Friday, May 29, 2015

Cleaning up

There are many ways in which we can ‘clean up’. From cleaning ourselves up, for instance after been involved with sports, or having worked in the garden, to cleaning up after ourselves. From cleaning up a mess, to cleaning up all those things that we are still thinking about what we want to do with them…

Traditionally there are certain times or points in our lives when we may feel an instigation to clean up. The most obvious one may well be the ‘Spring cleaning’ when we clean up all the old things after Winter, enabling ourselves to start fresh in the next cycle of the seasons. But with every major change in our lives we may also feel the need to clean up. To let go of those things that ~ in all likelihood ~ have served us well up to then, but that are now belonging to an older version of our lives and perhaps ourselves; and therefore are not useful to us anymore. This way, the ‘princess-room’ gives way to a ‘teenage-room’. And when move out and start living our own lives as adults, we are likely to place ourselves in a more grown up environment. And so on.

This way we use the process of creating our environment while cleaning up those things that have lost their use, we continuously build our lives and our memories in such a way that it reflects who we are and how we have gotten to where we are at that point in our lives.

And as we feel we have less and less need to surround ourselves with the physical reflection of our lives; of who we are ~ it is almost like cleaning up gets to be harder than it has been before. After all, whatever is left in our lives ~ be it memories or precious belongings ~ are part of a carefully built up environment. And as every piece of that environment has served us so well ~ even when we know it is time to let it go ~ cleaning up is not always easy…

Eventually the time may come that others will be cleaning up after us. At that time it is up to them whether parts of the so carefully built environment that was our life, may somehow fit in their lives. Perhaps as a memory of their own childhood. As a reflection of admiration for the person we were and the life we had built. Or because it is something that at that point in time just fits perfectly in their lives…

It makes that cleaning up is part of the cycle of life…

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Time and place

There is a time and place for everything. And doing the things we do at the right time and the right place keeps our lives orderly and structured. It allows us to be productive, focussed and to not permit ourselves to be waylaid by any distractions that may come up.

As long as we stay in the same, friendly and comfortable space and keep to our familiar schedule ~ everything is fine!
In a sense it is our comfort-zone.

It is also the way we set ourselves up for unwavering routines, and a way of life in which we don’t have to look at anything but our familiar surroundings, our known routines, and our required productivity. Without a whole lot of space, time, or even interest for new ideas, and imaginative adventures.

As long as we stick to our known space and time, chances are we keep doing the things we have always been doing in the same way we have always done them.

Therefore it is a good idea to every once in a while find a way to do something new; something different.
Whether it is going to a new place, do something creative or experimental, or taking time to ~ even when things are busy or chaotic ~ to step back from it all, taking a deep breath ad smell the proverbial roses; getting ourselves out of the way things are and the structure of the things we do helps us to create a space in which we can renew ourselves.

And it doesn’t really matter if that is about a concentrated effort to rejuvenate ourselves, or to reinvent our lives ~ or to find a quiet moment to just be still and enjoy… Whichever we choose it to be, chances are it will help us gain new perspectives; and in some cases it may even give us a ‘new lease on life’.

In other words, it is important to make a conscious choice to, every once in a while, leave our comfort-zone in favor of something unexpected, something ‘far out’, something creative. Doing that will likely keep us happier and healthier than when we stay in our familiar routines…

There is a time and place for everything; and that should probably include a time to find ourselves a new place to be ~ if only for a couple of hours or days ~ to give ourselves an opportunity to regain our footing, renew our perspectives, and create a space in our lives for unknown adventures.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Changing of the guard

In nature the change from one energy to the another is marked by a motionless moment of quiet. Just like a swing on the playground holds still for only a couple of milliseconds before it reverses it movement…

We find those moments between the light of day and the darkness of the night; and again when the darkness makes way for the light of day. A similar moment of quiet is found in the utter darkness moments before the new moon, and again at the light when the moon is fullest.
And once we start looking for those moments we can find them in the movement of the Seasons, or the start of the new year. A changing of the guard.
Most of us have noticed that moment of silence when something is about to happen, and again right after whatever has happened has come to a point of rest. And those experiences may be nature related, like a thunder storm or even an earth quake. But they also occur when man-made life-changing events are happening. That moment when we know that something is about to happen, we just aren’t sure what it is until it starts…

Surprisingly enough, in our day-to-day lives we hardly ever incorporate those moments of silence, other than perhaps those that meditate. And even then, the silence is different as it is not related to the changing of energies.

As we are living life, we have a tendency to just keep going.
We get up, eat a bite, have some coffee or tea, and run out the door to get going on the things we are obligated to do. Whether it is our jobs, bringing the kids to school, running errands, cleaning the house ~ somehow, sometime in our lives we have gotten the idea that we are most productive when we keep on moving from one thing to the next ~ from one energy to the next ~ without missing a beat.
The more we have on our plate, the more we need to revert to ‘to-do lists’ in order to keep our balls in the air. And chances are that this routine leaves us exhausted when everything is done…

If nature has anything to teach us here, it may well be to take a moment each time we move from one thing to the next.
Fifteen, thirty seconds; a deep breath ~ and the conscious recognition that what we have done up to that point is now finished, so we have our hands and our energy free to move on to the next thing on our list.

A changing of the guard, a change of focus, a change in energy…

Friday, May 15, 2015

Catching up

There are periods in our lives when everything seems to happen all at once, and often during those times we have a tendency to handle things at an ‘what’s in your face is first’ basis.
No longer do we keep our priorities in mind; no longer do we look at things ~ or life as it happens ~ from a more or less logical perspective. We start doing things on the fly, and as they happen.
And there is not a whole lot wrong with that. It enables us to cope as best we can at that particular time in our lives ~ and that is a good thing.

Yet invariably, when things quiet down again, we find that somehow there are a lot of things that didn’t get done. And before we know it, we find ourselves catching up on all of those, rather than stepping back from it all, taking a deep breath and giving ourselves a moment to re-evaluate our ‘to-do list’.

When we would take a moment to do that, we could ask ourselves how important each of the items on the list really is. Is it worth spending our time and energy on it? Or is it something that we have always done because… Well because we grew up doing it; or because at some point in our lives ~ perhaps quite a long time ago ~ it was fun, necessary, or even required to do it. But is that still true?

The things that still are important to us, we probably should catch up on.
Chances are, however, that there are also things that we wouldn’t miss doing, even if we never did them again in our lives! And this would be a very good time to let those slip away into our past, rather than spending countless hours getting all of those things ‘back where they belong’.

We could even ask ourselves if getting in the situation where everything happened all at once ~ whether that was our own doing, a matter of circumstance, or rather the way life happened (in which case the Universe might have had a hand in it) ~ has been a hint to re-evaluate and re-prioritize in the first place…

That still makes it important to catch up on things ~ as long as we can honestly say that those are things we enjoy and appreciate being in our lives. It doesn’t make any sense at all to catch up on things we don’t want in our lives anymore.

So before getting all excited and busy catching up on stuff; take is good to take a moment to see if that is really what we want to do.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The sun

Symbolically, the sun represents our vitality; our ‘fire’. Whether it is the energy to ‘get up and go’ or the fire ~ the drive ~ that inspires new things; symbolically those are related to the sun. It gives energy to all ~ not just us humans ~ but everything in nature. One could say it is the sun that vitalizes nature in its broadest sense; it is the sun that gives the system of the earth ~ Gaia ~ its energy.

And it does so with never-ending vigor!
No matter how vast the layer of clouds is, the light of the sun will penetrate them; and given time dissolve them.

While that sounds like a good thing, it turns out that the warmth of the sun sometimes can turn into a burning heat. That the comfortable light that allows us to see what is going on around us can take on a hellish brightness.
This makes that in those areas where the sun has free access to the earth and all living things, shade may become a premium. A place to take shelter from both light and temperature. It is in those areas that the energy of the sun has gone to its polarity; so rather than activating and inspiring us, it numbs us and leads us to sit back and wait for the sun to go down…

On the other hand, when one lives in an area where the days turn ~ sometimes painfully ~ short during Winter, the sun is awaited with much anticipation come Spring! Its light, its warmth; and with it the instigation to become more active again. To go outside for any outdoors event; or to just face the sun and bask in it. To soak up its warmth and the light; to replenish that ‘fire’ inside of us that may have gone depleted during the long Winter.

It is a perfect example of how even one energy carries both polarities in it.

And looking at it from the perspective of polarities, we have very similar energies inside of ourselves. Where the balanced perspective probably is to be actively productive; it doesn’t take much for us to take on too much and to start ‘burning the candle on both ends’. Or to ‘throw in the towel’ and step back from all activity because there is just simply too much going on in our lives at that time.

Therefore it would be a good thing to find some time to bask in the sun, as well as creating our shady shelters. It is a good thing to be inspired and active, just as much as it is to relax and enjoy…

Friday, May 8, 2015


Over the past year or so, I have watched in awe how construction workers were dismantling an aging office building nestled against an intersection of two freeways.
At first it seemed they were just going to do some ~ extensive ~ maintenance work on the outside of the building. But as time progressed, more and more of the original building disappeared, until finally only the bare structure of the building was left standing; just the floors and the roof…
It looked kind of sad dismantled like that, not in any way the building it once was.
Then they started rebuilding it.
Having the opportunity to recreate that same building into a new ‘incarnation’ of itself, it now meets all the demands of this point in time, and has become a much more useful space than it was in its old existence.
And now, whenever I drive past it on the freeway, it looks truly beautiful.

In a sense, when we set out to reinvent ourselves we follow the same process. First we strip away those parts of ourselves ~ of our lives ~ that are no longer useful to us. We dismantle ourselves. Throw away the old clothes; the old shoes ~ and also the old habits, attitudes, and thoughts that have defined us for so long ~ and we go back to the core of ourselves. And with only the core of ourselves left standing, we start rebuilding ourselves…
We start reinventing ourselves in order to meet the demands of this point in time; this point in our lives. We build ourselves back up in the most fun and productive way we can imagine.

The difference comes when we are called upon to dismantle that which someone else has spend so much time and effort building. For instance, when an elderly relative moves into a care home and his or her earthly possessions need to be dismantled from a full size family dwelling into a one-room-efficiency-apartment. Often, a lot of the things that carry the best memories won’t fit in the allotted space and have to go. Making it so much more difficult for that person to take that next step; the reinventing and rebuilding his- or herself.
It is a painful process that is often handled logically and matter-of-factly, so we can get it over quickly.

And then there is the process of dismantling the life of someone who has chosen to reinvent and rebuild themselves in that other plane where no earthly possessions are needed…
Suddenly it is no longer their process, it is ours.

And how we handle it says a lot about how we are handling the dismantling, reinventing, and rebuilding of ourselves…

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


The Dutch language has a saying that implicates that the way we express ourselves tells a lot about how we feel and what we think about ourselves. That it may even give us hints as to what is going on with ourselves from a health perspective.

Basically it says that if we keep complaining about what is going on in our lives, we are in truth complaining about (an aspect of) our own lives. When we express that whatever is going on in life is ‘hard for us to stomach’, chances are that we suffer from a an upset stomach more often than others would. That when we fail to stick to our guns, we may cave to other people’s opinions; often in order to be a likable person, rather than living the life we have always dreamed about.

Perhaps the most famous word in any language that is telling on how we live our lives, is the word ‘but’. Of course it has a place and time to be used properly, however, the more we use that word, the more likely we are to come up with excuses for ourselves ~ and perhaps also for others ~ to not having to do the things we consider hard, difficult, or perhaps just uninteresting.
Rather than just saying, ‘No, I don’t feel like doing that right now’, we say ‘I would if I could but I can’t’. It often has nothing to do with an inability to do whatever it is that has come up…

Another word to be weary of, come to think of it, is ‘I can’t’.
Every time we express ourselves in a negative like ‘I can’t’, we are shortchanging ourselves. We are making ourselves less than we truly are. And of course there are things that we don’t know how to do in life. When we encounter one of those we can choose to learn to do it, or decide not to.

This way, listening to the manner in which we express ourselves becomes an interesting ~ and telling ~ exercise in who we are… For instance…
How often do we use the word ‘but’ in a day?
How often do we say ‘I can’t’, when in reality we mean to say ‘I don’t want to’?
Do our opinions leave enough space for the other person to live their lives the way they see fit, or do we express them as judgements?

The list can go on.
And ultimately the question becomes: “What is it in my life I don’t like, don’t want to do, or feel bad enough about to judge it?”

Friday, May 1, 2015

Photographs and memories

Photographs or pictures and memories are tightly linked. After all, a picture says more than a thousand words, and therefore looking at (old) photographs can be a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours of looking back at past events. And as soon as we see the picture, we remember the whole story! Where we were when the picture was taken, who we were with, even what the weather was like at that time. And more than just that captured moment in the photograph, we can place ourselves right back into the story of that time; that day.

It triggers our memories so we can tell the old stories to new generations. Of where we lived, what we did; and to then wonder about the changes that have happened since…

That being said, there is also wisdom in recording at least the factual parts of that story with the photographs. Because the photographs will keep telling their stories long after we have gone ~ if we let them ~ and while they will be interesting to future generations (even if it is just for them to say something along lines of ‘Hey, look at that, that is just plain weird-looking’ to the things that used to be so ‘normal’ for us at that time); when there is no context in which to place that photograph, the story can only be imagined…

Not too long ago I have come into possession of a whole bunch of old slides. And when I say ‘old’ I mean ‘OLD’! About ninety years old… The black-and-white film securely fastened between two, thin sheets of glass with special, linen-based tape.
The stories they tell are family stories of far away travels. The portraits have to go back to my great grandparents.

Those that were part of those travels have long since passed on, and with only cursory notes and a lot of slides that are clearly out of order ~ it leaves me with a major ‘who is who’ and ‘what is where’.

Some of the places I recognize, as I have visited them myself some sixty years or so after my grandparents were there. Others are nice to see on the pictures, but the stories the photographs tell are unfamiliar to my mind…

There are also more recent pictures. Nice, crisp black-and-whites of family scenes and vacation pleasures. And while I don’t have total recall of those, I can see my brother and me growing up; my parents growing older. A dozen pictures at a time…

Seeing the photographs makes me remember good times and sunny days. And stories of ice cream and castles build of sand that proudly stood there until the sea reclaimed the beach…