Vier het leven en de liefde

Raise your glass

“Wine enters through the mouth,
Love, the eyes.
I raise the glass to my mouth,
I look at you,
I sigh”.

-W.B. Yeats –

Raise your glass
I can name many reasons to raise my glass, but the main reason for me to raise a glass is to celebrate love and life. I like to raise my glass when I’m in good company, surrounded by my loved ones; my family and friends. Celebrating love and life with those we love the most but hardly spend enough time with. I’m not ashamed to tell you that I like to drink a nice glass of wine. To me it doesn’t matter if it’s white, red or even during the summer, a nice glass of rosé. It depends on the mood I’m in. Mostly red in the autumn and winter, white or rosé during the early spring and summer.
I immediately add to this confession that I’m certainly not an alcoholic, definitely not. To tell you the truth; I have never been drunk in my entire life. Believe it or not but it’s true. I have been tipsy, but never drunk.
And it will never ever happen to me because I’m terrified of losing control: not knowing what I’m doing, placing myself in awkward positions and being embarrassed, no way. That’s something that frightens me.
Writing this down I realise that being tipsy may also be embarrassing? You see when I drink a little too much, I dare to say things I normally wouldn’t say. The alcohol makes you feel more relaxed, makes your tongue flexible and the speech fluid.
But enough of that, back to the wine.
I’m not a connoisseur. As I told you before I like red just as much as white and on a sultry summer evening a cold glass of rosé is a real treat to me. I have my preferences, but if you put a couple of glasses on the table and ask me which is which I wouldn’t know the different brands.
When I taste it, I decide then whether I like it or not and if not, I’ll choose another one.
Many years ago, and even recently I did a wine tasting course and learned a little bit about the different wines, but that’s it.

In the little town I live in we have a wine bar called Gavi. The store is divided into a shop and a wine bar. Every wine you taste can be bought in the shop.
And that is what’s brilliant about this bar. At the back they have a machine with six bottles of white wine and six bottles of red wine. On top of the machine you can read a little bit about the wine and it also tells you which glass each wine should be used with. Every once in a while there will be other brands in the machine.
You buy yourself some sort of credit card, put money on it and with your glass and your card you can fill your glass. If you can’t choose between the different wines you can decide whether you take a sip, a half glass, or a full glass of wine.
It’s this wine bar we often visit with some friends on a Friday or Saturday evening to celebrate the weekend, our friendship and all these other things worth celebrating (and I can assure you we always find something to celebrate…).
Together with the wine we often order a plate with all kind of cheese and sausage, olives and other nice bites.
We drink, we laugh, we talk and share our thoughts about a lot of subjects. And before you know it we see the staff cleaning up the place and it’s time to go home. Nine out of ten we’re the last ones to go home.

Lose the booze
But to show you and my family and friends that I’m really not an alcoholic, and I can do without my glass of wine, I decided to support Bloodwise with their action; Lose the booze (for those who don’t know what Bloodwise is, I refer to my post: Peakers).
They challenged everybody to not drink a single drop of alcohol during the entire month of January.
I thought: I can do that and on the first of January I stopped drinking alcohol.
But not drinking alcohol wasn’t enough for me so I took a bet with myself; for every glass of wine I wouldn’t drink I would put €3.00 in a jar and donate the money to the Dutch Peaker Foundation, and they will see to it that the money will be donated to Bloodwise.
In the first couple of weeks there were a lot of New Years drinks I had to attend and I was amazed how many people offered me a glass of wine because I normally would ask for one. I had to explain my reasons for not drinking alcohol.
Some time later in the month I got a severe toothache and the dentist gave me antibiotics, so I wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol. After that me and my love were invited to dinner by another Dutch Peaker and she made us a really nice MPC meal. That was the first time I really missed my glass of wine. Imagine you’re invited for diner and three people drink a nice glass of wine with their meal and you’re the only one drinking a non-alcoholic drink.
But there was another positive side effect. You see I’m a woman of a certain age and drinking my glass of wine keeps the stove burning at night, if you know what I mean! When I asked my sister if she recognised this she told me it never kept her from drinking a glass of wine, I agree with her.
And now January has come to an end and I have raised €51,00.
Has my month been less pleasant as a result of not drinking alcohol? Not in the least. Do I need wine to celebrate love and life? Most certainly not. Did it tell me something about my drinking habits? Haha, I don’t know…
But I do know that in a few days I will be raising my glass to my 52th birthday!

Under the sea

Under the sea
Under the sea
Darling it’s better
Down where it’s wetter
Take it from me
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we devotin’
Full time to floatin’
Under the sea      

-From the movie: Little Mermaid-


Little Dutch Mermaid Peakers
Who would have thought, that when Disney made the movie ‘Little Mermaid’ in 1989, almost 30 years later a group of Dutch Peakers would try to transform themselves as mermaids.
Well if you had asked me that question then, I would have laughed really hard. And if you told me that I was one of those Peakers who actually became a mermaid, I would have laughed even harder. But seriously, last November 2017 we did just that. We got together in Oosterhout and became mermaids for an hour or two. We swam like mermaids in a pool while we devoted our time floating.
I have been fascinated by water ever since I was a child. Maybe it’s not that odd if you know that I am born in February, and therefore I’m an Aquarius.
In my youth I did a lot of swimming. Growing up I had asthma and my parents always encouraged me to work out, so I did a lot of different sports.
I have lived my whole live in Flevoland, a region in the Netherlands that has been reclaimed from the sea, and is about 13 feet or 4 meters below sea level.
Now maybe you understand my fascination for water. And we do have a lot of it in the Netherlands.

As I told you in my blog ‘Dutch Peaker in Glasgow’ I went to Scotland in September 2017. Scotland is such an amazing and beautiful country that sometimes I wish I was born there.
But, to find beauty and be amazed, you need not go far from home. Beauty is everywhere around you. You only have to open your heart and eyes to feel and to see it and get amazed by its beauty.
So I decided, my challenge for 2018 was: going for walk in my own country and visit all 12 regions  and discover the beauty of the Netherlands. In this post I start with the region I have lived in almost all of my life; Flevoland
31 Years ago the Netherlands were divided into 11 counties and a 12th one was included; Flevoland.
Flevoland was assembled of ‘Noordoostpolder’, ‘Oostelijk-’ and ‘Zuidelijk Fevoland’. Lelystad became its capital. Flevoland was developed by draining parts of the former Zuiderzee.
Our first walk was on Schokland.

Schokland, a long time ago, used to be an island and is now a part of Flevoland. Schokland is a mysterious, archaeological monument. Its soil is full of beautiful mineral resources. It’s a place between land and water, for centuries long inhabited by people up until 1859.
Nowadays Schokland is designated as a cultural World Heritage site (UNESCO). And this really beautiful place is only, if you go by car, a half hour away from my home.
Honestly I’m a bit ashamed to tell you that I can’t remember when I last went there. I must have been a teenager or even younger.
There used to be two churches on Schokland, one catholic and one reformed. Only the latter is still there having been restored throughout the years, and is now a beautiful church in the landscape.
As we walked across Schokland I was really amazed by the beauty of this former island. You can see remains of the old houses and the harbour but also a lot of old rocks from the ice age.
On our walk there were moments of total silence as we inhaled the history around us.

Almost at the same distance from my house is a second former island called Urk. Urk in Holland is well-known for its fishing and for being a village with a very strong religious community. I’m not a big fan of fish, so maybe that’s why I don’t visit there very often.
The last time must have been when my in-laws were still alive. They loved eating fish.
Our visit this time took us on a walk across the old village and along the IJsselmeer, through the woods, along the newest part of town and back into the old part.
I was amazed by the beautiful historic houses, churches and buildings in the old part. There were a couple of lovely views into the harbour as we walked towards the lighthouse.
Those who have been to the Netherlands and have visited Flevoland, know we have a lot of wind turbines, and that some of them are even built in the water. When they were first built there was a lot of discussion about whether they would damage nature and the sight of the old fishertown, and also the open character of the IJsselmeer. However, I think you should judge for yourself.You can’t go to Urk and return home without any fish so I took some herring with me for my love.

The next walk in the Noordoostpolder was in the woods near Kraggenburg called; Voorsterbos.
On Schokland we walked through an almost flat landscape, on Urk we walked a large part through the village, whilst this part of our walk took us through the woods. As I told you before you have to open your heart and your eyes to feel amazed and see the beauty in your own backyard. It was on this walk, I realized the meaning of my own words.
Voorsterbos is a wood that was made in 1944 and contains of all sorts of trees. We’ve seen coniferous trees, beech trees, oak trees and a lot of bushes, like Euonymus.


As you have read, I don’t devote my time to floating under the sea, I have been devoting my time to exploring my own backyard and discovering the beauty of it. I’ve been amazed by the views I get to see so close to home, which is all below sea level!
There is so much more to tell you about my region Flevoland but I will keep that for another post.

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne

Robert Burns wrote this original Scottish folk song in 1788, but not with the melody we all know well, that was done by song editor George Thomson.
When the clock strikes twelve at New Year’s Eve, or should I say Hogmanay, this song is often sang. It encourages us to leave the past behind and let us rejoice to a whole new year.
For me, 2017, has been an incredible year with lots of ups and downs, with good and bad days. A year ago I wrote in my diary that with 2017, I had 365 days ahead of me, and it scared the hell out of me. What was I going to do with those 365 days? How would I get through them? And now there are only a few weeks left of 2017, I am proud of myself, for I made it. Maybe I was scared at the beginning of 2017, I took a leap of faith, and in the end it turned out alright.
I made it because I have family and friends that have my back and support me in everything I went through. I made it because I was able to make a few changes in my life and got back the energy I had lost over the past four years.
Making the trip to Scotland was the highlight of 2017. It was by far the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. It made me so strong, mentally and physically.
I peaked at Arthur’s Seat and burst into tears because I made it. I did it. It was that moment I started to believe in me again.
With this post I’m going to leave the past behind me and that means that I have decided to stop writing about my period of burn out, the period of my black hole. But I will not stop writing.
My posts will be different and I hope you will keep following me. For I have so much more to tell and show you. But for 2017: should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind…

I’m looking positively forward to next year. I’m feeling good and have enough energy to approach a new challenge. For the first moment in a very long time, I’m daring to make a list of things I want to achieve in 2018.
Some of them are mental and others physical:

● Find a new and challenging job
● Walking the West Highland Way
● Walk in every one of the 12 regions of Holland
● Keep on exercising in the gym
● Losing weight (lots of it)
● Celebrate love and life with my family and friends on every single day of 2018
Life is too short not to…

We’ll see what becomes of these challenges at the end of 2018. But for now I’m determined to achieve them. As I said before, there will be a slight change in my posts next year.My first post of 2018 is called ‘Under the sea’ and will tell you all about the region I live in, and after that there is more to come.
When I came back from Scotland I told everybody that it’s an amazing country with so many beautiful spots. I know Holland is quite different but never the less if you take a good look there are many beautiful spots too, and that’s what I’m going to show you next year. Together with a friend I will walk all these wonderful places and tell you about it.

Last but not least…
The end of a year is always a good moment to say thanks, and in particularly this year. So here I go.
A special thanks for the last year goes to my love. Honey, without you I don’t think I could have come this far. Love you so much, because you love me just the way I am! To my children and family who had to put up with me during the last year, when I wasn’t always the cozy one.
A big hug and thanks to my best friends; Jeanet, Marion, Marijke, Conny, Marco and Anneke, Danny and Adrie, Ronald en Jolanda and Jetje. With you I could be myself at every moment, for better or worse. You helped me through it by keeping me active and when I needed it, with a good glass of wine.
A special thanks to Raoul (Oxillion) who made this website possible. Love you and many thanks for your support. It has brought me so much.
A warm embrace for my new family, My Peak Challenge, and in particularly the Dutch Peakers. If I hadn’t found you on my way of healing, I’m certain I wouldn’t be where I am today. So let’s keep up the good work and keep each other motivated and inspired in 2018 (with or without a whole lot of lists Antonette!).
And last but not least to Leisure World, the gym where I have been exercising over the past 30 weeks.
You guys helped me through my rough moments and kept me focused. Let’s keep it that way in 2018!

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a ‘Peak’ful 2018!



A Dutch Peaker in Glasgow

Thinking about a title for this story, I got inspired by this song: Englishman in New York (Sting).

I don’t take coffee, I take tea, my dear
I like my toast done on one side
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk
I’m an Englishman in New York

I was a Dutch Peaker in Glasgow and Edinburgh for the past two weeks. And although I was an ‘alien’, a ‘legal alien’, I never felt so much at home, as in these cities, in this beautiful country.
The reason I came to Scotland was to close my period of ‘the black hole’ ( see my post Celebrate love and life). It has been almost a year since I stopped working, got stuck in my black hole and couldn’t find a way out.
To make a definite closure to this period in my life I decided I had to go away on my own for a little while. I didn’t have to think long about where I was going to go. It had to be Scotland. I was there 4 years ago, in a time before I knew what could go wrong and what would eventually cause my depression. I have good memories of Scotland and I knew I needed good memories to move forward.
I also wanted to see if there was still a little passion for education inside of me. I had been a teacher special educational needs for over 27 years and couldn’t say I was done with it or not. Could it inspire, and motivate me again? So, a visit to the Scottish Learning Festival was an excellent chance to see what was left of the passion I once had for my work in education.
Doing this by myself was another challenge as I realized that I had never been on a journey alone.
What I didn’t know, when I booked my journey to Glasgow to attend the Scottish Learning Festival, was that in that same week, there would be the first annual MPC (My Peak Challenge) event.
500 people bought tickets for the MPC weekend event, with many travelling there from all over the world.

Dutch Peakers
Over 20 Dutch Peakers had managed to get a ticket to the MPC Event.
Not so long ago I posted a story about MPC Peakers on my website. At that time I was a fresh Peaker (and still am) and didn’t think I would write another story, in such a short period, about this amazing group of people.
But I want to. I want to tell you more about MPC and in particular about the Dutch Peakers.
You see, I met this wonderful group of people, the Dutch Peakers, for the first time at an event organised by one of them. 
First we did a little bit of archery and after that we rappelled down a really high tower and a last there was a walk through the trees. Between the trees there were all kind of obstacles you had to overcome to go from one tree to another. Everything had a lot to do with heights, (I think I have reached the age to where you are quite sure you want to stay with two feet on the ground).
It was at this meeting, I heard that a couple of them were going to the first annual MPC event. Some of those Peakers only went for the event, others decided to make a little holiday out of it, and some went to Glasgow without a ticket for the event, but just wanted to be there. They were very excited and also curious. Until then, they didn’t know exactly what the event would be like. They talked about what they were going to do there; going on a hike with some of the coaches, doing some work outs at EDA with coach John Valboneesi, and hopefully a meeting with Sam Heughan, the founder of MPC, and on top of it all – the gala ball on Sunday evening.
I learnt about a special WhatsApp the Dutch Peakers had; ‘The Glasgow Event’, the serious app for all the arrangements and other important stuff. And then there was; ‘Glasgow Chat’, for the not so serious stuff. This last one made me laugh a lot, even days before the event began.
There was a lot of talking about make-up, dresses, hair, shoes and if it all would fit in their suitcases.
As always, the anticipation was just as much fun as the whole event, especially when you’re a spectator.
From these apps I also learned that there were other Peakers on their own in Glasgow. So when I came back from a beautiful visit and walk to Pollock House, I met one of the other Peakers and her husband for a drink. We had a very pleasant evening and believe it or not we even had a mutual acquaintance. The world is very small.
Back at my room I saw a WhatsApp of another Peaker who had just arrived in Glasgow and was wondering if there were other Peakers who would join the hop-on-hop-off bus tour through Glasgow.
I was planning to go to a special place early in the morning, so I said I wasn’t going. But then when I woke up early the next morning, I sent her a message to say that I would come anyway. I’m so glad I did. We had a very pleasant day, meeting all these other foreign Peakers, and finally ending up in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Art Museum.

Saturday night dinner at the Oran Mor
On Saturday evening the Dutch Peakers were having dinner together and I was invited to join them. As I told you before, there were other Dutch Peakers in Glasgow who didn’t have a ticket to the MPC event, including myself, but were there for other reasons. Some for a holiday, some just to be there to get a little glimpse of the MPC event. But we were all invited to join our group for dinner.
If you ever pay a visit to Glasgow don’t forget to go to Oran Mor, located in the heart of the city’s West End. It’s a Parish Church built in 1862, but nowadays it’s a bar, a restaurant and a nightclub.
It was at Oran Mor I had dinner with the Dutch Peakers, a group of people I had hardly seen, some of them who I only met a week ago. That evening, I matched names to faces. Names were not only names anymore. You can read a lot on Facebook about each other but names remain names and photo’s don’t tell you everything. Now, when I read a story, I see a name and a face, it means something to me. I feel something.
Together with all these people I had a really good evening. Not only a lot of laughter but also good conversations.
I listened to their stories and I realized that all these people achieved their own challenge that day. Some had to cope with a little bit of disappointment, some with victory. But in the end, each and every one of those Dutch Peakers had achieved a challenge. And we cheered to that, or should I just say: Slainté

A rainy Sunday in Glasgow
I knew that opposite Oran Mor, there were the Botanic Gardens, which I wanted to see. So I decided I would go there on Sunday morning.
Until then I had no complaints about the weather. But that morning it rained cats and dogs so I took the bus from my guesthouse. This was my sixth day in Glasgow and every day I walked to where I wanted to go and now I took the bus? I even felt a bit guilty!
It was still raining when I arrived at the Botanic Gardens, so I decided to get a cup of coffee in the tearoom.
As I walked in, there was a separate room on the left-hand side and before I knew it I was spoken to by a group of international Peakers who were having a brunch there and invited me to join them.
I sat down with two lovely women. We had a nice long conversation and talked about various things.
And for those of you who think my English writing is very good, I have to tell you a little secret. It was at this spontaneous meeting in the Botanic Gardens of Glasgow that I met Amy Bird and she offered to edit my posts for my website.
A native speaker editing my posts! Who would have thought that by going on a trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh to try and figure myself out, that this would happen to me. Not me.
You don’t need to have tickets to an event to see MPC in action, you’ll meet Peakers everywhere you go. Even if you walk back to your guesthouse and they call your name and wave to you from a bus stop on the other side of the road.
Thank you MPC for these wonderful few days in Glasgow where I met so many new, inspiring, motivating and nice people. I wasn’t there for the event but there wasn’t a minute I didn’t feel part of it.
Long after the event had finished and everyone had returned home, Dutch Peakers were still using the apps to connect and converse. After all we were Dutch Peakers in Glasgow…..


Bad day

I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then
Alice in Wonderland

Bad day
Not a long time ago I wrote the post; Get my lazy ass out of my chair. This was one of the challenges I set myself a few months ago.
Well, I did, I got my lazy ass out of my chair and 4 months ago I went to the local gym. I signed myself up for the Milon Circle twice a week and I told you all about it in that post.
That was 4 months ago and everything went well until today. Today is a different story, today is a bad day.
You see I was very positive, although I had this funny feeling that I didn’t lose much weight, I kept telling myself that I was doing alright. To know for sure I made and appointment to weigh. I don’t weigh myself at home for I am always disappointed when I step on the scale and nothing happened or I even gained weight. In the past I reacted by starting to eat everything that I could find. This time I decided that wasn’t an option, and so the only place I would weigh, was at the gym and nowhere else.
Before I go any further with my story I want you to keep the following in mind: Every Thursday and Friday morning around eight o’clock I take my mountain bike and go to the gym (about 4km from my home). Then I start with 5 minutes walking, a stability exercise (for my bad knee) and 3x 500m on the rowing machine (I Have to tell you about the rowing later in this story).
After that I do two rounds of the Milon Circle and I end with 5 minutes walking and go back home on my mountain bike (another 4km).
The rest of the week, I once go biking with a friend, and I once go for a long distance walk with another friend or with my dog, and I try to eat as healthy as possible(although I still can’t refuse a nice glass of wine or whiskey).

Lets go back to this morning, 15 weeks after I started this whole circus. I was rather positive when I entered the room to weigh and within 5 minutes that chanced completely.
Guess what? In 15 weeks I lost only 2kg….grrrrrr. 2KG IN 15 WEEKS?? I was so disappointed, confused, even angry. 15 WEEKS!!!!!!!!!!! Was that all??? Did I do all the hard working for 2KG IN 15 WEEKS ???? What was happening? Where did this go wrong…What did I do wrong?
The instructor that did the weighing said something about an eating program they have but I was still processing, and told him I would think about it. The only thing that went on in my mind was not having lost a significant amount of weight. I couldn’t believe it.
At that point I had to start my program for the day, but the more I thought about it the more my body refused to do anything. My legs got heavy and I couldn’t stop thinking why I didn’t lose more weight. Not even my music could help me set my mind free of thinking. There was not a song that could cheer me up. Not even Bad day (Daniel Powter).
So when another instructor asked me in the end; Did it all go well?, I almost shouted at her; NO, not at all. I was about to quit, to give up. In my opinion I did everything as I should and this was the result? I was done with it.
We talked for a bit and all we could think off was that it had something to do with my eating pattern. It couldn’t be the exercising, I did enough and I worked hard.
She also told me about the eating program I could follow. I don’t know. I have tried so many diets, is there a guarantee that this will work?
A woman next to me couldn’t help overhearing our conversation and told me that she recognized my problem and she just started this program 4 weeks ago and already lost 6kg.
Well it gives me something to think about when I am in Scotland for the next two weeks.
Maybe I should try this.
For this moment the only positive thing that came to my mind, was, whether I was going to do it or not, this bad day already gave me enough to write another good story.

The rowing machine
As I promised you I was going to tell you about my rowing adventure.
One of the things I added to my program a couple of weeks ago was: rowing.
I had seen one of those instruction films where John and Sam explain the rowing machine. And I said to myself: I can do that. I said to myself that I would row twice a week, 3 x 500m with 2 minutes of rest and I even challenged myself that when those 5 weeks were over I did 500m below 2.00min. I even kept a schedule of the results.
Do you feel it coming; that was the understatement of the year. I have done it for 5 weeks and my second best time for 500m is 2.14min.
And if I told you how I got that time you will probably die of laughing.
You see at one morning when I entered the gym, did my walking and my stability exercises, there was already a young man sitting on one of the three rowing machines. I didn’t want to go sit next to him so I left one between us. Unfortunately I couldn’t find my rowing program on the machine, and had to switch to the one next to him.
For those who know me; I don’t give up easily, I don’t quite and I always think I can do what somebody else does. I get fanatic when somebody else goes harder, further, higher etc. It doesn’t matter it just happens. If I start playing a game I want to win. Afterwards I always ask myself: Was it wise? No of course not, the man was probably half my age and I could never beat him. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t try…..
Already in my first 500m I wanted to follow him in his tempo. So wrong, so foolish, but I couldn’t help myself I went along and really I can tell you after 250m I thought I was going to die. So that’s how I got my second best time.
But this week, without distraction I did 500m in 2.12min. So you see I don’t need a good looking man beside me to challenge myself, although………


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