Friday, 21 November 2014

A gentle push

There are times when I have to give myself a bit of a nudge. A gentle push, as it were. My last post was almost three (!) weeks ago, so an obvious example would be a gentle push to sit down at my computer and write a new post. Now I could tell you that I've been very busy, too busy to spend time on the computer and that would certainly be true, but only in part. The other part is something else, something much deeper, an interesting phenomenon I have been observing in myself. It is the one of my mind creating all sorts of obstacles that make getting to my computer, sitting down, going to my dashboard and actually writing, virtually impossible. In that sense it is not my busy schedule that is my worst enemy, but my own mind.

Let me explain. There have been a number of moments in which I have had time to at least start a post. But then on my way upstairs, I have found my mind (and body) wandering over to the hamper in order to sort out some laundry. "Damn, no more time left to write. Gosh I'm busy." Or, I have found myself moving over to the computer only to take a detour and start clearing out a cupboard. "See, I'm just too busy to write. Just look at all this clutter I have to sort out. By the time I'm done I'll have to go pick up the kids and then there will definitely be no time to write." I think you get the picture.

Of course there are other areas of my life where my mind gets in the way. Big time. Take football. Up until last week, I had never kicked a ball in my life - except to play with the kids - but had instead stood on the side-line fantasising about being named (Wo)Man of the Match. Particularly on school sports days, when staff/pupil matches are the highlight of the day. Whenever I've been asked to join the staff team, I have feverishly declined with the blatant lie "I simply don't like football" and that has always made me cringe inside. Because in actual fact, I love football.  It's just that a bombardment of thoughts get in the way: "I couldn't kick a ball to save myself, what will everybody think when I make a fool of myself, and heck, how will I know when I'm off-side?!" And of course there's also the whimp in me: "O boohoo, what if I get hurt?!"

Last week there was no time for the avalanche of thoughts to take root. It was sports day, the staff team was one member short and I was picked to fill the gap. "Go on, you can do it," my German colleague said playfully when she saw my apprehension. I was wearing my sports kit, but if the truth be told only because it's comfortable and looks hip. "But...but I can't actually play football, I'll make a fool of myself," I blurted out. "I always make a fool of myself and I love it," said the Art History teacher laughing. Oh. "But...but I won't know when I'm off-side," I stammered. "We don't do off-side," said the librarian. Oh. By the time I got round to the "What if I get hurt" bit,  the whistle had been blown and both sides were charging for the ball. And boy, did I charge - like my life depended on it. We drew 1-1 and I can honestly say that I gave it all I had. And that I loved every minute of it. And that I'm ever so grateful for the gentle push I was given. And that what I loved most was the team spirit and camaraderie (there was even a group hug!).

I can't wait to sign up for the team next year.


The Dutch tradition of St. Nicholas is just around the corner and this always makes me crave baked goods with mixed spice. So last weekend I made a spiced loaf (kruidkoek). It's easy to make, fat free and an incredible treat at any time of the day, especially with a little butter (so no prizes for guessing what my kids found in their snack boxes this week).

Spiced Loaf (Kruidkoek)
adapted from Koken van A-Z by Marin van Huijstee

200 wholemeal spelt flour
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
pinch of fine (sea) salt
100g palm sugar
2 teaspoons mixed spice (Dutch: koek/speculaaskruiden)
1 egg
150ml milk

  • preheat the oven 175 degrees Celsius
  • grease a loaf tin with butter or baking paper
  • sift flour, cream of tartar, salt, sugar, and mixed spice into a large bowl
  • add the egg and a splash of the milk, give it a whisk with an electric hand mixer before adding the rest of the milk and beating until well-blended and smooth
  • pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes (check to see that a skewer comes out clean)


  1. Help - translate cream of tartar in Dutch please ? I've seen it in many English recipes, but still haven't figured out what it is...
    Would love to see photos of you on that football field ;-))) !

    1. Wijnsteenbakpoeder. You can buy it at the health food store (I buy mine at Ekoplaza). :-)

  2. glad you had fun playing football!

  3. I can relate to this post!! lol. Glad you enjoyed your match. (we had a lovely weekend in Amsterdam last week - and we've all fallen a little bit in love with it, the Dutch are soooo friendly!!! and it put us brits to shame at how fantastic you all speak English -( I had written out some Dutch to say hello, thank you etc but didnt need them plus my boys laughed at me saying I sounded more Norwegian than Dutch! and that I really shouldnt try incase I offended people :-( x Hope to visit again soon x

  4. Sometimes you just have to go with your instincts and try something new. I think it's great that you played football and it will be fun to be on a team.

  5. Well done on your footballing success! Fantastic. Oh and I am so familiar with that delaying tactic that our mind supplies sometimes! X

  6. Well done you! As you say it is the camaraderie that makes it so special whether it is playing sport or playing music. That is one of the things I love about playing in a Samba band xx

  7. That sounds like great fun! I hope you continue to enjoy it. My mother would call your doing some thing else, displacement activity I have a masters in it!

  8. Good for you! Sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone. I once played on our staff's football team, American football, and had a blast.

  9. I know what you mean - sometimes I have to force myself to sit at the computer and wait for a blog post to form as I have no idea as to what I am going to write about. Glad you enjoyed your football game sounds a lot of fun.

  10. Glad you enjoyed your football. I know what you mean about blogging too -sometimes it can feel like another chore. If I feel like that I just leave it until another day.

  11. I had a similar experience with basketball a couple of years ago, after initial reluctance it was such great fun. I am glad you enjoyed your football game and hope you'll have many more opportunities to play. St Nicholas is a Swiss tradition, too. We celebrate it on the 6th of December. I think you do so on the 5th? So soon! Have a lovely week. x

  12. How great! I hope that you keep on enjoying it! xx

  13. Well done - you got to play and enjoyed it! I used to play football with a boys' youth organisation. I was called the 'big hacker'! No idea why!!

  14. Hey Isabelle,
    I have lost my comment three times!!
    The gentle push to put yourself first, maybe? To have some me time, instead of laundry? I often find that I do a very similar exercise. I often put myself and my needs and wants and pleasures and all the rest of it t the very back of the queue. But it is important to give yourself time. And it is not a selfish act. Something I have been struggling with.
    As for the football. Yay for you! What team do you support? I have a friend who is part of a fantasy football league. She loves it. Are you familiar with them at all?
    Have a lovely week.
    Leanne xx

  15. Hello there! So lovely to read a post from you. Sometimes the gentle push is a good one, isn't it?! There is a lot of truth though in it being a busy time, maybe your body knows you need to slow down sometimes?!

  16. There is always something else we could be doing ... as you say, sometimes it takes a gentle push, or even a shove, in the right direction to get us on track. Or out onto the football field!

  17. I hope to see you nudged to the computer again around Christmas. I find the photos go up first and then I find something to say about them. Also the computer is on the landing so I'm walking past it all the time. if anything, I stop to sit at it rather too often!

  18. Oh yes, I know what you mean. I find the longer I stay away (from the laptop and the blog) the harder it is to go back. But then it's also great to have a break when you can. I am so glad you enjoyed the football experience - you are a better woman than me! I hope you're well and that Christmas preparations are going along nicely. x


Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. I love reading your comments so please feel free to leave one (or more, if the mood so takes you) in English and/or in Dutch.