Deauville according to a European

This post is about what Deauville is not about. Why am I writing this? Because I was deeply disappointed. I had read several articles about things to do and see in the vincinity of Deauville. I had looked it up online. I had read all the articles and noted down what I really wanted to do.

From what I had read, I wanted to visit the monastery of Mont Saint Michel. It was supposed to be just a drive away. My ex-husband, Picasso, laughed at my plan over the phone. He told me the Mont Saint Michel was in Bretagne, whilst I was clearly heading towards Normandy. I still wouldn’t have it, him being my ex-husband and all. So I checked in with my trusted boyfriend, Wim. He performed a search on Google Maps and found that the Mont Saint Michel is at 350km from Deauville. That’s like going from one end of Belgium all the way to the other end, and then some. No no no, we would definitely not be going there.

But have no fear, I had other plans too. I wanted to go see the famous tapestry of Bayeux. It is still in France for the moment. Soon to be moved to the UK as promised by the French president Macron to seal the friendship with Britain. Or is it just to remind the people behind Brexit that they actually lost that battle?

I was particularly set on seeing this tapestry from the dark ages, from 1066 in fact. The real reason being that I have serious mommy issues. My mother, being a true Brit, always declared high and loud that Britain had never been invaded, and never lost a war. But what about the Romans then, I asked her as a little girl. What Romans, my mother had retorted. I reminded her of the Roman remains we had visited the previous summer in Bath. Upon which she just casually replied that the Romans were just visiting. Yes, seriously.

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Here is some Post-Easter humor: “I don’t know where the eggs come from and I have no idea why I feel a compulsion to hide them.”

So you might understand my enthusiasm when I had discovered in a comic book of Suske & Wiske when I was only 12, that the French had invaded Britain in 1066 and won that battle. The Battle of Hastings became my ally forever. I love that little piece of history. I love the year 1066.

We happily jumped into our car one cloudy afternoon in Deauville, intent on going to see the tapestry of Bayeux. I typed in the address in my Sat Nav. And the GPS calculated it would take me one hour and a half. I stared at the Sat Nav dismayed. One hour and a half is the time it takes to drive from my home to the seaside. And I was already at the seaside. So why would I spend that time in my car? To see a tapestry? I’d be able to see it in much more detail online. So I declined, reluctantly.

Runner up on my list was to visit Omaha beach, see the sites of D-day, the memorials, the tanks, the bunkers… all of it. Same scenario as above. Same driving time. Hand palm this time, and deep sighs. We would be going nowhere this holiday. We would go to the beach each day. Drink champagne. Eat pancakes. Play beach volley and run around chasing each other in the sand.

I came to the conclusion that the wonderful articles I had read must have been written by Americans. Non-Europeans at the least. When I state that something is ‘nearby’, I really mean nearby. That’s like a 30 minute drive. If I say ‘it is just down the road’, then I really mean it is within 10 minutes walking distance. 350km or even 150km is not nearby. Driving for more than an hour to get somewhere is a long way. It is not right next door. Let’s get that straight. What was nearby was the fishermen’s town of Honfleur.

We found our own happy in Deauville. We spent intimate evenings walking in the fresh air along the boardwalk. We took our chance to play together, and to find ourselves inspired and boosted with clear new energy. Energy engenders action plans to put great ideas into use. That’s what Deauville was for us.

Maybe I am a pessimist. But I always manage to find my own ‘happy’ wherever I am.

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Trip to Deauville that is the stuff of fairy tales

Yeay, we finally arrived Saturday late afternoon at our destination in Deauville, city located in Normandy, France. See those happy faces? Not so. That’s just me trying to make my life look perfect. In fact by the time we arrived at Deauville Paradise, our apartment rental, we were all in a very cranky and disgruntled state.

Why? For one, I was dead beat stressed out. I have been running around trying to manage three kids on my own, getting them dressed, fed and to school. Putting food on the table. Getting them to their activities. Taking care of medical urgencies. And the list of single motherhood duties goes on.

To top it all off, I am also trying to get my game on for my own business. Continuously pitching new clients and doing all the work by myself as my star employee is awaiting to have a darling little baby. I have applied for an au-pair and found a fantastic match, but still waiting for the whole thing to go through red-tape administration.

Plus I have engaged with another company to film webinars on how to do online marketing. Which is a great opportunity for me to promote my visibility and to make new contacts in my network. It would all have been just exhausting had it not been for the very attractive, and very young, camera man, which just made the whole thing very challenging. Imagine being stuck in a small room for three entire days with the most sexy man you know. Yup, that’s how it feels.

So stressed out mommy hops in her car merrily with her three darling kiddos. One toddler approaching the terrible twos, very prone to throwing huge tantrums. One head-strong pre-teen daughter. And a very explosive teenage boy. All very loving and adorable kiddos, yet each with their very own challenges to manage. All bundled up in one car with one stressed out mommy.

Off we go down the motorway from our hometown Mechelen in Belgium to Deauville in France, a journey which should last no longer than four and a half hours according to my sat nav. That wasn’t counting on the traffic jam we encountered halfway there where two lanes were suddenly reduced to one.

I stopped after a two hour drive at a service station that looked promising. It had a McDonalds type of fast food and toilet facilities. Yet only one nursery room and loads of parents traveling with infants in diapers. We had to queue only to find out that little babykins had a dry nappy and didn’t need a change so I decided to save the only nappy I had brought out of the car for later. Waste not.

We queued up in the fast food squashing between what seemed like hundreds of other starved travellers to get a meal which is really just subpar, but the kids liked it. Whilst eating our french fries the baby pooped and I thanked heaven I had saved that nappy for later. Still had to queue up again, this time with a very smelly toddler.

France is known for its paid toll roads. Unless you want to go the long way round. In our case that would mean adding on an extra two hours to our travel itinerary. I think not. When traveling with kids, go for luxury, it’s worth it. I paid toll fees about four or five times. A serious rip-off if you ask me. Seemed ok at first. Just whisk out your credit card, pay the toll. And then again. And then again, really? And… again, like seriously? And…

Anyway, the last part of the road I should have made another stop. But I just wanted to get there. Find our sunny seaside resort and relax with a bunch of happy kids. Big mistake to keep driving. My bum was hurting when we got there. Kids were not happy. We resorted to giving into the toddler’s whim and shoved YouTube under his nose for the last half hour in the car.

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Our apartment we found in a beautiful private domain, at a ten – or looks more like fifteen to me – minute walk from the beach. Beautiful, comfortable but cold. Like ice cold. And if something gets me more cranky than being tired, it’s being tired and cold. We were obviously the first visitors in this apartment for this season and the place had not been heated. It took two full days of putting the radiators full blast to have the place feeling liveable. Just saying.

We went out to eat pizza that night. With a very tired baby who threw a tantrum towards the end of the meal so we left before desert. At least I had had my glass of champagne.

A journey of conscious reactions

“Good day,” I smile at the Wizard as I am speeding down the highway this Tuesday around noon. “How are you? Did you sort your electricity problem?”

I look over at the Wizard cat as he lands his pink cloud softly on the passenger seat next to me. I had been dying to discuss various things with him yesterday, but his foul mood had prevented me from telling him all the good stuff going on. The cat looks a lot happier so I decide to spill the beans: “I had a weird day yesterday, full of strange messages. Want to hear? I also have my video try-out in a minute. I’m nervous as hell.”

“Hi. Yes the electric is temporarily solved,” the Wizard evades to be too specific as what has actually been sorted. “Tell me about your messages. Nervousness is good. Keeps you sharp if you can relax.”

“First a message from the Old-Woman-who-lives-in-a-Shoe,” I tell him. I then fumble around in my handbag, pull out my phone and hand it to him displaying the message I had received. I keep my eyes on the road so cannot gauge him for an immediate reaction.

The Wizard stares at my screen for what seems like a long time. Before I know it, I have arrived at my destination and find myself maneuvering into a parking spot.

“Haven’t replied,” I call after the Wizard as I climb out of the car and off to my appointment.

Today I am going to my first meeting about creating online video trainings with other Belgian entrepreneurs. This is the moment I have been waiting for an entire year. It is the song and dance I have desired. I have visualised it, tasted it. Yet here I am on the brink of realizing my dreams in a different way than I had expected, granted, but still… This offer seemed to be made specially in response to my dreamline. To describe the feeling in one sentence: it’s like I am connecting to my dreams, my desires and the entire universe in slow motion.

“Nice message,” the Wizard picks up the thread when I get back into my car an hour later. “Read it in a positive light if you can by looking at her finances through her eyes. Put away the anger. No reply is needed so you can just let it go for now. She will let you know her calculation in good time. How was your shoot?”

“Scary and stiff at first, but a true diva after 4 takes,” I smile a little tired from spending so much energy in such a short time. “So I got a ‘yes’. We shoot the first video in March!”

“Well done,” the Wizard is looking me over very pleased for me, and a little pleased with himself for obtaining such positive results on his continuous coaching efforts.

“Second message, a peanut bringing in another peanut,” I am quick to pick up the thread again where I left off. “Third message, a peanut getting fatter. And fourth message is a bit poop. In December, before I realized how severe my situation was, I had applied for a Women in Analytics conference in Ohio. They just replied that they have selected me and will pay for my plane ticket. Which would be good news but it’s on March 14th and I have 3 kids, no sitter, no Star… so I can’t go I don’t think.”

“Meaning,” the Wizard is looking puzzled trying to make sense of all the news I have told him.

“Good news is that the videos should start around March 14th,” I look on the bright side always. “Win some lose some?”

“I guess,” the Wizard answers unconvinced.

“Ok… but things seem to be looking up right?” I ask him having picked up on his questioning undertone.

“Where is your au-pair?” the Wizard wants to know.

“She won’t be here till end of March or begin April,” I inform him of the red-tape administration we have to go through. “Take the baby with me to Ohio? No, none of this makes sense financially.”

“Suck up to the Old-Woman-who-lives-in-a-Shoe?” the Wizard offers.

“And final message… I reached out to another successful single travel mom,” I go on ignoring the Wizard’s last suggestion. “I got on her newsletter list of course and apparently she gives away a grant of 1.000 each month to a mom she has selected with a good cause or a great career idea or a product or a plan. Whatever. I want to win this. What would be my best foot forward?”

I know immediately as I’ve said this that the idea is not a good one. So I decide to answer to the not-so-good-suggestion the Wizard made previously: “No way, the Old-Woman-who-lives-in-a-Shoe hates me. She has no time for the kids and Willem doesn’t know who she is. Besides on a Wednesday she takes care of Tweedledee’s little girl and his ex-girlfriend’s son… So she does have time and attention for kids who aren’t even hers. The Old-Woman-who-lives-in-a-Shoe is a bad idea. I mean, what about the fact that she wants to sue me again?”

“Ok,” the Wizard answers as he immediately realizes the response he has provoked.

“Interesting though. She has plenty of money but too stingy to spend it,” I go on. It’s useless, once I’m on this rant, I just go on and on and on. “Old Mother Goose told me she would leave money to all the grandkids in her will because she knew her two other kids would give to theirs but that the Old-Woman-who-lives-in-a-Shoe wouldn’t give a cent. And she was right. When Old Mother Goose passed away the other two gave to their kids. The Old-Woman-who-lives-in-a-Shoe didn’t. The others are lucky. The Old-Woman-who-lives-in-a-Shoe’s brother Jack takes his kids, grandkids and his wife’s daughter on a yearly vacation somewhere sunny. He rents a villa with swimming pool in Portugal and Mallorca and stuff. The Old-Woman-who-lives-in-a-Shoe almost dropped dead when she once and only once invited her three kids out for a meal. Oh well, that’s just money I guess.”

I inhale deeply as I remember the Wizard’s words earlier to see things more positively. So I inhale and leave my first response for what it is and go on to my second response, the one on which I will base my future actions: “Her message was positive, kind of. First time in years she hasn’t addressed me with ‘hallo Fiona’. I don’t know why she always started it in Dutch but there must have been an insult there somewhere though. Also first time she ended with ‘have a nice day’. She has never ever written that before.”

A few soft words of advise : Pay attention to what events trigger your emotions throughout the day. These are clues to issues that are better addressed from within yourself rather than blaming external circumstances for your emotional reactions.

 

* 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.

Men as allies #redtape

I have just treated myself to a café latté at the Barista when the Wizard appears floating besides me on my way up to the 9th floor in the lift. By now I am used to him showing up in the strangest of places.

“Good morning Bakerman,” I smile at him as the lyrics of the song get stuck in my head for the day. “Buenos dias.” As the lift opens on the 9th floor, I usher him into a neighbouring meeting room and close the door quickly. Not sure what my colleagues would think of me talking to a Wizard cat on a pink fluffy cloud. “Why do I keep getting panic attacks? Am I also in a dark place?”

“No. You get them because you don’t have sufficient knowledge,” the Wizard looks at me comfortingly. It’s at moments like these that his eyes turn a brighter shade of blue rather than turquoise and I get completely locked into his gaze. “Or you believe you don’t. You doubt yourself too much. What are you panicking about?”

“This morning in the shower I was panicking about the au-pair and whether I can afford it,” I confess looking down and fumbling with the rings on my fingers. “Then I got annoyed with myself, breathed deeply and told myself to go earn some good money.”

“Good girl,” the Wizard pats me on my upper arm with his soft padded paw. “I need your help.”

“Oh tell me. What can I do?” I exclaim. This is sudden news. The Wizard asking me for help. I feel alarmed as I can’t think why he would be turning to me. I’m just a silly woman of 41 with 3 kids and struggling with my own shadow. “I can actually do something for you? Oh goodie!”

“Wait,” the Wizard breaths deeply as he wants me to take it in very carefully. “I want you to confirm I stayed with you for a few months and paid rent for a bedroom.”

“Okay… but wait a minute,” I stutter as I feel doubt seeping in as the idea starts to take shape in my head and I see multiple doom scenarios popping up in my head and everywhere I look. “Who is it for and why? Will this ever fall in the hands of Wim?” I try to save the day by adding: “Happy unbirthday by the way. Sorry I forgot.”

“Thanks,” the Wizard brushes me off curtly. “It’s for the RVA.”

“The who?” I don’t know which governmental institution he is referring to. I have never been unemployed in my entire life, so I am literally clueless.

“VDAB,” the Wizard throws another institution at me. “Its for my ‘uitkeering’. You know, my monthly unemployment allowance.”

“What does your staying here have anything to do with your ‘uitkering’?” I don’t quite get the plot and panic is starting to creep into my voice. I can actually feel my heart beating in my throat. “From when till when did you stay here? And what kind of rent did you pay? The property is half Wim’s. Is there a document you are meant to fill in? What about where you really stayed? Your friends and the White Queen? Why is my place better? Am I a better front than the White Queen? Is there a form to be filled in or a number to call?”

“No,” the Wizard snaps at me.

“No what?” I ask him tartly.

“It is during the time I was away,” the Wizard goes on telling me. But it doesn’t make sense to me. I am not aware of his going abouts, or what he does, or where he is, or supposed to be. It is all very confusing. “They are asking me to show where I was living as I had signed out of Oz and not signed in anywhere for 11 months. So I want to spread out the months between friends all over the place. No form to fill in.”

“Ok,” I say but I am really not okay at all. I am thinking about all the possible consequences this written letter could have on me, my relationship, my taxes… and ultimately my kids.

“Ok what?” the Wizard snaps at me again. He is clearly wanting to get somewhere with me, but the destination is still very unclear to me.

“But then what do you need? And what time period?” I ask again trying to sort things out in my head. “Have you ever done this before? Will there be a control?”

“A short letter that can be backed up by answering the phone and saying the same thing without giving a long story,” the Wizard sighs heavily. His impatience and annoyance are almost tangible.

“I know these bastards,” I spit out. “Before you know it they are at your door asking to confirm the story. And that’s when Wim answers the door.”

“No it is my first time,” the Wizard is now avoiding eye contact.

“Which time period?” I repeat in total despair now. “You were in Keerbergen after Oz. What if they ask proof of payment?”

“It happened 9 months ago. I will give you the exact dates,” the Wizard retorts. “All you say is we are friends not lovers. I stayed with you for the time stated and I left. You don’t know where I went but I did say I will stay at another friend. I contributed to costs and bought my own food. Cash between friends no proof required.”

“How hard is this going to backfire?” I ask him anxiously. “I am worried Wim will find out and then I am solely responsible for my own sabotage.”

“Why should it?” the Wizard lifts an eyebrow, and then shakes his head. “I see it’s too difficult for you. Don’t give it another thought. It’s not a train smash. I just want to avoid paying money back to the RVA.”

“So only now they are asking about where you live?” I ask in disgust with the inefficiency of Belgian bureaucracy.

“Yes,” the Wizard blinks at me.

“Typical Belgium,” I let out still excited now my anxiety has started to ebb away. “How did they get hold of you? I thought you were in Keerbergen before you left.”

“I signed in at the White Queen for three months,” the Wizard tells me but I can’t remember anything of the kind.

“In reality or fiction?” I ask him as the story and timeline aren’t matching up in my head.

“In reality,” the Wizard gives me an annoyed look.

“Oh and then you were off to Cuba.”

“But I never stayed there,” the Wizard says just to make matters more complicated. “Yes.”

“Is that end of 2016?” I am still trying to puzzle the pieces together.

“No,” the Wizard replies impatiently.

“Didn’t they ask where you were going?” I enquire again as none of this makes sense at all.

“During 2017,” the Wizard corrects my previous thread.

“How old are you now?” I suddenly ask him. I have started Googling the Belgian legislation on allowances and where you are supposed to be living to be entitled to one.

“6,” the Wizard answers. He must mean he’s six years old in cat years.

“I think you are allowed to travel abroad after 60 and keep your ‘uitkering’,” I tell him my eyes glued to my iPhone screen. “But you need to be registered in Belgium. Where are you registered?”

“I am not 60,” the Wizard corrects me rather hurt.

“You’re not?” I ask him bewildered. I tried calculating cat years. How many cat years for a human year?

“No,” the Wizard shakes his head at me, eyes locking me into his. “51.”

“Oh shit I can’t remember,” I am feeling distressed at my inability to place events in time and at my inaccuracy of the moment to make a simple calculation. “You are not 51. You are like ancient old.”

“Today I am,” the Wizard teases me amused at my visible inner struggle.

“Let me think,” I urge him to let me think for a moment. “No you are not.”

“48,” the Wizard throws my way again.

“You are 62. I am sure of it,” I cry out looking at him questioningly. “Well almost. Or 59?”

“Really I must have lost a few years somewhere,” the Wizard jokes. “Yes let’s agree that I am 45.”

“Phew. Felt a little mad then,” I decide to let it go as well. “Brain won’t work. Ok so you have to stay home naughty man. Where are you registered? Or did you go off the grid?”

“I go off the grid soon,” the Wizard replies mysteriously. He is toying with me like a cat with a mouse, but I am too pre-occupied to notice or to be bothered by it.

“Hmmm. You know I am not registered in Tremelo but in Mechelen,” I remind him. “Who did you stay with this time?”

“Yes I know,” the Wizard winks at me.

“How did you do this when you went to Australia?” I continue to press him for answers.

“Its not important,” the Wizard is becoming defensive and evasive again.

“It is,” I urge him. I finally want to know what has been going on. I know so little.

“I went off the grid in Australia,” the Wizard tells me and I am having a hard time deciding whether he is lying or telling me the truth.

“You ask one damn thing and I go chicken shit,” I finally admit. “I am useless.”

“Yes,” the Wizard nods in agreement. “Sorry I asked.”

“You know part of me still thinks that was a smoke screen,” I remind him of my ideas on his disappearance acts. “No I am sorry I am not doing better. What about the White Rabbit? Can’t you have stayed with her?”

“Advice I don’t need,” the Wizard brushes me off. My ideas are useless too.

“Poop,” I sulk. “How much money is it?”

“Anything from 3.600 to 12.000,” the Wizard whispers at me.

“Shit loads of money,” I add in dismay.

“Yes,” the Wizard blinks at me again looking at me intently. He is obviously taking in every clue I am blatantly giving off in my body language.

“Can’t you say you were desperate and you slept on the street?” I ask him. “This does happen.”

“Yes it does,” the Wizard nods with a smile.

“It is called SDF, ‘sans domicile fixe’,” I inform him as if he is indeed only six years old. “Then you should tell them off. How can they let something like that happen?”

“Yes…” the Wizard hisses.

“In our day and age, and all the fucking social security I pay,” I am starting a rant. “No?”

“You tell them,” the Wizard looks at me bored.

“I’m not helping, am I?” I ask as at least I understood the look on his face.

“No,” the Wizard admits still amused.

“I don’t want to mess up,” I plead with him. “Knowing my luck it will boomerang back at me.”

“I understand,” the Wizard reminds me this is a conversation based purely on gut feeling. And the hidden message is still mine to uncover.

“Wim will throw a fit and explode his stoma and I will be out on my fanny,” I voice my ultimate doom scenario.

“Don’t worry about it,” the Wizard soothes me in a monotonous tone.

“What about the homeless option?” I know I am pushing my luck now. “I am just reading up about it.”

“It’s not an option,” the Wizard cuts me short.

“No I can imagine,” I answer as I know the Wizard is a proud man. “But they let you go off the grid. I don’t understand that.”

“Ok. It’s not a topic of conversation,” the Wizard informs me he has had enough of this conversation and that it is time I think about the deeper meaning. “I will solve it.”

“You know this means I can’t tell you all my silly thoughts anymore,” I sulk deeply.

“It does?” the Wizard turns around at me with a huge grin on his face.

“Well yes. I am always complaining,” I tell him. “You always listen. And I can’t return the favour. Epic friend fail.”

“True,” the Wizard says as he starts fading away in thin air. “I am in a meeting now.”

“Good,” I am happy to see him go for once. “Pay attention.”

 

As for the hidden message, the only one I could think of was how this situation resembles my sissy fit when the Star refused to babysit Winston and Lilly on Wednesday afternoons. Her allowance as an employee in an endangered environment might be up for discussion. I had been set straight by a cat Wizard. Don’t mess with red-tape administration. Don’t ‘sjoemel’ with your ‘uitkering’.

 

* 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.

Getting rid of my chicken addiction

The next morning I awaken and find myself refreshed. My love chakra meditation from the previous evening had worked wonders. I felt magical and alive again. I felt love. You know, the kind of feeling that everybody loves me. The idea that all my ex-boyfriends are still madly in love with me. Love that feeling, tongue in cheek.

The Wizard makes his appearance, softly drifting and floating over my bed on his pink fluffy cloud.

“Good morning,” I smile at him from the comfort of my pillow. “Buenos dias. Sorry for the waffle yesterday. I put my feet on the ground and breathed in and out deeply. The Star doesn’t want to earn extra money on top of her allowance from the ‘ziekenkas’? Fine. Her loss. I am going to look into homeworking options, an official nanny for Wednesdays or an au-pair. Maybe I will grow my business this year, maybe I won’t. In the worst case I close my books and start again. This is the year I am going to stop being a chicken and not let people blackmail me or walk all over me.”

I look over at the Wizard expecting a reaction. And getting none to my satisfaction, I decide to tell him the best piece of news I have had in ages: “Wim asked me to marry him. Next year. And I am not going to sabotage it this time around.”

I smile widely and hop nonchalantly out of bed. “Have a wonderful day. How is your ‘broodjeszaak’ coming along?”

Now this bit of news got the Wizard going. Just like I had hoped it would. He follows me swiftly downstairs and into the bathroom where I am already brushing my teeth, pretending not to notice his burning curiosity.

“Wow,” the Wizard catches up with me a little out of breath. “Sounds like you might stop going down the easy road for a change and actually plan properly. Difficult.”

I am still busy brushing my teeth so I just smile at him. The Wizard’s eyes are popping: “Wow. Why next year? Why not now?”

“Because Wim hasn’t fully recovered yet,” I gurgle at him, rinsing my mouth. “He might still have chemotherapy coming up. Next year this will all be behind us and we can start looking forwards. He is also talking about traveling.”

Now it’s my turn to want answers from the Wizard: “So saying ‘no’ to the Star and other fuckwits is the easy road or the difficult road? I would like to take to easy road for once. Or the right road. The best choice.”

I am busy combing my hair now and the Wizard is just watching me lazily without any response to my pressing questions: “What about my blog? What is your brutally honest opinion? Keep or ditch?”

I look over at him. He is still twirling around and smiling at me happily. I start applying my make-up: “Regarding your database… I know of a company that does cold calling to generate leads and set up meetings. Expensive though. Investigate or..?”

When I next look over my shoulder, the Wizard has curled up and gone to sleep. Useless.

 

* 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.

Thrive now. Regret nothing later.

I admit, my stress levels lately have been so high that anything is likely to set me off on another panic attack. I am late at acknowledging that this is becoming quite a bit of a problem. I am early to be documenting the entire process.

I guess we all go through moments like these. I used to trust myself with my entire body, heart and soul. In fact, I have staked my career on this premise, and have never been misdirected before. Except maybe six years ago when I burned out. The power of my dreams and my truth is such a powerful force, that if I listen and surrender, it will lead me to my desires. Like it or not.

“Oh fuck now I’ve done it. The Star read my blog. She is not happy. I understand. I am such a terrible horrible person. I fuck up all the time. And my kids are going to pay for my fuck-ups. When will I bloody well learn? Anxiety attack. This would never have happened if Wim had helped me. This would never have happened if I ran my business properly. This would never have happened if I didn’t blog and share my stupid thoughts with the world. And it is all too late. I am going down big time.”

I used to be a woman who lived her truth every day of her life. I make my living from the power of my mind. I provide useful insights and am great at story telling.

All the more it bothers me to find myself throwing a sissy fit every time somebody says “boo” to me lately.

So I first try to sooth my anxiety with the magic memory of traveling with my children. In the autumn of 2017, I went to Senegal with my 3 children. I had heard that it is an incredible place and that the people there are beautiful. It was even more incredible than we could have imagined, or that I could even express in my blog posts. We had many of delightful experiences every single day, from the beautiful views, the warmth and spontaneity of the people who live there, and do not even get me started on the wildlife…

Yet this memory failed to quieten my mind. So I decided to spin my own magical story. An adventure I want to tell you about. It’s about the Shepherd who invites people to help take care of sheep in the Belgian countryside. And sitting in his barn in the Schapenmelkerij of Brakel, surrounded by these woolly creatures, he told me a story. It was the story of desire. The desire that awakens the herd. He was asked to help film a documentary about sheep. When he went with the filmmaker and encountered the sheep, it changed his life. Why? How? One look in the sheep’s eyes, and he understood that it was all about love, that the whole universe is made of love. And the sheep were there to teach him, and everyone who encountered him, that message.

The experience changed his life. The Shepherd followed his calling, and began taking people to take care of the sheep, the lambs, and paint them pink.

I do not have much experience with the world of sheep. I live in the city of Mechelen. I saw The Crows. I love running in the meadows and climbing trees in the woods but I stay on the trodden path. So, on first sight of a herd of sheep, I am both thrilled and scared. I gulp, and jump into the haystack. The sheep start to gather around. It is beautiful. Oh, and did I say terrifying? Beautiful and terrifying.

We climb back out of the hay, in pursuit of the herd out in the fields. The Shepherd uses his intuition and experience to guide us to the herd of sheep. We spot these magnificent creatures, leaping up and about, cavorting towards us. This time, I am walking close to the Shepherd. The sheep approach. He reaches out his hand, and draws me close. We link arms.

My body relaxes in his presence. And I get the transmission. Through his openness, his stand, his connection, I am able to find mine. The sheep circle all around us. They leap at us from everywhere, from behind, in front. There are moms and babies. And when I look into their eyes, and feel into them, I get it.

The whole universe is made of love. They love us. They want to connect, to play.

And what have we done to them? Destroyed their environment, killed them senselessly, taken them into captivity for profit. And yet, and still, they love us.

I want to cry. But it’s bigger than that. I feel awed, grateful, enlightened. We get the chance to encounter another herd. This time, I am in ecstasy. Thrilled, enlivened, honored, open.

The Shepherd takes us further, and we meet the rams. These guys are slow, big, peaceful, black sheep. I am enchanted. The Shepherd takes us further out to see some goats and cows too. These gods of the land are so….sweet. Fun. Playful. Loving. They ‘wave’ at us, they leap in the air. I am a delirious fangirl, waving back to them like I was front row at a Shakira concert.

The impact of this experience was, and is, monumental. I had no idea that nature is filled with love. I had no idea that all this love wants is to play with me, with you, with all of us.

The first thing I did when I got home was donate to an environmental protection organization. My consciousness has been immeasurably raised.

And I can feel the difference in every aspect of my life, including my relationship with my man. Fear has been replaced with love.

And all of this can be traced back to one moment in another man’s life. The moment that the Shepherd said yes to his desires, yes to his calling. If he had backed away, denied his truth, or decided he couldn’t, I never would have had the experience that I had. I am so grateful to him.

Women give life. Women create. Women desire. Man helps woman.

In every person’s lifetime, there is a calling (or two or three or four). A passion that awakens.

Be on the lookout for your sheep. And when it happens, when you see your sheep, run towards them – as if your life depended on it. When you choose to live your most deeply held dreams and desires, it opens the doorway for everyone you encounter to be inspired to live theirs. This world needs awakening. And your desires are not just your pathway to fulfillment, but they are the pathway for all of us.

* 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.

Come dream in decadence

The Wizard didn’t appear again until the next evening, as I lay in bed, trying to count sheep, but failing miserably.

 

“What’s keeping you awake?” the Wizard asks me as he floats over my bed. “Did I tell you the White Queen didn’t buy Intermizzo? Good night.”

And he floated away as if he were to disappear any moment again.

Wim and worries are keeping me awake,” I tell him. I can tell he’s interested in hearing the rest of my story, because his ears pick up and he turns around to face me with undivided attention again. “But you have said something brilliant! The Star goes on the ‘ziekenkas’, less cost for me. I work home then on Wednesday and Friday. Willem can stay home those 2 days too. Less cost in creche… That would be a great scenario. Let’s see if everyone will play along nicely. That means the legal system, my Star ànd BNP. The bank might work with the re-organisation. New boss and all. So I’d have a year to sort out finances. Maybe even get rid of the Merc. That would be a bonus.”

“Sounds like a win Wim to me,” the Wizard grins innocently at me.

The Butterfly lady from New Zealand would like to meet in London,” I go on telling him what I didn’t manage to fit in this morning. “Me and my three kids.”

“Win win,” the Wizard corrects his own pun.

“Win Wim, like that too,” I say with a philosophical tone. “Let’s see if I can make it work. Would be fantastic! And no more stress about finding new clients. You are brilliant sometimes.”

“Well done if it all works,” the Wizard beams at me in a funny tone. “Thank you.”

“Fingers crossed,” I sound more optimistic than I feel.

“Indeed,” the Wizard isn’t fooled.

“I am curious about the Butterfly lady from New Zealand,” I go on dreaming out loud. “She didn’t use her camera to talk. She wanted to know the Marc story. Her daughter has a successful online marketing agency in London. She employs 40+ people.”

“Be careful what you say and to whom,” the Wizard warns me. “Ask questions before you hand out a free kick-me-again pass.”

“I am a bit jealous because I can’t magage or grow a business,” I pout. And then my face burns red with shame. “Ooooh I did that? Shit!”

“Read some books,” the Wizard scolds me.

“Another paranoia attack coming on,” I recognize the symptoms coming on. “What did I do?”

“Not necessary,” the Wizard says calmly. “Just learn to ask what is their motivation.”

“I am such an idiot,” I can’t stop beating myself up about this. “She was evasive. She has an agenda. That’s clear.”

“Join the club,” the Wizard reassures me. “Aren’t we all idiots?”

“It sounds like she wanted to hear if I was authentic, then meet me and kids in London to see if we are authentic, and then sponsor my trip to New Zealand,” I go on spinning my desires together with facts. “But of course, she may be a disguise, a front for a human trafficking agency. Or Eric getting information. Or Marc. And tomorrow she will publish my confession on the internet and it will go viral.”

“Or a fat gay chick looking for a new relationship,” the Wizard joins my ludicrous banter.

“Yessss she did call me sweet girl in one of her weird messages and I diverted that,” I think back to our entire exchange. “That’s possible although she is married and does yoga and doesn’t look fat. But it could all be a fake front.”

“Plus Belgium is just a hop skip and jump from the UK,” the Wizard points out. “Your BnB is only 50 euro a night. No need to go to London at all.”

“The baby story isn’t a big secret,” I remind him. “If anyone should be ashamed it should be Marc, not me. What do you mean? I should get her to stay at my place?”

“She can come visit you,” the Wizard suggests. “Then you are on safe ground. No added expenses.”

“For some reason she wanted me to meet her daughter,” I go on. “Hmmm true though. So I am safer on my own turf?”

“She can stay with you for a day or two at 50 a night,” the Wizard makes clear again.

“What are you picking up that I am missing here?” and my attention is immediately peaked.

“Too much to quick,” the Wizard points out the obvious. “What do they gain?”

“True though,” I admit. “If she brings it up I will suggest. Going to the UK is an expense I can’t afford right now. True. Too much too quick. I am such an idiot. What do you think they are after? Would they really be fake? Hmmm possible. Very likely. Not from New Zealand at all? She sounded New Zealand’ish. Oh bother…”

“No nothing untoward,” the Wizard goes on in his most soothing voice as he holds me softly in his steady gaze. “Just weird that’s all. Perhaps she thinks you might enjoy meeting her daughter. What does she do for a living?”

“So just as I was telling myself to stop being scared, then here we go,” I can’t stop kicking myself for getting involved. Again. “Another weird story and people wanting weird stuff. Her daughter: online marketing.”

“Perhaps her daughter is in the same boat as you are and struggling with it,” the Wizard is looking at the issue from various perspectives. “Suggest you meet her daughter on Skype. No, what does mother do for a living?”

“She told me this is her daughter’s website: Cherry London dot com,” I show him the sleek website on my iPad. “She has 40 employees. Her mother, the Butterfly lady, is a travel writer. Ok can do.”

“Ah,” the Wizard yawns. “A common interest.”

“Yes on both sides, the travel writing and the online marketing, and the yoga,” I sum it all up again. “Admit her Facebook messages were very, very strange.”

“Perhaps she wants to help you travel by teaching you the tricks,” the Wizard goes on thinking out of the box. “The idea of a single mom with kids is quite novel traveling the world. Maybe her daughter could find you sponsors. 200 000 a year plus expenses and accommodation for you and kids. There are many single moms who could travel but are very scared to do it alone. You can write about what you did and how you organized your trips etc. Very interesting markets as hotels and airlines and related industries would be very interested to sponsor you. Maybe her daughter has good connections and can make good money out it as advertising revenue. Maybe this is your moment.”

“Hmmm don’t know what to think now,” I say torn between two extremes. “It might be. So proceed with caution.”

“Pursue it with caution,” the Wizard corrects me subtly.

“I will keep checking with you if you don’t mind,” I decide.

“Ok,” the Wizard yawns again. “No problem.”

“Did I say anything wrong with the baby story?” I am suddenly panic stricken again. “I hope the Star thing works out fine now. That would be a big blessing in disguise.”

“I have no idea as I don’t know what you said,” the Wizard makes clear. “But I don’t think so. It could be turned to your advantage I guess.”

“She tried to bait me with the stalker story but I didnt respond to it,” I say with certain pride.

“You don’t need your Star,” the Wizard emphasizes.

“I don’t,” I agree less sure than my psychedelic friend. “Let’s hope this ‘ziekenkas’ thing works. And that BNP lets me work home on Wednesday and Friday.”

“What else did you tell her?” the Wizard hasn’t quite finished with this subject.

“Nothing more,” I am relieved to admit. “I listened to her mainly. I am learning slowly you know.”

“Yes,” the Wizard nods. “Speed up.”

“Talk to me more often,” I tease him.

“Difficult but I will try,” the Wizard starts making himself more comfortable on his pink cloud, ready for a nap.

“I understand,” I say as I get into a comfortable sleeping position myself. “And I am teasing. A bit. Wish I could sleep. Would like to get up for cigarette. But its dark outside. Should try to sleep as I am talking nonsense.”

“Ok,” the Wizard’s eyes are slowly closing too now. “Now stop worrying. Wim will be ok. The Star will be ok. You could phone Sodexo and they will explain ‘ziekefonds’. Unizo could do the same except they charge for saying ‘hallo’.”

“Haha I will make some phone calls in the morning,” I smile as I settle in for the night. “Thank you for your fantastic ideas. Talk soon. Sleep tight.”

 

* 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.