Saturday 21 September 2013


It is the first time in my life that I am truly on my own. I have friends for socialising and who give me advice and help if I need it, the decisions I take however, only have to concern me and the only voice I have to listen to is the one in my head.

... and it is interesting what this voice has to say!

I always felt that my biggest need was and always will be 'independence', and yet, I always committed to others, the husband, the boyfriend, my cats, houseplants, friends. I like to care. It takes no wonder that those two lifestyles clash when tasks become too manifold and something's gotta give.

One of the tasks I always wanted to achieve was my own business, I like the idea of having the freedom of decision making and to do what I am good at, which raises the question: What am I good at? I have many skills, which over a lifetime I could have developed to be good enough to make a business out of, but I never did. I think I figured it out now. Now, that I only have my own voice talking to me I cannot avoid hearing the odd uncomfortable truth about myself.

I am not a leader!

I can lead if I have to, but in the depth of my heart I am at my happiest, when I can support, and I am at my best when I am happy; a self-enhancing circle. I am a fantastic wing man; I am a carer and organiser, I have visions, I can improvise, but I need leaders to take those things on board to make  them reality. I am happy to work my rear off and all I need to keep going is a bit of praise. I need to know that I am of use. I need no money, no goods, I might be knackered, I might look like hell, but knowing that I am not living in vain will make it worthwhile and I will not crave independence.

Ever so often however, I felt taken for granted. If people know that you can do something, they stop the praise. This is a huge incentive to improve, I work even harder, learn even more, but there is the moment when I run out of steam, when I realise that I will not get this high powered energy back, that I am in a rut of commitment that is not appreciated anymore. That is the moment when I get all those ideas about running my own business. This is not for the money or the freedom, but to create something visual, a proof that I am good, that I still can do stuff.

Now: Building a business means talking to people, and that is where the voices come in. People see me as active and quite powerful and think I may be a leader. My ideas about the small coffee shop or the arts and craft studio all got smashed and I was encouraged to think big, be the leader of an enterprise, making money.

I am not a leader!

... and in order to show that I can do stuff, I need something that I can do.

I am not a spiritual person and the word meditation usually gives me the creeps, but there is something to be said for mulling over things without listening to the voices from the outside. What however, does mulling over mean? We always think we have to find answers to questions. I learnt that we have to find the right questions first.

Even if you are a leader, you might want to ask yourself how much control you need, how much you trust others. You may see hints of where your questions lie in how you communicate with others, if you praise or not, whether you bottle up or bring things into the open. Are you introvert or extrovert, does that conform with how people see you?

I did not like to find out how dependent my happiness is from other people's appraisal. I had to learn that I can find content on my own, but happiness for me lies in dependency from others. Now that I know that it is in my hands to decide how much happiness I need, or if content is enough. I can do my risk assessment before I give my commitment to someone. I did not like to find out that I am not suited to run a business as a front man. It is a lifelong dream to give up on. I probably could do it, but I quite likely would not gain the joy that I envisioned. So in a way I can be glad that I never dared.

Those little insights are paving my path into the future now: I will not aim to run my own business anymore, I will finish my work life in an office and may do a few bits and pieces on the side: a hobby that sells. I may keep my eyes open for a leader who lets me be the perfect wing man, though. My little voice is telling me that happiness is a goal worthwhile living for, after all!

Monday 9 September 2013

Confidence! - Confidence?

Since I brought all that relationship and moving business behind me I have been thinking a lot about what it means 'to be confident'.

It is easy to appear confident in things one does a lot and hence is trained in. I know 18 year olds who have travelled the world while I still get nervous about all the if-s and when-s which might or might not happen. I however got better since I travelled to Indonesia.

I guess it then means that confidence shows in how we are coping in situations in which we are not trained in. Whether or not we are able to tackle them head on or chicken out. I am still not confident on the motorbike, but I confidently decide to get on it.

There is one more interesting aspect I recently learned about confidence. On my own, my confidence is rather thin; it usually gets inspired by others. As soon as I am with someone who I love and trust I can grow beyond myself. Maybe confidence is always a bit about fighting a battle, getting an obstacle out of the way - if I have to do that for myself, the easier way out is to just not do it. As soon as I do it for someone I cherish I become like a lioness fighting for her cubs.

That however implies the importance of people who allow me to fight for them and would mean that accepting help from someone gives this person the opportunity to grow. Looks like a win-win!

Saturday 26 January 2013

The Satisfaction of Rug Cleaning - Yep! Mean it!

My cleaner couldn't make it this week, and with two cats in the house there was no way around it: I had to do house work!

Well, for starters I have to admit that once in a while this is not a bad thing to do; cleaners have a tendency to work around uncomfortable things, while I just would like to know that/if/when my house is falling apart. It is nice to know that the vacuum needs new filter pads, that screws are coming off the shelves or the skirting boards are rising. I would like to employ somebody who sees the house as a valuable asset that needs to be maintained not just well presented; who would find out how I use the house in order to attend to the highly used areas more than the others, and who would actually go and find dirt. I can easily swipe and wipe through the middle bits of my house and make it presentable; I would like somebody, who makes it a task to challenge the house and it's tendency to fall into chaos.

However, today I took on this tasks with focus on rugs. My rugs are cheap. I have cats; what can I say? They nevertheless have the job - the rugs, not the cats - to make the room look homey and warm. If they are dirty and smelly they achieve quite the opposite. Well, that is kind of true for cats as well, but those definitely wouldn't like the treatment I gave my rugs today.

It's a myth
Do not believe that there is a vacuum cleaner out there that can clean carpets properly. These steamy things are working because they wash the carpet, but normal vacuums don't. We have to live with whatever they can do for carpets because those can't be lifted, I however will get you more dirt out of any rug, cleaned with whatever fancy vacuum, and believe me: I do have a fancy one.

De-dust and de-stink
Last opportunity for this year to use snow as the best of all rug cleaners. It was a bit icy already, it works nicer when it is still a bit fluffy, but it did the trick.

Usually I fold the rug in the middle and bash it against a flat vertical surface. A piece of wall just outside my rear door does the trick perfectly fine. This however only gets the dirt and dust out, not the stink. Today I threw them upside down into the snow and then used a broom to beat the hell out of them. In the olden days we had a proper carpet-beater, with a big head like a tennis racket and made from some flexible material like rattan; I am not even sure if they sell those these days. And we had a carpet rails, which could take room sized rugs. It is a fantastic workout and brilliant for anger management, believe me, and for the rest of the time I used it to improve my gymnastics skills. Today the broom would have to do, a bit of rage would have helped, and no gymnastics.

The secret is dampness
The snow collects the dust and won't let go of it again. When you vacuum there is always a bit of dust hanging in the air, however good the filters are: just scraping the vacuum head over the carpet whirls it up and it will settle again on it. If the suction is really high it sucks in a dense carpet and the head wouldn't slide over the surface easily, if it is not high enough it won't be able to get the dust from the bottom of a thick carpet. Beating out the dust and having it caught in something sticky is just a brilliant thing.

From the snow the rug gets ever so slightly damp and when that dries off in the fresh air, it takes all sort of stink away as well. 

So, I have cats and I have a cheap - synthetic, hence charged with static electricity - yet rather thick, rug. With a good vacuum brush you will get it looking nice... BUT!

Walking over a the fibres massages hair and all sorts of stuff into the fabric. It becomes interwoven. If you ever had needles of a Christmas tree stuck between the fibres you will know that they are reluctant to come out as they present their thinnest side to the suction and the brush. The way forward is a sponge or rubber gloves, (soapy) water and elbow grease. Again, it is dampness not wet we are after. If I use the sponge for rubbing I use soap made into foam, when I go for the rubber glove I only have a wet towel to moisten the glove a bit. 

And then the elbow grease comes into play; rubbing against the grain and trying to catch those reluctant fibres. A pattern like in my rug is a bit of a pain in the back side, because the grain changes direction every few inches - I shall consider this fact when buying a new one!

Now that the job is done I really enjoy the look of it; it really IS satisfying - if there just wouldn't be a next time!

Tuesday 31 July 2012

A Hairy matter


It's just the fiddly dead ends of our bodies, and it is one of the most important things for our self esteem. Bad hair-day equals bad mood, and going to the hairdresser can fall into the category of going to the gynaecologist. Just that the gynaecologist thing is over in a jiffy, a bad hair cut stays with you for month.

So we are all happy when we eventually found a friendly hairdresser who understands our head, we get used to the ambiance, there are nice chats, sometimes they even remember what you said last time, and when you go at the same time every six weeks, you may even see the same clients, which gives wonderful bonding opportunities.

There will be a day, however, on which things go wrong. Either staff changes, prices get raised and for that amount of money one could have gone to London to one of those posh coiffeurs... wondering how that would boost the confidence, or quite simply the hairdresser got bored of you. As a new customer you are not just a welcomed source of income, but a challenge. Eventually they get to do for what they became hairdressers in the first place: Being creative with the scissors. After many years of sheering your head they don't focus on your fringes anymore, but on the gossip in the next seat.

By then the relationship is one of an old couple. You don't complain if things are not quite right, because you don't want to see that sad face and hear excuses, and you don't know how to get out, because the social network is knit so tightly, the others would have to suffer through enquiries in regard to your health and well-being.

And most of all: Here you know what you get! How on earth are you supposed to find a new hairdresser who will do the same thing you are used to, just nicer?

Let's suppose you take the decision that an overhaul is needed, you might even be a bit daring and wanting to change the style or the colour. You know that you never, ever can go back to your old hairdresser, do you? You are a cheat, and the new hairstyle, however grown out and neglected, will have you recognised as that. Only if you look like an old which you might be able to crawl back, providing a thousand apologies and the promise to never do it again.

So, now let's do the big step. You heard from a friend about this fantastic new stylist... at the beginning they are all stylists... you have saved up for it, and you have your appointment. Adrenalin pounding through the veins you step into the salon and the dreaded question is upon you: What would you like me to do for you, today?

Argh... I want to look like Mila Kunis...?

Well you should have prepared better, shouldn't you? Here is my tip!

From magazines or the Internet you find hairstyles in the approximate length you want to be. And then you find up to 3 pictures for each of the following categories:
  • Hate, really really hate... (fringes in eyes, too fuzzy, ...)
  • Luuuurve... but not sure if my hair is suitable (love colour, length, fringe, layering, ...)
  • Like but a bit boring
  • Like but a bit too much
and from those you create a mood board. Glue them on a sheet of paper and take it with you. From that the stylist will get a rather clear picture what sort of head you are after.

Well and then you are entering a new era of relationship building... until the next time!

Tuesday 24 April 2012

There is always a first step

... even if it feels that I have taken this first step more than once now.

Last year I felt at my height! After seven years of researching fashion options for my shape, training to get into one, writing about it, and trying to see the positive side in things, I did the bodybuilding competition just a few days short of my 50s birthday.

It feels good to be on that pedestal and people looking up. I just didn't anticipate that a pedestal is not a comfortable resting place, and in a way I was lucky that mine was not a really high one to fall off. Right after my birthday my life turned a bit upside down; nothing too serious even, just the shit that sometimes happens and which happens to almost all of us at one time or another. It's the time when one has to get the priorities right, or - if one is not sure what that means - to take some decisions whatever they are to get through the muddle.

My decision was to basically skip gym and the health stuff, which kind of took the blogging down as well. Initially I missed the blogging more than the gym and I managed to squeeze a few things in, but I don't think they were fun to read, so I basically gave it up, too.

And here is a big thank you to all my dear friends! I have all the blogs Adsense enabled to make a bit of money for my charity projects through advertising, and the income never dropped. It was a big encouragement to keeping focused on what I had to do, knowing that I would be able to pick up things later.

Well, and now I am back. I took the first step by putting my life's priorities back to where they were a year ago. I filled in all my gym appointments into the calendar and I keep telling myself that 'enough is enough!'. A year ago, right after my birthday I did a big trip, my first ever trip into the jungle with hiking and a lot of activities and it was fantastic. I got so hooked that I went again this year. And the same hike was bloody exhausting. Then I went to cheer on a friend during the London marathon... standing around a lot and walking slowly almost killed my back, something I hadn't encountered for the past five years.

So: Enough IS enough! I need my health and my fitness back.

Seven years ago I started on a route which was a blank sheet; I had no idea how or if things would work out, and I had a fantastic time. It feels a bit lame to start over again, but I guess that is what athletes do all the time. They work hard, they compete, they are high up, they rest and then they start over, and hopefully become even better. At least I have seven years of experience on my back to know what works and what doesn't.

So, here is to my first steps... the calendar is filled in, I was in the gym yesterday, the first blog is written.... Summer 2012, here I come!