“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)!
“Don’t be shy about asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it only means you’re wise” – Unknown
Before I write anything else, I want to wish everyone a very belated yet earnest
I know it’s well overdue, but I’ve been told it’s allowed until at least the beginning of Spring, so… I’m not too late, surely? 😉
Anyway, I’ve been quiet, as always, because I’ve been doing all sorts of things, as always, apart from sleeping (as from November).
That’s a small lie: my sleeping has improved. A “good night” now varies between 5-7 hours of sleep and sometimes I even get that without any “help” such as a sleeping pill or melatonin. So even if I still find myself exhausted throughout various moments of the day, my insomnia is slowly (very slowly) decreasing.
In my last post I wrote about seeing a coach-like person… Well, that was a joke! Haha, it still makes me laugh out loud, thinking back to it all :’)
After interviewing me for about 20 minutes he declared I was “severely traumatised” and needed to find myself a “trauma psychologist, not a regular one, one that specialises in traumas.”
When I asked him what my trauma was, exactly, since I honestly didn’t know (still don’t), he told me that’s something I have to figure out with the trauma psychologist.
Whut? If you start talking like that, don’t we all suddenly need to see a “trauma psychologist”? How does this make sense? I don’t see it, but okay, I can shrug it off.
The coach-like person then proceeded by assuring me that him and me, we could work on boosting my low self-esteem.
I think that was the moment my jaw literally dropped. I must have looked at him with a more than just puzzling look on my face, because he reacted surprised by my, well, surprise.
I told him there was nothing wrong with my self-esteem. Sure, it’s been super low for super long, but I’ve also been building it up for quite a while, thank you very much, and I didn’t see the point in focussing on that right now. I mean, I have other priorities, such as, I don’t know, SLEEPING?
So, after 25 minutes of what was supposed to be a 30 minute session, my coach-like person rolled his chair back, threw his hands up and screeched: “Then WHY are you here!?”
I know that was the moment I lost my respect for him as a coach. I mean, I know I don’t actually have clients right now so this man’s got one over me, but… If somebody shows up for coaching, I make sure to let them tell me why they’re sitting in my office, not vice versa.
Anyway, when in doubt what to do, mimic what you see. So I, in turn, threw my hands up at him and shouted: “Finally you ask! I have barely slept for 4 weeks and I think it’s due to stress. I mean, all kinds of things fill my head and at night I lie awake.”
His advice? (You can giggle, it’s okay. I do it, too.)
His professional advice to me after telling him I lie awake at night was: “Don’t.”
When I asked him how he didn’t actually burst into song, yet he did pressure me to just “let it go.”
Honestly! I could do his job! And so much better!
Against all better reasoning I made a follow-up appointment for 3 weeks later. Sometime during those weeks I talked to a good friend of mine who asked me why I didn’t look into my old psychologist? The one that helped me get through my depression 12 years ago. Maybe she was still around and could help me? Surely it was worth looking her up?
So I did.
And guess what?
I found her! 😀 And she still works as a psychologist! Very close by, too!
I’ve contacted her and she’s got a waiting list for about 6 weeks, which sounds long but is far better than the 5 months a lot of other mental helpers have. So in a few weeks she’ll contact me and I’m curious to hear what she has to say, although I am convinced it’s going to be much better and way more helpful than “let it go.”
But, since I am not too good to teach anyone a lesson, including myself, I decided to go to the second appointment with the coach-like person anyway, just to… well, “show him in what state my self-esteem really was.”
When he asked me how I’d experienced our first session, I asked him if I could be frank (nobody ever says no to that, do they?). I told him I’d found it very useless, and that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at his advice to “not lie awake.”
He denied having said that.
Here’s a funny little intermezzo: every time somebody’s ever insulted me in the past and I confronted them with it, they either ended up denying it or blaming it all on me.
Normally I just leave it at that, but not this time. I told the “coach” I have a fantastic memory and an auditive one at that, and that he did say that, literally.
The crimson colour that appeared on his cheeks ran all the way down his neck.
People, that was by far the best momentI had in 2020! 😀 Eureka for standing up for myself, while keeping my cool (and icy glare).
The man sitting opposite of me started to mumble that maybe I was better of with a psychologist. I told him I agreed. He started explaining how to get a referral letter from my GP. I told him I already knew. He grasped his computer mouse and started googling some psychologists he knew. I told him I had already found one.
We stared at each other for a while and I remember thinking There is nothing this man can teach me.
Don’t get me wrong: I think he was kind and nice. He just wasn’t the right person to help me.
But… that’s where I’m at right now. Proud of myself (and boy did I sleep that night!), with a healthy self-esteem as proof of what I did in that man’s office, awaiting my time to meet up with my old psychologist.
12 years is a long time and she didn’t remember me, which I think is logical. But I have a good feeling about this.
Maybe everything that went wrong in 2020 only did so, so I could set it right in 2021.
2021 is going to be one heck of a year, I can sense it. But I am adamant to make that a positive thing!
How have you all been doing? I hope you’re all well! Stay safe and sane, people 🙂
“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)
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)