Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mila

So, some of you might know that I have a six-year old, who sometimes behaves like a 14-year old, named Mila. Mila is half Belgian and half Brazilian, but claims that she is "Brasileira". She also says that I am blond (meaning white) and she is brown... not black but brown and compares herself to some mixed African friends of her. She has light brown hair, fair and sensitive skin and brown eyes... not so "metisse" if you ask me! 

Mila might not have my hair colour or blue eyes, but she does have my character. I think it is God's revenge for what my parents have had to suffer. I know Mila will make me suffer. I resent her teenage years already...

It kind of started this summer, the teenage attitude. Mila went on a 3 week holiday to her family in Brazil, with her dad, without her mum. While I worked my ass off in Geneva and other very exotic places, Mila spent her time riding horses at the fazenda, or playing with her cousin or half brothers. She then didn't want to come back. She also didn't want to be with me anymore. Hysterically crying to stay with her dad.

It was still summer period and on her request she had been booked for a few exciting camps, one of which at the sea side. She cried for days, hysterically, even in her sleep, not to have to go... finally had no choice, went, loved it, and came back wanting only her mum, no longer he dad... go figure! 

So now we are still there: Mila cries every week when I leave to work in Geneva, tightly holding my scarf, with my perfume. I wonder what will be next...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Coincidence or Faith?

So here I go running off to a tailor in Matonge to get my new Nigerian boubou sawn to my exact size ;-) My sister in law brought to for me all the way from Nigeria and I want to show her how much I enjoy the present. As I walk up to the shop, I get distracted by some beautiful dresses in a new display just across the street. I decide to cross and peep inside. I see people unpacking and find out that a new designer is settling in!! Youpie. Turns out the designer is Russel Ndengoué, originally from Cameroun. We start chatting away and before I know he is the one re-sizing the boubou. I can't wait to see it tomorrow, in the mean time enjoy his work and visit his new shop: you will not regret it! russeln.skynetblogs.be



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Judging the Book by its Cover

Boxes, labels, dress codes, references…. so many ways we have invented to be able to classify everyone around us. When we aren't able to label someone properly we become suspicious.

We are afraid of what we don't know - xenophobia. We are also afraid of not fitting into the appropriate box. 

I have been thinking a lot about my friends. They are all so different. They come from so many different boxes, classes, backgrounds. 
I wondered what were the common values of these people for me to relate to them. And I did come up with a few:

- my friends have pure hearts: they all are genuine people, honest and kind. most of them would go through fire for the ones they love

- my friends are no materialists: they prefer their freedom rather then being slaves of the money or possessions they might have. they are generous with what they have and don't abuse my generosity.
- my friends are faithful: no need to catch up all the time or see each other frequently. when I see my friends, it is as if time has stood still… we pick up the thread right were we left it and needn't explain what we are feeling… we just know

- my friends are open-minded: back to our boxes. most of my friends understand that I am not to be put in a box, nor that I put people in boxes. I judge people from their present, not their past. I judge them according to my interaction with them, not someone else's. I allow my friends to be whom they want to be, do what they want to do, as long as they respect me and the world surrounding us

- my friends are smart: I don't mean educated, but smart. I have difficulties hanging around people who aren't intelligent. I have great respect for "survivors", people whom - without having had the proper education, without having attended the best schools or been given the opportunity to learn - are still able to get it right, find a way to construct a business, create a family… 

- to all my dear friends, please react to this post by completing our list of common values...


Client Service

It is my trade these days, as I find myself as head of client service and business management. Last night I experienced real client service: at the airport I stopped to try (and eventually buy) a necklace. I spent some time with the sales person and paid a ridiculous amount of money for a tiny piece of jewelry. Rabah, the sales woman who attended me was delighted (bet she gets a good bonus). However, she seems to have genuinely liked me as she sent someone inside the plane -where I was waiting to depart- to return to me Mila's drawing which had fallen out of my bag when I got ready to pay... the purser handed it back to me with a smile and when he saw my astonished face, said proudly: "yes, we are good hein!"... I hope that my team will have this impact on someone's (professional) life more then once...


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just in Time

Once more... Running for the plane. For a few months now I have been taking the plane weekly. Missed it only twice but have been running for it more and more frequently. When doing something new, it seems I am very concentrated and making sure that there is structure, or even buffer foreseen. I used to print boarding passes a day ahead, pack the night before, leave on time, and avoid the traffic jams. Now I forget to print the boarding pass, pack in the morning, leave late and take the ring, to find myself running on high heels in the airport building (where I do know all the shortcuts).

Which makes me realise that it is like that with most things. When we get used to performing the same actions we stop thinking about them... And when we get complacent we start making mistakes. Taking it to a different level: When we get used to the people around us, there is also a risk of taking this person for granted. We should avoid taking anyone for granted, as no one is forced to be your friend. A relationship, even with your relatives, should never be left unattended.

- Cherish the people that count for you and make sure you do lots of exciting things with them to avoid the drain and constraints of daily life
- Communicate, talk about the good and the bad things... The day you stop discussing, your relationship is in trouble (but boy do I wish that Mila stops talking that much)!
- Dare to pronounce the words "I love you"... Also for friends and family
- Don't forget my grandma's wise advise and make lots of love to your partner: nothing is more re-assuring and relaxing as good sex ;-)


Friday, August 26, 2011

How important is money?


People who know me will probably tell you that I have a hole in my hands. It seems I was born with this condition but funnily enough I have rarely in my life been dependant on anyone for money and have never really gotten myself into debts or anything like that. I have lived on the edge, but always knew when to close the tap.

I love beautiful things (I think I have told you that before) and love good food. This results in living in a beautiful loft, shopping for organic food at Delhaize, driving a coupe car, wearing Chacok and Reminiscence. At the same time though, I hate mainstream snobs, don’t feel the need for a Louis Vuitton bag, Jimmy Choo shoes, clothes by Armani or glasses from Gucci. If you catch me wearing one of these brands, it would be because I genuinely think it is a good product.

When I acquire an expensive and beautiful item I don’t like to separate from it again. I dread the idea that the shoes will wear off, the clothes will change in the washing,... I am very cautious and careful with my things. This should never be mistaken with materialism. I am not infatuated with money or objects whatsoever. I get over the loss of any of my belongings fairly quickly, unless they have particular sentimental values (like my stolen jewelry)…

I love money because it makes things possible. It can get you around the world, opens doors. Mila is a lucky girl to have parents that earn enough money to ensure the fun part in her life, as well as her education. I love to spend money on others, on the people I love. Much more satisfying than walking around shopping or filling my cupboards with useless stuff…

I always wanted to be a adventurer with nothing with a toothbrush in her suitcase…



Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Series of Bad Decisions


Can ruin one’s life… I continue to refuse putting people into pre-labeled boxes. I sometimes feel the reflex to judge before knowing but always try to push this away and give the person in front of me a chance to prove me wrong. Is that so hard to understand?

Recent events have shown that many of my friends are not ready to give everyone these same chances. They continue to stigmatise people not realising that they are the first ones to be stigmatised.

Recent events have however also shown the great trust people have in me! And how many people love me… although they do not agree with my actions and decisions, they trust me to be strong enough to carry whatever weight on my shoulders and continue to support me unconditionally… for that, my dear friends and relatives, I thank you. I LOVE you all!


Monday, July 4, 2011

Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone

For those of you who have read me from the start, you might remember that I decided to make some radical changes and promises at the eve of last year... 6 months exactly have gone by and I wanted to update you on my life, as I seem to have quite successfully managed to turn it around for the better.

My little girl:
Mila is every day more pretty, more intelligent and easier to deal with. She has passed her grades without blinking and is now enjoying a 3-weeks holiday in Brasil. I miss her loads but I am such a proud and happy mum.

Perfect friends:
I always have and continue to have fantastic friends whom I can rely on! Recent changes in my life have changed my routine and taken lots of time away from being with them, and I would like to thank them for their patience. I hope that soon I will be managing my own routine a bit better and can start giving them more attention again. I guess you know who you are (in doubt send me a message ;-) and love you loads!!

Not so perfect family:
A part from the family that doesn't invite us anymore, I am very very grateful that I have my mum, dad and sister. Following my post in May on family I have also adopted a few new members into the family... so we have that on track!

A healthy and responsible way of living:
I have been consistently consuming less and more ethically. My cupboards are full with organic food and ecological products. I eat salads and fruit every day. I continue to share my food with my friends :-)
I swim every Sunday I can and have started wrestling on Tuesdays in Geneva (but the season is over, so I need to wait until September to start the courses again). It was the only sport I could find around where my weight might actually come in handy at some point!!

A new job:
I signed my contract at a Swiss Private Bank on June 1st. I have a great job, in a nice company and a fantastic boss. I have a great team of 5 working for me. Although the bankers in general are not my cup of tea, I seem to have found a way to adapt to them... the question remains to see if they can adapt to me too, only time can tell :-)

A new life:
As a consequence, I have started renting a place in Geneva. It's close to the station, centre Geneva and I just love it. It is nearly empty but has good vibes. I am looking forward to invite my friends here so that they can enjoy this wonderful city, between lake and mountains! This is where I live now, during the week and in between travelling. There are worst places...

A new man:
I just stumbled upon him to be honest. He is lucky to be the brother of a friend, otherwise I might have not granted him with a look :-) It does proof my theory of all times: you don't have to look for a boyfriend as it is when you need him least and don't look for him that he will find you. We are just starting off, and although age and race does set us apart (among other things), we seem to be really into each other. Affaire a suivre ;-)

So really, what does a girl like me really need to be happy? I have it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy Monday! 


Monday, June 13, 2011

African Beauty

Beauty, such a subjective topic. I don't feel beautiful (I don't feel ugly neither), and I am genuinely surprised when someone makes a compliment about let's say my ankles or other body part... which makes me think: isn't it fun that we are all different and that there are all kinds of tastes around? I do think that every pot has a cover ;-) Likewise I am surprised sometimes about my girlfriend's taste in men LOL. 

But if I try to generalise and put people in categories I am very clear: I think the most pretty girls and men are to be looked for in the african community. When they are beautiful, they are VERY beautiful and often very natural and also humble, which adds to their beauty. Dark skin is soft and strong. Some tribes are more pretty then others, but many black men have a beautiful back and body structure. Black woman have beautiful waist and legs. Some of them have the almond eyes and strong cheek-bones that gives them such a proud expression.

I am tired of the images in the magasines with girls who all look the same. People whom have gone to the doctor to correct their features all end of looking the same and quite ridiculous. If you travel around the world you find the most amasing looking people on all continents, in every country, of every age!!!!... Why can't they be promoting our products, why aren't they invited to show the clothes we will ware next season?

In my family we use quite often the expression: "beautiful from far, but far from beautiful". Often it is true for a superficial, beautiful person on the outside, who becomes more and more ugly when you know her/him better... the arrogance from inside rubs off on the outside. Luckily it works the other way around too! beauty on the inside rubs off on the outside! 

This little post is for you to understand that whatever you were blessed with on the outside, learn to bring out it's best value and work on the inside for it to become even more pretty. Accept the compliments and cherish them. Live healthily, eat well and do some sports. Love your friends and treat them well... you ARE beautiful!


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wedding Speech

Beste vrienden en familie, chers amis, dear friends,

Hier sta ik dan, een beetje nerveus toch wel, op de trouw van mijn enige zusje. Ik heb haar nochtans gewaarschuwd! 2 huwelijken op 3 lopen op de klippen!
Maar als er iets is dat de Mathijskes hebben dan is het koppigheid… en passie, en houden van. Ma soeur aime Cedric. J'aime ma soeur. Donc j'aime Cedric.

Het was nochtans niet voor de hand liggend. Haar interesse voor jongens kwam in mijn ogen pas heel laat. Toen ik al een echte jonge vrouw werd (op mijn 14de), speelde Elisabeth nog met My Little Poney, of protjes-competities met haar vriendinnetjes. Ik daarentegen had mijn eerste vaste vriendje et vond mijn kleine zus belachelijk. En wanneer ik eindelijk eens weg mocht moest ik haar dan nog meesleuren ook! Van mij moest Elisabeth dan doen alsof ze er niet bij was en op het voetpad aan de andere kant van de straat lopen. Dit gezegd zijnde, ze kon wel heel erg goed mijn geld beheren!!… haha, inderdaad, haar strategie was om mij te betrappen op het kussen van een jongen bijvoorbeeld, om me dan te chanteren. Ik heb nooit de kleur van mijn zakgeld gezien!  Pfff, en mama en papa maar zeggen dat ze niet begrepen waarom Elisabeth altijd genoeg geld op zak had, terwijl ik een gat in mijn hand leek te hebben. 

Mais cette époque est bien loin. Depuis les fou-rires devant l'évier pendant le rituel du soir, beaucoup d'années se sont écoulées. Je suis plus que jamais fière de ma petite soeur. Elle a fait les choses dans l'ordre (peut-être qu'elle a appris de mes erreurs ;-)), et aujourd'hui elle franchit donc un pas de plus dans cette belle vie. Prends soin de ton homme. Souviens-toi les leçons de Bompi: ne pas être trop dure avec lui, et se rappeler que l'amour passe par le ventre (et le bas ventre) de ton chéri. Ce qui d'ailleurs m'amène à ma demande suivante:  faites beaucoup de beaux enfants!! Mila n'a pas la chance d'avoir des petits frères ou soeurs près d'elle, et attends avec impatience les petits monstres Carnoy. Cedric, prends soin d'Elisabeth. (prendre accent Africain) Si je reçois des plaintes, je sais te trouver… et j'ai beaucoup d'amis! 

Aujourd'hui, je lève mon verre à vous deux… Je serai toujours la pour vous!

(translation in English on demand)



Monday, May 16, 2011

Family

I don't have much of it… at least not family I know of or I am in contact with. People say: it's not the quantity that counts, it's the quality… but I seem to have been blessed with… Neither.
Ok, exception made of "het gezin". I have great parents, and a sister whom I love to death. Add to that my lovely daughter and I am done. 
So I have decided to extend the concept of family to my ex-inlaws in Brasil, my dad's new soulmate, my sister's future husband, my adoptive daughter Lais and my neighbors Valentine, Gregory and their kids. (If you would like to apply send me a personal message and I will organise a casting soon ;-) )

I do have real family, with related blood running through their veins. 

On my dad's side, we have alienated a long time ago. I think it had to do with the fact that they were living quite far away from us, that my dad was significantly younger then his brother and sisters and effectively fell between 2 generations. The "coup de grace" came when the small town boy moved to Africa with his family. They never understood and the distance did the rest. My dad's mum, whom I didn't meet because she had passed away shortly before I was born, never saw the sea… and she lived less then 2hours drive away from it!

My mum has a brother and a sister, both aren't married and have no children. So my sister and I are the only ones of our generation in the family. My fantastic grandmother who passed away was the last one to hold everyone together. She ruled the family and made sure we would all come together regularly to celebrate religious events, birthdays etc. Now she has gone and the family is falling apart. I regret her even more.
My dad claims that they always were like that, I am just disappointed. Spending those years in Africa made me a real family person. 

Luckily I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my grandmother. I called her Bompi. It all came from a very misplaced Oedipus complex: I didn't have any grandfather growing up and desperately wanted one. So I would look for a potential man for my grandmother and address anyone who looked old to me (I probably was 5 or so at the time), asking them to marry my grandmother. Hopefully they thought I was cute.
I didn't manage to find her soul-mate ;-) so I started to call my grandmother "Bompa" which means grand father. That kind of upset her though, as she was a very proud and coquette WOMAN. So I twisted it and invented "Bompi".
I have called my grand mother Bompi for the rest of her life and other people caught on (like my sister and other relatives)… Bompi has gone, but I will remember so much of what she taught me.

She used to say to me: "don't be so tough on men… they can't help it, they need us. you have to take care of them and remember that their love goes through their stomach" (and their lower abdominal area, LOL). She would always be very proud to visit me at my place and notice that it was spotless and fit to receive friends and relatives. I would eagerly try to impress her with my cooking skills… Oh boy, I miss her!!
So here it is: a little post in memory of my beautiful, intelligent, independent and proud Bompi!

PS: Thank God for my dear Friends! On my way to Geneva.. Missing you all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How to switch off my brain?


I am pretty sure that whomever knows me well does not qualify me as an intellectual. And I don't define myself as one neither. Nor someone who spends a lot of time thinking about specific topics. I usually abandon when it's not pragmatic and becomes abstract... after all I am a true blond ;-)

But one thing I do realise: I don't seem to be able to switch off my brain. Except maybe when I have sex (well good sex that is). Then my brain does kind of has its priorities right. The rest of the time it is just busy processing. 

I have really bad memory: short term and long term memory. I have pieces of paper everywhere and forget the most random things. I though I had a selective memory, but not really. I forget things that are important and interesting just as often as unimportant details. Hopefully that doesn't sign me up for Alzheimer's?

I do think I am smart. But that isn't the same thing as being intellectual right? My sister is a scientist, soon to be doctor, doctor. I admire that type of brain... I think I am smart because I find many people dumb (and less complicated and more spontaneous and more happy?). Am I pretentious? Hope not... I hate pretentious, arrogant, over-confident people ;-)


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dedicated to Evi

I mentioned the occasional people I meet when traveling. 
Most famous are Mr Rubarber and Mr L'Oreal ;-). 

I met Mr Rubarber coming back from Hong Kong through Finland. He was in Business Class next to me and came from China. His job: to buy and sell frozen fruit. He inspects the crops, buys the fruit before it is even existing and sells it before priced on the market... purpose: trying to beat the market. He had just SOLD 4 ton of Rubarber (sorry don't know the English and too lazy to look it up) without having a clue where to buy it and at what price! You have to have steal balls... especially because the money invested in this business was his and another wealthy men's! Bon, the guy was Flemish and funny so we exchanged some mails... however, when I made it clear I wasn't "interested", our premature email relationship died an early death... don't blame me, he was rich but too old for me, and not cute enough ;-)


Mr L'Oreal was a whole different story. I was still working for BNPP IP and coming back from Paris by train, I had just had some time to get some take-away food with me to survive. I decided to eat it at the bar and upon opening my soup I spilled it all over me, the floor, the table... with the most phlegm I could pull out at that time -I didn't blink- I went to the bathroom for paper, cleaned it up and started eating... knowing several people were watching me. Mr L'Oreal was amazed by my calm and started a conversation. We realised we both were traveling the world and decided to try and meet up somewhere. For several months after that, I sent him mails (and he did too) with my schedule, but we missed an opportunity to meet each time. I would be in Hong Kong or Tokyo one week, and he would be the other. One time we set up to meet in Paris, meeting he cancelled for personal reasons... It wasn't meant to be ;-) A pity though... he was even older, but could have let me in on all the beauty tips a director of L'Oreal group must know!

Flight delayed...

Time to reflect on my life...

Not that reflecting is my strongest quality, after all, I am a real blond!

Watching people is actually more fun, especially when stuck in airports. First of all there are people from many different places and I love to guess where they are from. Only thing is I the have to sneak up to them to hear the language they speak to know if I was right. Or try to see their passport... tricky without looking like a freak! 

Secondly it is so easy to separate the occasional travels from the frequent flyers... wondering about, obstructing anyone who knows their way around. One advise to you dear tourists: follow the guy in the suit... he'll get you where you need to be! 

Funny also to watch those who have difficulties managing their stress, yelling at their partners, screaming at the kids, all over the place with pick-nicks... or just sweating (also good to watch people's faces during take off and landing). 

Usually the same people who set off the beeps on security control, do have a large bottle of liquids (don't the read?) and want to go to the bathroom during taxi-ing... really!

Luckily I am flying European, 'cause when it gets to Africa... OMG; but that's another story!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kizomba? NO.... Tarraxinha!!

In my series of African music - dancing, I give the floor to Kizomba. Developed in Angola end 80's - early 90's it is one of the most popular genres of dance and music created in Angola. Derived directly from Zouk music, mixed with Semba, sung generally in Portuguese, it is a genre of music with a romantic flow mixed with African rhythm. The kizomba dancing style is also known to be very sensual ;-) Hence why I like it so much?

However, I prefer the even more 'sensual' derived music and dance.. it's limit sexual and called 'Tarraxinha". Tarraxa means 'nut bold' and Inha is the diminutive, so Tarraxinha is a 'little nut bold'. That's the sexual innuendo with the word: little nut bold wrapping around the screw:
I don't like it because of the sex :-) but because of the BEAT. Listen carefully!





Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Dark side of my Traveling

Tuesday morning... early. I take my car, drive to the metro station, leave it there, take a metro to the train station, take the Eurostar. In London, I make my way through the tube and walk to the office. Later that day, I take a taxi to Paddington station, a fast train to the airport and a plane to Geneva. I arrive in Geneva around 22h, walk to the train station, take a train into the city and walk to my hotel: check in time 23h15. You tell me if traveling for business is fun, or glamourous... 
I mostly experience it as exhausting and lonely (and diner-less). 
But sometimes you get lucky and you have the opportunity to meet very special people... randomly. 
Or experience very different situations... unexpectedly.
This little post is dedicated to the random people and situations that brighten my day. 
Details do matter. 

Every time I am in Geneva, I walk across the Pont du Mont Blanc to go from my hotel to the office.
It is gorgeous, the picture was taken with my phone, and doesn't render the beauty of the scene.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Aya!

1978. On the cover we see a big-eyed black girl looking around her... Aya, and the book is about her. Aya lives in Ivory Coast in a neighbourhood called Yopougon of Abidjan that used to be the capital of the country. She's a teenager, and through her eyes we experience the daily lives of the people around her. Of course, her world - together with her friends Adjoua and Bintou - is essentially about being in love, seducing, clothes etc... that's what teenagers are all about! Aya however is the most serious one and aspires to be a doctor.
Striking is the light and fun tone of the book. For once Africa isn't depicted as the underdeveloped helpless continent we sometimes see on TV. Aya is a self-conscious teenager who has her mind set on studying. While her friends are looking for the easy way to money and try their luck at the disco, Aya has her nose in the books.
There is a lot of sex in the book. Not only Aya's friends secretly fuck around, even her only father has a few mistresses of his own.

The writers of the book know what they are talking about. Clément Oubrerie, who has a fantastic loose drawing style, is a recent visitor to the Ivory Coast. Marguerite Abouet is from there, and although she denies this might auto-biographic, the story could have been about her own teenage years. 
The events could have taken place in Western countries too. The girls go out, have secret dates, one gets pregnant and has to get married. What is different in this book are the habits of Ivory Coast: the big families, the open-air dance parties, the secret encounters between boys and girls and the ever beautiful weather. Aya is merely a witness.
There are already 6 parts... and I am longing for number 7!!!!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dieuf Dieul - you reap what you sow


Ibra Fall founded a sub-group of the Mouride bortherhood called the Baye Fall (Baay Faal in Wolof). Many Baye Fall substitute hard labor and dedication to their marabout for the usual Muslim pieties like prayer and fasting.

The members of the Baye Fall dress in colourfull ragged clothes, wear their hair in dreadlocks or ndiange ('strong hair') which they decorate usually with homemade beads, wire or string. Women usually are covered in draping coverings including their heads and occasionally are known to wear decorative handmade jewelry made from household or natural items. In modern times the hard labor is often replaced by members roaming the streets asking for financial donations for their marabout.


Several Baye Fall are talented musicians, such as Cheikh Lo, and Youssou N'Dour recently come to Belgium with yet another talented Baye Fall singer called Carlou-D... and I was there (thanks to Tschombe!). Enjoy... this is a piece of the dancing part (look up the music on internet ;-)


Sunday, April 10, 2011

I am going to Heaven...

BOB
... 'cause I am such a good girl ;-) I am going to Heaven and take with me: Reggae music! I sometimes get side tracked by other great music, but I seem to quickly remember that Reggae is what makes me groove most. Brings back my youth I guess, my great times at the beach of Point aux Cannoniers, the smell of gandja, Couleur Cafe, sun, ... my first sex (hope my parents don't read this ;-)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Contemplating Life

I am such a spoiled, lucky girl! I would like to dedicate this little post to all the people with whom I get to share this crazy, fantastic life: among them Lais & Mila, the crazy single girls I hang out with - girlpower! (zotte Cecile, tante F, Amely I can Fly, Jojo), the stable married couples showing me to have faith (E&J, V&G, N&C), the gay enriching my life (nonkel R,  S&S), the delicious men (toudou, doudou, SH), my fantastic neighbours, colleagues (old & new) and my family of course... Don't forget that life is short!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

V2 - Could I live a "menage a trois"? ;-)

I have to tell you about one of the most important people in my life today. She is not family, in the sense that she is not blood related, nor married to me LOL. She is not like my dear sister neither... I don't tell her I love her, but I do. She is my neighbour. She is my friend. She takes care of me. She takes care of Mila.

High of her 1m50 you would never guess how strong she is. Cycling her bakfiets loaded with 2 kids and all their gear up the hill. Discrete usually and always thinks before she speaks, you wouldn't guess how smart she is. On top of that she works in the social sector!

Last year I was supposed to go on a trip with a man, who chickened out last minute (yes and I know you will read this - shame on you!). So I took Valentine to New York. Not sure how that was supposed to end, since we have diametrically opposed characters and would have to spend 1 week in 1 room. January in NY -10°C and we survived both the weather and each other's company. In fact, I fell in love with Valentine and New York at the same time ;-)

So we have decided to take each year 1 week off, away from our kids, away from our work, and escape. This year we went to Cyprus and for those of you who follow me on Facebook, you will have seen the pictures... I am already starting to think about next year: Istanbul?

Now Valentine, has 2 little boys, Alexis and Olaf, whom Mila calls 'buurbroertjes' (or neighbour-brothers). Valentine is the 'buurmama'. Valentine is married to Gregory who always works. Gregory is the male alpha of it all, so one night, around a nice cup of tea, we were laughing and decided:
Gregory is M1 (male 1) - Valentine is V1 (female1), which makes Alexis V1.1 and Olaf V1.2 (yes I have been working in technology too long). Last but not least this makes me V2 and Mila is V2.1...

I can tell you that Gregory is a lucky bastard!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Desperate!!

I need a pair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I missed the Gazelle African prints (still crying about those) and now I am about to miss out on these too. Tomorrow I will call Colette in Paris and ask them if they still have a pair -highly unlikely that they still have any and that they take phone orders- anywhere between 38 and 41 will do ;-) I am in Paris on 12/4 so I could pick them up then... how much would they cost? I am going to dream about these... ahh if only I had the right connections to create my own :-( So many good ideas, so little craftsmanship and not enough time to develop any of it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Free as a Bird


To say the least I am full of contradiction!! But one thing is for sure, I am fucked up in my head... The dream prince I had imagined in my head doesn't exist, and even if he did, he wouldn't be interested in me :-( And then there is that need for independance and freedom. Not in terms of being faithfull, but being able to think what I want, live on the edge and be different. Every man I love seems to stand in my way, seems to amputate my creativity. I am a lioness, and noone was able to tie me down (yet). So why is it that I still believe someone one day will succeed? Fairy tales aren't true. Mila shall be my only child... and since she has my character, I shall die alone :-(

- cleansing of the body: check
- cleansing of the mind: I should get a schrink ;-)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Love the Brits

So I already told you that I went to see my dad in Cyprus. I talked my friend Valentine into coming with me, explaining to her that these would be cheap holidays: Ryanair ticket: 50 euro up and down - check! living for free at my dad's house - check! having someone drive us around at no charge - check!... what I forgot to tell her is that shopping in the UK chains all over Cyprus is awesome! Debenhams and M&S here we come!!!!!!

Anyone with a size 16-18 (read 46 in developed countries) will agree with me: over here we have to squeeze ourselves into a "large" 44 and hope it looks ok. And forget about Mango or Zara or Massimo Duti... they don't talor for fat people. No the fatties have to go to special brands for the "size +" like Paprika or Ulla... buerk. I don't want to look shapeless, have elastic bands in each of my waistbands, and skip every trend around. Cleavage is also no longer allowed, at least that's what the clothes for fat people seem to tell me. The other option is to shop at brands for older people like Un Jour Ailleurs or Betty Barclay... OMG!!

Thank God for the UK people for being larger, thanks for their brands to have realised and for producing the cute outfits in MY size... 16 and 18 seem to be STANDARD in most UK brands.. they even have 20 or 22 (I will make sure I never will need those ;-) I came back with a suitcase worth hundreds and now just need to find the right occasions to show my pieces off...

PS: The dress I will ware at my sister's wedding is finished and looks gorgeous! I will post on that soon ;-)
These are a few of the pieces I have bought... wouhou, thanks Mr Credit Card

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Cleanup Has Started

I am finally getting going... 2011 is a turning point, remember? But little action followed so far. So with a 3-months delay, and a week relaxing in Cyprus behind me, I have taken my first resolution: a more healthy and responsible way of living. Starting with a healthier approach to food: less sugar, less fat, less meat, more vegetables and more responsible consumption. It is not a diet as such. I choose full fat organic yoghurt and cheese for example, but eat less of everything except greens and try to cut the non-natural sugar. I am not a diet person, it would drive me nuts (but gosh I would need it ;-), but I agree to making sure everything I put in my mouth (I am talking about food guys, don't get too excited here!) is screened beforehand and received the labels: "really ok to eat?" and "quite responsibly produced?". Second part of the resolution has to do with doing sports. Since I hurt my hip last year in Croatie I can't do much, BUT I will resume swimming, at least once a year. Mila comes with me so that is also perfect for our mother-daughter activities. Last part of the resolution is to make sure I don't over-consume. No un-needed shopping and when buying trying to make sure that ecologically and/or socially responsible... again I will never be an extremist, but the thought of trying my best makes me quite happy... If I can put this first resolution in action then I will start a second one; One Step at a Time!

Friday, March 18, 2011

ku-DURU

Kuduru (or kuduro) is a type of Angolan music born in the late 80s. It is uptempo, energetic and definitely danceable ;-) It started when musicians started mixing 'batida' (African percussions mixed with calypso and soca) with Western electronic music on the rise in Europe and in the US. The Angolan MC Sebem is credited with starting the genre. The part that makes me smile is that although the name Kuduru is apparently a word with a specific meaning in the Kimbundu languages, it translates to "hard ass" or "stiff bottom" in Portuguese!! What is interesting as a take-away though is the fact that this musical genre is the proof that West African music DOES hold commonality with modern Western music: cultural boundaries and limitations within the musical spectrum are constantly shifting and being redefined. And I just love to watch the videos 'cause it is amasing how these people move to the music! Check it out!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Daughter in Peru

4 years ago I bought my first piece of property... It didn't go as planned, as my husband left me without warning, in front of the notary. I can still recall the words: "I don't wanna do this" "Do what? I thought you agreed to buy this loft?" "I want to get divorced..." Boom, bang, crash: my world fell apart. The man I loved so much and the father of our little Mila (then 2y old) had decided to leave me (for a nicer woman), instead of signing the contract. One month later I was back into the notary's office and bought the loft, on my own. A whole new life started: new place to live, no more partner, a little girl to take care of.
And then faith put a new person into my life: Laïs
Laïs and I were both in need of each other and that is how it happened, I adopted her ;-) She was around 16 at the time and started spending more and more time with us. She had full access to the house, and full confidence. She helped me a lot with Mila and I enjoyed her company. I think I helped her loads as well...
Now that chapter has closed too, as she moved to Peru to become someone famous there!
I miss you Laïs.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

HipLife

Hiplife is a Ghanaian musical style which fuses highlife and hip hop. It is also influenced by dancehall and reggae. Recorded in Ghanaian languages such as TwiEwe and Ga, hiplife is rapidly gaining popularity throughout West Africa and abroad, especially in the United KingdomUnited StatesCanada and Germany. I stumbled upon it while surfing around youtube and felt like sharing it. I can't believe this music has been around for nearly 20 years! Eager to learn more about it... 


To Wax or Not To Wax

Reminds me I have to cancel my appointment at the spa tomorrow... In between all the exciting traveling and new consulting contract in Switzerland, I stumbled upon some work of a designer called Ituen Basi from Nigeria. While my African dress (post will follow as soon as ready) is on its way by designer Catherine Alhinc in Paris, Ituen does exactly what we are trying to achieve for my own dress: lift the wax prints to European standards, with beautiful, wearable dresses in vibrant colours. Take a look and enjoy. More and more I would like to open a shop dedicated to these beautiful pieces from all over Africa. I just think that Belgium isn't the right place to do this, as the people might not be ready for this? Which location should I consider for my business case?


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Passion for Life

Jewelry! Slowly but surely I am introducing you to what makes my heart beat faster. We have had Music Africa, Art, Wax, Tulipes, but I should be telling you about my passion for jewelry! Since I was a little girl I starting creating jewelry with beads. I have done quite a few pieces I am still proud of, but really missed my calling. I am now sure that if I had to start my life again, I would have become a jewelry designer and creator! So I compensate my passion by admiring (unfortuntaly not buying, for that I would need to meet a rich man ;-) jewelry created by beautiful artists around the world. Today, I introduce you to Ippolita, created by a woman. She is the queen of Bangles to me. Her bracelets have all my favourite ingredients: colour, simple design but beautiful quality and an modern, edgy look. Enjoy!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tulipes

I can feel it... sometimes... at least I am sure that it will soon happen! In my garden green is starting to grow: tulips! I have bought my first tulips in the shop 3 weeks ago and it made me so happy. For those who don't know me they are my favourite flowers. Is it because they are among the first of the season? Do I have Dutch ancestors (God forbid ;-)? Or because they come in so many different colours? I like them that much that I nearly called my daughter "Lale" which is Turkish for tulip. When I imagined how it would be pronounced in English I abandoned the idea... but still.... Tulips represent SPRING and spring is in the air! Can't wait... and you?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Material Girl

Second post in series of Music & Afrika, and a second piece from Guinée Conakry... It's by accident, I don't have any specific ties with the country, but their more recent Hip Hop seems to seduce my ear! Material Girl exists in French too, but to stay local, here is the version in "Susu" (I think). Leg Def is doing it the US way, but would need some boost to get onto the foreign TV's! Not that I wouldn't mind giving him a hand personally ;-) Enfin, Enjoy, next time we'll try to go East Coast (African East Coast hein)!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wax, wax & Art

In my fascination for fabrics and more specifically African (Dutch) Wax, second angle today: Art and Wax! As explored by this great artist who grew up between London and Lagos: Yinka Shonibare. Just click onto the website, and under "Artworks" you will find some stuff that really inspires me! Vive les couleurs, vive les tissus, vive l'Afrique...




Black Hole


I received the most beautiful necklace and earrings from my favourite brand Reminiscence from my former colleagues during a drink organised by my team-mate Evi... didn't even cry then! Since I resigned a weight has fallen from my shoulders but today that weight is replaced with a void... I have time on my hands, and still can't get my act together. I am supposed to spend more time with my kid, sort out my company, create new contracts, paint Mila's bedroom, have extra time for Lais, clean my house in every corner... and I do NONE OF THOSE. So I have to come up with a strict action plan, a project plan so to speak! I start as of tomorrow... will sleep on it one night. That way I can stop dreaming about all the things I forget to do as of tomorrow night ;-) Holidays are for sissy's!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beautiful Africa

Talented artists... there are plenty; beautiful creations... there are many!

Just surfing around the web, I have stumbled upon fantastic websites from fantastic African artists.
My blog will have you discover few of them between my posts, as a "fil rouge". Hoping they will delight you as much as they do me...

Today, quite a famous one already, definitely not the underdog. I have chosen Serge Mouangue because the ingredients used by this Camerounese are surprising: African wax and Japanese kimono's. Also because Cameroun is very close to my heart, for having lived there for some time as a teenager... enjoy and take your time to discover!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Managing the French

Did you ever hear of a course for managers to learn how to manage Dutch teams, Belgian teams, Italian teams,... ? No? Well, I have spent the past 2 days in a course to learn how to manage French people...
The sole existence of this kind of training shows how difficult it is to effectively manage teams of French people without stepping out of line, without being accused of bullying. How do I get them to come in earlier? Come to the meetings on time? Take shorter coffee and lunch breaks? I am not kidding, we addressed it all. It also teaches us managers how to go about firing people when the system actually prevents you from doing so (of course after the needed reminders on how to motivate people, how to manage performance etc). I can tell you that I learned a lot. We - a bunch of Dutch, English, American and Belgian managers - were god-smacked.
Useful? Yes. Funny? Hell yeah... at times it resembled group therapy. And lots of hilarious moments...
The icing on the cake was that apparently French managers struggle with the same problems as we do. Go figure that out!
We have only one additional pledge: please make our Executive Committee members take this course too ;-)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Music My Life

Something most of my friends have in common, or at least I would like to think: lOve Of music...

There is music for Every situation and every situation requires Music. I have the most eclectic taste and would say that I like all kinds of music, at least each style has a few great artists! The only thing I avoid is pure mainstream, the top 100... maybe my spirit of contradiction, my quest for the rare and the precious. I will try through this blog to take you on my search to new music all the time. It can be the result of real research sometimes, hours spent scrolling through youtube and deezer.

A title that goes well with the theme of the day: "Music my Life". I discovered Degg J Force 3, a Guinee-Conakry hip hop group through my friend Sekou Keita, son of Mamady Keita, whom is a friend of the guy dressed in white on the beach. I love the rough-ness of this guys voice and think that the whole production shows how advanced music in Africa is and has always been... they can even produce clips that look like the US ones! Enjoy...



Saturday, January 29, 2011

Living Apart Together

Since my separation with my husband 4 years ago, I have only been into casual relationships. I think that I am ready again to invest in a relationship, however I am not keen to let anyone touch the pillars in my new life. Since my husband left me for another woman, I have bought a loft, converted it into a home for my 6 year old daughter Mila and myself; I have been able to move up in my job quite significantly; I have great friends whom I can trust and rely on quite a bit; I have a good relationship with my parents and my sister... and I feel good. Any man today seems like a threat to the freedom and balance I have found between all of the above elements...

But I would love to love again. I have so much to give... and need to share. To discover, to discuss, to travel, to dine, to make love with someone special in my life. I also have always wanted minimum 3 children, and believe that each child deserves to have a real father. So why does the idea of a man moving into my life freaks me out so much? I am starting to believe that a L.A.T. relationship would be just right for me during this period of my life. Strangely enough, men seem not to be that keen of the idea at all! And I thought it was one of Their inventions...

2011 - a Turning Point

Saturday afternoon, I should be cleaning... Nothing pre-destined 2011 to become the start of my second life. 24 December: I graciously dump my boyfriend of a few months, for no particular reason. Few days later, I decide to resign from my very comfortable and well-paid job in a top French asset management company, for no particular reason. Christmas, no party; New Year, in bed before 12am... really 2011 won't have to be special to be better!

I have decided to do something. And I don't know what that something would be. Let's find out together!