Two Dutch Girls on a Road Trip to Wiltshire

Road Trip 2017 (2) - Richmond to Chawton to Salisbury.

Good afternoon! Would you like to join me for the second part of my road trip in the South-West of England? A long time wish of my daughter...

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Swami-Time: Tenacity. Always a good thing?

Hello again.
The first thing that leapt to mind when I thought about this 12th "Ity" was that you can translate tenacity into bullheadedness. And is that a good thing?

To keep it personal: I am nothing if not tenacious. But that could prove to be my achilles heel as well. When does tenacity turn into a stubborn refusal to face facts and let go of a bad situation?

(Right. Before all of you start merrily guessing about what on earth I am talking about, I will not lift up a tip of the veil. Ha!
Sorry. Some things are better kept private.)

Back on track: tenacity. It can be a very good thing. It means you do not give up very easily, that you hold on, that you are determined. You are prepared to make a stand, even.

And it can apply to all sorts of things. Your work. Your health. A skill. Your life.

Which again leads to a leap of the mind:
I've had a notification of someone's suicide four times in my life now. 
The first thing that jagged through my head every time like a bolt of lightning was the question why?

Of these four, three persons were not terminally ill. They had loving people around them. All three had not reached their 50's yet. 
One did have a terminal stage of cancer. He clung to life with a tenacity and a zest that was great to behold. But when the cancer returned, after a respite of 7 years, he decided to take the matters into his own hands. He was as determined in this as he had been in living life to the max. The same day he was told the terrible news that the cancer had returned, he ended his life.

I do not judge.
I question. What triggers one person to hang on to life with tenacity, and the other to want to end it just as tenaciously? 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Time for some credit. I cannot do it without my colleagues!

Hello there!
How are you today? I hope you are well!

Today is the day that a pupil spontaneously told me he was very happy that I would probably be teaching him again after the summer break. This made me happier than this 13 year old can surmise!
Today is the day that a colleague took me to task about something I wrote. It made me reflect on colleagues in general and this one in particular. And I came to the conclusion that, as always, part of the problem was mine. Communication is a two-way street...

I started work at 17, and ever since my colleagues have played a huge part in my life. They've helped me through some very rough patches as well as have been the bane of my life in a couple of instances. On the whole, I have had nice ones and some really great ones. And I still keep in touch with quite a few of them, from way back as well as from recent jobs.

Not so very strange, when you realise that you spend 5 to 6 days a week, 8 hours a day with these people. In fact, I see more of my colleagues than of my husband!
But when you are the new duck on the farm, you have to try to find your little place in the pen, in the stable and near the feeder. And that grumpy old bull who seems so difficult to approach may turn out to be a big softie and that friendly seeming hen may be the one who pecks out your tail feathers while you sleep.
Finding all this out takes time.
And I am one of those silly women that has an inherent need for being in tune with her surroundings.
Being grown-up, I know that it's normal not to be friends with everyone around you. I secretly still would want to be though...How soppy can you get?

Now, what is the point of all of the above drivel?
That I am grateful  for the support of my colleagues. That I would like to support them in return. That I am convinced that a group of committed, honest colleagues can make or break (but I wish make) a company, or in my case, school.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Older Women. 5 Reasons to Love Them!

Good morning to you, where ever you are!
This post is about "women of a certain age". Which poses the first question, because I am told that 60 is the new 30, so what age exactly are we talking about here???

Here we are: 86, (almost) 56 and 17. Three generations. And a very apt photo, for that's me in the middle; sandwiched between the emotional needs of my elderly Mum on the one hand and those of my teenage daughter on the other. So now you know why I am the one looking rather tired...

I will link you  to a hilarious song I found on the internet, which sparked off my thoughts on women over 50. We are often invisible, us older women, the ones with the thinning hair and the sagging breast and the rounded bums and tummies. Not to mention the varicose veins. 

But, according to Donnalou, we are divine. And I would like to add: indispensable. Why? Let me tell you!

1. Older women have wisdom. And some have a great sense of humour.

Let's face it. We have lived long enough to have learned to think before we speak, and to think after we have spoken as well. This makes a change from the young, who more often than not blurt out their thoughts before they are fully formed.

2. Older women have to juggle the needs of everyone around them.

Sounds familiar, hm? When your kids are small, that logically means that your parents are not quite ancient yet, and are often able to help out. But by the time that you are over 50 yourself, your parents are over 70, or in my case well past 80. And they need help; ranging from physical help, to emotional help to practical help.
I don't know how it is where you live, but in my country the government expects us to care for our elderly more and more (due to a lack of funds).
Due to cutbacks and the financial crisis we are in, there are not enough houses for the young, and grants for studies have been halved. So we often have our over-18 youngsters still living with us. Who lean back and expect Hotel Mama to run as smoothly as ever.

3. Older women struggle with the menopause.

This used to be the Big Unmentionable, right alongside with having your period. Thank Frith I can speak about it, for I see women all around me trying to get through this bewildering stage of their lives without to much collateral damage.
For most of us this period lasts approx. 10 years. Ten Years!!!
And not only do we have to cope with lack of sleep, hot flushes, dry skin (and a dry 'mussel', as one of my friends calls it), mood swings, a short fuse, thinning hair and sagging bodies. If we are in a relationship we also have to cope with the reaction of our partner to all of the above. And let me tell you, I don't see a lot of empathy and sympathy on the whole...

4. Older women are prone to health issues.

Yeah, but so are older men, you may say. Yup. And guess who takes care of these older men? I rest my case!

5. Older women often have to go it alone.

Statistically, we outlive our men by at least 5 years, and often far longer. For the generation of my Mum, this is even harder, as they have relied on their men for all things technical and often financial as well. I fill up the car with petrol for my Mum, she never learnt...and is too old to start learning now. When I tried to teach her, she ended up spraying the forecourt of the petrol station and that was it.
I see them, with their walking frames, alone in the shopping mall, and shudder. Is that the fate of us all?


What we need to do, is recognise that society cannot do without the older women! And we should value our older sisters more. And facilitate them. Empathise. Cherish. Value.
Older women make the world go around. Without us, it would simple stop.