A woman in the midst of patriarchal culture

When was the last time I gave myself a rest? A really, really, really good rest? And let every inch of my land lie fallow? I remember it quite vividly. It was Easter and I went with my three little cherubs down to Normandy in France.

“Happy Easter!” I cheer at Bakerman down my webcam over Skype.

“Thank you. Happy Easter to you too,” Bakerman smiles and waves back at me. “Are you on your way yet?”

“We arrived in Normandy yesterday,” I wink at him. Surely he notices the change in scenery through my webcam. Then again, maybe not. “Weather is awful but that was to be expected as I am a cloud and rain goddess. What does Easter symbolise to you?”

“Easter symbolises the plagiarism of Passover that Jesus Christ enjoyed before being arrested,” Bakerman spits out and I notice immediately I have gotten him started on something. “Catholic church bastardized the celebration much like Islam did.”

“Okay so it’s really about Passover. But what is it about?” I say trying to suss his rant. “Plagiarism sounds quite harsh. It’s normal for religions to adopt things from other cultures to gain more following.”

“Yes but to take the truth and twist it into nonsense is very bad,” Bakerman booms with a loud and heavy voice. “Worth a whipping at the least.”

“Liberation from slavery. I wish to be liberated from slavery. But without the whipping,” I reflect on his weird remarks. “You’d have to go back and whip Emperor Constantin.”

“Yes passive is about the biggest slave revolt ever. Passover,” Bakerman corrects his lapsus. “What besides chocolate does Easter mean to you? And besides little bunnies.”

“Family, chocolate, flowers, Jesus is resurected, hope,” I sum up everything that comes to mind on my fingers. “I’m not passive though, I’m really trying to make this work. Passive is no revolt, it’s apathy.”

“True,” Bakerman nods encouraging me along the path of philosophical discussion. “You will make it.”

“How can you be so sure?” I ask him as my voice quavers a little betraying my deep-rooted insecurity. Letting things lie fallow feels… biblical.

We don’t live in a world that honours just being still, like a plot of land unseeded. We are all celebrated for how much we do and how hard we work. And the weight and breadth of the what we accomplish is actually quite spectacular.

So stop a moment and reflect. What feels like an obligation that isn’t? Where could you make space for something unknown? What could you let go of? What could you say no to? Where will you allow a clearing to lie down and rest, praising the moon above?

In peace and love,

Fiona

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We all need chocolate egg therapy

Chocolate and therapy are both profoundly helpful tools. Yet talking about it openly is almost as dirty as talking about money. As a result, we turn to chocolate as the thought of therapy alone is a host of unhelpful fantasies, hopes and suspicions.

Bakerman being the attentive friend he is, has been popping some chocolate eggs in with my daily bread for the past few days now leading up to Easter.

“More video training today,” I smile at him joyfully at the prospect of more chocolate surprise. “Awfully exhausting. Wishing you a happy Easter and lots of chocolate. Off to Normandy tomorrow.”

“I’m an atheist,” Bakerman tells me straight. “But the real tradition is Passover. Happy Easter to you. Have a good trip. ”

He blows kisses at me as he heads back to his van. I eagerly peer into my brown paper bag with fresh bread and am delighted to find another handful of dark chocolate eggs. Exactly the ones I like. My best therapy.

I am certainly a believer that therapy is the greatest step anyone can take towards self-discovery and fulfilment of your highest potential. How therapy works is a mystery. Chocolate eggs for that matter are much easier to understand. You unwrap the shiny coloured wrapper, discover the deliciously scented egg inside, then pop it into your mouth and wait for the feel-good hormones to kick in.

Love and chocolate always,

Fiona

Why social media matters so much

Back in January, I discussed my new focus on social media marketing with Walter Mitty, my Bakerman. I applied my new knowledge to Facebook pages I manage and noticed, for instance, how the right use of little hashtags can increase my organic reach.

“Wow just got 2 more leads for social media marketing,” I brainstorm my current activities with him. “This is really booming business.”

“Yes. Go for it,” Bakerman says, eliminating any sense of hesitation within me. “It’s more interesting than analytics.”

“It sure is more interesting,” I sum up the results. “There is conversation and interaction. People care a lot about their social, strangely enough.”

I love my job. It consists of promoting products, driving more traffic, or selling on Facebook (for my business and for my clients). It is a continuously evolving market and things are getting harder.

There are two ways to approach social media marketing. The first is to build up your organic tribe with relevant content. After that you can further grow your following with strategic marketing.

Like I said, social media is an ever evolving market. Change is always coming. So don’t worry. If you read up on these things regularly, you will be ready to make it through confusing times.

Enjoy your day!

Fiona

Commitment

Over the past years I have found that sharing parts of my life with another person is not just based on love, friendship and respect, but also on the hard work of being able to compromise and entering into a dialogue with them. I also discovered that commitment is the key to having a successful relationship, no matter what the kind.

“Hello to you,” I cheer at Bakerman over Skype that evening. “How are your baking sales?”

“Hi. How are you?” Bakerman peers eagerly through the webcam. “How is business going? Mine has stalled again.”

“It’s looking quite good my end,” I tell him enthiusiastically. “The insurance company is some extra business, though not as much as anticipated. Then again this allows me to just give consulting without sweating over deadlines. A few peanuts are pulling back. Another peanut is very pleased and expanding. Still following that one nice hot lead. Hope to finalize the contract and start working mid-april. I’m working on those video ads. Want it to work and get more commitment there. All in all things are looking up and moving forward slowly. Still talking with Google but that would only be interesting if they take me on as a consultant. Why is your baking stalling? Do you know?”

“Sounds good,” Bakerman nods vigorously. “Yes I know why. Expectations of my partner are very different to the rest of the world. Don’t know if it’s lack of money or lack of knowledge. So now I try testing a cheap product. We also have a difference of opinion as to what market we should approach.”

“You should really test everything,” I advise him from experience. “Everyone has an opinion and you won’t know until you try out different solutions, I think. I know you’re very knowledgeable but you are on her turf. Maybe she knows the culture better than you do. Maybe she doesn’t know business like you do.”

“What I don’t understand is we get such good feedback,” Bakerman trails off.

“Well that’s great,” I tell him. And it’s true. Word of mouth is your best marketing strategy.

“Yes something like that yet the food culture is the same,” Bakerman says and I can see he has his thinking cap on tightly over his ears.

“Why do you want to understand it?” I question him further on the matter. “It means your customers are happy. You’re good at what you do. Yes but it’s also about the service and the atmosphere.”

“Sorry I didn’t finish,” Bakerman interrupts me. “With such good feedback he should be motivated to get product into the market before someone else does. I don’t have enough money now to go it alone.”

“He?” I suddenly pick up on an inconsistency.

“He is stalling,” Bakerman repeats. “The market is asking for the product. Don’t understand why he is stalling.”

“Who is he? Where is Debbie?” I look around me bewildered half expecting the world to fall apart around me as we speak. “What product? What about the sarnies?”

“My partner,” Bakerman pulls big eyes at me now. “Are you mad? What does Debbie have to do with my business? Yes sarmies what else? Are you confusing me with someone else?”

“I thought she made the sarnies with you and puts them on her nice pottery plates,” I stutter and feel my cheeks turn red. “No I hope you are Walter Mitty the Bakerman.”

“Don’t think. Ask.” Bakerman retorts.

“So you are shipping sarnies abroad,” I try to go on with the conversation pretending I’m not a bit shaken by the misunderstanding. “Won’t they go bad?”

“She is a professor at university. Pottery is her hobby,” Bakerman glares at me through the webcam. “Quick go take your back to earth pill.”

“Oh no not that!” I squeal and play along with him in amusement. “I love having my head in the clouds.”

“Yes indeed silly girl,” Bakerman scrutinizes me through pinched eyes. “What happened? Did you smoke something strange?”

“No no more smoking at all. Yuk!” I spit with curled nose. “Back to normal, thank god. No more cougar silliness either.”

“Actually I understand,” Bakerman points a finger at me through the computer screen and I find the gesture offensive. “You are not really interested so you keep a very superficial memory about what I am trying to do. No more naughtiness?”

“I want those videos to be a success,” I defend my position. “Am writing a blog post to promote them as well.”

“No more cuckolding Wim just to see how far you can push him?” Bakerman is making sure I understand the small letters of my personal commitments.

“Nooo not true!” And I take on a defensive stance. “I am interested in your sarnies and your tutoring at university. I love your stories when you’re generous enough to share. No no more hurting people and sabotaging myself. No more naughty stories for my old mother.”

“God girl are you growing up at last,” Bakerman beams at me fondly.

“I m 42,” I wink at him. “The age of the answer to everything.”

“Indeed,” Bakerman smiles back, happy to hear I read the book he had recommended.

“Time to make dreams come true,” I dream airily.

“Now you too can be eccentric,” Bakerman brings up an old dusty subject. In order to heal, you must first behave traditional. Get the foundations right. Once all is in place, you can colour outside of the lines. Or something along those lines.

“Yes and sell videos online,” I smile triumphantly.

“Well Fi. My bedtime as I must rise at 5 am,” Bakerman informs me. “You have a great day tomorrow and go knock ‘em dead.”

“Homeworking,” I smile and blow him a kiss. “Have fun.”

“Thanks,” Bakerman waves into the camera blowing kisses as well. “C U.”

Friendships are in some way a spiritual journey that you undertake with another person. Being able to open your heart to someone, you will find that you can reach a greater level of transformation, evolving together on your path and learning powerful lessons about yourself and each other that you might not have been able to all by your lonesome.

Love,

Fiona

Determination

This is not what I want long term,” I sulk as I open my door that morning for my usual daily bread delivery.

“Say what?” Bakerman looks at me taken aback a little.

“Long term,” I emphasize looking him straight in the eyes now. “I want something else long term. I want to be a fit and healthy mom over 40 doing yoga not smoking fags. I want to look good and feel great. Be an example for my kids. Nobody smokes in little house on the prairie. I want to be famous, filthy rich and have an apartment by the sea to take my grandkids. Cigarettes and affaires with young camera men is not part of the picture. Maybe flirting with the camera but even that can be embarrassing at my age.”

“Ok,” Bakerman says coolly. “So set up a plan of how to get there.”

“Eat more of your muffins and bread?” And that’s when I suddenly realize this relationship might actually be toxic.

“Yes but swallow this time,” Bakerman says with a naughty twinkle in his eye.

“Haha. That’s bad!” I tussle my head of platina blond hair around a bit. “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. Time to stop being lazy. Stop making excuses. Stop self-sabotage. Time to just do it. Get a grip.”

“The hard part is seeing your value from a different angle,” Bakerman joins me on this conversation, clearly enjoying where it is leading. “How to leverage your skills in a different way that makes you better than most of your competition.”

“I know, you keep saying that,” I snap somewhat annoyed. This statement keeps annoying me as I can’t translate it into any tangible actions. “I am good at talking and explaining the tech stuff. Plus I have a diva side. My presentations are pretty good. I need to get more in shape with yoga. Daily yoga practice.”

“Ok good,” Bakerman nods. “Who is your market? How do you service them well at the same time?”

“Big corporations,” I think out loud. “But I like this new collaboration with the video training guys. The main man speaks at conferences all over the world. His ambition is world fame. I want that too. Am hoping this will be the start of a successful collaboration. But how to solidify it. How do I get these guys addicted to me so that it’s a success and they don’t want to see me walk. Well a bit like you… why do you always come to talk with me?”

“Who can tell?” Bakerman waves away my question mysteriously. “For your collaboration, what can you do for them so they can succeed with you without sex being involved.”

“Pfff without sex,” I blow a little annoyed. “In fact I should use this energy to be fabulous and creative. Sex would be nice though.”

“Well ok destroy your collaboration if you want to,” Bakerman throws his arms up in clear annoyance.

“6 months is a long time,” I argue. “No no no. No sex. Fine. No sex and no cigarettes.”

“Find someone to fuck that is outside of your circles,” Bakerman throws back the dirty at me.

“Like whoooo?” I am using my passive aggressive voice now. “Give an example.”

“Walk in a city, choose one and ask if he will fuck you,” Bakerman retorts. “It’s not hard.”

“Yuk!” I spit.

“Why yuk?” Bakerman looks at me defiantly.

“What a turn off!” And I curl my nose. “No seduction. Nothing. No thanks.”

“Friends with benefits?” Bakerman won’t let this go. “Who must seduce who?”

“It doesn’t matter as long as there is seduction and longing and enticement,” I whine. “I‘m no saint and not mother Theresa.”

“But that requires some sort of commitment,” Bakerman thinks out loud for me to hear.

“6 months is looooong,” I remind him of the ordeal I am going through. That all of us are going through in my little family life. “If it ever gets better. And lots of good looking guys. Pffff. I’ll be fine. Piece of cake.”

“Go on a dating site,” Bakerman continues to prod me where it hurts.

“Chocolate. Yoga. Compulsive shopping,” I sum up all of my addiction. “No I’ll be fine.”

“I knew a girl who hunted on dating sites,” Bakerman continues to rile me. “Lots of wonderful one night stands. No commitment no strings.”

“No I’m elevating myself out of the cesspool, remember?” I make a pointed statement. “Not going back there.”

“Redirect your desire then,” Bakerman offers me the cryptic advice again.

“Sex is a serious issue,” I tell him upset. “Especially when you’re not getting any.”

“Convert it into something else,” Bakerman says as if it’s all just a piece of cake. To Bakerman, I am sure everything is cake. “Yes sure. I understand.”

“Yes, convert it into success,” I sigh. “Make me look more desirable.”

“Yes.” Bakerman confirms.

“Do things.” I continue.

“Focus.” Bakerman builds further on my thoughts.

“I want the video training collaboration to be top quality long term successful and lucrative.” I am making a point of visualizing my success stories.

“Then don’t fuck any of them,” Bakerman warns me again.

“I won’t,” I sulk again.

“Very good,” Bakerman beams.

“Why is sex so bad?” I ask him, but get no response as he heads back to his van to continue his morning deliveries.

Deep sigh. I wish healing from anxiety and depression were as easy as slipping on a healing crystal bracelet.

Love,

Fiona

After communicating with Buddha…

I have retreated into my doom and gloom for weeks. I lie awake at night and worry about work, family, friends, my kids… Not coming out of my shell to interact with the outside world. Honestly, in those gloomy days I obsess about everything. I need a nudge and a shove sometimes to get back into things. When all of these thoughts and emotions are going on inside I rarely express any of them. It takes time to heal. There is so much clutter in my head that I can’t focus or slow down to express myself accurately. The only way out I know is by being outrageously incorrect. Of course I want to interact differently. I just don’t know how…

“The camera man is yummy,” I have decided to throw in my best and worst tactics to get a response from Bakerman as he silently hands me my delivery this morning. “He’s also very young. But deliciously attractive. Too bad it’s work related and I’m already in a relationship. I can still fantasize though, right?”

“Really Fiona?” Bakerman looks at me with unhidden annoyance all over his features. “Feeling a little desperate are we?”

“Yes,” I smile back at him and lock his gaze defiantly.

“Get new batteries,” Bakerman snaps back standing tall and square on my front doorstep.

“I need to plug it into the wall,” I correct him without blinking. “No batteries. Sigh.”

“Don’t they make a vibrator you can warm up in a microwave?” Bakerman will not let me win this one and he is staring me down.

“Do they?” I mock. “What about the emotional fantasy?”

“I don’t know,” Bakerman continues the cold battle. “I don’t have a use for one.”

“A vibrator just doesn’t do it for me,” I tell him with my voice wavering a bit and I can tell that Bakerman is going to ease up on me now.

“Thats OK,” Bakerman susses me and immediately I feel the negative charge between us has been dispelled.

“It’s just a silly toy,” I shrug. “What’s wrong with feeling turned on?”

“Nothing so long as that’s where it stops for now,” Bakerman looks me over for the first time in weeks. “Having an affair is ok. But you hurt yourself and others in the long run.”

“Yes yes I’m just looking,” I reassure him but still feel annoyed that trust is still lacking in that area. “Mmmm. There are advantages of being a cougar. Hahaha.”

“There is?” Bakerman raises an eyebrow, and while he isn’t as upset with me as he had been, he’s still far from being pally with me.

“This is really not funny,” I make a point this means something to me at least. “The sex is probably amazing.”

“I guess Wim knows your desires and doesn’t seem to mind much,” Bakerman reminds me of my commitments. “So perhaps if you can keep it quiet…..”

“Yes I’ve already told everyone it’s hard to be stuck for an entire day in a small room with a very attractive young man,” I let him know I have been totally transparent with my environment on this difficult matter.

“Got to go,” Bakerman turns on his heels and blows me a kiss. “Enjoy your toy. Boy.”

“I will,” I smile after him glad to know we are still friends after all.

Later the same day I find myself in a mess as I have stumbled upon a picture of my baby on somebody else’s website. As we’re suddenly friends again, I decide to turn to call Bakerman to as for advice.

“Ohooh I think someone not very nice has stolen pictures from my twitter account,” I tell him in jolted breaths down the phone. “Pictures of my kids. And reposted them on a not very nice website. Bit scary. Trying not to panic. How do you react to this?

“I have no idea,” Bakerman answers a little too disengaged for my liking. “Can you track this person? Can you report it to the police? Maybe Wim would know.”

“Yup Wim said to report it to cyber crime,” I confirm down the phone. I’m happy that I had the right advice all along, but a bit put off that Bakerman had no other suggestions or insights to throw in. “Creeps.”

“Ok. Good,” Bakerman comforts me. “People are very bad.”

“Yes I’d love to introduce them to my friend hockey stick,” I tell him with ardour. “How much percent of the population is bad like this? Now I’m in killer mode again. I really preferred my cougar from earlier on.”

“Reset the mood,” Bakerman sighs.

“He’s really cute,” I instantly jump on the opportunity. “Smells good too. If I were really assertive, I’d make the first move. But I’m not, so I’ll just enjoy fantasizing.”

“As a cougar you have to make the first move,” Bakerman encourages me as he sees the flaw in my plan. “You know you want to.”

“I do. But I cant and I mustn’t,” I smile in admiration of my glowing inner goddess. “But it’s fun thinking I would. I could be really naughty.”

“Yes you could,” Bakerman now coaxes me in all safety. “Is it like an addiction?”

“I’m afraid that’s what it looks like,” I sigh again down the phone. “Like the craving for cigarettes. The seduction and the thrill.”

“What part do you like the most?” Bakerman wants to know.

“The downfall at the end too,” I think out loud how these kind of situations always end. Then I am quick to correct any misinterpretation of my last answer. “Noooo not that. I like the fantasy most.”

“Are you blogging it?” Bakerman asks me in a naughty voice and I know this spells trouble.

“You know, being mysterious and glamourous and desirable,” I go over all the fantasies I hold dear. “No I haven’t blogged for ages now.”

“Oh well flirt a little and see what happens,” Bakerman teases me. “Going to teach now.”

“Ooooh yes. Next Friday,” I exclaim. “It’s escapism and excuses only. I want a cigarette. I am going to buy a pack and smoke one later on. Naughty smokes.”

Later on that evening I send a text message to Bakerman: “That was a nice cigarette. Very bad though.”

I mainly use this blog to learn everything I can about how to communicate and express myself in a clear, direct and accurae way. After I have retreated into myself for weeks, talking to Buddha, taken away the clutter, I am ready to cultivate kind and calm conversations again. Together, let’s shift out the internal chatter and get into the present moment.

Love,

Fiona

True compassion

“Hi, how are you?” I say absent mindedly and still all in gloom as Bakerman hands me my morning buns. He waves at me gently as he gets back into his van for morning deliveries.

Recent events have me retreating back within myself again. Shutting myself off from the world. Licking my wounds. Finding back my peace and strength.

What really gets to me is this. I am a smart successful woman. I have a very busy schedule balancing taking care of my children ànd my business. All by myself. No help from family whatsoever. Yet my mental health is a worry I face. And we live in a society where mental health issues are frowned upon. It is grounds for backstabbing and gossip.

But I am not alone. There are more people like me out there. Struggling every day to keep it together. To stay sane with all the curve balls life throws at me. To keep it all together no matter how nasty people are with me. To keep smiling and loving towards my children despite the deep anxiety and depression I face when I look inside myself.

It doesn’t matter who you are. Anxiety and depression makes no distinction. And it is easier to confide in my Bakerman who suffers in the same way as I do, than in the people who are supposed to love me who don’t. It’s fucked up and beautiful in some strange way. To help and support each other as we understand all too well how the other feels. The blind leading the blind.

Anyone can have mental health issues. And you can still be successful and fully functional regardless the fear and anxiety.