30 Sep 2012

In Difficult Situations - Stop and Pause

One of my friends suddenly drew back, cutting off our contact. She lives quite far away, so it was per email;  it made me uneasy and sad. I couldn't understand her silence, couldn't remember having said or done anything that might have hurt her. I asked what I had done, but she didn't want to take it up per email; we'd better meet. She was right, of course: words easily distort a message, and they can be misunderstood.
Months went by. It took half a year before we met again, over a cup of tea downtown. She told me I hadn't been there for her in difficult times, I had "shrugged off" her pain, changing the subject. This was hard for me to take in. I honestly didn't remember the examples, and this is really not how I want to act,  or how I see myself: as somebody who floats on the sunny side, who turns away from hardship and pain. Someone who is not able to cope with "the dark sides of life".
I would have preferred not saying anything at all there and then. I would have preferred letting it sink in and reacting after a night's sleep. Now I felt that was impossible - we would not meet again for a while, and my friend expected a reaction.
In this situation I did what I've learnt over the years on how to deal with difficult situations with others: I stopped and breathed, pausing for a moment. Then I answered very carefully, neither turning to exaggerated excuses nor to strong reactions to the "accusations". I just tried to talk from my heart.
For me, this is essential in difficult situations: to Stop and Pause. I need to take some deep breaths, and relax. Look deeply and honestly at what is being said, and - absolutely crucial - leave the Ego out, and forget any (hurt) pride. Just talk from the heart - from one Friend to another.

22 Sep 2012

Slowly Leaving

Yesterday I visited dear Anna at the old people's home in M. With her 93 years, Anna is very tired. She mainly just lies on her bed, dozing away most of the time. It was one of those days when she doesn't want to speak, so when she was awake she might indicate something with her thin, soft hand but otherwise she'd just lie there and smile. Sleep and smile.
I sat next to her for a couple of hours, holding her hand, talking about  this and that when she was awake, but mainly I just sat there. Luckily I had brought some needlework, not to fall asleep myself!
Even if sleeping most of the time, I think Anna enjoys these visits. I hope she feels my love and gratitude, which I try to convey with little gestures as seing to it that she is well covered upp in her blanket, trying to get her to drink some juice, adjusting her pillow, or just hugging her and caressing her cheek.
As so often I think: "this is also a way to leave life; slowly, slowly, day by day, breath by breath". Who knows for how long we will still have Anna around? Dear Anna, the woman who mainly lived for others; for God, for all her patients as medical doctor, for her son and grandchildren? We all owe her so much, and I hope she can feel our deep thankfulness and love.

17 Sep 2012


I know there's nothing exceptional in loving to do something you like together with somebody you love, but that's what I've been doing for a good week. Now that A was here we did so many nice things together, but the best of them all was preparing, organizing and enjoying our Gourmet Evening.
We invited a very dear friend for dinner, and decided to do The Full Monty: a 5 (almost 6) course menu. So we went through my favorite recipes, googled for more inspiration, crossed two borders for serious grocery shopping, and pondered the presentation, both of the dishes and the table.
The result was wonderful: a lovely evening in great company, a feast for the eyes and the palates :-)
Cooking is one of my (our!) passions in life and when combining it with Togetherness like this it's just... pure pleasure!

The new place mats set the tone

12 Sep 2012

Reality Takes Over

For ten long days I have a wonderful guest at home, and I want to enjoy every minute of her stay.
While I'm at my working place, she writes on her work at home. Afterwards, all these little pleasures of being together: taking walks and talking about whatever pops up, cooking nice meals and enjoying them in each others' company, watching movies and laughing or crying together...
So my computer remains closed and real life takes over the time spent in front of the screen. Luckily!
The most important person is always the one you're with and the most important activity is trying to make him or her happy. Not always easy, but in this case it comes very naturally :-)

Not here, but her

6 Sep 2012

Spreading It Out

Today the Meditation Group at my workplace met for the first time. Six colleagues came, and nobody fell asleep ;-)
I definitely had "forced" myself to start up such a group, but for a good reason: meditation and mindfulness have had such a positive effect on the way I live my life, that for a long time I've felt the urge to spread the word, or better: the practice.  I'm convinced that most people can profit from bringing more mindfulness into their lives.
I had prepared myself well, and gotten quite some good suggestions and support from my friends (Buddhist or not), but still I was very nervous before this first session. Well, just a normal hurdle to overcome -  and it was worth it. I got positive feedback from all six participants afterwards!
For me, this was a big step, and it has also boosted my own daily practice. I am really happy now, just like the little Buddha under the tree :-)
Smile Meditation