A (wo)man’s determination

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The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination. ~ Tommy Lasorda

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Follow your (he)art!

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The picture looks to be about two friends chatting on what looks like just an every day metro ride in Paris. To be honest, I made it look that way simply because the man sitting next to them intrigued me…

So much so that when I saw him getting his camera out I walked up to him. I wanted to hear his story, I wanted to know what pulled me towards him, and the only way to make that happen was by listening to what he wanted to share with a stranger.

Much to my surprise the conversation went from 0 to a 100 in minutes.

He told me about following his heart, about being true to himself in his photography career, even though that made him lose out sometimes. But nothing was more important to him than being true to himself.

Boom!

I no longer had to wonder what that pull was that I had felt.  I simply needed to hear this man’s story, because following my heart, being true to myself and being afraid of losing out (not just money) are all things I have been struggling with over the years.

He was there to hold up the mirror of my life!

Hope

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Yesterday, in an after the elections discussion, someone told me that the USA is still the greatest country in the world and that it will continue to provide hope to the world. Being a European I questioned the person, as I would any other person claiming such importance for their country, but the guy insisted that this was the truth.

“Delusional” came to mind, but also me wondering: Where does our hope come from?

Tell me: What gives you hope? What makes you believe something is possible/will get better? What makes that the little light in your heart keeps burning?

“Look for the helpers”

I’ve just finished reading an article about vicarious trauma by Annie Wright and am actually still feeling this all through as I write…

Vicarious trauma and the subsequent grief for the state of the world we live in; it’s definitely something I’m very sensitive too. It’s for that reason that I keep following news outlets to a minimum and will hide posts in my Facebook feed.

But even when I do that, I can’t really get away from reality, nor should I.

Yesterday my girls and I went to the yearly event Paris Plage. An afternoon out and about on a makeshift beach in the center of town. Unfortunately the state of the world is such that the entrance is guarded and soldiers are on patrol, as you can maybe make out in the picture.

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The soldiers being there doesn’t really give me a sense of security. To me they are more a reminder of what may happen any time we go out anywhere in the world these days.

Of course I can let that get to me and live in fear, or I can go with the words of Mr Rogers – “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

As much as that may sound like I’m keeping myself naive, I’m mostly keeping myself open to meeting good people, the helpers.

After visiting Paris Plage we hopped on the metro back home and met Fran. Fran is most definitely a helper. He sang his heart out, kept cracking jokes at people, reaching out to touch hearts.

DSCF8960AI have a lot of respect for people like Fran and I wanted him to know. Now really, I’m not someone to just walk up to a stranger and say: “I have so much respect for you”, but I did. What followed was a most awesome discussion…

Thanks Fran, you may have just convinced me to do that more often, after all you can’t go wrong with being a helper!

Driehoog achter!

DSCF5256A… I’m not suddenly  changing to writing my blog in Dutch. I just like the sound of “Driehoog achter”, which basically means that I live on the third floor on the backside of the building.

Technically I also live on the front, but my favorite part is in the back.

The backside is blessed with a balcony, which I’ve turned into a haven of peace with a lawn chair, tons of potted plants and little lights.

And that’s where I will spend a big chunk of my summer vacation so my girls can do what they love best… Play!!!

As I sit here today the first three weeks of August lay before me like a blank canvas. I like this feeling of not knowing what’s next and not having to rush to find out.

I savor my morning coffee just that little bit longer. I have breakfast at 10 and will make lunch when I feel hungry, and what’s for dinner? I don’t know.

I have time to think about that… And about the things I eventually want to do.

For now I’m not ready though to pick up the brush to fill in the blank canvas or to paint my living room wall ocher…

If you need me, I’m on my balcony reading and enJOYing time passing by lazily…

As Marthe Troly-Curtin wrote in 1911: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time!”

The Broome Street Bar

The joke used to be how bars and restaurants were still to be considered “The wild West”. You didn’t know what you would find upon opening the door.

Picture those flapping saloon doors and hear the soundtrack of Once upon a Time in the West. Scary, right?

For years I hid myself behind that joke and the person I was going out with. I’d be the frail woman needing protection. I’d make sure not to be the first one going into any establishment and it was rare for me to go anywhere alone.

Did I really think that there were fights going on inside and that someone would point a gun at me? Hardly….. But it felt that way to me.

Then came New York…..

I was going to visit a good friend. Hang out with her. See the town, and yes, hide behind her. Not that she knew that.

I don’t think many people noticed any of this weirdness over the years, except for hearing the joke mentioned above and maybe a raised eyebrow here and there.

As it turned out my friend was no longer going to be in New York by the time I got there and other than meeting up with some other good friends I had known through the internet for years it was going to be just me.

I actually thought of not going, but I had no reason not to.

I started of gently. On Tuesday morning I bought a fried egg sandwich and a hot chocolate and sat down in Bryant Park. The suffering was quick, but not entirely painless.

After spending the day with two of my lovely friends I was on my own. I started wandering the way I love wandering. No goal, just going where my heart and feet lead me. I ended up in Soho thirsty for a beer.

That’s when I came past the Broome Street Bar. It looked like the place where I wanted to be having that beer, but as much as I wanted to go in, I didn’t want it enough to open the door. I walked on upset with myself for not just going in.

I walked around the block and decided to go back. What could go wrong? I could be received unpleasantly, I could feel unwelcome. In that case I would have my drink and leave. Half hour of suffering tops.

I went in, mentioned I wanted to just have a drink and was seated at the bar. I asked the barman what beer he would recommend. It’s a good trick to get people to like you faster. So I got my Brooklyn Lager.

For a while I just sat there.

Then came a new barman, an Italian businessman, from the Mafia according to himself and a businessman from Washington. We all just chatted for a while, exchanging our reasons for hanging at the Broome Street Bar alone on a Tuesday night. It was fun. We joked around a bit and when I felt comfortable enough I decided to share my problem:

“You know what?” I said to the barman in particular; “I never go to bars or restaurants alone. Not because I mind eating or drinking alone. That is not the problem. The problem is crossing the threshold. I’m afraid of how I will be received and perceived while going into place.”

He smiled at me and said: “It’s not important how we perceive you when you come in, what counts is how we perceive you when you leave.”

BOOM!!!!!!!!