Tales of 2 Timothy 1.7

Tales of 2 Timothy 1.7

When people tell you who they are, believe them, from the first time.

This was an expression made by Oprah in one of her many great interviews. The first time I heard this I was completely shocked. This resonated so much with me, more than I could explain. I have spent a great deal of my life making excuses for others and not willing to see the clear signs that were right there in front of me.

Today I would like to talk about this simple phrase that brought so much insight to me and I believe that it can help you too on your journey to separate the wheat from the chaff .

Five years ago I met the most wonderful man. He was handsome and had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. We fell in love, and yes it was that kind of ‘love at first sight’ thing. I met him on a packed busy night out, when I saw him I didn’t move until he came and spoke to me; from then on the sparkles flew all over the place. It was an attraction almost as strong as gravity. After spending the whole night dancing we exchanged numbers and had our first kiss; from then on I was hooked for five years straight.

He lived 185 miles away from where I lived and at the time I had no car so seeing each other was a matter of detailed organisation. What we managed to do for a whole year and half. We would see each other pretty much every weekend as we both worked during the week. I have to say, he was the one travelling the distance most of the time. Opening the door after having been waiting to see him for a whole week was like heaven. No fringe in me would think that this would ever come to an end. For me he was the one. I loved every little hair on his head to his little toes. To him I was the first woman he brought home. The first one to meet his grandmother and the rest of his family; and the one to celebrate new year with his best friends. As you can see all was set for a successful life together. Needless to say that I spent all my free time dreaming of our wedding. (That’s an inside female note, please don’t judge me).

Although love was strong and present it wasn’t enough to last. The distance was too much. As I couldn’t make all the parties or some other occasions there were, of course, other women who made sure to fill that gap. Because of this I grew insecure over us and over myself. He loved dancing and so he often took one day of the weekend nights off to go and dance, as I lived on the other side (of the world) I couldn’t go dancing with him and so he did this with a “friend”. (The first red flag; who not so long after we broke up became his girlfriend but they eventually broke up not so long after that). Which was of course like a needle in my heart every time I thought of it. He was honest with me and so I trusted him with my most precious. But as time passed by, the distance and the so called friendly dance partner started to come in between us.

Well, life happened. One day we went to a lovely restaurant and after that he broke my heart and told me that he didn’t think that we were made for each other and that this wouldn’t work. Hearing this shook my whole being, I was young and over my head in love and this did hurt more than I could put in to words. This was another red flag, but instead of listening to it; I choose to ignore it.

We parted ways, but not so long after that he contacted me again and from then on the wheel kept turning. Instead of learning the lesson once; that when someone had hurt you that deep, you shouldn’t offer them this same broken heart again for them to keep, I did exactly that.  I would travel around the world and meet new people but right when I would start opening myself again for a new romance I would receive one of his messages and just like a drug I would be hooked again, thinking that we could give it one more chance.

On one side he was a friendly kind and generous man with a good heart; on the other side he could be this cold hearted person that I barely recognized. I remember once he invited me to his mother’s fiftieth anniversary, this was a year after we broke up and had barely seen each other. I accepted the invitation, I was young and foolish what else could I do? So I went all the way there, only to hear him declaring somewhere in the middle of the party to his family members that he would never get back with me that between us there was nothing left. I felt hurt and humiliated, why would he have me come 185miles far  for this occasion if I meant nothing to him? Red flag number three, but again, I choose to ignore it.

I would go travelling, but once I was back in the country we would meet up.  Sometimes we would be so close that it would feel like we had never left;  and other times he would sit on the corner telling his friends all the 101 reasons why I wasn’t good enough. Which would weaken my self confidence and my self worthiness big time. You would think that I learned the lesson by then but it took me five years of these ups and downs to finely hit that point. It wasn’t till I heard this  simple saying: When people show you who they are believe them from the first time, not the 29th time. That I realised what was happening. He had showed me many times before that I couldn’t trust him with what was most precious to me, my heart; but still I kept on avoiding to see this simple truth that was right in front of me and decided to chase something that wasn’t there. I have to add to this that he wasn’t a bad man, in fact he had helped me in so many ways and deep down he has a good heart also he gave me plenty of mixed signals; such as coming to see me for a few days once I moved to London. I mean I’m a woman, when a man those that for you; you just melt. But the thing was, his good heart wasn’t meant to be with mine. You see, not all good souls are meant to run in the same direction as your good soul. But I choose not to see this  and because of that it had cost me so much.

This particular phrase made me think past my romantic relationships. I have had friends who wanted me to be a certain way, who didn’t love or accept me the way I was.  Instead of seeing this from the first time and taking distance I would ignore the signs and hold on to the idea of a friendship. Of course it was only a matter of time before the castle came tumbling down. I would realise that I couldn’t live up to the expectations of an untrue friendship and would then let go. But this would be after spending many years of investing in the wrong things instead of allowing the emptiness,  in order to meet the right people and create relationships and friendships that were healthier for me.

Looking back in my life I had seen many times where people showed me who they were but I had chosen to deny this. This is why I wanted to tell you this story today. Hoping that it wouldn’t cost you as much tears, energy, time and money as it had cost me to learn from the 29th time. Instead you can choose to see the signs of an unhealthy relationship right away and get yourself out of there before this would consume the time that you could spend building better and healthier relationships around you.

Is it art imitates life or life imitates art?

Yesterday I was having this conversation with a friend, somewhere in the middle of the conversation I said; ” Well as they say, life imitates art”. To which he replied no, it’s art imitates life. I paused for a second and thought about it and than concluded: “I’m pretty sure that it’s -life imitates art-. As we couldn’t agree on the matter, we went online to our dear friend Google; who confirmed that both statements were true and spoken by great philosophers.

Aristoteles declared around 320 BC that “Art imitates life” but many decades later Oscar Wilde declared in an essay that “Life imitates art far more than Art imitates life”.

Now you’re probably wondering where I’m trying to go with that. Well see, first of all let me tell you that these two statements are perfectly true. But like Oscar Wilde said the former is more applicable than the latter. Let me give you basic examples to demonstrate this:

Art imitates life goes without saying. This is for example when an artist sits in front of a fruit bowl and actually try to paint this same bowl on his canvas. Or when a musician tries to duplicate the sound of a bird into a music peace. Or even when a movie director makes a movie based on a true story.  These are simple clear examples of ‘art imitates life’.

But what is life imitates art and most importantly why is this even more meaningful? Dramatically this can be explained as, you become the some of the art that you allow yourself to be exposed to. Of course  you have to expose yourself in a great level in order for this to have an impact. Let’s say a child who grows up in a house where both his parents are musicians and dansers will end up doing the same thing or he may at least end up doing something leaning in that direction. He will probably end up to be a composer, a music writer or having other functions that lean on the images and views that he grew up being exposed to.

An other example is when you watch videos of sport or crossfit, you go to seminars and read books about this kind of workout, you will end up wanting to become just like that. Because in your mind this has become your new normal, your way of life.

The biggest industry who makes the most use of this theory is the advertising industry. By broadcasting a certain product several times in a day on a tv channel or billboards; the great companies hope and know that people will end up buying their products because that’s what they’ve been exposed to.

These are all clear and plain examples of the latter. But when we look further into this we can see that, art imitates life in such a way that even the elements that we get exposed to on an unconscious level end up to become part of us.

For example nowadays we often see explicit images of sex on tv. This comes up on more and more regular basis, and this tendency ends up making younger and younger children want to be intimate at a very young age just because they got exposed to these images on an unconscious level. Also images of violence and the notion of fear that is proclaimed on tv nowadays results to the fact that more and more people goes on to live in fear and are more prone to violence or accept it much easily because they’ve been served this on a daily basis.

Knowing all this results to one outcome: How can you use this for your advantage instead of letting it control you?  When I wanted to start writing a book I went to a book launching event and one of the speakers told me that if you want to write you need to surround yourself with other writers in order to share ideas, experiences and to improve in your skill but most of all you have to read lots of books. If this is true for writing it is definitely true for any industry or any other aspect of life. If you’ve always wanted to run a marathon, start running, watch videos of others doing the running, study the best methods of running and talk to people who have done it before you. By surrounding yourself with the art of what you want you prepare your mind to accept the fact that you are ready to go after that which it is that you want. If there are elements in your life that you don’t want then make sure to delete and avoid exposing yourself to those images or other forms of art that express these ideas.

Once on a plane to the States I met this girl who was sitting next to me during the flight. We were talking about music and somehow we ended up talking about Adele, I told her how I admire her music and how steady her voice is and so on. To which she replied, she is a great singer but there is a lot of drama and I don’t like all that sadness. This hit me, it was the first time that I realised that listening to someone’s declaration of sadness actually made me feel the same, even when I wasn’t going through those emotions at first. This made me more selective to the kind of music I was listening to and which art I was allowing around me.

So now that you know all this; which art would you like to surround yourself with?

 

 

 

 

How being in the right environment is important cause this will influence your behaviour

 

A while ago I started a new job. In this new position 55% of my colleagues were smokers. One of my colleagues that I started with was a non-smoker. In the first two months we were on the job, I never saw him touching a cigarette. Our office was located in such a way that we had a bright big view of the smoking area of the company. From our desk we could see how other colleagues smoked their stress away through a nicotine stick.

One-day, during our break someone else in our group of friends said that he was about to leave to use the rest of his break to smoke outside and so it happened that my other colleague decided to tag along. What seemed to be a very innocent thing to do. But then this happened a few more times and before we knew he was the one smoking outside. At first just cigarettes that he received occasionally from others but eventually he decided to bring his own pack of 27 sticks of nicotine.

When I would ask him if he was now an official smoker he would say no, he was just smoking from time to time, but that he wasn’t dependant on it. This was when he was a social smoker accompanying others to the cosy common smoking area. Before long I would see this dear colleague standing there by himself smoking his time away.

This could have been a coincidence but this happened to two of those who started with me on the same day. Not sure if the other smokers there all started by this occasional cigarette but I doubt that these two were the only ones who were influenced by the environment we were in. Well, just in case you were wondering, I would never be a smoker, I’d rather travel and go see the world,  than spend any dime on nicotine. But that’s another story.

My text today is not so much about just smoking, which I believe that everyone has the right to do if they enjoy it. What I want to underline here is that two individuals have found themselves drawn to a habit that at first wasn’t theirs and eventually have given in to it. Those individuals were just like you and me. Intelligent, young, strong personalities. So what brought them into changing their behaviours?

Well, first let me tell you that our environment is of great importance. When you grow up in an environment of university graduate you are more likely to work as hard as you need to, to make sure that you end up with a degree as well. Not because you can’t make it without it, but more because your environment has generated this into your unconscious system that you need to have that too.

In the same way many studies have shown that children of abusive households end up to be abusive themselves. But before you go on and categorise yourself in a certain box because you’ve seen that pattern very often, so you think that’s your lot in life. Let me tell you the other aspect that many studies haven’t been able to explain.

The second element, which is the aspect of your will; the strongest element in a human’s brain. If your will is not strong enough you will end up falling into the pattern of what you’ve seen or see around you. But if your will is strong enough than your options are limitless.

Let’s go back to the smoking area, my two colleagues were not the only ones who have started to work there at that period of time, they weren’t the only ones to see cigarettes and smokers on display every single day, I was there too. I was one of those, 45% who had made up my mind long time ago that I would never be a smoker. So even though I was in an environment where this was almost promoted, I didn’t feel the pressure to go and be part of it. Ofcourse in the beginning it takes a lot of courage and strength to decide not to walk a certain way because the mainstream does so. To decide not to be a drug addict because all your friends are, to decide not to be just a simple party animal because that’s what “everyone” else do. It takes lots of courage to walk “the road less taken”. But it’s only by making the decision upfront and stand firm to your belief that you will not give into something that you don’t believe in just because of peer pressure or because of easiness that you end up opening a whole new path for yourself. A whole new wold where you get to decide how things go and how things will work out. You see it’s easy to follow the mainstream and end up in jail because your parents did so. But it takes a strong man (woman) to say -No- I want something better for my life, I want something better for my future and so I will not give in and will focus and work on the things that I believe will bring me to the right path.

Let me tell you that at first the pressure will be tough. I remember sitting there by myself when all my friends went smoking or standing there being the only one not drunk in the bunch and seeing everyone else half wasted away. In the beginning it can feel a little awkward, trying to grab your phone to keep yourself busy but before long you will be the one taking actions. You will be the one enjoying your evening but also the next day because you didn’t need the whole day to recover from the night before. You will be the healthy one building a great family without having to worry about your health or desperately looking for a cigarette at the end of the day cause you haven’t been able to smoke for a few hours.

Just like you copy the negative behaviours of others, you also tend to copy the positive ones. Although the latter is bit more difficult.

What I’m trying to say is that life will serve you many occasions to weaken your will, but when this happens remember that those who created the path, those we all look up to in this world aren’t those who’ve just decided to follow the mainstream because it was easy. But they were those who decided to take a step aside and follow their own path. So don’t be afraid to be a little different than the rest. Follow your own path and have faith and trust that you are making the right decisions; and can I share a secret with you? Well, by being the first to take another path you unconsciously open the way for others to follow YOU.

Hello Masi

 

It’s been almost five months since I set feet in this new city called Maastricht.

Maastricht is a city located in the crossing of three significant countries; Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany and only a three hour drive from France. Historically Maastricht is the place where “het verdrag van Maastricht” was signed, the foundation of the EU.

It’s an old renewed city. With many beautiful new buildings but at the centre the typical characteristic beauty of old “herenhuizen” or town houses. Something that you find mostly in Europe. There are plenty of little cosy pubs, coffee shops and restaurants. With the Maas crossing in the centre of the city Maastricht doesn’t miss that level of romantisme that you can find only while standing at the top of a bridge looking over the river.

The city has a perfect balance of young and old not only in the buildings but also in the composition of it’s population. While there are many retirement houses for such a small city there are also plenty of universities to balance it out. Because of it’s location the composition of the universities have never been more diverse. There is a great mix of not only students from those three neighbouring countries but also students from all over the world come to study in the so called Masi. In the first month that I arrived I met a Canadian, a Venezuelan, a Hungarian, a German, a French, Belgian, and of course Dutch to name a few.

Being a globetrotter – (that doesn’t sound very sexy to describe someone who travels around the world, we need to find something else for that) I know that moving to a new city can be lonely at times. I remember when I arrived in New York at first, I had to push myself to get out of the house cause I didn’t know anyone and had no clue where to start to make new friends. This settled it’s self of course over time; cause now I’m still connected to the friends I made there 4years ago.

I didn’t have that problem arriving in Maastricht. Maybe I had grown up and have gotten more confident or maybe it’s because I arrived here for work and it was easier to connect with my new colleagues and later on to connect with their friends. Because it’s such a crossroad city. People don’t expect you to belong to a certain group and are therefore more open and accessible. Not only in their actions but also in their speech. Maastricht is a Dutch city but many here speak English effortlessly and make it therefore easier for international students, workers and travellers to express themselves.

Masi is a cosy low pace city, much different then what I’m used to living in London or NY or even Ghent my old home town. The bike is an effective way of transport over here, what no one would consider living in NY or London. While here I see decent business people making their way to work on a bike with their suit and tie on. At first this made me laugh. I’m used to seeing Rangerovers, Audi and other fancy cars standing at the parking lot before taking a plane to our next destination now I was seeing bikes lining up in front of the office buildings. This is not so much a financial thing but more of a choice. Many employees or even directors find it more efficient to take the bike, of course this is all depending on the distance you have to travel.

What about love in the Masi city:

One writer once said the only constant thing in the world is change, I believe the other only constant thing in the world is love. Without it there would be nothing.

Of course love is omnipresent in the Masi city. Being a very international city it is much easier to connect date and marry someone from another country or culture. Having thousands of places and ways to meet people such as salsa parties, local concerts and other events getting a date in the crossroad city is more of a child game. Of course meeting the one is an other game. I didn’t really open myself in meeting someone new in the city as I knew that I was leaving soon but I could see how being in an international city made it easy to connect with others and therefore to build good relationships.

He who controls the past controls the future

At the moment I’m reading this great book about how to run your finances. One of the chapters in the book is called: He who controls the past controls the future, he who controls the present controls the past by R.K. Although I’m not going to talk about finances because I still have a lot to learn on that subject; I found that the title perfectly fitted in a more personal context: the fear of commitment.
 For many years I’ve let past experiences control my present but reading these lines makes me realise that I don’t have to let it be that way, not anymore.

As many of my writings, I tend to write out of life’s tough learned lessons.. I couldn’t let what had happen to me in the past control the rest of my life and thus I learned that I had to control the past in order to plan a better future.

Life gave me lemons in different forms, most of them in relationship forms. At a young age I found myself in a court room where my parents decided to officialise their divorce. Because of that from a young age I knew that love doesn’t always last, although I claimed to believe in the opposite.

After spending a few years with my father we quickly moved to Europe where we grew up with our aunt. Leaving the country where I was born behind together with my parents and other siblings I then realised that even that relationship doesn’t last for eternity. Adding to that, our aunt who was supposed to be our sole family in Europe ended up to be an abusive figure in our early pre-teenage and teenage years.  Again I was shown that love even coming from your own relatives could be taken away from you. Fast forward ten years ago, or a little less; my best friend got involved with someone I was dating at the time. This too crushed me double time. Cause this thought me that you could lose not only the love that came into your life by a natural string, but also the love that you choose to bring into your life could be taken away from you in such a brutal way. With this last one I was more hurt for loosing a friend that I loved, trusted and cared for dearly than loosing the guy I had a crush on at the time. I felt like my friendship was betrayed, a friendship something so pure and innocent. Ever since I build walls around me in every relationship I entered in, this being a friendship or a romantic relationship. I thought myself how to love from a distance and I got so good at it that I could trick someone into a romantic relationship while I still held the walls around the fort of my heart high and strong. I often wondered why I wasn’t able to build strong deep meaningful and everlasting relationships anymore. This was because I got so good in making people feel as if they didn’t really matter in my life. By doing so I could keep my bruised heart protected from potential hurt. I couldn’t afford to let anyone in who could potentially one day hurt me in one way or another, and so I took the upper hand.

But you see safe heaven can be a lonely place to be. We go through this human experience not so that we can find a way to avoid all the pain and hurt but so that we can find a way to learn to get up and keep going even when we are hurt and wounded. Life is not about avoiding the pain but about accepting it and learning to still see the beauty in it. You see I managed to forgive everyone who ‘s ever hurt me, I even forgave myself from being so tough on myself. But forgiveness is easy. It’s tougher to put yourself out there again and let people in this secret garden of yours.

I created thousands and one rules to keep love on a distance and it worked for a long time. But the perks is that love is a currency in human relationships, a rule to live on by in humans life. It is as necessary as the water you drink or the sunlight on your skin. You can only live without it for so long, after that you need to receive it in a high dose otherwise you lose the sense of being.

I believe it would take a strong wind, a force greater than anything I’ve ever known so far to pull down the walls that I’ve build so carefully over the years. But in the meantime, I decided to open the door into the fort of my heart, into new friendships, into new trusts, into true love. The opening is small and I still guard it with all my might but I trust that one day I could love so purely that I could allow myself to let my heart float in the air without being afraid to fall. Cause I’ve learned that the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and in return to be loved.

 

How to live in the present and not dwell in the past or uncertain future.

Recently I had a conversation with this wonderful woman, when we were talking she told me that she has been learning to live more in the present and no longer dwell in the past as she used to. As I was listening to her describing this characteristic of herself I realised that I was just like that. One who spends the majority of her time living with the regrets of the past or the fear of an uncertain future. How is this possible you are probably asking yourself? Well, let me explain this in a way that will give you an insight into something that can improve the quality of your life.

Before I carry on I need to define the areas in which we are working on.

Living in the past means reminiscing about something that no longer exists. This can be thinking about a good thing that took place a long time ago and you are having difficulties letting this go and so you spend a great amount of your time rethinking that moment of your life. That element can be something good, in which case it’s absolutely fine to recall that memory from time to time as long as you don’t dwell in it. By dwelling in it I mean, spending more time thinking about the past than you do enjoying the present time. Even though you can be thinking about something positive, being too focused on the past can restrain you from advancing in your life. But the problem occurs more when you dwell in a negative past. Telling yourself if only I had taken this or that decision this would be different. Although this might be completely true; because your life is a result of your actions, living in a negative past will not only prevent you from enjoying your present life but also from making better decisions that will benefit you in the future.

Living in the future means that you are focussing on that which will come or that which might not come that you don’t enjoy your present life and let life pass you by. This can be for example when you are expecting something that will come in a few months or in a few years and instead of enjoying your life meanwhile you’re so focused on that event that you don’t fully appreciate the things that are in front of you and aren’t able to fully enjoy the present moment because your thoughts are constantly in what shall come. The bad thing about this is that we sometimes focus so much on something that we believe will come in the future, but that very thing may never come or may never take place in which case we’ve been wasting our time all along. Let me give you an example to explain this: First example: Let’s say you are in a relationship, you’ve been together for quiete some time but you haven’t been able to enjoy the time you spend with your partner because all this time you’ve been focussing on the fact that your partner might be unfaithful to you. Of course this might be true and if so, it would be a sad thing to have to deal with. But you could deal with that problem when it occurs instead of spending the entire time of your relationship worrying on what if. When you have someone who seems genuinely interested in you, spending your time worrying on something that isn’t there will get you waste beautiful valuable moments and may even damage your relationship. Of course living in an uncertain future doesn’t only apply in relationships but also in other aspects of life, in your job, in your family life in your health and so on.

So now that we’ve established what you shouldn’t do, let’s see what you should do instead.

Living in the present time is a choice. As simple as it may sound, it is something that many people never really master. There are numerous books written about how to live in the present time this because many have realised that not doing so will let you waste many years of your life. First of all you have to know that it is not a default. Everyone go through some moments in life where they dwell a little more in the future or more in the past. But acknowledging this and taking the right steps to avoid it will bring you more joy and fulfilment in your life.

What you can do to live in the present time:

Acknowledge your thoughts: First of all as you now know what living in the past or in the future means, you can easily detect yourself when your thoughts start to go that way. When you are not thinking about the current moment, about what you are doing now or about who you are with at this moment but instead are dwelling in some other tense then you know you should do something about.

Take action: Once you’ve noticed that you’ve been thinking more about everything else but the now, just stop those thoughts and ask yourself: What are you doing right now; who are you with, and what are the positive things about the moment you are in? Not the moment you will be in a few weeks, months or years.  Not how it used to be when this or this was there but the now. What are the great advantage of your current life? In the beginning this might seem tricky and you might not find anything positive to say about your life now. But with practice comes mastering and so by acknowledging when you dwell in other times and taking the right actions to get back in your present time you will start to see that your current life has many great things to offer if you only took the time to see it and enjoy it.

See the result: As you practice this deliberate choice of living more in the present you will start to see the great things that you’ve been missing on while you were dwelling your thoughts in the past or future tense. You’ll start to do more, achieve more and even be more cause you are more aware of the now. Although we can never change the past, by living more in the present you will notice that your future will improve as you are more aware of your choices as you take those choices in a more current state not because of what happened in the past but because of who you are right now.

Eventually all these little efforts, which might seem insignificant in the beginning will eventually improve the quality of your life and therefore bring you more happiness.

Your true beauty isn’t in the way others perceive you, but in the way you see yourself

Source: Your true beauty isn’t in the way others perceive you, but in the way you see yourself