustrating that to just be on the go all the time and not have time to let 'stuff' land.

The first couple of days were close to home- and truly special. The weather behaved and we had a GREAT week in that respect. Kinderdijk, Hollands Biesbosch, Dordrecht and our balcony. Monday morning we left for Belt Schutsloot- in the middle of Nederland - in a National Park and close to Giethoorn, also known as the Dutch Venice.

We had booked a cabin and spent time with friends who were stationed at the camping ground there. Our trip took us partly along a mayor highway - a coffee stop at the Lepelaar on the A6. Then on through the polder - Flevoland. In preparation hubby had explained to Annette about the development of this the 12the province created so as to provide more land in this small country. We made a slight detour to a place called SHOKLAND - which illustrated the changes made here due to 'man's' intervention.

When we arrived at the camping ground- the weather was so beautiful we were 'forced' to take advantage of a boating moment. Bottle of wine, some beer, snacks and yes also water on board. A bit of slip slap slop ( = sunblock for the uninitiated) and we were on our watery way!

As if we had had anything to do with the weather, water, space and time - all went so smoothly and well planned that it was shaping up to be a memorable day.

A BBQ dinner and a few drinkies to close the day - we toddled off to bed as happy little sand boys and girls. The next day - was Giethoorn day. A slow start- we breakfasted at a leisurely pace, coffeed and then packed up the cabin. Our hosts accompanied us - or rather we accompanied them - to Giethoorn.

We parted company and drove as tourists back home- calling in to Elburg and Buren ( where we had dinner- thank you Annette) and arrived home with a load of memories for safe keeping.
Time for a break- we had seen so much and didn't want to over do the 'tourist' trips. Home and there we stayed with the odd moment we went into town, on the bus and lots of time on the balcony- just chinwagging at breakfast and beyond.

Before we knew it- time was up. A full on week, wonderful moments and lots and lots and lots of laughs. My early morning breakfasts on the balcony- alone- won't be the same again. But I relish in the memories and am grateful for what was an unforgettable time when SOUTH came NORTH and we met on MY home turf. 

Thank you Annette for this life time memory. Travel safe and till we meet again!



Monday, 13 June 2016

North meets South: The Arrival

We diverted from the dark blue route
 - to through the GREEN AREA!
As I mentioned, my friend Annette was coming to visit from Down Under in New Zealand. I was so thrilled to be able to show her around on 'my' turf! Give her an insight into my life here.

Yes well, what can I say. Time flew and I really didn't grab the chance to write as that meant moments to catch forty winks or that special 'together moment' would have slipped through my fingers.

What a week it has been. I also have to admit that I needed a couple of days to catch my breath and regain some energy. Thing is both Annette and I aren't 35 anymore- but 63! And that is a fact.

Friday the 3rd June Annette flew into Schiphol Airport- a few minutes past the allocated time due to air traffic - and it was a wonderful moment of reunion. Although tired, Annette was keen to catch a glimpse of the dutch countryside - which she had once visited way back in '83.

Yep, that's close enough.
Looking good.
I selected a route that would also help reduce some of the speed in which she flew here- a slow, quiet route through the middle of what we call ' Het Groene Hart'. We stopped at a 'looks nothing like a dutch joint' hotel along the A2 called Hotel van de Valk, Breukelen for a coffee - hot chocolate for Annette and some down time. Here Annette started to feel 'grounded' and that she had actually arrived dawned gently. Her first Windmill photo moment happened right here and there were more to come.

Our destination was Dordrecht- and we lazily made our way - assisted by the Tomtom which was set to 'avoid highways'. ( Breukelen- Woerden- IJsselstein, along the Lek River, to Schoonhoven and ferry across then down at Groot-Ammers, along the numerous windmills and farms... to Dordrecht via te N3) Beautiful and green. Annette had come from the wintery chills of Auckland and this new fresh look came as a surprise- she hadn't thought that far ahead ( season wise).


One vivid memory Annette had from her previous visit was - patat met. So yes, we divulged... and it tasted WONDERFUL.

As I have some experience ( to put it mildy) with finding one's feet after such a long trip, is that you shouldn't go to bed too early. Around 9:30 pm I 'allowed' Annette to retire. Knowing she would have a reasonable chance of a good sleep.

Having a wee afternoon catnap to
make it to dinner and beyond!
My hubby hadn't travelled far- but took his moment anyway!

Sunday, 29 May 2016

The planning - the waiting - the impending arrival

About 8 or 9 months ago I received a message from my dear friend Annette; " Anita, how would it be if I came for a wee visit!?"

Annette and I go back a wee way. We are friends for life and I miss her dreadfully. We live worlds apart - She in New Zealand and me, in Nederland. Well actually we don't really live worlds apart but countries - because our lives are still intertwined due to our past, present and future. And distance doesn't come into it as far as 'feeling close' is concerned.

The modern media opportunities are multiple and we make use of those at will. And now after months of planning and preparing - the arrival date is just around the corner.

I am frantically 'cleaning cupboards' as one does when guests are due. Not that my house is a disaster area- but well, I want this visit to be AWESOME and IMPRESSIVE and WOW and FUN and RELAXED and INSPIRING.

And yes, I want to 'show off' my new home, my friends - we have a Meet 'n Greet arranged, pretty sights to see and room for laughter, sleep and wine. Lots of all of those last 3 by the way!

I have a list of 'to do's' before Annette arrives- just like Annette has a list of to-do's before she leaves. I know time will fly - but you can bet your bottom dollar we will squeeze every ounce out of every minute.

Looking forward to Friday Annette! See you SOON. Travel safe!!!!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Ma, I forgot where I put my keys.

Yesterday I spent some time with my mother in law. 

Our relationship is quite a special one which I treasure. 
My husband's first wife died quite young and her mum is now my mother in law.

At 86 years of age she has had her share of joy and grief. Her husband died before her daughter. So she didn't have his shoulder to lean on or his arms to find her comfort in. Her childhood years were in an era that was so differed to ours - In today's world we discuss emotions and feelings. Talk about our problems and seek help for issues beyond our thinking.

Not in those earlier years. One didn't 'go to a councillor' when the going got tough. And yes, they got tough. Large families, small incomes and even smaller houses. Time together as a family was a precious commodity and treated with the utmost respect. You went to birthdays of your grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. ( I am somewhat generalising here - that goes without saying)! It is difficult to describe a sole existence of any one given situation when one wants to 'paint a picture' without actually having been there. I relate as I perceive the information I receive via stories told.

What I want to portray - is a portret of a strong woman - fabricated that way due to her perception of her world, her experiences and her drive to be independent and not 'burden' others with her tribulations. Her reflections and revelations about her youth and subsequent adult life have been a privilege to be audience to. I have a huge amount of affection and respect for this person who I am allowed to call Ma.


Anyway, I spent time with her yesterday and the subject of 'dementia and forgetfulness' was topic of the day. At one point ( we were doing some late spring cleaning) Ma said- " now why did I want to go upstairs?" She returned to the lounge and said, " do you remember why I wanted to go upstairs?" We looked at each other and laughed. "oh ma," I said, "don't tell me you are becoming forgetful!" Because we both get a bit het up when every time someone ( somewhat of age) forgets something- it is assumed this person is traveling down the road to forgetfulness, to dementia or alzheimer.

Now don't get me wrong- it is a horrible and devastating condition. And I am the last person to say that these illnesses are a laughing matter. THEY ARE AWFULL beyond words.

BUT: What I want to draw attention to - is the almost 'threatening' comment when someone, especially an older person, receives when they openly admit to having forgotten where they left their key, their purse, can't remember the long list of shopping or someone's birthday.

PLEASE; don't say " oh it's your age. Many people go senile, get dementia when they get older!" OR especially when you know the person well or the family background, " Oh forgetfulness it runs in the family. Granddad had alzheimer too!" Yes people these are some of the statements I hear around me.

To forget something DOESNT mean someone is 'losing grip on life and reality'. It simply means that one's head is full of information and it is crowded in the grey matter. Buy stating some of these negatives it is more than possible if not likely, that doubt and anxiety starts to creep in- and every little 'forget moment' is taken out of context and thus making the person insecure and uneasy.

When a child forgets it's lunchbox for school- one doesn't straight away come out with a statement pointing to dementia but tells the child to be more thoughtful. So why suspect an adult of 'losing their marbles?' The more doubts about ones sanity- the more likely the 'forgetful moments' are highlighted.

Anyway, Ma (86) and I (62) laughed each time she or I 'forgot' something and decided we were both as sane and as 'with it' as the next person. She remembered my name and I knew where the keys to the car were.



Monday, 2 May 2016

May- full of surprises and happy events

The month of May- ALREADY??!!

Yes, it is May already.

Birthdays - Events and other stuff

The 5th month of the year - 
and just like a Monday each week - it has arrived so fast- I am dazzled by it.

I don't know whether that is because I am older- wiser or maybe not, are involved with a number of activities - or the days and it's hours seemed to have been curtailed just like the pensions, wages and job opportunities.

May- a birthday bonanza month in our family as well as in my circle of dear friends.  

Now many are remembrance days, like that of my mum. She kicks off the month- 1st May 1923, her birthdate ( she celebrated 87 in all).

Then there is 5th May- on which my sister celebrates her birthday. She is 3 years older than I am. Give or take 2 weeks.

Cousins and aunts fill the gaps. I have something with 'dates' and they stick in my memory - better than people's names or places sadly enough.

On the 17th May my dad's youngest brother and my grandmother- on mum's side- 19th May.

Mine the 21st and my dear friend the 25th ( we share the same year as well as the month.)

My girlfriend in NZ managed to give birth to 2 children, 2 years apart on the same date - 29th May.

The month end with the birthdate of my cousin's youngest daughter.

Events- well that depends on where one resides

Religion: May the month of Mary- a Catholic tradition which I personally hold dear.

In Nederland, my country of birth, we have Remembrance Day/Dodenherdenking on the 4th of May- I hang out the flag- half mast! Taking time to be aware that freedom and peace aren't a natural occurrence everywhere- and realising that many died trying to achieve just that.

On the 5th of May we recall the European ( and then specifically our own) Liberation Day. Dan gaat de vlag ook naar buiten!

Our May school holidays are somewhat unhinged as we celebrate King's day/Koningsdag the 27 April- and connect the May hols due to the other celebrations in May. The weather isn't up to speed- so it has been aa bit chilly in the tents and caravans.

Ascension Thursday/Hemelvaarstdag  falls on the 5th of May this year - due to the early Easter we had - this too is a holiday in Nederland as is: Pentecost/Pinksteren on Monday the 15th May. 

People fill in how they want to 'use' this feast day- which in both cases is linked to the weekend- giving extra freedom to many - not all get that opportunity though. Hospital staff, police officers, ambulance personal, firefighters, hospitality services and shop staff are not all free on these 'public holiday days'.

And for those who do hold this day dear - let's not forget to mention the Mother's Day Sunday- second Sunday in May.

The OTHER STUFF

Vege gardens ( allotments- moestuintjes) are ready to receive the plants that will sustain meals the coming summer months. Spring cleaning that didn't happen in April due to chilly and wet weather conditions are on the hit list. The seasonal clothing inspection - what fits and what doesn't? Holiday plans are consolidated. The dutch ( generally speaking) receive their annual holiday pay end of May- on what to spend is decided on. A new bathroom or maybe a trip to warmer and exotic places. Or the bills that haven't been paid due to whatever reason- are dealt with.
Concert programmes for the summer months get underway as do the ticket sales. Theme parks have their programmes online and booking agents try to sell 'Last Minute packages abroad.

May, the month people shed cobwebs and show their faces to the outside world, When running in the park becomes a must- to fit back into those bikinis, t-shirts and summer jeans. Convertables are spotted driving on highways and by ways - and skeelers and skates are relaxing ways to get about.


I don't know about you- but I LOVE the MONTH of MAY.

It feels ALIVE and refreshing




Sunday, 24 April 2016

Memories and heartache.




Parting is such sweet sorrow: Shakespeare!

It is 400 years ago that Shakespeare died. I just heard that on the news. Wasn't aware of this fact till then. Apparently there are numerous activities planned to commemorate this event. The man and his works live on.

When Freddy Mercury, alias Queen, died the world mourned. When Princess Diana died the world mourned. Michael Jackson, Nelson Mandela...well you get my drift.

To the world these people were heroes, were looked up to. Were considered "special' because they had in their own way ' made a difference' in, for and to our world. Those 'followers' take a moment each year to remember them - their 'heroes'.

Daily, people die. Some close in relationship to ourselves, others anonymous, unknown to us and far removed. Instead of being physically present in our lives - they remain in our memories forever. We can still smile when we recall a shared moment of pleasure- and we can certainly shed tears when the heartache overwhelms us. Grief has so many faces and is timeless.

When my parents died- I felt as if the world had lost heroes- people who had made a difference. I walked around in a daze, feeling numb and bereft. But the whole world didn't mourn along with me - just a small community of people connected to my parents. Many of those I have loved have gone- died through either illness, accident or old age. 

Today is ANZAC day in Australia en New Zealand. A day of remembrance of those who fought in wars - never to return home to those they were protecting.

Many a year I attended these services - and saw the pain and grief on faces now wrinkled and worn. Names are called out, flowers are laid and silences held.

These people deserve a moment of our time - no matter what your thoughts are on war and peace.

I for one will be REMEMBERING them - each 25th April.

Now, back in my country of birth, Nederland, I have included this remembrance date to the 4th of May, when I hang the flag half mast on my home as is the custom here. I don't physically attend the services - but together with my husband we watch the live broadcast on tv.



To give a moment of time - in remembrance to those who have died - is one way to make sure their names and faces live on - famous, brave, unknown and unsung. Our own personal heroes deserve that.

That they may all be remembered and treasured in our hearts.

Monday, 18 April 2016

On this day, back in 1971

On this day, casting my mind back to 1971, I recall becoming an aunt for the first time.

Our family to-ed en fro-ed between Nederland and New Zealand between 1966 and 1971. We arrived back on the 16th of April. I remember that day so well. My sister, married to Lionel and living in New Zealand, was pregnant with their first child.

My mum, youngest brother Paul, only 4 years old and I (almost 18) arrived on their doorstep to stay a few months - while awaiting the arrival of my dad my other brother Lex and our crate with belongings from Nederland. We then would move into our own home. In the meanwhile we were guests in Glendene, staying with my sister and her husband.

The due date of the baby had been the pivotal item in our decision to arrive in separate units- so to speak. My mum was keen to be present and be a help for my sister after the birth of her first child. When my mum had her first 3 children she and dad lived with my (maternal) grandparents and she too had the comfort and assistance of her mum at the times of those births.

18 December 1971 - my very first nephew was born. Not only had i just embarked on a new fase in my life but I had also become an aunt. WOW!!

By being present in the home I was privileged to have had many moments to be able to hold, feed and cuddle this bundle of joy. When my sister needed some time out it was no problem at all to be 'aunty' and fulfill my role as such.

Because of the two special dates - being so close, these 2 events are remembered each year and thought back on with a certain fondness, melancholy and much present JOY!

M J

Happy birthday dearest first nephew. Thank you for my memories. I love you!

Tante Anita


Monday, 11 April 2016

Social Media - how much is too much?

Can you imagine your life without Social Media?

Have you ever counted the hours spent reading messages, replying to them or searching the web for information?

I use Internet every day.

Each morning I have an early morning chat session with a friend. That way I know she's ok- had a good or bad night's sleep and we occasionally exchange our day's plans/planning. It is just like the neighbour who is alert and sees that the curtains next door are open or not! No contact then something is amiss.

I also check for messages from my children- they are up and about while I sleep. My grandchildren- the somewhat older ones have access to Snapchat and send me photos and or messages. Love getting those before I eat my porridge.

I blog - sometimes daily- because I have a number of blogs each with their own theme,  I try to keep my contributions regular and interesting.

And yes, many years ago- I enrolled myself on Facebook. My children thought it a great way to share photos and happenings- and I was asked to join them on this 'new' platform to keep me informed of their activities.

Without realising it- one can spend HOURS online. Chatting, message-ing, sharing your own and peaking into other peoples lives.

I do not only write Blogs, I read them as well.

I do not only have my children as 'friends' on Facebook- but many 'friends' as well.

I do not only 'chat' with one person - but respond to all my friends when they appear on my screen.

I haven't 'timed' my online moments- as I still have time to do my shopping, hang out the washing, do the ironing, cook dinners, bake, wash windows, have girl's nights out, couch sit watching my fav tv programme, read, follow a course and spend time outdoors. I visit friends and relatives, go out for dinner with my husband and have face to face personal conversations with friends and neighbours. And yes, I get my 7-8 hours sleep a night.

With all the comments about spending too much time on Social Media I would like to say - it is all a matter of planning, of schedules and availability. Being sensible- moderating, planning.

Just like healthy eating- make sure you don't 'over eat' by being sensible. There will always be 'over eaters' in either food, Internet usage or other 'too much' categorised activities. Guide the young - influence them by example. Open doors - don't tuck the computers away in dark corners but let it be a communal activity. Laugh at each others funny clips and respect each others privacy. Don't just BE but GET involved. Like watching tv as a family ( which also was something one had to learn and adjust to) so too is being 'online' something you can share.

It was meant to be fun- and it CAN be just that. FUN!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Blogging runs in the family

What a lovely surprise I received this morning.

My eldest granddaughter has started blogging.

How lovely to read her items- so pure and from the heart.

A new way of keeping in touch with her development as a maturing young woman.

It will be wonderful to keep abreast of her interests and impressions.

Hopefully she will continue with this activity for many years to come.

As her blogging 'oma' I hope to see her articles increase in number.

Well done Charlie.


Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Tears that flow

Where will it end?

When will the hatred make way for peace?

My heart bleeds for all those in places tormented by war

I weep for those maimed and killed

It goes beyond my comprehension

The slaughter, the devastation

How many more lives are to be sacrificed

Women, children, men all targets of a cruelty

I cannot begin to describe

While my skies turn blue

and the golden rays of sun touches the earth

Elsewhere dark shadows spread destruction

Thirsting on power and the blood of the innocent

Horror filled days followed by uncertain nights

The world - being seen as a prize to be had

By a force filled with darkness

When will those dark hearts turn to the sun

And allow the glow to fill them with LOVE

Love and respect- is what the world needs

The WORLD - gifted to ALL - in LOVE!


Friday, 25 March 2016

Today is Good Friday! And it is GOOD!!

It is a miserable weather day today. Drizzly, windy, overcast- sombre is a good adjective to use here.

It is Good Friday! For many 'just another day'. For believers - a day of remembrance.

Like Christmas when the birth of Jesus is commemorated - today we christians remember his crucifixion.

Does it affect our day to day 'doings?' Not sure. For me it isn't a day to go out and about shopping or washing my windows. It isn't a 'dark day' either - but I keep myself reasonable relaxed- my thoughts returning regularly to THAT EVENT which gives it's name to today - Good Friday.

Because despite the sad event - it is GOOD NEWS. Hard for the not religious minded to grasp maybe - but for those of us who believe in the resurrection- GREAT NEWS in fact.

Yesterday - Holy Thursday, we re-enact and /or remember the last supper. Being servant to all. That no-one is superior. That there is a servant in all of us regardless of rank or stature.

Today, Good Friday - a remembrance to us humans that we are worth saving. Worth dying for.

Tomorrow- a day of anticipation. Of grief and realising the loss - of someone we love.

Easter- THE event to JUMP for JOY for. Resurrection - a NEW BEGINNING!
A new opportunity to MAKE GOOD!

To make a fresh start. Hope for the future and new life!

Alleluja Alleluja

Alleluja

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Playing the tourist

Holidays abroad, safaris and cruises, international destinations, world discovery holidays!

Half the fun of a holiday is in the planning. The prospect alone is a happy one.

Thing is- those listed above cost the earth, and not everyone has the purse for them.


The other thing is - some people only go FAR to discover the world at large- whilst not actually ever having really seen their own country at it's best.

Don't you wonder why people come to visit your homeland? To see what is is they don't have at home.

The past 4 years my husband and I have been playing Tourist in own country'. Awfully good fun.

The past 2 years a couple (  of VERY GOOD FRIENDS) have joined us. And as a 4-some we criss cross the countryside- taking in all the sights and impressions we lay our eyes on.

And what a lovely sights we see.

Ever done it? No I don't mean that when you travel to a destination - you happen to see what's on the way. But to make the trip the holiday! The hotel is only a place to stay.

First tip: Find a hotel (best deal) in a remote township. Book a night. Don't check out the area till you have booked.
Second tip: Get together with driver and plan route. Village here, side road there- maybe a unsealed one to boot. They are FUN!
Third tip: Make sure there is a coffee + lunch + afternoon tea stop planned. Select the spots ( roughly) weather and traffic congestion set the pace)
Fourth tip: If necessary of tickles your fancy- take a thermos- or two, picknick lunch and some cold refreshments.
Fifth tip: Remember your camera.

No plans yet for autumn, spring of an odd day away... then I say, " Go for it".  Be tourist in your own country en ENJOY!


Thursday, 10 March 2016

Content, satisfied, happy

How I wish I could say I start every day this way.

Well I do often start with a smile and certainly full of energy and 'get up and go'. It is just not always possible to hold onto this feeling. Well, not 'not possible'. Let's say I tend to occasionally let this feeling slip through my fingers.

But recently, I have been challenging myself to 'get a grip' on my day. On the 24 hours ahead. On the events that are planned and unplanned.

We receive the newspaper every day in our letterbox. It is becoming more and more unappealing to spending my precious time reading it. So depressive - so downgrading and morose.

The wee bits of 'good news' do not restore the balance. Good news doesn't sell I am told. Bolderdash I say!  My thoughts that is.( see my opinion)  Good news is like a sun in the sky, like a smile from a friend, a shoulder tap to say 'well done'. Good news is knowing life is a gift, a treasure and a place to 'do well'. Good news is something we can all add to. To make, to create, to share.


How can GOOD NEWS be a BAD thing?

While my daughter, son in law and children stayed - at the end of the day the children ( and adults) had to mention 2 BEST things of the day. It was hard to choose. Because a day has more GOOD moments than one can sum up.

Try it - I suggest - even if you are an up and up happy person - try at the end of the day to restrict your ' Good news' moments to TWO.

It is 10:49 am and I already have a long long list of GOOD stuff so I know it will be hard to choose this evening.

Happy - Blessed - Enjoyable and Satisfying day everyone.

MAKE IT COUNT

if not for yourself- then for those around you!