vrijdag 22 juli 2011

"Prinsessen paa Ærten" 3.0 - the Princess on the Pea 3.0

One day, it occured to me I could also choose to embrace my inner princess, instead of always telling her off. I used to think she was overly sensitive and should stop whining about peas everywhere. Just get on with life, go back to bed, go to sleep. She did give me bruises, though. Ask anyone. I used to think "I bruise easily".

I tried loving her, but wasn't very succesful. Until I tried curiosity. Once I started eyeing her with a gentle, yet curious eye, the love came. Easily and abundantly.

The princess dabbed at Twitter before. But it wasn't until February this year, after I took her to a LinkedIn workshop, that she told me how very much in love with the chit chat microblog website she was. She had enormous hopes and ambitions for the possibilities it held for us. Skyhigh, really. I kept reminding her that it's important to meet people in real life, too. And I was a bit worried that all our time would prove utterly wasted. Like the energy we spilt at Hyves.

This time around, however, it was different. Little surprises started trickling into our lives. Just online, at first. But big ones, too. Who knew I'd be up on the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg stage in March? The people we met were really great online, and even better offline. We started receiving unexpected solutions and answers to problems. Especially when we mustered up enough courage to show some of our innermost, vulnerable stuff. Or things that had seemed just, ehhr.. trivial before. In short: we had a blast. We managed to crack some serious real life problems using Twitter, too. Some stuff with our mortgage (she doesn't want to go into detail).

Finally, she and I started seeing eye to eye on the purpose of chit chat. I had always felt I wasn't all that good at it, whereas she seemed to produce endless tsunami's of chatter, more than anyone in their right mind would want to listen to.

We discovered simultaneously, that chit chat is a vital part of getting to know someone and making them feel welcome just the way they are. In a way, chit chat allows my inner princess to find out more about the other person's inner prince(ss). And when those two hit it off.. baby your a firework!

Best of all, the effect of these surprises was, that they were beginning to spill over into our everyday life. And the princess, I guess, decided she wanted a bigger part of my everyday life. She was making herself heard - louder than I ever could, myself. She'd ask for things, demand things, stubbornly refuse things... often, I almost felt embarassed at the things she dared do and say. But strangely, no-one seemed to mind. At all! Even better, people started smiling at me more and listening to me better.

She told me to draw this sprout, I'm unsure what it means exactly. She says, it is important to check for oxygen and heart in every situation. And fertile earth. If there's not enough of either one, change it. If you can't, let your feet take you out of there. You'll know. Just ask her friend inside of you.

If that means a U-turn: do it. I had an extreme aversion of U-turning that still bothers me at times. Keeps me from turning around before the point of no return. Usually, doubt sets in long before that point. The sooner you listen to the whispers of a doubt, the more energy it will give you. It's not always necessary to know what's ahead. It is essential, however, to heed those doubts. Even if, especially if, it takes courage to act upon them.

I drew this series last Tuesday, as a preparation for my business pitch. I am working on a business plan that somehow does not want to materialize in a concrete product and market.

Later that morning, the jobhunters listened to the story as I showed them the drawings. One woman made that exact critical remark: what's your product, your market? Who will buy what? Then, another jobseeker, a guy, told us to him the story is about culture change. How companies are trying to change from a supply- to a demand-driven market, and how this story could help make that change.

Listening to the dialogue unfolding, the princess was breathing, deeply inhaling the oxygen. Feeling the heart. She's still somewhat uncertain about the earth we need, but breathing heartily.

However, I myself have made a U-turn. My old boss called and I was happy to accept his joboffer. And, more importantly: so was my princess.

So-oh... at this point, I am not sure if I should pursue starting up my own business. I decided, I am going to sit in that uncertainty for a bit. For a month or so. Also, I am telling the story of the Princess on the Pea. So there it is.

And as a final thought: maybe it's not just about the princess, but also about the pea? Finding the right soil for it to grow, bloom and produce little peas? This thought makes me extra happy that my little boy found a couple of peas on the plants we planted a few weeks ago.



PS I'll be writing and tweeting much more sparsely the coming months, as I find my way around my brave new life with job AND twitter.

maandag 27 juni 2011

Naked feet feel - factsheet

The author's physics and relevant specifics
  • She's 37 year old
  • Describes herself as "a lazy ass bitch who enjoys nature and wants to feel fit, but any activity must fit in effortlessly with family/work balance"
  • She's a mom of two, most recent pregnancy 11 months ago
  • Has about 7 kg overweight
  • Did some pregnancy yoga and pilates exercises
  • Postpartum she did more pilates + rope skipping to rebuild pelvic floor and inner abdominals
  • Daily errands are preferably done by bike (2 X 15')
  • She is a former amateur in classical ballet, sports climbing, shoerunning, yoga and pilates
  • And a wanna-be professional writer who takes inspiration from John Irving and Haruki Murakami, both excellent writers and runners.

What do you need to try this?

  • watch this video by Terra Plana
  • I like to run mornings. Getting dressed in my sports outfit is an excellent way to make sure I actually cross that threshold and go!
  • an excellent sports bra (depending on your bra size)
  • a low tech kitchen timer
  • if you are self conscious about your bare feet: some kind of camouflage, such as a stroller (with or without child inside)
  • sports tape
  • Compeed or generic blister bandaid
  • a nice spot to start, or a nice destination if you start from home

My training build up:
  • day 1: warm up and technique using video, 100x barefoot rope skipping, 4 intervals of 5' running, 5' walking
  • day 5: family run, 100x barefoot rope skipping, 4x5'5'
  • day 6: Zandvoort 2h clinic
  • day 7: home run, 5' run 5' walk, 10' run, 5' walk, 20' run, 5'walk (hurt my foot)
  • day 11: family run, 20'

Forming a habit
If you want to make this a habit, I suggest you:
  • join a running club
  • get a really cool outfit
  • get an explanatory t-shirt (including URL or Twitter alias)
  • decide on a schedule

Let me know of any other suggestions or to meet up. I haven't run myself since day 11, so ehr... habitforming is not my strongsuit. Help appreciated : ). Currently I am thinking, if our little girl seems to wake up at a staggering 5 or 6 am, I should probably head out straight away with her... will let you know if I manage!

I took a clinic from wouter Buist (http://wouterbuist.nl/Barefoot_Running/Activiteiten.html). It was nice to get some personal feedback on my technique. But the information was not really new. Not a must if you have some background in any kind of training or sports.

Naked feet feel - my intro to barefoot running

Dear readers! A little overdue because of urgent matters in Greece - relaxing on a Corfutian beach, to be exact - I have made it a two piece act, to soften your judgements... enjoy, and let me know if and when you decide to give it a go!

No excuse
After we moved house last month, there really was no excuse left for me not to work on my fitness. Our new neighbourhood borders on a wonderfully lush lakeside park. It is spring. The writer in me is trying to get out; the runner in me should, too.

Cram the girls in
So I took out my battered, holey running shoes and crammed my large, lactating boobs into their pre-pregnancy sportsbra container. Too snug, really, but in this case it is better to err on the snug side. And off I went. I took it easy and I was in such a nice flow, that I don't really remember the route I took. But I do remember having to slow down to a walk because of my left knee. This knee hasn't given me any problems for years - I haven't been running for years. As I looked around at the skating and "rolski" clubs I happened to pass, my mind wondered. How to get back in shape with this knee? Should I take up rollerblading to improve my condition and hopefully my knees? Putting on skates and protection is a bit of a hassle, and I can only go on reasonable paved paths. Take an intensive Pilates course? Too much like work: boring. I prefer being outdoors, too. The idea of barefoot running popped into my mind just like that.

Google a little
A little Googling confirmed the excellence of my idea. I was amazed to find there's shoes for barefootrunning, too. I'm guessing the runningshoe industry is scared shitless about the promising future of this minimalist trend. Scientific research piles up, suggesting it's really the best way to prevent and cure long time running (knee-) injuries. For me, wearing shoes was never an option when trying out barefoot. Look elsewhere if you're looking for reviews of these kind of shoes.

Jump in!
On monday may 30th, I just jumped in. I looked up my favourite instruction video and got warmed up in front of my laptop, in between putting on my running clothes - good old friend sportsbra being the only really essential item. I had fun doing some ropeskipping, found my kitchen timer and set my first bare foot on the Amstelveen pavement.

What *will* people think?
I could not help looking around at any onlookers, wondering if they would think me crazy. At the same time, I was curiously looking at the pavement and wondering about how it felt to my feet. Not bad, actually. Not bad at all. Where I would have thought I'd try to run on grass whenever I could, in reality I just couldn't be bothered. Our local "stoeptegel" (pavement tile) feels just fine. The sensation, the actual feeling, the feedback, the information the footsole provides is very rich and automatically made me adapt my stride. Just do it, don't overthink it. Soon I was happily enjoying the scenery, the streets, the patches of green, the sunflowers locals had planted in them guerilla style, opening my mind, thoroughly enjoying the experience. I could not catch anyone looking at me funny. No one commented on the nakedness of my feet. Still, you need some courage. Just be Bolt, like Usain ; )

Dirty Feet
Yes, my feet were dirty. No, I did not step into a dog nasty. On the other hand, if I had: my feet are easier to clean than the soles of my running shoes. That I chucked, anyway. As a free bonus: my feet felt all tingly for hours after the first bare foot run. Like I'd had a peeling and massage.

More bonusses
To me, barefoot running combines is a perfect mindfull workout that I can do enjoying the wonderful outdoors. It's great if you want to build up your fitness like myself. The information provided by the sole of your foot makes you adjust your speed and style to the type of base you're running on automatically. Giving you a more varied workout.

The best part is, I ran without feeling anything in my formerly problematic left knee. Also, on the fourth day I went running, I found myself skipping the walking part of my interval session because the running was so effortless and free. The downside of this flow was, I did not notice stepping on something sharp. At home I discovered two little slits in the sole of my foot that did hurt a little. However, treatment was easy enough with a blisterpad and some sports tape.

In theory, the technique helps you run more efficiently, so you'll be able to run faster and longer. This was never my goal, though, so I haven't paid attention to this aspect.

What's next?
For me, my challenge is to work this into my routine in such a way that I can keep having fun with it. I should look into joining a running club or deciding on a frequency that will work for me. Ehm.. yeah. After I recovered from 11 months of broken nights.

How about you? Ready to give it a try, or?

maandag 6 juni 2011

Open Survey: #CCC11

Tomorrow, june 7th, I'll be attending the Creative Companies Conference in Haarlem.

As a press visitor for Sync, I'm given extra opportunity to interview guest speakers (how wonderful!).
I am asking you, dear reader, if there's any of the below, or others, that you'd like me to interview. And, what would you like me to ask them?

Please leave a reaction below (or drop me a Tweet/email) before 22h tonight.

If you want to share your insights later on, send me a text (00 31 6 12481973). I won't be online during the conference! (this needs mentioning, I think).

Thank you!

* Niel Robertson, founder of Crowdsortium and of Trada, a new crowdbased business that makes advertising campaigns much more effective using optimisors from the crowd
* Victor van der Chijs (OMA and chief advisor of the minister of EIL) who will tell us how the Dutch Ministery of EIL should spend the 1.5 billion euro's when it comes to creative industries
* Ruurd Priester presenting Lost Boys' new organization model
* Sarah Lacy from Silicon Valley on entrepreneurship
* Ans Martin Hamenn of Van den Ende Deitmers with a Dutch angle on enterpreneurship
* Bany Banerjee from the prestegious Stanford University on co-creation

zondag 5 juni 2011

#30trust: day 6 | Come Alive

Come Alive by Jonathan Mead
Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.

Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?

(Author: Jonathan Mead)

This #30trust thing was wearing me out yesterday. Of course weaning our little girl is tiring, too.

This makes the answer to today's prompt crystal clear: I added participating in the #30trust challenge to my To Stop list. For the coming week, at least. Give you, true readers, a break from this regimen, too.

Next sunday, june 12th, is when I'll reflect on this decision. At the earliest. Maybe later.

Signing off!

zaterdag 4 juni 2011

#30trust: day 5 | Travel

Travel by Chris Guillebeau
If we live truly, we shall see truly. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?

(Author: Chris Guillebeau)

This prompt makes the challenge feel like homework. Of course I am tired. With a 10-month old who wakes me up for her nightfeed, who wouldn't. But somehow, this prompt...

I am one of those who have no desire to travel the world. "I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me", like Charlene sung, is what pops up in my mind. I've been trying to get to me, that's hard enough without travel distracting me.

Then again, Indonesia... But no. The thought of spending almost an entire day and night on a plane. Maybe if I travelled by boat. Visit the country my dad spent the happier part of his childhood, where my grandparents spent the most hopeful years of their life. Possibly - but no. Not really.

I think I'll pass on this one.

I have told my husband about today, when we discovered the wonderful little oasis of a kiddy pool in the Amsterdamse Bos, the communal estate forest around the corner of our new home.

I am looking at my challenging Post-it, my mind working to put it into action.

I think that's enough to fill up my capacity for desiring power.

Hoping for a good nights' rest, I sign off,

your true Spellfinder.

vrijdag 3 juni 2011

Post-it Question by Jenny Blake | #30trust day 4

That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (ie I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (ie How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48-hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.

Bonus: tweet or blog a photo of your post-it.

(Author: Jenny Blake)

I just love all about today's #30trust prompt. I love Post Its. I love hard questions. I love rephrasing them so answers come up. I love the quote "that which each can do best, but none but his Maker can teach him".

This one's easy. Thank God, too, because I am stretching myself and my family to make time for this. But loving every step of the way.

So here goes - my current challenge: I don't have enough time to write as much as I would like. It's hard to connect to my readers. Who are they? How do I find them? Also, finding time has to do with earning a living. I feel I have been living an either/or situation: write OR make a living. I 'd like to line both activities up, make them point in the same direction, so they'll reinforce eachother. So that I'll have more time for writing, I'm creating, connecting people, and making an excellent living. All in one go. Why not shoot for the moon?

So my question comes up as: "How can writing more contribute to making an excellent living?"

> I'm putting it on a pink Post-it and will post a pic of that later.

Right now, my husband called me downstairs for drinks in our sunny garden.
Not a bad life either, right?

Oh, and did you remember to write today's sentence? As yesterday's prompt suggested? And tell one someone about it? Let's see. Today, I am very happy because my husband put a beautiful patch of grass in our garden. There we are. I told you about it, dear reader. And I'll tell him, too. Over a glass of rosé. Cheers!

donderdag 2 juni 2011

One strong belief - #30trust day 3

One Strong Belief by Buster Benson

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

This sounds so familiar to me. Yet to express in public a belief strikes terror in my heart. For I have seen the destructive power of strong beliefs and ideas all too often. From close by. The burden of being born in a family of believers in science.

The first belief that I have conquered battling my background, that still does not come to me naturally, is that in the value of relationship. I must make an effort on a daily basis to remember the bond between me and any fellow human - my husband, my son, my daughter, someone I meet on the street or online - is invisible but all encompassing. In the encounter lies the world of wrongs and rights.

The second - can I? - is the one that slowly dawned on me since I became a parent, three and a half years ago. Parenting did not come naturally to me. Diapers, feeding and comforting - the first year - were easy enough. But then: boundaries. I did not know how to start, where to focus. I felt lost.

The rescuing belief was, that parenting demands, or is equal to, emotional leadership. Ah, there's the knot. I interpret emotional leadership the way Cesar Millan leads his dogs: calm assertiveness. I must lead my family by showing calm, and a quiet but certain sense of direction. Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I am not by default a calm person. I need to tap into a not so well trained side of me. That's one challenge. But this parenting thing - we do it together. So when our eldest crosses a line, I try to remain calm. Showing him clearly what we expect of him. But I can react emotionally - and so can my husband. We does not necessarily see eye to eye on this - he seems to consider anger instrumental in raising the children. This is hard, and especially the "perfect sweetness" Emerson mentions... Unattainable I am certain.

Then again, perfect parents make for horrible children, right?

woensdag 1 juni 2011

Today: #30trust day 2

Today by Liz Danzico

Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

(Author: Liz Danzico)

I woke up at 04.30 this morning. I relaxed into my awakeness, wondering if the day had really started for me. This early. I lay waiting. But sleep did not pull me back in. I marvelled a little why I did not feel tired, but managed to accept. If there is a price to pay, I can easily sleep later on. We have the day off.

And now I find the gift of the second #30trust prompt in the Twittiverse.

I love that it is here, and I love that I am awake, alone, to fully savour it.

I look out at the morning sky, glowing up behind the red brick and rooftile house. On the far end of the little rectangle of grass that's the heart of our side street view.

One sentence. Nice and short. But everyday - each day. For how long? Forever? And tell it? To whom?

Today. Today I was up early, excited about the #30trust writing challenge I have embarked on.

I'll tell my husband.

When he wakes up.

Right now, I'll go on savouring this precious fresh morning hour.


Second post in #30trust, a writing experiment initiated by Seth Godin. The experiment is simultaneously teaching me Ralph Waldo Emerson! Free and interactive American literature class, how wonderful.

15 minutes to live

Through a very lively LinkedIN dialogue on social media influence, I came across Jane Chin. Her contribution to said dialogue was that authoratitave, I had to look her up on Twitter.

Then I stumbled upon an irresistible challenge: #30trust.

It's an "online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself" by something called The Domino Project in honour of Ralph Waldo Emerson's 208th birthday. Just jumping into the background info now... Ah. "The Domino Project is a new way to think about publishing. Founded by Seth Godin and powered by Amazon, we're trying to change the way books are built, sold and spread. Find out more about our mission here."

Seth Godin. Maybe I'll be famous yet ; ).

To resume - the #30trust. Today, the first day, the writing prompt is authored by Gwen Bell:
"We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.

The timer starts….

Here goes:

Counting down to my final meet with the darkness.
To my daughter, my son and my husband.
Be sure you make those who come after proud.
I know you will do me pride.


Just breathe.
Stand with two feet on the ground.
Remember to jump for joy now and again.
Embrace someone when they need it.
Yourself. It's OK to ask for a hug.

Forget about thinking so much.
The body has its own wisdom.
Trust that.

I look at the green grass outside my window.
I feel the tingling in my belly that signals my life, my energy.
How can it end in 13 minutes when I feel so alive now?
It serves me not to think of these reasons.

It serves me to remember my previous encounters with the black hole.
Have I told you how I have gotten to know it?

That decision was the actual beginning of my life.
At age 34.

Don't be like me. Don't wait that long.
Enter NOW. Do it. I am there for you.
Now and always.

And moreover: you are.
The holiest of your holy essence.
Your whole being runs free there and marvels at the pitch black.
And then - who knew?

Your soul always sees the specks of light.
Stars. Planets. Rings around planets.
Your soul knows it truly is a sea of light.
Hidden beneath the dark veil your fear created.

And cold? Alone?
Yes. Sit in that for a bit.
Shiver. Feel the goosebumps.
The lack of oxygen that will make your skin break out in blue veins.
Like spiderwebs.
The body cannot live here and it protests.
Feel its protest, while you are alive.
It is important that you recognize and know this feeling.
So that you can heed its warning when it comes upon you in real life.
Like animals, we too know how.

Sit in the cold.
Feel the breath of death enter the body.
The body must succumb.
It is not made for eternity.
But the soul is part of it.

Five more minutes now. I wonder how my life will be taken.
How my body will lose it's spark.
But I fear not. Maybe - I cannot know for certain.
Maybe it is not true.
I can never know, not even what seems dictated as truth.
Therefor the fear serves no purpose.
What I am certain of is change.
How we communicate.
How you understand me.
So I shall make an effort.
In whichever shape or form I am.
If I talk to you person to person, flesh to flesh, voice to voice, computerscreen to computerscreen.
Or vibration to vibration.
My effort and my intent is to communicate from soul to soul.
From light to light.
From black hole to black hole.
We are light.
We are darkness.
We are.

You will always know me.
As I will you and myself.

Three more minutes and the ticking becomes irregular.
Louder? Nervous?

I take out the teabag and take time before the first sip.
Even now, I will not burn my tongue.
There may be hope for life after this, and a burnt tongue won't help me.

Tell mom and dad I love them.
And thank them for ... trring



This is my first post in a series as part of an "online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself" called #30trust.

Look it up on Twitter and join, if you like!

Stop avoiding scary phonecalls!

That's one of the topics you really weren't *that* interested in for me to write on. According to the poll in my previous post.

Guess what? Doing it anyway. HA! Do you mind? Do you? Well, you'll just have to wait, then, for the barefoot post. It's coming, no worries. I'm sitting here, my feet... muscles... no. Come back june 10th. Thank you very much. See you later.

So, now that they've left, we've got the floor to ourselves. Hi again! How about those scary phonecalls, right? Cold calling? Well, I made myself proud. I put in three cold calls last week to editors of print magazines, trying to raise their interest for my item barefooting. This week, I tried putting in another one but couldn't find the right number. But I did follow up these calls with e-mails containing the pitch.

Not that I have actually made a sell. But I tried! Put myself out there. Yep.

Feeling quite pleased with myself, actually. And in a way, I do have to thank you, too. Even though you were not interested to read about that stuff at all, apparently; having you read the topic put it out there, making me want to have something to say about it.

Yes, pretty pleased. And thankful. And exhausted, frankly. Looking forward to a nice long "Hemelvaart-" weekend.


And PS, if you do have any ideas on who would publish that article, or is looking for copy on something you think I could write about - do not hesitate to drop me a line!

dinsdag 17 mei 2011

Poll: choose my next blog!

Of course magic doesn't exist! Silly me. But I am still very keen on knowing what might please you, dear reader. My inspiration is boundless and I can write for days, weeks, years. However I must choose what to write first. That's where you come in - if you like.

Wanna take a poll with me?
Thank you!
The poll closes june 4th, I shall publish the winning article around june 11th.
Oh, and I do have a back up plan. In case no one takes part in the poll (no guilt trip intended!).

Poll: Choose my next blog title

Current results:

Wanna create your own poll?

maandag 9 mei 2011

Magic visitors - just believe

Sometimes I feel a little clueless. Some people resort to shopping, also known as retail therapy; I admit to checking my stats. How many people have visited? What did they think? Unfortunately, the second question is not answered by my stats. So my curiosity keeps itching.

I could ask you directly: why are you here on this blog? What do you hope to find here? Do you find it? And what makes you come back? I'd be thrilled with any answer (tess[at]doucet[dot]nl, tweet or DM @spellfinder)) - but you may, of course, choose not to.

So here I sit, in my cluelessness. I am quite happy to go back to the stats and my fantasy. Of course, my inspiration may dry up if I find you keep silent (guilt trip about to set in)... nah. Not really - I'll write untill the day I die, I am sure. With or without reader dialogue. But still, I am curious. Looking for indications of who comes and why, I look at where people come from. Last week, someone entered "finding spells" on search engine Bing. Bypassing the question, who uses a different search engine from Google anyway, and why, I clicked through to the search results.

You'd think I'd thought long and hard about the title and headline of this blog. And I did. But I did not Google them before putting it up. Maybe if I had, I wouldn't have dared featuring them. Take a look for yourself, if you like - the most obscure Wiccan, magic, modern witchcraft sites enter into view. Now, I admit to wanting to look like Alyssa Milano in Charmed. Who wouldn't? I'd sign for her spellwriting skills, too. But witchcraft? Of course not.

My brother was the one who advised me to choose a name for what I do that leaves something to the imagination. I came up with "spellfinder" because of its associations with games and spelling, most of all. I love language in all shapes and forms, and I love its dynamic nature. Find the complete Dutch explanatory blog here.

Then again, among the wiccan search results, a guy called Tator Scot, named something I can really relate to:

We need to know, can anyone cast a spell? Yes! Anyone can cast a spell. The only requirement is that you truly believe the spell will work. Your belief is what gathers the energy required to cast the spell. The spell itself is a tool to focus that energy to accomplish the result that you desire.

That hit home with me.

Rethinking what I believe has liberated me and opened me up to the world - and the world, to me.

Reworking my belief system, and how that relates to my values, skills, emotions, behavior and environment/network, is in that sense the most powerful spell I have come to know, use and love. I have been a fan of Dilts' Neurological Levels, the "new pyramid" as opposed to Mazlow's old pyramid, to work at these things. Trying to attain congruency between the levels. You try it, it's fun. But most of all, if you try it, reworking it over and over again (iteratively designing), you'll strengthen it on all levels and improve your confidence. Daring to make unconventional choices as a matter of course.

There's no need to discuss or defend your choices anymore, when you know why you made them. You can share reasons when invited, of course - if you like. But the need to spend time on the negative energies other people may conjure up unwittingly around your ideas and actions just evaporates, when your faith in your own choices is strong. In other words: reworking your belief system is a strong method to protect yourself against the evil eye of jealousy and suspicion. You'll simply, effortlessly, blow all out of the water with a strong pyramid.

I'd say I am exercising smartness, wisdom and courage - but if you prefer to call that magic, then I do find magic spells. Or you could say: just believe.

As for my visitor numbers, I think I'll label this post love spell. Oh, and if that's why you came: the quick fix (if you don't want to go through all of that Dilts stuff) is to rent the movie Hitch, featuring Will Smith. Brilliant and a good laugh too!

Signing of with love, faith and hope,

Your true Spellfinder

zaterdag 30 april 2011

Doing Exactly What You Want - A Sunday for Reflection

Tomorrow two months ago, March 2nd 2011, I took the TEDxAmsLive stage for just three minutes. I'd like to invite you to look back on that event with me. It has sparked so many thoughts that I'd like to share, and am curious about what you think. Maybe it's all too abstract - of course, to me, it's all pretty brilliant - let me know! I am more than willing to reconsider, or even kill my own darlings.

So... I did it!

How did I wind up on that stage? I jumped in - on Saturday February 26th I read the call for 3' TedTalks on Twitter, and on Wednesday March 2nd I stood on the stage of the Amsterdam Schouwburg. The feeling I have something to say has been growing inside of me for a couple of years now. But I am still somewhat fuzzy on my exact message. I grasped this opportunity to give myself a deadline. What better way to boil my message down, than to have to communicate it in three minutes? So, I emailed an outline: "Doing exactly what you want, and how fear of social isolation might prevent you from it".

... or did I?

So many things I did not say. That I had wanted and/or planned to. 3 minutes is radically short. And I did not even use them up!

Fellow Tedsters
My big miss: not mentioning Linda Douw, the epilepsy specialist before me. The video of a patient having an epileptic seizure was so vivid, the pain so acute - I could hardly bear watching it. Couldn't we use something simple as just such a video to help the difficult diagnosis of epilepsy?

Also, I feel I need to thank TEDx volunteer Annette Dolle and fellow 3' speaker Sabine Wassenberg - they listened to me rave like a maniac in the breaks before my talk, helping me calm my nerves.

The TEDx crowd is very bubbly, energetic and inspirational, like Salmaan "that's awesome!" Sana and Oliver de Leeuw. Great to meet you, guys :).

What I really had to say
Is still subject to change - which is why I didn't write about my talk sooner. And because I was hoping to get the video footage, so I could link to it - on that I've given up (there's some pics, though). But some things did come up. Before, during and after the talk. After all, I did feel I had something to say. So, here goes. Please let me know what you think.

Social restraints - embrace egoism
How funny, a little over a week ago I met this scientific writer (www.desireehoving.nl) who will laugh out loud in the theater or cinema, just like me. This is one of the examples of how I have liberated myself - it's OK to laugh out loud in public. Even when I am the only one. I used to worry about what people would think of me too much. Fear of shame is what's prevented me from doing what I really, really wanted. What if I failed in my most vulnerable self? In my hearts most wanted desires? I couldn't suffer the shame, the disappointment.

But one day, after suffering another communication breakdown in a group where everyone was worried about what the others wanted, instead of every single person expressing what they wanted or needed for themselves, it dawned on me.

Egoism is healthy! Contrary to popular belief, and popular standards of Western civilisation, especially among women, everyone will benefit if everyone minds their own business - first. Look out for what you need - and keep an eye out for what those around you need. But, it's OK to start by expressing what you want. How else can anyone ever know what anyone else wants? Let alone, how can anyone get what they really really want?

Follow the money?
Is how I used to live and counsel in the umbrella jobs before my burnout. In the "werkcoach" job @UWV, for example. Do or try doing what I can easily earn good living doing. Somehow, for me, taking the job I could easily take, signing that contract, equalled signing a pact with the devil. I was safe: I had an umbrella to put up. Sheltered in case of rain. I showed the best of myself to get hired - but once I was "in", I would shut down and stop. I had a roof over my head; I could pay my rent. But it was a devil's pact. I traded in my spirit for money and a semblance of safety. I did it unconsciously, automatically, unwillingly of course - but I did do it. And it did not work. There was no safety. Assuming I needed this safety, meant assuming I was "made of sugar". I would melt when it would rain. I was assuming my own weakness, thereby creating it. Instead of sheltering in a safehouse, I was in fact swimming with the sharks. Holding on with all my might to an inflatable but leaky floater. The floater being my own thoughts of being weak. Let it go! Surrender. Dive under and discover your inner shark. That's the new take I've been trying out.

Handing over my spirit, shutting down, giving only the superficial bits of me, I was shorthanding my employers. And myself. Even though I worked hard - of course they didn't retain me! My frustration was written all over my body, no matter how hard I worked to hide it. I became aware of this pattern when I was prepping the Ted Talk. So... I need a different philosophy.

Or lead - and the money will follow?
Now, I think the only way of living my best life is to engage on my terms.. it's OK! Slowly, I am experimenting with this theory. It's not yet proven - I am not (yet) making money. But I am trying to lead by creating value writing, Twittering, connecting people and ideas. And by loving people - showing love, when I can. To those close to me and to those passing me by. This is what I love doing. I try believing, I hold onto the faith that creating value must mean, at some point, value will flow back to me.

Experimenting with engaging on my terms also means: it's OK to engage - to say yes - to do stuff - yet keep negotiations open at all times. I tune into my belly as my guide. When something's off: stomach pains. When things are moving in the right direction, the direction of what I need, of my spirit, I get this flowing tingling in my lower abdomen. Unmistakable.

So, I keep working on my terms. Refining. Renegotiating. Never afraid to walk away - always zooming in, getting a better focus on what I want and how. The "how" is a big, BIG part of it for me now. This is probably where I went wrong in my umbrella jobs. I am rethinking my strategy into the idea, that my terms are worth negotiating - because they are what safeguard the best of me.

Pyramid/scarcity thinking - alternatives?
Something else that's held me back: pyramid thinking. To get ahead, to come out on top, to be successful in anything, you need to leave others behind, trample them, humiliate them. This type of pyramid thinking rules many consultancy firms and is a paradigm in itself. I guess it's based on the economic principle of scarcity = value. Correct me if I am wrong; I am not trained as an economist.

To me, pyramid thinking hemmed my growth. I was afraid that if I showed my true colours, my greatness would make other people shrink. And I don't want other people to shrink; I want them to grow into their own full potential! Just like I want it for myself, I want it for everyone else.

It probably was a coaching session that helped me find the idea of abundance instead of scarcity. It took a couple of years and continuous effort to start internalizing and believing there actually is an alternative to pyramid thinking. The fear of scarcity still draws near more often than I like - society drips with it so it is hard to disentangle it from everyday living. But now, I have something to counter it with. The concept of abundance made me feel for the first time, not only that I had permission to strive for greatness, but I was actually obliged to do so - because I'd do others a disservice by keeping what's great about me from the world. Of course rereading Marianne Williams over and over helped, too.

Wrap up
To wrap it up, I conclude - in random order - that
a) I would like to make a living writing. Creating, connecting, but most of all: writing.
b) In order to say this out loud, I have needed to liberate myself from fear of shame and failure.
c) Also, I need to believe in abundance instead of scarcity.
d) Thirdly, I need to believe in a healthy egoism.
e) And finally, I need to start, in any way I can, saying yes to opportunities and keeping an eye open for the conditions. Allowing myself to walk away at any moment, if the conditions are not right.

That's it! Thank you for reading, and please let me know what you think!

woensdag 20 april 2011

Empower yourself - reconnect with your anger

Last month, there were a couple of situations when I lost my balance. Preparing to move house can do that to me. As can an infrequent meeting with the extended family. I got angry, I got sad. And my "same old, same old" coping strategy: flee! At least emotionally! Got activated. I got lost. I started feeling the need to reconnect with my values, to regain my centre.

But how? Talking with friends helped. Surfing the web. Also, I rereading this years' newyears post. I looked for what struck me in Peter Sloterdijk's work when I encountered it, googling him. What's going on around him? I found this essay "the gave van de woede" by Ranfar Kouwijzer (in Dutch). Kouwijzer is a Dutch minister.

Kouwijzer explains quite clearly how anger, is a form of "thyme", from the ancient Greek. This thymothian energy motivates and triggers action. The kind of action that makes people want to wage a war. But also the kind of energy that makes you want to stand up for what you believe is right. This kind of energy can liberate and restore connections.

My personal click with thymothian energy, is the link with depression. My voice dialogue facilitator, that I worked with from 2004 to 2006, used to say depression is imploded anger. Sloterdijk's explanation of anger as energy, somehow gave me permission to feel it. Feel the anger. More accurately: it eliminated the need to suppress it. Suppression was taking up my energy resources and, paradoxically, forcing the anger to become stronger and harder to control.

I felt angry that no one was noticing the wonderfulness of me. I felt angry that the only expression we were taught, is that of consumption. I felt angry at being estranged from myself. I was angry at being unable to connect with other people, really and truly connect. I was angry that I did not know what that meant to me, exactly.

The concept of thymothian energy helps me relabel these feelings. I have a passionate need, a pride, an honour, for connecting with people on an emotional level. I need to experience emotional leadership. The kind pack leaders of the future should have, like Cesar Millan describes. I need to feel part of a pack. It is what I have been missing most my life. I have been living in an emotional power vacuum.

Good people of the world: it is time to get angry about being good. Get angry about living and connecting based on -+ (-+ <3 instead of fear. Get angry about what you need for you - and go get it!

maandag 4 april 2011

Home again - focusing: Presence, Felt Sense and Space

Monday morning blues after a weekend with the extended family. Which was sunny, fun, and slightly chaotic. I am happy the birthday girl liked her present. Clicking around listlessly, suddenly I find an answer that's been eluding me last week. Where does all the traffic to my TAE post come from?

Eureka! The source is the Greek Focusing website! The "Hellenic Focusing Centre" collect all things focusing using Scoop It. I am excited about this find and relieved that there's real visitors behind my stats. Honoured, actually, to have visitors from such a wonderful source. Thrilled that Focusing is very much alive. I remember my own "introduction to focusing course" in 2006 and my slight disappointment at the liveliness of focusing in the Netherlands. I had a feeling Focusing had blended into the more encompassing and somewhat woolly NLP, frankly. But now, I am happy to find that field is very much alive. At least internationally. I expect to be looking into it more.

Today, I stumbled upon this video by Akira Ikemi. It's brilliant and just under five minutes.

Ikemi's way of speaking is just as inspiring as the things that he says. Thoughtful. Creating, feeling the words as he utters them. Checking his audience for contact and reception.

One thing that moved me is how he says "focusing therapists trust the not-yet formed that's forming in the client." As opposed to other therapists, who do not trust the not yet formed, and will impose existing labels, theories and interpretations on the not-yet formed. Implicitly hindering the client's own creative abilities. This makes it so clear why, in some personal therapy sessions, therapists have angered me and sessions left me feeling more powerless, instead of empowered.

My absolute favourite, however: "Focusing is not a technique. It is not a skill. It is a characteristic of a relationship which values presence, felt sense and space."

What this sentence means to me? Why I favour it? Well, ehm - because of everything? It helps me know what I expect from (any) relationship. Why I may feel unfulfilled so often. And how I may deal with those feelings. Act or accept. The description helps with either one.

Thank you to Akira Ikemi for doing this work on focusing and to Simon Do for publishing this work online.

Enjoy your day!

dinsdag 29 maart 2011

Melkende moeder

Terras. Zon. De wat nors kijkende ober heeft de parasol voor ons ingeklapt en we genieten, uit de wind. Uit mijn shopper zet ik mijn moedermelkpomp op tafel. Op batterijen. En schroef de trechter aan het flesje. Slangetje in de trechter, klaar om te pompen.

Toch wel met enige gêne vis ik mijn linkerborst uit mijn t-shirt en BH. Ik zet de trechtervormige kolf er gauw op. Dat voelt nog een beetje aangekleed. T-shirt en mijn hoodie schuif ik zoveel mogelijk over de trechter. En druk op het “power” knopje. Het “omhoog” knopje bij “vacuum” krijgt ook drie drukjes, want dat is de goede zuigkracht.
Ik kijk om me heen. Het lijkt niet of iemand op het rustige, haast verlaten terras, het in de gaten heeft. Mijn vriendin heeft gezegd dat ze het niet erg vindt. Ik tuur in de drie kantoortorens die voor ons staan. In een van de drie is een vergadering bezig. Geanimeerd, zo te zien; het lijkt niet of iemand naar buiten kijkt. Gelukkig.
“Mensen schijnen zich te ergeren aan vrouwen die in het openbaar borstvoeding geven. Of kolven,” zeg ik tegen mijn vriendin. Zou nú iemand zich ergeren? En komt de bediening nu vaker kijken, of beeld ik me dat in? Het gevraagde glaasje kraanwater wordt in elk geval probleemloos en snel gebracht. Willen ze ons weg hebben? Kan ik niet nalaten me af te vragen. Halsstarrig weiger ik me op te laten jagen. Toch vraag ik me af of ik ongewenst ben met dit gedrag. Of zouden degenen die zich ergeren, vooral de vrouwen zèlf zijn? Die zich gêneren? Of vrezen dat mensen zich aan hun storen?
De opbrengst was ongehinderd hoog: 154cc. Maar ja… mag het?
Lactatievol liefs,
Bertha 154.

donderdag 24 maart 2011


squirrel (third-person singular simple present squirrels, present participle squirreling, simple past and past participle squirreled)
with "away": To hoard in a hidden place, by analogy to squirrels' habit of hoarding nuts.
with "around": To move or search erratically, especially as if hurried or confused.
My mother warned me not to squirrel around in my dad's workshop.

This only works with acorns! And other organics. Not with money, which does not really grow. That much.

So, the squirrel didn't realize he was planting a tree. It won't make new acorns for a couple of years though. Generations, really. His greatgrandchildren may profit. But only in autumn.

Also, in debating: "a squirrel can also refer to an affirmative so obscure that there is no known negative against it. These cases are rare and will typically win the round for the affirmative team". (Wikipedia)

Squirrel more, I say. In the obscure way. Or plant a tree. Just don't expect fruits until you have (grand)children.

maandag 21 maart 2011

So, you really want to change? Go micro!

Yo..., I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want!
So tell me what you want, what you really really want?
I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want!
So tell me what you want, what you really really want?
I wanna, uh- I wanna, uh- I wanna, uh- I wanna, uh- I wanna really
really really wanna zigazig haaaah.
1996 "Wannabe," Spice Girls

Arend Ardon, partner at Holland Consulting Group, devoted his thesis and book to how managers are the main roadblocks to organisational change. Even when they want to enable it. Because of their unconscious, automated behaviour. Or so I read this morning (article in Dutch). Ardon reminded me of the Spice Girls' talk, and how hard it can be to accomplish what you really want. Talking about that is one important thing, like I stated at my 3' TedTalk at TedxAms . But talking is just part of any successformula for change .

Having worked both as a manager and as an employee, I can completely confirm how hard it is to be part of a change, as opposed to part of the roadblock. But I can do better. I'd like to propose a strategy for actually enabling change. I proudly present micro change - analogue to the concept of a micro loan as introduced by our wonderful Princess Maxima, and the micro blog Twitter has been since 5 years (hurray! birthday today :) ).

Micro change is working for me as a private person, effectively improving quality of all aspects of my life and that of those around me as we speak. And having fun in the process. It might just work for you, wheather you are a manager or a proper human (ha ha). Of course, there will be many, many roads to this particular Rome. Or should I say, Walhalla of organisational change consultants? Either way; please invent your own tactic, if you prefer. This one is based on the writer's golden rule: "show, don't tell" (thank you Mireille).

Micro change - a strategy for aspiring change catalysts

1. Seek out situations where you know you'll abort to resistance behaviour. Look for small and safe cases first. For example, when you're having coffee or drinks with a distant acquaintance. Someone outside your work or neighbourhood circle, preferably. Waiting for a train or bus could provide an excellent opportunity as well. Try Twitter, use an alias if you like. Mention different topics until La Resistance hits the fan.
2. React to whatever triggered you as if your critic is right. I know, that sounds weird, doesn't it? Do try, though. Even if everything inside you is screaming how wrong he is and why. It's OK to be scared. Just check if the fear has any root in your life's safety - is your life itself in danger? If not, you are safe to proceed.
3. Savour how things unrolled privately - on the way home or when you go to sleep. Don't let the guineapig critic in on your little experiment. Try confiding in a good friend or your partner if you like. If you're successful. Or if something interesting happened.
4. Rinse and repeat. As you progress, book more successes and create more options for your behaviour, you can start experimenting "closer to home". In situations, with people that mean something. You can accelerate as quickly as you like, shifting from first to fifth gear. No matter if your engine goes dead. You can always restart. No one will notice your "failure" when you show your usual resistance behaviour. They are used to it.

This strategy may enable you to create and practise new behaviour. Effortlessly overtaking your usual reactions. It is irrelevant if you even know exactly what your usual reactions are. The only thing you need is that gut feeling that says "NO! I don't want your behaviour" as a starting point for the exercise. From this point onward, it's: "next!".

Good luck! Please let me know how that went? If you decide to give it a micro go?

PS: a big, hearty thank you goes out to these sources of inspiration:
- www.MireilleGeus.nl. In 2006, Mireille got me back in the writing saddle. Also, she pointed me to the following huge comfort and inspirator:
- Keith Johnstone "Impro", 1979 www.keithjohnstone.com (I read it in '07)
- William Hall, www.williamhall.net (trained with him in Arnhem '09), @william_hall
- Coert Visser's www.thesolutionsfocus.com, @DoingWhatWorks (followed his blog '09)
- @jack @florian: hurray! 5 yrs Twitter. Thanks to you and all early adapters for enabling and inventing the microdialogue :)

woensdag 16 maart 2011

Parenthack #34: Weaning

When to start?
We started at 8 months with Florian, with Nina I found out my mother in law fed her sugary cookies during Xmas! We hadn't started weaning yet, she was 5 months! Thanks for the kickstart, "mom" : ). So we started in january.

Cook without salt
I started cooking without salt, mashing up some for her and salting for us on the plate. Using herbs instead of salt helps. This was OK but still, a bit laborious. Annoying, really, because I decided to let her eat with us. Dinnertime as a social family moment and all, I like that.

Freeze in portions
The real kickass parenthack came, when it occured to me I could mash&freeze our leftover potatoes, rice and veggies in portions. I used cute heartshaped silicon icemaker forms that I got cheap at IKEA at first because she may eat so little. I can defrost as little as I think she needs. Take out more as she gobbles it up. And, no guilt trip for opening up a whole jar - what to do with the leftovers if she turns out not to be hungry this time? Now that she's eating more, I've started using silicon muffin tins as well. These I found at the Action store, but they're for sale at Euroland I think as well. Which are great because I can defrost the right amount of say, soup, for myself too. I put the tins on a large plate in the freezer, on top of a drawer so nothing gets stuck in the food while freezing. The next day, I'll take out the frozen portions, pouring hot water on the back to help ease them out. Store in a plastic (zip loc) bag or get eco friendly and hip reusable plastic bags such as these!

Use soup
I have written before about how much I love making soup on a cold winterday. It turns out, she loves it too!! I have to admit, I do use salt/soup starter. This is not for the no-salt-in-the-first-year purists. I figure, since she's still on my milk, her kidneys are pretty OK. Formula strains the kidneys more. Hers can take some salt. The advantage is too, she'll get some water inside her. She's not drinking that out of a bottle, of course.

Drink: 50cc with every meal
Or so the children's nurse tells me. But how? She does love to drink out of a cup. But spills everyting, sticks her fingers in: it's messy if I give the cup to her. Once she can sit up, we can start practising drinking from a cup in the bathtub (parenthack #66). For now, I found out she can drink fine when I hold her on my lap and hold the cup myself(#35). Makes for excellent bonding time, too!

I told you mine! What are yours?

A new parent is born: parenthack #00.00

This blog is in Dutch, but it is a mustread for any new parent.
Ask me if you need it translated!


dinsdag 15 maart 2011

Parenthack #1: baby drops stuff

And we get so annoyed at having to pick everything up... especially in the car, when we literally have to bend over backwards.

For your baby, this may be a sign she is tired. Read her, are there other signs? With our Nina, not making eye contact is a clear heads up. Is it time to put her to bed, maybe just for a little nap? Still at eight months Nina keeps me guessing about her naptimes, and I'd rather err on the bedside. Put her in. When she cries more than a minute or 5, I'll take her out.

Learning: action = reaction
At this age, it could be something she's learning. Hey, if I drop this, it's gone! Then, someone comes and picks it up! How interesting. Try it again. Remembering her learning stage helps me see the fun of it. It's a game! Wanna play?

Rubber bands
If you don't or can't play, because you're busy driving or cooking. Here's a super tip generated by loyal www.parenthacks.com readers: link rubber bands, attach them to the toy on one end, and the (car) seat on the other. Or use yarn. This way you can simply pull up the toy. Teaching your baby something new in the process. Nina is very interested in the rubber bands themselves, too. Can't wait to try it out on our next drive!

Off to pick my lovelies up from daycare! And share a half hour in the spring air : )

vrijdag 11 maart 2011

TAE pt II: a personal exploration of my fears

This "first try" at TAE has a surprising conclusion. I wrote this report together with this post, in Octobre 2010. I am still uncertain whether it is ready for publishing. But my webstats tell me the previous post had an interesting number of visitors (29), which is a lot compared to the surrounding posts (which have single digit views). That's what's convinced me to throw this on as well. So, here goes.

As a second justification: I have always wanted to write, and have always felt flow when writing. However, until recently, I did not know what I had to say. I did not trust there was anything remotely interesting for anyone there. Until recently. The birth of our second child, a wonderfully zen baby girl, gave me confidence. I decided some private conclusions from my burnout (roughly, 2004-08) just might be worth sharing with the world. I used Eugene Gendlin's Thinking at the Edge to illicit this "private expertise", flexing my hormone ridden brain in the process. So the post has two layers. There's the TAE process, and what I found applying it. What I found out about my fears. In this post I'll detail how that went. It's very rough and chaotic, possibly illegible, but I'd like to share it anyway.

❤ TAE - step 1-5. "Find a word for the knowledge you want to illicit". I come up with: What the world needs now is something like softening (verzachting). I proceed, not knowing if "the world" really means Dutch society, the world at large, my world, or just me? Either way, what's needed is people coming into contact more with how they feel, and standing up for what's important to them. Dropping shame and armors. Letting go instead of observing with judgement and searching for problems, spijkers op laag water (nails at low tide?). Choosing for a future, a realistic scenario, but letting go of obstacles, problems, issues. Seeing through them, finding alternative paths that do not involve them. Choosing a positive scenario and going for it. Taking a leap of faith. Also - especially - in relationships with others. Looking on with a soft, yet strong and clear eye (hard, onverbiddelijk, zonder scrupules en schuldgevoel, assertief, duidelijk). Choosing your own road, while respecting the road another takes. Making room for the other to take their road, but claiming your own room as well. Trusting there's enough room for each and every one of us to pick the exact path we want, and more room to spare if we do. Choosing your own way of cooperating, living together, being together. Dropping, shedding what's unneccessary (guilt) if you can. Checking guilt with the one you feel guilty towards, if that's what you need to let go. Choosing to create from hope instead of holding on, defending from fear. Making room to create by letting go. Hope instead of fear. These are key phrases.

Now, preparing this post, I reflect on what I wrote in October last year. What's interesting about the word "softening", is that is has a special meaning for me. My last name, Doucet, is French. It could be translated, with a little imagination, to mean "softener", or "someone soft". In my family (maybe this goes for all families) there is a tendency to value the intellect, and to behave distant, cold and judgemental. On the other hand, all members of my family have a very sensitive, warm side as well. But the warmness doesn't seem to find its way out because of the intellectual, cold shell that's been built to last for decades.

The report continues. ❤ TAE step 6-9, instance: instead of fearing my partner will be angry with me when he gets home from work because I haven't found a job yet or because I am not looking actively enough, I should trust and believe he has faith. I should trust he has faith in my success and in me doing the right things to achieve it. I find I get a lot of anxiety from fearing what my partner really thinks of me.

Aspects: I have not been able to feel successful at any job (or at life in general, for that matter). I haven't been able to fit in in any workplace. I do not feel I belong and I haven't been able to stay on anywhere for long. I always feel like an outsider. Yet I make myself completely dependent on what I fear someone else thinks of me. This could be my boss, a colleague or client. I do not belong, yet the other person completely determines my happiness, controls me entirely. I do not belong and am completele part of/dependent on the other (employer, partner, friend).

Key phrase: choosing to create from hope instead of holding on to/defending from fear.

Substitute words in the key phrase: choosing for A instead of holding on to/defending from B.

A: hope: wish or expectation that something I really want will happen.
Better: confidence in a good outcome, even if it is not known in detail, or if it is different than I'd expected. Faith in my own ability to find a way and accept different process and outcome. Have faith in relationships and other people's ability and will to find, make, create success.

What's off in the definition of hope? Something I "really want". Better alternative: something positive. Something you're content with. Something will happen and you will want it. You will be at peace and what will happen will be good. You have peace and confidence.

What's off in the word "create"? It suggests something too big. Better would be: moving with, comoving, swaying, living, jumping in the maelstrom and trusting that whatever happens is or will be good. A small thing that sets off a chain reaction may be all it takes.

Better would be: taking risks. Defy fear of arousing someone's shame, rejection or anger. Do things from my own peace and confidence and positive intention, sensitive to others, open, unprejudiced by aforementioned fear of negative emotional reaction from other(s). Daring to stay close to myself without the fear of shame, rejection or anger from someone else.

Fear: scary, anxious feeling. This is something else. Oh no, it is not. Encountering, looking for, engaging in situations that defuse, reprogram unnecessary, obsolete, disfunctional fearful expectations built from past experience.

Knowing with certainty: fear serves only to avoid life-threatening situations. No more, no less.

The report closes with an afterthought. When reading it over a couple of days later, I felt it feels hard, too complicated, too difficult. It seemed a paradox to want to express bodily intelligence in language. Bodily intelligence is a means for direct, situationally prompted action. It seems unnecessarily complex to take the cerebral detour language is. I discussed this with my brother, about a month after my attempt at TAE. His reaction may seem obvious to you, but to me it was surprising - of course, you don't know my brother. "Communication," he said,"is what makes that hard work to find words for that bodily intelligence worthwile. You or I can have an excellently developed individual bodily intelligence system, doing all the right things at the right time. But in order to work as a team, to develop some sort of collective intelligence, we need to verbalize our individual intelligence".

With this surprising conclusion he closes a circle of work on team empowerment I have been doing in 2009. Now, posting this blog in march 2011, it seems important and worthwile. To me, anyways. Please let me know what you think!

Empowering our bodily intelligence: Eugene Gendlin

Thinking At the Edge is a method to illicit implicit knowledge. Things we know that are sitting, at the edge of our consciousness, waiting to be unveiled. Waiting to come out, perhaps. TAE has been developed by Eugene Gendlin, one of the founding fathers of focussing, an element in the NLP toolbox so crucial, that it has almost lost its own identity. It has been gobbled up by NLP, mindfulness and the like, you could say.

TAE has been sitting in the back of my brain for years as something interesting worth exploring one day. So last octobre, when my maternity leave was over and I was getting ready for work again, wanting to flex my brain, I did. There's a set of videos online where Gendlin explains how it works.

* empowering bodily intelligence
* finding fresh language
* discovering/verbalizing implicit knowledge
* a way of illiciting expert knowledge
*(my brainwave:) biweekly interview experts = friends and family => everyone has some kind of expertise on something => illiciting this

Threats: very rigid and demanding method. When is good good enough? High perfectionism threshold. You have to know Gendlin’s focussing / felt sense before you can start, which has the same hint of perfectionism. Or maybe that’s just me.

I guess a good way to decide on which parts of TAE to use (when), is to keep checking your energy and emotional response to the process itself. This works for me, anyway. Does it feel too hard? It probably is. Feel free to venture in directions that seem easy, where energy flows. The hard parts are there to be acknowledged but not to bulldozer through, necessarily.

The way Gendlin puts it: “In every step you check the creation against the felt sense
“ahh” (relief) - it’s moving forward (words make it flow); or “urgh” (cramp) - it’s holding back.”

He concludes with an interesting and possibly reassuring observation: “how does language exist in human bodies in the first place ? It is inherent in human living”.

TAE step 1 - 5: method to produce a lot of strands out of one ‘thing’
❤ Call up your felt sense relating to the thing, i.e. find a word that seems to represent it.
❤ Try to access any modality that works for you: smell, sound, image, bodily feeling, location in the body, person(s) related to the thing. Write down all of these, even if (especially if) they are not quite what the thing is or should be. Words that are the opposite of the thing can work, too. Use a mind map if you like. Record your voice if you prefer to work eyes closed.
❤ Ask “what would you like that word to mean”? for the collection of strands, for each word, for each attempt that doesn’t quite seem to catch it.
❤ Out comes a chaotic cloud, a series of sentences. Can you boil it down to one sentence? Step back and appreciate the colourful, poetic sentence, with fresh words.

Many are happy and satisfied with outcomes of step 1 - 5. TAE was designed to create a theory including logic, however. If you like, try the next steps (in the same session or later on).

TAE step 6 - 9: making a theory, an articulated group of terms that interlock
❤ Find an example to explore. Just one will do.
❤ Look closely at all the aspects, facets and instances of the example. The example may very well unfold into a set of examples (this is how my mind works, anyway).
❤ There is intricacy in every real thing that happens. Lift out concrete stances.
❤ Use the STARR method if you like, specifying situation, task, action, result, reflection questions to further illicit each example.

TAE step 10 - 15: make logic
Afterwards, logic rules look like the beginning, the origin.
But the terms and connections come from some kind of experience.
TAE describes a process to make the logic.

woensdag 9 maart 2011

IM: kledingruilparty

Op 24 feb 2011 tweette @SwopnFit: "Tijdens Women inc. festival in Pakhuis de Zwijger is er ook een Ecofabs Fashion Party, leuk! http://www.womeninc.nl/page/25702 #kledingruil".

Ik had in januari al getweet wie er mee wilde doen aan een kledingruil. Want mn zolderkleding gesorteerd, nu de meeste zwangerschapskilo's er weer af zijn. Toen reageerde niemand... maar ik had drie setjes leuke kleren klaargehangen voor de volgende ruilparty. Dus ik schreef me in voor Women's Inc, die 24ste februari.

Afgelopen zondag 6 maart was het zover! De hele week had ik al vol verwachting uitgekeken naar het moment dat ik in rekken vol prachtige vintage proletarisch zou kunnen winkelen. Met een kledingtas vol mooie kleding (die ik om diverse karma redenen niet meer zou dragen of niet verwacht er ooit nog in te passen) over mijn stuur in het zonnetje op de fiets naar Pakhuis Willem de Zwijger. Man en kinderen thuis latend, heerlijk gevoel. Keurig om 16.30 de kleding ingeleverd: op het terras wachten. Ik keek om me heen waar de fashionista's van Amsterdam waren...

Misschien was dat een hint voor het bijstellen van mn verwachtingen over de kleding. Na anderhalf uur - de kleding moest na het inleveren netjes op hangers gedaan en de organisatie had haar best gedaan op een interessante intro die een half uur duurde was het zover. Maar de rekken herbergden troep, troep en nog eens troep (met uitzondering van mijn leuke setjes natuurlijk ;) ). Rekken vol miskopen en winkeldochters. Met veel zoeken heb ik twee redelijke dingen kunnen scoren (een groen rokje en een groen vestje). Niet de vintage jurk waarop ik had gehoopt...

Eerder hoorde ik al fluisteren, dat de "vintage" straks op is. Volgens mij is straks nu! Of alles gaat via nu Marktplaats? Dat heb ik niet onderzocht.

Mijn leermoment: beter oppassen voor miskopen en winkeldochters bij het winkelen - kieskeuriger winkelen dus! Misschien toch minder kopen en dan duurder (auw, doet nu al pijn aan mn portemonnaie)? Voor de echte merken gaan? Of eerst op Marktplaats kijken? Een Marktplaats kleding Tweetup? Nodig me uit als je enorm zin krijgt dit te organiseren, tnx : )

Hoe het nu moet met mijn overtollige kleding? De kringloopwinkel, als vrienden niet willen? De ruilparty is wat mij betreft definitief overleden. Rest in peace : )

donderdag 24 februari 2011

Let's make soup!

Warms up the soul
This morning was grey and foggy. Even the sight of our red tulips poking their glowing heads up through the slender green leaves did not cheer me up. When I'm starting to feel low, I get cold. Cooking soup makes me move: collecting ingredients, chopping up the veggies. And warms up my upper body while I lean over the pan, stirring. The smell of herbs and that umami smell of broth warms up my insides. When there's no sunshine, there can always be soup.

I tend to forget that I am actually tired when I am down. This morning was no exception. While I expected the day to jolt me awake with energy, I forgot that I was up from 03.00 to 05.00 am, trying to figure out why little Nina was crying. Wouldn't feed, clean diaper, if you know what I mean you know how I feel today. Hung over. With no partyvibes to show for it.

Making and eating soup gives back that energy, while taking my mind of stress. Stress that comes with my expectation of energy and lots of important things to be done. Important things that must be done, but don't seem to want to materialize out of the fog that took over my mind.

Weight loss
You won't believe it, and you don't have to, but there it is: I gained 30 kgs during each pregnancy. As I write this, 7 months after our youngest was born, there's still 5 kgs more of me than before the first. And you're right: that can't be just the belly. Apparently, the pregnancy hormone HCG sends my metabolism into hyperefficiency drive. Without eating that differently, I pack on the fatty pounds in record time. Ugh. And - minor problem: I don't believe in dieting.

What a relief when I caught a documentary on - I think it was the National Geographic Channel - that revealed the kicker: the same meal, when blended into soup, will keep you feeling full for a longer amount of time!

- Soup freezes well. I use silicon muffin tins to portion and dethaw more easily. So you can precook, saving yourself time. Dinner time in a family with young children can be quite stressy, so any relief is more than welcome for us. The same would go for you guys who want to go training after work. Or bring a thermos with soup to eat between work and your after work activity, avoiding that fast food moment.
- Our toddler loves soup. Serve in a mug for less spilling.
- Baby can eat soup, too. She loves it, too! Add stock and salt after setting aside what you need for your baby.
- Suddenly, easily, they eat veggies! As does my dearly beloved : )

Enjoy your homemade soup!

PS Sleeping enough is also very important factor in weight loss and (obviously) restoring energy.. yawn!

maandag 24 januari 2011

Use the willpower wisely

Today I watched a thirty minute video by the RSA on how to become slightly happier - somewhat reluctantly.

I stumbled upon the RSA through a friend.

What is the RSA actually, I wondered after sitting out the vid.

For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress.

The title of this vid has been sitting in my iGoogle for over a week now. I felt reluctant to watch it, because, well, didn't Smile or Die, a brilliantly illustrated column by Barbara Ehrenreich tell me all I needed to know about positive thinking? And BTW, who did that brilliant animating?

Also, I felt reluctant because, well: I have been on this quest before. If searched for directly, the holy grail of happiness will keep eluding us knights.

However: today I am in need of guidance. And will happily jump into Internet's chaos fresh. Not expecting any holy grail, but knowing anything I do will be a step on my quest to find my purpose. In other words: I am stuck and will try to blog my way through.

Now that I sat through the longish video, I will share with you what I took away from Oliver Burkeman's research (in random order):
* writing down problems
* micro goals
* mindfulness
* willpower is depletable

If you write down your problems, this will help you. You will be able to distance yourself from them and find new perspective (e.g. blogging my way through).

Micro goals: Burkeman carries with him a kitchen timer (keukenwekker) at all times. If he has to do something, but keeps procrastinating: he will work at it for just 2 minutes a day. He showed his kitchen timer, during the lecture he did actually carry it in his pocket. I am still wondering however, how this tip could work for me. I like the idea of downsizing seemingly insurmountable projects/problems to digestable bits, however.

Mindfulness meditation: take time out regularly to consider your situation, your problems, your life. Look at what's going on, look at what you do not want to look at, accept that it is there and that you may not want to look at it, and most of all: acknowledge that you may want to change something, but you may not be able to. Stop trying to feel happy, upbeat, chipper etc. Stop trying to feel different than you do. Look, feel, experience what you are and who you are without trying to be something or someone else. Accept that you may want to be something else, but stop trying to for just a moment - only observe. Well, this one is very helpful I think, but can be hard. Maybe here's where the timer comes in? Try the meditation for just 30 seconds?

Because (this one I really love) Burkeman states: willpower is depletable. If you make yourself go to the gym early in the morning, you may have depleted all your willpower for the day, and may not be able to resist that cheeseburger and fries for lunch. Burkeman says this has been proven in many research efforts. This is an eye-opener to me: I guess I thought willpower trainable, like a muscle: the more you exert it, the stronger it becomes. It also explains why you may feel so tired from doing nothing. Maybe you've been exhausting your willpower reserves restraining from all kinds of things that you would really love to do?

Finally, one more seemingly unrelated remark: Leidenschaft. I have started reading of late. Or would it be more accurate to say: I quit restraining myself from reading? I fell completely in love with Franziska Stalmann's Annas Mann. With her writing, the german language, with the way her main character lives. One of the descriptive words on the back of the book is Leidenschaft. I have been wondering what it means and the word keeps coming back to me. I feel it has to do with my pursuit of happiness. Another piece to the puzzle. To be continued. I'll start by reading this Wikipedia description.

vrijdag 14 januari 2011

Samen spelen - ruzie succesvol opgelost!

Vervolg op de vorige post.

De tip bij ruzie om dat éne autootje vanmorgen toegepast (buurjongetje kwam spelen): "Hm. Dus jullie willen alllebei met Bliksem (duh) spelen? Dat is een probleem. Want er is maar éen Bliksem. (stilte laten vallen, en dan vrolijk en rustig vaststellen:) Maar ik weet zeker dat jullie dat SAMEN kunnen oplossen. (en weer stilte).

Wie schetst mijn verbazing? Dat deden ze! Degene die Bliksem had zei: eerst speel ik even met Bliksem, daarna mag jij. En na 'n minuut of drie gaf hij Bliksem ook uit eigen beweging aan zijn vriendje!!! Die vervolgens een andere twistappel, ons kindergitaartje, kwam halen en aan de ander geven.

De hele ochtend (oké, het was maar een uurtje) hebben ze zoet samengespeeld en ik had er nauwelijks omkijken naar.

Hiep hoera. Hopen dat hij niet bij een "one hit wonder" blijft ...

dinsdag 11 januari 2011

Samen spelen, samen delen

Niet altijd eenvoudig. Zo merkten wij in Oostenrijk, samen vakantie vierend met zwager, schoonzus en neefjelief.

Heleen de Hertog heeft er een goed Amerikaans boek over gevonden: "How to talk to kids (so kids will listen)" en dat vertaald. In haar interview in de Volkskrant vandaag vond ik dit een gouden alinea:
De kern van deze theorie is dat je als ouder niet zegt: 'Stop met ruzie maken', maar dat je het probleem uitlegt en de gevoelens benoemt. Bijvoorbeeld door te zeggen: 'Toby speelt nu met de speelgoedauto en Marc wil ook, maar er is maar één auto. Dat is een serieus probleem, maar ik weet zeker dat jullie er samen uit komen.' Als je dan de speelgoedauto meeneemt totdat de kinderen een oplossing hebben gevonden, is dat heel wat anders dan als je de auto direct afpakt en zegt: 'Als jullie ruzie maken, dan mag er helemaal niemand mee spelen.' Toby en Marc moeten samen een oplossing verzinnen. Als dat is gelukt, geeft dat ze allebei een goed gevoel.

Meteen toepassen, first chance I get.

maandag 10 januari 2011


Zonder oordeel, zonder (nog iets). Het is goed zo.
Ik lig op een matje met een zakje gevuld met boekweit op mijn ogen.
De lijkhouding, heet dit. Je slaap niet, je bent alert, zegt Marleen.
Ik zie haar priemende blauwe ogen voor me, brandend als ijs. Donkere wenkbrauwen.
Het klinkt dwingend, met geklemde kaken: loslaten! Dat moet!
Het is maandagochtend en mijn lijf zegt: actie!
Maar Marleen zegt: loslaten.

Ik ben hier gekomen voor een proefles yoga.
Waarom, is me nu even niet helder.
We werken van binnenuit, wat ik goed vind.
Als mijn gedachten afdwalen, moet ik teruggaan naar mijn ademhaling.
Mijn hoofd uit, mijn lijf in.
Mijn hoofd is ertegen en zegt: ik ga een boodschappenlijstje maken.
Ik ga hier straks lekker een blog over schrijven.
Ik verveel me. Ik mag best wel afdwalen, ik móet niks.
Gedachten mogen komen en gaan als wolken aan de hemel.
Zegt mijn hoofd.

Loslaten (vervolgt hoofd) ís eigenlijk niks. Het is meer, iets niet doen. Is wel handig als je eerst weet wat dat iets is. Je kan iets aanspannen, en dan daarmee stoppen. Bijvoorbeeld, eerst je teen, dan je kuit, dij enzo omhoog tot je gezicht als laatste. Dat is een ontspanningstechniek die heet "progressieve relaxatie". Of je
kan de glimlachreflex oefenen (ik citeer uit de losse pols een sportklimoefenboek waarvan ik de naam vergeten ben). Glimlachen en tegen jezelf zeggen: het is goed zo.

Maar Marleen zegt: loslaten. Je bent nog gespannen en dat mag niet. Je hebt nog gedachten en dat mag niet. Nee, nee, nee! En nu ontspannen, kreng!

Naast me hijgt mijn buurvouw. Ze zucht diep uit en ademt lang in.
Buiten hoor ik een vogeltje vrolijk kwinkeleren, de zon laat het oranje dak aan de overkant oplichten. Zie ik vanaf mijn liggende positie op de grond door het kleurige glas-in-lood raam.

Niets doen aan je adem, zegt Marleen. Gewoon vanzelf laten gaan.
Mijn hoofd zegt: als ik aan mijn adem denk, ga ik anders ademen.
Mijn hoofd zegt: zo kan ik het niet!
Marleen is vriendelijk en doet haar best.
Ik geloof niet dat dit het juiste is voor mij.
Op de maandagochtend.
Loslaten, maar.

Ik haat loslaten! (zegt moppersmurf)

*Namen zijn gefingeerd ter bescherming van de privacy van de betrokkenen

dinsdag 4 januari 2011

Wishing you an honorful 2011

These holidays, we finally got to watch "the Blind Side" (2009). Aren't the best gifts those we would wish for ourselves? I presented the DVD to my brother in law, so we could watch it together.

Honor is my personal antidote to today's consumerism, decadence and depression. Or so was my insight when I stumbled upon "woede en tijd" by Peter Sloterdijk a few years back (translated as "rage and time"). This reminder is the icing on the cake "The Blind Side" provided me with.

The film has a wonderful story with excellent (Oscar winning) acting and leaves you with a hopeful message. The scene that reminded me of honor, is when Michael is struggling to write the paper he needs to win his grant. His "dad" Sean comes to his rescue by introducing him and us to a classic poem: "the charge of the light brigade" by Lord Alfred Tennyson. He helps Michael see that his own primary drive is: to lead an honorable life. Then, the essay more or less writes itself.

Thank you to John Lee Hancock for directing this film. This year, I shall try to live with honor and courage, to make the ones I love proud. Take risks and let no shame or fear of failure come between me and what needs to be done to reach for honor.

I wish the same for you!

Happy 2011 :)