Thursday, March 26, 2009

cuppa tea?

Some parts of the world are still feeling the cold. Brrrrrr. In the clogcountry (the netherlands) spring is making its gentle entry.

Before getting to bed or when waking up, a cup of tea usually does the trick. Domestic Construction is a company based in Brooklyn, New York. These clustered lights made from teacups are made to order. For more info check out Domestic Construction’s website and/or their Etsy shop!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Being remarkable?

Many people say they are busy. Are they really? Or do they just run around and that way they appear to be? There’s a difference between being busy and actually getting things done.

The ambitious beasties among us like to be exceptional. We fluff, puff and eventually we come across a mirror and laugh at ourselves. Does it matter to be unique? Does it matter whether we are extraordinary? Everyone likes 'different' but not too much of it.

“To be a superstar, you must do something exceptional. The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.” (Seth Godin)

Quitting continuing to build my network Quality Living made me realize several things:
1. I really have to learn to stick with my gut instinct. It’s always right.
2. That to be successful at anything, you need the market to be really excited about it. It has to 'grab' people.
3. Only true passion, belief and 150% devotion make any endeavor successful.
4. Quiting teaches the value of experience and wisdom. It's better to have tried and learned then not have done a thing at all.
Getting back to the fear of catching the common cold. Sometimes we feel there's enough of everything around. Is wanting to stand out, and be remarkable important? What does it mean? Why do we want to leave a mark on the world? Why be different?

· “Remarkable is being unafraid to stand out
· Remarkable is having a fire in your belly and an idea that won't quit.
· Remarkable is telling the truth, always
· Remarkable is knowing that a risky idea might fail, but a boring idea will definitely fail.
· Remarkable is falling often and then trying again
· Remarkable is doing more and less planning. More testing and less waiting. More dreaming and less sleeping.
· Remarkable is when you stand for something and make it happen and change the world - or your business or your life- along the way.
· Remarkable isn't up to you. Remarkable is in the eye of the customer. If your customer decided something you do is worth remarking on, then, by definition, it's remarkable.”. Seth Godin

It’s more important to follow your own way and do what your heart tells you. I found I have to learn how to listen to myself, instead of to anyone else. What I keep seeing is that you have to trust the process and keep believing in yourself. Focussing on what you love the most and doing that is always the best way to go.

So wanting to be remarkable is one side of the story, counting your blessings can be equally powerful. We tend to gloss over what we have achieved already. The most remarkable people are remembered for what they did for others in society, for what they contributed and the changes they made. 'Superstars' have been able to develop due to all the support they received.

Growing to be the best you can be and striving to work your bootie off is great. Just keep in mind what you are doing it for, and for whom. What does being remarkable mean to you? What makes you "you"?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lo and behold

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university Professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.Offering his guests coffee, the Prof. went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, some plain-looking and some expensive and exquisite, telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the Prof. said "If you noticed, all the nice-looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. That all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the better cups and are eyeing each other's cups."

"Now, if Life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of Life doesn't change. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it."

(source unknown)

Monday, March 16, 2009


The dangers of making assumptions is not just that we are, in fact, misinformed, but that we make up a story in our heads that is just plain inaccurate. We fill in the blanks where we should ask for more information. I have been known to do this and I know others who have done the same. It’s a human aspect that can get us in heaps and bounds, troubles and many exclamation marks.

Someone I haven’t met yet in person assumed she could pick something up from me on a Saturday. As a matter of fact I was working so I couldn’t have obliged. She didn’t wait for my answer but decided to head out to get what she wanted anyway. Therefore she made an assumption which didn’t help her. This of course can happen to the best of us. We usually call it a miscommunication.

We can get disappointed, in a panic, a state, a silly situation or in a fiery spirit just because we decided not to check with the other person whether our expectations could be met. Wars must have been fought and people died just because assumptions were made. It’s a funny world out there, but most of all inside ourselves.

What can we do to battle the assumption disease to avoid misunderstandings?
We confess and ASK. We CHECK. We get (as they say in StartTrek) a confirmative. Anything so we know we are on the same page with the other person and that we are in agreement. Does it matter why we assume in the first place? Maybe because we are: lazy to check, feel we know better, are complacent, good in procrastinating or in a hurry. It’s one of the ‘common’ things. The creeping into the scenario bits that we end up regretting later.

Wikipedia says:
"A judgment is something that is knowable, that is, an object of knowledge. It is evident if one in fact knows it. Thus "it is raining" is a judgment, which is evident for the one who knows that it is actually raining; in this case one may readily find evidence for the judgment by looking outside the window or stepping out of the house. In mathematical logic however, evidence is often not as directly observable, but rather deduced from more basic evident judgments. The process of deduction is what constitutes a proof; in other words, a judgment is evident if one has a proof for it."

So in other words: as long as you do not have evidence to support your thoughts: take the trouble of checking your theory. It makes for an easier life, no need to book a life coach or see a psychiatrist. No dr Freud chaise longue to drape yourself over. No boohoos in the night, no medicine on the bedside cabinet. No apologies to make to someone else. No confession time, no dramas.
Brilliant. Would we do it though? Hmm. Life will tell Holmes...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ode to my friends

A thank you to you
My friends
Who have seen beyond
The banter and frills
The curls and the fun
The make up of me.

I appreciate your love
And support
Your jokes and your wisdom
May we continue in this life
To continue to toast to silliness
To falling on our face in laughter
To grace ourselves with Toblerone

Life isn’t serious.
Why should we treat it so?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nature of the beast

My mums latest poetry album has been presented to the world yesterday afternoon in the most wonderful Zoo of Europe, Dierenpark Emmen, in Emmen, the Netherlands. There were also about 30 poetry writers assembled, in the housing part that hosts the butterflies, to witness the moment. Mum handed the first book to the director of the Zoo, mrs Mieke Malda who gave a speech.

Congrats mum to being the most wonderful mum in the world (to me anyway) and to your poetic genius! I'm looking forward to holding the book in my hands once it arives in the post. If you're in Holland, be sure to order the book, it's bound to be wonderful and 'animating'. Go mum go!

Young entrepreneur

Moofus’ website is run by Australian Milan Rodriguez who’s 11 years old. He sells his drawings and prints online on Etsy:

Goes to show that you’re never too young to be an entrepreneur. Why does Milan sell his work? So he can support the animal rescue and in particular the bears…
Good on him. His work is very mature, I love it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The village is back

Whether you realize it or not: the world has been toured, discovered, walked about, talked about and experienced. It’s been blogged, transformed into Art, put on YouTube, subscribed to and launched in the theaters. What’s the next trend now that we have “explored” this sphere? Is the western world getting bored already?

We might think we’ve gone global and internet has made it so, still we are humans and we are in need of contact, are affected by our surroundings and always want products. The reality is that the world is now a global village and it’s become small again because of that too. Everything can touch another. It’s becoming an art form now to escape this world of ‘reachness’ as we want to be contacted on the one hand, and to live in peace and quiet on the other. Some of us want to “get back to our roots”. So what’s the story?

You can live your life in a fashion you want to. There are so many possibilities of how to live your life, it’s almost scary to scrawl through the channels. I find it lovely not be connected to television anymore. I don’t miss it either. My family would like me to set up Skype and get a dish sorted on our roof. We appreciate it that they are keen to be in touch, and to have skype again would be nice, but at the same time Nico and I like our quiet weekends and our ‘disconnection’ to town/world. It’s the pros and cons of the modern life. This luxury problem of lifestyle choices nowadays is almost embarrassing.

It’s not that long ago that a baker in a village had to maintain the quality of his bread or he’d be in big trouble. His neighbors would spit him in the eye if he didn’t treat them well and his income and family would be affected. You can decide to buy your bread anywhere in this decade but you may choose to buy it from a family owned business because you like what they make and you trust them. Do you find that the temptation to buy online doesn’t beat meeting an interesting human being? I always got to the post office to pay my phone bill as I used to go there when I lived in Dunedin and now I still do even though it’s a bit out of the way. I go there because they are always great to deal with, I have gotten to know them and they recognize me which is a charming bonus.

Some things will always remain the same whichever way the world changes.
Humans have the need to:
  • Have a roof over our heads
  • Trade to get goods we need to feed, clothe etc.
  • Live in a social environment and context.

Where and how we live in that sense doesn’t matter as we may have Wireless internet or not, the human need is the same, to have our daily needs met, to live with other humans, to reach out and connect, even if the world has become a different place. Looking at the essentials we are all the same. What IS the difference really between a native tribe and a modern one? Only technology and knowledge. Neither is superior, they are just different. There are only choice and options in life. In my humble opinion we have too much luxury. Many of us chase it to a cost that extends the dollar value.

You wonder how much comes down to human evolution, and how much to common sense, in deciding what we want our lives to look like. Let’s hope that modern science does not take away that which makes us human in the first place.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Things to do

We all have things to do. The difference lies between the wanting to do things and HAVING to do things. Susan Jeffers, bless her cotton socks, is very good at describing how you can change your perspective from HAVING to in WANTING to. Nico my dearest would just say: it’s a matter of mind set. Both are right.
The good news is that once you can change your mindset that your life will follow! Hurrah! But why do we forget this? Because we are creatures of habit, THAT’s why. Oh.
Back to the drawing board. I learned the following over time:

1) You’re on your own in your life, no one can help you sort your stuff but yourself.
2) That changing HOW you view situations makes you able to change your behavior.
3) Behavior can be consciously changed and altered for life, therefore your experiences will change, and therefor your life will.

Now that may sound fuzzy but that’s how it worked for me. When I’m tired or stressed old things may pop up out of the woodworks but I know what it’s about and how I can let go of the response, which is just a very old one. Someone found me cynical years ago when I told him: people only change when it's in their own interest to do so. I think that's not being harsh, it's just what I found to be true.

You will be pointed in the right direction to HELP you get out of the stuff you got yourself in. If you are choosing to persist in an unfortunate situation that’s usually there because you chose to stick being there in the first place, you can only point the finger at yourself. So it comes down to the old fashioned ‘being responsible for yourself’ thing. Oh darn! You have to work for it. Yes. It can usually just be a shift in consciousness where you choose to look at things differently and picture another vision in your head. That takes like 2 seconds. Amazing and heartening at the same time. Life can be sweet after all.

There are 2 best counselors in the world for you:
a) Yourself
b) Those who say things that upset you. The fact that they have upset you means it’s touched a nerve with you. If you didn’t have that feeling then why would it be an ‘issue’ anyway? It wouldn’t. So stop griping and just admit it. I know it's not always fun but there you go.

When all fails: go on holiday, get chocolate or blubber your eyes out with a friend. And! Try again. Yes, your life is up to you I’m afraid. No easy way out. No emailing to the mighty upstairs to relieve you of your suffering. No MacDonald’s drive through solutions. Darn darn. Oh well. You’ll live. Hey! Keep smiling while you’re at it. Practice that muscle or your face will look 100 years old. That’s right! There you are you charming creature you! Give yourself a high five and make a milo with marshmallows you wonderful softie.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Love motel for dogs

A love motel in Soa Paulo has opened for amorous dogs. The love motel offers decorated rooms for dogs of pet owners who are concerned for their animal's needs.

Robson Marinho, owner of a pet shop, built the air-conditioned room on the second floor and hung a sign that reads "Pet Love Motel". The rooms in the motel, at Barra Funda, are decorated in the same way as love motels for humans, with satin sheets, ceiling heart-shaped mirrors, special control panel to dim the lights, romantic music and lots of cushions. Even the windows have thick curtains for timid dogs that want discretion.

Marinho said: "I am absolutely certain this is the first love motel for dogs in the world""The owner has to know what kind of DVD will excite his or her dog. We also have a wedding agency that matches up dogs and if the female dog doesn’t get pregnant, we offer artificial insemination services".Marinho has already received some reservations for the room. A love room for your dogs costs $41 for two hours


Friday, March 6, 2009

Privacy Act

An interesting aspect to blogging is the ‘privacy act’. How do people know, and still trust you, for not spelling their name right out there along with all the private gory details?

Answer: restraint and integrity. I have been politely questioned about some of my blogs. What motivated me to write them and whether they were appropriate. The comments made were fair and funnily enough did not come from the cast involved. I do not see my friends, husband or clients as ‘blogmaterial’ even though some situations may arise that inspire me about a topic. So rest assured: it’s all censored!

With blogging it’s finding the balance between sharing stories readers can relate to but keeping it informative in a self development professional way opposed to turning it into a Tabloid. I may be a very open person and that’s dandy as long as I’m writing about me. Surprise surprise I’ve got ethics. Consider it Mirjam courtesy.

Why do blog? I like writing. Do I do it because I lack friends to talk to? No. For me writing things down help me make sense of what I see and I figured it could help others too. I like to do a bit of entertaining while I’m at it. I promise I will be decent about it, but I won’t make any guarantees on the profoundness of it all neither do I offer a 100% satisfaction rate. If you like what I write then that’s a bonus for me, not a requirement.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


De adem
Spreekt de stem
Het woord wordt
Geboren worden
In samenzang
Van bestaan

(translated from Dutch:)

Speaks the voice.
Word becomes
Being born
In togetherness of song
In existence

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Providing value

I have made the decision to thoroughly change the way my website Quality Living is operated. I will turn it into an agency in 3 months opposed to keeping it as a network.
My talent is to CREATE and my time is better spend working on designs and being a creator opposed to setting up a business that is not my passion.
The following text is from Steve Pavlina, entrepreneur on VALUE.

Succeeding by Helping Others Succeed
February 19th, 2009 by Steve Pavlina
(…) How do you know if what you have to share has value? Share it first, and you’ll soon find out. If it provides value, people will tell you. If it doesn’t, people will usually ignore you. As long as you’re getting ignored, keep experimenting by trying to provide value in new and unique ways. The only limits are in your thinking. (…)

I was able to start providing value to others much more quickly because I wasn’t stuck thinking about making money. I focused on the service side. I soon figured out how to use my skills to give people what they need and want.

The most important result to track isn’t how many visitors your website is getting or how much money you’re making. Instead, figure out whether you’re actually making a difference in people’s lives. Are you helping people? Are you providing
strong value? If you’re providing genuine value, time and referrals will take care of most of your other key metrics.
Recently I was talking to a friend in the personal development field. Business-wise he and I both had record years in 2008, and we each expect 2009 to blow it away. We joked about the rest of the economy crashing down around us. Why do we feel so optimistic when so many people are nervous? Because we know that we’re providing real value to people. We know that our skills are aligned with contribution. We also have the capacity to do a lot of good for people who are financially struggling, looking for career changes, or feeling uncertain about the future.

Align your skills with what people need. Helping people grow is a service that’s in very high demand. It doesn’t matter that we’re in a (media-fueled) recession. That just means people are more keen to reduce low-value expenditures, and they’re more sensitive to spending money wisely — on purchases that provide the best bang for buck for them. If you’re providing weak value, you’re on shaky ground during a recession. But if you’re providing solid value that meets human needs, a recession can create even bigger opportunities for you — people will drop the fluff from their lives and seek you out instead.

When your business model is no longer fed by sufficient demand, you can always switch to doing something else. But if there’s one thing humanity needs right now, it’s for more of us to step it up and embrace our true potential instead of settling for the limited roles assigned by our social conditioning. In our current environment, there’s still plenty of room for more people to start businesses based on helping and encouraging others to grow. We’re a long way from being over-saturated in this area"

Helping other grow and supporting them comes naturally to me. I don't even think about it. I will continue to support others but make it a side activity, not a main priority. It's time I got back to doing more fun stuff with my husband, he deserves better. To even have time to (gasp) paint! The world is my oyster haha and I intend to have more laughs about it. You enjoy it too...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Have your cake and eat it too

And now for something fun! That’s what a goat thought in Madison county: crike how hilarious… hahahaha! I can SO picture that.

Goat breaks into home, eats cake

Aaron MartinCapital Newspapers — 2/17/2009 9:02 am
TOWN OF WESTFORD -- What do you get when a goat follows a dog into a house?
For Sherry Shirley of Westford, the answer is a big mess.
When she opened the front door of her home on Lake Road to let her dog in Saturday morning, a full-grown goat burst into the house, jumped onto a kitchen counter and helped itself to a freshly baked chocolate cake, according to the Dodge County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies responded to a call from Shirley at 11:43 Saturday morning, but a neighbor had dragged the goat from the home by its horns before officers arrived, patrol captain Molly Soblewski said.
"The goat didn't do a lot of damage. It knocked some dishes to the floor that broke and began eating the chocolate cake she had just made," Soblewski said.
The chocolate cake caper, however, was far from a perfect crime. Deputies followed the goat's tracks to a nearby farm on Mill Road and had it behind bars by 12:35 p.m. Saturday.
Soblewski said the owners of the goat will not be cited.
"It was just an unfortunate circumstance," she said. "I feel sorry for the lady, but it is kind of funny."

Sometimes it’s quite ok to have that cake and eat it too. Just don’t end up behind bars for it like the goat did. Poor thing.

Motivation: drive or drivel?

We all lack the motivation for something sometimes, why is that? Mostly we lose the motivation at work, to do household chores, to visit family we’re not too terribly fond of, to go to a particular party or event. What makes motivation ‘drive’ or ‘drivel’?

A good friend of mine has lost motivation at her work a long time ago. She works in a bureaucratic institution and she told me her boss is a twit. She has no support from her colleagues at work. The directors seem to be taking work away from her, instead of giving her other tasks. The only reason she is there everyday is the paycheck she knows will help her family. She goes through ups and downs trying to keep going until she can pursue another career. How do we cope with being in an environment we do not feel to be inspiring? How much of that feeling do we contribute ourselves? How much of the depressing atmosphere is in fact of our own making? Is it no wonder people react to us the way they do if we’re in a negative state of mind a lot of the time?

Truth is: our attitude towards life (and work) is our own. I have found this even with my work. I really like my work and go through periods of inspired action but also through ones with tedious tasks where I wonder what the heck I’m accomplishing. I think everyone has these periods. I always find that it’s my own decision in fact to not let work or life inspire me. I may have been tired for a while, frustrated at lack of progress or amount of work.

Naturally the odds can be stacked against us or we can blame the recession again. This is called the easy way out. We did however choose to be in this life or work situation so why not stop complaining about it and change things up to the point you can? It’s easy to keep going on and on about a situation and bore your friends and family to tears. How about finding out what it is you can do within the limitations? Truth is others DO NOT care to hear about your complaints or worries. It’s not interesting. Just keep it to yourself and talk about something else instead. It works for me. Focus on what DOES work and what is fun. There’s always SOMETHING and the funny thing is: once you’ve changed your mind things start taking off again. They always do. It can happen in just a few seconds.

What you give attention to grows, what you give energy to expands. You might as well give your energy and attention to positive developments. If that all seems too trying think of this: there are so many people out there surviving on crummy wages and doing mundane activities yet they make the best of it. Most of us should be ashamed to rabbit on about how much 'hard work' our life is. My friend Miranda is happy to be getting up at 5 am every day and doing cleaning work at 6 am every day as she knows it will help her clear negative finances. She is on a mission and proud of it and so am I. The benefit of her work is that she has met a lot of new people that will become new clients to her in future. She sees it as an opportunity to do relationship building, in which she is very good. So out of something that could be uninspiring to the max, she has found a blessing.

So I guess my point is: all of us have a winge now and again. Once or twice is fine, but then it’s time to stop. Just make sure you realize you’re turning into a boring person if you keep at it and it’s not helping yourself at all. I got to the point when I had enough of listening to my inner jabber. I was disappointed with my own attitude. I tend to be a positive person and I was starting to depress myself. Then I had enough. Snap out of it before you stop liking yourself I thought. It worked.

Work is not life but it fills most of our day. We might as well love it. This is your life and your choice. Don’t wait for someone else to give you a solution, it won’t happen. Bugs Bunny is not going to visit and ask you how you’re feeling. Surprise yourself and others by being kind to them and asking them about THEIR day. It’s not all about you, it never was. Make someone else’s day better and you’ll see that your own will start to improve as well. "Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-That's all folks!"
I received a lovely email from my friend Steve as response to my post:
"The main reason that motivation is hard or difficult to generate is that people do not get disturbed enough to change where they are at. With the example of ones job is their pay check and nothing else is more than likely that ones life outside the general 9 to 5 work day is this is all there is. This example unfortunately descibes the hypnotised robotic existance that is most of our lives. Statements like I get to go to work can change ones perspective and how you can look at the earning cycle. What is the earning cycle? Well lets break it down to needs and wants. Needs: we need to house ourselves, feed ourselves and clothe ourselves with the latter a more recent modern concept. Out side of these things there are wants so after we pay rent or mortgage, put adequate food on the table and make sure that we are coverd up appropriately when in public we have whatever is left. Maybe for a car, boat, fast motorcycle a holiday home, a cup of coffee from the local cafe. These are wants. Due to our wanting for something different(work conditions) something more (better pay) something extra (better service) we find ourselves in a state of disatisfaction. We feel that we have no choice. We think that by changing jobs that things will change and sometimes they do but not always.One las thing regading wants is, we all want to be happy and joyful and this can only really come from within. That mindset that when I do this or have that I will be happy. This is far from the truth as we still continue to look for that which will give us what we need from outside of ourselves, when the real truth is when we have different thoughts about something our perception changes and we have now the power to feel good."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Girl friends

Girls are different from boys.
Amazing! Really? Well naturally for obvious reasons but that set aside, are we just different biologically or is it our conditioning that creates more change/harm than good? One wonders what would happen if girls shaved their heads at an early age, boys grew their hair and each went on to play with respectively their plastic Tommy guns or Barbie dolls.

My parents told me what name they had chosen for me had I been born a boy. Frankly I’m happy I’m a girl. I don’t know what my life would have been like had I grown up like a typical boy. I think it’s a good thing I had two elder brothers as a girl. It’s beneficial to grow up with the other sex in the same household. It’s not just sensible but also educational. Whack! No YOU shut up. Like I said, it’s all good for you. Or something.
Is it true our brains are wired differently? I don’t know and probably some researcher somewhere knows the answer to that one. Point being, we behave differently because we are 1. conditioned that way and 2. Because we have a different biological makeup.

It is fascinating stuff.

I have several very good girlfriends and they seem to have the denominator of: being creative, somewhat whimsical, bright but not die hard business bitches, sensitive, insightful, honest, loyal, gorgeous, hard working, spiritual, funny and independent. Now what does that mean?

They are women who are optimistic about the future, always curious, contemplating, continually working on themselves, got their act together quite a while ago (no more boohoos), have their eye on the ball, made huge progress in their lives, have big hearts, had man trouble in the past but got over any nonsense now. They deserve the respect and love they radiate towards others.

This is saying a lot about me too. I find I have become friends with women who are strong and who work hard on their inner challenges. They know what they’re about. They don’t take any crap either. They laugh but they’re tough as old boots. People who don't know them mistakenly think they’re fragile and that they need rescuing.

We meet various people in our lives; sometimes we stay friends with them for a long period of time, sometimes it’s fairly short. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter. It’s not about the amount of friendships but the quality of it. I have changed my opinion about friendships a long time ago. I’ve always remained positive about believing in others and trusting them, seeing the best of them and what they can be. Ultimately you depend on yourself but friends make life more joyous.

It’s appreciating the moments that are shared but not depending on them being there. Support from others is wonderful but the fact you have to know how to support yourself is essential. I see gifts and support from my friends always as a bonus as I don’t expect any. I have no claims on them, nor do I like to be claimed as one that involves expectations. I think this is a healthy way.

You could say that friends reflect aspects of you, as that is how you connect with them in the first place. Parts of you are similar to theirs and vice versa. It’s like looking in the mirror sometimes.

“Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.”