Welcome to Panama, Casablanca without heroes.

A Harry Pendel quote from The Tailor of Panama. I love that movie. Two of my favourite actors: Geoffrey Rush and Pierce Brosnan. A colonial feel. A folk tale: “When they took Noriega out, I said to myself, Harry, they got Ali Baba, but they missed the forty thieves.” Yes, the forty thieves are still running around!

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September 2011 I wrote: Can I borrow your name? http://eternaltraveler.8archer.com/2011/09/can-i-borrow-your-name/ 4,5 years later, I almost forgot about it. Trying to move on from the past. And then came the Panama Papers.

I don’t know how I feel about this. My name still shows up. I am sure he is linked to the Panama Papers. When I spoke to the Federal Police 16 years ago (another fiscal fraud scandal he was involved in and even named in the papers), they thought he was a fictional person. They certainly know how to do research…

It’s like the two workmen who were at my house 2 weeks ago. I was very ill, and asked them to start with a “small” job that I had done already many times: unclog the evacuation of the (old) waste pipe towards the septic tank. I showed them where the opening was to access the pipe. Gave them the tools and went to lie down on my couch, just being sick. A 5 minute job. 20 minutes later I did not hear them starting the paint job in my workshop. So I went to look outside. Oh, they said, it is so badly clogged it is like hitting a wall. They were pushing the wrong direction – towards the street! I told them the septic tank was the other side. No, they said, it must go that way (the street). Of course, they are men, so they should know better, and I am just a stupid woman who has unclogged that pipe already 20 times, and even had a discovery done for the septic tank (paved with stones!) In stead of coming to ask for advice, they just kept on hitting a wall. Well, this stubborn are those researchers too. They don’t listen to advice given to them. Because they certainly know which is the right path to follow! Or do they?

So today I sit here with mixed feelings. I remember when I got threatened because I was asking too many questions. I remember when his former business partner got threatened because he was going to witness in a court case (against the client). I remember weird fatal accidents of bankers involved. I remember how long it took to believe I was not going insane. That this was true. Not something imaginary. I remember how hurt and cheated I felt. And stupid for not having (or wanting to have?) seen what was happening. How when you live in an unreal world (a fiscal paradise), you lose your sense of reality and proportion and you can no longer tell what is normal and what is bizarre. I was young when I moved there, with very little adult life experience.

I wrote my two children with links to the google results on my name and his name. To please do something better with their life. Make a honest living. Contribute to society. That there is an ugly side to luxury and lots of money: child labour, slave labour, illegal activities, …

The Panama Papers… I wonder how the story will continue. Most likely it will be covered up. Like the other financial crime scandals. I apologise, I just want to go on with my humble, simple life. I eventually will find a way to give this a louder voice. For now, I talk about my experience. Give my view. I still meet lots of indifference.

Fiscal paradises are often sunny places for shady people. I am still looking for that sunny place for sunny people!

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Life is circumstantial

Voilà, 2015 started. The magical year I will turn 50. Half a century. Un demi siècle. Time to make a balance. To look for new opportunities. Because life is growth. I decided to rename my blog temporarily. 2015: L’année de mes 50 ans.

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This first of January passed in a haze. The realisation that life is circumstantial. A decision can make a difference. So can a second. Being somewhere you were not supposed to be You cannot control all, but you can work on those circumstances. No more detours. Go straight where you need to be. Stop pleasing able bodied adults who can take public transport.

We are now April 2016. This long I have neglected my blog. My last post dates from January 2014… I don’t know why. That 31st of December 2014 I had a car accident. A fraction of a second later, and the other party would have hit me at a fairly high speed in my door in stead of on the front wheel. It was very circumstantial, because I was not supposed to be there for many reasons. I am still in my 50th year. Today I am posting this backdated. To remind me that life is circumstantial.

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Happy with a touch of sadness

This story has to happen… I started in July after visiting friends from a former life in Canada. In November I was talking to a new friend in  South Africa. She was feeling very insecure, very unhappy with her life. We all are at this stage at one point. But beautiful red poppies grow in disturbed earth.

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A lot of my holidays are visits to see friends. I am blessed having friends living in all corners of the world. Of course, it helped having lived on 3 continents too. My early twenties were definitely the best years, the party years, the years without a worry. Of course I did not know it then, as I did have my struggles moving to different countries, dealing with immigration issues, looking for a job, moving to another apartment, … But I was only responsible for myself. I truly lived from day to day. Or from party to party! But I built some very strong friendships. People I eventually lost contact with as there was no email or Facebook at that time. Just good old fashioned postal mail and the telephone.

Often I wonder: What have I done with my life? I have made mistakes, quite a few of them. But they are part of my path of life. I am where I am now, because of those mistakes. When I think back to 1989, I should have accepted that job offer as a marketing manager for the head office in Montréal, but I wanted to stay in Toronto… And I didn’t get the work permit I needed.
In a whim, I decided to move to the French Riviera (thanks to Dirty Rotten Scroundels!) where eventually I would meet the father of my children. That of course is the major event in my life. My kids. I cannot change that. They just fill my heart with this special kind of love. Raising them on my own has been hard. So often I just wanted someone to lean on, to share it all with me. I still do, and I know it will not happen. That is my sadness. But my happiness is having two lovely children, as a friend who cannot have kids, pointed out to me. She has the happy marriage. And the career.
Then back to Belgium, the place I never wanted to be again. Still, many positive things have happened here.  I have finally found my passion, doing creative work. Wild flowers grow anywhere, and will not be stopped!

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Is Canada still home for you?, one friend asked. As it was very much home in 1990. Mmmm, I had to think about that. But 3 weeks later, I could say: “Yes it still feels like home.” As an eternal traveler, home is where my friends are.

I have two beautiful children. I am finally taking my design work seriously, and trying to make a career out of it. I love what I am doing!

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?”
Kahlil Gibran – The Prophet

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 I am truly happy, with a touch of sadness.

 

P.S. If you have been following my blog: on the 24th of December (I really did not want to postpone the appointment anymore) my neurologist told me there is no growth on my spine. I cried from happiness. All that tension from the weeks before just flowed out of me!

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Dit is mijn hoofd niet meer (or is it?)

2 weeks ago, the neurologist casually mentions, whilst he is copying the MRI report at my request, “Oh, by the way, you might have a meningioma!” And with that information I left his office, to spend my weekend on the internet googling what the hell that thing is (what else did he expect?). It is a most likely benign tumor, growing on the brain or spinal cord (as in my case), and that is where the problem lies. It might crush a nerve, the bone marrow, or whatever (hell, I don’t know!) and do some serious damage.  Today, I still don’t know what the dark spot on my T2-T3 spine is. A year-old CAT-Scan has been has been put on their server (after my insistence) to compare (as it might be another (pain-free) hernia). But fuck (excuse my language, but fuck, I cannot find a better word), don’t you know that having a hernia or having a potentially very harmful tumor is something completely different? How much longer do I have to wait for the answer? All I think now is: “How much longer of quality life do I have before a potentially very risky and harmful operation of which no one will be able to tell the result in advance?” When I got back in my car after the neurologist appointment, first thing I did was google that word. (yes, I finally got mobile internet). And one of the first sites that showed up was: “Dit is mijn hoofd niet meer” – This is not my head any more… About a person whose spine was so badly crushed by the tumor they had to operate immediately. She survived the operation, at a price. A damaged brain. Short term memory loss. Extreme fatigue. Your life just changes… I’ve had my share of shit over the past few years. I can accept I don’t have Hercules power anymore, and will have to count on other people to take care of my moving boxes (yes, I move just a bit too often). But then I decided to get rid of a lot of superfluous stuff. My next move will be swift (the last one was around 70m3). I don’t like window cleaning, so when my chiropractor said: “Don’t do windows!” I said: “Yeaaaaaah!!! I realise the C5-C6 hernia is giving me more & more serious problems. Repetitive strain injury inclusive (added to a carpal tunnel syndrome, damn, I am fucked up!). The furniture making classes are slowly getting pushed to the back. My creative energies will have to go where there is less strain on my body. All I can think now is: to be pain-free (or nearly), to be able to do everyday physical activity (forget about the window cleaning, I can live with dirty windows!) and to ride my bike…

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Not being able to ride my bike is hard. It is a joy to go out there, enjoy the fresh air, the sunshine on my face (yes, it does happen once in a while in Belgium!), the country side, the fields, the forest, the lovely smell after the rain, even biking whilst it rains  – because I can!- , the energy I get from it, my mind that just goes elsewhere (it’s always in overdrive), and of course, the joy of all those calories spent. I know I can go for a walk. But it’s not the same. It’s sloooooooooooooooow. I don’t always want slow. Biking is just the right speed. Walking one hour takes me around the block. A 40 minute bike ride takes me to Scherpenheuvel  ( a major pilgrimage town in Belgium). I think that after  3 months of no biking, it is time for a trial ride. Aim for Scherpenheuvel by the end of the year (if the sun keeps on shining!). Light a candle. I’m not religious. But I am grateful. Grateful for every day that I can live a normal life. It’s something you should think about. Be grateful for physically walking the path of life. Be grateful for seeing the  beauty of this world. Be grateful for your brain that shoots crazy but luminous ideas at you. Don’t clutter your life too much, it will just make it all harder! Clutter-free… enlightened… grateful! Yep, just keep pushing forward :)

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My apologies

My apologies, I’m so busy, I forgot I was writing a post here, and had it published by accident… Just a draft. Be patient, it will happen one day! I’m just s busy with lots of projects. Doing great. And that is what counts!

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