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

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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

Friendship and love

“Howdi,” I smile as I enter the bakery this Monday afteroon. “Been to see the doctor to check up on my boob pain.” I instantly feel the need to explain why I cancelled my morning delivery of fresh buns. “How are you? Nice weather finally.”

“Hi,” Bakerman smiles at me. “I am fine. Indeed fine weather today. Took a walk along the beach. Do you have a result from the doc?”

“You have an apartment by the sea?” I look at him in amazement, discovering once again something new about my friend. “Wow.”

“Yes,” Bakerman smiles fondly. “I used to live on the black sea.”

“Wow,” for a moment my mind lingers on the joy I find each time I walk along the shoreline and for a moment forgetting the worry about my own personal health. “Probably nothing but hospital scan tomorrow. There’s no lump in any case.”

“Ok. That’s a relief,” Bakerman takes the issue seriously. “Maybe just a reaction to your period.”

“Yes probably something like that,” I do my best to brush off my worry so I turn the subject to other worries. “I’m working my ass off. Can’t wait for the au-pair to arrive. By the time the Star returns I will have a serious business again. Wish I could go for walk by sea. Last time I went was at Easter in Normandy.”

“Soon you will have time again,” Bakerman nods at me encouragingly. “Sounds great that you are busy.”

“Oh glorious quality time with kids,” I smile as my eyes glaze over remembering the good times. “It is great but this is getting too much for long term by myself.”

“Don’t worry you are tough underneath your marshmallow exterior,” Bakerman teases me.

“It should be the other way round,” I ponder a little on what he just told me a little too innocently. “Tough outside and soft within. It should.”

“Yes,” Bakerman confirms eyeing me cautiously.

“How do I reverse that?” I demand to know more.

“Practice,” Bakerman retorts. “It’s all about how you see yourself and think about things and of course behaviour.”

“Hmmm very cryptic,” I go on thinking about the subject. “So I need to stop thinking marshmallow and Tin-Man. Instead I am a chocolate chip cookie with honey inside? That way you mean? Just by how I think about myself? Ok.”

Love and general and relationships in specific are situations we are continuously evaluating. How do we react when we meet love on our path and it asks us to continue the journey together? How do we strike the right balance knowing that love can be both enormously rewarding and endlessly frustrating at the same time? And why is it so damn hard to come to a compromise? Just how much compromising is acceptable and when is it too much?

And what kind of a friend am I to the people closest to me? Who are the people of my inner circle? Friendship is a great promise and is of utmost importance in our daily lives. Because love comes and goes, jobs are found and lost, but friendships are made to last forever.

Or is it the other way round?

* 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.

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.

Go big or do nothing at all

I pop in to see Bakerman after work to cheer him up and to check on how sick he really is. Het is not going well at all, temperature running high and a vague expression on his face. His body and his entire being is clearing his energy field of all the negativity that has accumulated. What I am about to hear is going to call the beginning of a brand-new era in our lives.

“Oh hi,” I greet him as I bustle into his bakery atelier. “My conf call turned out to be postponed. And I’m a bit late.”

“Better than never,” Bakerman smiles meekly, happy to see me.

“So my mother, positive evolution?” I ask him cutting straight to the chase.

“I am going to have a slice of cake and a big cup of tea now,” Bakerman skuttles around his workplace slowly gathering deliciously smelling items. “Do you want some?”

“Yesss please. Chocolate cake?” I am looking around at all the tempting things he has concocted. “Wim is going to start a blog too now. Fun huh.”

“I don’t know,” Bakerman has his back to me as he is shaking and trying carefully to prepare two big mugs of fresh tea. “My job is to help you look at alternatives instead of a single point of view that may or may not be correct.”

“Mmmm lost me,” I sigh as I take a big bite of the chocolate creamy cake he just placed in front of me. “Great cake though.”

“What was the whole reading for your mom?” Bakerman turns to face me now holding out a hot steamy mug of tea. I accept his offer quickly afraid he might spill half of the hot brew in his clumsy sickness.

“She’s financially well off but can’t see it,” I start recounting what the story of my wild unknown tarot cards. “She reaps what she sows with me and my brother. Too much in control. A big change is coming, sudden. And she’ll be upset. But it’s a blessing in disguise. In two years she will meet a new love interest. I told her to do AirBnB for extra income. Or English conversation. Or cake workshops. How to make a blue cake for instance. Hope renewed. Connect to the force within.”

“Was she not an accountant or something?” Bakerman asks as he slowly stirs his tea with a small dainty spoon.

“No she was an administrative assistant at the army,” I tell him. That translates into less than a secretary. “She liked to pretend she was very important.”

“Oh,” Bakerman shrugs as he takes a first sip of his tea.

“And she liked to copy the military,” I could go on forever on details regarding my mother. “She said she never saved for her pension. Can anybody really be so reckless?”

“Yes sure,” Bakerman nods at me unblinkingly.

“She says she only has one income,” I go over the inconsistencies with my best friend. “Does this mean my brother doesn’t contribute to paying the costs of living at home?”

“Of course not,” Bakerman laughs. “Your mother should have put him in a special nursing home years ago.”

“Haha,” I enjoy a good laugh. “Yes she should. I think he only works part time. Lazy sod.”

“The best way to treat your brother is to get him help in finding a job and keeping it then throw him out,” Bakerman eyes me coolly from his puffy red face.

“My mother will never throw him out,” I shake my head looking down at the tea mug resting in my lap. “I told her she should get him to move on. But always excuses.”

“She knows he can’t survive on his own,” Bakerman mocks.

“Yup,” I sigh.

“Make sure you teach your kids the value in achievement,” Bakerman warns me.

“I do all the time,” I smile back at him. “And they do chores.”

“Discipline is very good for kids,” Bakerman confirms.

“Yes I dont want morons like my brother,” I pull a funny face as I think of that genetic failure.

“Does he know he is the village idiot in Turnpoint Mountains?” Bakerman hears all the gossip in town as people come and go in his bakery. “There is another one very similar in Emelo Woods too. Guy is 40 and never worked a day in his life. Lived at home from birth.”

“I don’t think so,” I go on thinking deeply. My mother would have said something if it were the case. “Some call him ‘bambi’. My mother thinks that’s endearing somehow.”

“You should tell him,” Bakerman urges me. his fever clearly rising inside of him. “The whole village knows about him and laughs at him.”

“The village thinks he’s a little old man,” I tell him about the rumours I have heard. “They think he’s my mom’s boyfriend. Nobody believes me when I tell them he’s my brother. They laugh when I say he’s my younger brother. Incredible.”

“It was suggested once that I should offer free treatment for him,” Bakerman is holding my gaze. I remember him offering to talk to my brother last year, but that was the other brother.

“Yes you should,” I push him a little. I’m starting to wonder how much of the fever is actually doing the talking.

“No,” Bakerman shakes his head resolutely. “Incest cases are not my thing.”

“How is he involved in incest?” I am shocked to my core. Is there a simple way to talk to a man delirious with fever? “You mean with my mother? Now it is weird how they live together. Go on vacation together.”

“Who knows the truth,” Bakerman shrugs. “Such is the rumour.”

“Sleep in same bed on vacation,” I go over the weird evidence accumulating under my unbelieving eyes. “It is the rumour, I know. But it can’t be true.”

“Why not? I had a case like this long ago,” Bakerman remembers sourly. “Father and son were fighting all the time. Fist fighting and father couldn’t figure it out. Son was fucking mother and became possessive. Mother preferred fucking son. Son is now living in a mental institution as he is screwed up from this. Both parents are dead now. He has been a basket case for years. Hated having to submit a report to the authorities.”

“Oh my that sounds bad,” I shake my head. I know I can’t cope with even hearing about such things. I’d rather live in my peaceful little world, without drama and terrible stories only my birth family could come up with. “I couldn’t cope with cases like that.”

“Yes,” Bakerman nods solemnly. “Who is your brothers father?”

“I can’t even read the newspaper without getting upset,” my head is spinning now and I’ve lost track of the plot. Are we talking about my brother in the UK and the abuse he put up with from Graham? Or my brother here in Belgium? “My stepdad? Fwa-fwaaah.”

“Yes I know,” Bakerman nods mysteriously.

“Frank is his real name,” I go on. “He looks the spitting image of him.”

“Is he in touch with your brother?” Bakerman asks inquisitively.

“Yes but not often now,” I tell him only what I have heard. “He’s drinking again. And very involved with his new Philippino wife and her lot. He never bothers with me and my kids. Sometimes my brothers but not often.”

“Sounds good,” Bakerman smiles.

“Does it?” I pull up my eyebrow at him.

“You don’t need the added aggravation,” Bakerman points out.

“I don’t,” I sigh.

“Your brother just needs to meet a bitch like his mother and he will be off,” Bakerman lets me know it will all be okay.

“Hasn’t happened yet,” I point out the obvious flaw in his statement. “Don’t think he ever will.”

“There must be loads of them in Belgium,” Bakerman has told me before that there are a million more fish in the sea.

“Mother won’t allow it,” I snort. “There are. But what, come home, be quiet for mom?”

“I understand my elder sister is also crazy,” Bakerman reveals part of his story. “She has a boyfriend who is 30 years her junior. He is a paid companion. A gigolo I guess. Fat and useless. Worked six months in his life so far. Yet she hangs onto him as though butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. Maybe women go crazy when they hit menopause or 60. Maybe they think it will dry up. Even a dog that likes to lick is an option.”

“But he’s her son!” I am starting to feel defensive now. I hate horrible talk and even though I don’t like the lot of them, I won’t stand for nasty talk. “I don’t understand this. I want my children to live full lives. Adventures of their own. Not extensions of myself. Ugh my mom has cats. This is all very dirty, very scary and not healthy.”

“Ah but your autism is different from hers,” Bakerman continues in the same monotone voice. “She see things as possessions. If she can’t own you then you are the problem.”

“I am the problem,” I repeat for myself. “Oh dear, that’s psychopathic.”

“If you blog this please make up names and cities that protect your family,” Bakerman looks at me alarmed.

“Haha,” I laugh as I can’t for the life of me imagine to ever repeat what I have just heard. “Yes true. Like which names? Tweedledum is pretty good.”

“Sure it’s always the same pattern,” Bakerman nods. “Your mother needs to own everyone she is close to. The concept if love is very distant to her. Sex equals love.”

“And the Old-Woman-in-a-Shoe,” I burst out in hysterics now. This conversation has clearly gotten under my skin.

“Yes something like that,” Bakerman is eyeing me with growing concern.

“Ugh disgusting,” I curl my nose. “Now I know where my weird behaviour comes from.”

“Yes,” Bakerman confirms.

“Or how I thought I had to do,” I go on seeing the light. “And it never felt right. So she is doing it with him. Yuk disgusting.”

“My next point. You can change it,” Bakerman always offers options.

“That will never stop,” I give up before I have even started. “I can? That’s the death card. How?”

“Yes you can change your behaviour only,” Bakerman explains the rules to me.

“Ah but I’m fine,” I say firmly. “How do I save my mother and my brother?”

“Fiona you must not put your filters in when reading tarot,” Bakerman scolds me. “You don’t know what’s in her future. You can’t.”

“What do you mean?” I ask him desperately.

“You can’t save them only they can,” Bakerman looks at me with sorry eyes. “You can help them achieve the desire to change.”

“So my blog will expose them and force them to change?” I ponder as anxiety creeps further up my spine.

“No it will just bring a new law suite,” Bakerman sighs looking into his empty tea mug.

“Public shaming does work,” I speak up. “Will it? Even if I talk about Tweedledum?”

“You need proof,” Bakerman puts his cup down and moves over in a conspiratorial fashion. “Have a few mini bugs placed in their house and record them for a month. Then you will have evidence.”

“Okay sounds fun,” I wink at him. “I’ll get their place bugged next time I’m in there. Or get the kids to do it. Or I know people who know people.”

“I am going shopping now,” Bakerman gets up slowly. “You could just ask her to clarify the rumour which she will deny but might think about.”

“Ok will do,” I say reluctantly as I can’t see myself ever having this conversation ever again.

“Ok have fun,” Bakerman waves after me as I make my way out of his atelier, back into the fresh spring air outside. I will always marvel at Bakerman’s ability to match his coaching strategies to each client for maximum success. His fever seems to have left together with the negativity he just spun out. I could almost visually see him releasing it all as he exhaled. I inhale the fresh spring air and take in the fresh energy of the sun, allowing it to light the way to a brand-new era.

* 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.

Free bread, last chance!

Bakerman had invited me to a sample sale of his new baguettes. It was nice. Lovely little nibble bites and lots of smiles from the locals. We live in a village. At the end of the day, everybody knows a little bit about everyone.

“You are very quiet,” Bakerman had made his way across the room. People had started to leave and I was just considering doing the same myself. “What’s wrong?”

“Hi there,” I greet my baking friend. “Nothing really. I didn’t want to keep complaining about the usual. My mother, work stress, money problems and Wim’s health. So I just got busy with some stuff and couldn’t think of anything else to tell you.” I give him a meek look which reflects my inner turmoil. Then I am quick to change the subject. I don’t like having the focus on myself for too long. “How are you? How are your sarnies? How can you make a baguette taste like an éclair?”

“I make a secret sauce,” Bakerman winks at me. “The eclair has no sugar in it and is very easy to eat. The Oban is being fixed right now so I will do some bake tests in it to get to know it and use the expensive stove for the first time.”

Bakerman had just stuffed his face with an entire mini-éclair. “Ovan,” he repeats again, his face turning a dangerous colour red. “Oven,” he finally spits out with great frustration.

I throw my head back with amused laughter. Laughing with friends is a great way to let go of the negative energy and allow for the light-heartedness.

“Shitty thing is I will have to move in six weeks to a new kitchen,” Bakerman looks around his current little bakery. “Thanks for the correction. How are you? Any new Reiki clients?”

“No, I’ve stopped advertising Reiki and meditation after throwing money away for 3 weeks,” I pull a funny face to highlight my annoyance. “Maybe I should create a Facebook page and try some social media marketing instead.”

“Yes,” Bakerman nods at me encouragingly popping another mini tart into his mouth.

“Yes the right mindset and all,” I say pensively. “I’ll give that a try when I have the time. I am now creating my slides for the video training. And learning new stuff about social media marketing. And seeing to new and existing clients. Very very busy. Only generated an extra 1.100 euro though this month.”

“That’s cool,” Bakerman replies nodding at me again.

“Didn’t make my 1.500 target,” I correct him. I have set myself solid targets for each month. Generate more income than the same month of the previous year. Gain at least one new client each month. And then a target amount to put aside in savings each month. I am continuously tracking my progress and pushing myself to perform, for my own sake. “But I did get a new client so that’s something.”

“Keep going,” Bakerman smiles at me with that penetrating blue gaze. “Maybe I should consider learning Facebook marketing and SEO and come back and sell the service. I will have to go out and cold call clients too for my sandwiches. I am very cheap. 1.50 euro for a veggie one.”

I shudder as I hear the term ‘cold calling’. In fact, I can see goose bumps appearing all over my arms. I must be allergic to the idea. Hate it. Absolutely hate cold calling. “I am pricing myself cheap because I am desperate for clients,” I sigh a little ashamed to admit this. I’m a posh lady. My time and know-how is worth more than that. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

“Try being expensive and give a discount out of empathy instead,” Bakerman whispers to me. “Hard to raise your price if they think your value is cheap.”

“True,” I answer as my thoughts start drifting off in all different directions. My head is swimming with images and thoughts related to many different subjects. In my mind they are all intricately connected, though I know in reality they are not.

“Also explain the difference between instant gratification and delayed gratification,” Bakerman reminds me of his favourite sayings. “You provide more delayed success that is longer lasting then a short term win that is gone in a day.”

“Yup I do,” I say as I realize this is true. I’m finding back part of my value and the feeling alone makes my eyes sparkle.

“How are your kids?” Bakerman suddenly changes the subject, eyeing me carefully.

“Anyway first I need to complete those slides before I chase new clients,” I say summarizing my work priorities. “Only done one third of the slides so far. Deadline is eighth of March.” I sigh as I take a sip of my sweet English breakfast tea. “Kids are doing great. Hockey for Winston three to four times a week. Lilly loves the piano. Willem loves the piano and loves to eat.”

“Are you writing dialog for your slides?” Bakerman asks and I can tell it’s a trick question.

“No, no dialogue. Just keywords and some bullet points. I would like to do on screen demos,” I lay out my plan for the online video trainings in Google Adwords. It’s my opportunity, my moment to try for passive income. After all, I’ve been talking about this wish and desire for what, about a year now?

“Wim got worried last night,” I give him a conspiratorial look. “What if Marc turned up now, or in five years to claim the baby? What rights does he have? This is his quality time with Willem.”

“Do you need a baby grand piano for the lounge?” Bakerman looks up suddenly as if a brilliant plan had just emerged to the front of his mind. Or some psychic interference, who’s to say?

“I have a piano in the lounge,” I tell him realizing Bakerman never got any further than my kitchen. “Renting it.”

“I think Marc has visitation rights but you could argue he gave them up by complete rejection and no financial support,” Bakerman reassures me. “I assume you got over your vanity crisis?”

“Yes I did,” I chuckle my cheeks flushing bright pink.

“Wonderful,” Bakerman beams back at me.

“In fact the law says he can’t claim anything now unless I let him,” I tell him, my head held high and a certain note of haughtiness in my voice. “He had twelve months to claim paternity and he didn’t. So he has lost any rights he might have had. And me too. I can’t pursue him now anymore if I changed my mind. Twelve months is up.”

“Nice to hear Wim is getting into surrogate fatherhood,” Bakerman cajoles in a soft voice. “How is Wim doing? Pity we can’t be friends Wim and I. Yes it’s for the best to let Marc disappear forever.”

“Marc is a jerk!” I say a little too loud. I look around me to see if nobody noticed, but there are just a couple of old biddies hovering over the last of the strawberry tarts in deep discussion. “You don’t like Marc, do you?”

“No I don’t,” Bakerman pulls up his nose. “I didn’t think he was a wise choice for you.”

“Anyway, Wim is ok,” I sigh with relief, and then smile to show my optimistic confidence on this matter. “First round of chemo went well. He was tired for three days, a little sick but not too much. Extremely sensitive to cold stuff. I continue my Reiki on him. My kids love Reiki too.”

“Very good,” Bakerman nods, pouring another cup of tea for us both.

“I just wanted a baby,” I say a little too exasperated. “And that’s what I got.”

“Yes. Good you accept that truth,” Bakerman nods, stirring his cuppa with a little spoon. “Santa came early that year when William was born. Willem.”

“I love that little baby,” I smile fondly as I picture my babies.

“It let me type productions without correcting me,” Bakerman waves his mobile phone at the old biddies who just ate the last of the strawberry tarts. They look at him a little alarmed and then quickly scuttled out of the bakery. We’re the only ones left.

“I love all my babes,” I smile a bigger smile now, laughing again at the thought of the old gossiping women leaving the bakery. “Haha!”

“Me too,” Bakerman joins the banter. Somehow he understood what I was getting at. So I pull another funny face at him and laugh even louder.

“No it still interferes with my inability to spell,” Bakerman is still fiddling around with his mobile. “It’s stopped snowing. Yay. I can go outside now.”

“Switch it off,” I urge him with the voice I use when commanding my littles.

“How?” Bakerman looks up at me to gauge my mood.

“It’s freezing here,” I suddenly notice the temperature has dropped now the bakery isn’t filled with half of the village. “I don’t know. Mine doesn’t autocorrect me.”

“Yours knows you can spell,” Bakerman teases me.

“Yes I do,” I state wisely.

“You are very clever,” Bakerman compliments me. “So when I write you will correct the English and spelling, OK?” He looks up at me and meets my puzzled expression. “I mean articles.”

“Yes when are you going to write?” I ask him sipping the last of my tea. “Then we can discuss recipes.”

“Good question. I haven’t thought of a subject yet,” Bakerman scratches his head. “Any suggestions?”

“What kind of articles are you writing?” I need to know more details before brainstorming wildly. Making assumptions is never good, I learned the hard way.

“You are funny,” Bakerman laughs at me jolly faced.

I pull another funny face at him in reply. I shouldn’t make assumptions, yet he expects me to know these kind of things.

“Life skills,” Bakerman starts summing up on his fingers. “Sometimes communication skills, intra-person stuff. Thought about charisma as a topic.”

“Yes charisma would be great,” I enthusiasm. Bakerman must have many personal skills he can write about. After all, he knows how to sell. He knows how to talk to people. He watches and observes the entire village all day long, every day. He has life knowledge and knows what people are like. What makes them tick. “I’ve discovered I can indeed sell. I am getting new clients. I can sell.”

“Is the sandwich shop in Keerbergen still for sale?” Bakerman enquires.

“I wouldn’t know,” I start out hesitantly. “You’re not coming back!”

“Yes you can and if you overcome your fear of rejection you will be an excellent sales person,” Bakerman has still not given up on my hidden talent for persuasion. It is so well hidden, I still haven’t found it to this very day. “I might. I will give it a little more time and then decide. I still feel like a round peg in a square hole.”

“Poor Debbie,” I wink at Bakerman.

“Yes,” Bakerman teases me again. “Too bad, so sad.”

“I still want to become filthy rich,” I say nonchalantly getting up and putting on my warm winter coat.

“See you later,” Bakerman waves after me.

I head off home feeling like I’ve stretched my comfort zone with line breaks.

* 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.

A place to meet the Bakerman in the evening

Last night the Bakerman turned up on my doorstep shortly after I had put all three of my kids to bed. After months of small talk during our pre-breakfast meetings on my doorstep, we have now started evening tea time in my kitchen.

I am dying to share with you my experience from the evening.

“Fiona I need a product name for a baguette that is made from an éclair,” the Bakerman starts out. “I am looking for a French word. Something easy to pronounce.”

“A chocolate baguette?” I ask in amazement, as both don’t seem to fit. To me a baguette holds something savoury, like cheese or meat with some vegetables. Chocolate is for pastries. Also a baguette should be crunchy, not soft like an éclair. When I eat my baguette at lunchtime, I want to have the feeling that my teeth are getting a workout, not that they’ll drop out soon because I’ve only ever eaten mushy bread.

“Do you have a picture?” I ask him as I am having a hard time getting my head around the whole paradox of a baguette that is soft like an éclair.

“What?” the Bakerman looks at me half surprised and half in despair. He then reaches over to his bag, pulls out a paper bag and shows me a huge baguette, richly laid with luscious pieces of pink salmon and lettuce leaves. “This a salmon one. I have many variants. Looking for chicken and mayo for example. A simple name that people can call it. Like baguette. But something else.”

“Un pain?” I start thingking out loud still totally bemused. “I don’t see the eclair part,” I add eyeing the baguette with certain suspicion. I can smell the sweet fresh bread and the salmon with a hint of sour cream. I start feeling hungry although I have only just eaten.

“Perhaps you need glasses,” the Bakerman retorts. I can discern a hint of irritation, but also amusement and a little bit of teasing in his voice. “What is a popular word kids are using in French? Words like cool, awesome and so on?”

“’Une flute’ for a baguette,” I go on realizing that ‘une flute’ is also used for a certain body part. The thought makes me blush and I try to stay focused on the issue at hand. “Cool in French would be ‘grave’, ‘terrible’…”

I pause a moment and chuckle. There is in fact an expression I have heard the youngsters use at the office: “Leur baguette est à se taper le cul par terre. I heard that from my french colleague at BNP.” I go on laughing quietly to myself for a while, so I take the opportunity to share the joke: “That translates into: that baguette makes me want to smack my bottom on the floor.”

I can feel a new tradition of evening tea setting on. If you can’t make it, no worries! I’ll blog about my experiences afterwards.

* 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.