Simply finding peace amongst chaos of daily life

I’m tidying up my house after my latest AirBnB guests have left, a lovely couple who organise outdoor weddings. I just love receiving guests in my sanctuary, making them feel welcome and hearing their stories. Everybody comes for a reason, every soul teaches me something on their way passing through. My phone makes a bleep bleep noise so I glance over to see a message from Dorothy.

“I was thinking of coming over around 14h. Is that OK for you?”

I smile and reply: “Perfecto mundo!”

I get an instant reply back: “OK that means…” and she adds a sad emoji to her message.

I remember that Dorothy is a polyglot in other languages than I am, and she has a deep inherent fear of sounding stupid, which she is not. Recently she asked me to lend her a book so that she could brush up on her intelligent speech. I first got out one of Mama Gena’s books called Marriage Manual. I just love reading Regena Thomashauer. She’s so sassy, so full of spunk. It’s the kind of outrageous I like to add to spice up my daily life. Anyway, Dorothy had resolutely pushed aside my suggestion with the words: “Oh no, I don’t think this book is for me!”

So instead I had given her the Bridget Jones’ omnibus, which contains the first two episodes being her Diary and then the Edge of Reason. I just loved reading Helen Fielding. She’s such a skilled writer in putting down a character that most women can relate to. Dorothy especially finds the diet fads that Bridget makes and breaks hilarious. Whilst I myself am more enthralled with Bridget’s constant throes in her relationships. Going from being totally single to having two pursuiters. My boyfriend on the other hand finds Bridget boring. He says that every story is always the same: choose between two men. But he just doesn’t understand how deliciously intricate this story is.

Anyway, I answer coolly to Dorothy’s question for translation: “Literally translated it means ‘perfect world’. Meaning that sounds like a good plan. Perfect!”

I get no reply from my bestie, so I continue doing my chores and assisting children with their homework. It’s a wonderful sunny day and there’s a feeling lingering in the air that good things are going to happen. At 14h on the dot the doorbell rings and Dorothy is standing there smiling.

“Huh, so much for our plan of going to the seaside today.” She rolls her eyes. “When we checked the weather forecast last week, it spelled rain and storm for today, so we decided not to go. And now look. It’s full blazing sun!”

“That’s the weather for you.” I smile back at her as she pecks me on the cheek. “Never can be sure how the weather will turn in Belgium. And like all things in life, situations evolve. And the weather is just as unpredictable as life itself.”

“Well you sound chirpy. What have you been up to?” Dorothy inquires as she takes off her shoes to make herself comfortable.

“Oh I’ve been very productive.” I beam, as getting things done does always make me happy, gives me a feeling of accomplishment. “Got up early this morning to get out passports sorted out. Senegal isn’t long now.”

“Oh yes, it’s good you’re getting things sorted.” Dorothy nods. “Did you get your vaccines yet?”

“Yes we did, last week.” I answer. “But guess what. I suddenly realised that getting passports also means I need pictures of me and the three littles. I found passport pictures for Winston and Lilly, and also for Willem, although he has changed such a lot in a couple of months. I wasn’t sure they would accept his pictures for lack of resemblance. But guess who has spent a whole afternoon doing a photo shoot, but has no passport pictures?”

“Oh no, you’ve got to be kidding!” Dorothy exclaims. “You didn’t have any pictures? That’s really Murphy’s law if you ask me. And as for the baby’s pictures… Babies change such a lot over a short period of time. You’d have to take new pics every month if you want accurate resemblance.”

“Well yes, there was no problem for the baby’s pictures. In fact the woman behind at the administration center only glanced at him. The kids have to be present you know.” I inform her. “As for me, I had to have some very horrible pictures taken on the spot. You know, those horrible little picture cabins which give such flaccid looking photos. Yup, I’ve now got one of those stuck to my passport for the coming ten years.”

“Oh come on, nobody will see!” Dorothy tries to console me.

“But I will.” I urge on. “I’m going to see it each time I embark on one of my next dream-come-true journeys. It’s going to be a reminder that I even forgot to smile on the picture.”

“You didn’t smile?” Dorothy asks.

“You’re not allowed to show your teeth on passport pictures.” I tell her. “So I just kept a serious straight face. But I only thought afterwards I could have put a friendly smile on my face.”

“Why can’t you show your teeth?” Dorothy wants to know.

“It’s got something to do with those computerised facial recognition scans.” I repeat what I’ve been told. “Apparently the program will fail if you show teeth. The computer can’t deal with it.”

“So what happens after Senegal? Where are you off to then?” Dorothy prods me.

“I’m working on a few things.” I tell her dreamily. “I have a whole bucket list which just needs some prioritising right now.”

 

From now on, I want to take a moment to stop and really think if the next journey will bringing more meaning into my life. Will it potentially help me meet new and interesting people, or give me a reason to spend quality time with my children? Will it expose me to something I’ve never done before? Remember that making memories always trumps accumulating clutter, even clutter in the mind.

One of the keys to happiness and personal growth is to spend your money on experiences, not things. Experiences help you define your purpose and passions, broaden your perspective, meet new people, and strengthen your relationships.

 

What do you think? Where would you go next? Let me know in the comments below.

Advertisements

The red dress

“Fiona dear, you looked stunning! I loved the makeover…” Dorothy has come round with the guise that she needed help to get her business listed on Google My Business.  “Are we on for our ladies’ day?”

“Dorothy darling, I’m always up for girl time.” I flash a smile at her eyeing the bottle of pink bubbly. “Especially when it involves champagne.”

“How are you guys?” Dorothy looks at me cautiously.

“We’re good.” I answer to truth. “Wim starts his treatment next week. The doctors are starting with radiation and chemotherapy on Thursday or Friday. Can’t remember.”

“Sugar, chemotherapy!” Dorothy exclaims. “He’s going to lose his hair then.”

“No he won’t. Not with this chemotherapy drug he won’t.” I reassure her. “Doctors said there are different types of drugs. This one will only attack the cancerous cells and weaken them so the radiation can nail this ugly little bastard.”

“What about your trip to Senegal.” Dorothy inquires.

“What about it?” I look at her questioningly.

“Well surely you’re not going anymore.” Dorothy retorts. “You’re cancelling the trip to take care of Wim, aren’t you?”

“No I’m not.” I tell her. “His radiation treatment only lasts five weeks. So it will be over by the time I leave for Africa with the kids. I’m only going for nine days. He’ll be fine in the meantime.”

“Are you sure?” Dorothy asks in doubt.

“Absolutely.” I say firmly. “Life goes on, you know. And I need to keep myself happy and continue pursuing my dreams if I want to be able to serve those around me with love.”

“True…” Dorothy trails off.

“Look, the last few weeks I’ve been feeling extremely lost.” I confide. “I was getting down and in a rut again. I had overdone it with renewing all my certificates. And I got caught up with taking care of the kids during the holidays. And I was disgruntled about the results of my blog.”

“You were?” Dorothy sounds amazed.

“Yes I was.” I confirm. “And then I remembered my purpose, my dharma. I stand for women in business. For society supporting hard-working, entrepreneurial, single mothers. I love yoga and travel. And I remembered that my blog brings me other things which cannot be measured in monetary value.”

“You caught your abundance wave again!” Dorothy shouts for joy.

“That’s right.” I smile. “To say it with the words of Marta herself: I celebrated it. Oh my dear darling beautiful soul… I booked a photo session with Marta Hurtado to help me remember that I am a gorgeously beautiful woman. Still today, after putting three adorable babies on the world. During that photo shoot I was so much more. I felt and I owned my feminine power. Marta made my true core shine through. I revealed my inner angel power of my soul. I stood there in front of the camera and in the light, and grace came forth.

“I saw the behind-the-scenes on your social media.” Dorothy sounds impressed. “Marta worded it beautifully. I was so honoured to witness your graceful presence, my dear darling precious friend.”

“I know, that was grand, wasn’t it.” I beam. “I can hardly believe that was me.”

“Yes you, my beautiful darling.” Dorothy goes on encouragingly. “Don’t you wish we could always speak with grace, just like Marta?”

“Oh nobody can copy Marta.” I look at her with the fierce passion of a dragon.

“No, you’re right.” Dorothy concedes. “There’s only one Marta in this world.”

“This last week has been good for me.” I continue. “I desperately needed a sign. And several people have approached me about my blog. It was the nudge I needed to continue my path and aim for all those delicious things I want to obtain in life. That photo session with Marta was just what I needed. I am so grateful that she gave me this opportunity to celebrate the fabulous woman I am.”

“Oh yes, it was breathtaking alright.” Dorothy pours out two flutes of bubbly pink champagne. “So what’s next?”

“Well for starters, I’m going to plan in more travels.” My eyes stare off dreamily. “I want to do Japan, Hawaii, Ibiza, Brazil, Peru, South-Africa… and so much more. I want the world!”

“What’s Ibiza doing on that list?” Dorothy mocks me kindly.

“Start small, dream big?” I remind her. “Anyway, there are also a series of live video interviews coming up. One of them is with Marta Hurtado about #WomenShare knowledge. Oh it’s going to be so yummy. Live on Facebook! You will watch, won’t you?”

“When is it?” Dorothy asks.

“Next week Wednesday, 20th September on Facebook.” I tell her. “And then there’s the interview with those French ladies from the European ‘Women in Analytics’ community. They’re going to be present at MeasureCamp too. I’m so looking forward to that!”

“Sweetheart, you have my love, dear darling soul.” Dorothy has been extremely soft with me lately. “You truly touch my heart and soul with your breathing beauty, grace, love, strength… and kindness.”

“Isn’t it just wonderful though.” I look at her intently. “To relax in the knowledge that there are special friends out there who have your back?”

“I know exactly what you mean.” Dorothy smiles back. “We’re so close. We’re almost family.”

“This is what the Greeks call Eudaimonia.” I go on. “You know, being happy and content in your life, despite all the curve balls that life throws your way.”

“I know exactly what you mean.” Dorothy answers. “I read the article you shared on Facebook from the School of Life. That people can still experience an overall feeling of wellbeing, despite ongoing suffering.”

“That’s right! Despite Wim’s condition, I think we’re going to be alright.” I say brightly. “Sure, it’s going to be a tough year, but we’ll get through this. We’ve gotten through other obstacles without much upset. We’ll manage this one too.”

“Funny how different languages can add nuances to words and feelings.” Dorothy muses. “How richer you are when your polyglot.”

“We are, aren’t we, darling?” I drink my champagne contently. “We’re living in abundance and enjoying every moment of it!”

 

And this, my dear readers, is the subject of my upcoming book Create your own path to success, and find happiness along the way. I’ll be discussing the thorny subject of success and happiness, sharing my own personal stories, answering questions people have confronted me with.

Writing can feel lonely, but I have been helped all along the way by an inspired group of friends. They’ve been there for me as I am writing the book, and are encouraging me to release it to the world *deep breath*.

One piece of advice I have for all of you is the simple saying that Life must go on. No matter what is amiss in your life right now, do not let it be an excuse to stop pursuing your goals. Never give up on chasing your dreams and becoming the best possible version of you!

I’ll be happy if you read me, but I think we all agree: nothing beats face-to-face encounters where people work and play together.

 

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Religiously twerking your ass off

It’s Saturday afternoon and as any good Online Marketeer I am checking my Social Media channels about what’s going on. The first steps to success are :

  • Setting attainable goals
  • Visibility on all platforms
  • Getting the job done

The twerking stepmom

Dorothy is leisurely entertaining the baby as I scroll through the latest updates on Facebook. “Uh I’ve just seen a picture of your stepmom.”

Dorothy doesn’t even look up. “Oh really, is she still as fat?”

“In fact, it’s just a picture of her bum. And judging by the size of that, yes, she is still very fat.” I reassure her. Juicy gossip is always such fun to share.

“Let me see, darling.” Dorothy peers over to my iPhone.

“Careful, it’s not a very pretty sight.” I warn her as I show her the picture on my screen.

19113779_10212808117859496_4486885634661866147_n

Now this peeps all goes to vie that the Internet is indeed a dangerous place. Take care of your pictures and what you post. Because once it’s on the internet, it starts living a life of it’s own.

Side note : I’ve said this before, my darlings, take great care of your digital profile. Make sure that your corporate portrait is as strong as you are! I am a firm believer in updating my profile picture each year with talented photographer, Marta Hurtado.

But back to Dorothy and her twerking stepmom…

“Uh indeed. Love the capture. ‘Twerking’. That’s just great. Not only do I have a stepmom from the Phillipines, but she’s also a skilled twerker.” Dorothy is not amused.

“She must have learned that in the nunnery.” I throw her my mischievous grin.

“Haha, that’s a good one! Wonder what else she learned in her cloistered life before marrying my stepdad.” Dorothy starts musing.

“Obviously how to better her life. And she did very well. Just by marriage she owns a quarter of that house, you know. I was there at the wedding. There was no prenuptial agreement. Marry well, my sisters.” I say that last in a deep tone resembling a proud Mother Superior.

“Well good on her. That’s what I say, darling.” Dorothy chirps.

“Really, Dorothy dear? I would have though you would be sour grapes about that.” I put down my iPhone to get a better look at her.

“Look,” Dorothy looks at me sternly, “I have been disinherited.” She pauses to mark the drama. She repeats : “I have been disinherited. Hence why would I be bothered who that house comes to? I say ‘hallelluia’ and ‘praise the lord’ that my stepmom then gets a piece of the cake. Good on her.”

“Very charitable of you, Dorothy. I mean, it’s not really as if you need it. At least you’re not dangling from any purse strings, right.” Always see the positive side, that’s what I say.

“Exactly. And if they think I’m going to lift one finger in sorting out arrangements when the time comes, they’ve got another thing coming. I think not.” Dorothy’s got that fierce look on her face again.

Predicting the future

“How is your mom? You did her tarot recently, didn’t you. Is she going to die any time soon?” I inquire, just for the sake of it, since we’re talking about such dark and sinister issues anyway. I recently read in National Geographic that whales mourn their dead too, just like us. Now that’s a bit of trivia for you.

“Not very likely. She’s in great health. She’ll probably go on living till she’s at least 96. Just like her Nana before her. And she acts just like her Nana too. So go figure.” Dorothy looks annoyed.

“So you’ve got another 30 years to spontaneously kiss and make up.” I muse.

Dorothy snorts. “Maybe stepmom could teach my mom to twerk. It would do wonders in helping her find a boyfriend. And keep him this time.”

“That’s a lost cause. Your mom has no ass. She’s as straight as a pencil. And she farts too much.” I can’t help but remark.

“OK but I’ve got quite a round but, and so do you darling. Can you twerk?” Dorothy is moving around doing weird things with her hips. She looks like she’s belly dancing more than twerking.

“Nope, I was too busy paying high school fees.” I remark dryly.

“Peculiar though, isn’t it, how twerking has this hypnotic effect. Do you know anything about hypnosis by any chance?” Ah there Dorothy has hit a sensitive note. You see, I don’t know the next thing about hypnosis, yet I have so many stories to tell about it. And yes, I do recognise it when I see it, which might just give me an advantage over most people.

“Hypnosis is bogus. But auto-suggestion and covert speech are really interesting subjects. NLP is known to be a great skill to be mastered.” I’m hoping she won’t dig deeper on this. If only I can come up with some sort of distraction to keep her off this subject. For the time being, at least.

What are single mom’s interested in?

Come on, my mind races, what is Dorothy interested in ? She’s a single mom by choice. She loves to travel and do yoga. Her top priority is tending to her kids. She wants to know she can survive, make ends meet and get things done. And most of all, like any mom in this world : she is looking for pleasure.

 

What do you think ? How can I distract Dorothy ? Let me know in the comments below.

* Disclaimer : The image used in this blog post is a picture found online after a Google search on the word ‘twerking’. It is a miracle by chance more than by choice if you recognize your own ass.

The truth behind my perfect children photoshoot

Last year, I asked my trusted collaborator Heleen Larsen to capture my children on photograph for a special occasion. Heleen is a real artist in photography work. I have done some photo courses myself as an amateur and understand the importance of having the right material and investing in proper lenses. You don’t have to be a pro to invest in pro equipment (my inner shop-aholic is smiling).

13062915_10153497503885686_1688965381751513187_o

Kruisheide, a nature reserve

We took the kids out to the Kruisheide in Keerbergen, another one of Belgium’s nature reserves. This piece of nature used to be part of the moorland that streched on the shifting sands of the surrounding area. The original natural landscape, oak and birch tree on nutrient-poor sandy soil, is cleared for grazing sheep: so arose the moors. The area is dry: you will find mainly heather. Grasshoppers and various species of butterflies, such as the silver-studded blue, can be found here. If you enjoy a walk make a point of coming on a summer evening to enjoy a concert of cricket songs.

13055800_10153497503915686_8523645878092765317_o

Dressed in white

Don’t let that little girl smile fool you, I was pretty much a zombie after this photoshoot because spent the whole time shouting to watch out not to dirty her beautiful white frock. But I wanted to keep the picture balanced in sponteneity so I let my daughter run wild, and was terrified simultaneously that she would fall.

13029707_10153497504275686_6089464891847135836_o

Yeah look at me

I specifically went to the Kruisheide because I really, really wanted this shot. Again, scared stiff that my daughter will tear or dirty her dress on the green moss or the dry dirt,  instead of “enjoying the moment”.

13063039_10153497504095686_2308404559152948048_o

Don’t they just look like little angels ?

Guess who didn’t know that you can’t stop children from running, climbing or falling until they were half way into the photoshoot? I was not prepared at all. Also guess who had never considered the consequences of having them dressed up and then letting them run wild in nature? This woman.

A true artist

Heleen Larsen is one photographers that make your internet surfing more interesting and motivate you to go for a hike, even in the middle of winter. Whether on the mountain or around Wales, Heleen lives for the outdoors and has turned shooting her life from a passion to a career. Heleen freelances for various companies.

— Keerbergen, Belgium (May 2016)