“Never give up. When your heart becomes tired, just walk with your legs – but move on.”

These days I go biking. To get fit, spend calories, the best excuse to eat afterwards. But also to let my mind run wild riding against the wind, between the trees, through puddles,…

We have some lovely days. But other days it just pours rain. And then there are the cloudy days. What will it be? Today was such a day. Dark angry clouds.

I so wanted to go for a bike ride. Last week I discovered a wonderful route. 6 km along the bicycle path, straight and quite boring between the trees. And then along the river Demer, into the forest, the fields, along farms. Lots of small country roads and dirt roads. It’s the season of the wild poppy flower. And there around one bend is a magnificent field of wheat with lots and lots of lovely red poppies.

This must be my favourite wild flower. Not only because red is my favourite color. But also because it’s beauty is so fragile. You cannot pick them for a bouquet. The petals will start falling. They are just there to be admired. I biked along these fields already 5 times now, 25 km each time, a 1.5h bike ride. The colors just wow me every time.

So I look at the clouds. They are very threatening. Where is the sun? Will I risk it? What is life without taking risk? Do you stay home when it thunders? Does life stop when it rains? Or do you just go on? So I jumped on my bike and I was gone…

 And yes, I encountered a few drops of rain, and a few tears for times of joy and times of sorrow. The dark clouds kept on pressing down, with a ray of sunshine once in a while. Have faith in fate.

 

 

 

 

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Furniture making skills

A quick update on my creative hands. Not exactly recycle design, but made from scratch, from rough wooden planks: a night table. The skills I learned will be used after the summer when I will start making furniture from recycled materials.

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What’s in a name?

At the start of last summer (which never really was a summer), my dad’s sister died. For mysterious reasons (probably called “mama”) we hardly ever visited his side of the family. I went to the funeral anyway. The eldest son gave a touching eulogy to his mother, who had been a widow and raised two sons on her own. He talked about her name Irene, which means “peace” and how she really was a peace maker during her life. I wish I had known her better, as I have so many questions. This eulogy made me think again about the meaning of names. Most people choose a baby name because they like it. It’s fashionable. It’s a statement. It’s in the family. I chose my children’s name based on their meaning. My son’s name means “victorious” or “conqueror”. I want him to conquer all in life, to be strong. My daughter’s name means “greatest”. I want her to excel in everything she does. And I don’t mean I want my kids to be rich, famous, unscrupulous. On the contrary, I want them to be good people. Good conquers all. Good is the greatest.

My name means hope. It always kind of stuck with me since I realized it’s meaning. Hope to realize my dreams. Hope to be happy. Hope to be a great mom. Hope for a great life for my kids. Hope to be a great friend. Hope to achieve wonderful things. But I have 4 names. Yes, four!

Claire is my second name. It means illustrious, clear, bright, famous. When I looked in the dictionary it said:
illustrious [ɪˈlʌstrɪəs]adj
1.
of great renown; famous and distinguished
2.
glorious or great illustrious deeds
3. Obsolete shining
I like to think I can do some illustrious deeds. If I ever am famous or distinguished, let it be for this reason.

My third name means “lion-like”. Which is funny. I am a scorpio, ascendant lion. And some people have commented I have lionesque manes (my wild curly hair).

My fourth name means “king”. Let me be the king/queen of my life!

Now my mother’s name means BLIND. Enough said.

Good night!

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And so started a voyage

I sold my gold. And so started a voyage. Where better to start than Egypt and the time of the pharaohs.

The recent Arab Spring still scares tourists away. Sometimes I think governments, journalists create a psychosis. Don’t go there! You risk your life. But tell me, where is it really safe to go? Just recently innocent people got shot in Toulouse, France by a madman. 28 people from Belgian schools, of which 22 kids got killed in a tragic bus accident in Switzerland. 69 young people got killed on Utoya island near Oslo last summer, by a madman. And don’t think of staying home, because that is where the most fatal accidents happen.

Thus I decided we should live a good life and travel to wonderful places.

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What does one do when they decide to lead the simple life? Go gaze at the riches of other people… I am not talking of the present opulence you can find in dubious places like Monte Carlo, with lots of expensive cars and eye blinding bling bling. But about history. The treasures of the pharaohs, the kings and the queens. The massive gold coffin of Tutankhamun. And a huge collection of amazing jewellery and artefacts. Were the pharaohs politically correct? I guess not. But does this mean one should be ignorant of the past, history, other cultures and decide to spend their holidays by the pool where one reserves a chair at 6 AM by putting a towel on it? No, certainly not. A voyage through history is just as wonderful as a voyage through different cultures. It gives us a different view on the world and its’ people. It shows us that your path or my path is not right or wrong. It’s the one we chose to walk. We change direction as we meet different people. How wonderful that is.

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Now I am sitting in the shade of the trees on the patio, enjoying a desert breeze and the magnificent view over wheat and sugar cane fields. Sturdy distressed wooden benches with green damask cushions adorn this tranquil space. Next door to the Temple of Merenpath ( rooftop view). Walking distance to the Temple of Hatshepsut. Walking, something that is not to be done by a tourist. But what better way to soak up the environment? Taxi, taxi, 10 pounds only! La, shukran, I walk. Walk like an Egyptian. And keep on walking the wonderful voyage of life.

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What about added value?

 

It’s been a while since I blogged, I am so ashamed… It seems as if time came to a stand still after Xmas. With my two teenagers I returned to the French Riviera, the place I lived for 11 years, the place they were born, for Christmas. We had the most wonderful time visiting old friends. And we were blessed with the most glorious weather. Oh how I missed my life and friends there… Returning to Belgium was hard. I questioned again why I was here, living a life I do not like. Being in a place, that after 10 years still does not feel like home. A reminder of how much of my life is really shallow.

We are the product of our parents. And this I realise more very day. I grew up with two parents who never taught me to communicate. Who never taught me how to deal with conflict. Who never taught me one should be treated with respect, even if you don’t agree with what they do (not talking about criminal doings!). My parents still resort to insulting each other when they do not agree on something. Being mean to each other. Generosity, hospitality and kindness is something I learned from my friends. To this day my mother will tell me I am crazy to host parties at my house for my friends. And she always looks for an ulterior motive behind any generous act of the heart. Because she does not have a generous heart.

I’ve never been encouraged to realize my dreams. On the contrary, I was ridiculed for it, or told I would never succeed. For so long I did not believe my dreams were worth something. Even though my friends encouraged me, believed in me. I still wanted that validation from my mother. So badly, I even refused some great opportunities in the design world, because I could not believe I was worth this.

So what gives added value in my life? Let’s start with what does not:

Gold jewelry, diamonds, rubies, … I have/had lots of them. My mother basically encouraged me to dress up like a Christmas tree whenever I went to some event or party. Moderation is not in her dictionary. She also said that gold jewelry never loses its value. Thus it is a good investment. Meaning: get lots of it while your husband pays for it!!! I have learned that gold jewelry does not pay the bills. My 5000 € engagement ring is worth about 600 €. The total worth of my jewelry was well over 25.000€, which could have been a nice down payment on a house (message to my darling daughter and all young women: invest in your future, not in appearances). Thankfully, the gold price is high right now. So I am recuperating some money, to travel of course. I am not a better person because I wear expensive jewelry. It does not make my life in any way better.

Fine antiques, from furniture to silverware. I used to visit all the brocante and antique fairs. And whatever my eye fancied, I would buy. I have moved 7 times since I left France, and 7 times about 60 to 70 m3 of stuff has been moved. Some stuff has been sitting in a box ever since 10 years. Other stuff got delegated to the cellar some years ago. Or just sits in a drawer/cupboard never to be taken out. Why do I have all this? No clue. Because of course, it is beautiful.

 

When I was in the South African Bushveld, I saw a tree that got hit by lightning and survived and thrived with lots of new branches and green leaves. Nature is strong and so are we. Look at the scar on that tree, forever there, but the green leaves too. The sign of life, new beginnings.

I can say that this holiday was a time of metamorphosis for me. A step back and a time of re evaluating my goals. I returned home a New Me. Trying to free myself of all expectations. Release any tenuous grip I might have (and I surely had!) and roll with it. I am quite content with myself. I don’t have anything to prove to myself or others. I am grateful for my good friends, and all the people that have given added value to my life. So I choose happiness. My life is my story that I can edit and revise any time. To the people who don’t like my story: don’t read it! And to the people who’d like to join me for a chapter or more: be welcome!

The return after my South African holiday was very hard. Because it hit me how unhappy I really am here (Belgium). Belgium’s added value to my life was a few precious friends, most of them having moved far away. But I’ve mourned the life that was not what I expected it to be. The demons I kept on discovering on my path, and have chased off it.  It is time for something new. So I’m off the the scrap gold buyer and sell the last of my gold jewelry. All that I have left now is the bling bling diamonds and rubies (set stones have no resale value), which actually have the most sentimental value. Like the set of lace gold and crystal earrings and hanger from my great-grandmother. It feels akward to sell the necklace I have worn daily for the past 12 years (it was a mother’s day present to myself), but this is a real letting go of a materialistic era. The necklace does not define me. It does not define my being a mother. And it will pay for a great holiday with my two teens to Egypt. A place of which I have wonderful memories dating back to the spring of 1988. This is added value to my life.

 “To be satisfied with a little, is the greatest wisdom; and he that increaseth his riches, increaseth his cares; but a contented mind is a hidden treasure, and trouble findeth it not.” Akhenaton quotes (King of Egypt, 14th century BC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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