Friday, 31 March 2017

That little seed called F E A R!

Many many years ago I had this wee book called, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Can't remember the author's name. Maybe I ought to look it up. Feel free to do so if you are interested. Really worth it.

The word alone says it all. F E A R! What is your first reaction to it? How do you cope with F E A R?

Wisdom comes with age is the old saying. I am not sure about ALL wisdom, but I do know I actually 'see' things differently as my age gathers momentum.

When I was a child I was afraid of lightning. Not the thunder although they did go hand in hand- but LIGHTNING- that put the F E A R fair and square into me. An experience in my childhood was the reason for this strong and long held emotion- and truth of it all, I am still not comfortable when lightning strikes. I would hide - anywhere and for as long as it took. Even as an adult raising my children. While they laughed, I trembled.

When I was about 38 years old I needed a hysterectomy. I was all set to ring the hospital to have me taken off the list when the appointment to be admitted presented itself. I was positively scared stiff.
F E A R of the 'what if?' and 'what else will they find?' and the 'aftermath'. It all scared me to bits.

Life has a habit of producing moments of uncertainty, insecurity and unforeseen events that can cause the reaction of F E A R to overwhelm and sometimes paralyse us. But does that help in any way at all? Does it answer the most important questions that we have regarding the 'whatever we are scared about' issue? NO!

It demotivates, undermines and disables our ability to cope with the unexpected, the unwanted and the unknown. F E A R is actually the negative factor, not that 'thing' which we have to deal with.

Recently someone very dear to me underwent a series of operations to remove cancerous tissue and suspect lymph nodes - she had been diagnosed with malignant skin cancer. F E A R crept under my skin, it crawled over my scalp en got into my head. I felt paralysed and shaken. In all honesty, it took a couple of days for me to realise that I had given my control over to that F E A R again.

I spoke to a dear friend about this and she said, "watch out for that seed. If you let it, it will grow into a tree and take root. Don't let
F E A R be the ruler of your thoughts and deeds. You won't be able to think straight or offer the support needed. Your every move will be clouded by F E A R and that isn't a pretty sight." Now I already knew this but I needed someone to remind me - F E A R is the enemy not the unknown, unexpected or unwelcome challenge which life threw at me.

Since I let F E A R go and started thinking rationally again, I regained my rest, slept better and was able to be positive during a trying and uncertain period. The dangers have abated, the future looks a lot better than a few months ago and I have re-learned a lesson which I obviously needed to re-embrace and make mine. F E A R doesn't belong in my thinking or my handling. Assuming the worse isn't helpful nor is thinking that one is helpless in any given situation.

There is ALWAYS a way out, a solution. Be bold and weed out those seeds before they grow into those trees through which you can't see daylight when F E A R takes hold.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Onward and upward- TRUST and no regrets!

" Do you have any regrets? You know, like coming back here ( Nederland) to live?" Well, I was somewhat taken aback by this question. It came out of nowhere, or so it seemed. Apparently not. My friend said she had been thinking about it lately as I am preparing for another trip "Down Under' to see my children, grandchildren en friends. It set her thinking maybe I regretted my return home.

Regrets: Things one wished, in hindsight, one hadn't done.

How can you have regrets? Day to day decisions are made with the insights held at that very point in time. Whether the picture is clear or misty, it is all you have to decide on whether or not to proceed with whatever issue you are dealing with. Be it small, be it large and life changing.

I could instantly answer my friend. NO! Because I did what I did, decided what I decided with all the necessary insights of THAT moment and at that point in time. I do not have a crystal ball. Thankfully.

At the start of this year I selected a word, something I was going to consciously think about and focus on. The word is TRUST. ( Trust blog dec 2016)

Not only do I have a need to be able to TRUST those around me but also I need to be able to TRUST myself.

Our elections have been and gone- and just like in the states, there were plenty of media moments in which we were goaded into thinking no-one ( leaders, politicians) were to be TRUSTED. That terrible things might happen if we didn't show our discord by placing, preferably that is, votes that showed our dissatisfaction, our distrust and our disappointment in the leaders of the past 4 years.

It was, in my opinion, an anti campaign. Without TRUST.

I do not have the insights or qualifications to rule our country. Nor do the thousands that crowded the Social Media pages with their negative statements and curses pointed at those who spent the past 4 years working towards a more stable, financial and safe time.

I need to TRUST that those who do think they have something to offer, DO have those qualities. NOT just for little ol' me, but for the country as a whole. I am not alone in this world. Many are worse off than I am- and yes, I would also like to feel that 'things' like purchasing power, job prospects, good education and health care are at the forefront of those entrusted with the tasks thereof. I need to TRUST that this is why they choose do what they do and I don't.

Looking back is only useful if you learn from the experiences you had on the road just travelled. New insights are a given every day. Don't waste energy on the past- except to learn from it, cherish memories and be grateful.

Today, a new day. To TRUST that what I decide to do today is what is needed to feel successful, satisfied and content.

The past couple of months I have completed a few tasks that have been 'laying in wait' for a long time.

I feel a sense of relief, pride and satisfaction. Do I regret not having done these chores sooner? No, because for whatever the reasons, they were valid, contra productive and disruptive. Now I had a clear run, enjoyed the tasks and am pleased and proud of the results. My 'to-do' list isn't empty, but every tick in the box is a success story!

I TRUST you will have a nice day- I know I aim to!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A wee lighthearted post ( for a change )

Tongue in cheek title don't you think?

The past few posts have been rather weighty. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I do also have lighthearted stuff that occupies my mind and life every now and then 😉 . They help lift the gloom of darker moments.
As it can in circumstances like that!

Take today. I finally completed a task last night that I have had on my 'to do list' for months and months. Somehow time, interruptions and the inability to concentrate barred me to finish the job.
Now, I can breath easily, as IT weighed on my conscience that I let myself and others down. DONE. Tick in the box. 👏
As one does in circumstances like that!

Full energy and enthusiasm I tackled a long awaited necessary kitchen chore. The word alone sounds ominous. CHORE! My oven. In much need of a large dosage of TLC and elbow grease. I have used and used it for many a dish, roast and baking moments. Due to other pressures I have omitted to clean the thing. Haven't even so much as wiped it with a damp cloth. 😜
As one ought in moments like that.

So today, BIG TASK ahead. I have prepared myself well. Promised a reward for a job well done when all is gleaming and sparkling. Thing is, it may take all day- but hey, the feeling of pride and achievement are worth the effort. 😏
As one hopes in situations like that.

The sun is out, the mood is positive, the task awaits.....😊
As I tackle the dreaded smudgery in times like that!

As one choses for moments like that!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The challenges and victories of multi-culturalism

Nederland: The elections are behind us. The people have spoken. Times and situations are very turbulent. Emotions have run high. Over al the 'battle' was clean. No real scandals to speak of. We didn't need them really. Enough 'other stuff' happening.

It hasn't gone unnoticed that here in Nederland, we are struggling with international tensions between countries. Since the huge upsurge of displaced peoples who have fled their home countries due to war, hunger and little prospect of a safe existence and fulfilling future, Europa has become the prime target for migration of those seeking a better future.

I would be the last person to say that leaving a place of war or devastation is not the solution to the problem. I can imagine that for the majority, leaving loved ones, homes, culture and lifestyle behind under these circumstances must be horrific.

People immigrate every day. They seek their good ( or worse) fortune elsewhere. A choice they make for better or worse. But refugees often have no choice. So where so they go? What is the best option?

What does baffle me, is that people don't choose a country where their cultural differences are more in tune with their own. Where religion, language, weather, life style and food are more alike to their own needs, customs and comforts. Instead they brave the dangers and end up in 'holding camps' hoping for better things to come. Most of them being robbed of any dignity, all their money and possessions, hopes and dreams. Reality being:  the grass wasn't as green as they thought it might be. The differences and prospects so adversely challenging then they assumed that the realisation of what they've done adds to the already feeling of being unwanted,  not welcome. How horrible is that.

As a 'new settler' Down Under in the early1960's, our family's priority was to learn the language, attend school, find work, make friends and blend in- keeping our identity but melting into the culture we embraced as being our new 'home'. We succeeded. Yes, we still cooked evening meals 'like home' but also added new flavours and dishes to our meals. No, we didn't wear clogs to school- didn't do that in Nederland either. We did learn to accept jandals. My parents kept their accent, we children didn't.

Today, I am back in the country of my birth. I went to the local supermarket today. It is a Turkish Supermarket- AWESOME. Specialises in Turkish products but also stocks the necessary dutch daily fare. I see vegetables I am unfamiliar with. I can't read all the labels. I am curious about certain recipes. I love the meat department- lots of lamb, NZ lamb even or so I am told. I have the privilege of tasting foods from all over the world. Because others have settled here. I can't understand all the conversations as I walk down the aisle. While shopping here I am in another world. I have couscous, lam cutlets, three bunches of fresh herbs tied with string ( mint, coriander, Turkish parsley), I have chickpeas and Turkish yoghurt and bread, and a cereal as dutch as they come, Brinta.

With my Dutch heritage, my Kiwi influences and my Turkish Supermarket my life is enriched. Now here's hoping that people everywhere will attempt to accept and get to know their neighbours. Learn from their differences and share their knowledge and friendships. If we can start in the kitchen- then maybe we can also learn more about each other on other fronts- learn, accept and allow everyone to be who they are meant to be.

Upon re-reading this before publishing my blog ( which I do to erase typos etc) I can only sum up by drawing this conclusion. Other cultures arrive here looking for a better, safer life and more promising future. Then after a while there are protests and judgements about our western lifestyle, customs, religion and way of life. Why choose a Western country if our values are not approved of? If the west is 'the place to be'. Then live as the western people do - keeping own identity and customs alive at home but become part of the community which was chosen for a better and safer future.

It can work- I know that for a fact - in harmony and showing respect for each other!

Solutions to conflicts and poverty take many forms. 
Helping a country restore the balance 
so people can stay in their own environment is also an option. 
Fleeing isn't always the answer. 
Helping each other is.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Ode to my past - in loving memory!

Dear Carol

How lovely it was to have met you and spent those glorious, carefree days with you on board the f/s Flavia all those years ago. I smile at the memory.

We were young, energetic and as teenagers will be, in for a laugh.

Do you remember Semonelli, Francesco ( always remembered he said that the surname went first) the barman in the Lido lounge. I had my first 'real' adult drink, a Grasshopper. Creme de Menthe I believe.

How we enjoyed swimming and the 'grandeur' of being on board such a luxury liner. Well to us it was. Although we normally used the stairs, occasionally we would choose the lift. But, we were warned, don't get caught in the lift with some of those young, male, handsome Spanish crew members. That was enough to get us giggling.

Although we only had a few days together, we had that proverbial 'klik' that people do when the personalities match. On leaving the boat you vowed to write. And you did. When I arrived in Leeuwarden, Nederland a number of weeks later, two letters and a postcard lay waiting for me.

We kept it up, that correspondence. Girlie stuff, young womanhood. When you heard I was to return to New Zealand you mentioned the hope of seeing each other again. And we did. You had joined the crew of another cruise ship and luck would have it the boat birthed in Auckland. And we were there, at the quay to welcome you. My wee young family and I.

The kids thought you were the bees knees. An aunt from Australia. I thought that too- so lovely to see you again.

The correspondence was spasmodic but we kept each other up to date. I vaguely recall you mentioning moving out of Wangaratta. My life changed a lot too.... and then we stopped. You and I were caught up in LIFE and all that it entails.

My quest is over dear Carol, I have found you. Not how I wished but non the less, my questions have answers.

Carol, dearest friend, it was, as the saying goes " lovely to have met and known you." I will forever cherish the memories.

Rest in Peace my friend, rest in peace.

Your time here was shorter than many
I am proud to have shared some grains of it with you!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Spring has sprung

Slowly but surely the tell tale signs of spring are more apparant around the place. Crocusses ( or croci) are popping their colourful heads through the soil. Tree branches are starting to thicken and buds swelling ready to pop open en reveal new life. Even though the sun is at a distance, it's rays are gently warming the earth I walk on. The mulched leaves from autumn are decaying rapidly and fresh grasses are pushing their way to the surface.

Walking in town and looking at the window displays, one can also identify the oncoming season. Freshly couloured displays, new season fashions and smart footware tempt the shopper inside, wanting to add new season clothing to one's wardrobe- ready for outings and parties in the offing.

I love spring. Everything fresh and new. The smell of wet soil and fresh leaves. The crispness of the young green leaves on the trees, daisies littering lawns and birds cheerfully chirping whilst they flit from branch to branch looking for the ideal spot for their nest to start a new family.

The clouds, varied in size and colour. Some days dark grey and threatening to be followed by wisps of cottonwool, thin and swirly, stretching across and pale blue sky. Ducks, both male and female chasing each other, trying to impress before finding a mate to bring new life into the world.

Council workers, in charge of the green areas, busily getting the last of the tree trimming done, working hard to gather the fallen branches and finally getting the lawnmowers out again after the stunted growth of grassy fields and parks.

SPRING has SPRUNG, and even though the weather is unpredictable and whimsical, the promise of warmer weather is in the air. It is time to clean the winter smudges of green off my balcony, to let my windows sparkle again and organise my planters for new seedlings.

With gratitude to a winter well done, I welcome the newness of spring and the promise of renewal that this season brings with it.