“The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity” – Douglas Horton
You know you have changed as a person when you’ve passed a life test with flying colours. A test that, years ago, you’d never have succeeded in finishing, for the simple fact that there was (literally) a piece missing.
Are you ready for a little paradox?
Over the Christmas holidays, me and my mother took it upon us to finish a puzzle of 1,000 pieces. Don’t ask me why, because neither one of us is into jigsaws, yet we thought this would be a fun challenge.
We started on Christmas Eve and a few weeks later (we didn’t work on it every day), this was the end result:
It feels like I spent hours looking for that missing piece, but I failed to find it. It could be anywhere or nowhere at all (maybe it wasn’t even in the box to begin with, who knows?). In reality, though, I’d given up my search in about ten minutes.
The absence of this one meagre puzzle piece would have felt like a thorn in my old self’s eye and I wouldn’t have been able to step over it for days, weeks maybe. Perhaps I’d never have been able to really accept the frustrating fact that one lousy piece was missing – a failure, even if 999 pieces are in place, the annoyance of that one piece missing would instantaneously destroy any feelings of success.
The new me sighed it off after a mere few minutes and carried on with her life. There’s more important things to worry about, I thought.
That’s your paradox right there: that one piece missing from the jigsaw is also a lost piece I’ve found in my personality. I’ve grown.
That silly we’ll-never-do-that-again* puzzle might be unfinishable, I am working on my own personal completion, one piece at a time.
How have your holidays been? Any pieces you’ve added to your own puzzle?
*My mum’s birthday is coming up and as a surprise gift I’ve ordered a custom made jigsaw, another astonishing 1,000 pieces, of her grandchildren. I’m afraid we’ll actually do it all again, but I hope this time we won’t be missing any bits
PS: I am slowly coming back to life and I’ve put “WP” in my journal. That’s code for “I hope to make time this week to read up on all if your blogs” (finally)!
“Insomnia is a vertiginous lucidity that can convert paradise itself into a place of torture” – Emil Cioran
Well, that writing challenge sure was over sooner than I thought… It’s been put on my list of things to do one day, yet I suppose we all know that’s code for probably never.
And I’m not even sorry about it.
For the past 29 days I have not really been sorry about anything. Like not working on my business – not sorry.
Neglecting my appearance – not sorry.
Not working out – not even going to try and be sorry about this one.
The thing is: I have insomnia. Don’t ask me what keeps me up at night, please, because I don’t know. I know it’s more than 1 thing, or else I’d be able to answer that question.
I know the English equivalent is about a camel and a straw, but in Dutch we say “it’s the droplet that makes the bucket spill”.
I feel as if I am the bucket, and I was doing okay, then all of a sudden all these small, seemingly irrelevant little things happened all at once and now I’m spilling over as if it’s the only thing I’m left knowing how to do.
Things as my eldest sister turning evil and trying to feed me cherry pie. Like, really? I’ve hated cherries all my life, never even as much as eaten half a one, and you dare ask me if I’m sure I “don’t want just a small piece?” – talk about crap acting, too. She “did not get anything else as a treat for her 41st”, because she “assumed everyone would enjoy the cherry pie.” Imagine the whole family munching away and me sitting there with nothing.
And no, it’s not the cake. I couldn’t care less. It’s being excluded that hurt. Deliberately excluded. So there was that.
Then there was a series of happenings involving a series of ex-classmates. One of them started her own business, and even if she’s doing something completely different than me, she got double the Facebook likes in one week than I’ve managed to collect in two years. It makes me feel as if everyone sees it, you know, The Secret To Running A Successful Business, but me. I’m definitely missing something here, and it’s more than Facebook likes (which is funny, because I hate Facebook and normally don’t care too much for likes of any kind, anywhere. It’s just the thought of me doing something wrong and not knowing what).
About a month ago I’m driving my car and what do I see when about to hit a roundabout? A giant blown-up face of another ex-classmate who’s running for a local government office position (I don’t even know where to begin trying to explain this, so just picture a massive head on a poster and a terrible slogan to accompany it). It scared me. Not just the face (he is actually younger than me yet looks about 10 years older!), but the fact that he’s the main face of a big political local party and I am… where in my life, exactly?
Then my birthday comes along and I am not even allowed to take revenge on Evil Sister, because I live with my parents and, well, they just love to see their grandchildren munch away at home-made apple pie. So there you have it: my own sister treats me like sh*t, won’t talk about what’s bothering her and instead decides to go full passive aggressive on my butt, and I cannot even strike back because of her children. It’s like they’re her shield to avert attacks from outside. Yuck.
It feels as if I am still the doormat I have been trying so hard not to be. “Take the punches, but don’t ever think of hitting back or else I’ll keep the kids away from mom and dad and it will be your fault” – that’s what I hear, in my head. It’s quite possibly not entirely fair, but Evil Sister has once said: “Maybe I shouldn’t come home for a year and then they’ll respect me more, too” (referring to our other sister’s one-year disappearance act), so I am not keen on proving my theory either right or wrong…
And of course, my business is doing sh*t as well, and no, it’s not just COVID, it’s me! I have no *** idea what I am doing, and even if I am convinced I am a super coach (I actually really do believe I am great at coaching!), I lack in the Getting Clients department.
What also doesn’t help is that the person I hired to teach me all that jazz, a) has postponed the programme I enrolled in due to personal matters and b) possibly doesn’t understand me.
I am not like other people. You say things as social media following and I don’t get excited, I shiver. And what the heck would I do with email addresses if people were to sign up for my blog or website!? Why should I pester anyone with “special offers” when I’m really more into attracting people who already know they want a coach?
I’ve had coaching clients in the past. None of them signed up for any list, downloaded any free email clickbait or decided they should follow my persona because I am “so cool”.
I reckon it worked fine for all of us, really, but now all I hear is how building a list of emails is a must to be a self-employed coach (or anything else).
Al I am trying to say is that I don’t get it, the whole entrepeneuring-thing. To me, following what everyone else does because it works feels… fake. If there’s only one way of becoming a successful self-employed coach, wouldn’t that mean we’re all essentially doing (and being) the same? The same motives, the same techniques, the same methods, the same websites, the same stories, all over and over. Endlessly repeated like we’re The A-Team reruns on TV. How can you stand out when you’re only ever copying others?
There has got to be a different way, surely? But… I haven’t found it yet and so far it’s kept me from having had any clients in 2020. So, do I relent or do I keep fighting?
Anyway, to sum it all up: my life feels like a joke. And it’s a feeling that’s been simmering in the background, but has come to a boil due to all these separate events that quickly followed one another.
Have I mentioned yet that what keeps me up at night is my head spinning? As if I can’t turn it off, no matter how tired I am (and I am tired!! So, so tired!). My heart often beats so loud it’s as if it’s trying to come out of my chest, and every time I am about to fall asleep, I am immediately jerked back to sleeplessness by a panic attack or two, that increase in waves and force as the night lingers on.
My doctor (who is finally retiring!! BEST NEWS OF 2020!!) prescribed me highly-addictive sleeping pills that work – sometimes. Sometimes they don’t.
At least they’ve given me a goal for 2021: detoxing.
December 3rd is my date with – irony inserted here – a GP-linked coach.
In five days I am going to talk about my issues with a man who has the job I want.
Who knows, maybe he can give me a hint or two.
This post is growing much longer than I’d imagined… Perhaps I have more on my mind than I thought, after all – and this is just the tip of the iceberg, really.
Anyway, that’s why I’ve been even more silent than I normally am: I don’t sleep. I am exhausted all day long, yet when it is time to close my eyes and drift off, all I do is panic.
And I wish I could say I am not sorry about that, but I am. Very much.
I refuse to give up, though. So what if I am different and it’s hitting me harder than it’s ever done before? I’ve had a long walk and talk with a good friend yesterday, and it’s helped me clear some things up.
And then there’s this last song, of course. My personal anthem, if you will. I don’t give up. I don’t run. Not from panic attacks, not from Evil Sisters and surely not from really scary giant old-looking men’s heads on posters (although when encountered in real life, I’d definitely run!).
You don’t get me down. I know, you keep me up.
But you also give me plenty of time to overthink my strategy.
Luctor et emergo.
I struggle and overcome – again and again and again. And again.
Here’s to everyone suffering from anxiety, stress, insomnia or all of the above:
We might not sleep. But we don’t run away from our problems, either.
“Greatness always inspires you to be great” – Debasish Mridha
Whoever inspires me does so not by being famous, rich, or huge in any way, but by being extraordinary in the smallest way possible.
And mind you, I really had to think about this one before I came to an answer… Because I was thinking too famous, rich and huge when all I needed to do was look into my heart – or rather over my left shoulder.
#4 – Write about someone who inspires you:
Before I get to the main point, I feel I should tell you about something funny that happened a few weeks ago: my favourite singer held an online concert and I got a ticket. Woohoo!
The show started and I was as excited as if I was a child given carte blanche in a toy store!
As the show progressed, however, I felt an uncanny sensation creep up on me… I wasn’t enjoying myself! Sure, the man was giving it his all in a nearly empty theatre (COVID-19, remember?) and I concluded that perhaps that was what was itching me: the lack of interaction with his public (which is where he usually truly excels, by the way).
But it wasn’t until he went from playing the piano to playing on the piano that I really started to feel annoyed.
It’s that moment when you catch yourself staring at the clock wondering how much longer when you realise something’s really off.
That something got a name when Mr. Favourite Singer got off the piano, hit two keys and then got back on the piano. It caused me every bit of strength not to turn off the show and I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth for days after.
For about a week I felt confused: what happened? Someone I’ve been a fan of for years has suddenly disappointed me? How?
The answer is: when he was on the piano wriggling to and fro, I saw something that caused me to lose a bit of my faith in this man: insincerity (remember my pet peeves?). He was doing this to please a big audience, not because it was actually making his show better – it wasn’t, it was a farce. A gimmick.
Where I, in my head, had portrayed him as my role model for integrity and authenticity, I suddenly saw through the madness of this man’s performance. My head lost an inspiration and gained a little void (don’t worry, I am all over it now. No longer a fan, but I can still enjoy his songs).
So when this writing challenge topic popped up, I had to think twice (or ten times, more like) to find someone who inspires me in such a way, that I feel it every time I think of them. I was pondering on this for a while, while putting on my socks, then randomly turned my head and spotted a photograph I keep in my room:
My grandparents ❤
How could I be so silly to look anywhere else, when I’ve had the two most extraordinary people to have ever been alive right here in my family? I needn’t look on any stage or search in any corners but those of my own heart to find the two people who always make me smile and strive to be better – even if they’ve been gone for nearly twenty years each!
My grandfather is my big hero. He was a construction worker, just like my father (his son). During the Second World War he was ordered to help build a concentration camp here in the Netherlands, where the only thing that separated the workers from the prisoners was a fence.
During lunch time, my grandfather (and some others) would secretly either give his lunch away toorshare it with the inmates, at risk of being caught and put on the other side of the fence himself.
My grandfather was a small man in stature, but a big man in heart – he hated injustice, just like I do. He’s also the reason why I called my business after my (our) last name: because I am extremely proud to carry it.
My grandmother was the kindest person on the planet and the World’s best grandmother EVER. I don’t care what you think of yours, because I know mine was the very best, it’s a fact! Her kindness was unlimited – and unmatched! There’s never been anyone like her ❤
Sometimes I wish I was a little more like my grandmother… But I’ve got her chin, so there’s that 😉
These people inspire me, because I would literally give everything I own, no doubts or questions asked, to be able to spend just one more minute with them. At the same time, they fill me with pride because I can say they were with me. They were a part of my life and are still, because they drive me to believe in myself, to try my hardest, to be kind and giving, and brave.
And down to earth.
Because for me, no one, not even a big artist dancing on a grand piano, however extraordinary, can match my grandparents’ greatness.
Who inspires you? Let me know in the comments or take on this challenge yourself – let me know if you do! (You can find the original and full challengehere)
“Sometimes it is better to lose something than to never have had it at all” – Random Paper Wisdom
Dear Life Corona Virus,
What IS your problem, exactly? What have I, or any other living creature, ever done to you to be treated this way?
I know it’s not your doing that caused a dear client of mine to die. No, that was cancer (and I’ve tried pleading with cancer many times, but always in vain). I was grateful I got to say goodbye to her in person, albeit illegally regarding the strict rules you‘ve forced our country to employ, but hearing of her inevitable passing actually happening still made me sad.
I know it’s not your doing either, COVID-19, that forced me to say goodbye to my dear pet Darwin, for that was a seizure. But it was painful all the more so since I wasn’t even allowed to hold him when the vet ended his suffering. Because of you.
And I know it’s also not your doing that caused my aunt to die, either. That was cancer striking again with its ever so terrible timing.
I know none of these happenings are your fault, Corona Virus, but you do make it worse. Because funerals and cremations are now a big no-go, as you might spread swiftly among the mourning people, causing more damage than their grief alone ever could.
You force invisible barriers between us and make it more painful to deal with Life’s already unfavourable events. You layer the hurt with more hurt.
What we have done to deserve you, I will never know. But I do know that you will not get me down! Because all the people I’ve lost this week, all the souls I’ll have to miss from now on, live on in my heart ❤
And there’s no place for you there, COVID-19! Instead of the fear you’ve unleashed upon this world, my heart is filled with hope, gratitude and love.
“What comes up, must come down. But you and me, we’re floating above the ground” – Mika (from: Stay High)
After months of looking forward to it, February 13th was finally there: Mika’s concert in the Netherlands!
I can’t say I am a huge fan, Life, because you and me both know I am too lazy practical to spend a whole lot of time figuring this man’s life out (nor do I really care that much), but I do very much appreciate his music and live shows.
His latest album had been living inside my CD player for months, which was my most active attempt at getting his new songs down in time before the gig.
It’s just a little disappointing that I lost my voice a day before. But I reckon squealing along is better than sitting at home crying.
Mika’s show ended up teaching me a valuable lesson (or two) as well:
First, Life, I did not know it was humanly possible to have so much fun. Or maybe I forgot. People from all ages, cultural backgrounds and social statuses came together to have a blast – which we did. For one night, for a few hours, none of it mattered. We were all alike. Problem-, worry-, and hate-free.
Second, after searching the web for pictures of the show afterwards (I am always too lazy busy singing and dancing to take any myself), I accidentally found out Mika’s mother is ill. Very ill. Not-sure-she’s-going-to-make-it-ill.
If I was amazed at his performances before, I’m even more so now. For I can slightly imagine the horrors he must be facing, since my mother’s been there, too.
Which is exactly why I closed off my internet immediately, ran to my mum and held her.
She’s here still. I have her. I’ll lose her one day, but not today.
Enjoy yourself, but never take anything for granted ❤