“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.
I once had an About Me listing the 11 weirdest facts of me as a form of introduction. However, I don’t recall all 11 as clearly. I’ll try to give you 3 original pet peeves, but forgive me if I accidentally repeat myself 😉
#3 – List Your Top 3 Pet Peeves:
From 3 to 1 (because I can!), here’s my top 3:
3. Bad spelling/grammar
So okay, nobody is perfect. And writing in a language second to your native one is a challenge, always. But I recall once researching language schools when I received a letter of one full of spelling errors. It was an official Dutch institute, yet their letter was filled to the brim with the most common mistakes made. You’re a language institute, you should be on top of languages at all time! It took me all the courage I could muster NOT to correct every error and send the letter back (I am a Scorpio, I take things heavy and hold grudges. Love me or leave me alone).
I also do not get Dutch “street language”. I just don’t. Must be a generation thing, because it’s used in many songs teenagers listen to nowadays. Or when people abbreviate words without any reason. How am I suppose to enjoy what you write me if you can’t even find the time to write it in the first place?
2. Spitting on the ground (or retching in general)
More than your average pet peeve, I’d say in terms of dating this would be my number one turn off. I get beyond icky when someone in the street searches their toes for the biggest, worst possible phlegm he/she can muster, then drops the aforementioned ginormous lump of spit somewhere random.
China was hell for me.
Well, obviously it wasn’t (pandas! <3), but it took some time before I was able to walk the streets of Chengdu without nausea rising within me. If you want me to leave quicker than you can spell emetophobia, you drop your spit somewhere near me and watch me flee in horror.
There’s car salesmen and there’s empty liars. The first will cheat you out of money and into a broken vehicle. The second will spin make belief around you like cotton candy: sticky, overly sweet, and afterwards you’re left washing the sugar stains off your hands, face, clothes, hair, teeth, and everywhere else you didn’t think it would hit you.
Car salesmen are bad, but can be avoided once you see through them. Hot air salesmen (as I call them) will try to make you believe something non-existent. Like, how amazing they are, for instance. Or how many college degrees they have. Or how big their head is (which usually is true, actually, but not because it’s filled with the intelligence they claim to own). Hot air salesmen will sell you whatever story they think will make you see them as The Most Amazing Person On The Planet, yet in the end you’re left with nothing but hot air. Not even a broken car to cry over; empty hands more like.
Also, a hot air salesman, when caught with a lie, will only hit you with more lies so as not to lose face. They’ll never own up to their stories being fake, rolling from one lie into another, much like how a snowball turns into an avalanche. They embody my number one pet peeve.
What is your biggest pet peeve? 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)
“May my soul bloom in love for all existence” – Rudolf Steiner
“You have an animal soul,” his words sometimes still ring in my ear. I cannot tell you who he was, because I don’t know.
It was in 2016, on holiday in Canada, touring through a region that used to belong to the First Nations, when I stumbled upon a wise old man who told me I have an animal soul. I’ll never forget these words, for every time I lovingly stare at my pets, cry over koalas with burn marks or coo over saved animals in the news, I am reminded of them.
With these words I embark on another writing adventure regarding the 30 Day Writing Challenge:
“You have an animal soul: animals sense your kindness and take a liking to you, as do young children.”
I have mentioned all my nephew and nieces either go through or are having an “aunty Samantha-phase”, right? As did the granddaughter of a cleaning client I only met twice, but who pretended to be me for a long time after (she’d drag her toy hoover everywhere).
Have I also mentioned I sometimes feel what animals feel? In Scotland, at a donkey sanctuary, there was a pony who caught my attention. All of a sudden, while looking into his dark eyes, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness.
I don’t know why that pony was there, but seeing as it was a sanctuary for maltreated animals (mostly donkeys, but they also had llamas, ponies and some sheep) I can only imagine…
And then there was that one horse in Finland, who got upset because I took photos of all the animals and he was scared I’d forget him. He posed when I focused my camera on him. And finally stopped his screaming.
When there’s something off with my pets I can always tell, and even if I can’t put my finger on the exact problem I’ll know where to look because of how they make me feel (anxious, stressed, scared, sad).
And there was that one cockatoo at the zoo a few weeks ago who went crazy every time I passed his cage. Wanted me to pet his tummy (so sweet!) ❤
The list goes on, really. And I DO love animals! A lot!
So yes, these strange and surprising words have an effect on me today still, even if they were uttered over four years ago.
I have an animal soul. And I am proud of it ❤
What has someone told you about yourself that you’ll never forget? 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)
“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it” – Groucho Marx
Even if my online priorities are somewhere else right now, I have to admit I miss this blog and the WordPress community. But… I have yet to find some structure in my daily doings to make room for Heart to Follow, meaning I either have all kinds of ideas what to write about but zero time, or tons of time to blog but zero inspiration.
I’m normally not that much into writing challenges, but this one I stumbled upon and it triggered something inside me. So I am going to give it a go, although I won’t post something new every day. I simply don’t have the time for that right now, but one post a week I should be able to manage – I hope.
Without further ado, here is challenge 1: List ten things that make you really happy. In no particular order, those things are:
1. My pets
Those of you that have been following me for a while know I am an animal lover pur sang, and that I’ve have pet gerbils for quite a few years now. After all the past drama of sickness and death, I am now the proud owner of two furry friends called Meeko (brown) and Dorian (grey). Watching them fret around in their massive cage or just observing their beauty makes me (very) happy.
Really, need I say more?
Trust me I do not lie when I state I am always reading one book or other. I just finished reading Ivanhoe today and already I have two other books waiting for me – and that’s just leisure. It’s standard for me to keep a book of professional interest on my night stand as well as a coaching magazine nearby, and of course I read blogs when I have the time. Really, even subtitles are devoured by my eyes.
A good song can make my day or break a bad mood. I am not sure if I’ve ever told you this, but sometimes I experience music in colours. That is to say, one song can “feel green and yellow” while another can make me feel white and gold instead. I love all kinds of music as well, as you can tell from my personal playlist.
5. My family
Did you know “AuntSamantha” is one word? Well, it is according to my nephew and nieces, and I am proud to say all but one of them either have had or are having an “AuntSamantha-phase”, meaning they are seemingly obsessed with me, especially when I am around. I like that.
The only exception here is my youngest niece, who has yet to turn one. But she’ll get there, too, I am certain.
Some people complain when I say I see most of the world in black and white, but then they talk to me for over five minutes and they understand: I am a pandaholic by heart. I love all animals, but these are my favourites.
A good horror movie is never wasted on me. A bad horror movie even more so! There is something brilliant in fictitious evil, especially when the storyline is good. I really enjoy this genre, both on screen and in writing.
8. Travelling (MOUNTAINS!)
I love visiting new countries or, if that’s impossible due to, say, COVID-19, new places in general. I recently visited a Dutch isle and had a wonderful time observing sheep and cycling to and fro a lighthouse. Talking to locals, figuring out some history and trying specialties… And don’t get me started on mountains. I live in the only mountain-less country! It’s unfair… All I see is open fields with cows or rows of tall buildings. Bring me some mountains!
Playing with words, trying to find the best one. Creating a sentence with an amazing build-up… I really should do it more. Maybe combine it with coffee, cakes, music and/or chocolate. And some pandas, of course.
Nothing tastes as sweet as a successful revenge, muahaha >:)
Nah, just kidding. I don’t take revenge. But accidents happen…
The real 10. Coffee and cakes
I feel these belong together. In Germany they call it Kaffee mit Kuchen for a reason. A really nice cup of coffee, a very well made piece of cake (with or without chocolate), with a good book or bad horror movie, must be one of the best combinations to making me a very happy person indeed.
What are some things that make YOU very happy? 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)