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

Drinks & parties

I often turn to Bakerman, my BFF, to ping pong my thoughts as a guide to meet my life obligations. Oftentimes I question myself if that is the correct way to behave in society. Yet there is no user manual to life, and even if there is one, I never even got anything near to a sneak preview of it. So I rely on the viral buzz of what I hear around me, the feedback I get from loved ones and friends in order to wing it through this thing called life.

“That weird customer has immediately paid my invoice after my message,” I tell Bakerman feeling happy with myself. “What does that mean?”

“Blackmail?” Bakerman raises an alarming eyebrow at me as he moves restlessly around my kitchen that evening.

“Haha. Not funny,” I smirk back. “Feel sorry for my mother. She’s a poor little old lady.”

“Did you put a spell on her?” Bakerman keeps eyeing me suspicious of every little reaction or telltale sign my body language might give off.

“No I swear I didn’t,” I answer a little too serious for that type of question.

“What makes her a little old lady?” Bakerman wants to know, his eyes moving up in obvious rememberance of her. “Have you mentioned to your brother to pull his weight for change?”

“We don’t see each other or talk to each other, so no,” I tell him firmly. “She is 67, anorexic thin, no money to spend, sour, by herself, not looking happy or healthy. That makes her a poor little old lady.”

“Did you spend her pension?” Bakerman won’t give up teasing me. “Send her a fruit basket with a note. Carpe diem.”

“I wish,” I sigh into my tea cup. “Haha pretty good, will do. She spends all her money on fatty.”

“Oh well. If she must then she must,” Bakerman states flatly. “Send Fatty a box of seeds to plant. With a note, work never killed anyone.”

“If she must what?” I look up at him surprised.

“Spend her money on Fatty,” Bakerman repeats.

“Haha will do that too,” I smile heartily. “Ok I’m jealous. He always gets spoiled, the brat.”

“Do you think he will understand the concept of what you sow you reap?” Bakerman questions me. He obviously has a plan but I fail to see the big picture just yet.

“He got beaten the hardest so I guess he deserves it now,” I remember those bad old days vividly. The thought alone makes me uneasy and I reach into the cupboard for a piece of chocolate to nibble on. “She will understand.”

“Ok send peppers and beans,” Bakerman nods decidedly.

“Peppers and beans?” I can’t believe what I am hearing.

“Yes,” Bakerman sips his tea undisturbed by the strangeness of this conversation.

“Jack and the bean stalk?” I ask him.

“Yes,” Bakerman continues sipping his tea.

“Peppa Pig?” I ask again to be really sure I got this right.

“Yes,” Bakerman puts his cup down and holds my gaze.

I burst out into a fit of hysteric laughter which lasts a good five minutes.

“Very good,” Bakerman encourages my uplift in spirit.

“Fun!” I finally manage to breathe between giggles.

“Bought a mixing machine today,” Bakerman changes the subject back to his entrepreneurial ideas. “Water is being turned on tomorrow in the kitchen. Things are moving again. Hope to start production soon.”

“This is exciting,” I say and I notice I am tapping my foot without thinking about it. “Do you have a tea room to receive guests?”

“Yes,” Bakerman nods proudly. “I will make samples for photos on Friday and test the oven.”

“Oh fun, just you or will you have help?” I urge him to tell me more about his plans.

“No. I will supply four tearooms to see if their clients will buy the product,” Bakerman lays out the basic steps of his business plan. “Just me for now.”

“Even better, no hassle to clean up,” I point out the positives as they would be for myself. “Pity though, you’re really good talking to people.”

“That’s for later,” Bakerman winks at me.

“Yes,” I smile relieved to hear that idea is still on the table. “I’m happy for you that things are looking up.”

“Have you eaten and bathed the kids yet?” Bakerman beyond my shoulder into the living room at my young brood.

“Have eaten,” I nod looking fondly over my shoulder at my little darlings.

“Did you blackmail your client for a higher price?” Bakerman almost catches me unawares on that issue again.

“Made saumon today. Delicious,” I answer to the question of what I made for my littles earlier on. “No I didn’t.”

“Why not?” Bakerman is always teasing.

“I just told him what I told you yesterday,” I am annoyed he would question my integrity. “Because that’s not right.”

Marshmallow,” Bakerman throws at me with a wink and a grin.

“Yup,” I shrug my shoulders as I finish off my cup of tea.

“You will make a wonderful wife,” Bakerman looks at me all stary eyed now.

“I will,” I nod affirmatively. “This year in autumn.”

“Have you started planning yet?” Bakerman prods the plans further.

“No. Well the solicitor,” I look at his astonished as it hadn’t really occurred to me to actually start moving on this at all. “Nothing to plan really. Get a nice dress. Set the date. Go out for a meal. Married. Very simple.”

“No party for me to come too?” Bakerman’s grin is growing wider and his twinkles are apparent.

“Not really,” I say downplaying the aim of his tease. “Maybe a small drink.”

“Do you think Wim will freak out if I kiss the bride?” Bakerman does his best to keep a straight face now.

“Yes. Absolutely yes!” I cry out with a laugh. “That’s grounds for divorce.”

Bakerman lets out a deep laugh and finishes his tea. I much enjoy my daily chats with him. In fact, I believe that everyone has some really good stories inside of them. Every single person. Yes, you too!

Not all of your stories will get written, although they would be a great read indeed. Some of you may have the intention to write your passionate message to the world, but you keep putting it off and then putting it off some more and… Others will find an excuse in writer’s block. And just a simple lack of confidence will stop the other 99% of people reading these lines. Or lack of time. That one is my favourite excuse. And it just makes me sad. Life is an adventure. Like Paolo Coelho famously said : “Live your personal legend.” That’s right, you are legendary.

The best way I have found to learn something is by listening to stories people tell me. Bakerman is full of stories and funnies and anecdotes which get me thinking.

And it’s not just me. Everybody wants to hear your stories. My storyline. Bakerman’s words of wisdom. So be inspiring to those around you. Let your story be heard. If not in writing, in any other way you choose to express yourself. Just do it.

A job well done

“Morning,” I burst into the bakery almost out of breath. “Just saw my mother at the doctor’s. She didn’t look too happy to see me. Or she just didn’t look happy. Maybe I should send her a message.”

I promptly take out my iPhone to send said message as I take a seat at a small round table near the window. “Ah she’s hurt her back. A slipped disk. Guess my tarot is pretty good.”

“The Ides of March…” Bakerman suggests as he places a cup of hot tea in front of me.

“Oooh what do you mean?” I want to know, nibbling the chocolate chip cookie I found lying innocently on the saucer. “Like things aren’t turning out well for her at all? It’s like you said, I dont think my brother Fatty is really helping her.”

“My name is Bakerman not Jesus,” Bakerman smiles as he takes a seat opposite me. “I don’t know.”

“She also seems to believe my blog, that Willem is my grandad reincarnated,” I tell him conspiratorially. “Sometimes you sound like Jesus. Or a see-er. Somebody with special powers and special insights.”

“True,” Bakerman holds my gaze. “Willem is not your grandfather reincarnated.”

“He is,” I cry defensively. “Why do you think he’s not? He loves eating nuts. He’s extremely handy and precise with his little fat fingers. He’ll make an excellent brain surgeon.”

“So do squirrels,” Bakerman adds matter of factly.

“Hahaha. For a baby he is really handy,” I argue. “And he builds towers with Lego blocks. He’s a little wonder child.”

“That’s great,” Bakerman leans forward to get a better lock on my eyes. “Wonder where he gets it from.”

“He’s got Marc’s little short fingers,” I point out haughtily.

“Or yours perhaps,” Bakerman teases.

“Marc had an uncle who was a renowned heart surgeon in Peru,” I start explaining. “He passed away some time ago. Nooo those are not my thumbs.”

“What does that have to do with it or are you desperate again?” Bakerman snaps with apparent disapproval.

“Nothing but genetics,” I give him a coquettish nod.

“I see,” Bakerman will not be put off by my show. “Professions don’t have much to do with genetics. A little perhaps but nothing really. Willem will have good motor skills or bad. It’s to do with his own development. In a few years the passed-on instincts will show up.”

“Ok,” I decide to chose my battle wisely and give up on this one.

“I am sure you will teach him all your fears,” Bakerman won’t let me off so easily.

“Hope not,” I grumble under my  breath.

“Teach him to do good business. Teach him to be nice some of the time a ruthless the rest of the time,” Bakerman tells me sternly. Then he gets up from his chair abruptly. “I am going to teach now. See you later”

I read somewhere that if you don’t want to be asked to do something again, to make sure you do an awful job the first time around. That was the lesson my mother taught me. I first figured this out when it came to attending to her needs as her personal servant. Not only was I the live-in mad-hatter tea maker, I was also the full-time nanny to occupy children. And when one day my mother requested I paint her nails, I saw another full-time occupation heading my way. So I did my utmost best to make it look horrid. She never asked me again. Those are the fringe benefits of successful failure.

However, what has it taught me also, to procrastinate. To not try hard enough. To keep going. To be competitive and really fight for something I want. So, that’s what can be said about the job half-done. It leaves you nowhere.

Chosing for yourself which habits are healthy

“Hello hello!” I chime as I step into the bakery one fine spring lunchtime. I have been working from home all morning and feel like I deserve a treat to reward myself for reaching targets and being productive.

“Hi,” Bakerman smiles at me. “How are you?”

“Feeling happy,” I smile back at him as I sit down at a little round table near the window. “Wanted to say hi.”

“Why what’s wrong?” Bakerman teases me as he heads over to my table with two cups of tea.

“Have enrolled Winston in big school,” I beam proudly. “Hahahaaa. Nothing wrong. Bad man.”

I wink at him naughtily as I take a sip of the fresh hot brew. “Need to finalize my offers. I have 4 big hot leads to follow up. The one I told you about, I will send tonight with Mechelen as a reference. Exciting. Would be good if I land them all. Or is that greedy?”

I gaze over to the counter and become all big-eyed. “I’ll have chocolate cake today.”

“No give it your best shot,” Bakerman answers as he gets up slowly from our little table. He heads over to his counter to cut me a nice serving of the deliciously looking chocolate cake.

“Mmmm? Why no?” I question him, my eyes on the cake and my mouth watering. “Spring is in the air.”

“It’s not greedy,” Bakerman clarifies as he places the chocolate cake before me presented on a dainty little dish I’m sure Debbie has made in her pottery classes.

“I love spring,” I repeat again gazing out the window dreamily. I’m good at pretending I’m not dying to dig into that cake immediately. I have self-restraint, I do. “Good then I can go and have more cake. I am addicted to chocolate cake. Smoke free for more than 4 weeks now.”

“Yes me too,” Bakerman watches me with a twinkle in his eye. I forget all about good manners and eating lady like. Chocolate cake isn’t made to be eaten daintily. “I love rebirth and lots of growth.”

“Rebirth?” I question him with my mouth full of cake. “It must be interesting being you. I wonder how your thoughts tick.”

“Wow! Congratulations,” Bakerman applauds. “You only need to overcome the psychological side effects only.”

“I still love smoke and cigarettes,” I continue gazing out of the window dreamily. My eyes glaze over. “Only they tasted horrible in the end. Smells awful, stink! And my body doesn’t like it. But I love to smoke. Havent smoked in 4 weeks. How about you? Are you smoking now?” I pause to look at him and to take another sip of tea. “I’m going to get fat. Soooo? Are you smoking?”

“Yes sadly I am,” Bakerman admits shaking his head. “But very little. I hate it. I gave up giving up.”

“I know, it really is horrible. Yet really delicious,” I sympathize. “I think it’s the smoke that twirls all around you. The deep inhaling. And the fire. Caveman like.”

“I guess so,” Bakerman shrugs his shoulders and looks out of the window for anything worthwhile capturing my attention as it seems. He soon concludes it’s just one of my avoidance tactics though.

“Oh yessss,” I smack my lips enthusiastically. “It would be great if I could limit myself to three a day. But sadly I smoke like a maniac. All or nothing.”

“Better nothing,” Bakerman holds my gaze intently.

“My BNP contract is up for renewal end of June,” I offer a little worried as I finish off my cake. “I would like to ask for a raise. How’s the best way to ensure I get it?”

“Be honest,” Bakerman’s answers are always short. “Show added value.”

“Haha,” I laugh tossing my head back. “That’s a poopy answer. I want a magic solution.”

Even the most logical persons amongst us seek to create some kind of magic to help with setting intention and manifestation. First thing in the morning is an ideal time to set intentions. Writing down your goals and desires can make your intentions all the more powerful. My advice to you is to release anything blocking you to achieve your dreams. And use your passion to plant seeds for new opportunities. My passion is storytelling. It helps me to use my writing to support growth in my daily life. What about you? Maybe your passion is singing, or painting. Wherever your passion lies, use it to support change and transformation.

* Disclaimer : Any resemblance between the fictional characters in this story and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle by chance more than by choice.