My Responsibility. Having the Duty to Deal with Something

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

This quote makes me think about how the choices we make are all based upon our beliefs. I keep coming back to this subject. I’m sure that there is a deeper reason why it keeps popping up but I can’t put my finger on it. When I give seminars and workshops on effective change I really hammer home that we are responsible for our choices in what we believe.

When you are not sure what someone believes just listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. What and how you say something tells a lot about yourself. What you say (assuming you’re honest) gives insight into what you believe; while how you say it shows what you feel about the subject at that moment.

It is important to understand that feelings are fleeting things, or at least they should be. How you feel about a thing can change from moment to moment. Your beliefs about something tend not to change as quickly. Beliefs linger. For example, I believe that pants are a good thing. I don’t like the pants I wore 10 years ago. I loved them 10 years ago. Just because I don’t like these pants does not mean that I do not believe that pants are good. Feelings are a reflection of our opinions. All of this is transitory. It will not last. Fashion changes, opinions change. Pants will always have 2 legs. If it had only one leg then we’d call it a skirt.


The best way to take ultimate responsibility is to accept that all of your choices have led you to this moment. Challenge your beliefs. Experience freedom by embracing the power of choice. Currently most people around us blindly accept the beliefs they were taught or given as children. At some point most of us question those concepts and we challenge their authority. If we discover new and more powerful beliefs then we might feel comfortable enough to let go of what we believed as children. The things our parents taught us to believe in.

Eventually there comes another decision to make as we grow older. The beliefs and ways of our parents surface again and we are forced to consider their validity. Often we see the value of the things we were taught and we return to the ways of our forefathers. It may even seem that we have given up what we have learned to return to what we know as comfortable. The moment you say that you do not want to be like your parents then you have already become them. I’m almost certain that your parents said the same things as you did. People with children understand this fact very well.

There are some of us (often childless or very determined) who continue to hold on tightly to what we have learned ourselves. It is our duty to review our beliefs regularly. When we don’t question what we already know or believe we leave ourselves vulnerable. We can become stuck in our ways, unchanging, inflexible and old. We have a responsibility to everyone we know and love to allow for change. Love with an open hand.ZZ_quote

Should we choose not to look at our beliefs anew then we are no longer being responsible for what we truly believe. That can lead to laziness. It’s like having a beautiful piece silver and never polishing it. After a while it becomes dark and murky. The engravings become hard to read or interpret. If it’s an heirloom it will find it’s way into a hidden spot, hardly ever seen, looked at or referred to again. It is our duty to polish our beliefs like silver. They should shine and be able to stand up against critics and attacks, and with stand the other tests of time.

When your beliefs leave you feeling angry and unhappy, being inflexible and stubborn, or just plain miserable, it is a sign that what you believe is on shaky ground. Truth does not stumble, crumble or fall. It is. It just is. What you believe is true for you and that can help or hinder you.talent


Something more or something less?

If you stopped everything that you are doing today and started doing the opposite or doing radically different things, would you no longer be who you are? I guess the real question is: are we truly the sum of our actions or something more? Or something less?

Mahatma Gandhi & John Galsworthy said:

“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, Nothing else.”

The quote is not meant to be judgmental but if not seen in the proper light it can lead you in a downward spiral. The first obstacle when I think about this quote is that I feel confronted by the things I have not done, did not do, would or could not do and will not do. The reason I feel this confrontation is because I have not done all what I want to do yet. It’s a knee-jerk reaction and it is also normal for a mind with an over active imagination like mine. Nonetheless, I have this overwhelming urge to help even more people than I’m sure I can manage. Of course, where there’s a will there’s a way.

Action-PlanAfter leafing through what I have not done I can carefully consider what I have done. I can proudly say that I have done a lot. Most of it was good. I am not interested in tooting my own horn (it would sound like a a 100 piece brass band) but I am not feeling guilty about my actions. Of course there are always things that I’d like to do again. That wouldn’t be action though. That would be a reaction. I’d be reacting to the way things are now. Reacting with discontent. I would be altering and not growing.

Actions are like pennies. A single penny does not seem like much but it’s the sum that leads to great wealth. For, what is a dollar without a penny. Also like pennies, actions stack up. To me this means that a single deed or action is just that, a singularity. When similar actions are summed up they equal a cause. All of your actions contribute, consciously or unwittingly, to a cause. Thinking about these things makes me want to consider my actions a bit more carefully. However beware of the trap in this kind of thinking: you can easily over think anything.

I have a tendency to over think what I want. I want to have all of the bells and whistles for my project before I let anyone know about it. I consider a ton of problems and conceive a bevvy of solutions. I see myself doing it and determine what might stop me from doing it. I know better than this but I have my quirks as well. Luckily I have friends to shake me out of these neurotic moments. I have a host of friends with whom I can share ideas and get constructive criticism. I do the same for them.


Pennies can be summed or stacked…

Then it dawns on me what one of my largest causes has been: friendship. Even though my actions are not endless and abundant, they do stack up. I believe that I have been a good friend for many people. I love to share my knowledge and experiences. If they can help so be it. And if they entertain then they are helping. So be it.

I have given myself a challenge to become something more than my actions. I want to be a good example. I want to let my actions stack up to build community and bridges, not walls and borders.  I want my actions to sum up my life, a sum total equaling joy, love, understanding, knowledge and more.

I guess it’s true in part. My actions have made me who I appear to be but my choices and beliefs have made me who I truly am. I believe that I am a summation of my choices. I believe that my thoughts create my choices…I believe, I think, I choose. Believing, thinking and choosing are all actions, just on a different level than the physical. So I consider what I have done. I have done a lot. I have created and supported many causes. I can still do a lot. Today the sum of my actions may not stack up against a Gandhi but unlike Gandhi I have today, and hopefully tomorrow, to leave my legacy.

Oh look! A penny!

Christmas on an island called Ameland

This Christmas we spent with my in-laws. It was great. I had very little to do with the planning but I remained confident that everything would work out great….and it did. I discovered a lot of things about myself and those around me.P1140353

As a young child I did not celebrate Christmas, birthdays or any holidays until the age of 10. My family practiced the religion called Jehovah’s Witnesses. I cannot say that anything is wrong with that religion. For some people it is just what they need. I see the good in it and at the same time I see the pitfalls. There are morals and values that are good and righteous. You are taught to keep going and disregard what other people think of you no matter what. It definitely builds strong character. I believe that this religion could produce an army of excellent salespeople. Who else could handle being treated like vermin and outcasts by the majority of the people they contact and continue doing it without flinching. Personally, I find doing cold calls a daunting task. However a Witness believes that his task of saving a soul is much more important than the beating their ego might receive for trying.

When I was 10 I went to visit my sister in her home. She was not a a Witness. She realized it was my birthday a week too late and decided to throw me a surprise birthday party. Boy was I surprised! I had never received a gift of any kind let alone had a party thrown in my honor. I walked into the house and was floored when 10 children that I only knew from summer vacation came shouting and running towards me wearing funny hats. I freaked and ran off to the bathroom and proceeded to lock myself away until my sister threatened me with bodily harm for embarrassing her. I finally went to my own party and really enjoyed it. Really!

After that I was hooked. I now celebrate the entire month of September, my birthday month. That way no one has to feel that they are too late or too early with giving gifts or wishing me all the best or telling me whatever. It works pretty well. No stress is best!

Now I love celebrating. I’ll celebrate anything. I’m a professional celebrator. I like celebrating so much that I even have a business card made so everyone knows that I celebrate. I measure the success of a celebration by asking myself one simple question: Would I do this a gain?

Don’t get me wrong! Celebrating is not partying or mindless drinking. Nope. Celebrating is taking the time to understand what you are doing and why; cherishing the moment and sharing the moment. When I celebrate I feel very present. Both feet on the ground but I feel a strange enthusiasm and lightness of being. I love it and it’s free.

P1140233Christmas is a good example. I celebrate Christmas but there is always stress that comes with this holiday. Where, with whom, gifts or not…and so on… This year was fantastic. Where: Ameland Island; with whom: family; gifts: no, but then again, yes…

Renting a gorgeous house with a sauna was a gift. Renting the e-bike was a gift. Spending time with my family and exploring the island was a gift. Watching the sun make its trip across the sky and basking in the beauty of the sunrise and sunsets that can only be experienced on an island in the North Sea (actually the Wadden Sea) was a gift. Discovering the island’s liqueur (Nobel) was also a gift. Delicious in hot chocolate.

Ballum, AmelandIt is a good day when you cannot count your blessings because there are so many. I did what I could but the rest I shared with those around me. That way nothing went to waste.

Would I celebrate like this again? YEEEESSS!

Her Uggs Were Tight

I can be tiresome.

I don’t mean just to the people around me but also I find myself tiresome. Sometimes. I am not always a mental whirlwind with a slashing tongue and a searing wit. No, the mundane, day-to-day things also keep my mental peanut distracted. It is in these moments of distraction that I can best correct myself and remain on the path I have chosen. It’s not easy because I can enjoy my distractions but they can cost me precious energy.

Over the last month I have kept a watchful eye on my seemly inane thoughts. They are hardly innocent but I never thought the darn thoughts roving through my head were quite so dangerous. Luckily they were not telling to do bad things but they were encouraging my to momentarily quit. Quit being peaceful, loving and seeing the value in things. I plan to discuss this see the value in things at a later date too.

I fancy myself an urban guru of sorts. However when I forget and lapse into banal humor and other amusements I feel less like a guru  and more like a recovering alcoholic enjoying a binge. Just like alcoholics I deal with my menial thinking on a daily basis. Step by step I attempt to live my life each day as a loving and understanding being with compassion for others. Just saying those words can make me cringe or shudder depending upon how I accept them. When I say the words with an open heart set on good intentions I shudder with anticipation, believing that something great is happening. Stating the words as if they are rudimentary decoration makes me cringe. I’m left with a feeling that I try to dress up my point of view similar to placing pearls on a pig.

For nearly 5 weeks I have been experimenting with my own ability to control my own energy. Yep! It’s about me again. I tested myself regularly and there were some very discouraging events. I’ll discuss these later in other posts too. And at the same time there were some extremely encouraging events a well. The most important discovery was what happened to my energy (physically) when I thought in a particular way about a particular thing. The results have changed my way of thinking for the better.  It reminded me of what I had systematically forgotten. I believe it is a phenomenon that we all under go in life, the forgetting. We are not born negative. We become negative because we are taught to think about it. “Go sit over there and think about what you did wrong!” Sound familiar?

What we focus upon is also what we become. If you focus on good you become better and eventually good. The scale dives in the other direction too. I found that my minor slips into that negative void were at first like stepping into your favorite pair of shoes only to find out that they don’t fit anymore. They don’t feel like they used to because I’d grown, changed. Those biting quips I used to make, the brief flits of road rage at my fellow car grazers, even a simple observation of an obese woman waddling around in a pair of those formless, style unconscious Ugg boots that were tight around her ankles, all of these passing thoughts drained me of my very precious energy.

Energy is simple. Negative energy is weighted and heavy. Positive energy is light and almost weightless. I say ‘almost weightless’ because positive energy carries something important called responsibility. Negative energy is actually energy used irresponsibly. Energy used without care usually has negative results. At least it appears to be negative until we see the lesson hidden in the result. Then it is no longer good or bad but becomes what we think about it; which is another way of saying that we judge it differently.

Aha! We judge. That is what we do. I watched myself judging people and things for almost 5 weeks and I saw how much energy I used irresponsibly. I realized how much time went into not liking things, not loving people. It was exhausting. Many of us already know that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. On an even subtler level smiling (even if it’s just mentally) can change your life. It changes mine.

I thought that being positive all of the time was tiresome. Carrying around negative energy is tiresome. Thinking negative thoughts wears me out. Fighting off negative energy tires me faster than a bullet train. If I see life as a roller coaster, then negative energy is like sitting in one of the cars with precarious safety straps that feel that they could break at any moment. I spent so much of my time making sure that I did not step on landmines or fall into pits that I did not really enjoy the journey I was taking. When I finally saw how much that behavior was costing me I stopped. The beautiful thing about energy is that the results can be instant and powerful. When I stop feeding negative energy then I can replenish my own reserves faster and and redirect the flow towards an intention that provides me with energy in return.

Taking responsibility for what I think, do and say no longer tires me like it used to because I understand what is happening. It has become second nature to look for the good in most situations, to compliment people, to literally stop and smell the roses, to share what I have learned and to love. It is a load that I don’t mind sharing. I still see many people trudging through the daily grind and muttering obscenities about their fellow sufferers as they too attempt to pull themselves from the muck of negative thinking. Taking responsibility does not mean that I no longer laugh at the things that people do, or things that I see. I still enjoy myself. The difference lies in the fact that I take no satisfaction in the suffering of others.

I refuse to let you think that I might be perfect or think that I think I am perfect. I’m not. Like every junky I am susceptible to distractions. I think I want to put on those comfortable shoes again and just walk a mile or so. It never works that way. Before I know it I’m miles off the path, wearing my formless and irresponsible Uggs with sore and aching feet. The good thing? I can easily put on the shoes that give me the proper support because I carry them with me. I change my thinking and change how I see the world. I know where the path is. I’m okay with being responsible because it’s less expensive and feels pretty darn good!


I realize that I can always make things better. No matter how bad things are I can always make things better. It does not have to be perfect because we all accept imperfection all of the time. I have accepted this as true. Very few things are ideal. It’s not sad but on the contrary, it’s empowering. I know I can always do something ti make things better. Even if what I do does not have the desired effect, it will always have an effect.

Perfection is not something that I strive for because I feel that I have achieved it already. I am not trying to toot my horn or brag about how good I am but…IMG_2743

But I have changed how I look at things. I respect that nature has a way that she wants things to be. I do not want my purpose to be fighting her will. I won’t win. I’ll be frustrated and unhappy. I accept what I have. I make what I have better.

Oh yes. Better. Regardless of the situation that I find myself in I know that how I choose to experience it is my choice. I don’t really like to suffer so accepting the way things are gives me so much peace. I can struggle and hold on or I can smile and let go. Isn’t it funny how we like to desperately hold on to ugliness but we let so much beauty slip slip away without a simple acknowledgement.

I have had relations that have not been ideal and ended poorly. I’m not proud of how I left them but often I have made an attempt to right my feelings toward the situation. I try to make it better not perfect. My idea of perfect would be if everyone in the relation agreed and we were happy with our decision. I cannot make everyone happy. I accept that. I offer what I can. I pray then I move on. I release the situation and I feel lighter.

My perspective changes for the better. I took an action that was intended to make things better, lighten the load. Even if my gesture was not appreciated or even accepted, it does not matter. In the grand scheme of things I have made an effort to make things better. I have made things better.

The same is true with the quality of life. No matter what stage you might be at in your life, considering your health, finances, relationships, or whatever it might be. It does not matter. You can always seek to improve the situation. Seek to better the quality of your life.

Set your intentions towards something positive. Decide what you want to do. Take action. Done. That’s it. You’ve made something better. If not for someone else, then at least you know you made an effort and that is worth a lot. What another chooses to do with your action is their own choice toward improving the quality of their lives.

Off Balance and the Fear of Falling

Fear of FallingI cannot even begin to tell you how long I’ve been stumbling around the house or outside, falling down or tripping. I’ve fallen in the shower, on the stairs, in the kitchen, in the toilet, on the street, etc. You name a place and I think I’ve tripped or fallen in a similar place.

For years I’ve heard about Nordic walking and Nordic Walking sticks. I always associated them with these “energetic golden aged baby boomer types” who just could not run anymore. 4 years ago I had to stop running because it hurt too much and my spleen began to grow larger and larger. As it grew so did the pain. So I also stopped running but I did not feel old. And I still refused to use those damn sticks.

Maybe last month was a bit of a turning point for me. My spouse bought those sticks at least a month earlier and I remained stoic and appalled. I resigned not to have a pair of matching sticks and appalled that my life partner was giving in, throwing in the towel, admitting defeat and telling the world without shame that we were getting older. I secretly tried the Nordic sticks and knew immediately that there was something behind it. I was not sure what it was and I knew curiosity to be a form of betrayal. The only option was for this new sport interest of my partner to fizzle out and fad away.

I let them stand next to the front door like sentinels of doom and dust. Beacons that stand to greet youth with the promised wisdom of age. I am patient and I can out last these sticks.

On the other hand, we began planning walking excursions int he surrounding countryside. So far we’ve gone as far as Germany to enjoy a jaunty stroll with the dog and in the open air. We’re even willing to venture out in  less than sunny weather as long as we can get out. Me staggering, misjudging the ground beneath my feet and tripping along side my spouse, who walked at a solid steady pace, enjoying the scenery and smiling. I noticed that I looked much more frequently toward the ground so as not to twist an ankle, knee or something worse. I noticed that I did not seem to trust my own body as much anymore. My perception and judgment were questionable.

Something wasn’t right. I could walk faster than my spouse but I was neither as comfortable nor as sure-footed. After hours of walking I was tense and a bit stressed from being aware of the ground beneath me that I had not truly enjoyed the world around me. Hmmm. Such a frustration. My ego was winning and I tortuously cheered it on by not being willing to try new things. Suddenly I had a new-found interest.

I saw a lovely pair of sticks in Germany that had my name on them. I did not get right away. There was a discount procedure in place and I needed a new backpack first. We bought the backpack and received points toward purchasing the sticks. With enough points the sticks would be discounted 50%. I had to wait about a month before returning to Germany to buy my sticks. I could almost burst out of my skin from anticipation. I had time to reflect on the situation…

I spent so much effort trying to to remain spiritually in balance that I completely ignored the fact that I remained unsteady physically. Not to mention that my ego did not think that there was beauty in age and wisdom. My spirit had the right idea. I had to give up my idea of control in order to get control of the situation.

WOW! An  A-HA moment!

OK. Now what? Well last Saturday we went to purchase the sticks. On Sunday we went for a brisk stroll through the Dutch countryside. Lots of water, farmland and bridges. I did not stumble, stagger or fear falling and breaking a bone. As a matter of fact I was steadied by my sticks. They even have shock absorbers. Whenever I took step on an uneven patch of ground one of the sticks was there to support me. I was so excited. I knew why all of the older people were always smiling when I saw them strolling through the street with their sticks. They knew that the chance to extend their independence rested in a thin beautiful piece of aluminum. Something so simple that can be held in the hand. Independence was truly within reach and my hand wrapped around it gleefully.

I no longer have to walk in fear of falling down. I am no longer off balance. The joy…THE JOY!!

More than a year

It’s been 55 weeks since I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). Since the diagnosis my life has changed, mostly, for the better. I know it sounds confusing but that’s because it is. My mind split in two a few months after I started the treatment. The short version is that it changed my life.

Let me explain.

I had serious physical ailments. I could not exercise. I had no energy. My spleen had engorged itself to more than 5 times its normal size. I could not lie down on my left side at all. The pain was almost unbearable after eating. This nightmare was to haunt my every waking moment for more than 4 years. Why? I stopped listening to my body. I heard what I wanted to hear. I feared the possibilities.

One morning in 2011 I woke up, looked in the mirror and said to my reflection, “you have a rare illness, perhaps a cancer, that is making you lose so much weight. It is also causing problems with your consumption (I believed I had a gluten allergy because the pain was really bad after eating bread or pasta), digestion and your ability to lead a normal life.” Afterward I took a shower, went to work and never thought about that event again.

Anyway, about 6 months after getting married I went to see my doctor because I just could not doit anymore. I was sure that I was going to die. I had accepted it. I was not scared. I just wanted the pain to become less. If the pain could lessen then I could make a while longer.

When my doctor saw the bulge extending down from my ribcage to rest heavily upon my pelvis his eyes bulged and his mouth fell open. I knew what time it was but I was determined to remain calm. I was sent immediately to have scans and blood drawn. The conclusions were splenomegaly caused by CML.

A little over a decade ago they developed a treatment that does not require chemo. It’s a pill that blocks a certain protein receptor that tells the white blood cells to duplicate in order to fight off a perceived attack. Simply put the proteins are switched on when needed and switched off when no longer needed. For some unknown reason this protein would not switch off in my body and it continued to send out the order to make more white blood cells.

Why? No one really knows why. It’s a blood malignancy. It just happens. At least that is what we have to accept until we figure out why. Personally, I don’t really need to know why. It’s not my purpose and it does not solve the problem.

My purpose is to live my life in harmony with this damn problem. Doesn’t that sound harmonious? Well, I’m working on it!

Doesburg, The Netherlands

We’re on our way to Doesburg. Beautiful weather and a nice walk through the country side should do something for the pain around my spleen. Walking usually helps get that area if my body in order but traveling in the car is not very nice.

Today while sitting in the car I did some meditation. This type of guided meditation helps me focus my (healing?) energy where I want it most. The meditation is actually a visualization exercise which aids me in strengthening my imagination. Yep! I said imagination. Just because I imagine it doesn’t mean that it is only in my head. Every bit of reality was once only a thought, created by imagination.

Now with this belief of mine firmly in place I practice creating cold and heat in my hands and eventually transfer this perception to various parts of my body. After I transfer the feeling of cold to the spleen area I inject a verbal command into the scenario. I use the word


I put as much reality into the situation as I believe I have. Then slowly I bring my consciousness back to the here and now but hold on to that soothing coolness around my spleen.

I have to admit that it helps. Sometimes I forget what I’ve just done and the pain returns. I suffer until I remember again. Hmmm. Suffering until I remember. I’m sure there’s a story there too.

Life Is Personal

You might be able to exist in a bubble or a vacuum but I sure as hell can’t.

Living is taking chances . Reach out to the edge and change your borders. You don’t have to expand them (yet) but give yourself a different view. See what happens. Your bubble might just pop.

And then what?

Quickly make a new one?

Vacuums and bubbles are by their very nature not meant to last. Nature abhors a vacuum. Bubbles always burst.