Granny square blanket

It was time to go petsitting in Wales again. I went back to the house of my darling Ben and Lola and got into a serious crochet project. I had only just discovered the granny square which is so gratifying to crochet. Reason for this of course is that it is easy and you have a very quick result. If you have read my other posts on crochet you may well understand by now that I am an experimenter rather than a conventionalist, and that I like to just fiddle my way around projects which end up nicely if not perfect.

So I just started doing granny squares and at first I did not really know what I was going to do with them. But since I had bought loads of wool in  the charity shops in and around Hay on Wye, I did not mind not yet knowing what this project was developing into. I like to go with the flow. I needed de-stressing and so an easy project of loads of granny’s was just the thing. I was able to watch tv in the evenings with one eye, while sitting in front of the blazing fire with Lola on the sofa next to me and Ben at my feet keeping a frantic eye on Lola, since this sheep dog is not into hoarding sheep but into hoarding Lola which was actually hilarious to watch.


He would not get any rest, fascinated as he was with Lola, and the next time I came petsitting he showed the same behaviour to new arrival Malcolm. As the pictures clearly show the cats ignored Ben with disdain.

Getting back to the granny square blanket project. Here’s the making of:





Mum admiring end result on her settee:



Crochet Beanies

After the feet came the head. My sons girlfriend had a crochet hat which she liked but asked me if I could make a similar one in a different colour. I tried:

(beanies) changing of colour

As the pro crocheter will notice my changing of colour without evident marking-skill is not yet well developed but I figured that could be worn as back. Note the edging which I added and which gives the beanie a nice girlish touch. Bob’s girlfriend liked the hat.

I made some more.

colored beaniescolored beanies (other site)

Then I went on holiday to the USA, we were driving a camper van and soon during stops I missed my crochet which I had not taken with me. I was happy to discover that in America there are also charity shops which I think are called thrift shops rather and so I soon procured wool and crochet hooks. I did not have a pattern and so I made this rather ridiculous hat which on my head looks even more weird, but just to show you that all projects do not have happy endings:

ridiculous hat (beanies)

Anxiously my friend asked: you are not going to wear that are you? And I definitely wasn’t going to…

Crochet Moccasins

To make those slippers and moccasins I simply set up a string of chains which I held at my foot sole. It was all very approximative because I did not yet know how wool would behave. So I experimented a little, which resulted in some very loose fitting moccasins but they were comfy at the same time.

It also depends on the type of wool you use of course. I chose thick wool so as to create nice warm slippers which can be used either barefoot or with a pair of socks on. It was a pleasure to see how quickly I got some sort of hang of it and to be able to fit them on. Right from the start what I did was: first create one sole, and then immediately the next, instead of finishing one slipper and then make the second one. Reason for this was that I did not write anything down and had to remember how I went about it in order to create a similar pair.

Also I experimented with another type of sole, which gave the slipper a moccasin look. Judge for yourself please:

Moccasinsmoccasins and my working place

For this sole I got chamois leather or wash-leather (don’t know which of the word is best. There are different types of these, even fake ones which are quite sturdy. However not as strong as the leather soles I put on the first pair of slippers I crocheted, see the result:

the leather soles of used moccasins

Should have taken a pic after I just done them of the bottom as well. But as you can see I wear them lots and I just got some new chamois to replace these. I won’t bother taking this off but simply sew it on top.

Then a couple of weeks ago I could not sleep and was staying at my friends in Devon. At the time I was working on a big shawl. Using expensive wool and carefully crocheting it. So as it was 3 in the morning, I wanted an easier task and since I had forgotten to bring my slippers I decided to make a new pair. See next post please.

Crochet Slippers

After having done some more little projects like a cat with a kitten, some birds and so on which I made into little cushions, I felt the need to make something useful rather than decorative. Although the potholders are of use. But I mean what are you going to do with ten potholders? So I thought it would be a good idea to start experimenting with slippers.

Now I had looked for patterns and there were a few books on crochet which I found – since this crochet virus had not just struck me, but as far as I could see went global – but the books had little drawings with lots of dots and stripes and hooky thingys which I could not decipher. Rather like sheet music. You need to learn to read it. Anyway I had no time to learn to decipher because I just had to crochet. So I just fiddled and made these:


Thing is I don’t like walking on socks in my house. I want some sort of soles underneath because I have 3 cats and so one gets lots of hairs on the slippers. Therefore I needed to add soles. I went to one of those shops where you can have put new soles under your shoes, they usually also duplicate keys. I bought leather inlay soles the biggest size which I cut to fit. Then I hand sewed them on with the strongest thread I could buy on the market. In Holland its called fish thread. Result is maybe a little amateurish, but does the trick:


Of course this started a period of slipper virus. So I made some for me, for mum, for hubby and another pair for me. See next post.


Odd crochet dog

Petsitting is one of my joys. The first time we petsit Billy, Barney and Betsy was glorious. The weather was fine and those dogs are just such a joy to be with. So my time was basically divided into dog walking, playing with the tireless dogs, dog petting, and crochet.

dog Billy and the other dogs

During that petsit I made the cat potholders, but I also wanted to leave a special gift to the lovely homeowners, so I crocheted their dog Billy. Well, let’s say it was an attempt to depict him in crochet:

This is Billy:

dog Billy

This is the crocheted result:

dog Billy crocheted

I realise the colour scheme is not quite Billy, but I had to make do with the available wool. All in all I thought it was a nice result, because I was doing it by heart.

Tiger and Crochet Owls

So the first inspiration to get crocheting was when I saw the cat potholders. Then a second boost was injected one day as I walked into a shop called Flying Tiger. I think it’s a Danish shop and I was told about it by my sister who had happened upon it. The Tiger is a feel good shop. It’s a very clever concept. They sell cheerful things and the incentive to buy lots of cheerful things is enhanced by the feel good music they are playing. When I went for the first time they were playing songs from the sixties and seventies which had me singing along while browsing all the bits and pieces which were colourful, useful and affordable.

Anyway, that day I found a little cardboard box which contained a crochet kit for making a little owl. I paid 3 euros and was chuffed to be able to get started and learn crochet anew. To make the owl was easy. It was very basic as you can see. In fact it did not have a bill, I added those myself. From my first inner push to start doing crochet onwards I had made it a sport to go into any charity shop both in the UK and in Holland which I happened upon and get left over wool balls so I already had lots of little balls of different colours. That first owl got lots of mates:


two owls

four owls

many owls

Crochet virus

How does one get struck by a virus? Usually it creeps up on you unawares, does it not. And just like with a virus, you don’t realise that other people also seem to have been struck by it. To me it happened while visiting my brother in law in Wales. He bought a place there and my husband and I came over from Holland to put down laminate in his house. During a tea break we were sitting in his improvised lounge – a bedroom upstairs with a couple of easy chairs and a small table – and on the table were three potholders scattered on the little table which he seemed to use as larger coasters to place plates on. I’m not interested in coasters usually but these ones were special: they were cats, three different ones, and they were crocheted and they were made by my late mother in law. So they must have been made in the sixties or seventies of last century and I really liked them. My brother in law for sentimental reasons did not want to part with them, but he was fine with lending them to me so I could try to copy them. My first step was to visit a couple of charity shops to get some wool. I found plenty and got crochet hooks there as well. Then I sat down to work.The result of which you can admire here:


The ones with the brown stripes are Mother in laws’ the ones with blue are mine. I must confess I felt quite pleased with the result because the only thing I remembered of crochet which I learned 40 years ago at school was making a string of chains. So the rest I found out via tutorials. Therefore I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who put tutorials on YouTube because they simply are great! After the cats I felt much inspired and went on to other projects.



Places to eat in Hay on Wye

the Granary Hay on WhyIt was Sunday and I went for a bite to eat in Hay on Wye. There are some very nice places for food to choose from. I have been many times to the Granary. It’s a lovely place to go for soup or tea and cake or breakfast. Why? It’s just the ambiance. I’m not the only one who thinks so, there are always plenty of customers there. No wonder, there is a nice open log fire and a cat who has its own little white fluffy rug on the window sill, right next to a central heating element. He is ever so cuddly. It gives the place such a homely feel. They usually do 2 or 3 different soups with a roll. You can help yourself to it and pay at the till where you also order your drink. Very friendly staff and if downstairs is too crowded, no worries because there is plenty of space upstairs where you can sit quietly and spend as long as you like. The Granary is a lovely place and the other day I had a slice of their lemon meringue for the first time… It was just heavenly.

Oscar's bistro, Hay on WhyContrary to my habit I did not go to the Granary yesterday, I felt it was time to try Oscar’s bistro. While wandering through Hay the other day I had walked past it. It’s opposite the Oxfam shop in High Town (odd street name). At first I thought it was a tea room so I did not go in because I’d just had lunch. So in I went yesterday. Oscar’s is also a real nice place ambiance-wise. A nice old wooden floor. Wooden tables and in the corner a bookshelf with second hand books for sale. Loos are upstairs and on going there I noticed that there is plenty more seating upstairs and also a very nice second hand book arsenal. Well, it is Hay of course, but still to find the love for books extends to eateries is a big plus to me. After a few days of not heaving eaten all that well, I decided I needed some veggies. So I chose the veggie meal of the day which was a coconut and vegetable curry with a choice of salad or rice or chips. I ordered the rice. It was simple and nourishing and nice. I liked it a lot. I had not noticed but it was help yourself to cutlery and stuff, however the friendly waitress did not mind at all getting cutlery for me.
Oscar's bistro, Hay on Why
While eating I noticed there was music playing in the background. Not very loudly I am happy to say. However this particular song I knew very well. It was Mississippi by a group named Pussycat. Now you probably do not even know this song, let alone the group, but I did because this happens to be a Dutch group and the song had been a smashing hit in the seventies and had gone to number one in many countries even in the UK! So I said to ‘Oscar’ who happened to clean some tables nearby that I appreciated his music choice. Oscar said he thought the lead singer should have gone solo to get a big career. I told him she probably did not do that because the other girls were her sisters. However I looked it up later and she did have a solo career later as well. After lunch Oscar (whose name wasn’t Oscar) showed me the cd:
the Dutch group Pussycat
He told me he really liked their music and we had a nice chat about it. He said he actually had to pay in order to play music in his cafe to 2 different organisations. He said that should he have over 5 persons working for him in his kitchen and play music he would also have to pay for that. How weird a world is it we are living in?

Anita Moorjani -Being Myself –

It was somewhere in November 2014 I got an email from Hay House that Anita Moorjani would be coming to London for a one day workshop in 2015. I think I must have been the first one to book it, because I jumped up, grabbed my credit card and immediately bought a ticket online. I was so excited. A chance to spend a day in Anita’s presence was such a wonderful prospect. I had looked on her website many times before and she always seemed to give talks and workshops in the USA specifically Maui with Wayne Dyer. And then this one day I found out she already had been to the UK once but that was before I had even read her book and heard of her. So now I secured my place and every so often I would chuckle and think: soon I will be going to Anita’s workshop.. So much joy in anticipation alone!

Last Saturday the day finally came. I travelled up to London and got a hotel at walking distance. I had seen on the website of the venue which was The Light House Euston, that the workshop started at 10 but the doors of the auditorium would open at 9. I decided to go early, because contrary to what I normally do – sit anywhere but in the front – today I was intent on getting a seat closest to the stage as possible. Upon arrival it turned out that the doors had opened at 8.30. There were already quite some people there. The two front rows were reserved for guests. In the third row a few people were sitting on the sides and one woman in the middle. I headed straight towards her and sat next to her right in front of the centre of the stage. I was very pleased with this spot.

Anita MoorjaniThe young woman next to me and I started chatting. It once again turned out to be a small world. She was currently living in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, the place where my friend keeps his Dutch barge and where I have spent many a pleasant weekend. A little later in the conversation it turned out she was French and I have lived in France many years, so we had a lot in common and we chatted on in French. Time flew and Anita was announced. And before we knew it Anita Moorjani was there on the stage. Right in front of me. I felt thrilled to the core.

Anita Moorjani "Dying to be me"Now maybe you wonder who on earth Anita Moorjani is. Maybe you have never heard her name before. This is entirely possible because although she is gaining more fame daily, she is a relatively ‘new’ author/speaker. Anita has written a book which is called Dying to be Me.

I cannot even recall how I got to know about the book. I think I heard someone speak about Anita in an interview. It may have been Rick Archer. After which I ordered her book online and devoured it. After which I looked up and watched any interview and article online with Anita I could find. She was interviewed by Rick Archer from Buddha at the Gaspump ( and ever since I first saw her I wanted to meet her. At the time she lived in Hong Kong which was not around the corner for me, so to speak, which was the only reason I had not gone to meet her yet. Anyway, there she was right in front of us.

I will give an account of the day, but please bear in mind that taking notes is a personal affair and that other attendees may have taken different notes because as Anita started off saying: “There is no coincidence in the world and if you could simply allow this day to unfold, you will learn and recall exactly that which you need to hear and learn for you today.”

I like this word ‘allowing’ she uses. She also uses it in her book. To allow life to happen instead of grasping or trying to control it. Allowing gives a feeling of surrender and welcoming. Very relaxing to me.

Anita started off by telling the audience about her Near Death Experience (NDE) which she had when she was dying of cancer and slid into a coma which lasted 34 (I think, could have been longer) hours. The doctors had given up on her and the family was alerted. Her brother had to travel up from India and everyone was afraid Anita might die before his arrival. The doctors were sadly convinced that Anita would die within the next hours since her organs were shutting down.

I obviously had read Anita’s book and also heard her tell her story many times in the interviews I had watched on her website etc. It struck me that Anita did not seem weary at all to tell her story all over again. She stood relaxed, open, smiling and she seemed totally at ease. Besides all that there was a humbleness in her attitude which I found quite moving.

The reason why I was so keen on seeing Anita life is that I always like to get a proper ‘feel’ of the person. Seeing them life is a good way to ‘feel’ if they are genuine, honest and walking their talk. It’s something you cannot totally grasp from a book. Some people are real good writers but in real life aren’t ‘genuine’. Therefore I go and attend seminars and workshops to see if my gut-feeling about a person can be trusted. I was dead right about Anita (forgive the pun). She radiated something intangible. I guess it must be the love she speaks about. It simply oozes out of her.

Anita said that we are taught to speak in order to express ourselves and communicate. She is convinced however, that talking is not really all that necessary. What people often do is using words to hide from others what we really feel or mean. Often words are also used to hurt others, so what we need is empathy because according to Anita when a person hurts another person this is caused by the hurter’s pain. We can only inflict pain on others if we are hurting inside. This is not an excuse but means that we need to develop empathy and understanding for everyone involved.

Anita, who grew up in Hong Kong as a child from Indian parents, had had quite a difficult upbringing because at home the religion was Hindu and the language Hindi. At school the language was British English but the area where she lived was Chinese. So Anita grew up in this multi cultural environment and felt she did not really fit in anywhere. She was always trying to please everyone and she now sees that she was raised in fear and lived fearfully. Her best friend got cancer and Anita was so fearful of getting that decease herself so she researched the internet and was frantic about healthy nutrition and lifestyle, yet she also developed a cancer. Lymphoma. For 4 years she had to undergo all the treatments and the cancer became worse. Then one day her best friend died of the decease which was even more upsetting for Anita. She got worse and worse herself and could not walk by herself anymore so was in a wheelchair. She also could not eat so was fed by a tube.

During her NDE Anita experienced a spectacular feeling of unconditional love. Something she had never ever felt before on earth. She felt loved completely for who she was. She did not have to do anything to deserve that love. She was loved just because she was Anita, no conditions. During the NDE her father and friend both whom had passed away already came towards her. They radiated love and understanding and Anita felt totally accepted and loved and could for the first time communicate with her father with whom during his life she had had a difficult relationship with. They also gave her all kinds of information and Anita became omniscient. She knew everything, the future, the past, the now. The reason why she had cancer and she also knew she had to go back to the earth because her life was not over. She needed to accomplish her purpose in life and she needed to go back to her husband of whom she speaks very lovingly and who she feels is her soulmate. She did not particularly wish to go back because the feeling of unconditional love was amazing, yet she knew she had to go back.

So Anita awoke and the entire medical staff was in a flurry, because not only did she awake, she also wanted food. After a few days the cancer cells started diminishing and soon there was not one single cancer cell left in her body. The specialist consultant at the hospital was all confused and said there was a problem: they could not find the cancer. Anita was convinced she did not need the cancer anymore. She had learned her lesson.

She now says that the biggest insight she got from her NDE was that all she needed to do to live her life was:


No more people pleasing or doing things from fear. From then on Anita knew she had to put herself before others instead of last. She says we are born as perfect little babies, we already know everything, unfortunately all this knowing is being conditioned out of us in the following 20 years of our upbringing. Anita says she never learned to love herself. She only learned to please others and value other peoples opinions about her more than her own. “So then I realised I had never learned to be myself.” And so now all that had to change, which was not easy because no one is really keen on change. People like the way things are in their little comfort zones.

Anita says: “Now I know that I will stand by myself no matter what. Even if everyone around me, family, friends and loved ones are telling me that I should not do something, or would be disappointed or even angry, I would still stand by myself and follow my own wishes, because only I know what is good for me in my life. All too often we let others pass before us, but this isn’t right and means that we use 2 different standards of measuring to the detriment of ourselves.”

“Now I know that the cancer saved my life. I had been killing myself long before I ever contracted it. It forced me to start living my life for myself.”

“There are two major forces from which we live our lives. Either Love or Fear. All my life I had been fearful. I was frightened for all kinds: I had the fear of being disliked, the fear of speaking my own truth, fear to disappoint others, fear of failure, of death, of life, the state of the planet, and I was obsessive about food and living a healthy lifestyle. Today I know that food cannot harm me, not loving myself is the real source of harm. Nowadays I do not obsess about my weight or my food. When I feel like eating chocolate, I enjoy it and do not feel any guilty about having some. I love myself enough to eat chocolate every once in a while.”

“Loving yourself does not mean that you are unaware of certain character traits that you might want to adjust or develop. Loving yourself means that you love yourself right now, just the way you are, because you are you. It is accepting who you are. Right now. If you want to lose weight you need to start loving yourself now, with the overweight. Because you are not simply a body. You are so much more. We are magnificent beings and we are so loved.”

Anita has Dr David Hamilton come on the stage. He is a very nice Scottsman, who endears the entire audience, which incidentally is mainly made up out of women, when he gets emotional when talking about his dog Oscar who only recently died. David has written a book called I love me. He is a jovial funny man of great wisdom who shares with us his story of never feeling good enough. Even though he holds a phd in Chemistry among other things. So David felt it was time for him to dive into this feeling and sort it out once and for all. He has 4 premises which he describes fully in his book. It goes from I am not enough, to: I have had enough, to: I am enough, to, eventually,: I AM.

David had the audience stand up for an exercise and everybody is laughing. The atmosphere that reigns in the venue is uplifted and optimistic. Even though we are aware that there must be quite a few persons in the audience who are ill with serious deceases with family members, and maybe bereaved people and probably some doctors. After David’s exercise it is time for lunch and everyone applauds enthusiastically. The first part of the workshop has been wonderful.

During the lunch break I quickly go to the book table to get Davids book. I also pick up Anita’s guided healing meditation cd and a copy of Dying to be Me in English (my copy was in Dutch). Then I join the cue because I would like David to sign the book. I am offering it to my sister. Both her and me have direct experience of the ‘I am not enough’ feeling.

foto van my met David Hamilton hier

In the cue the person in front of me is a very kind Englishman who happens to live in France. Since I lived in France we have a connection, besides he is an author and I like to write. So we hit it off well, the woman in front of us turns round and says: are you guys living in France? So am I! Anita was right, there are no coincidences and what on earth is this message of the French connection which is so clearly displayed for me. James invites me to lunch and we go to a very nice little Indian place with a fresh buffet of many dishes all veggie and eat as much as you like for seven quid. Not bad. James kindly presents me with a children’s book he has written and we are talking of doing a project together.

After lunch Anita comes back. She has us dance to get the stuffiness out of our system. Anita likes the song Dancing Queen by Abba which a lady quickly conjures up on her phone and soon the audience is swaying to and fro.

Thus refreshed we sit down and Anita hits us with the following penetrating question:

“Do you unconditionally love your parents? Your spouse? Your children? Of course you do, so why do you not love yourself unconditionally?”

“Many of us tend to believe that loving unconditionally means allowing them to treat us as they please. Thing is: if you treat yourself as a doormat, as I have done a large part of my life, others will treat you as such too!” “So loving yourself unconditionally sometimes means we have to walk away from relationships. Whether with friends, spouses etc. It means being able to say: I love you unconditionally and I understand that you are this person with this behaviour. I love myself unconditionally too and I need to walk away from us.”

“Myth: I must win the approval of others.                 Truth: Winning my OWN approval (following my heart) is even better.” Be who you are. Don’t dance for the critics.

Then we get to the subject of illness. Anita asks us: what if symptoms were actually a message from your physical body that it is busy healing itself. The body is always trying to find a balance. Always building homeostasis. Taking drugs would mean we were healing symptoms, not the cause of the dis-ease. Anita suggests a new approach. We are going to do the exercise all together. It is a guided meditation-visualisation-relaxation during which we go with our attention to those parts of our bodies in need of loving attention. Any aches, pains, areas of discomfort we turn our attention to and ask that particular body part what they want to communicate to us. Anita says: Illness is often my body’s way of communicating with me.

She also feels very strongly about the word remission which she would like to eradicate from the language. She says let us replace the word remission with Remember My Mission. She emphasises that we should not obsess about our illnesses. Not do as she did: spend hours on the internet researching disease and cures and reading forums and blogs, because just as you think you found a good tip on a page, on the next you will find the contrary and in no time you will feel frustrated, defeated and fearful. Instead she suggests we live as if we are still healthy as much as we can. We do take our medication but just routinely like brushing your teeth. We should avoid making the illness the focal point of our lives and certainly not identify with it. Don’t become your disease.

The best cure of all according to Anita, is laughter. Laughing every day will stimulate healing and you will feel so much better with joy and playfulness in your lives. We are way to serious and should embrace laughter as much as we can. “Make laugher your prayer.”

Anita now comes to the subject of being authentic. She brings up the subject of money with a question: ‘how many of you think money and spirituality don’t go together?’ A great many people in the audience raise their hands. ‘Thought so..” says Anita and everybody laughs. There are so many laughs today which is wonderful. The atmosphere in the venue is vibrant, the energy scintillating. Anita continues by saying: ‘Money is neutral. It can be used for good or for bad things. Money does never object. It just is. We are all spiritual beings living in a body on this planet. Whether we are aware of it or not. Owning a lot of money is fine. When you love yourself and you discover your purpose in life, money will automatically follow. There is only one reason not to have enough money in your life, only one reason. Namely when you tell yourself: I am not worth it. But when you start loving yourself and becoming the being of light that you truly are, money will follow automatically. You are a magnificent being of light and you are here in this world to shine to your full potential. And do realise that time is not linear even though to us humans it may seem that way. So this means that in order to get from A to B you do not need to follow step 1, step 2, step 3 etc. It is not like that. You can jump steps and go from 2 straight to 10. If you are living your life authentically you will attract what you need and what your are and your purpose in life will unfold for you.

Should you feel really uncomfortable with loving yourself, you can begin by getting up in the morning and asking yourself the following: ‘If I loved myself unconditionally, what would I do today?’

You owe it to yourself and to everybody around you to be who you are and spread your joy around you. Joy is contagious and will uplift the world.

After another break it is time for some questions and answers. Now is my chance, even before Anita gives the green light for people to ask questions I raise my arm. Since she is straight in front of me she obviously notices immediately. She says: ‘You are the first one to raise your hand and therefore we will start with your question.’ Yes yes yes!!

My question to Anita is: ‘We all heard you explain about self love and how we should put ourselves first even if our nearest and dearest are deeply disappointed in us. However I feel this is a very hard thing to do. Could you please elaborate on this since I feel this is the most difficult thing being very emphatic and aware of my families ‘needs’?

Anita thanks me for the question and gives the example of her mother who is now getting on age wise and who wants Anita to come by more often however Anita travels extensively and is away from home a lot. She says: ‘Even when I am away from home, I have this bond with my mother that no distance can sever. But still I also know that she is getting older and needs me more. So whenever I can and whenever I am home I will go and visit her more often. However what I would say to you is that you seem to feel that your children need to be free to follow their path in life but for yourself you feel this is restricted. This means you are using two standards and are losing out. I suggest you ask your dear ones to understand what your path in life is and ask them to be happy for you to follow that path because it makes you happy, Just as you are happy for them to follow their path in life regardless of your wishes. You need to learn to put yourself first.

The next day, while thinking about what Anita said I get a further insight: I realise that I have lived my live apologetically, And that I have been looking for approval. Approval has been granted but only if my wishes did not impede on the wishes of the others. Meaning that their behaviour was selfish. Which is fine. The thing is that I also need to learn to be selfish and not give in to what others want all the time. I realised that my purpose is trying to show itself to me, but that I created obstacles for it to happen because I had not been authentic and had not followed my inner impulses. I knew I never meant to hurt anyone. I knew what I needed and had stifled the urges. They did not know that and maybe have other ideas about my intentions. But my intentions are mine only and I know best. I feel this zest for life which is rather like an inner volcano which wants to erupt and live life to the full. I will stop living life apologetically for it was never meant to be lived that way.

After the q and a session, Anita thanks us all for the standing ovation we give her. She is now going to sit and sign books for us. An enormous queue forms and I am in no hurry so I am last in line. I cannot really say how many people attended the workshop but I think at least several hundred people are queueing for the book signing. When finally it is my turn I can tell Anita is tired. It has been a full day for her, but still she is smiling and friendly. I have a chat with her husband who was present all day. He tells me how they have been living out of suitcases travelling from one hotel to the next these past 6 months. And that they even had given up their rental home in Hong Kong because they spent so little time there. I turn to look at Anita who after giving all these book signings, now takes time out to give people the opportunity to have their photos taken with Anita. I quickly jump in the queue which luckily for her is only about ten people.

Thank you Anita Moorjani for a wonderful wonderful workshop. Having spent this day in your presence has given me such a lift. I think the unconditional love that you have experienced during your NDE is clinging on to you and you radiate it around you for all who meet you to contaminate with. Thank you for coming back out of that realm and sharing unconditional love with us all!

Looking forward to the next time Anita comes to Europe!!

Getting used to rural life

I’m from a small town under the smoke of Amsterdam. Compared to that city we could call my town a village, specifically since our house is on the edge of a nature reserve and so it is quiet and green. But compared to the village to which Twin Cottage belongs my village is definitely a small town. Twin Cottage (please note that all names of the people and their house and pets are fictional, since I want to respect their privacy) is really in the countryside. Where I live in Koog aan de Zaan there are a few things missing: darkness and silence. Both are overwhelmingly present in Twin Cottage. Whether day or night it is so quiet here. Just lovely. No aircraft passing over the house every 5 minutes. Just rural sounds: horses passing the house on the winding lane, hoofs clattering leisurely on their way to the woods. Fancy hearing horses right beside your house instead of cars and trains! Then this morning upon opening the bedroom curtains I noticed that the farmer next door had brought some sheep to his barn with little lambs, only just born. A joy. At night dusk turns the surrounding trees in displays of filigree against a mysterious sky. As if pregnant with all kinds the human eye cannot see. Soon it is pitch black outside. No city lights to light up the evening sky. Just darkness. A completely dark bedroom. When I wake up in the night I must feel my way to the bathroom. I love it. No noises because at night the countryside is asleep. For the first time in over 20 years I can sleep without ear plugs in. Just amazing. To wake in the morning because your body is done sleeping, instead of the sounds of neighbours or aircraft. A yawn, a listen: the lambs bleating with tiny little voices their mums responding in darker tones. The birds twittering. And the tiny meow of the cat who actually has the softest meow rather sounding like a mouse, maybe she is a devious little one, trying to trick the mouses into believing the coast is clear. She already brought in 1 dead mouse, 1 deceased mole and 1 living dormouse.

I arrived here on the 18th of January. Edward and Laura were to set off really early in the morning and so I arrived for lunch and the afternoon was spent showing the ins and outs of the house. Heating, woodburner, what to feed the pets and where to walk the dog. Laura prepared a nice meal and we celebrated the event with a bottle of Champagne in front of the fire. We had a lovely evening. The next morning we said our au revoirs and off were Ed and Laura. A long journey ahead of them all the way down under. It was 7 am and now suddenly the house was mine. A nice feeling. I adapt very quickly and have no feelings of homesickness nor do I attach specifically to places. So whether in a hotel, a b&b, a tent on a campsite, at home or at friends, I feel comfy mostly everywhere. However, Twin Cottage is exceptionally lovely. It reminds me of a holiday cottage we once stayed a night at which was called Little Pudding. Although Little Pudding was smaller, it was also very cute. And the same goes for this brilliant house. It even has a room which I can use as a workshop for my painting, since Laura is a very creative person herself and has a lovely workspace which she was happy to have me use.

After having a shower and having some breakfast I gave Jock a big cuddle and he bit me in the face. He did not mean to hurt me I am sure, but he caught my lip and so I burst out crying. It did not really hurt that much, but I think I was just a wee bit emotional. So there I was with a thick lip. I realised that Jock and I needed to get to know each other and that the way I showed him my affections was a way he was yet to get familiar with. We went for a nice walk together. The weather was lovely and Jock was splendid. That dog is so well behaved and listens perfectly to my commands. I was a little cautious at first since the narrow country lanes do have farmers in Landrovers driving like mad at times and so I needed to be on my guard. However I soon learned that I need not worry. Jock hears the cars long before I do and whenever he hears one he halts and stand to the side of the lane. He is so well trained. Just perfect. To think the poor thing is a rescue dog and had a tough youth is heart breaking. To me it is unthinkable to be mean to animals, they depend on us, we have a responsibility to be good to them. Unfortunately where he was born they merely saw him as either a good working sheepdog or a good for nothing. Since in his case they decided he was the latter, he was kept in a barn for 5 years on a chain. He therefore is somewhat traumatised and definitely is wary of men. He does not hurt them or anything like that but he sometimes barks at them. Just plain fear. So understandable.

When I first got here I had to discover the surroundings and was walking along the paths that Edward and Laura had pointed out to me. There is one path with leads along a footpath crossing a farm. Laura told me that the people owned a few dogs there, one of which was not too keen on Jock. She said it would be a good idea to bring a few dog biscuits to divert the attention of any fighting moods they might get into. Strange how just a warning like that puts one on ones guard and I found I could not walk in that direction without being wary of bumping into that particular dog.

One day as I walked past the house next to that farm, the window opened and a lady looked out: ‘I say, is that your dog? Please keep him of my lawn in the future!’ I must confess I was somewhat surprised. First of all because she did not recognise Jock and second of all because she had 4 dogs running over her ‘lawn’ already. Whatever. It takes all kinds. The odd thing was that Jock only walked on the grass which she called lawn which was just directly next to the footpath, he did not even wee there. Oh well.

Another day the nasty dog came running out of nowhere showing his teeth. Jock did not take friendly to this aggression and they barked and growled at each other. I felt frightened. I take my responsibility for the pet sit very seriously and I would rather be wounded myself than have anything happen to Jock. Fortunately a woman who was leading a horse to a field called the nasty dog back and told me not to worry because it was ‘all noise’. Hmm, I wasn’t too sure, but at least the dog listened real well to her command and backed off. After that I tried to find other routes to walk with Jock, just in order to avoid any altercations in the future.

IMG-20150221-WA0048After a few weeks I had discovered lovely places to go and ventured in all kinds of lanes, fields, footpaths, woods, along brooks and hills. The absolutely amazing experience for me being that I literally walked hours on end each and every day wandering here and there and only very very rarely encountering other walkers. Hardly ever on the walks in the surrounding area. The only times I would encounter other nature lovers and walkers would be when driving the car to land in the care of the National Trust. I would go there mostly with a friend during the weekends and in those particularly beautiful places there were some other walkers, but definitely not many and because the land is so huge and wide, with so many different paths and hills, you would never be in each others way. What a huge difference with my home country. I know I should not compare apples with pears, but whenever I go out for a walk around the park and land adjacent to my house, it’s a parade of people walking their dogs, cyclists, joggers, nordic walkers, roller skaters, all sorts. It’s just a tiny country with lots of people in. No wonder I love Wales. I just needed the space, the fresh pure air, the feel of expansion and freedom. Just walking. Simply being. Breathing in deeply, feeling my muscles because of the ascents, feeling so very much alive. What greater joy? I cannot think of anything better.