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Passion is the element in which we live; without it, we hardly vegetate - Lord Byron

>> 26 September 2008

Do you know what the phrase 'being in your element' means? It is usually used to describe someone who is excelling at what they are doing, who is in top form. Being in your element means you feel at ease, you know what's going on, you love doing it and you are good at it.

Bruce Lee was in his element when doing Kung Fu, Picasso when painting. You get the picture.
Most of us are in our elements only from time to time. We have a job, a family and other occupations that seem to keep us from doing the things we are passianote about and would like to do more of. I mean, I love to paint too and I'd love to paint more. But I have a house to pay and a family to support. So I paint as often as I can and I am in (one of) my element(s) when I do. But I keep my dayjob...

However, to be really in your element, I believe that you have to do just that: give up your job and stop getting interfered with and do just what you are good at. Concentrate on your strengths. It is a tough decision only a select few dare to make. Some of them succeed and become the Bill Gates' and Jeff Koons' of this world. Some of them do not and end up just being poor but happy with their lives :-)
Additional information:


How to potty train your toddler and not go insane

>> 22 September 2008

Our oldest son (now 2 years and 4 months) is now potty trained.


A first try at daycare and at home, left him confused, upset, constipated and wrongly focused on his bodily funtions: a clear indication that he was not ready yet.

So we left him alone for a while and put the diaper back on.

He would pee in the potty from time to time but we were not pushing him. Every result was congratulated and celebrated with a special Potty Calendar.

Each time he peed in the potty he was allowed to glue a sticker on the calendar.

And when one page of the calendar was full, he was allowed to send a special potty postcard to someone.

He liked the concept of sticking labels but it was not enough incentive to actually pee on the pot. But they say people are creatures of habit and after a while, the stickers stuck to him and it became a habit.

So we took up the potty training again by removing the diaper. And wonder above all wonders, no more 'accidents'. Peeing was the easy part of course. The Poo level is more impressive to the child, but generally happens right after :-)

A few more tips:

  • Wait until the child is at least 2 years of age. They say the child should be able to walk up and down the stairs on his/her own one foot after the other like adults (not two feet on the same step)
  • Talk to the child. Explain what pee and poo is all about. That it's natural. That everybody does it. That food and drink go in and poo and pee come out. They are toddlers, but do understand a hell of a lot more than we think.
  • Start by taking the diaper off during the day. Keep it on at night. You may keep it on during naps and long car rides as well. You have to persevere here and arm yourself with patience.
  • Get everyone involved. Family members, daycare staff... all need to be on the same potty training focus here. And in line with the point below.
  • Do not scold the child but be supportive. Accidents happen. Try to use non-violent, non-reproaching language. Explain what happened, clean it up together.
  • Stop when it doesn't work. If your child refuses to go, hides the potty, says no-no-no everytime you even mention the potty, just forget about it. The kid is not ready. Go back to diapers. Do not make a big fuss. No need to frustrate your child.
  • Go back to the diaper life.
  • Wait a few weeks.
  • Try again. Usually the second time around is a winner.

For those who are looking for a ludic way to get your toddler to become potty trained, I can only recommend the use of a calendar. It is not the solution, but an aid.

You can get the potty calendar we used here. But there are lots of other options out there:

Potty training rewards
Free Dora the Explorer charts
Kaboose potty trainind calendar
Potty training printables at About.com
Potty training tips
Keep kids healthy

Vote for my post How to potty train your toddler and not go insane on Mom Blog Network


Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall. Count your life with smiles and not the tears that roll


The one who grieves
the fallen leaves
weary eyed, closing eaves
they are taken by thieves

The one who believes
the fallen leaves
are a past he never retrieves
interfering with the life he weaves

The one who perceives
the fallen leaves
as parts of him plucked off his sleeves
an unfolding he peeves

The one who achieves
to see fallen leaves
as past gifts one receives
for the growth that relieves

(c) Mindful Mimi - September 2008

Thanks to for prompting this poem.


How to have a great day

>> 17 September 2008

I usually try to start my day by saying (to myself, not out loud) "This is going to be a great day". I also try to end each day by saying "This was a great day. I am so grateful for it."

I was inspired to do so by a post Christine Kane wrote.
Her producer practices this simple technique.

It is cheap, it is easy, it's free, it takes no time or physical effort.
And it works.

Sometimes I forget. I don't necessarily have a bad day. Maybe a 'bit out of focus' day. Saying it to myself in the morning does help. I usually forget when I get up, but I am often reminded of it while driving do work. I drive through a dark, humid valley but when I come up the hill the sun (or at least a much brigther daylight) usually hits me with a splendid view over the hills. And I just want to stop and look, breathe,take a picture. This is going to be a great day!

And if the sun shines I start to smile. And just by pulling up the edges of my mouth a bit (even if I am not cheerful at all), my mind seems to shift just a touch. Enough to not get grumpy at the slow driver in front of me. And if I can get the smile to last me into the office I am always amazed at what people give you in return for this simple gesture.

So SMILE! Even if you don't feel like it. For your mood will be lifted.

Have a great day!

“Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other -- it doesn't matter who it is -- and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other.”

Mother Teresa
Catholic Nun, Missionary
Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive -to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."

Marcus Aurelius


To see things in the seed, that is genius - Lao Tzu

When you plant a seed

you do not know where it might lead.

Will it become a pretty bead?

Or will it grow into wild weed?

When you plant a seed

you do not know what it might need.

Will it know how to proceed?

Or will it grow up to exceed?

When you plant a seed

you will have to concede

that it will get its own feed

that it will grow at its own speed

(c) Mindful Mimi - September 2008

Thanks to for prompting this poem.


Fight with me - Sen. John McCain

>> 8 September 2008

During his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention (full text and video here), Sen. John McCain's ended by saying the following:

I'm going to fight for my cause every day as your President. I'm going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I'm an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth, and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach.

Fight with me.
Fight with me.
Fight for what's right for our country.
Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.
Fight for our children's future.
Fight for justice and opportunity for all.
I find that he uses the word FIGHT a bit too much. I guess it's to be expected from an ex-Navy man and Vietnam Veteran. But still... It sounds a bit scary and unbelievable to me.
Well scary because: do we really want more fighting? I believe that one can achieve all of the above without fights.
And unbelievable because: the guy is 72! How much energy does he have left to do what he says he will do?
Needless to say that I am not pro McCain :-) Yes, I prefer Obama's much more positive words: promise, change, sense of responsibility, hope, help, build, end the war, finish the fight...

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Our world is full of violence, fighting, war, crime - why add more?
Can we try to first live our best lives before we criticise others, before we meddle with countries were we have none but an economical, egotistical interest?
I am not saying that Obama is the perfect candidate. A perfect candidate, like a perfect person, does not exist. However, he seems to be a bit wiser (even though he is much younger) when it comes to life and what's important. He is not ashamed to admit that he cannot solve all problems. I find that much more appealing and reassuring that someone who calls me to fight with him.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away

>> 5 September 2008

Thanks to for inspiring this poem.


I hold my breath
at our boys at play
not noticing
that I am watching

I hold my breath
looking into your eyes
washed over
by all this love

I hold my breath
following a bird's flight
rising high above
becoming a dot

I hold my breath
smelling freshly cut grass
childhood dreams

I hold my breath
at the blowing wind
playing with leaves
on our trees

I hold my breath
to achieve a stillness
to center myself
on importance

I hold my breath
just to calm down
my running
through life

I hold my breath
almost every day
just to savour
my happiness

(c) Mindful Mimi - September 2008


Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow - Oliver Wendell Holmes

My oldest son, who is 2 years and 3 months, is currently realising what language is and what words are. He is being brought up with two languages (Dutch and French) using the OPOL method (One Person One Language). When he goes to school next year he will be taught a third, Luxembourgish.

So far he speaks better Dutch simply because he hears more of it more often due to the number of people who speak it to him. But he clearly knows that daddy speaks French and sometimes when my husband says something new or complicated to him he looks at me and asks 'what does daddy say?'.

Up until recently he never questioned anything we fed him language-wise, but for the last few weeks he is really trying to say the words right, pronounce the 's' etc.

Yesterday in the car I told him that we would do some 'crafting' in the afternoon. The Dutch word is 'knutselen'. (I guess the English translation would be 'putter': to busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner). He tried to say it but couldn't get around the 'kn' in the beginning in combination with the 'ts' in the middle (he'd say 'kutselen' or knutelen'). I kept repeating the word to him and he kept getting it wrong. I thought it was cute.

Suddenly he says: 'This is difficult in the mouth'. :-)

And he was of course completely right. Dutch is not an easy language on the tongue and throat. It was the first time he seemed to have realised that it's all about how the mouth and the tongue move to make a certain sound.

He finally did get it right and was really happy and proud to have gotten it right. Now he seems to want to learn funny words all the time and prounounce them right :-)
We are currently reading Dr Suess and I am glad to have found the books in Dutch. I mean, some books you can just translate on the go. But not Dr Suess...!


Every day you have to test yourself. If you don't, it's a wasted day - Terry Butts

>> 2 September 2008

So I did my 10K fun run last Saturday.

It was TOUGH! :-)


  • It was 28°C.
  • It was a 5K track which you had to run twice (and it's never good to pass the finish line because you just want to stop... instead of run all that AGAIN!)
  • I wasn't in the best of shapes and I am not used to running at 6pm.

The run started uphill and I am crap at uphill running. This was my first 'race' and my mind had to deal with all that was going on: the stress of being at a starting line, seeing the fast runners effortlessly disappear in the distance, thinking about who is behind me...

The first half of the first loop was mainly uphill, more or less steep. In the beginning I was still ok, but after a while I was being overtaken by the 'powerwalkers' who looked to be about 50. And my mind took a hit. Which is never good. So I not only had to continue to run in the heat, but also try to quiet down my mind that kept saying 'you're crap, even a 50 year old walks right past you'. Beating your own deamons is not easy and it was the first time I was struggling not only physically but mentally.

When the first loop was going downhill again I passed the powerwalkers again :-) but I started to feel a bit tense in the stomach area. That was when I decided to stop after the first loop (about 5K). That made me feel happy.

Arriving at the finish line, people were applauding. Wow, that was a first - and felt really good. I shortly stopped for a drink of water and saw my hubby and son standing a bit further to take pictures and fire me on. And somehow I just had to continue...

So up the hill I struggled again, the powerwalkers passed me again, my heart and mind raced again... And then I thought 'what the heck - I don't care if I end last, it's for myself that I do this, it should be fun'. And that changed the rest of the run. I started to notice the fields around me, the sun and the blue sky and running became a lot easier.

Running down the hill I did not overtake the powerwalkers again. And I didn't care. When I finally arrived at the finish line, the only ones clapping were my hubby and son, people were already starting to clean up. I didn't mind.

I was proud of myself. I felt good. And that's what you do it for after all, isn't it? :-)


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