Title (aka What’s In A Name?)

  • Definition: Any other name, or label, that you use for yourself or for others. Sometimes you use it to approach someone whose name you don’t know (yet), or one is used to indicate someone’s social standings (“The doctor will see you now”). Books, blogs, vlogs, videos, ships, air planes and sometimes even houses can have a title, too.
“My principles are more important than the money or my title”
– Muhammed Ali –

May 9th is my Big Day: then I will finally (finally) receive my diploma as a Life and Career Coach.

Having worked so hard towards this goal, I almost lost sight of what I want to do with it; when I graduated as a sociologist, I honestly thought I’d have to fight my way through job offers, trying to pick out the best one. Okay, I didn’t really think that as I graduated in the midst of a financial crisis. But in the end, though, nothing more remained of that diploma than me having a neat title.

Which sounds really cool: Master of Science (in Dutch I also got Weledelgeleerde Vrouwe, which means as much as Her Well Educated Lady. Talk about fancy stuff.) I worked really hard for that title, too, but still. Kind of useless if you don’t use it, right?

This whole graduating-and-gaining-titles-business has got me thinking. If I want to be an independent Life Coach (and I do), I have to come up with a good name for my business. I could just use my last name, but I really want something that represents me as a person and signals what kind of Life Coach I am. Someone who follows her own path, has overcome insecurity after insecurity (and is still doing so), is respectful and sees herself as someone who thinks differently than most people. And those are the types of people I want to get as clients, preferably. Because we must be with more than a few, I reckon, we just hide well. And there must be more people like me, feeling awkward and lost, and who could use a hand by finding their own pathway in life.

That’s one thing I’m struggling with. All ideas are welcome, by the way, as my diploma will be Europe-acknowledged and I still have the desire of one day not living in the Netherlands (read: a powerful English title for my business, as opposed to a Dutch one, will do me no harm). So any ideas you’ve got that could describe me and potentially make for a good Life Coach Business name: please let me know in the comments! Make sure they’re all positive, though! 😉

Then there’s that other thing that’s been bugging me for a few months now: I don’t really feel like the name of this blog suits me any more. At first I thought it was great, having a dictionary-like style for my posts, but I’m not really feeling it any more. Is there any (easy) way to adjust your blog’s name/URL without having to create a whole new blog?

Because *confession here* I kind of dislike it a lot when people quit one blog and then start over with a semi-same concept under a different name. Usually I stop being interested when they do, and I don’t really want to be that person myself. Something about hating hypocrisy.

So I need your help! If you can help me brainstorm by hitting me with great titles for my future business, I’ll be very grateful! And if you know how I can change my blog’s title (and URL) without having to start over, I’ll be even more grateful.

No, not more grateful. About the same, really. Unless you have the answer to both of my issues, then I’ll be Ever As Grateful.

Which is just, as it shows, a whole new title 🙂

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Empathy (aka Not To Be Confused With Everything Else)

  • Definition: Being able to hear what the other person is telling you, without judgment or giving the other person advice or trying to show off your own problems or telling them their problems are stupid or pretending to listen but secretly finding joy in playing with your phone or giving them *eugh* sympathy instead.
“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”
– Maya Angelou –

Years ago, right after my mother got diagnosed with breast cancer, I told a friend how scared I was to lose my mother. My friend’s response was: “Oh come on, my parents have several women living in their street who have had breast cancer. And they all survived.”

I’ve never told her anything significant again, but it took me a long time to figure out why exactly; this “friend” (we’ve fallen apart) didn’t give me what I needed when I told her I was afraid. Instead of listening to my feelings and giving me empathy, she went along and tried to soothe me. In her own, wicked and – may I add – lousy way she gave me sympathy.

Last night I got into a fight with my mother (who luckily survived breast cancer. Just like those three women living in the street of my ex-friend’s parents). I got upset over something and felt incredibly sad. I came to her for comfort, but I got tricked out of receiving empathy again. Instead, she got cross with me for “wasting her time” while she should be cooking.

My mother is not the queen of empathy, let me tell you!

So here I am, thinking it’s time to settle this thing once and for all. First of all: empathy is more difficult than most people think. It goes beyond trying to imagine what the other person is going through, because if you go down that road odds are you will end up giving them unwanted advice or telling them something similar YOU’VE experienced that was , of course, much worse than their story. From there it’s an easy step to tell them “it’s going to be okay,” because if you made it through, so can they. That’s not empathy, that’s sympathy, and it’s not what someone wants to hear.

Basically, all they want is to let their emotions out. Empathy is listening to what the other person is saying, and making sure they feel comfortable enough to express their feelings to you. I found a super video that perfectly clears out the difference between empathy and sympathy:

Don’t let yourself get tricked into giving sympathy. It’s considered a good thing to be sympathetic, but sometimes it really isn’t. Sometimes all we need is someone who gives us a hug and listens to us rant. Who confirms our emotions and gives us the space and courage to let these out.

Be brave. Be empathic.

“Maybe love is what I need, but not your sympathy.”
– Mika –

When was the last time you needed empathy but didn’t get it?



Reminder (aka Don’t Just Bend Over)

  • Definition: finding the whole Universe is plotting against you, leaving notes on the doorstep as well as pains in your back. Only to remind you that “you need to do stuff.” Such as taking good care of yourself.

“Over the years, I’ve found myself wishing sometimes my angel would show up. I could use a little uplift, a little reminder”
– Roma Downey –

This entire week I’ve been receiving reminders. I am not really sure what is going on here, but I’m guessing the Universe is trying to tell me something.

Apart from all the notes, the bleeps on my phone (okay, so I programmed some reminders myself, not all of them need to be direct messages from above) and letters I’ve received, the biggest reminder at this moment, the one I can’t possibly ignore, is the pain in my lower back.

Every time I hoover, mop a floor, bend over to pick something up, sneeze, walk or just sit still, it tells me to “straighten my shoulders, brace my core and USE THE LEGS!”

I know I should have taken better care of myself, I know it! But it’s much easier to bend over and pick up that heavy bucket filled with water and soap than to bend my knees and do so. Having to think about my movements makes my movements take up more time. And time is so precious already.

Still, it’s come to a point where I no longer have the luxury to not think this through. Because when I don’t, my back starts screaming at me. So I listen and try to be kinder to myself, wondering why I let it come this far again. I’ve had therapy for my back, why did I revert back to the old ways after those sessions were over? I have no clue. Probably because it’s easier than putting in the extra effort.

For now, though, I want to thank the Universe (or whoever is behind all this), for reminding me to do my homework, contact some old friends, tell my client we need to reschedule, and for sending me that great letter (see picture) saying I need to have my eyes checked. Although I am pretty sure I don’t, it’s always nice to be reminded I look awesome with my glasses on.

But most of all, I’d like to thank my body for making sure I got its message: “take good care of me or I’ll get back at you” (pun unintended but it’s so good I’m going to savour it!). For reminding me I did not learn to move in an ergonomically correct way for nothing. For making me remember to take good care of myself, even when there are no physical or mental pains, because you only get one you. Don’t do things right to feel better right now, but do it right to feel great all the time!

Your health is your greatest good. And that is the greatest reminder I got this week.

Take good care of yourselves, everyone!

What have you been reminded of, lately?

Statement (aka Literally Standing Up For Yourself)

  • Definition: Choosing to walk out of a restaurant instead of letting people treat you like a fool, because you know you are better than that and definitely deserve better treatment. 
“A meaningless statement remains meaningless, no matter how often it is heard”
– Roy H. Williams –

Three times. That’s how many times I’ve walked out of a restaurant without paying. Or ordering, for that matter.

The first time was in 2010. I was visiting Dublin with a “friend” (funny how holidays are perfect opportunities to change your views on one another, but that’s another story). Since we’d arrived late at our B&B, me and my friend had asked the owner if he knew a good pub nearby that wasn’t too expensive. Having found the pub, we were given a menu each and were told to find a seat, somebody would be with us soon to take our orders.

My friend took one look at the menu then proclaimed there was nothing on there to her likings. I tried to soothe her into staying, but she didn’t want to hear any of it. She got up and walked right out. The only thing I could do was follow.

The second time was after C.‘s last birthday party. The venue it was being held at was not close to home for me or either of the two friends I was with, so we asked a waiter in the restaurant adjacent to the venue if they had room left for three, which they did. We made reservations and were a little too late, but that was no problem as nearly all the tables were empty.

We took our seats and again someone told us they’d be right with us to take our orders.

After nearly thirty minutes of waving and whistling and winking and trying to get someone to come over to our table (we were getting thirsty and hungry, a combination doesn’t do any good for your mood), we simply got up and left.

The third time was last night. Although my father had celebrated his birthday in the weekend so my sisters and their offspring could attend, me and my mother felt he deserved a little treat on the big day itself.

Plus, it was actually hot and neither of us felt like cooking.

We planned to go to a pancake restaurant (laugh all you want but they’re common in the Netherlands!) but soon found out it was closed on Mondays. Searching for a good alternative, I found a different pancake restaurant (told you we have plenty) not too far from where we live: we could even go there on our bicycles!
I quickly made an online reservation and early in the evening we got on our way!

There were a few guests at the restaurant already, but not too many, and after a little kerfuffle with the supposed owner (she pretended we hadn’t made reservations – which I had – but couldn’t win since there were too many unseated tables for us to choose from anyway). We were told to find a table anywhere outside that pleased us and: “Someone will be right with you.”

I swear that’s a bad omen.

After a good twenty minutes of being completely ignored by the full staff, I noticed a couple entering the restaurant. They soon exited with the boss-lady in tow, showing them a good table on the terrace, near where we were sitting. To my great surprise an ordering device magically appeared in her hands (they do exist!) as she took their drink orders and moved back inside.

A few minutes after that, an employee brought the couple their drinks. I was baffled: how come people who came in AFTER us got served within minutes and we were nearing the half hour mark without as much as a friendly nod? I caught the eye of the waitress and tried to beckon her over, but she quickly turned away to clean already clean tables on the other side of the terrace. As far away from us as possible, of course.

As me and my parents got up, collected our stuff and marched back to our bicycles, we passed the boss-lady. I thought she’d try to stop us, but to my surprise she looked up and quickly away again. She didn’t seem bothered at all that we left.

Talk about unprofessional.

I hate it when people treat me like I am thin air. Or like I don’t matter. So it felt really good to just get up and leave. No shouting, no cussing, just getting up and marching out of there. Back to our bikes.

In the end we sat down in a restaurant we hadn’t visited in years, a few kilometres from the pancake debacle. We got a good table, a friendly waitress and within two minutes of sitting down, each of us had a drink in front of them and a few nibbles to whet our appetite.

Now that’s a statement.

Have you ever been made to feel you were worthless? How did you handle that situation?

Earworm of the Week

Music not on a Monday this week, but I heard it on the radio and just knew I had found a new Earworm!

Have yourselves a good weekend!

Cheers 🙂