Giving up control

I believe in leaving a man better than he was when I found him. And likewise, I love to learn from the encounters I make in life. One of the answers I found with my life partner is the answer to control. I used to be someone who would meticulously plan and organize everything and everyone. Now I am practicing surrender.

“Good morning, how are you?” I wave at my Doctor friend. But he’s too busy pottering to even look up and acknowledge me. So I decide to let him be today. Whatever it is that I urgently wanted to discuss with him will have to wait for another day. Give me some more time to sleep on it. Allow my dreams to process it over once more.

Life used to be roller coaster ride to me. And trying to maintain control in this is a like trying to stay in control on a roller coaster. The ride has its own logic and is going to go its own way, regardless of how tightly I grip the bar or how loud I scream. I found there is a thrill and a power in simply surrendering to the ride and fully feeling the ups and downs of it, letting the curves take me rather than fighting them. When I fight the ride, resisting what’s happening at every turn, my whole being becomes tense and anxiety is my close companion. When I go with the ride, accepting what I cannot control, freedom and joy inevitably arise.

Love,

Fiona

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The art of persuasion

Have you ever asked yourself: Why do we have mental breakdowns? I experienced a full-blown meltdown a couple of years ago. I’ve gone over it over and over again asking myself how on earth I got there. The only answer I can come up with is this: failing to take responsibility for what happened. One word: avoidance.

“I really want Google now,” I am talking my head off to my Doctor friend. “Will be bummed if I don’t. Are your sarnies selling well?”

“No. There is more bla bla here then there,” the Doctor tells me pre-occupied. “But I am negotiating to rent kitchen space. On Monday I do new trials.”

“Yeay,” I cheer him on as it does all sound promising although I am wondering why it is taking so long. Or on the other hand I keep asking myself if the Doctor has a better sense about setting up a business than I do. I’ll just observe for a while, I decide.

“Today I bake for new photos,” the Doctor goes on.

“Do people like them?” I ask him again.

“Yes they do,” the Doctor nods at me pleasantly.

“Posting photos to social media?” I want to know why he needs these photos. Is it digital marketing material, or is it content for his menus? “I bet they do.”

“Perhaps,” the Doctor avoids my curiosity.

“Do you make them happy too?” I prod further for more answers. “Can I order a sarnie with charisma?”

“I don’t know about that,” the Doctor eyes me suspiciously. “Yes when I come back as an employee as a mentalist for Google after you get the job. Going to get supplies. Back in half an hour.”

“Oooooh I m not sure I want you to come back,” I smile sweetly peering into my webcam to gauge his every reaction. “It’s always great seeing you and talking to you. Love having you around. Like really love the feeling. It’s comforting, soothing, nice, motivating. But dangerous too. And there’s Debbie and your sarnies. But would love to taste a sarnie with charisma. I really want that too. With or without Google. I want Google too though. And to become very, very rich.”

“What do you think will happen to you if you become very rich?” the Doctor turns to face me head on in the camera. He had been pottering around his study before this turn of conversation. “Are you ready for those problems?”

“I might lose touch with reality again?” I ask a little worried. “I would like to create businesses. Travel the world. Sponsor charity work, maybe start one myself.”

“You need to be more clear than that,” the Doctor points out to me.

“I will continue working as a consultant part time in my own consultancy agency,” I start out doing my utmost best to be very specific this time. “I will hire and educate young people in digital marketing. Heleen will be my office manager. I will also start up my Center for Inspiration, branches in Keerbergen, Mechelen and Brussels. Bring meditation to busy stressed out people. I will also open a shop selling designer clothes for kids. I will travel during school vacations with my three kids and the au-pair. We will tour South America. Also Asia, Japan, Bali, Vietnam. Stuff like that. And Scandinavia. We’ll blog about it too. And create immense Instagram following. I will start a charity for kids. Bring digital education, a center where kids can turn to: get food, clothes and comfort. Starting in Belgium and then other places along my travels. Maybe also teach them to make sarnies. I will sell my house and buy a new one, bigger, more modern, more center Keerbergen so my kids can go to school by bike. I will also do stuff with art and photography. Like workshops for kids and travel camps. That’s what I will do when I am rich.”

“Ok good enough,” the Doctor shrugs pretending not to care, but I can tell my the twinkle in his eye that he liked my answer.

“What will you do?” I ask him in turn.

“Consider risks, as its hard work to begin with,” the Doctor gives me a wise look urging me to pay close attention. “I will protect my money. Invest as best I can. Keep trying to grow my capital. Be wary of those trying to take it away. Mix with winners only and adopt their attitudes to success. Teach my kids to do the same. To achieve is better than a life of Reilly.”

“Ok will cogitate on that,” I tell him as I do think his advice is pretty sound.

“Think about it like this,” the Doctor looks at me sternly. “You work for longer periods than you vacation. This makes vacation special. If you vacation for long periods you will need to demotivate yourself to work.”

“Well yes there are long periods during school time,” I defend my cause. “But okay make vacation rare and special. I’m hoping I do get Google. I’ll be able to have paid vacation! Real vacation without a computer. Without being always on. I haven’t had that in years.”

“Yes I really hope you do,” the Doctor nods. There is something about the air around him that makes me feel insecure now.

“I will by a loft by the sea and organise meditation retreats,” I continue laying out my future plans, doing my best to shake the creeping feeling of insecurity. Why am I feeling this gut feeling? What am I not acknowledging? “Me too. Any magic spells?”

“Yes but they don’t work in Belgium,” the Doctor dissuades me of any hocus pocus. This also shakes me as I would expect my pure desire for manifestation to be the ultimate secret to getting what I want.

“They don’t?” I ask him annoyed. He obviously wants me to work for it. Maybe that was my uneasy feeling. “Where do they work then? Need to make this work. I’ll just have to trust that will happen what is best. Whatever is on my path. Sounds so fatalistic.”

“Spells work best among superstitious people,” the Doctor explains. “No you must make it happen. Pray a lot. Ask for it. Be clear on what you are asking for.”

“I want to be a top executive at Google,” I decide there is no time like the present to be clear about what I want. “It will give me the visibility and credibility I need to sell these training videos and to be successful. It will allow me to expand my career, learn, and have security. Security is good for me and my kids. It will reduce stress. Top pay 150k plus, indexable annually, car and fuel covered so I can get rid of my car costs, med coverage so I can save that cost too, pension and shares for later.”

“Yes. Plus you get to brainstorm with like-minded people,” the Doctor reminds me it’s not just about the money but about the satisfaction of working on something meaningful. “Just be selective on who you sleep with. Don’t go for low level management until you are at the top of your game.”

“Paid vacation is a ball,” I know I keep repeating myself but this is one of the perks I am really looking forward to. “I’m sleeping with Wim. But true. Sleep with top management?”

“Yes. You are,” the Doctor nods. “Things change.”

“Hmmmm yes,” I look disgruntled.

“Ok so focus on this position and what you can bring,” the Doctor changes the perspective for me to consider all sides to the story. “Ask for it in clear terms. Don’t worry too much about your contribution as it will fall into the scope. Ignore the vacation aspect, it’s a perk. Focus on the job only.”

“I want the job,” I repeat like a moron. “Conversion optimization evangelist. I want to be a Google evangelist.”

“Find out who you need to get to know to get support from them,” the Doctor gives me ideas how to keep working towards this goal.

“Quite amazing,” I cheer happily. “I would be like my analytics heroes. Never thought this was possible.”

“Keep that picture very focused in your mind,” the Doctor preaches. “Talk about it. Do your homework and due diligence. Meet the relevant people. Get to it now.”

“Okay,” I skip around merrily.

“You have the knowledge and skills,” the Doctor coaches me. “Go forward. Ignore the past. Recreate your history to make you look amazing. It’s in you. I felt it.”

“Yes,” I am beaming all over now. Feeling invincible. I like that. “Ha now BNP wants to negotiate too. And I don’t want to sleep around. I want to marry Wim.”

“You sound sure,” the Doctor prods me to get me out of balance on my last statement. “Well BNP is in your hand so negotiate. If Google comes resign and move on. Don’t turn BNP away in case Google happens some day soon. It may not.”

“Good plan,” I smile, but not inside. I don’t like what the Doctor just said. What does he mean, Google might not happen?

So instead of taking responsibility, I spent my time on sillies like the secret manifestation and other oddities I picked up from courses with Deepak Chopra. Just hoping the universe will listen and chanting mantras will not bring me the job. It’s hard work and doing your homework and research that will. That’s the part where I was supposed to be taking responsibility.

If I am ever to climb out of this pit I believe a reset of my way of thinking is in order. No more magical BS and unicorns for me. No sir.

Fiona

Make every day count

Sometimes I purposefully, though unconsciously, cut myself off from my business and workflow so I can avoid dealing with painful issues.

“You could record live webinars in your kitchen and show people how to do it,” I tell Bakerman as we are brainstorming business ideas again. “Sell your recipes. Or maybe you want the quiet life by the sea.”

“Sex on the beach,” Bakerman teases back. I can tell immediately he’s in a funny mood.

“Haha yes that too,” I laugh back. “I’ve never had sex on the beach. I’m 42 for crying out loud. Wouldn’t that be lovely…”

“You don’t need sand in soft places,” Bakerman always knows how to sooth my hurts of lost opportunities.

“No it probably sounds better than it really is,” I decide. It’s like people who claim they were up all night making love. Never done that one either.

“Did you have a good holiday?” Bakerman turns the subject to something more fun.

“Yessss,” I emphasize as I beam at him. “Love my kids sea beach and champagne.”

“No side entertainment?” Bakerman is making sure I was on best behavior.

“No,” I snap back at him and squint my eyes. “Like what?”

“Cava,” Bakerman offers.

“Champagne,” I correct him again. “And a few smokes.”

“Nice,” Bakerman smiles pleased. “Did Wim miss you?”

“Yes,” I smile again. “A bit. Did you?”

“Yes. It was very quite while you were away,” Bakerman admits.

I let out a loud laugh as Bakerman gets to his feet. “Got to go. Be good,” he says as he pecks me fondly on the cheek.

“That company came back to me that I was too expensive,” I tell him on his way out. “Any way I can still win the deal?”

I guess we all experience periods where we are separated from the abundant ebb and flow, be it in business or in our career. These times of being disconnected from a steady source of income may occur for many reasons, but self-sabotage is the most common cause for me cutting myself off from the abundant flow of the universe. I find I cut myself off from this flow so I can avoid dealing with painful issues, shun the necessary steps for growth, or prevent the success I am afraid of achieving from ever happening. When I disconnect from the abundant source, I am blocking the flow of the universe’s generosity. I become like a sleepwalker who is not fully awake to life, and my hopes, plans and dreams begin to appear as distant blurs on a faraway horizon. Universal support has obviously never left me. If only I can remember that I became disconnected from the abundant source by choice, then I can choose to reconnect.

Faithfully,

Fiona

Is there someone looking over your shoulder?

“Poop I didn’t get that big client. Poop poop poop,” I am stomping around my study in front of my webcam Skyping with Bakerman. “So business wise I’m not there yet… Mommy wise still learning. Friendly but autistic. I’m a catastrophe. You should send me your sarnie. Wonder how long it would take to get here.”

“It would be a science experiment by the time it gets there,” Bakerman winks at me.

“It would be alive,” I joke lightening up in my doomy clouds. “It could wave at me.”

Did you feel interpellated? I don’t know about you, but I am the only one staring at my screen. There is nobody looking over my shoulder.

Which is why it sounds funny sometimes to write a blog post using plurals, like “we” or “ourselves”, even if I might mean “you and me” or “all of us” opposed to “all of them”.

Dear reader, I am talking to you. Maybe not original, but at least you know I am really talking to you. And I’m not hiding my self away behing a fictive group of “we”.

I’m a person too. I love talking face to face. Make it personal.

Love personally,

Fiona

Do you know who your real friends are?

How many friends do you have? I have many acquaintances myself, and a few people I would categorize as close friends. Over the past years, I have been confronted with losing friends too. Or more realizing that the people I thought of as close friends didn’t turn out to be real friends after all. The revelation only happens in moments when you reveal your true self, your true troubles and suffering, that the masks drop and you figure out it was more a relationship of convenience than one of true friendship.

“You know, in Normandy it finally dawned in me that life really does begin at 40,” I tell Bakerman as I am poking around nosily in his baking atelier that afternoon.

“Oh how come?” Bakerman looks at me quizzically. He then shoves a plate with a huge sarnie under my nose.

“Can anyone fit that in their mouth?” I ask him eying the huge monstrosity with big popping eyes. “Reflecting back on life, poor circumstances and poor choices. But not anymore. Now I’m in command. No use crying over spilled milk. Life starts at 40.”

“I am sure you will manage to bite it,” Bakerman winks at me. “Go for it. You are 100% correct. But be aware of bad habits that will hold you back.”

“Oh am I going to try one?” I greedily accept the plate with the deliciously smelling sandwich. “Taste it I mean. Which bad habits?”

Maybe we’ll never quite figure out who our true friends are. Maybe it will take us until old age to realize who we truly loved and who we felt we could completely be ourselves around. I wonder which cues actually indicate when I am pretending to be someone I am not… maintaining relationships just for the sake of it. Maybe the real question is: am I happy this way?

Love,

Fiona

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

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