Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 28: 11 things

11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2012? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

1. oreo cookies
2. uncertainty (I stocked up the last few years)
3. late nights, unless they are really worth it
4. worrying about things that might (or might not) happen
5. disease, by living a healthy lifestyle
6. rudeness, by being kind and deaf to bitter comments
7. too much alcohol (unless it's really worth it)
8. deceit (cause life is too short)
9. bad food, see #5
10. clutter, no idea, been trying for ages and failing miserably so far... think culling might be a good way to start 
11. stress, see #5, exercise, look for peace of mind

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 26: on learning to appreciate the chaos and the magic

A good friend of mine once remarked -surprised- how laid back I am about most things, and how easily I get stressed when it comes to the children. And it's true, not sure why, but it's true. 

This year I've kind of learned how to breath and enjoy the chaos. I think I've even  learned to be grateful for the chaos. I know that one day I'll open my eyes and find grown adults instead of my little midgets. The chaos will be gone and so will the magic

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 24: wisdom

Prompt: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made, and how did it play out?

I've really been racking my brain on this one and can't come up with anything.  Again, I don't think there is ONE decision that has been so significant this year, but there have been  a few rules or lessons learned that I think have helped me to deal with a rather exciting year.  

Mainly, I think I trust my gut more, (like pulling my son out of his new school before he had even started),  I just accepted that some things needed to be done or happen, and that there was no point in worrying about it (I'm thinking the move).  I choose my battles, but also put my foot down for the important things

I think the wisest thing that I have done this year is just take it easy on myself. I don't always have the answers. I don't always get it right, (that is NOT new) but I no longer feel the pressure to do so. I no longer feel the pressure to be there every time someone needs me, some "me" time and "me" activities are now perfectly acceptable.  I think I am becoming increasingly flexible. There just seems to be a little skip in my stride....

how does it play out? I smile a lot more, stress a lot less. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 23: friendship


you know who you are...

you are the one I only remember to email when I need something, and I feel close enough to just write and ask without further ado.

you are the one that I laughed and got tipsy with.

You are the one that knows me, more than one side of me,  and you love some of them, but tolerate and cherish all of them.

You are the one that  held me together when I wasn't sure which one I was

....  when I had to decide which one I would be

you are the one I ate with, travelled with, studied with, had pedicures and silly lunches with. 

You are the one that trusted in me when your world was shaking.  when you needed your heart held by someone that would treat it with love, care and affection.

you are the ones that called on me. the ones that looked after my kids. the ones that suggested books you thought would feed my soul, my child, my brain or my work.

you are the ones that texted me when something cool was happening. when you thought there was something I should read. 

the ones I turned to when I was lost, even if it was just a school or an insurance I needed.

you are the one that helped me make the decisions that made me who I am today. thanks for that. 


every.small. thing

every. time. YOU. were. there . for. me

so thank you. today, tomorrow and the next 200 days when we don't speak. when life is too busy for me to remember to ask how your day went.

remember just one one little thing: I love you, I'm here for you. just like you were.

please raise your glass  to my very, very, very amazing friends 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 22: it'll be alright

Prompt: Everything’s OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead? (The Dead Crew @sweetsalty)

the biggest and most repeated lie in the history of the world. 

When the shit hits the fan those around the victim will say:

"everything is going to be all right"

mainly because... it will. 

It used to drive me insane that my life could be turned upside down and the sun would continue to rise, the trains would continue to depart, on time... life ignores your tragedies.

Many moons ago I use to act. Once I played King Creon in a modern version of the Greek play Antigone. 

Creon  was mainly trying to avoid killing his own beloved niece, the main character,  who in turn  refused to allow  civilisation to rule  what she could or could not do, even if it meant loosing  her life. 

And I get the attraction to Antigone, but really, at the end of the day, as unromantic as it may be, Creon had it right: where would the world be if the animals refused to continue walking, eating and mating very time one of their off spring was  eaten by a lion. what would the world do if the moon and the stars actually refused to shine every time someone's life was touched by tragedy... 

Animals get up, rise and carry on. They don't question life, and there is a degree  of humbleness in those actions that  is beyond human ability. We humans still  think the sun revolves around the earth, mainly because we are in it. 


There isn't one moment. it has been a long hard learned process. A lot of mornings when the sun rose as expected. When the world did not end. I've had a few scares lately,  some of them quite   serious, but then the sun rose just when it was supposed to, the kids had to  be dressed to go to school, the bills had to be paid....

life waits for none, and as much as I would some times like to get off this somewhat mad train, there is something soothing about knowing that, no matter what, life does go  on. I know at some point tragedy will hit me. It's as much part of life as happiness and all the rest of it.   I know one day  it's going to hurt until it feels like the sun should be shut down, the stars should be pulled away... I just pray it is within the order of things, so that like an elephant, a deer or a monkey, I can get up the next morning, pay the bills, dress the kids, and do my part to keep this wonderful, wonderful world (of mine... there is another rather less wonderful parallel world) going.   

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 21: my name is Helga

Hi, my name is Helga. I'd shake your hand but have just finished running 5 miles and am covered in sweat. I just can't let a day go by without breaking a sweat.  I like to get up early in the morning, when everyone is still sleeping, get some work done, and go for a run when the air is still clean and cold. By the time most people are having their first coffee I've finished running, showered, straightened my hair, had my home made  green juice and am at my desk working. oh how rude of me, I forgot to mention what I do, I am a cartoonist. I used to work at a fashion magazine, did a bit of everything from styling the shots to writing the pieces, but I decided to go with my passion which is drawing. I know cartoons don't pay much but I love to draw people the way I see them in my head. and that is always a cartoon. 

I live with my dog in an open loft that looks like a museum. I like to have very few things around me. Anything that does not serve a purpose has to go. everything has to have its place. I hate I'm like that but I can't help it. I draw most of the day but in the evenings I go to dance class. I did it professionally for a little while as well but hurt my ankle. Probably for the best, it's a demanding lifestyle, but I still love to dance.

why did I choose Helga?

because she does all the things I wish I could, but can't do:

I can't wake up early 
I can't exercise every day
I hate the cold
I can't be fashionable, and can't straighten my hair even if my life depended on it. 
I can't keep my house tidy
I can't stop accumulating (much loved and beautiful) things for my house
I can't have a dog (dead allergic)
and I can't draw the cartoons of how I see people inside my head

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 20: a gift

Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year? (Waxman Literary Agency @hroot)

so (for once) I'm not going to go with anything sappy and deep. Partly because -been there done that- partly because I've had one of those days where I'd really much rather NOT write, and NOT thank anything.

So I'm going with these. I bought them yesterday. You will notice they have heels, and you will recall I said I DON'T wear heals. 

These shoes are made by Dutch architects. they were for sale one block from my house in Holland, and I stared at them in adoration for nearly 2 years hoping someone I loved bought them, I couldn't because, with those heels, I'd never wear them, so what would be the point. 

Then the other day I saw them here but with like half the heel. Perfect.  TheHubs says they are same. whatever. I bought them, put them on and LOVE them. they are sooooo comfortable.

so here they are, my present to me. I was on my good girl list this year 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 19: I should either learn to say no or join a circus

I often like to think of myself like this

you know, successful, doing what I love, while keeping my career and having enough time for the kids.

 But really, most of the time I look like this

and that is on a good hair day.

I need to learn how to put some of the balls down every now and then. Take this  December challenge for example, did I really need this? you know with the whole finish a report 10 days before taking the family away, and by the way don't forget the family monthly portrait, or the traditional family christmas cards photographed by yours truly...

the problem is I love all those balls, but one of these days one is going to smack me in the face, and in the meantime, it is me and the kids that suffer when something's gotta give.

So here's to better time management, and more realistic self-expectations in 2012

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 17 &18: delight in the senses


if I couldn't see I could not see your face. 
I could not see your smile. I could not see the dew or the horizon's fading light.

If I could not see I would not understand the words red or bright. 
I'd miss the deep blue of the ocean, and their small little faces.

If I could not see I could only guess the beauty of the flowers, 
or of the travelleler that crosses my path.

If I could not see I would not see the rainbow, the glimmer, the lightning, 
the moon's reflection, the tear  sliding from your eye

If I could not see the world would be black. 
There would be sound and music, and the sound of thunder. 
But I could not see your smile.


the world is at my tongue's tip: the exotic, the familiar, the old and the new.
with my  tongue I can lick soft, slippery and hard.
the candy of life, burn it with spices or indulge it in jam


I can smell your body, I can smell your hair, 
the stew that is welcoming me home and the rain that has not fallen yet.


I can hear the tip toes approaching, I can hear a sigh, 
your steps on the snow, your dreams on the sand
I can hear melodies in your footsteps, 
the soft sheets gliding, your cold feet reaching for mine

but none of that would mean anything  if I could not hold you. 
touch your your face, touch your  hand, make you safe, make you warm

Cuddled into my arms I can  smell your clean hair, 
and then heaven and hell overwhelm all my senses

sweat slides slowly  down my skin.

I can smell and hear you. 

even with my eyes close I can see you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 16: be a fruitloop

"be a fruitloop in a world of cheerios"

Your challenge today is to make sure you exit your house with something-visible- that you would normally not wear. The point (and remember, a lot of these challenges are directed first and foremost at myself) is to shake it up, so bring so colour, so fun or some crazy to your wardrobe, make up or hair today, and send us a photo.

For me that means super girly heels. I never wear heals, and I rarely do girly.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 15: guilty pleasures


it's quiet, dark and everyone is sleeping.


you can hear some  tip toeing, some rumbling around.....'s me, on the sofa, with the obsession of the week (currently oreos and milk), watching  a TV series.


It's way too late. I can barely keep my eyes open.
But this time, this quiet, dark flickering time is all mine.
and I'm not about to give it up any time soon.....


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 14: de-clutter

Day 14: de-clutter. choose 3 things that promise to  organise or throw away. agree with yourself to a deadline in the new year, then try to imagine how you will feel once the deed is done
pay, file, organise.... definitely next weeek

file. hopefully next week

organise, file  or hide better, next week

put in storage, no way next week
give away (not all) before Santa makes his deliveries. so next week

make the inside look as pretty as the outside.... next week?

shit... next week is looking pretty cluttered if you ask me...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 13: you have 5 minutes to rescue what you can from 2011... go!

·    trip to Peru, tropicokis and general mayhem  with the family and my grandma

visit to family in Marbella (and the food)

visit to family in alghero (and the food)

yoga lessons in the hague

riding my bike by the canals,  through the forests….

trip to Ethiopia, an absolutely amazing country

my first guitar tunes

mario’s first word (reading), mila practically reading…

Returning to bologna, the scene of the crime, 15 years later with the hubs
Visit to Heidi’s home town in engelberg (family)... (not so much the food)

Friends: those left behind in Holland (and other places), and the ones I got to see again after (in some cases) 23 years ... ouch!

Lazy strolls in Amsterdam

Our first summer in NY

The family self portrait project (insert heart here)

And still to come:
·      Seeing Annie Leibowiz, one of my greatest idols, in person (tomorrow night)
·      Family holiday in Miami/ Disney (with 11 kids  in tow….)

so basically: family, friends, food and travel ... priceless 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 12: Energy

Where are you losing energy in your life? 

not enough sleep, probably sweets...

When where/are you most drained? 

when I am stressed. when the kids fight....

What energizes you? 
yoga, dancing

What jolts you, lifts you up, gets you giddy? Makes you relax? 

romantic comedies, my favourite TV series, playing the guitar, listening to good music, 

What has you feeling better immediately no matter what?

a glass or red wine, date nigh (they fortunately usually go togeyther)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 11: never ending story

good thing I'm not an engineer 
So the last thing I made, whereby my computer was not involved, was this gingerbread train. It was fun putting it together with the kids, although I think we should have stuck to the gingerbread house because we barely managed to get the train to stand, and I got all anal, and then had to remind myself that the point of the exercise WAS NOT a good looking train, but for the kids to have fun....

I also recently took face painting lessons. It is a really fun thing to do with the kids, and I love the feeling of doing something manual with them. I am the star mom when it comes to play dates (at least in my books). How this happened is actually quite sad: I accidentally volunteered to face paint at the princess' school party. Having never done it before, some of them came out ok, others, one in particular which still haunts me, was a disaster.... so I got all anal and decided to learn to do a better job next year (we start to see a theme here...)  

what I want to make that I need to carve time out for?

My book. Crossing the River is 80% finished as per last year's goal, and this year, other than a quick run through in early February, I've had no time to look at it. It's harder now because I can't just work a bit at night, I really feel I need a good chunk of time to go through it because I am looking at things like  structure,  and  flow... and you just can't do that in bits here and there. 

I worry that nearly a year has passed with no progress. I also feel (hope maybe?) that it is maturing, and hopefully when I do manage to finish, it will be better off because of this time. I even considered starting book 2 and letting this one macerate a bit longer,  give it more perspective, but I  worry that if I don't finish soon it will just be yet  another book that just never got finished.

So, bizarrely enough, I have to hope to NOT get work at some point next year, so that I can pull this one through....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 10: the beauty of different

Ok, even I struggled to get the challenge done today... busy people that we are, but that is kind of the point of the challenge, to take time from running around to think and appreciate....

I'm pretty sure if people had to describe what makes me ME, the top  mentions would be: 

1. My unruly hair and my chinito eyes

Unruly and unmanageable,  I love my hair, and I've had it in almost every colour available

2. I'm tall

 3. I'm blunt to the point of rude .... when not being funny ( try to photograph that one... I dare you)

4. I'm passionate

5. a little odd (for the most part in a good way)

but then I went out with the hubs and got curious... he said:

1. I'm exotic (i.e. chinito eyes)
2. ethical 
3. creative (kind of passionate right?)
4. homey (as in I like my home, and being home, and... well, he wasn't that specific so maybe he meant something else)
5. unusual (i.e. a little odd)

so it appears we mostly agree...

have you asked your loved ones?... 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 9: these are a few of my favourite things....

morning coffee and the 2 mile walk I have to do every morning to get trouble to school

I love being surrounded by things that remind me of our travels.
My camera y always at hand to capture the beauty of every day life

eating definitely makes me happy. In good Mediterranean fashion
I use food to celebrate and as an excuse to bring friends together (good wine a must)
pictured: favourite sandwich- turkey (ham or roast beef also allowed),
cheese, bit of mayo and mustard, arugula

I love M's very unique sense of style and commitment to it "antes muerta que sencilla"

I love both the guitar and my bed. The kids come in on
weekends and I try to keep  the whole family in it as long as possible

shouldn't but do....
and it's how I keep in touch with family and friends throughout the world, so really, I should

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 8: Laughter

Reflect on the last time you laughed so hard your sides hurt, your mascara ran down your face, or you wet your pants?

The last time I literally peed my pants from laughter I was in one of those trampolines with my nephews. the last time I laughed so hard it almost hurt, I was with my sister having a pedicure done by a bunch of fish. The last time I laughed till I cried I was laughing about nothing with the princess, but with a very complicit look, so she would crack up from the sheer joy of sharing that moment, and I would laugh harder from the fact that we were laughing about nothing, and it just kept going till we had tears in our eyes. (I rarely wear mascara).

I’ve got a bit of a bad rep as Ms  grumpy, but the truth is in general I am  a happy and light hearted person.  Kind of like a large Chihuahua. At the end of the day there’s a lot of yapping but no harm done. 

In general kids, and especially my kids, make me laugh. they are constantly coming up with the most unexpected (like trouble's request for a helicopter for the school trip because the bus is too boring). 

Not long after my kids were born I realised that all  the videos I took of them had the same background noise: me laughing. And although they often drive me nuts, they just as often, if not more,  crack me up. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 7: on weathering storms...

What storm did you weather? Big or small... obstacle(s) did you overcome? Feel free to be literal if you prefer... was there an actual storm that you survived?

capture from "Diary" by Tim Heatherington

Tim's death was definitely a storm that hit my shore this year.   It put me in touch with mortality and eternity at the same time. It's a wound on my side, a knot in my stride..... 

I said I wouldn't talk about him more here, so I wont. Instead I'll share something of his that speaks volumes to me. 

I have not seen and hope I'll never witness the kind of shit that Tim did, but I feel this video conveys what it feels like to be an aid worker too. That sense of "one day I'm in a school with former child soldiers or people that can't eat, and the next in a cab down cobbled stone streets surrounded by fancy shops filled with unnecessary things." For better and for worse I live with that contrast. For better and for worse I've  spent too many nights alone with nothing but  dirty mosquito nets in a random hotel, in an even more random town. 

Tim better than anyone understood that the Devil is in the detail and away from the spotlight. To think that this was just the beginning of his dialogue.... it should have been just the beginning. 

PS although I do recommend it, and it is more poetic than gory, it is not for the faint of heart. Maybe now that I've shared it with you he'll stop haunting me.... 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 6: Achieve

Lat year's prompt was: Achieve. What’s the one thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? 

For 2012 I hope to gain all the weight that I managed to loose, and then some. 

I hope to be tired, exhausted really.

Overwhelmed, weepy and cranky.  

I want to be fat, sleep deprived and unemployed with short interludes of absolute bliss.

yup, that is what I'm aiming for.... sprog #3

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 5: your body

last year's prompt on Body integration  was:  when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? ~ (by Patrick Reynolds)

I'd like to change it to what gift did you give your body this year? when were you kind to it (instead of critical) how will you be kind to it next year?

i for one had a bit of a scare last year, and  this year....  but last year   was the first time that I took it seriously and it changed my attitude towards exercise. Before  exercise always felt  vein and superficial (when it meant prioritising it to my kids) or just unrealistic (when it came to prioritising it to work). and then the shit hits the fan and you realise you've only got one body, and nobody is getting any if that body is not around. not even the kids. so I started the year off with a detox   which was actually quite a shocking experience, mainly  because once you hit that switch it becomes so easy to do what you know you should be doing, second, because once the three week detox was over my body wanted  nothing to do with the old habits, it was just amazing to me how strongly it reacted and how much it did not want crap back in. but of course little by little you fall back into the old ways...

I did maintain my commitment to exercise going to yoga twice a week, and I think it's really made a difference. 

as for next year.... the stress of the move has thrown me back into the deep end of my old ways. so today I am booking and appointment with a holistic doctor that will put me in a strict and very specific to my needs diet, (as soon as the holidays are over... lets be realistic people). I have also bought a one month unlimited dance class pass for the month of  January ... I used to dance, haven't since high school.... will in January and hopefully I will fall in love with one of the classes and continue to do so, together with yoga, and eat better, and meditate, and .....

And I want my children to get used to doing something physical, whatever it is, but I want it to become part of their life from an early age. we must not neglect the body, and I must lead by example. 

It's a somewhat ambitious plan.