Saturday, July 27, 2013


Last week, with Squirt at my parents' for four days, I spent a lot of time online. I was hanging out on FaceBook, posting and commenting away, and I had some nice - almost conversations there - from inside my own space, my own life. And instead of being uncomfortable, or even angry - for wasting time when I could have [...], I took a long hard look at what I'd been sharing, and found myself happy! I've been on the other end of the spectrum more often, and for longer than I care to ponder right now, so there was a sense of wonder at finding myself... okay!

Of course, spending time online means you're not consciously breathing, feeling your feet, being present in your life, exactly. I know that. It's all by comparison, even if you're not actively comparing yourself. I was looking at my life in a mirror, and it reflected back to me how I was sharing my life, what I was sharing, perhaps even how I was selling myself. But I wasn't. I was actually sticking with me. I was posting about what made me happy, what made sense, what was good inside my day. Maybe I wasn't inside my life down to my toes, digging in, growing roots; but I was standing tall with my life.

I think I've quietly stumbled upon the why of my need to document Summer! It's a way of being aware. Maybe not always exactly in the moment, but it's a good start. Being aware of the fact that there is joy, and happy, and beauty - finding out where I see it, what catches my eye - what do I draw, what do I photograph? - the journey through my days...

I love and appreciate and see the need to feel my feet, to breathe slowly in & out, to be where I am, but it's not enough. That - doing that - being present? It helps to combat the fear of being present, and I need that, solidly! But I'm also on a journey to find treasure in my life - to document and take it out of the moment, to fill my travel pack, my water bottle.

And it's not to hold on to moments - although I don't think there is necessarily something wrong with holding on to memories, as long as life doesn't become all about yesterday - it's about documenting, or maybe even more accurately, about mining my life. To find soul where I travelled. To learn about where it hides, on a deeply personal level, inside my life!

Because - and I deeply appreciate how this falls into place and guidance emerges - what I've written and cried about so many times is - I've never known where to look, where to find something, anything to help me claw out of that dank pit I fall into when I do (it's quite too early to say 'used to', but here's to hope, nonetheless!). I don't know where my happy really lives, and that's the sad truth.

And I'm not there yet, I haven't found the well - but that's okay, because this is fun :) I'm catching glimpses by looking at what I've gathered in my Summer 2013 file, so far! Glimpses, not storylines - nothing set in stone, trapped by cement, unmovable, fixed. Because it's impossible to recreate a happy moment, trying only dispells the magic and adds frustration and sadness to the mix. But I can find a similar colour, hear a sound, catch the light, indulge in sweet, salty, sour tastes, reflect in droplets, kiss a flower, or find that coffee at the exact right time!

I'm going from moment to moment right now, and it's... pretty :) I relish, revel, remember and rock - but I'm also collecting treasures & imagining a map. I'm looking for what makes me curious, for what makes me smile - I'm looking for what I'll know when I feel where it is :) That's what I'm after - but quietly, furtively almost, because these are secrets and surprises. Here is no place for brute force or overthinking. These things will reveal themselves to me, over patience and time. I won't have to wait for them - I can draw and photograph and capture beyond words. It will further unfold with life and time. It's elegant in its simplicity and imperfection - who knew? - and it's all as much here as ahead!

I realise this means that - apparently - I need proof. Proof of being well, being okay, being enough. But being who I am, knowing where I was, it's exactly right, like that. There is victory in the realisation that there is much to document as proof of being well :) I've conquered ground, I've kicked and left behind hurdles I never even knew were in my way - and I'm... taller for it all. & if I need proof for a while, before knowing, finding, seeing becomes second nature? If I need any permission, for any of this? Here it is:

You GO, sweet pea! To your heart's content! Gather clues and document! Find out what makes your mouth water and give IN! Find out what makes you smile and get some MORE! Be wild, mudane, Fabulous and boring! Find yourself there - exactly where you are & draw it - take a photo, sing a song - do whatever it takes to find it and bring it home!

This is for you, too. Permission! To do what needs doing & document. Or not! Whatever you need to kick a home-made rule or two to the curb & hang out with what makes you tick! Go! Go tick! I'll be here, waiting to hear where you took yourself today :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013


There were brief thoughts of blogging daily, and thoughts that lingered longer, about blogging a few times a week. All those thoughts lie abandoned, there where abandoned thoughts go when they're redundant ;) It's a solid week later, and it's okay. I'm okay; still strangely, newly okay with a lot of things these days, and I'm hanging out with it. Getting to know it where it shows up. There's a lot of acquainting myself going on here, and it's... succulent :)

Meanwhile, Summer is still hot and happening in these parts, and I've been documenting! Here are some of the highlights - the condensed version ;)

The slug, as promised - documented in paint and photographed :)

Speaking of wildlife, at 6.15 am last Friday morning, I heard someone's kid screaming. And shout again. And again. Wondering vaguely - while sipping coffee - what parent wouldn't do something about it. Till I realised it was my kid, and that parent doing nothing was me ;) Big drama - a mosquito - "no, there's TWO I think!"... Slapped some stuff on him, hung his mosquito net & left him happy in his tent. He slept until 9.30 am, when I had to actually wake him up! I'm thinking he was awake a while before he shouted for me - pangs of mamma-guilt...

On Saturday, because of snot, I missed the Sketchcrawl Koosje organised in Amsterdam (her blogpost of what I missed is here...). I spent that day getting flowers while reading and watching Squirt and the kid from next door have fun in our blow-up swimming pool - which wasn't necessarily punishment, but I would have preferred to be out sketching! So, I bought myself some new - extremely cheap - cups & drew them to cheer me up.

On Sunday, we went to Leiden, to visit a (boring!) museum, and while I still wasn't feeling entirely wholesome, I sat and drew anyway - because I could :)

The kid is with his grandparents at the moment. He was packed and picked up on Monday, and since he asked for an additional night, I'm not expecting him home until tonight... Luckily I've got this to remember him by ;)

So on Monday, I had time for chores and a drawing ;)

I finalised my attic studio space, too, and found out I didn't need it, per se ;) I've ended up drawing at the coffee table quite a few times, lately, and it's - good. Because drawing is good. And having choice as to where to do it? Is just that, really; choice!

There were two more projects that didn't involve pencils, pens or paint directly:

Squirt's new knotted bracelet that replaced the old one he wore for 18 months (!), and my Inspiration Jar :) If we're friends on FaceBook, you might have added to it already, and I thank you! I intend to continue to draw daily, and there are days when I can't seem to think of anything to draw. Eventhough life is present in abundance, yes. It happens... So this jar will be filled with little slips of paper with words and ideas, along with the name of the person who contributed - and the idea is, I will let you know when I draw one of yours, and let you know where to see it. Because that's the only thing I haven't figured out quite yet ;) There might even be a personal postcard in it for you - so if you want to add your magic to the mix, please do so in the comments section of this post :D And if you're in dire need of ideas to draw? I've got the list on file, and I'm willing to share - in exchange for some extra themes ;)

Nope. This isn't everything. But I'm rethinking the idea of dumping it all in one monster post. I'm going to schedule another one. 

While in quiet mode, this morning, I slowly saw something emerge. About the why of documenting my Summer, or my life, for that matter. And it was eye-opening. And I want to share it. But it warrants its own space, I think. So I'm going to leave it at that, here, for now. You're all updated on the whats of my Summer so far - and I'd love to hear about yours! There's plenty of time for the whys, right?!

Stay cool! Or warm - depending on where you are & your taste in temps ;) Thanks for sharing my Summer with me :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013


I've been getting messy with ideas, thoughts and concepts in my head - struggling with the whats and how tos - because I would love to document this Summer... It's been, and still is, interesting ;) I'm running into a lot of things I sort of knew about myself - stuff involving rules and guidelines. Being good enough, and allowing myself. Full stop. Allowing myself is very inclusive, and even if I wanted to get less vague, explain myself, I can't. Not yet, maybe never. What I'm finding out is - perhaps it doesn't matter. And that - is revolutionary

I don't have the peace and quiet to come out with everything in my head right now. It's Summer. We're halfway through the first week of Squirt's school holidays and life is different around here ;) It's noisy, filled with life, questions, blow-by-blow reports of how to build the perfect Lego Duplo house - and everything else ;)

"Can I ride my bike, mamma, where are we going, what's next, can I have ice cream, will you come to the playground with me, what's for dinner, why does everyone go on holidays, don't you think I could get a present because it's holidays?"


It's good, and I mean that ;) But the main thing I'm confronting at the moment is - how do I document this Summer? What do I draw, what's important, where does joy live, and does that matter? Where am I, what am I looking for and what do I need to remember about being here, now, in this moment, Squirt's first Summer holiday after starting school? Yes indeed, where am I in the middle of all this? Can I let go, enjoy? Can I hold onto my newly found sanity without all this time I've learnt to spend with myself? Will I still be here, at least somewhat, when Squirt goes back to school, or will I need to reinvent the wheel all over again? 

Questions. Lots of them. But what I was thinking this morning is - if I don't start doing, documenting things - putting them somewhere, sharing it all - then there is nothing that can grow, either. As long as everything that's in my head - stays there, concept-form, nothing happens. What isn't out there can't evolve into something new, can't be tweaked. It can be thought to death of course - I'm good at that, that I know. But can I work it? Can I be there & do? Can I be here, can I - at least try - to blog about it as it happens? The blue skies, clouds, the humidity and the rain? The happy and the something - the mundane, the questions and the yays of it? 

The only thing I know now - is that if I don't try, nothing happens. So I'm confronting another little truth about myself here. The belief that without a script, nothing comes of any plan. I'm here, and I'm going in without a plan. I'm all organised around this new-found - blankness :) I'm going to photograph what strikes me when it does, and draw what bites my pencil. Daily, as much as I can. That's my plan. So here's what's happened so far:

We went to the local swimming hole ('t Twiske) on Monday, and had a lot of fun :D I'd completely resisted the idea of going there, putting on my bathing suit and being where I was - playing with my kid in my white and less-than-perfect body with all these other people there - but I went. For the first time since we moved here back in 2010, I'm one of those moms, and it felt like a weight was lifted! I know it sounds dramatic, but it's true nonetheless. I don't have to wish a cool mom onto my kid - I am one now, and not just because he had fun, either ;)

I cleaned the garden on Tuesday, and here's where we can lounge now:

Of course, that depends on the weather, too ;) It's not as hot or sunny anymore, but to be truthful, both me and the kid are better for it. And it looks cozy ;)

I cleaned out the sand pit and returned it to the neighbour we borrowed it from. Weepy moment. On the bright side, I found and photographed the biggest slug EVER underneath :D But that's a drawing still waiting to happen, so you need to hold your breath for it ;)

Yesterday was a bit of a non-event because I didn't (and still don't) feel too hot. A cold in the wings, in fact. But I did draw nonetheless:

Squirt said he thought holidays warranted a present, and I agreed. A non-pedagogical moment perhaps, but us parents are allowed some of those. Well, I am, anyway ;) Plenty of those, let's not get started ;) Besides, he only woke me twice during my sort-of-sick on-the-couch 15-minute-nap. So there ;) He chose a small Duplo Zoo set, and I drew it. Memories are where you colour them, right?! ;)

That's what Summer 2013 looks like, so far :)
& I'll be back. That's as solid a promise I can make, being here without a plan ;)

How are you?! How's Summer, or Winter, where you are?

Thursday, June 27, 2013


So I didn't take a nosedive. Which is as awesome as it is... disconcerting! Because here I was, all prepared to - uhm, nosedive into my usual shut-down-mode, which is where I generally find myself when chaotic happenings end (the need to take apart and rebuild everything I already knew) - but then I didn't. Which leaves me strangely at a loss when it comes to words. I'm in a good place - not Fabulous, but good, and it's unfamiliar. But if I wait untill I've got the words to bend with the road I'm on, this blog will gather dust. I promised myself it wouldn't, and yet it has been empty here for the past two weeks. I started to write and then I stopped. Drafts waiting for - clarity. Or the recycling bin. I'm not sure. Not sure of much at the moment, but - again - in an unfamiliarly good sense :) Things are cooking, but not boiled down. So here are some drawings that came out over the past couple of weeks.

Squirt's bikes. Which seemed like a great subject to draw - lots of lines and technical what-nots to fight with, as well as a good example of the theme I'd thought up for myself: growing. Yes. And then I found myself quite sad ;)

And then there's that. It wasn't immediately inspired by my kid undeniably growing, but it's a part of the whole story anyway, of course. It's something I fight with, still, at times. Not all the time, but it comes up. And right now, strange as it may sound, it feels like a solid thing to come up. Not something that will push me over any kind of edges, not something I'm making harder for myself, but something that is - understood to be hard. I don't know if that makes any kind of sense to anyone but me, but hanging out in a space where I'm actually okay, this is - alright to feel something about...

I don't feel like I'm on my toes. Of course I'm vigilant - I find myself in a strange field of wildflowers, and while I'm enjoying the scenery, and sniffing the air, I know I'm me and I'm vulnerable. But I'm dealing with things, as they come up, and so far?

I'm squeezing just fine :)

Hope you're fine, too. Hope whatever is on your plate is just enough to hang out with, on the sane side of things. 

Here's to whatever lays ahead & facing up! I'll be back... :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013


There's a lot going on - in my head. But it doesn't have words. I'm just looking. And listening. Which is nice, for a change :)

How are you?

Friday, June 7, 2013


I've been doing some incremental thinking ;) Life's been really busy lately, but it's been good. There isn't always time and space to crawl to the bottom of things. Full stop. But I've been okay with that - it's brought insight, instead of mayhem. & that's a whole lot, coming from me ;)

I've been thinking about staying close to myself - as opposed to running off, exploring other lives. I've been thinking about my feet, about finding them where they hang out - and I'm slowly trying to bend myself around the idea that needing to stick close to my feet can also mean - is okay to mean - not always necessarily feeling them, but keeping them in sight. Not losing them altogether. Things might well be perfect if I could feel my feet no matter what - but maybe that's just another one of those things we're being sold.

You're not off to the shop to buy a wabi sabi tea kettle - this is a metaphor, so bear with me ;) You go to the store and they'll try to sell you a Brand Spanking New Idea of Tea in the 21st Century. Because the People selling The Kettle are all about Tea. 

But life - my life - isn't at the bottom of things all about Tea. I need tea to swallow life. So that Perfect Tea will never be all that, outside the Kettle People's laboratory. Yet I buy the idea and feel less than perfect because it doesn't glu my wabi sabi life...

But nothing will - & everything will. It's inside my expectations, eventually - and inside myth. Back to my feet? They're no myth & they're totally wabi sabi. & I could buy an idea - a laboratory-perfect idea about my own feet: that they'll never do unless I feel them, always. But outside, in the world, in my life? What if anchoring means: knowing where my feet are, approximately? So I know where to find them when there's space and time to have a chat and really check in? So I can give them attention once a day perhaps, instead of expecting nothing less than an open line - feeling disappointed and at fault for losing the connection more often than I care to think? What if that would do? What if that would be enough to feel I'm still here, still near enough?

I think connection gets lost at times because I've got overgrown ideas about its nature - bought straight from the Laboratory Doors. What if anchoring really means - to buy from a street vendor & sip from a cracked cup on the corner of Life and Lost? That feels like something I could actually DO!

It's worth a thought. Or better yet - let's have tea! Let's chat & stroll down Life a little, together - admiring our feet. They take us places - even on Lost - and that's magnificent knowledge, that!

Friday, May 31, 2013


So here's how I'm hanging :)

Yup, bottom-right, that's me, naked in a shop window ;) Next to the toilet cleaner. Cool thing to claim about yourself ;)

That's the kid, behind the doors. Not too impressed being left behind ;)

I love the orange and blue feathers & thingies behind the drawings ;) And my own reflection ;)

And that's the kid again. Paying me back for leaving him inside the shop. Doing his own thing rather than pose with his mamma's art ;)

Yup, that's my art hanging somewhere :) And it really is a giant step! I'm not making light of it - this is an expo in a shop window, and it won't launch my artist carreer right now, just yet ;) - but it definitely does something in my head! Knowing that it's out there - I'm out there - for people to see makes it much harder to deny that I might be an artist :) We're going to have to see what happens when it's taken down - but for now, I'm an artist - and it's AWESOME :D I'm holding on to that feeling!

& not just that, I've sold some art work from my all-new Etsy shop & all :D Thank you so much, lovely friends, for supporting me - and for getting me to pretty much skip to the post counter singing 'I'm selling my ART, people!' :D Yes, I wanted to share that mental image, because it felt really, really good :)

Of course there is contemplation going on in the background. Wild thoughts and notions. What it all means and where it will go. And how it will take me along for rides. And how to stick with believing. But they're not for here and now. Now and here is for feeling proud and excited  - and wishing you the same!

Thank you so much for being here and being excited with me - it really means a lot :D 


Monday, May 20, 2013


I know you might be expecting the photos for the second assignment of the Pure Photo Workshop, but I didn't get around to it... It's hard to admit, because I strongly feel that committing to take part means you commit to take part, but I've got some stuff going on in my 'real life' & I sort of forgot to make time. Saturday snuck up on me! All these single-day national holidays and visiting relatives (my father-in-law is here right now) warp time a little, and my head is spinning just a bit - so, quite out of character, I've given myself permission to drop out, this week ;)

& without much more ado, here's why I'm out-of-sorts: I was asked to show some of my work! I was asked! It's hard for me not to back that up with a story that makes it a little less impressive, but I won't :) I'm just going to go with 'I was asked to show some of my work' :)

The 25th of May to the 1st of June this year will be the Dutch week for non-professional art, and the Fair Trade gift shop (Wereldwinkel) where I volunteer is taking part, displaying art in their shop window. I've never made a secret of drawing a lot - so people know that about me ;) - but I was very surprised when the shop coordinator emailed me to ask if I wanted to be the artist to exhibit!

We decided on what to display - I was quite impressed with how she went for my style, as opposed to the more neutral work I'd slipped in - and I've been working on the prints, polishing little blemishes away since Wednesday ;) Here's what will be shown:


There's a lot of mayhem in my head. I'm fighting not to down-play, nor to over-stretch and it's hard work! I'm doing okay, I think, but I don't have a lot to say right now. No oversight, no insight either. The funny thing is, every time I come out of a bad stretch, promising myself that for now it will be all about drawing for myself, to be me inside my life, something happens. Something that shakes me up, tells me something, although I'm never quite clear on what exactly, while I'm in the middle of it all. This time, I'm trying to stay calm (haha). I'm going to try and wait this out - to see what might have shifted on the other side. Instead of forcing things to shift right now ;)

I got this flyer in my local art supply shop:

I took it, along with other flyers, and it wasn't until hours later, when I properly looked, that I saw I'm on it :D Not just that, it says 'kunstenaars', which means artists :D So even when I might still have a hard time referring to myself as an artist, this flyer doesn't, so it must be true ;)
(* the T means 'tekenen', which means 'drawings')

I'm ready for brighter days, and I'm not just talking about Summer and sun ;) Hope you're well! What's happy in your life?

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Pure Photo Workshop - Week 1
I don't want to start off complaining, but I will mention that I've got a lot going on at the moment! Flow? She is right here! Stirring me, inspiring me, making me a little crazy, too :) On the edge of overwhelm, so I need to stick close to myself, to try and be smooth with it all. It wasn't all that long ago that I was trapped in the austere room, the fragile place, and I've got no intention to go back. Not now, not ever, although that might be too bold a statement. Let's go with - gentle. As much as possible ;)

Tackling one thing at a time, I'm taking part in a four-week photography workshop called Pure Photo Workshop, organised by Jane! Back in 2010, I joined a similar workshop, which was pretty cool (see those posts by clicking here), and I was really excited when I received an email from Jane, asking me if I'd be interested in taking part again!

The first assignment was posted on Sunday, last week, and it invited us to explore personal style. To find images that speak to and of us. To create a My Style pinboard over on Pinterest - and discover yourself and your personal style.

I have to admit I've avoided Pinterest, so far. Not because I'm against it in any way, or because I couldn't see myself using it - more because I could see myself hanging out there. I have explored Pinterest, of course, to see what it was about, and I decided to stay away from it, especially because it's vast and beautiful... Because I knew it would get in the way of doing as opposed to browsing. The internet is such an inspiring place for easy procrastinators like me, and I didn't feel I needed another excuse ;)

Coaxed by the assignment, I made an account and started pinning, anyway - you can see my pinboard here. But it didn't feel right. First of all, I was too hurried. Pinning left, right and center like there was no tomorrow, all while knowing I wasn't even merely making a dent. There is no way I can quickly pick and choose my way through all that beauty on offer - and really feel like I'm closing in on who I am. And secondly it feels sort of wrong to try and show myself through other people's art, photos and images. I guess this comes from being preoccupied with honesty and nakedness on a personal level; I'm all about being open and inviting you in.

So instead of pinning and trying to catch up with the whole Pinterest Revolution in one day, I've decided to create a couple of personal photo collages from the stretched archives on my hard drive, instead.

Here's me, then; here's parts of me.

This is my home. I love colour. There is a lot of red, white and blue going on, which is a coincidence as far as nationalism is concerned, but a conscious and happy choice nonetheless ;)

My kid is four and a half, and he's awesome. I'll be 40 at the end of this year. I'm a stay-at-home mamma and an artist. I think too much. And I'm happier than you'd think from reading this blog.

My absolute favourite colour combination is blue and orange :D It took me a long time to embrace orange as a colour, but now that I've got it, I'm sold :)

I love being outside, exploring the little things; the happy coincidences, found paint splatters, tiny bits of nature and wildlife. Having my kid around to point out things I'd otherwise miss really helps :)

And I draw. A lot. I want to draw more. I don't draw as much as I can, but I want to. Like I said, I'm a procrastinator and I think a lot, and that gets in the way. But drawing makes me happy - whether it's inside, at my dinner table studio; or outside, somewhere, drawing whatever jumps out.

I'm all about learning to embrace my warts these days. Seeing I'll be turning 40 soon, I think it's about time to be okay. Be enough. Be.

When I'm not outside, drawing what I see, I draw about being human. About growing and stretching. About seeing light in a dark corner. Finding a smile where you thought there wasn't space for one. That's what I think I'm drawing - that's what it feels like. But you're free to see what you see, of course :)

All that said, here is the photo that I took today. This is where I draw. It's where I am, even when I'm not. This is the place I think of when I think of happy:

And this is the rest of happy:

I'm using a Panasonic Lumix FZ18. It's getting older, but it still does tricks :)

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has come up with!

Friday, May 10, 2013


I'm thinking about it. Changes, I mean. To my approach. In a very broad sense. But I'm me, and it's all tentative, as usual, so I won't sing about it, out loud, quite yet. I need to flesh those bones a little, first. And it could all well end in the bin, too ;) But to celebrate the idea of new thoughts anyway, here is an unusually quick sketch for you!
Yesterday being a national holiday, we drove to Volendam. Yup. Not quite sure why, the idea struck on the road elsewhere, but it was okay. It was nice, for a quick visit.

Note to self: quite a bit to draw there, architecturally, if I ever feel stuck, and not unimportantly, so inclined ;)

On the road, off to IKEA for a quick and cheap Swedish-meatballs-and-fries meal out (that idea had been stuck in my brain for days, so it had to come out and happen at some stage!), we saw a double decker bus somewhere, sparking imagination - me and Squirt came up with a million ideas to make it fun to live in one :)

When we got home, I needed to get some of the ideas onto paper quickly, and so did Squirt :D He drew! Double, tripple, quadruple deckers :D Which is awesome, since his stuck Theme has been 'a Dragon with Three Heads, a Volcano, and a Brachiosaurus' for weeks now - in whatever medium he gets his eager and quick little hands on ;)
Here's his version - the middle bus has a tent on its roof, the rest of the tents are in front of the wheels, and the bus on the right has a cannon per deck. Of course. We need to defend ourselves against the meanies, don't we?! ;)

Squirt drew outside his box (after a little coaxing, telling him he 'can draw busses, I'm sure of it!'), and I drew outside mine. Quick sketch, bamboo dip pen and Zig brush markers for colour! And I'm posting it on my blog! I've long been thinking about - adding to my can-do, too. About a need to learn to be quicker, dirtier, different - just and especially for fun! To shake things up a little, branch out! This process started after taking Koosje's awesome Just Draw It! ecourse (I'm totally endorsing!), was reinforced by my latest (S L O W) sessions of drawing outside, and definitely inspired by my blog-reading catch-up and especially Koosje's versatility.

Like most things, doing something different is in the doing. Not in thinking about it; not - although it's always inspiring - in looking at how other people do it; but in getting the darn pen and paper out and get DOING! If you wait long enough, think long enough, you're giving yourself ample opportunity to come up with all the reasons why you shouldn't, and then some. Trust me, I know ;)

Now to be honest, I did this quick sketch to - work it out later... To make it into a Bus to Live in, my style. And maybe I still will. There's nothing wrong with my slow but trusted process, I still like my own 'signature style' :) But I really appreciate that I did it like this, first, and I published it, too. Here's to first steps and flaunting them :)

Need inspiration? Why not draw your version of a magical place to live in? :D
Please let me know if you do!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


You might not think so, from reading here, but we have lovely days, too ;)

When my head is busy, I tend to use this blog to spill. I need to spill somewhere. I think, rethink and overthink, and it needs to go somewhere. To stop it from spinning & swirling, if only for a day or two. But I have a life, too. I like to think that spilling here makes me more able, elsewhere. Places where I need to be able no matter what. When it comes to my kid, I'm there. He sees me sad, he sees me kicking at life, of course - & I honestly believe that it helps somewhere, later in life, to know your mother is a human being with strengths, struggles and weaknesses, which is another discussion - but he gets my most able, too!

We walked through the woods, over the sand dunes to the beach, yesterday. We had some crisps and drinks on the sand, and while Squirt and his dad wanted to find out how cold the water really still is, me and ouma (my South-African mother-in-law is visiting for two weeks) looked for shells. Nothing like the beach to bring out the inner little girl :) 

We walked back to the car park and had a very late... dunch? linner? I don't quite know what to call food at 3.30 pm, but it was good :) 

Everyone else had pancakes, and I had tuna salad on freshly baked, crunchy-crust bread.

One quarter of a slice, immortalised! I didn't do the texture of the salad any justice, but I practised, which is awesome, right?! ;)

We walked about 7k, got sun-kissed (most of us) & sun-burnt (husband) and had a lovely day :) So this is what happens in this life of mine, too. When I'm not here chewing on something, finding feet. I do that a lot - finding feet. Thinking. Overthinking. I won't pretend I don't. But it's not all that's going on, either. We do funny, light, happy around here, too! Just thought you might like to know ;) I went and found my feet where they actually hung out!

Thursday, April 18, 2013


It's blustery outside today. Storm, sunlit, with the fresh feel of Spring on its tail. The type of day that could blow the cobwebs out of your head if you'd just open up wide enough. Hope, and doable like scraps of paper, blown out of reach, but there, to see - and some days, that helps.

I've got no idea how to get started. It's been so long since I sat down and took myself seriously enough to be here. I've been rattling around in a life that seems too big for me for way too long now. I used to fill that space! I even overflowed it, on really good days!

I want to explain, I want to make sense of it - I want to get over it and get out! Part of me is screaming IT'S TOO SOON - YOU'RE STILL WAY TOO CLUELESS - TOO MANY LOOSE ENDS TO MAKE SENSE OF THIS!! And part of me, the quiet part, the little girl, she knows it's time. She knows I need to open up. She knows that this pain feeds on quiet - because it gets to be the only voice inside my head, keeping me in check. She knows the last bits of clean & sane know-this-about-me will mould without light. She knows I need air and wind and being naked. Yes. She's wise. And she's still there, so there's hope. (there's always hope, she says to me. she never tires of repeating herself when I'm off and deaf. she's plugged in, she sees these things much clearer than I do...)

I want to be poetic about it all - make it beautiful where it really stinks, but she tells me not to worry about how it sounds; and once again, she's right. Worrying about how it all sounds is what gets me here in the first place. It locks the door on me. It cuts me off from my gut, and from sanity, to put it dramatically, and that's always the beginning of the end.

This crap loops all through my life. I'd really love to say I'm getting better at handling it, but I'm not - not visibly, not obviously. And the time to get angry about that isn't - now. It's never. It isn't about getting angry, frustrated at what I'm doing to myself, although it always seems that way for the longest time; just kick your own butt, honey! that's all you need - a good whoopin' and you'll be right as rain. If you'd just get in gear and fit in, you'll be dandy and the world is right!

I'm scared of sounding too dramatic. I'm dead scared of being misunderstood. I'm scared of feeling like the only one who gets like this! I'm scared to throw myself out here, naked again. Really, really scared! But I need to. Because all this starts with feeling like I don't fit in, like I'm not good enough, like I'll never get it right - oh yes, elusive it, indeed! - and my first answer always is, to pull out. And I'm starting to think - okay, the little girl inside told me - that I'll never find glu for repair if I don't come out and show myself again.

Basically, it's really simple. Undone of pretty and sliced open, I was raised by a mother who Knows. I'm not here to vilify my mother. It doesn't help. Lessons learned are lessons learned, and in the end, the only thing that really counts is - how you learn to make up for it - how you learn to cope. I'm not here to excuse her, either, but I do know she wasn't out to get me. She meant well. She was - and is - just never flexible enough to realise that I needed to be right, at times, too. Because what I'm left with now is a broken compass. And way too much stock in what a fabled crowd of Other People think.

What I grew up with is this warped blueprint of how the world works: you do things right, you're good. You do things wrong, and this includes all versions of not-quite-right, you're no good, really. There is no manual for Good. There is no manual for Wrong either, but you catch on pretty quickly. You can gather it from a look, a word, a nod. There's a lot of disappointment involved, and you learn to apologise, because it's the quickest way to get on with things. And if you apologise this much, there must be something wrong with you to start with. That gets ingrained. Deeply. That feeling lasts. You hear 'I didn't say anything!', but you know that look and you don't need the words anymore. You weigh looks and gestures and you know. (have you ever considered you interpret too much? she asks, and yes I have. I have with hindsight. I know NOW. and it isn't necessarily too late to change - to learn to ask, but it's so hard to stop the damage mid-sentence, because I'm afraid I'll hear I was right; I'm wrong, and I really don't want to hear the words out loud...)

If I were asked to describe my way in this world, I'd go with tentative vulnerabilty. There is a lot I don't know. I know we all come from different families, different biographies, different circumstances - not to mention cultures, so I don't feel equipped to weigh and judge. And I don't want to weigh and judge. I like the surprise and the sense of wonder. I like making things up as I go along. I don't like carving things in stone, not being able to revisit, to re-examine, to try a different angle. I like to think, to analyse, and I like to brainstorm, to toss things into the air and see how they land. I don't know what was there first - finding a way to cope with being wrong pretty much anyway, or an innate curiosity, but this is what I'm left with. I'm tentative, I'm vulnerable, and I don't really know. I'm vulnerable because I talk about not knowing. I talk about not being sure. I talk about being wrong, re-assessing, trying again - I talk about that all the time. I talk about how hard life is at times, and how I don't know what to do to make sense, spin meaning, and I always hope for 'me, too!'

But I have quite a few People who Know in my life. People who are Sure. About a lot of things. They're sure about their parenting decisions, about what they'll eat tonight. About their politics, the colour of their underwear, their hobbies and how much time spent on those is reasonable. They're sure about their talents, their skills and their abilities. They know how to measure up, and how not to stand out in a crowd. They're awesome, they're good.

These are good, solid people, and I'm not here to vilify them, either. I know no one is that sure. I know that at least part of it is what I hear them say - because I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, to be wrong, as I expect to be, at the bottom of things - and in part it's a - cultural thing? A contemporary thing? That we need to be seen to be sure? To show the world we know what we're doing? To have and hold opinions like they're our armour against change? I'm not sure (haha), all I know is, me and my open vulnerability, my lay-it-on-the-table attitude - when my solid ground starts sloping - I'm no match for their Knowledge.

I'm vulnerable because I expect to be wrong. And because I don't have a lot of worthiness in my back pocket on the best of days, let alone the slippery sloping days. I wasn't taught to carry myself, I was taught to - whatever you do, get it right. Without a compass. I don't have goals to fall back on when things start coming apart - meaningful stuff that will drag me out and up and into the light, because what I swallowed all those years ago was - life isn't about meaning, it's about not putting your foot wrong. It's about doing what's expected & about Knowing - being sure. I grew up thinking People Know. Hoping one day, I'd Know, too. Because Everybody Knows. Only really sad, silly, broken people - flawed, faulty, incomplete people don't know.

Some days - more and more days, longer stretches, it's important to remind myself of that! - when it's me and my gut and my brushes and my je ne sais quoi, and things are in place - I'm soaring with the best of them. I don't give a rat's ass about Knowing - knowing that I already do know on an instinctive, intuitive level that I'm alright, I'm okay, flying with my warts and who'll stop me?! But my gut gets clogged. It invariably does. Because I'm not necessarily heading somewhere - shouldn't I be headed somewhere - and shouldn't I Know?! As soon as I try to control being okay - hell, being Fabulous! - as soon as I try to tentatively, vulnerably explain it - as soon as I look up to make sure People see that I'm doing alright...

... that's when I see those looks, those gestures again. That's when I hear People telling me what to do, how they Know, how they got it covered, how their ducks are in a row. These People do a lot of their talking in my head. I talk for them. Inner mean chick does. She knows the drill. She knows when I'm ready to listen, and she takes no prisoners. She dresses like Everybody and digs in. I lose faith in myself and my gut, like I've always done in the face of Everybody, and I literally, physically pull back from the world. I stop seeing friends, stop answering emails, stop drawing, stop hanging out on Facebook, stop reading how everyone seems to have got it all figured out, and I don't want to hear about it either. I lock myself in with the one person who can make it all even worse: me.

For the past two months - give or take - I've been tearing strips off myself, reducing me to something not quite fit to feed a stray dog. All while fighting it, of course. It's been a war zone here - fighting myself for fighting myself for fighting myself. I've been playing footy with irritable bowel syndrome too, for the first time in my life - which is less than helpful when you're trying to trust your gut - but it's told me some truths by joining the party.

When you try to find your gut, your intuition, your I-know-a-few-things-about-me? Don't adjourn into your head. It's what I've always done - that's where the austere room lives in the world - but for the first time ever, I got feedback! It didn't help, and it still doesn't help just to know, but it's a serious clue about how to get out! And clues are good!

There are huge, gaping holes in this story. There are the things I don't know, things I'm not sure how to add up, things I don't want to drag up again, some good juicy examples of things that were said, and a good stack of things that would make this a book, as opposed to a long-winded blog post. One of the biggest holes is probably - why don't I throw everything at fitting in, if it matters that much?! All I can offer is - I think I tried that. Way back when. And it didn't work. I didn't get it. I didn't know what I was supposed to do, or what getting it right was meant to feel like - so I gave up. I think I decided at some point that it's - easier to come in from left-field, the element of surprise and all that - than to try and come in all dressed up, facing disappointment and a need to apologise. At least this way I could always claim they just didn't get it - even if it never really helped for long. Same fight, different coat - but it's how I 'coped' and I can't go back. At the bottom of the whole thing, it's always been about fighting the unfightable. Fighting myself for my sanity. Because it's about what I believe about myself, in the end, now that I'm all grown up. I'm not entirely clueless anymore, but I don't know everything. Ah. Elusive. I'm just not Know Everything-material. My personality can't handle it, my gut knows, but my head is stuck in the sand, ostrich-style. Or something. Holes, huh?

What I do know for sure, is that it's time to go out into the world again. Naked. Tentatively vulnerable with all I've got. And my brushes. I actually know at the bottom of all this - it's okay. I'm alright. I know more than enough. And the only way I can prove it to myself is if I go out in this raging storm out there and stay upright. One street corner at a time.

Do I like my personality? Do I want to change? Is it comfortable, not-knowing, and is there some sort of comfort in the falling, too? Some peace in knowing the enemy? I don't know. I'm forever much too close to this whole thing to claim clarity. What I do think is - I should get me one of those fabled Tribes, a gathering of Soul Sisters to keep me honest and on the straight-but-not-narrow - a new and improved Everybody to hear in my head and change my life! I LOVE reading about those, come across them all the time - great idea, too! Just one question: where do you get one?!

My story isn't all that unique. I don't come from unimaginably terrible things - I just live with a lot of harsh glaring lights and struggle, at times. So why do I get naked and share, anyway? Because I've been really lost, and really lonely lately. It helps, to write it down. It sort of feels like a fresh start, an opening to slip through - or the promise of one, at the very least.

And because I want to tell you - because we all need to hear it at times - 'oh yes, I get that. Me, too, sweetie. Me, too.' You don't have to say it, if you don't want to. I just want you to know you're not alone!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


No. It isn't metal, although it definitely tastes like it.
It's earth, speaking Chinese.
It's spleen.
It's worrying.
It's stuck in overanalysing minor details.

Apparently, I need to sing and be open.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I'm still upside-down. Picasso-esque. And I still think I see light ahead. But I haven't exited the tumbleweed tunnel quite yet. I'm vulnerable, still. 

Mostly, when I get here, my intention is to get things straight for myself, in the first place. Writing it down, as if trying to explain it to someone else, it helps. A lot. I gain clarity and insight from pouring the chaos in my head into a story line - knit beginning, middle and ending to what unwritten remains - mayhem. And I really, really appreciate the comments - more than you'll know.

But I don't have the courage nor the head space to write a blog post today. A huge part of this half of my personality - yes, dramatic; the shoe fits - wants to turn on the apologetics. She wants to blog about fluffy clouds. Not blog about that, per se, but be about that. While I know I ain't about fluffy clouds even on good days. When I know deep-down that I wouldn't want to be about fluffy clouds, especially on good days. But that's the extend of it right now. This is where I was, this is where I still am, and whether I kick and scream or fight it, this is what I have to wait out - whether I want to (I don't), or not.

But enough. I don't have the words to make more sense of this than I did before, so I won't try. I'm here, because I want to share something that almost made me cry this morning. And maybe when you read this, it might help you too. I hope it will. It makes sense to me, and I know I'm not the only one who gets like this. It sounds wrong, but it helps me, to know that. To know that you know what I mean when I hang out, when I feel tied up where I'm not. 

I'm reading a book. And it's eye-opening. I'm not big on labels and conditions, but I want to get a grip on this crap. Desperately. So while the title of this book put me off for the longest time, eventhough a very trusted close friend recommended it to me, I finally dove in. And it's - just so true. It's hard work to get deep with it, and I'm not getting that exactly right, quite yet, but when it comes to naming the feelings I've lived with for so long, when things get bad and when I'm on an almost unnatural high - it's spot-on, and I feel so... understood!

The book is The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine Aron, and while I'm not ready, at all, to bend it to words for myself, let alone here, I really want to share this (in my edition, soft cover, Element, HarperCollins, 2003, it's on page 62-63). It's sort of a - note to self from the inner child. And it's precious. If you're anything like me, it might touch you, too... 

1. Please don’t make me handle more than I can. I am helpless when you do this, and I hurt all over. Please, please, protect me.

2. I was born this way and can’t change. I know you sometimes think something awful must have made me this way, or at least made me 'worse', but that ought to give you even more sympathy for me. Because either way I can’t help it. Either way, don’t blame me for how I am.

3. What I am is wonderful - I let you sense and feel so much more deeply. I am really one of the best things about you.

4. Check in on me often and take care of me right at that moment if you possibly can. Then, when you can’t, I can trust that you are at least trying and I won’t have long to wait.

5. If you must make me wait for my rest, please ask me nicely if it’s okay. I’m only more miserable and troublesome if you get angry and try to force me.

6. Don’t listen to all the people who say you spoil me. You know me. You decide. Yes, sometimes I might do better left alone to cry myself to sleep. But trust your intuition. Sometimes you know I am too upset to be left alone. I do need a pretty attentive, regular routine. But I’m not easily spoiled.

7. When I’m exhausted, I need sleep. Even when I seem totally wide awake. A regular schedule and a calm routine before bed are important to me. Otherwise, I will lie awake in bed all stirred up for hours. I need a lot of time in bed, even if I’m lying awake. I may need it in the middle of the day, too. Please let me have it.

8. Get to know me better. For example, noisy restaurants seem silly to me - how can anybody eat in them? I have a lot of feelings about such things.

9. Keep my toys simple and my life uncomplicated. Don’t take me to more than one party in a week.

10. I might get used to anything in time, but I don’t do well with a lot of sudden change. Please plan for that, even if the others with you can take it and you don’t want to be a drag. Let me go slow.

11. But I don’t want you to coddle me. I especially don’t want you to think of me as sick or weak. I’m wonderfully clever and strong, in my way. I certainly don’t want you hovering over me, worried about me all day. Or making a lot of excuses for me. I don’t want to be seen as a nuisance, to you or to others. Above all, I count on you, the grown-up, to figure out how to do all of this.

12. Please don’t ignore me. Love me!

13. And like me. As I am.

Chicken soup for my troubled soul. Wise, wise words. Will you let me know if they touch you, too?

Thursday, March 14, 2013