Tuesday, December 20, 2011


one of the gorgeous women in my training programme sent me this story.

Twins are talking to each other in the womb:

‘Do you believe in life after birth??’
‘Sure I do’
‘Really? Well, what do you think it looks like then, this life after birth??’
‘I don’t know exactly. But it will be lighter than here. Maybe we’ll get to walk around, and eat with our mouths…’
‘Walk around! You must be kidding, that’s impossible. And eating with our mouths? How? Besides, the umbilical cord is much too short to walk around with…’
‘I think everything will be different, really…’
‘Well, I think that birth is the end of life. I’d rather stay here and stick with what I know.'
‘But we will get to see our mother, and she will take care of us.’
‘Do you believe in a mother? Really? Where is she then?’
‘Here, everywhere, all around us. We are and we live inside her and through her. Without her we wouldn’t exist at all!’
‘Bullshit! I’ve never seen any mother. And I never noticed her either, so she doesn’t exist!... and besides, nobody has ever come back yet to tell the story…’

Monday, December 19, 2011

racing past

this weekend, in the midst of a turmoil of things to do, places to go, people to see, and many internal storms, i finally found my way back to the eye of the cyclone. where everything is quiet. as always.

thank you friends for the good words and the good thoughts.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

too much

it's all too much. the children are having their first week doing the lambada between two houses, and they are not coping well, so the nights are broken into pieces and the days are tense and thin. i am totally overworked with the courses of this semester coming to an end and lots of check-up work before the holidays. then there is the flu (and the vile gargle). simple exhaustion.

oh, and i almost forgot, but i am almost seven months pregnant...

so how do you do this again? can you guys remind me? i know there is a way, something about small nurturing steps, little windows of opportunity to be filled with goodness just for me. but i seem to have lost the manual once again. tell me, how do i get out of survival mode? how do i get in touch with the small simple good things?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


what better time to discover an apothecary vocation than at the start of the flu and cold season. sinterklaas must have known this, because the good man presented me with the best gift ever.


this book, based on the bbc show 'grow your own drugs'. i am smitten. and like i said, plenty of patients around to practice on. but i have not forgotten my grand-father's favourite saying 'physician, heal thyself!' (yes, i know it's not actually his saying, but he's the only person i know who said and lived it consistently). which happens to come in handy now that i wake up every morning with a sore throat and a stuffy nose.

and so, with this particularly scary gargle getting ready in the fridge, the children and i went in search of a neti pot. we visited all the indian stores we know (quite a few...), but the only neti pot we found was copper and cost as much as two weeks of food. frustrated and chilled (as in: they were chilled, i was frustrated), we trudged back home...

... where, as is often the case, it turned out i already had exactly what i needed. a little tea-pot that i have known my whole life. straight from the kitchen of the man who healed himself. a true physician's tool.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


this week for the first time since april, I will sleep for more than three consecutive nights in the same bed. and not just any bed. mine. after months of nomadic divorcing limbo, i finally have a space of my own. as i clear out garbage bag after garbage bag of a life no longer fitting, as i move and rearrange furniture, and burn sage in the newly open spaces, i am overcome by sadness, relief, gratitude and an odd sort of tingling aliveness. reading clarissa pinkola estes' version of the red shoes, i am reminded again and again of the value of the hand-made life. carefully, stitch by stitch. i know there are no shortcuts, no instant fixes. but there is this life of mine, unfolding. and it's so worth showing up for.

Monday, December 12, 2011


we've been witching away in our little kitchen, the witch-in-training and i. we have great plans. so far, we've made this. and this.

but soon, there will also be this. and this. and this. not to mention a lot of bread...

and in search of inspiration, we found ourselves freezing our ass off at the mid-winter fair of the archeon, between the goths, the punks and the story-tellers. it did smell good. of wood fire, and animal hides, and herbs and cold sharp winter air. you can still smell it in our hair.


Monday, November 21, 2011

enjoying today

the mist, my wee ones, the fun filters on picasa, my mum's visit, an amazing new blog, soup and bread, just being, the mist,

and this.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sunday, November 06, 2011

good care

i've been thinking lately of what it means to take good care of myself. what kind of care do i need? and how can i best provide it?

walking on the beach today i began a list (non-exhaustive as yet, but definitely a good beginning) of what good care means, (aside from the three obvious basics (a roof over my head, enough money to buy food, and not being in constant mortal danger)):

- enough sleep
- fresh air (forest or ocean)
- movement (as in my body moving) (preferably in the fresh air)
- solitude
- the company of people i love
- physical contact with people i love
- inspiring words and images
- fresh water
- fresh food that nourishes and energizes my body
- self-expression (writing, talking, painting, drawing, knitting, making music, etc) (but also crying when sad, shouting when angry, laughing when glad)
- silence
- music

just reading the list makes me feel good. but how much better i feel on days when i spend most of my time engaging in one of these...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

in search of a new language

november is a month for practicing. 'exercise', it's called on my Nikki McClure calendar. and here is what i have come up with for this year.

for the next 30 days, i want to practice clearing my communication with others. there is nothing like a divorce to make a person realize the importance of limpid communication. the rules are simple:

- be impeccable with your word
- hide nothing
- take nothing personally

the first means telling no falsehoods. which automatically implies no bad-mouthing. of other people, of myself, of the weather, of the authorities, etc. it also means that 'i hate you' would automatically come out as 'i am having trouble feeling how much i love you right now'.

the second means trying to communicate as much as possible of what goes on in my inner world. instead of being silent about the painful shameful bits, bringing them into contact every time i can master the courage.

the third means reminding myself time and again that whatever other people say, they are always saying something about themselves, never about me. even if sometimes it sounds as if it really really is about me (funnily, i tend to interpret everything people say as if it was about me, even if it doesn't sound that way at all. witness the following ubiquitous exchange: "I feel so down" "What did I do wrong?").

deceptively simple. 30 days. long enough for a small miracle to unfold.


or what happens when zorro and the devil hit the town...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

on eating dessert first

growing up (a process in no way complete...) i learnt that food and pleasure are a reward. for work, for pain, for the unavoidable unplesantness. eat your cabbagey thing first, then you'll get cake. clean up your room, then you can read your book. as i grew, the tasks changed, but the principle didn't. waking up early and tired on what i know will be a busy day filled with work appointments and administrative circus, my first reflex is still to brace myself, to mentally map my day around all those 'shoulds', and somewhere on the far horizon, hopefully, hopefully before the sun sets, to leave a small patch of peace. maybe i can have a walk then, a cup of tea, do some yoga.

but experience is a wise teacher. i know that that small patch of peace is a mirage. it will disappear before i get there. i know that being tired and cranky while doing a whole bunch of 'shoulds' will just leave me more tired and cranky. i also know that it's not the tired and the cranky that is the issue here, nor is it the fact that there are clouds of 'shoulds' hanging over my day.

would you venture on a difficult hike on an empty stomach and with no provisions? probably not. because that's pretty much what it boils down to. i need to eat first. then i can work. and being tired and cranky means my soul needs food, as does my body. can i really afford to postpone nourishing myself until i am 'done'? will this improve the quality of my life, or my work? nope. i can say this with great certainty. it won't. because it never ever did.

so these days, i try (and sometimes even manage) to practice the other way. yes, there are lots of things i need to do today. but i am going to start right here, in this space that i love. with a cup of tea. and a blogpost. i will have a tasty breakfast. do some yoga. walk on the beach. (maybe even) do some writing. i will take my time. i will meet my breath. whatever it is that makes my tired cranky face break up into a smile. and then, when i am filled with the sense of the abundance, the goodness, the spaciousness of my own life, i will get down to work. (experience is whispering that i just might enjoy that too...).

and yes, i know that some of my 'shoulds' are likely not to make it, they will probably fall off the edge, and crash on the horizon of this day. but i won't be missing them. not today.

Monday, October 24, 2011

unkept garden

even though we didn't go often enough, and we didn't grow enough, and we didn't weed enough, and we didn't harvest enough, we really enjoyed renting this tiny bit of dark earth in the middle of the green. another year, another chance... to do it right (oops, i mean, to enjoy it all over again)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

short list

of things that made me cry this week: a bunch of insanely daring dahlias, the sight of my unborn baby's unsuccesful attempt to suck her thumb, hearing myself say outloud that i am worth it, this song, this song, this documentary.

oh, and then there is what made me smile: all of the above. and this.

de zee

de zee (judith herzberg)

de zee kun je horen
met je handen voor je oren,
in een kokkel,
in een mosterdpotje,
of aan de zee.

(uit Beemdgras 1968)


the wind is howling, the rain beating on the pane. i'm lying in bed, wondering what to do with today. maybe a bit of yoga, maybe a walk in the rain, maybe some knitting in the writer's café, maybe a solo visit to the hammam, maybe hanging out with my girl, maybe some work, maybe wash my hair, maybe browse in the library, maybe read a pretty magazine, maybe... maybe just lie here a bit longer, maybe dream a little...

did you see this? and these? and this?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

some days

are more orange than others

Saturday, October 08, 2011


every year i forget how much there is to love in october: the colours, the smell, the sudden gusts of wind, the leaves, the fruit. the whole wild, intemperate dance in the face of decay and death. october is a celebration. of what has been and what is yet to come.

(no, it's november that stretches the spirit, december that sends it under, january in which i attempt deep-sea diving en apnée and february which nearly drowns me, every year)

Friday, October 07, 2011


if my prayers are blown to rags by the wind does that mean they will be heard?

Thursday, October 06, 2011


sometimes on rainy grey days tropical birds come to roost on my kitchen counters and stainless steel water bottles grow feathers

Monday, September 19, 2011


i was supposed to drink tea with my friend and neighbour. 9pm, as soon as the children sleep. everything was ready: an almost tidy kitchen, an easy knitting project, new loose-leaf tea and a freshly baked apple pie (we went apple-picking, we went apple-picking, we went apple-picking today) (to be sung at the top of your lungs).

she must have given up by now, the friend and neighbour. and gone to bed. and maybe even forgiven me (she knows it's dicey business, putting the children to bed).

and here i am, 1am. re-reading my blog. starting from all the way in 2007, and working my way slowly through the weeks, the months, the years. crying and laughing, catching a glimpse of a different self. where did she go, that funny, honest, raw, sensitive, beautiful woman? did i lose her along the way? i hope not, hope not, hope not.

looking for something else, too, in between the lines, the photographs. looking for what happened. the how, the why, the wherefore. there must have been signs, leading from there to here. warnings. whisperings.

i could not find any. no explanations. only an unfolding.

between september 2007 (new baby in the house, happily married people, joyful children, creativity and love gallore) and september 2011 (new baby in the belly, scared divorcing lonely people, sad lost children, grief, anger, excitement, and shame): what happened? what happened?

in september 2007 i knew so much. i know so little today. tomorrow, i will know less. but i know who i love. and i know how to hold grief (mine and yours). gently. i know where to put my foot down, for the next step. and if i don't know yet, i might know once i lift it.

maybe that's all you ever need to know. Sam's uncle Jim said: "When driving in the dark, you don't need to see further than your headlights see."

maybe. maybe. maybe.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

the crocodile he made himself

note the moving head and the little band-aid where a nail was inconveniently sticking out ("het maakt niet uit, mama, ik doe er gewoon een pleistel op")

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

37 things i am loving...

...on my 37th birthday: gipsy music, chocolate cake, illegal scented roses, the summer heat, andrei zadorine, poetry, gentle breezes, swimming naked, crispy clean wind-blown white sheets, playing accordion, eyeore, baking bread, my children, dancing, adventures, new friends, inner quiet, chaos, home-made washing liquid, swooshing skirts, the unknown, french movies, raspberries, writing, men, blueberries, the rain, pakistani mangoes, old friends, the woods, high silvery grass, sex, field flowers, climbing trees, colette, women, rhubarb.

happy birthday to all of you also celebrating your mortality today!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

in this one... (a fiction)

in this one, the sun is shining. it's always shining, the sun of summer photographs. the river in the background is grey dark blue, it blends with the sky, and there are reeds sticking out on either side of my small fat body, turning me into a plump, rather startled lion cub emerging from the high grass of the savannah. i am wearing a striped shirt. horizontal stripes do not suit small plump people. the shirt is loose, yet stretches oddly in the middle, where my tummy would be. i am wearing this striped shirt and not much else besides. my mouth is pouting, my eyes squinting, almost shut, against the glare of the sun.

i can tell that it's you taking the photograph by the resistant, resigned patience of my body. the sun is hurting my eyes. the grass is scratching my legs. where my thighs meet, at the top, they stick together with sweat. my tata is taking a photograph. i am thirsty. don't move, you said. i am hungry. don't move, you said. beyond the black eye of the camera, i can see the infinite stretch of the dark pine forest. no breeze. the river is gurgling in my back. right behind you, there is shade, and coolness, and the sweetness of pine scent. don't move, you said. don't move. so i don't. i stand there, sweaty, uncomfortable, blind. the way i will stand in the world for many, many years to come.

until one day, i'll forget, and i will move, i will run, in a body so lean and so supple i will barely recognize it as my own. i will run straight past you and your black, scrutinizing, unforgiving eye, into the forest where the wolves are waiting to play with me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


they grow. between the railway tracks, along the high and low ways, on lost allotments. in all the spaces with no name, the spaces in between the labels. bright, oblivious. hopeful. they grow.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings.
Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.


Sunday, June 05, 2011


dabbling in the tarot lately. last night, before going out, i pulled the death card. end of cycle. transformation. regeneration. then i went out, the church bells rang, the guitars wept, and the past rose up to meet me face to face. there is no such thing as 'dabbling' in the tarot.

and the little ant climbs the foot of the angel of death.
to her, it looks just like any other stone.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

doll house

for a few days of a few weeks of a few months, i live in a very little house. there are roses on the wardrobe. squirrels in the window-sill. cool blood-stained sheets on the bed. a tree to sit in. old graves to stamp on. doors to bang so hard the paint falls off. a shower so hot it will wash away any pain. a wooden floor to twirl on. silence, and music, and real darkness at night.

it's perfect. but it's a doll house. and i am not a doll.