Relaxing in Oslo

My Scanner Daybook - May 20th

My little coffee shop

My coffee shop would have sky blue walls, red and yellow tables, a light blue floor, and wooden misfitted chairs.

It would have big comfy sofas and armchairs.

It would have a bookcase full of books you could just pick out and browse through. You could even bring in books you've read and exchange them for books in the bookcase.

There would be paintings on the walls, each month from a different, talented, upcoming artist from anywhere in the world.
The paintings would be for sale and anyone who came into the coffee shop could buy one.

We would serve delicious coffees - lattes, espressos, cappuccinos... and teas with all kinds of different flavours - we'd have a glass cabinet on the wall next to the counter with all our teas in it and customers could pick the one they want.

We would serve homemade cookies, cakes (carrot cake, banana cake) and tarts (chocolate tart, lemon meringue) for morning or afternoon tea and tortillas and dips (homemade guacamole, mmmmh), raw vegetables, olives and other finger foods for a light lunch or appetizer in the evening.

There would be a big box full of games next to the bookshelf. Chess, checkers, card games... and guests could chill out and play a game at their table.

On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, we'd get a jazz band or singer/songwriter in to play some music.

Every month, we'd have themed workshops, where people could come and paint, or knit, or make jewelry.

Ideally, we'd have a little garden out back where we could put some tables and chairs (those beautiful Moroccan tables with mosaic tops) on hot summer days. The garden would be full of fairy lights to give it a magical feel in the evening.

Instead of ordinary beer coasters, we could have blank cards where guests could draw something or write a thought. They would be pinned up on one of the walls and anyone who wanted to could add one.

We could develop our own line of postcards with some of the drawings or thoughts, and make badges out of them too.

We could design our own coffee mugs and tea pots, and give each one a different design.

The name of the place would be something relaxing and inspiring. Something simple. Like "Soul".

We would make our own cool website, where the past and upcoming artists' works of art would be displayed, and we could add cool new recipes on it, let customers send us postcards from around the world and advertise all the concerts and workshops.

Our clients would be mainly students, travelers, artists.

We'd let the guidebooks know about us, like the Lonely Planet and the Globetrotter, and hope they visit us and reference us.

We could have a big pin board where people could post all their ads for traveling companions or rooms for rent.

Happy Birthday to me :)

It's not every day you turn 30.
In fact, it's a once-in-a-lifetime event.
So I'm glad I have the day off work to get used to the idea, and really enjoying the fact that it's a beautiful day, we're chilling at home in our gorgeous apartment with the windows open and I'm at peace with myself and the world around me.

This year will be the year I...
... get married :)
... make peace with my body and learn to take care of it
... change careers
... travel to an exotic location for our honeymoon
... discover Rome (my birthday present!)
... get back in touch with my creativity

The truth

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” I was taught; one more lie among many. In truth words penetrate the unlidded ear and land in the spirit. Words carry hatred and passion and love and fear. Words have the power to shoot down and rise up. Sharp cutting words can whirl for years afterward like the rotating blades of a lawn mower.
- Louise M. Wisechild, The Mother I Carry

Weight issues

I went out clothes shopping today. Something I try to avoid doing and would gladly never do if it wasn't for the increasing scarcity of suitable clothes in my wardrobe. And now summer's here, I really have been forced to acknowledge I just do not have enough clothes that fit me, are comfortable, look decent and don't make me look completely out of place in the hot weather.

Clothes shopping is basically the only time in the year that I see myself near naked in a full-length mirror. And I'm usually in for a nasty surprise, as I am confronted once again with my wobbly figure.

And today I suddenly realised: I have no self-image. As in: a mental image of what I look like to other people. I basically avoid mirrors, and when I do see myself, I try to concentrate on my face and hair, not so much on my butt and stomach. And I wondered: how is it possible for me to ignore the kilos of extra fat I carry around with me every day?

I suppose I had what could be called a revelation: I never developed a healthy self-image as a child. And I learned to just block any image I did have out of my mind, as it was never a pleasant one.

As far back as I can remember - around the age of 5 - I vividly recall my weight being an issue. I was taken to the doctor because I was "overweight" and used to sneak food up to my room at night. And from the same early age, I was constantly
told by my mother that I was overweight, that I shouldn't eat this or that because I would get fat. Food became a forbidden thing. With hardly a distinction between meal times and any other time of the day. And a consistent lack of consistency when it came to reinforcing any clear message: mum would bake cookies and let us eat the dough, but watch over the cookie jar like a hawk and remark that we would get fat as soon as one of us went to eat a cookie. There was obviously some invisible limit in her mind, between what we were "allowed" and what she saw as over-indulgence, but that line was never clear to me. Nor were there any clear rules about when we were or were not allowed treats. It is highly likely she made remarks about my weight at times when I was eating out of hunger, and at other times - when I maybe wasn't even hungry - she would offer a treat. In the end, I would take any treat on offer, hungry or not, as I wasn't sure if my next request for food would be met with a negative comment or not.

My mother's nickname for me at the time was "Miss Michelin", in reference to a well-known advertising figure made out of car tires.

And so began my ongoing love-hate relationship with food.

Today I realised, thinking back to old pictures of myself: I never was a fat child. I definitely wasn't skinny, but I wasn't fat.

But as a kid, at a very early age, I was taught to think of myself as fat. And to consider food to be a bad thing. Something to feel guilty about. And a way to punish myself or to defy other people.

I defied my parents during their divorce. If they didn't love me enough to stay together, I would disrespect their request for me to stay away from "forbidden" food. I gained 20 kilos in a year at age 10. A punishment to myself for not being a "good enough" reason for them to stay together.

I defied my boyfriend after he cheated on me. He didn't deserve a good-looking me, and I wanted him to see me hurt myself because of what he'd done. Food is a great way for me to hurt myself. I gained 30 kilos in 6 months (after losing 15 in the previous 4 months in the initial shock). A punishment to myself for not being "good enough" for him to stay faithful.

In between these 2 major traumatic experiences, my weight was actually quite stable. And, again, looking back at pictures at the time, I wasn't skinny, but I wasn't fat. I varied between a size 38 and a size 44. I wasn't a model, but I was healthy. Although the image I had of myself in my head was so warped, so negative, I saw myself as a huge blubbery person. And was constantly reprimanding myself whenever I gave in to any desire for food, perpetuating my mother's criticisms even though I was no longer living with her.

Today, shopping for my size 48-52 clothes, I realised I have no idea how to build a new image of myself in my head.
I am now severely overweight, and it is damaging my health.
I need to acknowledge my body as it is today, and make the necessary changes to get back to a healthy weight. And then learn to love myself at that weight, even if I still don't look like a model.

I actually don't know what ideal image my mother had in her mind all those years ago. I do know she still makes the exact same comments now as she did then, and still "allows" me to indulge only when she has decided it was ok to, whether I feel like it or not. Luckily I am not subjected to her influence more than a couple of times a year - and in every other aspect we have a very good relationship. But she has now turned to the next generation - my sister's son - and is re-enacting with him the same things we went through in our childhood.

Just for fun - my wedding playlist

ABBA - Lovers live a little longer
ABBA - Dancing Queen
ABBA - Mama mia
Aerosmith - Crazy
Al Green - Let's stay together
Alcazar - Crying at the discotheque
Anastacia - Paid my dues
Barry White - Can't get enough of your love babe
Beatles - All you need is love
Beyoncé - Crazy in love
Bill Withers - Ain't no sunshine
Bon Jovi - Always
Boy George - Karma Chameleon
CeCe Peniston - Finally
Damien Rice - The Blower's Daughter
Deep Purple - Smoke on the water
Deep Purple - Black Night
Deep Purple - Woman from Tokyo
Dire Straits - Sultans of swing
Eagles - Hotel California
Everything but the girl - Missing (Remix)
Faith no more - Easy
Fleetwood Mac - Big love
Fugees - Killing me softly with his song
George Benson - Give me the night
George Michael - Papa was a Rolling Stone
George Michael & Queen - Somebody to love
Geri Haliwell - It's raining men
Gloria Gaynor - I will survive
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
Guns n Roses - Knocking on heaven's door
Guns n Roses - Don't cry
Indeep - Last night a DJ saved my life
Irene Cara - Flashdance
Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity
Jamiroquai - Cosmic Girl
Jennifer Lopez - Love don't cost a thing
Joss Stone - Jet Lag
Joss Stone - You had me
Joss Stone - Fell in love with a boy
Joss Stone - Music
Joss Stone - Don't cha wanna ride
KISS - Rock and roll all nite
KISS - I stole your love
Krezip - I would stay
Led Zeppelin - Stairway to heaven
Lenny Kravitz - Rock and roll is dead
Lenny Kravitz - Are you gonna go my way?
Lisa Stansfield (with Barry White) - Been around the world
Madonna - Like a prayer
Madonna - Into the groove
Mama's and the papa's - California Dreamin'
Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy
Metallica - Enter Sandman
Moby - One of these mornings
Moby - Extreme Ways
Nirvana - Come as you are
Nirvana - Smells like teen spirit
Olivia Newton John - Physical
Paula Abdul - Straight up
Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls
Phil Collins - Against All Odds
Phil Collins - Easy Lover
Phil Collins - Can't Hurry love
Pointer Sisters - I’m so excited
Police - Roxanne
Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
Queen - We will rock you
Radiohead - Creep
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication
Sade - No ordinary love
Seal - Waiting for you
Shocking Blue - Venus
Sinead O'Connor - Nothing compares to you
Sonique - Feels so good
Soulsister - The Way To Your Heart
Stevie Wonder - Superstition
Survivor - Eye of the tiger
Tavares - Heaven must be missing an angel
Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
Thin Lizzy - Dancing in the moonlight
Thin Lizzy - Don't believe a word
Thin Lizzy - Still in love with you
U2 - Who's gonna ride your wild horses
U2 - One
UB40 - Red red wine
Union - Love (I don't need it anymore)
Village People - YMCA
Wamdue Project - King of My Castle
White Stripes - Seven nation army
The Who - Behind blue eyes


The end of another day of amazingly warm weather.


Well, I'm completely set on achieving my goal of changing jobs - and my entire career - by September 15th at the latest, just in time for all the courses starting.

Now to work out
a) what I'll do for a job while I'm studying and
b) how I'll pay for the courses with the wedding coming up and my bank account shrinking every month.

But I'm certain I have to get out of my current job and take the dive.
That's already a huge step as far as I'm concerned.

Wedding day planning - 2 months to go

10.30 Civil ceremony at the Abbaye de Dieleghem

No fancy wedding dresses or suits just yet.
We'll be accompanied by our parents, my sisters and our witnesses.
The ceremony will last 10 minutes, and we won't exchange rings.
Oh, and in true Belgian tradition, we had to choose between Flemish and French, so it'll all be in Flemish :p

11.30 Back to our place for lunch. Everyone starts getting dressed, make-up and hair.

14.30 Leave for the Kasteel de Rozerie

15.15 - 16.15 Photos in the gardens while the guests arrive

16.30 - 17.30 Ceremony, led by Jean, with readings from several friends and family members

17.30 - 18.30 Reception and more photos

19.00 - 22.00 Dinner

22.00 - ?.00 Party time!

Wedding planning: the location

The ceremony, reception, dinner and party will all be held at Kasteel de Rozerie in Aalst.