24 June 2015

big leap forward

my daughter is on her last days of primary school. after the summer she will be going to secondary school. i am thrilled to know that it will also be an anthroposophically based one. not that i'm so incredibly mad about everything that Rudolf Steiner ever said or wrote {not entirely sure about his insistence on Christianity in his teachings to be honest...} but i have thus far been very happy with the way the pedagogics of the education meets a kind of pagan nature awareness, something so sorely missing in regular education, at least in Holland.

when i went to have a look at the school in 1999, knowing we'd be making the massive leap from England to the Netherlands, i was immediately put at ease by the chat i had with what turned out to be the infants teacher, a funny looking lady with orange hair and the demeanour of the kind of person i was hoping to get to know in Holland {knowing they were few and far between...}. she told me about the philosophy behind the school, the importance of the seasons, the awareness of nature and that kids were allowed to develope at the pace that was natural for their age. no reading and writing before the age of 7, preferably, and infants were allowed and encouraged to play with wooden blocks and woollen dolls. our oldest son would be joining her group, and he was already being taught how to read and write, had been from the age of 5... what would he make of all this playing malarkey?!

he wasn't impressed at first, but then he didn't speak the language yet, felt a little bamboozled by these dutch kids, but to my amazement he picked it up incredibly fast, feeling welcome and okay in the warm, inviting world that was the school. we never looked back...

i'd like to think that i've learnt to understand the Steiner School World by now. sixteen years is a long time, and i think i get it quite a bit. i get the philosophy, i get the visions on art and culture and why it makes me feel so happy to be a part of this world, this strange, slightly Ye Olde Worlde and unexplainable, yet so totally of this world at the same time... i keep coming across parts that puzzle me, but it's fine to question, to meet like-minded doubters and discuss. the teacher i met on that first day is still a friend, and others i met along the way still help me with wonderings. they're a funny bunch, but i enjoy their company on such a different level...

tonight we'll celebrate St. Jan's feast, a kind of mid-summer celebration, where everyone brings food, and shares and talks and drinks, and the kids jump over the fire that's made in the middle of a field. it's a symbolic show of strength, of courage, of wanting to be disposed of bad spirits, to enter the new year cleansed... i could use that - we all could... the last time of many, the first of many more...

23 June 2015

the ungrateful cat

the odd writing challenge, whenever the fancy takes me...

"i expect that by tomorrow i will have embellished the story and given myself a heroic status i do not deserve, but all he same, on this night at this hour, i am pleased to record that i acquitted myself well. i mean, how often does one get to rescue a wailing, scared cat from a tree, and come out with only a few scratches, to a few cheers from bystanders?

it's not something i do very often, rescuing animals, as i tend to be as scared as the beasts themselves on the whole, but this particular specimen looked so perfectly cute in its fear - big eyes, sad meowing - that you'd have to have been a hard bastard to have withstood this puss. i have no idea who he {at least, i think it was a he, i didn't look at the offending area, to be honest...} belonged to, and none of the onlookers {two women on a Power Walk, a little boy on a tricycle and a couple of teenagers} had seen it before, and i almost decided to keep it, but i couldn't, and anyway, as soon as moggy hit the ground, after having taken it's claws out of my shoulder, it was off, without a thank you... ungrateful cats... the last time i play he hero...

i was on my way from the shops, getting dinner for just myself {again...} and so deep in thought that the cat's sad cry for help almost went by unnoticed. stuff was occupying my mind, as it has been so often, worries about my job, about the work drying up and the prospect of the dole, and the inevitable feeling lonely during the evening ahead, which i was although used to, at the same time not looking forward to. there's nothing on telly this evening...

cats aren't easy to rescue, i give myself credit. they're awkward little blighters for starters, not happy to picked up unless you're a very close friend, and to this one i wasn't even a distant acquaintance. what chance did i have... i don't envy fire fighters who do this for a living, although they have the distinct advantage of wearing fire-retardant gear {which also happens to be cat-claw-resistant - do fire-clothing designers bear that in mind, i wonder?}, and i was only wearing a thin summer shirt. neither did i have funky equipment to hoist myself nearby the branch it was sitting on, having to climb up with the help of a discarded plastic garden chair which i found in the shrubs, then being amazed that i retained some of the athletic abilities from my youth {now quite a few years back, but still...} and feeling slightly queasy when i looked down, once up on the lowest branch. 'hope this bloody cat understands what i'm doing for him,' i thought, knowing that he very likely didn't give a toss...

i've just finished nursing the scratches, some of them quite deep. the small bottle of Tea Tree Oil and the cotton wool buds, left by the love of my life {as she was known to me for a few months} put to good use finally. i will be nursing a glass of G&T in a bit, in pain and thoughts of an ungrateful cat..."

{the prompt was: pick a novel from your bookshelf and write down the last sentence, from where you create your own short story --
-- my sentence was picked from Adrian Mole, the cappuccino years, from Sue Townsend}


15 June 2015

guilt & pleasures

on my dutch blog i've been trying to deal with Feeling Guilty {and how utterly debilitating it can be, but how deeply ingrained in our culture and convictions at the same time}, Abundance and Being Able To Spend Money...

i was born and bred a Good Catholic Girl, went to church every week until i was 13, believed the whole Jesus Loves You thing and got great comfort from belonging to this group of other Catholics in the village {which, although in the predominately Catholic south of the Netherlands, was a minority group, as the vast majority of people were one form of Protestant or other, or non-religious}. in my teens i started to question the whole religion thing, which wasn't happily received by my parents {for strange reasons my father - who always portrayed himself as a Rebel - was heaviest with me in my wish to opt out of going to church and being religious... i guess he was towing my mum's line and my rebellion against her scared him} and gave me my first inklings into what lay ahead for me in terms of Becoming My Own Person, as opposed to carrying on as i had been in the years before, as an obedient child.

one of the big things in any religion, and Catholicism in particular, is Feeling Guilt. Admitting Guilt, Being Punishable Through Guilt, as one is Born Guilty and you spend the rest of your life redeeming yourself, and maybe by the time you die you'll have accomplished this mission and you can die a happy man/woman... it is of course a very complicated matter {more can be read here} and not one that is easily defined or dismissed {when is Feeling Guilty a natural reaction to something that is deemed wrong, and when is it a harmful emotion, holding us back from developing and flourishing as human beings?}. my friend Mo and i spend hours trying to figure out which of the guilt that we feel is a remnant of old feelings of repression, as used by those who raised us {parents, church, teachers, family members}, and which is something else altogether... guilt in itself isn't bad, it's the inability to move beyond it, to feel so bad as a person that one can feel only redeemed when punished, that it stops us from being truly happy or free-spirited...

which brings us to the matter of Abundance.
part of my upbringing was a reaction to the poverty that one of my parents was raised in, and the relative richness and comfort of the other... rich people were seen as oppressors, as bad and evil and all things awful {unless they lost their riches and became poor, or had given all their money to charity, or were in some other way denying their wealthy background}, and in no way to be trusted. money could be lost, there was no way of knowing if what you've earned or saved up can be held on to. so money was always a hot issue. it needed to be gathered, saved, spent incredibly carefully, and one had to feel bad about wanting things that cost money... gluttony in any form was seen as Wrong.

when i started to earn my own money, i spent it on Luxury. just because i could. true, i saved, for You Never Know {and to be able to Travel}, but i happily spent it on things i really didn't need, but liked the look of. expensive fountain pens, for instance, or loads of books and music, or way too much paper, or a travel bag made form Indian material, or a throw made form Indian material {there was a shop in a nearby town that sold beautiful things from India, that i almost lived in at one point...}, or shoes, or... and my mum looked on in horror... she had never in her life dared to waste a penny on anything, let alone herself, and here was her daughter, whom she'd raised to be sensible and cautious, buying stuff that had no use other than Look Pretty... What The Hell...

the man i spent my life with for the past 23 years was quite a lot like my mother in that way... very sensible and careful with money, always convinced we were on the brink of poverty and destitution, looking on at my ability to spend money 'recklessly' on Luxury Items {which was rare, as we had Nowt...} with confusion, but not the horror that my mother would sport. he was amused, in some ways. still wouldn't spend a penny on himself, unless he needed new clothes or shoes or now, stuff for his house, but any item of luxury he owns has been given to him as a gift... unlike my mum he believes that it gives him a spiritual advantage, less baggage is living lighter, that kind of thing, and i see what he means. he has a suspicion towards rich people, mainly those who we born into it, the ones with the advantages he felt he never had, and i get that too. i just don't share his hostility towards them... if i truly believe my belief in the Law of Attraction, i know that they've somehow attracted their reality, and Mr G has his, as has my mum hers...

there's nothing wrong with abundance, with spending money with having it, or not having it... all is okay... as long as it is what you feel truly happy with and grateful for...

1 June 2015

receipt

while out walking in the 'woods' just outside the town where i live, something crucial occurred to me... something that i heard in the interview with the Barefoot Doc, but it's occurred to me before.
in order for wonderful things to happen in your life, 
it's crucial to be able to RECEIVE stuff in your life... 
but can i receive? can i accept? can i take things that are given to me, handed on a plate often?

it's easy to give.... giving has kudos, it makes you look good and it's nice when people are happy when you give them something... a compliment, your turn at the supermarket, preference at an even crossing, a hug, a smile, a present... you've got the power, in a way... someone is grateful to you {or not, a lot of people are actually just dumbfounded when they get a break or a present} and you are seen as a great person... but receiving something?! you don't want to be seen as greedy, or selfish or whatever else is 'bad'... you need to be seen as modest, or not needing anyone out there to help you out, or that you can restrain yourself {especially in NL a huge one...}, that you're not one of those gluttonous people that is - lo and behold!? - impulsive...

i used to be quite good at receiving. help, mainly and money, and advice and people and things, and whatever else came on my path. i had plenty. life was good. until i learnt {there had always been a nagging little voice in my head} that accepting stuff is wrong. you should earn it first. it should be slaved and sweated over. you can't just accept help that's landed on your doorstep - who is it from? what do they want from you in return? what can you give them back? cos you should always give something back... you don't want to be one of those people that doesn't give something back.... at least grovel lots and say you're not worthy...

gratitude... that should be enough...
happiness... that should be enough...
appreciation... should be enough...

knowing that i deserve to be happy, that i deserve to live a nice life and to enjoy myself and be HAPPY and have fun and for life to be easy... and i don't need to earn it first... by living a life of scarcity and shortage, or needing to be forgiven first or whatever else someone has come up with to have power over me {& humanity}... i don't need to earn love, or affection, or be punished for feeling that i need it...

so the journey continues...