Should We Judge Based on Someone’s Effort?

I consider myself to be a very patient person; perhaps its due to the fact that I love to teach and patience is a crucial characteristic. I believe each person has their own rhythm and strengths, their own likes and dislikes, their own way to do things. Some people like to study or read while listening to music while others prefer silence for concentration; some people like to take on tedious tasks right away and others like to delay them; some people are overly organized while others find order in their mess.

It seems that lately I have shown no patience for one thing: indifference. I feel utter dislike for someone who doesn’t care, who doesn’t make an effort, who sits there and lets everything pass. Like I said, I know everyone has their learning methods and times, and I really respect that. What I am finding trouble respecting is not doing anything. If I get a low grade or I am having problems with a course, I study harder. Dutch is one big example of this: the more I learn Dutch, the harder I have to work at it because it becomes even more complex. I know it isn’t right to compare, but this discrimination (because I cannot find any other way to see it) is towards something I find to be unacceptable in anyone. We have one life to live, one chance to show what we are made up; we should me making the best of this chance.

In my meditation classes, the teacher would say that someone who was doing something that bothers us is a teacher in patience. I think I have also found a teacher in tolerance and patience. I had always considered myself to be tolerant, but I am learning that I am not as tolerant and patient as I thought.

Have you ever been in a similar situation?

Where will I work with an English Degree?

After years of wanting to study a masters, I finally started this September. The title of the study program is “Art, Literature and Society” and it falls under the Humanities/Social Sciences/Liberal Arts area. My bachelor’s was in English Literature so this is right up my alley with a big bonus of making it more “real world oriented.” I have the option of doing a regular research thesis or a combination internship-internship thesis to culminate everything I learned throughout the year. I originally wanted just a thesis because I am all about researching and writing in my PJ’s (thank you world wide web and online databases), but the idea of getting work experience here in the Netherlands has made me consider the internship.

As I look through internship possibilities and wonder about what I would like to focus on for the thesis, I keep questioning the practicality of my bachelors and masters degree. Eleven years ago when I started my bachelors, I knew very well that I was destined for a life of small poorly paid job opportunities that would make me incredibly happy. I still have that same mentality, but my accountant/finance/business boyfriend has made me reconsider. Am I really destined for a meager salary? What is the importance of what I am studying and what can I, with all my studies and work experience (translator, writer, teacher) offer?

I still haven’t figured this out on a personal level, but I just read an article that gave me hope that I do have marketable, practical and necessary skills for the work field. “Two Reasons You’re An Idiot If You Don’t Hire Humanities Majors” explains, in a very funny way, the skills humanities majors have to offer the business world. I don’t think the skills of all humanities/social sciences/liberal arts majors are limited to just the ones Peter Weinberg mentions, but it is a start!

An Ideal Place to Write

While I was having lunch, I was catching up on the blogs I follow. Between visitors, moving furniture and selling an apartment in Amsterdam and getting my very first Dutch common cold, I’ve hardly had time to read posts and comment. There were plenty of posts that caught my attention, but the question in one lingered in my mind throughout the whole lunch: If money was not an obstacle, what would be your ideal writing space?

I read the responses of many people and all sounded amazing: a deserted beach, on a mountain, in Alaska, in a garden, etc. One answer made me giggle: a plane. This person said he likes writing on a plane because there are no wifi distractions, and he sits on the window so he will be forced to write and only get up when he really has to go to the bathroom. I guess idea writing places are as diverse as the books in a bookstore.

My writing space (with Mona's fave box to sleep in)

My writing space

I gave the question more thought. What would I like as my ideal place of writing, the place where I will find refuge for hours on end letting my creativity flow? I would love a beach setting simply because I love the beach, but my life right now is not in the beach. I live in a small town in the Netherlands, and have no plans to run away to the beach (at least for now). I walked into my loggia and realized I do have an ideal place to write. Our apartment has an indoor balcony that can be opened up when the weather is nice and closed in the winter. It gets a lot of sun and I have a bit of a view. I have my desk, my two typewriters, my laptop, books, my smart people (stuffed toys of Shakespeare, Austen, Woolf and Poe), a very comfortable couch with an ottoman, flowers and enough space to sit, lay, nap, write, read, meditate, etc. The kitchen is nearby with enough coffee and tea and Mona is always around to keep me company.

As Riccardo and visit new houses hoping to find “the” one for us, I constantly check where I could place my desk considering the view, the light and the space. This place is just as important as the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms.

I am sure when we find our home, it will have a great area for me to write, a place where I will spend my days with Mona and the smart people and this will become my new ideal place t write!

My home sweet home

I love the phrase “home sweet home.” I have been fortunate enough to always have a home sweet home. I don’t mean to boast that I’ve never had problems at home nor that I never thought I just needed to get away. What I mean is that my homes have always been a place I have enjoyed to be in.

When I was twelve, I lived in a beautiful house in Texas. My mom best describes this house as the most beautiful house in the world, one she would like to re-construct wherever she lives. The house is nothing special. Its part of a 10 house horizontal condominium with a pool and a good sized garden. On the outside, my favorite part is the light pink bricks that make up the house. Considering only women lived in our home, the pink bricks are appropriate.

The house has two floors, although the living room ceiling goes up to the top floor. I am a big book nerd and always imagined having tall bookcases with stairs and everything on the walls of the living room. Do you remember the scene in Beauty and the Beast when she slides with the stair talking about the books (in the town’s bookstore)? Well, those walls would be perfect for that! Sadly, my lack of body coordination and clumsiness would probably have meant that that slide would send me to the hospital with some sort of broken bone!

Since we never used the garage for the car, my mom decided to make it into a family room, home office and laundry room. When the walls separating the different rooms were in place, we had to figure out what to do about the floor. We had no tile floor and no budget for it either. My mom and older sister, being the crafty people that they are, decided to paint the floor of the TV room in a bright lime green color that gave so much light to the room. They then added hand painted angels to the floor. They spent a whole day painting angels (using stencils, of course). The floor looked amazing, personal and budget friendly! It saddens me to say that saying I painted one angel would be a lie!

Writing this post makes me realize that what my mom said is true. That was a beautiful house where we lived comfortably and happy. Because we were far from our family, my mom, my sisters and I became very close, and all of this happened in this house. I am sure that when I buy a home where I will start a family with Riccardo, it will be, in my eyes, the most beautiful home. I will think back on my mom’s excitement and love for this home, and feel the exact same thing about my new home sweet home.

You say goodbye, I say hello

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My family is a lover of cats. The first cat to join our family was a present for my older sister from her high school boyfriend. After that, the cats kept coming. We have no doubt that we will be cat ladies for the rest of our lives. We love to cuddle with them and don’t mind the hair they leave on our clothes. Their comfort is above everything, even if that means scratched furniture or boxes around the house. We even have a family photo stream dedicated to our pets!

This year has been exceptionally hard when it comes to our furry companions. My cat Mona, a black feisty street cat I adopted and brought to the Netherlands with me, was diagnosed with feline epilepsy this past February. Mona was a very active and feisty cat that honestly scared the heck out of some people. Overnight she became inactive, she lost control of her body while she suffered seizure after seizure. Fortunately, with the help of medication, she is going back to her old feisty self and she seldom gets a seizure.

As I sit and write this post which was supposed to be a dialogue about two opposing ideas, my mind is drifting back to Mexico with another cat my sister and I adopted shortly after we moved there. Her name is Allora. She was severely abused and hurt, but fortunately she was found by a rescue group and later made it to our home, together with her sister Ciabis (my sister and I were taking Italian classes at the time). Allora had a hard time adjusting to our home, but she eventually came around and loved it! She loved our home so much that she refused to move with me when I moved out of my mother’s apartment. Consequently she became my mom’s new daughter.

Right now Allora is at the vet fighting between life and death. Her kidney is failing. My brave little sister, who is now a strong woman, is taking care of her. In an effort to send some positive thoughts, prayers and good energy to Allora and my sister, I will share with you what I would say to her if I could be next to her right now.

Allora, please don’t be scared. You endured so much pain in your youth, but enjoyed a wonderful and comfortable life with our family. You quickly gained weight and made every bed and couch yours. You constantly stole your sister’s food and told on me when I was out late. I felt so bad when I took you to my new apartment and you didn’t adjust. The worst part was that you ran away from me ever since that. I understand why you didn’t adapt. You already had a home and sister, and you knew a crazy feisty cat would need a home with me. The last month I was in Mexico was truly magical. We bonded once again, just like we did when you moved in. You were scared at times. I did my best to not move and let you know you would be okay with me. You cuddled with me again, you licked my face and left hair all over my clothes. Allora, as you struggle between life and death, I want you to think about all the wonderful moments in your life. Think of all the naps you took, the food you ate, the toys you had, the love you gave and received. The struggle between life and death is inevitable, but something in our heart makes us forget this. I want to be selfish and ask you to live, but I know its not in my hands. All that is left for me to say is that I love you and I thank you for your company. I hope I will see you again in December, but I know even right now, you are in my heart.

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Someone I know

This writing challenge is meant to help describe characters. I am to chose one person I have met recently (within the past year) and describe this person to you. This is a hard choice because for the past year, I have met some amazing people. Moving has given me the opportunity to meet all sorts of people, people with different nationalities, with different stories.

I was thinking about who to write about during my zumba class last monday. I had so many options and couldn’t come up with just one. Writing about them all would call for a new blog with material to last me a lifetime. As I was attempting to follow the steps, I realized I had a great option to write about. Me.

For as long as I remember, I have been a very calm and sedentary person. My mom talks about how even before I could read, she would give me a picture book, and I would stay where I was. As I grew up, exercise didn’t call to me. I disliked physical education class, and even managed to take my last high school class via computer. I like to read, write, watch movies, eat and drink coffee. When doctors ask me what type of exercise I do, I simply reply “extreme and fast reading.”

Since I’ve lived in the Netherlands, I have slowly changed that. Since I don’t have a driver’s license here (you are tested on a standard car and I only drive automatic), I started moving around by train, bus and by foot. I also started riding my bike and doing yoga at home. However, the biggest change has come during the last two weeks. A new friend of mine invited me to go to yoga class, and I accepted. I had a lot of fun, and she invited me for zumba and piloxing. I had even more fun. Last Monday, we took two zumba classes in a row to start the week. I feel like a new person.

Perhaps these challenges might seem small to people who enjoy physical activity or those who already have a workout routine. For me, this is the Everest. This is one of the biggest challenges and one I have constantly failed at. Regardless of my past attempts, I am confident I will stick it out. I am having so much fun as I try to coordinate arm and leg movements, as I sweat, as I move around. I feel energized, healthy, and happy. I am motivated to keep on going.

As I continue to climb my Everest, I am not blind to the hardships and obstacles that will arise. However, I have a great support system that I know will help me during the tough moments. I choose me as my interesting character, created not only by my personal attributions and characteristics but also by the influence of those around me.

Commit to a Writing Practice

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I am the type of person that listens to songs, falls in love with them and has no idea who sings them or what they are called. To me, what matters is the substance within the song, the perfect mix of musical chords and words that are able to reach our hearts.

One of my favorite songs, perhaps THE favorite one is “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones. This song speaks to the romantic in me. The lyrics are simple:

Come away with me in the night
Come away with me and I will write you a song, 
Come away with me in a bus
Come away with me where they can’t tempt us with their lies
I want to walk with you on a cloudy day
In fields where the yellow green grass grows knee high…

The soothing combination of Nora Jones’s voice together with her excellent music, almost like a lullaby, makes me feel in love even when I am not. Love is simple, love means sometimes moving away, love is being sure of us and ignoring them.

Another great song in my life is a really sad song. Johnny Cash is one of the best musicians that ever lived. He lived it all, did it all, and sang about it all. His song “Hurt” speaks so much to me. At times we drive people away or we are the ones driven away. Loneliness sometimes is too much to live with, and we feel something we do drives others away. The part that truly moves me is this one:

Everyone goes away in the end
And you can have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will find a way

I remember listening to this song while I was walking to work during a hard moment in my life. I remember feeling the music and my heart beating at the same time. I felt it in my chest, in my soul. Johnny Cash finishes the song like this:

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way.

Hurt has a funny way of making us feel like we can’t trust anyone anymore, and yet we move on, and we trust and we find happiness which brings me to my third song, and one that is bound to make me happy and have me dancing. The song “Bonito” by Jarabe de Palo is what we should all think in the morning, afternoon, evening and night.

Bonito, todo me parece bonito. (Nice, everything seems nice to me)
bonita mañana (nice morning)
bonito lugar (nice place)
bonita la cama (nice bed)
que bien se ve el mar (the sea looks so good)
bonito es el día (nice is the day)
y acaba de empezar bonita la vida (and it just started, life is nice)

bonita le gente cuando es de verdad (people are nice when they are true)
bonita la gente que es diferente (the people that are different are nice)
que tiembla, que siente (the ones that shake, that feel)
que vive el presente (that live in the present)
bonita le gente que estuvo y no esta (the people that were here and are now gone are nice)
Bonito, todo me parece bonito. (nice, everything seems nice)
Que bonito que te va cuando te va bonito (Its so nice when everything goes nicely)

We are constantly bombarded with negative news, tragedies, war, fights, disagreements, and we forget that the world is filled with nice, pleasant and happy moments. Waking up with health, having a job, seeing your family, helping a neighbor are all positive moments we should focus on.

So! Have a great day, dance around in your office, smile to the driver next to you in traffic and enjoy the day!

Unlock the Mind

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Unlock the Mind is the first assignment from the Daily Post Writing 101 Blogging course. Here is my stream of consciousness of the past 20 minutes.

I am sitting on my desk hoping something will come out. I can hear ABBA playing from the market square and people walking around, shopping, greeting each other. Living above the city centre is interesting and frustrating at times. You hear everything, even the music box man all day on Saturday. I wonder if I will miss this noise when we move.

I am still unsure about this writing challenge. Will it help me write and blog or just keep me busy. Sometimes I feel like summer is going by so slow. No classes. No work. Just writing. Sometimes I think I would prefer working. Fear.

I start a new job this week and I am excited. It won’t take up too much time, but it will pay, and I will write about this great new adventure in my life. Living in the Netherlands sometimes feels like living in another planet and other days it just feels like home. I like the people; they are friendly. The food is good too. I have become a “frituur” and cheese lover. Who would have thought! I also like riding my bike. I feel like a little girl liberated, able to go anywhere….unless it is raining and I can’t ride the bike because I am just not coordinated enough to hold the umbrella and keep my balance.

Another new venture in my life has been working out which compensates all the eating I’ve been doing. I am going to yoga and zumba classes with a new friend. I am actually motivated to work out and look forward to it. I wonder what brought about this change because I used to hate the idea of working out. Making friends sometimes feels like working out. You have to work at it (small talk is really hard for me) and keep doing it. In the end you have fun and you get something that fulfills.

I feel like my move to the Netherlands is like a course on uncertainty and new things that I don’t remember signing up for. Everything is new: food, language, people, friends, social customs, the number of kisses to greet someone, traffic signs, riding bikes, learning to drive standard, learning to cook, re-learning to live in a small town, new weather, learning to dress for the weather, in-laws, sharing a bed, sharing a house, sharing my space. The list goes on and on. I also feel uncertain: uncertain about liking it here, my language level, making friends, my masters, finding a job I like, etc.

I feel like my post has this somber mood, but I don’t feel somber. I am happy, calm, focused on just writing something. I had originally thought of doing this on the typewriter. My creative writing teacher in Mexico explained that you use more of your brain when you hand write or use a typewriter rather than a computer keyboard. Your fingers don’t need too much work on the keyboard. I think the typewriter would have been fun. Mona, my cat, would have gotten nervous with the noise. Perhaps I can repeat this exercise tomorrow on the typewriter. I love typewriters. They are like old books. Perhaps I should take up all old things like writing with a feather pen (or a fountain pen) on parchment. I am in love with the old, but I enjoy technology so much. Moving does that to you. Its the only way to keep in touch. This is the 5th time I move, and the third international move.

I am getting a bit tired, which makes me wonder if I would have been able to do the 20 minutes on the typewriter. I wish there was more sun today so I can sit on a terrace drinking coffee and feeling the sun warm up my body, my soul. I used to hide from the sun, but it turns out the sun here wears me out less than the sun in Texas or Mexico. In such a short time, I understood why dutch people fill the terraces once the sun comes out. It is a gift that mother nature doesn’t always share. She is more generous with the rain. Boy does it rain here! No Texas drought forbidding you to water your lawn or wash your car. No no. People probably don’t even wash their cars often. Mother nature does it for free! That is goedkoop! Goedkoop is one of my favorite dutch words. Things are not cheap, they are a good buy. Dutch people like to save. I could really learn from them!

Mona, my beautiful black cat that accompanied me from Mexico, is sleeping beside me. I can hear her snoring which makes me laugh. Sometimes she makes funny noises as if she was talking. I wonder what she dreams about? Fish? The ducks on the pond outside? Our home in Mexico? Does she have nightmares about showers and visits to the vet and getting her nails cut? She is such a tough cat! Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing by bringing her so far. She endured the plane. She is enduring epilepsy. I hope we can give her a home and food and medicine and love for as long as she needs. It is not easy having a sick cat, but it also isn’t the end of the world for us. I love cuddling with her as I watch TV or after Riccardo goes to work and we go back to bed (no judging, I am on vacation!).

Well, time is up! Thank you for reading this 🙂

It’s the little things in life…

Moving to a new country has brought about very interesting challenges, some of which I didn’t expect. I expected that making friends would take long, that the food wouldn’t taste the same, that I would miss my family and friends and even my bed. What I did not expect was the challenge distance puts to take care of little things, like losing an email address connected to a landline or the dumb file to access the website for my income tax declaration. In the midst of taking care of these things that just seem tremendously important at the moment, I, of course, took a break to check facebook and blow off steam. As I opened my account, I was taken back with a message. It was from a former student wishing me a happy teacher’s day. That short message that must have taken her less than a minute put everything into perspective. Perhaps losing an email and itunes account is not a big deal after all. New accounts can be made, but the gesture of one teenager half way across the world cannot be replaced. My heart is filled with joy and gratitude for these little things in life!

Hello! Hola! Ciao! Hallo!

Hello! My name is Karoly and I am a writer, reader, translator, language teacher and learner, and blogger. A few years ago I created a blog (on another platform) in order to have a space for my writing. I’ve been writing since I was young, but was always afraid to share. For many reasons, I have decided to become a more constant blogger and a more serious creative writer. This is why I moved my blog to this platform; it is a fresh start. As I have been exploring WordPress, I’ve found many challenges for writing. I will be working on those challenges as well as my personal ones.

So, welcome to Morning Coffee! This blog is best enjoyed with a nice cup of coffee. The time doesn’t really matter because regardless of when you read it, it is morning somewhere in the world.