Category Archives: Relationships

An autumn love story

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On a warm autumn day, in a town on the Mediterranean, I let my kid choose where she wanted to have lunch. Her choice led us to a place were locals go. Tables next to each other. Waiters saluting clients with a non-chalance of old friends. This kind of place.

We were given a table in the middle of the room and soon enough a couple was sat next to us.

She was beaming with elegance, her hair just out of a hairdresser. White blouse, dark skirt. Let’s call her Mathilde. He was dressed as if in a hurry. A hurry to see her, I thought. Let’s call him Henry. They both seemed to have been born in the middle of last century.

They ordered the plat du jour and wine. Henry immediately became chatty with the lady at the table next to him and told her the story of his life in 5 minutes: he is retired, daughter lives in another country, he and the lady having lunch with him is not his wife and they just “see each other”. He would be good on Twitter, I thought, with such a talent for conciseness.

The lady at the next table offered them her unfinished bottle of wine. I also wanted to offer something, in exchange for more stories. I offered them our untouched basket of bread. They accepted it with the joy of 5 year olds on Christmas eve.

As we switched our attention to our plates, their dialogue unfolded:

– Oh, darling, your back hurts you again?, Henry asked with a compassion level 100, as she tried to find a comfortable posture in her chair.

– Oh, it’s fine, Mathilde tried to reassure him.

– Well, you know the remedy. You come to my place. You undress. I give you a massage on your back, his hands demonstrating circular movements, as if around her delicate shoulders.

Mathilde blushed and directed his eyes with her green eyes to my daughter, as if saying: « Shsh, there are kids around ». Henry’s blue eyes responded: “Well, sooner or later, she will find out. What’s there to hide?!”

– Well, you felt good after our last time…, his sweet smile enveloping her.

We left the place with the feeling of having watched a good movie from the 50s. Their illuminated faces – a lovely memory of an autumn love story. Ageless. Priceless.

P.S. I remembered this story in the times of this pandemic… I truly hope they are well and their love continues to brighten their days.

Teleworking week 2: view from home, part 1

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The closest pharmacy to my place is on the ground floor of my apartments bloc. The other day, as I was waiting outside for my turn to enter, a seniour citizen in his late 70s “approached” me:

– You are not wearing a mask…. Why?, he asked, a bandana in his hand.

– I do not need to. It serves those who are sneezing, coughing…, I answered summoning all my empathy.

– You know, he replied, I am terrified. I watch the TV and see all that….

– I have no TV for ten years now.

– You may be right, he said,…about the TV.

– Would you like to go inside the pharmacy? I can wait, I offered.

He gladly took my offer. I could hear their conversation. The pharmacist assumed he had hearing problems so he was yelling his answers. The gentleman was clearly scared. He did not buy anything. He needed human interaction and hypeless communication.

There is no right or wrong way to react to all around in these new circumstances. It’s one thing to watch a SF movie and another to be here and now. This is one of the reasons I never liked SF movies and apocalyptic views.

Back to the story of this gentleman. He is one of the millions, indoors, with a TV only as a company, probably, his loneliness brought at another level… . Psychologists already noticed it. Too many bad news and little information on recovery is dangerous for the human psyche. Psychologists around the world keep encouraging to try to look for positives and share them when you talk to others. It is demonstrated by research that a stressed mind diminishes the immune response.

Some countries and regions have installed services for people to call and talk to someone. Some of us are doing it at personal level – through baskets of solidarity or food ordered and delivered to those who need it. I see it in my country, enabled by charities joining forces with the business, like Diaconia and Kaufland.

Again, on a personal level one can read a book by skype/phone or start a virtual book club. Or put together a list of online entertainment: free opera streaming, concerts, movies, virtual museums visits etc. Little gestures which bring a human voice and touch to a lonely human heart … .

I loved Daniel Kaufmann’s article of this week “Caremongering – random acts of kindness” https://www-brookings-edu.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2020/03/19/caremongering-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-random-acts-of-kindness-and-online-enrichment/amp/

Here is to caremongering – random acts of kindness today and everyday.

Kneel down and listen

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On a Saturday evening, as I was waiting for my friend, I noticed a jolly trio – a French grandmother with two boys. “Mamie, mamie!”, spinning around her with joy and a blissful ignorance of the world around them. She was their world. They were her world.

Their chatter was incessant, questions followed by affirmations, without any need for answers. They had the confidence of someone who is loved, cherished and treated on an equal footing. I knew why, the moment she kneeled down.

She appeared so well-grounded. Being well-grounded is the greatest gift a parent and grand-parent can make to a child. Something tells me these two boys will turn into well-grounded adults and one day they will kneel down to talk to their kids.

Kids only mirror and give what they receive.

Thank you 2019

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When I was little, year 2000 seemed stellar years away. And now I say “Hello 2020!”

As I finish this year in my kitchen with crème patissière under my nails, I choose a moment of solitude to write down a few thanks to the passing year.

Thank you 2019,

for my new motherhood experiences. It is a 3D of past, present and future. Kids are unattainable teachers. We just have to open our hearts.

for a magic encounter with a new painter – Conny Famm from Sweden at his “Nordic Grace” exhibition. His “State of soul” is divine.

for my privileged and intimate friendships, which are untouched by distance. You know who are.

for my great professional relationships, which evolved into friendships. You know who you are.

for a new and growing sorority of spirits, regardless of our genders and age. We know who we are.

for many brilliant books I read this year.

for “Angel” by MyiaGi, my song of the year.

for a few small traditions I helped create, which continue to benefit those who need it most.

for my Grandmother’s traditions I sacredly follow on our special family occasions. It is my way to keep her in our hearts. Some of them fill our stomachs just fine, which she also loved doing for us, just like this cheese pie.

for the patience of my hubby when he fights his unspoken “You bought again so many!?, as he knows that I will support all forms of women’s entrepreneurship.

for new wisdoms I discovered and share with my daugthers. Here is a selection of my favourites:

  • The story you tell yourself is by far more important than the story other people tell you.
  • There is no truth in suffering.
  • Patience is a virtue few have, and those who have it gain it all.
  • What others say or do is about them. If you internalise it, you make it about you.
  • There are two basic emotions: fear and faith. The choice is yours.
  • Your behaviours demonstrate your values. Choose what you show to the world.
  • Age does not register with those who are busy with good deeds.
  • People who say that they will do it and then actually do it are rare. Be one of rare ones.

Thank you, 2019! Hello and welcome, 2020!

Social capital: the gains, the losses, the flow

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Pamela B. Paresky PhD writes in her article “Meet the teen who discovered the secret of social capital” in Psychology Today: “As a rule, we don’t teach children to tend, defend, and befriend those without social status — to spend social capital on targets of derision and exclusion.» https://www.psychologytoday.com. This deserves reflection and action, for the good of all concerned.

I saw this happening in my high school, then latter in life at my child’s kindergarten. Many do see, not many act. The choice between social capital, which can be replenished, and the dignity and life of the other should be straightforward. Moreover, kindness and warmheartedness are not energies spent. They are energy fuels.

Kids at any age only mirror the parents and adults in their lives. Let us fuel kindness and courage to not be afraid to spend well our social capital. And then it will not be even necessary to ask children to do so. It will become a natural flow of social captal to serve humanity.

Integrity

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integrity (n.)

from Latin integritatem (nominative integritas) “soundness, wholeness, completeness,” figuratively “purity, correctness, blamelessness”

When you go back to the origin of words, things come sometimes into a long forgotten perspective.

What is integrity actually? How does it manifest? What kind of behaviour a person with integrity displays?

From my observations and writings by smarter people, integrity has a number of positive behavioural traits:

Humility: there is no pride, no sense of competition, no desire to prove anything or to anyone.

Kindness: a person acting with integrity will treat a CEO and a janitor with the same kindness.

Authenticity: there is no mask. Integrity has nothing to hide.

Reliability: you can always rely on people with integrity.

Honesty: integrity is open and truthful.

It’s about giving credit: integrity does not claim what is not hers.

Always on time: people with integrity respect your time and their own time.

Integrity will never offend: even under the cover of an anonymous on-line account.

Integrity is open minded and also knows when not to change its mind.

Integrity places an emphasis on emotional intelligence more than on IQ.

Integrity knows when and how to apologise. People with integrity know they are only human and keep themselves in check.

Integrity keeps its promise. People with integrity will be there for you, if they said so.

Integrity is intuitive and will not let harsh calculations have a decisive say.

Integrity will not take advantage of others vulnerabilities.

Integrity knows a hammer is not only for nails. It is also a sculpture’s  tool.

Integrity serves. It does not wait to be served.

Integrity has a great sense of humour and can LOL about itself.

Integrity results in accountability. If we act with integrity in all walks of life from parenting to interacting with colleagues and partners, the world has a change of becoming a better place.

When you think of it, when integrity is in place, harassment, discrimination, fraud, humiliation, deprivation and others stand NO chance.

 

Hunters for love

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Matilda approached her long chair on the beach. A man stood by, checking his mobile. Or, rather, pretending to.

– Hm, that’s my seat, he said.

– No, she replied.

– Oh, I thought you are attracted to me and chose this chaise long, he put on a smile.

“Here we go”, she thought, “a pick up line”.

Matilda laid down on her chaise longue, a 200 page report in her hands.

He sat down on a chair nearby and launched into his scenario.

– What’s your name?

– Matilda. Yours?

– Liham. Where are you from?

– The poorest country on this continent, she said.

– Oh, I know Cristina Smth. She exports luxury goods to your country.

As if she was supposed to know all Cristinas in exports.

– There are beautiful girls there, he sticks to his lines. I traveled to O. with a friend last year. He wanted a beautiful girl.

– And not too smart, preferably. Matilda just could not help it.

– And smart too, he had to adapt his lines. But I was not looking for girls. I was in love at that time. Broke apart though recently.

“Aren’t’ we all in love!?”, Matilda thought to herself, with sarcasm.

– I live in France now, she said, to see what else he has in his arsenal of lines. I am married.

– So what?, he exclaimed and kept it faithfully to his lines: I am French. But I travelled a lot. I am open-minded. I could be your lover.

He was really in love with his learned lines, so he continued:

– I am attracted to you. Your body. I like petites. I like to dominate in bed.

– It is an illusion you have, she spoiled his lines. Again.

Confusion on his face.

– You think “petites” is by definition “obedient”. Obéissantes. It is an illusion, she repeats.

– You have brain, he looked her up and down.

“Probably my brain is all over my body”, she thought.

– A No is a “No”, she said.

Five seconds pause. His plan B had to come to rescue.

– Do you believe in God? he asked.

– You ask because of this? Matilda touched her small cross pendant with a diamond. It is a gift from my husband.

– You are smart and fast. You do in life what you like. You are married and in love…. He stood up and handed over his business card to her. Call me. In ten years, maybe.

He marched to the sea and jumped into cool water.

“Who has business cards on the beach, in beach attire only”? Matilda was amused.

Couple of minutes later, Liham met his friends on the beach and mentioned to them that he leaves for Paris in the evening. Just loud enough so that Matilda can overhear.

Next morning, there was a sign on the door: “pardon us”. It was on the door next to Matilda’s hotel room.

Before the trip, her husband playfully warned her “careful with the guys there!” : “Darling, men come there accompanied by girls twice younger. Or, if they come alone, an army of skilled huntresses is after them. I cannot compete with either.”

After her encounter on the beach she thought: “oh, there is a third breed – beach hunters for love”.

Back to school. Oh dear

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The School year restarted. So did a myriad of complaints. Parents complaints. And then we are surprised kids complain. And by the way “they have no reason to complain”, the parents say in one voice.

After hearing so many parents complain, I remembered about the wonderful book What All Children Want Their Parents to know: 12 Keys to raising a Happy Child by Diana Loomans. One these keys is “Leave your Values”.book

If there would be a championship of complaining, I would probably also get a prize, if not a medal of some sort. It is so much easier to complain then to acknowledge and appreciate for the human brain. We still can:

Appreciate that kids can go to school (I’ll not bring in the numbers of children around the world who do not attend school as they become family providers very early in life).

Acknowledge that a person invested in career of a school teacher, which is fun, if you are high everyday.

Appreciate the neural connections that form in the child’s brain, even if we know the mantra “the school prepares the kids for the jobs of yesterday and not tomorrow”.

Acknowledge your kid’s efforts and aspirations, struggles and successes, friendships and relationships ups and downs, etc.

Appreciate your role as a parent, who lives his/her values.

Acknowledge that school is important, but more important and life lasting is your relationship with your child, when the results on the evaluation sheets perhaps do not meet your expectations.

And have a slice of cake, or two, together to celebrate every school week 🙂 It works like magic.