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Chronic illness: the parts we don't talk about


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Ooh wish I was a cat


I’m taking a break this week.  I am tired, pleasantly tired . Oh and replacing the kitchen so the house is a mess.

If any of you know where to get one of these for humans (not an ordinary hammock but just like this and especially with the fluffy lining) don’t tell me where I can get one, just send one to me. Please.

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Chilled out CPCC


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It’s all about you

I have to confess, I have been freaking out about my final exam (to become a certified professional coach). I had a fantastic idea to prepare by coaching my own coach. Wow, I was so intimidated that I almost became petrified. This is what was going on in my head: “How dare you think that you can coach this wonderful, amazing woman who has been a fundamental support in everything you have done in the last year?”

I wanted the experience to be amazing for her, I wanted to give her what she has given me. Piling on all these expectations I created such stress for myself that it was almost impossible to speak. While all this was going on in my head, she was fine. She was a great client; open, daring, ready.

It was the best thing I could have done. I learnt what happens when you let your saboteur rule your life; it paralyses you and make you miss what is right in front of you.

She told me:

“It’s not about you or your exam. It’s about the client. Coaching is always about the client”.

You see our examiners are real people with real topics. They sign up for coaching, not just to assess our abilities.

These words helped me to shift my focus from a desire to prove what I know, the skills that I have learnt, into a relaxed state of curiosity about them.

Who is this person and what do they really want?

What do they believe? Is that belief holding them back?

What do they feel? What are they not allowing themselves to feel?

I enjoyed my exam. I met two amazing people and I got curious about them. From that curiosity I slipped into the coaching, like I was gliding through the air, floating. I used the skills I had been taught and some shifts occurred, some kind of transformation.

Now it was only 15 mins of coaching for each client and I will never get to follow up with them. I will never know what happened next. But my intuition tells me something significant happened for them. Now it is up to them to do something with it.

I have to wait a couple of weeks to find out if I passed my exam and I am ok with that. I am still be on this happy cloud of completion; I got here and I did it. The overwhelming feeling I have is satisfaction.

Satisfaction for good coaching.

Satisfaction that I did it. I studied, practised and I did the exam.

Satisfaction that I put aside my saboteur, that voice of doubt and criticism and didn’t try too hard. I trusted myself and my training and danced in the moment.

In this contented state I have been wondering how this event in my life is connected to the bigger picture and to all of you out there who struggle daily with chronic illness, parenting, life. All of you who, at the end of every day, can say “I did it, I lived today.” Deep in my heart is the realisation that this is what we all do: we have ambitions and challenges and we work towards a goal. Sometimes that goal is like the one above, to be competent at my job and really know what I am doing. Sometimes that goal is to get through the day without shouting at my kids. Sometimes the goal can just be to get dressed (my crazy loon friend, you know I’m talking about you again don’t you?). These challenges, pressures, make us stronger, make us who we are.

I found this on Facebook (thanks Ute from expatsincebirth) and it describes how I feel about you guys.

DiamondDedicated to Yasmine, you have always been precious.  The heat is on and we can see you transforming before our eyes.

 


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Who’s choosing anyway? Taking control of my life.

I actually wrote this last year but it feels relevant again. After this hectic last 6 months and completing my exam (for those who want to know, I passed!) I really feel like pootling for a bit.

%22You're on your own. And you know what

In the Netherlands there is a motorway that is 5 lanes wide, called the A2.    It was widened to release congestion and the speed is limited to max 100kph.

At non-peak travel times it is funny to see 3 lanes with traffic and hardly anyone is tempted to speed along in the 4th and 5th lanes.  I’m sure the traffic cameras and the speeding fines have something to do with it but I also think it is a part of human nature to follow rules and guidelines.

There is common sense in them.  Slowing down reduces congestion at hot spots.  It’s safer, you’ll get there around the same time anyway, etc.  I kept to the speed limit, I thought I was being a good citizen.

But actually, those aren’t the reasons I kept to the limit.  I kept to the limit because I liked it, it was comfortable and quite frankly, after the series of mega unfortunate incidents in my life in the last few years, I have a very great appreciation that it can happen to you.

I’ve seen death approaching and I don’t want to meet him again any time soon.

Hospitals aren’t much fun either and I have had plenty of opportunities to sample their delights on a regular basis so I don’t need a car accident to bring me there too.

So I mosey down the A2 highway and it feels good.  I’m glad they set that limit because actually I don’t want to go faster than that anyway and the government gave me permission to drive slowly.

On roads where the limit is 120kph I still only want to drive max 100 but somehow I feel pressure to go faster.

One day I was struck by how funny that is.  I am opinionated, decisive and really don’t like being told what to do.  Yet I feel like I should go faster than I want to, just because of a road sign.  That’s when I realised that the reason I like the A2 so much is that I am relying on someone else to give me permission to be how I want to be.  How ridiculous is that?

I could just give myself permission.  I do give myself permission.  Permission to cruise when I want to, to race when I want to, to stand still when I want to.

So the next time you see a slow poke cruising down the road, it might be me.  I’m not trying to get in your way or make you late.  I’m feeling good.

I’m choosing.


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My own Oscars thank you speech

I would like to thank

In Oct 2012 I started my journey of changing my life so that I could do the work I want: supporting others to discover and develop their intrinsic strengths and to live a lighter life, unburdened. A major milestone in this journey has just been reached with my submission yesterday of my written exam for my certification as a Professional Co-Active Coach. I would like to take a moment to thank the people who made it possible.

To F.

From before you were born and they unceremoniously pushed your feet back in and told you “you’re not coming out that way” (ok, maybe that was only unpleasant for me), with your cesarean birth 10 weeks early you have learned that new experiences are painful. You almost dehydrated to death and they spent the first 24 hours poking you with needles, trying to get IVs into your teeny tiny veins and pumping 3 times your body weight in fluids into you to keep you alive.

Even every gentle touch on your preemie skin was unbearable because it wasn’t ready for touch yet (so they asked me not to stroke your cheek). Every day brought more needles, more medical procedures.

Cuddly toys were intriguing but you were punished for your curiosity because touching them would make you shudder, sometimes even vomit.

So many experiences were unpleasant or painful. Yet you still try. You are cautious yet you amaze me with your ability to actually try new things and you blow me away when you jump in with enthusiasm and belief that this new thing could be good.

To S.

No matter how many times you fall you get back up and go again, smiling, full of energy and determination.  Everyone around you can already do these things but that does not dishearten you, that they are better than you. You want to be good too so you keep practising until you get it right, growing each day in your ability to adapt your plans when they don’t work and try a new way to reach your goal. Such determination.

I thank you both for showing me the way:

Dare to try something new, even if experience has taught you that new things aren’t always good.

Keep trying until you succeed.

Above all, do it with grace and laughter. Enjoy it.

To J.

You always believed in me and never faltered in your faith that I could do this. You took up some of my burdens, without me even asking, without fuss, so that I could focus. You listened to my frequent self doubts without rolling your eyes in frustration or disdain (ok, sometimes you did that but only after I had tested your patience to the max).

You put aside your own goals to support mine, yet still managed to find time to actually pursue your goals.  How you managed to do all that I will never know but I thank you for it.

To my clients and fellow certification colleagues

You gave me your trust and let me practice and hone my craft on you. You showed me what is possible when you step into your life with fierce courage.

You have all shown me what happens when you give yourself permission to be yourself, to pursue what you really want and when you realize the strengths that you already have:

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE


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Dusting off my soul

I have been all over the place this week: great heights and deep lows. I have been inspired and moved to write some good blogs yet it’s wednesday evening and I can’t bring myself to publish any of those posts.

I got introduced to the artist Piet Mondrian this week. Firstly by a wonderful friend Lana,(http://www.smarttinker.com) whose passion, to develop children as learners so that they can face anything life throws at them, is inspiring. Secondly by my brother in law Andy, who keeps his sanity with grace even though he lives with 4 of my female relatives (his wife and kids, my sister and nieces for those of you had a “say, what?!” moment there).

There is just something about art that lifts us out of the compactness of our lives and into a bigger space. A space where we can just be. We can appreciate or criticise. We can absorb or reflect. Most importantly for me, it takes us out of ourselves.

We often often forget about art, especially when the responsibilities of parenting and care-giving pile up on us, leaving us with little time to stand still. So I want to share some art here that I looked at today and invite you to stand still. No comment from me, just the artist and the pictures. I hope it brings you something. Share your thoughts in the comments. Or not. Take a moment out of yourself, maybe go and look at some more art.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” Pablo Picasso.

Piet Mondrian: Broadway Boogie Woogie

Mondrian_Broadway_Boogie_Woogie

Piet Mondrian: The Gray Tree

Mondrian_gray_tree

Salvador Dali: Swans reflecting elefants

Swans_reflecting_elephants

Fayeq Oweis: No!

no2

Pablo Picasso: Violin and Candlestick

Violin_and_Candlestick

Last thing to say:  dear William, I am glad you are home.


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The other side of being

I am writing a book and I am stuck.  I want to write about the good, the experiences that keep me going.  Yet every time I sit down to write about these, my mind goes blank.

It is so easy to write about the hard stuff, the painful moments.

I know there have been good moments, achievements big and small, moments that make it all worthwhile and still, it’s like I am frozen.  Unable to even remember them, let alone describe them.  I pick up my pen and nothing.  It is like someone presses pause on my remote control and I haven’t seen this film before so I don’t know what comes next.

So I have been looking for inspiration, a way to unlock those good memories.  I told myself “don’t force it, allow yourself to wander along memory lane and it will come”.  Time has been passing.

Then yesterday my daughter asked me “zullen we een wandeling maken?”  Shall we go for a walk?

It was 6:45pm and she goes to bed at 7:30pm.  It’s a school night and I should have said no but I didn’t.

We put on our coats, grabbed a torch and went outside.

It was drizzly and we talked about the weather.  She thought gloves and a balaclava would be handy considering how cold it was.

She was happy that she had a hood on her coat to pull up and keep her warm and was concerned that I didn’t.

She held my hand to make me feel safe in the dark.

holding-hands-mother-and-child2

I’m still struggling to find words to describe this good feeling but it was good.  Maybe it was the absence of worry.  Maybe it was the simplicity.  Maybe it was the “being”.  We didn’t “do” much, just went around the block.  It wasn’t an adventure and it wouldn’t be on any child’s christmas list but we did it together.  We were.

We walked, we talked, we held hands.  We came home with the satisfaction of a job well done, with a feeling that all was right with the world.  And it was.

I’m not going to try and write about it anymore.  I just want to enjoy it.  Maybe if I let myself just feel for long enough, the words will come.