Monthly Archives: December 2010

It looks like we are up for a white Christmas. It’s cold and snowy and Reinout and I just came back from taking Sebastian out for a late night walk with his sleigh. Recently I got my mother’s old fox fur jacket shortened for a modern look and it looks great. It’s super warm too!

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Fun in the snow

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Yesterday evening on the Grote Markt

It’s to a snow covered Haarlem that I woke up to. It started in the afternoon as I was enjoying Victoria’s school’s Christmas performance. The kids were really sweet, singing christmas carrols mixed with more contemporary songs and poems. As I was leaving the school, a thin layer of snow had begun to cover the ground. Reinout picked me up in a cab and we drove straight to get our long awaited Christmas tree. In the choice of a medium size or a large one, we went for the latter and when it was delivered home we had to saw off the top part to get fit the ceiling height (which is about 3 metres). It’s easily the most magnificent tree I’ve ever had the pleasure of bringing home, and we are planning to make it this weekend.

Later in the evening K and D came. I haven’t seen K for ages, and it was great to have her over and discuss everything from Akasha libraries, Ley Linse and Perfumes to Gambling and K1. It’s been a while since we’ve had people over, mainly because of my condition, never knowing if I’m going to be too tired or in pain. But it reminded me how much I’ve missed these late night get-togethers over a candlelight clad table and some wine and snacks as improvised dinner parapharnelia.

Today, apart for a bit of work (I’m still in bed in my dressing gown writing this) and a visit to the gym (been slacking lately but for some reasons), the plan is to completely relax. Our housekeeper is here so the house is going to look spick and span by the end of today. Can’t wait to start the weekend! It’s going to be a good one for sure 🙂

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School Performance in the afternoon

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Our Christmas tree, waiting to be dressed this weekend

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Morning wake-up

When the Year End is closing in and the New is in close range, it’s natural to start thinking  of what has been, what might have been, and what is in store. I can only remember a few years like this one, where I was glad to see the year behind me. The first such year was the defining year of 1995. The year I grew wise beyond my age of a mere 19. My mum had suffered from cancer, and on New Year’s Eve I was told the battle was lost. I never really spoke about it with my mum. Or at least I cannot remember doing so. But I do recall feeling a strange feeling of dread mixed with excitement. The latter may seem strange, but I don’t think I fully comprehended the impact of my mother’s death. I don’t think I fully comprehended it all until years later.

The second time I had a year-closing in the region of 1995, was in 2004. Equal to 1995 I didn’t celebrate Christmas at home, but in Cornwall with friends and family, in a bid to escape a year full of deceit, defeat and an impeding court case. Luckily I was not the one defending myself, but then again we had lost nearly all to a rough lawyer (or so he claimed himself to be) that wrecked havoc with our personal finances. I couldn’t bare spending Christmas in a 45 m2 apartment where I felt the walls were closing in on me. But we were received with open arms elsewhere, and it made an impression I will never forget. Luckily the next year picked up, and I bought the house I am currently living it. But the impact it had on the family was everlasting.

This brings me to this year. 6 years on, and another bad year which is coming to an end.
I choose not to call it catastrophic, as I have yet to experience something really terrible. We live, we learn and we move on. But still it was not one of the easiest years.

When bad things happen, they tend to come in clusters. Perhaps in the same way good things do, although we have a tendency to take the good things for granted.

I left my previous employer of 5 years, I embarked on a short-stint job which in hindsight I shouldn’t have, I was diagnosed with some obscure neurological syndrome called Brown-Sequard, possibly due to MS which still needs to be confirmed (I pray it never will). To top it all off with a court-case, and my bad ass year was complete.

There might have been some karmic law involved here, as in the grand scheme of things I had been a lost soul ever since that year of 1995. Even though very focused on achieving personal stability and wealth, I realise now how off I truly was. I took for granted my family as well as personal health, with an imbalanced focus on work (I can’t even call it a career because what did I achieve in the end?) on the expense of my family…and myself.

Perhaps I needed an illness, someone to tell me a shitty prediction of what life would be. I consumed anything and everything about MS learning that I had a life expectancy of 30 years after onset. It wasn’t that difficult to do the math that I would be 63 before death would consume me. An age my mum never had the luxury of achieving as she died at the mere age of 56.

The last weeks, and only the last weeks, I’d like to point out, have I started to re-evaluate the meaning of life. I have been thinking about karma, I have weighed it against the notion of being (or at least appearing) strong and hard in order to succeed (NB: all measured according to the western notion of success), I have thought of the afterlife…or the lack of. I’ve found solace in that my children will live on to carry the seeds of my family. Genetically I am considered secure. I have two offsprings and can die happy whenever death decides to strike. I’d prefer to live to be a 100, without wheelchair and crutches if I had the choice. Not that it would really matter when I’m passed 80.

But something tells me, what happened in 2010 is something that shouldn’t be dismissed, nor forgotten. I can choose to put it behind and forget, or I can draw wisdom and knowledge from it and change. It might have been a fucked up year, but only because I couldn’t handle it…or I just didn’t know how to. Because no matter what comes on our path, it’s all down to how we decide to see it. It’s really just a matter of a glass half full or half empty.

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This was suppose to be our Christmas Tree shopping evening. We’ve tried to get a tree twice without success and my husband promised, in a final attempt, to come by the house at 3 pm to pick me up. Needless to say 3pm went by, and so did 4 pm. At 6 pm Reinout called me and I convinced him to get a cab to get Sebastian (we don’t have a car…or in fact it’s debatable as one is parked at the office but rarely used) and then drive to the tree outlet.

Half an hour later and it was evident the Christmas tree “shop” was closed for the day. There went another opportunity for buying a tree and I was secretely wondering if this would be our first Christmas without a tree. Like our holidays, the tree seemed to be but an illusion, vanishing in front of our very eyes.

The thought made me depressed as well as hungry (comfort food) and I managed to convince the family for a quick stop-over dinner. I downed 2 glasses of champagne in successive order as we were waiting for our dinner. Sebastian was screaming down the restaurant, and we were all trying to keep our sanity together. Dinner came, and I had a window of 2 minutes finishing my duck breast while Reinout was taking care of our screaming offspring.

Another 15 minutes later and we were out of the restaurant. Long story short, after a run for a cab, I was home feeling sick and miserable. I’ve been nursing my tummy ever since….with Russian caviar and Champagne. Somewhat excessive yet completely right to see off Eugene, our lodger’s departure home to Ukraine.

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Victoria came with the excellent idea of cooking tonight. I set aside my ascetic diet where carbs are banned (I haven’t been too strict in the last week admittedly). Vic cooked up an excellent spaghetti carbonara which the family was impressed of, Sebastian included! Now we are all stationed on the couch waiting for A Christmas Carol to start.

I am on way to the gym. It’s late morning and au contraire to most Monday’s I don’t give a damn about neither work and obligations, nor worries… As I walk the last metres, just having said goodbye to Reinout before reaching the gym, I realise it’s a rather rare occasion. Whereas Monday’s used to strike me with dread, not the least given that the night before I wouldn’t sleep much, I acknowledge that life is indeed changing. With a break from work I have more time to to spend with Sebastian and the family. Priorities are definetely changing which is a first for me…

I do my hour at the gym as Sebastian is playing in the creche. Noon is spent at Dijkers having a sallad whilst Sebastian is eating a toast. He is happily playing around the table with a new Playmobile Knight and a blue train that can make a variety of sounds. After lunch I head over to the nail salon for a manicure. Sebastian falls asleep and I squeese in a pedicure too.

I’m greeted by an Ajax smelling house, as our treassured cleaning lady is making headway through our home. I interrupt her attempts to tackle the bathroom, and instead draw a bath which I lay soaking in for an hour.

It’s a stark contrast to my typical Mondays. One I think I will keep 🙂

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Beauty is nail deep…. bright red in YSL

The last week I have come to realize how fragile “the art” of feeling happy really is. I used to consider it a complete impossibility to be happy all the time. After all there would be moments of sorrow, missed opportunities, regrets and ailments that would swing the balance. But perhaps this is not really so. Perhaps there is a path, if not to happiness, but to peace. I’m talking of the act of acceptance.

It’s been growing in my mind, but a conversation last night formulated the grain that had been sowing. Acceptance is in fact the path to solving problems. Because through accepting a certain condition, that condition in itself, becomes no more. It’s only through putting the label of a problem, that we will seek a resolution. A resolution that may never come nor satisfy.

If something is imbalanced, nature has a tendency to correct itself. Thus, the solution will always present itself – if we just accept it. i don’t mean to get into some quasiphilosophy here, but looking at my own situation in this way brought if not some miracle solution, but at least some peace of mind.

“A likely case of MS”

My happiness had been dwindeling since the time I ended up in a hospital being labeled “a likely case of MS”. Two weeks later, as I was sitting in a sterile office of an MS & Parkinson nurse, I was told that it was not unlikely I would be crippled in 10 years. This had all to do with the muscle weakness I was showing. As she delivered this bleak message I started to cry. Perhaps it was not the dreadful outlook, but the future she had predicted. It was like I was sitting infront of a fortuneteller, with the only difference, there were no fortunes to tell. Instead there was the grim prospect of sitting in a wheelschair, in constant pain (few medication work for neurological pain…I learned later), not taking part of my children’s growth and development.

And yet this was of course nothing. There are so many worse conditions, that one would never wish upon anyone. But I was, if not selfish, then naive and self-focused at the time.

Our lives has since been focused on me and my new condition. With that came constant arguments, which although resolved, would quickly lead to new ones. I think we were all heading for a downwards spiral. I could only pray for an intervention.

The intervention came. But not as expected. As our situation look really bleak, and personal tragedy was around the corner, a friend proposed a holistic approach to my condition. I guess in a rare moment of perceptiveness, I was open for it. Since then I’ve had two great conversations with my new yoga teacher/massage instructor/confident and bit by bit the parts starts to fall into place.

I’ve come to realise that pushing the envelope will not necessarily get it to the right address. That my focus has often masked my own being, instead of accepting it for who it is. I don’t say I have all the answers, but I can see the outlines of the puzzle. And yet, in contrast to before, I will not start looking for the other pieces. They will come….in time.

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The way I like to see us – happy & together

In a rare moment of tranquility, I’ve been left undisturbed in bed with my laptop. It’s a stark contrast to the last days where 4 out of 5 days went sleepless. It’s the first night I actually slept for the whole duration with exception from attending Sebastian a few times. Still it is blissful. It’s a weekend I have planned to do absolutely nothing. The only point on the agenda is getting lunch and some movies in town. Later I have a massage scheduled *bliss* before movie night kicks in.

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was a term coined by economist Thorstein Veblen, to describe the behaviour of the nouveau riche. Little has happened since the term came to use a century back. And I couldn’t help but thinking of the madness the Christmas season has turned into. Inbetween lunches and gluhwein (mould wine) we go on a trail through the snow to come out with as many designer bags as possible. This is at least true to the area of Amsterdam know as Amsterdam South. But despite its opulence and ugg clad women and Burberry wearing men, its has a rather cosy feeling to it and a myriad of small shops. One of my favourite – Parfumerie Louise – sells a number of exclusive fragrances and skin care ranges. Like the one I would love for Christmas – Natura Bisse.

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Shopping Spoils

I came across this great Vivienne Westwood dress from her Red Label. It would be prefect for some upcoming Christmas parties, notably one for tomorrow. I offer my husband a deal. It’s just an early Christmas present. Eventually he gives in after I promise and swear I will not only not expect any other presents this year, but also smile and not complain at least until New Year. It’s a difficult one though, as I have just self diagnosed myself with a depression, a burn out not to mention a permanent chronic fatigue and other ailments. I might as well add a semi-permanent hypocondric condition to this list, as all of the above are rationally speaking only phantoms of my mind.

In any case, retail therapy boosts my endorphine levels to the highest level since the latest Gucci bag. I throw myself on Google, and when netaporter.com doesn’t have it, find it on farfetch.com. In my haste the credit card payment goes wrong prompting me to have another go. God always puts stumbling blocks in the way right?

On second try, the transaction goes through, and the smile is there on my lips. The rush lasts for about 30 seconds though and I feel mortified that I have –  without a doubt – turned into a shopaholic, in absence of more meaningful projects on my path. I’m grateful that it’s close to the end of the year though. It will definitely be one of my New Years resolution. A complete life overhaul. But until then, at least a nice dress will surely bring a little bit of joy 🙂

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Danielle Lineker with that dress

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As seen on farfetch.com