Sunday 9 September 2012

Wet Fairies and The Last of Summer

Today is the day! ... the officially last day of summer 2012.

My fairy garden is now slowly going down. The tall grasses and rambling clovers are toppling over and I had to cut them down, leaving my little surprise sunflower somewhat exposed. Well, one can easily see where it is coming from. In the other part however, to which the flowering weeds had migrated to, there is still a bit of fairy bloom. It is still humming from bees and hover flies and the odd butterfly is tumbling along.

This morning however the fairies got a wet rear. When feeding the birds I realised the fog hanging in front of my face. The air was nice and fresh, yet smelled like autumn and all the spider webs had little droplets hanging in them.

And now the weather forecast is telling me that it is getting cold and rainy. Really! NOW?

This Thursday my mum is coming over from Germany and I have planned for a wonderful program... I cannot have rain! At least not lots of it. And I cannot have it for my motorcycle lessons either. 

I am expecting respect from the weather Gods for my projects! Well, I don't think it was meant to last, it's just that I have come round to a few things recently and it would be nice to pursue them a bit further without having to fight the weather.

And it's not just the weather - it's the greyness that comes with it. I don't want it to creep into my head trying to make all my bright ideas look miserable. Oh well, at least my cats are enjoying the last of the summer, and the fairies? They will have to put some warmer knickers on.

Bye bye Fairy Garden

... and 'Hello' Christmas!

Friday 11 May 2012

Blogger Madness

Hello everybody on this wonderful Friday morning, on which I actually saw a bit of sunshine. It is a bit of an odd spring; we have a hosepipe ban, it has been raining for a good four weeks almost flat out and the gardens are growing like mad. Thanks to the rain one hardly finds a slot to at least mow the lawn, something which even is worth a Facebook post, but then: What is not?

So, what else is new? Well, I have a lot of plans and gradually working my way through it all. 

There is my beloved subject of Tangkahan. I created a new blog for it, which raises the number of blogs to 16, thus you might imagine that not a lot is happening on quite a few of them. The charity blog will receive a bit of attention in the future, though. I am working my way through some paperwork to create a charity for projects like the 'Thangkahan Education Centre'. The sweets piggy is already collecting money for this new cause, people in the office are genuinely excited about what I want to achieve at that front, and I got a lot of good advice and feedback already.

The challenges blog is really screaming at me 'Bloody Hell... what did I do now?', as I have become sluggish. My friend Kash very successfully ran the London Marathon 2012 on 26th April and all the support I provided was basically having a nice day out in London. I did a bit of rowing on my indoor rower and I did a rowing half marathon for Sport Relief for a challenge set in the office, but for the rest of it I pretty much neglected myself.

Now I have to lose two stone and to get my muscles back. And most importantly: I eventually have to come to grips with my Personal Trainer school thing. I am procrastinating as I type as I actually am supposed to call my supervisor to agree on the training and exam plans. What is this? I was so excited about becoming a personal trainer; it was huge fun to train with people in the gym to practise my teaching skills; I was so excited to eventually be able to build my own business...?!?

I really have to do some stretches so that I can kick my own rear!

And then finally - Travelling! I of course will still have to do the Tangkahan updates, but I am a bit stingy about revealing too much. I would like to write an eBook about the whole experience to sell it for the benefit of the project. I am planning to go back to Tangkahan in December and hopefully by then I will be able to drop that egg.

There however is more to come!

Hubby and I will go to Scotland in June. One week of whisky tour with our German friends. The ones we visited for the wine fair in Germany. They are selling whiskeys, too, and they have to stay in good relations with their suppliers. Yay! So, I am hoping for a good look behind the scenes and a lot of scenery as well. 

Then there is a plan to go to Venice in August and to Paris in September. Those are trips with 'the gang' comprising of hubby, me and a bunch of friends... and no! I didn't kill the cats, I found house sitters and cat minders,... I still am feeling nervous about the whole 'leaving cats alone' business; they are old chappies and the possibility of others having to deal with corpses while I am away having a good time, is somewhat unsettling. Well, at least I should get some good travel articles out of it!

That's it for now, procrastination time over... I really have to call that chap!
Have a lovely weekend

Saturday 14 April 2012

A headfull of thoughts

I am sitting in my hotel room in Medan ( North Sumatra) and tomorrow morning I will fly back home after two weeks of jungle in Tangkahan. I am getting a bit sleepy now, couldn't help myself and facebooked for two hours. More than a shower I seem to have missed a fast internet connection. I however don't want to leave before having posted a few pictures.

So much has happened and so many thoughts have been collected that I have to write about this when I am coming home. I had a wonderful time and I have been accepted into the community. The people of Tangkahan need so much help and I have so many ideas... thus I am planning to go back, probably in January.

Maybe by then we will have Internet in Tangkahan and can post directly from there.
Here are a few impressions from my trip.

Tangkahan English School and their slightly exhausted teacher

So happy to see Augustin, the elephant lady we were riding last year!

Dancing at a Karonese wedding

meeting my brothers Bimbim...
... and Ika again, so happy to see them!
 and found another little friend: she has a baby in the roof of my lodge and has no idea how to get it down.

More later, I am breaking down. Night night dears. See you tomorrow in England.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Exciting and sad

This is just a quick and hasty update. I just found a link of a YouTube video which really upset me.

I am going back to Sumatra, you know... I just have to. It is the most wonderful place in the world with the most wonderful people. When I was standing on this terrace above the river something really weird happened to me; I must have fallen in love, it's the only explanation. 

Riha giving a cooking class in the very spot I saw MY Tangkahan for the first time.
Have a look at the pictures on my Picasa Web, there is no explanation needed to see which ones are from our way through plantations to Tangkahan, the jungle trips and the moment when we came out of the jungle on our elephants to reach Bukit Lawang and the ground was barren and red. We all had tears in our eyes. And there they had logged down a rubber plantation to make place for palm oil. At least in this area they leave the rainforest alone. I now go back to learn more about their lives, their dreams and what I can do to help them come true.

And then this happens just across the park at the other side:

I knew that things were not quite right in this region, but I did not think that it was that bad.

See, this National Park - it is a park for crying out loud, the meaning of it being that it IS protected land... just to think of it to make it into a plantation...

Grrr... sorry...

... this park is one of the remaining lungs of the world. If that goes down, there will not a lot be left as the other ones are going down at the same rate. If one can be stopped, it shows the others can be saved too. To stop this, the world needs the local people to stand up and fight, but they cannot do that alone. They need to at least see that the world is behind them. With publicity all of a sudden politicians get involved and things get moving. Silence is the killer!

I will go back to my wonderful Tangkahan, and I will do my bit to help them to get into a sustainable future without destroying their forest and their land. I just believe with the whole of my heart that it is possible to keep the cake and eat it. We have the technology to help create clean jobs so that they can maintain their culture and their environment. But it needs a bit of patience and trust. In the meantime the people who are after the quick money have to be kept at bay as otherwise there is nothing that can be done anymore.

Please share this video on your networking sites, tell people about it. Let the people of Tripa know that they are not alone in this.

and always yours

Saturday 17 March 2012


We all seem to need them, but what makes a good incentive?

Take my bodybuilding challenge, or Kash's marathon: They are meant as proper challenge of mind and body. They are huge undertakings and due to the length of preparation time one has to be careful to not lose track of progress. If something unforeseen happens one might consider calling it off, as time is running out and one might fail anyway. For some people they don't work as an incentive because they are just too big to take on in the first place. 

Then there are little incentives which are meant to make you just a bit fitter, look a bit better, get a bit better... like our team challenge Kash VS 3 ladies. I have to admit... I chicken out whenever I can. Neither Kash nor the ladies will kill me for it. They might even help me find a good reason, or using the one or the other excuse for themselves. But it's not just that, the gain I take from it is just not important enough right now. Kash is doing fine and will cope with or without me, the whole thing just adds a bit of spice to his training, and I would get fitter and thinner, but ...

... there is always a 'But'!

We use incentives to shift things up the priority list. We think we should do something a bit more but we don't actually feel like it, and so we create a situation to push it. That is working short term, but...

... those 'more important' things always find a way back into our lives. It is natural: if there is something we like doing more, why shouldn't we? If there is something expect a greater benefit of, why not pursuing hit harder?

This is the reason why things always have to become really bad before we take action: When things are bad the gain for the effort of getting out becomes bigger, that is a big incentive. We are after the big gain!

A big challenge like a marathon: Imagine all those people cheering, knowing that you can do it, that you can trust your body, your mind and your judgement about yourself, that you are the person you would like to be seen. That is something that stays with you for life.What a gain!

Fitting into this dress, just because I have it in my wardrobe: not so much. Fitting into this dress because I want to show it and me off at a wedding: a bit more worth it. Fitting into this dress because I want to show it and me off at a wedding knowing my big rival from school days will be there: Yep, definitely worth it!

So, we might want to ask ourselves from which of all the bits and pieces sitting at the bottom of our priority list we will have the biggest gain. Which are the ones we really want and which are the ones we think we should want.

I have learnt that rowing - and for that matter running, cycling and all the other endurance stuff- are not suitable for me to stay in shape for a lifetime. I don't like it enough to spend all that time with it and hence there will always be something more important.So I will humbly revert back to my bodybuilding... but:

... only after I am back from my holidays in Sumatra.

have a lovely spring!

Friday 20 January 2012

A bit blurry...

It's raining... continuously... that means things are grey... actually, they are more beige...

I am not doing too badly, though. Just...that yesterday I had a buzzing day at work, maybe even one of my most successful 'work' work days in this job and today I feel a bit 'black hole'-ish after all the focus of the past two weeks is not needed anymore. I would have enough other things to focus on... like learning for my personal trainer stuff... or going to gym... or working for my own business... just not feeling like it.Well, and the weather is not helping.

Hence I am rather sitting here and writing a blog post with loads of '...' in it. So before I bore you to death I should better point you to an article which I wrote for a friend's blog. It was published a few days ago by RAW the travel agent I went to Sumatra with. It's wrapping up nicely what was and gives an outlook of what hopefully will be.

So, for now I wish you a lovely weekend and a lot of focus!

Friday 13 January 2012

Rollercoasters and Butterflies

We like butterflies! They are pretty and we imagine that they have a lot of fun in their lives, flying to wherever they want, nibbling here and nibbling there on a bit of nectar, not caring about a lot and enjoying the sunshine. Just a little flip side, though: They get easily carried away by the wind. There are even migrating butterflies using the wind for their purposes, but they have been found in places where they don't belong. 

For me this shows, that sometimes the things that we like, are not the things we should desire. Everyone who is caught in a rut might crave an exciting and spontaneous life, some even break out, go travelling for a year. 'Eat, prey, love' was such a successful book that it was made into a film. We yearn for comfort and an easier life and once in a while we see an opportunity, some excuses to not do the focused stuff, and we let go. We might not let go entirely but at least in parts. The things that I need focus on to keep me in good working condition are sport and food, and during the last half year I had enough excuses and during Christmas additional opportunity to lose that focus.

Oh, it's nice! Don't get me wrong, the initial moment feels like sinking into a hot bath, but the longer the comfort lasts the more difficult it becomes to gain control. It was nice to be a drifter for a while, to go with the flow, to not plan ahead to far ... until ... I realised that I have no time to work for my dreams, that I have more headaches and back pain, that my clothes don't fit and that I am tired but unable to sleep well. Six month of comfortable life and losing control gained me 10kg and ill health. 

I have been writing about routine VS spontaneity on various occasions before, and the past half year confirms all my theories. Being a butterfly is not 'spontaneous', it is drifting in space. True spontaneity only can occur when there is a routine from which it can rise up. The effort of creating routine in our lives is the price we have to pay for those wonderful spontaneous and inspiring moments when we decide to do something unusual right here and now.

Every year during winter I am slipping, but this year was different, I did not just slip, I went down! I had moments during which I felt like been set back to square one, before Incredible Ladies. Doubting everything that I thought I had learnt about myself and life.

Since two weeks I am now back into my normal food, which others would find boring and flavourless, but it is my food, I like it. Since one week I am back to a well thought through schedule of work, my training, coaching, blogging and learning for exams. Headaches are gone, back aches are receding, my mood is better and I am beginning to sleep well. I guess I need another fortnight to get entirely settled, and then the weight will come down all by itself.

Those past two weeks have blown away all my doubts!

I am starting to believe that midlife crisis in fact is the realisation of being a drifter, followed by the search for focus and a routine that makes sense. My journey from Project Rika via Incredible Ladies to IL Project and ILP Fusion, is exactly that.

Life is such a roller coaster ride. When down, then there is so much incentive to put in the effort to drive me up; when up, then the incentive is gone and moving on becomes so hard and boring at times, that I fear to get stuck in a rut... so I let go, just a bit initially and then things fall apart until I am down and drifting again.

There however is a third dimension to it. The effort to get up becomes less! I have learnt my lessons. I know how to create routine, I am more assertive about it. It became easier to decide what I actually want, getting there faster. I am not guaranteed that I ever will find a steady pace that keeps me on top. Maybe that isn't even the lifestyle I am intended for.

Hence for the time being I will acknowledge that my life is a roller coaster. As long as I can determine if I want to be on the up or the down, and as long as I know how to turn it round, all is good!


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