This Journey That's Called Life

Where two roads meet

The Big Silence and the Big Changes


It’s been a very busy few months, as I knew it would be. The coming week will probably be crazy busy at work, but I hope I get some room to breathe after that. You’ve probably noticed it’s been silent around here, which could be explained by my busy life, but it actually isn’t. The thing is, I don’t know what I want to do with this blog. I really didn’t want to make it a wedding planning blog, because I really don’t like reading those, so I’m not going to write one myself. House renovation blogs are even worse, so I won’t go there either. I could just write about “what’s happening around here”, but frankly, that’s not interesting at all. And I would feel like a fraud writing about “the engaged life” or “the married life”, because I’m just doing whatever. So I don’t know what to do with this little spot on the internet. If you have suggestions, you’re free to share them in the comments. I’m going to reflect a bit more about it and will let you know what decision I’ve taken.

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Almost graduating!


Now that my school year is approaching its end, I’m looking forward to focussing more on everything that has taken a second place these last few months. It might be wishful thinking that I’ll actually have more time, as I have a to do list a mile long. But for now, I’m really looking forward to the middle of June. In two weeks, I have to hand in all my papers, a week later I have my final exam and then I’ve planned a whole week of doing nothing at all! Two more weeks of very hard work and one week of moderately hard work. I can do this!

Our wedding planning is coming along nicely too. We’ve now got the rings and all the clothes (shoes, dresses, suit … for the civil and the religious ceremony), the lay-out of the invitation is almost finished, we’ve got all we need for the thank you gifts, the rice substitute (can’t throw rice here because of the pigeons), most of the texts for mass are finished, our guest list is as good as complete, we’re seeing the deejay next week … Of course we’ve booked the church and the venue a long time ago. So, I’d say most of the big work is done and only the small stuff is left to do.

Before I will focus on those smaller tasks, I’m going to start looking for a job near Mr. Fantastics house, as I’ll be moving there when we’re married. I still don’t know what kind of job I want to do, which makes it harder to write my curriculum vitae. I guess I’ll have to write several for different positions. And ofcourse I also have to pack up my apartment and move everything across the border! Let’s hope everything fits nicely in a small van. That way, Mr. Fantastic can drive and we don’t need to hire a mover.

For now, I’m focussing on graduating. I’ll let you know if / when I succeed!

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7 Quick Takes!


For the first time, I’m linking up with Kelly at This ain’t the Lyceum! seven-quick-takes-friday-2

1. Studies

As you can deduce from my lack of posts, I’ve been very, very busy. Mainly with my studies. I’m glad to say the teaching (twenty hours spread over seven classes in two schools) went very well. Though the teaching part is over, I still have to write a LOT of reports. And I have two other classes with papers and tests. But, if all goes well, I’ll graduate in June and then I’m all done! Until I get all excited about another class of course. ;-)

2. Work

Of course, my work is keeping me pretty busy too. As I’ve been away for several weeks (because I had to teach), I’m working hard to get back on track. I’ve only five months left here and I want to finish at least two books in those months. Time to gear up! I should also start looking for a new job, but that’s a bit harder. To be honest, I have no idea what I want to do. The same I do now? Teaching? Something completely different?

3. Wedding preparation

The preparation of our wedding is going pretty well, I guess. Neither of us is very interested in food or music or the whole organization part of the wedding, but the big things are all taken care of. We have a venue with chef, a dj, a dress and even all the required papers. But honestly, the only thing we’re really preparing at the moment, is how our life together will be and the wedding mass liturgy.

4. Engagement blessing

In preparation of our wedding, we had our engagement blessed by our priest. It was a very beautiful, special ceremony and I would recommend it to every engaged catholic couple. It was a private ceremony, just the priest, mr. Fantastic and I in a small chapel, but it was so powerful … I loved how, in the liturgy, the church really regards us as a unit. Though we are, of course, not one yet, we are growing towards it and it was beautiful to hear the church acknowledge that.

5. Marriage Encounter

This weekend, we’re going on a marriage preparation weekend of Marriage Encounter and we’re both very much looking forward to it. In addition to learning more about each other, we’d love to meet some other catholic engaged couples. No idea if we will meet some there, but it would be very nice. It’s going to be a wonderful weekend anyway, because the two of us are starting it with all you can eat sushi!

6. Scouting

I just got an email from the group leader of a brand new scouting group in the land I’m moving to. They’ve tried several times to get a group there, but it never worked out. This time, it seems it’s working and they’re going to start a girl’s group in September. I’ve offered them my help, but I have no idea what exactly they need and what I’ll be able to do. Still, it’s a very nice prospective. Only downside: it’s a group by French expats and my French isn’t that good (good enough, but I prefer to speak English or my mother tongue)

7. Some random news

  • I’m already collecting boxes for my move.
  • My curly willow stood outside all winter (it didn’t freeze, so it was fine), but I asked mr. Fantastic to put it inside last Saturday because I wanted to speed up the new leaves. The next morning, it was completely green. I’m really enjoying the wonderful fresh green leaves in my living room. The flowers in my little garden are opening up too and I enjoy them so much!
  • The new owner of my cats sent me some pictures. They’ve grown even more and they look all settled in.
  • Knight turned 8 and he’s getting way too big and grown-up. Sigh.
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If you can’t find time to write …


If you can’t find time to write … you let someone else write for you.

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Well, not really, but my godmother interviewed me for our parochial paper and because several people outside my parish would like to read the interview, I decided to post it here. I’m not going to translate it, but if you don’t understand Dutch, you could always try Google translate.

 

Deel ons Verhaal: een gesprek met Ciska Blanken

Als we bij Ciska aankloppen, heeft ze net een week educatief verlof om zich volop te kunnen concentreren op de stagelessen geschiedenis die ze in twee Brugse scholen geeft. Deze jonge vrouw die werkt voor een uitgever van schoolboeken is duidelijk een bezige bij. In het kader van het jaarthema “deel ons Verhaal” laten we haar graag aan het woord.

Ciska, jij legde een opmerkelijk parcours af. Pas op je 25e werd je door bisschop De Kesel gevormd. Vanwaar die keuze?

Eigenlijk ben ik eerder toevallig in de katholieke kerk terecht gekomen. Ik ben zelf wel altijd religieus geweest, maar heb een protestantse achtergrond. Als jongere kwam ik regelmatig in de katholieke kerk en ging ik naar eucharistievieringen, maar dat deed ik veeleer voor de sociale contacten. Ik vond het fijn om er andere mensen te ontmoeten. Bovendien hield ik ook wel van de structuur van de eucharistieviering. Dat gaf me veel rust.

Het regelmatig deelnemen aan die eucharistievieringen deed mijn verlangen groeien naar de communie. Als protestant en uit respect voor de katholieke traditie ontving ik immers geen communie. Bovendien leken de redenen waarom ik niet katholiek wilde worden, steeds meer drogredenen te zijn. Ik begon me ernstige vragen te stellen: wat wil ik nu eigenlijk? Wat geloof ik? Waarom verlang ik zo om de communie te ontvangen? Dat nadenken kwam geleidelijk aan. Eerst was er die sterke ervaring van verlangen naar de communie. Het bezig zijn met die vragen en vooral het verlangen naar de eucharistie deed me beslissen om katholiek te worden. Nog steeds voel ik me heel sterk aangesproken door dit sacrament. Vooral in drukke tijden merk ik bij mezelf een grote nood aan eucharistie vieren en samen bidden. ‘k Ben daar bijzonder dankbaar om.

Stel je voor dat je voor één dag in de huid van een bijbelfiguur mag kruipen. Wie kies je?

Ik zou heel graag Jezus ontmoeten. Dat moet een heel bijzondere ervaring zijn. Daarom zou ik het liefst van al één van zijn leerlingen zijn. Het maakt eigenlijk niet uit wie precies. Ik vind het moeilijk kiezen welke leerling ik zou willen zijn, want in zekere zin herken ik me in allemaal en ook in geen één. Bovendien valt het me ook op dat de leerlingen niet zo vaak als individu contact hebben met Jezus, maar vooral samen met anderen.

Vanuit protestantse hoek wordt er veel nadruk gelegd op de persoonlijke band die je met Jezus hebt. En dat is ook belangrijk, maar Jezus had altijd een groep rond zich. Voor mij is geloven veel meer dan iets tussen Jezus en mij. Het is ook een zaak van gemeenschap. Daarom hou ik ook zoveel van de Kerk.

Wat zou je dan graag vragen of zeggen aan Jezus?

Ik weet niet of ik iets zou willen zeggen. Gewoon bij Hem zijn, lijkt me meer dan genoeg. Ik zou naar Hem kijken om te zien wie Hij echt is en hoe Hij tegenover mensen staat. Als historische figuur moet Jezus een charismatische man geweest zijn.

Is er een evangelietekst die jou in het bijzonder inspireert?

Ik denk aan de zaligsprekingen en vooral aan het Onzevader dat ik dagelijks bid. In dat gebed zit zoveel. Het inspireert me en geeft me richting. Het is een gebed dat voor mij aan het begin van de dag meteen de toon zet: hoe begin ik de dag vandaag? Wat zal ik met mijn dag doen? Van waaruit leef ik?

Het Onzevader schept voor mij ook een grote verbondenheid. Enerzijds met God. Het feit dat we Vader mogen zeggen, wijst op een sterke, intieme band. Maar ook een verbondenheid met alle mensen. Ik bid regelmatig voor anderen. Dat zorgt dat ik niet op een eiland leef, maar me verbonden weet met concrete mensen en situaties, maar ook met de wereld.

Ook de bede “Laat uw Rijk komen” vind ik heel sterk. Het klinkt enerzijds passief: het is God die zijn Rijk laat komen, maar ik hoor er ook een sterke oproep in: hoe kan ik vandaag concreet meewerken aan dat Rijk? Hoe kan ik Gods Rijk laten groeien voor anderen? Een hele uitdaging én een hele geruststelling te beseffen dat ik daar niet alleen verantwoordelijk ben, maar dat het om Gods Rijk gaat.

Deel ons Verhaal, zo klinkt het jaarthema. Wat van ons christelijk geloof vind jij de moeite waard om te delen?

Het zal je wellicht niet verwonderen dat ik hier naar de sacramenten verwijs. Die zijn voor mij zo belangrijk. Het is moeilijk om daarvan te getuigen, daarover te delen, omdat je die sacramenten vooral moet meemaken. Al vierende ontdek je hun diepe betekenis die niet altijd in woorden te vatten is.

Toen ik vier jaar geleden gevormd werd, ervoer ik een sterke bevestiging dat het heel goed was dat ik mij voor dit sacrament openstelde. Sacramenten maken mij ten volle mens: daar ben ik ten volle de mens zoals ik bedoeld ben. Versta me niet verkeerd: ik bedoel dit helemaal niet verwijtend naar anderen die zich niet zo door de sacramenten aangesproken weten. Ik kan alleen maar getuigen van de sterke ervaring die in mij leeft. Dat ervaar ik ook in de biecht. Dat sacrament geeft me veel kracht en rust. Het is zo bevrijdend te horen dat God ons, mij, blijft tegemoet komen. Ondanks alles.

Copyright: Inge Cordemans

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A year and a day


A year and two days ago, I’d been single for … well, ages.

A year and a day ago, in the most unromantic way possible, Mr. Fantastic and I became a couple.

It’s now officially over a year that I’m not single anymore and, let me tell you, it’s very different to be in a relationship.

First of all, I’ve got someone to blame for everything that goes wrong. Mr. Fantastic still thinks I’m joking when I say this. That’s part of why he’s so fantastic.

Secondly, the way I spend my time has changed drastically. To be honest, this is largely due to my studies, but I would take far less classes if I wasn’t planning on moving abroad at the end of the schoolyear. So it does come back to being in a relationship.

Thirdly, it’s so much easier! It’s so nice to say “hey, what do you think, should we do A or B?” and get support in a decision.

Fourthly, it’s so much harder! It’s so irritating to say “hey, what do you think, should we do A or B?” and get the answer you don’t like. Okay, this one was a bit tongue-in-cheek. But, it definitely is hard to merge two lives in so many different ways: merge stuff, merge family traditions, merge languages, merge faith, merge households, merge schedules, merge emotions, merge baggage …

Fifthly, it’s so very different to think in “we”. Not hard-different, but easy-different. Joyous actually.

I like the way my life has changed, though it sometimes overwhelmes me. Especially when I’m thinking about how my life will change even more the coming year. Or when the amount of schoolwork gets out of control. But the biggest difference that has occured, is that I know Mr. Fantastic is always there for me, supporting me, cheering me on and cheering me up. And buying me flowers. :-)

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Big news (and lots of small news too)


It’s been a month since my last blogpost and that post was actually a repost of an older one, so I haven’t updated on my life since the beginning of October. And so much has happened since the beginning of October!

October 1: The last time I wrote a blog post and the first day of observing classes for my teaching degree.

October 3: The second visit to the hospital for my allergy and the verdict is very clear: the cats really have to go. As soon as possible.

October 5: Exactly one year ago, Mr. Fantastic and I met for the first time (we had been writing each other very, very long mails for over a month). We had the most wonderful, fantastic day and just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, Mr. Fantastic proposed! It was perfect and it deserves a blogpost of its own, but … well, I barely have time to write this one, so don’t hold your breath.

October 6 and following days: Our first week as an engaged couple was just crazy busy. Seriously. I had to observe several classes, had a lesson to prepare, a birthday and lots to do at work. Still, I somehow managed to fit in an appointment with the wedding dress designer (with mama and Knight, who was mildly interested and made a beautiful drawing of our wedding), to pick a date, to arrange the church, the priest and the witnesses and to contact a dozen locations for the party. No, I still don’t know how I did it.

October 13: I taught a class for my fellow students. It went pretty well.

October 15: For the first time in my life, I taught a class for a group (well, three) real students!!! A totally different subject than the one I taught about two days before. Crazy! But it went pretty well too.

October 16: Last day of observing until February.

October 18: We arranged a date and location for the legal wedding.

October 20 – November 19th: ridiculously busy at work, at school (exam for a class, peer teaching for another class, just trying to survive.

November 7: I finally found a family that wants to take care of both my cats. They’re brothers and have always been together, so I just couldn’t split them up. Luckily, they are now staying with a wonderful family. They have a big garden and lots of room inside to explore. It was a tough decision, but I really had to do it.

November 8: My cousin performs at a festival in our city and for the first time since she started performing in public, I was able to attend one of her concerts. I know, I know, she’s my cousin and I’m biased and all that, but honestly, it’s mind blowing. You don’t have to take my word for it, here’s a YouTube video. She’s not even eighteen yet!

November 10: A much needed break to the annual book fair with Mr. Fantastic!

November 15 and 16: Crazy weekend, it must have been one of our most productive weekends ever. We went to the recycling center with all sorts of stuff (we even took some of mama’s garbage). My wonderful friend came over and we went to the thrift store together. We had our first meeting with our spiritual director who will help us with marriage preparation (not wedding preparation, that’s another priest :-D). And we decided on our location, booked it and booked the deejay. It was CRAZY!

November 19: Finally, finally, finally gave the okay to publish our new book, that has been ‘under construction’ for almost three years. So much relieve to have that burden lifted off my shoulders! And it came at the perfect time, because classes are getting more intense again, with three evenings of classes a week (and homework, papers, exams etc.).

November 21: First meeting with our NFP advisor. Two years ago, I took classes for the sympto-thermal method, but now we’re taking a Creighton course. It all sounds very promising, but we’ll see which method suits us more at the end of the course.

November 23: We were finally able to share the news of our engagement with a very important little person. She was very happy.:-)

November 26: Younger Sister is in the country with (her) The Fiancé and she’s visiting tonight. So weird that we’re both engaged now. Of course they’ve been engaged much longer and they’ll get married before us too, but it’s special to have this period of engagement together.

The future: As you know, the future is unknown, but I have big plans! I’ll try to keep the blog up to date with wedding and study news. I plan on writing a post about the engagement and will try to give a monthly update. The next one is planned around Christmas.

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NAS: Patience


No time to write, but I do have time for a repost. I wrote this exactly a year ago. Life has changed so much since that day …

The topic in the ‘Not Alone Series’ this week is patience. I’ve written about patience before (like here), usually with poor results. They say you have to write about what you know, so it makes sense my posts about patience aren’t that great.

I’ve never been a patient person. Not as a child, not as a teenager and not even now. The last few years I’ve become better at waiting in lines or waiting rooms though. Someone told me standing in line is the perfect opportunity to pray, so I’ve started doing that. I don’t mind standing in lines or sitting in waiting rooms anymore, unless I’m in a hurry.

But I’m not patient when people make ‘stupid’ mistakes. I still hate waiting for someone to answer an e-mail, especially if it contained a question I need an answer to. And that certainly also goes for prayers that don’t get an answer when I want it. And I’m inpatient about, you know, life that doesn’t go as fast as I want it. Though it’s not really that I want life to go faster, it’s that I want to be further in life, I just want to skip a few months (or years, whatever). I want wounds to be all healed up already, goals to be nicely achieved and peace on earth. Or, as my friend uses to say: “I want to be in heaven NOW”. Though she’s mature enough to actually mean the real one, I still believe the fairy tale that someday my life will be perfect.

I’m digressing from the topic horribly, but I don’t care. Though my life at the moment isn’t perfect, it’s very close to it. As I’ve said many times before, I’m incredibly blessed with family, friends, a wonderful job, great church, awesome hobbies and a cozy, practically perfect flat. Oh, and my cats of course! My lack of patience often makes me ponder the future instead of the here and now, which is such a shame. I want to fast forward and I ignore the beauty of the present.

Last week, I went to confession and the priest wrote down a prayer for me. It was a short prayer, maybe two sentences, about talents and shortcomings. In the second sentence, he wrote NOW in capitals and underlined it. When I asked him about it, he said: “Every prayer has to be rooted in the present, it’s the key to a healthy prayer life. Just think about the Our Father: ‘give us today’. Or the Hail Mary: ‘pray for us sinners now’. Don’t worry about the future, focus on the present and about how you can love God now.”

PS: if you’ve read the post I linked to, you might find it interesting to know that I decided to convert to Catholicism right before that following Easter. And the Christmas holidays of 2011 proved to be one of the most wonderful weeks I ever had, with visits to family, friends and lots of church time. My life was completely different than I ever thought it would be, with scouting, Catholicism, lots and lots of friends and a wonderful job.

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7 Quick Takes on a Wednesday


  1. The school year has started. My classes take up a HUGE amount of time right now. I observed a few classes this morning and will be doing that for a few hours the coming three weeks. At the end of these three weeks, for the first time in my life, I’ll teach a class of teenagers. Well, as it is a special school, I’ll only teach three boys age 17-18. It still counts in my book (and in that of our teacher, which is the most important part).
  2. I had my last scouting activity. It was both a relief (hurrah for less stress, less preparation work and more free Saturdays!) and very sad. It’s so hard to let go of “my” girls, of the group of leaders, of the whole scouting environment.
  3. In February, I started getting sick and never really recovered. After many doctor visits, I found out I’m allergic to cats. Only the heaviest medication seems to help and I can only take that medication for a short period (think ‘weeks’). Verdict: the cats have to go. Yes, it makes me sad. BUT I’m also so, so glad to know what’s causing this and that the solution is so simple. The way my body reacts, was really driving me crazy: itching, trouble breathing, a rash, runny nose … You name it, if it’s on the list of symptoms for cat allergy, I’ve got it. Even being tired, having headaches and feeling down. It’s bearable now, because I know it will end. IT WILL END!!!
  4. It’s busy at work too. And certainly now that I’m gone for three half days a week. Less than 50 days before our book will be printed. The book that should have appeared two years ago. I think I’m going to celebrate with champagne. Not that I like champagne, but it will be something extravagant.
  5. Things are going really well between Mr. Fantastic and I. This weekend, it will be exactly a year since we first met. Time really does fly. He’s just as amazing as he was in the beginning. And he is even more fantastic than I could ever dream of.
  6. I’m not saying everything in my life is going perfectly and at times it’s really hard when it becomes clear to me exactly what it means to grow closer to each other. As beautiful as it is to grow closer, it remains painful to let go of things that don’t fit anymore. Such as scouting, for instance. But mainly the realization that, if all goes well, I’ll leave my family, my friends, my home, my job behind.
  7. I’ll leave you with a picture and a promise. The picture shows some of my favourite people: mr. Fantastic, Knight, Mama and our priest. And my promise is that I will keep you updated about my life, but I won’t post regularly before my graduation (I’m hoping I’ll graduate in June).

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7 Quick Takes Friday


— 1 —

After months of a post every few weeks, I suddenly felt the urge to start writing again. A post on Tuesday, on Thursday and Friday this week! I’m pretty sure it will dwindle down as soon as school starts, but I’m hoping to write at least once a week again.

— 2 —

My post yesterday was the last one of a password protected series. If you’re someone I’ve never met or a close friend and want to read along, just contact me through the “email-me” page at the top of this blog. Please add your blog address, your email and let me know you want to read the series. Though it was a bit hard to write at times, I’m very proud of this series.

— 3 —

Classes are starting soon! I’m both looking forward to and dreading it … Let’s hope it’s an interesting year with a nice degree in June. Though I still can’t imagine I’m actually going to TEACH TEENAGERS this year. My oh my. I was under the impression that the school year would start this coming Monday, but as I was making sure I had all I needed for the first class, I noticed the website has a different date (next week). It would be really nice to have an extra week of summer, especially as the weather is getting better again!

— 4 —

My cats had their first birthday two weeks ago. They’ve changed so much! In my head they’re still cute little kittens and that’s how they usually behave, but when they both try to sleep on my lap, I realize how big they are. I wanted to take some birthday pictures, but they just can’t stay in one place for more than .03 seconds. Sigh. I did make a little video, but I can’t upload it on WordPress unless I pay for an upgrade.

— 5 —

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the first mail between Mr. Fantastic and I. A YEAR! How can it be a whole year?! And I feel like we should have a big party or something, but that seems a bit weird. I wonder what the etiquette is for people who met online. Personally, I like to celebrate every anniversary: first mail, first meeting & becoming a couple (and hopefully: engagement date and wedding date), but maybe that’s a bit over the top. Anyone else who started off as on online couple? Want to share what / how you celebrate?

— 6 —

At work, everything is moving along perfectly. The summer months are really busy and I’ve finally arrived at a point where I have a manageable list of tasks again. It’s all looking pretty good and I’m confident the books will be wonderful. One of those books should have been published two years ago, so I really am relieved that we’re nearing the end! On the other hand, I really like this job and it’s painful to accept that this will be the last book in this series that I will edit. Mr. Fantastic and I have decided to live in his country (certainly for a few years, possible longer), which means I will have to find another job. Not yet of course, but still, I won’t be able to finish the next book in this series.

— 7 —

Last weekend, Mr. Fantastic and I took my sister’s children to a zoo and we had a lovely day. My cousin decided to come too as she lives nearby and we had a wonderful, relaxed day. It was so much fun to spend the day with the little ones!

2014-08-24 11.15.16 HDRPrincess staring at the hyenas, who hardly moved.

2014-08-24 13.46.14Prince is mesmerized by the elephants.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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The Never Ending To Do List


The end of August marks the end of the summer holidays here. The end of a season in several ways.

When I started at our scout group in 2009, I said I would stay for five years. Those five years are over now. Of course, I can’t leave completely, so I’m still doing PR (a little bit of Facebook, but mainly a new website). There’s also the first activity this year, where we come together as the old group in the morning and then have the ceremonies in the afternoon, saying goodbye to cubs who’ll graduate to older groups or who leave and welcoming new members. But apart from that, I won’t be responsible for a group anymore. A very strange feeling. Relief that my workload has been drastically cut down, but very hard to let go at the same time.

It’s also looking like I’m going to do a lot less at our parish. With classes starting up this week on three evenings (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 6pm to 9.30pm) and weekends either at Mr. Fantastic’s place or him coming here, it’s just hard to find time to plan meetings. Frankly, I only have Thursday evenings left and I’d prefer to use those to take care of my household. And to make my homework, write papers and prepare classes of course. Yes, I have a horribly busy year ahead.

Which brings me back to my to do list. For months, I’ve had a long (LONG!) to do list of things that I’ve promised or been obliged to do (not listing housework, only scouting, parish, schoolwork …). At the moment, there are only two things on my to do list: prepare my last scout activity and correct the translation of our “Mowgli” booklet (with about 200 small pages of information, goals, song texts … for the children in our scout group). That’s it. Just two things on my list. So now my goal is to finish that list before the weekend. If I do, I will have NO to do list for the first time in months (years?!). I will have to push myself a bit these coming days as I have other things that have to be done (like cleaning, cooking, getting my official papers from school, meeting my spiritual director, going to the library etc.). Still, it’s really worth it to have a to-do-list-free-weekend!

Of course, as soon as I start my classes on Monday, it’ll start growing again …

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“How will I know?”


Jen (from the NAS-series!) wrote a blogpost asking how you’ll know you’re falling in love. I started writing a comment and before I realized, I had written a whole page. So I decided to change it here and there and transform it into a blogpost about falling in love with Mr. Fantastic.

As I’ve been single for years (and years and years and …) before I met Mr. Fantastic, I kept wondering how I would know when I fell in love. Some people fall in love seemingly every week, others hardly ever. I belong in the last group. One thing I’ve always heard is “you’ll just know when you’re in love / he’s the one / you love him …” I hated it when people gave me that answer! It’s so vague and I felt like they were keeping me out of their little group, as if they had a secret I wasn’t allowed to know.

Now that I’ve been with Mr. Fantastic for almost eight months, it’s interesting to look back at the beginning of our relationship and see they were right …

Mr. Fantastic and I met online and we had an instant ‘click’, we just loved talking to each other. After a month of many long mails, we met in real life for the first time and had the most wonderful time. At the end of our date, I texted a friend “He’s such an amazing man, I don’t care if we become a couple or just friends, but I absolutely want him in my life.” At the end of the second date, he kissed me, which I didn’t expect at all, because there were no such feelings from my side. By that time, however, I had realized that the thought of marrying him was very attractive. But this did NOT fall under ‘being in love’ for me!

You see, I’m a very rational person. Maybe even a bit too rational. I don’t just fall in love. Oh no, that’s not like me at all. My road to falling in love has three checkpoints. The first one is very basic, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t get past it: he has to be good. He doesn’t have to be perfect or flawless, but he has to be a good man. The next checkpoint is a bit trickier: he has to fit “the list”. The list isn’t really set in stone (though I have a page with a long list I wrote ten years ago), it changes and evolves over the years. Things get crossed off and added mentally, but the core stays the same. There are very, very few men who’ve been able to pass the second checkpoint. And then there’s the third checkpoint: we have to be a good fit. We both have to enjoy spending time together and we should like each other. Also, we should both be open to starting a relationship. Of course, this is a “duh”-checkpoint. Still, I’m nearly thirty and Mr. Fantastic is the first to get past all three.

If this sounds very complicated, artificial and way too rational. Uhm, why yes, that would be true. However, this all happens in my head and Mr. Fantastic crossed all those checkpoints before the end of date two. So, either it’s not that hard or Mr. Fantastic is really very fantastic. I like Cindy’s idea of the veil. Though I wouldn’t call it like that and I don’t completely agree with every aspect of this theory, it’s pretty spot-on. Anyway, back to the story.

After our second date, when it was clear to me that he had crossed the checkpoints, I … panicked. Wouldn’t you? For the first time in my life, there was someone who made it! What to do? What to do?! With a help line to a trusted friend, I calmed down a bit, but I still didn’t know what to do. After our uncomfortable third date and a lot of mails, I told Mr. Fantastic I liked him very much and was most certainly attracted to him, but the feelings weren’t there. If there were no feelings, there was no way I was going to begin a relationship with him. However, I did want to give it more time. So we met again and before our next, fifth date, I thought ‘if there’s still nothing there, I don’t think we should keep this going’, but didn’t tell him.

It was a cold, rainy day at a zoo. And I remember thinking that it was never going to work between us. We were cold and hungry, trying to find food and shelter, the conversation just didn’t flow (at all!) and the fact that I had given myself an ultimatum had a bad effect. At the end of the day, we boarded the train and started talking. It was warm and dry in the train and while I was looking at him, hearing him talk about the Eucharist (of all things), I fell in love. I couldn’t keep my eyes of him and wanted to know every line of his face, every way he looked, everything he cared about, every thought. And I wanted him to know me, every aspect of me, good and bad. I wanted to kiss him and at that exact moment, I knew I loved him. It might seem too early or too late to others, but it was perfect for me. As I had to get off the train ten minutes later, I decided to keep the goodbye short and give myself some time to process.

When I came home, I “just knew”. I was in love ánd I actually, honest to God, loved him. After I had given myself time to think and pray about it and to sleep on it, I texted (yes, texted!) Mr. Fantastic. And thus, on Gaudete Sunday -which I think is a wonderful coincidence – we became a couple.

By the way, because the holidays were super busy, the first time I saw him again was New Year’s Eve. And I didn’t tell Mr. Fantastic I loved him until two months later, when he’d already told me. I’m a bit weird that way.

So, getting back to the question Jen posed: how will you know when you’re in love? I’m sorry I can’t say anything more than “you’ll just know”. I’ve fancied a few guys, I wanted them to like me or maybe even love me, but I was never in love. If you’re wondering if you are in love, you aren’t. Several times, I’ve wondered “Am I in love?” and always, I realized afterwards that I wasn’t. I’ve wondered if I was in love with Mr. Fantastic before our fifth date, but never EVER after that day. I just knew. I just know.

Another aspect may be that you want him to know you through and through and you want to know him completely, good and bad. You hurt for his hurts and his happiness makes you happy. You want to care for him and want him to care for you. And yes, you want his children, but most of all, you want your children to have him as a father (which is kinda the same, but not really). Oh, and when you both voluntarily make yourself vulnerable, that’s a big indicator too.

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7 Quick Takes Friday


A few posts back, Annie asked what Mr. Fantastic and I do when we’re together. As we’re a long distance couple, we try to make the most of our time. We live too far apart to see each other during the week, but close enough to spend practically every weekend together. During the week, we turn on Skype when we get home and turn it off when we go to bed. We don’t only talk to each other, we also do the dishes “together”, watch the same movies at the same time while both on Skype, read, write, work … I’d guess we do roughly the same things couples do when they’re together, but clearly, there are a few hundred kilometers between us, so we can’t hold hands or cuddle. During the weekends, we love to get out of the house. In fact, our weekends usually are pretty full of activities. So here are 7 things we did in those 7 months (this coming Tuesday!) we’ve been a couple.

— 1 —

Go for a walk or a bike ride. We both love nature and enjoy spending time together walking or biking through the beautiful nature near our homes. We’ve walked through the city at night, biked through a nature reserve and even biked to the sea where we walked along the shore. In fact, I think we’ve made a nice walk or bike ride every weekend we’ve spent together. As neither of us has a car, we also use our bikes as a form of transportation, but that doesn’t really count in my book.

— 2 —

Visit a city. I bought a railroad year pass, so I can travel for free in Mr. Fantastic’s country, which is marvelous. We’ve visited various nearby cities and spend our time visiting churches, museums, parks and the like. Of course, we’ve also showed each other around our hometowns. We even took a boat trip and a carriage ride in my city last week and felt like real tourists. We haven’t really visited any museums in my home town yet, as our weekends here are always full, but we plan on doing that soon!

— 3 —

Visit family. We both really love our family and though it’s a bit of a puzzle at times, we try to visit them often. This is easier said than done, as neither of us has a car. However, even though we haven’t even been together that long, I’ve met Mr. Fantastic’s parents, brothers and co several times at parties and other visits. Mr. Fantastic has met most of my extended family too when we had a big celebration for my cousins in May and of course he’s met my immediate family several times (well, he’s only seen my younger sister once, but as she lives in Ireland, that’s just the way it is). We’ve visited my godchildren several times too. In fact, we’re going to babysit my goddaughter and her brother next week!

— 4 —

Go to mass together. As we’re both active in our church, “going to mass” is hardly ever just that. When in his church, Mr. Fantastic usually either serves at the altar or sings in the choir. In my church, I used to teach a monthly children’s class during mass. When I’m not doing that, I often serve as a lector. And afterwards, we always go to the community house for a drink (or two or three or …). A lot of our friends are friends from church, so we like to chat a bit and catch up.

— 5 —

Volunteer. Though we don’t do it that often, we’ve volunteered several times and it’s always been a lot of fun. Helping out at our scouting group, going on a walk with an older lady in a wheelchair, putting furniture together … It’s so nice to do it together!

— 6 —

Do lots of normal stuff. Watch a dvd, eat (out), talk, play a board game, go grocery shopping, work in the garden …

— 7 —

Do other things. There are things we’ve done only once, but that I can’t leave out. Like going to a concert (well, twice, actually), going on a guided boat ride through a nature reserve for hours, taking part in a silent procession or attending a weekend on the theology of the body. Wonderful experiences, all of them.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Not Alone Series: Intro + 1


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Can you believe it’s been a year?! I can’t believe it either … Since Jen and Morgan started this series, a lot has happened in my life and even more is going to change the coming months / year. I thought it would be fun to repost my first introduction post and add small updates in between (in this color). Here we go!

Welcome to my new readers (and all my old ones!) through the link–up for the ‘Not Alone Series’!

I started blogging eight years ago. At that time, I was studying ancient history at the university in the center of this West-European country and loved every bit of it. Since graduating, I’ve started a wonderful job editing schoolbooks (mainly history, religion and social studies). I loved working there the from the first day and it has only gotten better in the five years I’ve worked there. These last few months, a lot has changed and though I still like my job, I’m still getting used to the new situation. In additions to history books, I’m now editing informatics, economics and geography. The topics aren’t that close to my interests and what I studied, so it’s taking some time to get accustomed to the material. Still, I like learning new things, so I don’t mind at all. A few months after starting this job, I rented a cozy apartment in the center of the beautiful historic city where I grew up. I’m in my late twenties now and have enjoyed living on my own, paying my bills and planning my life.

My job keeps me busy during the day, but the evenings and weekends are usually filled with all kind of activities too. As I love studying, I always follow at least one evening class (sign language, Spanish, sewing …). Since September 2012, I’ve been studying for a degree in teaching and I was also taking some theology classes. However, as I noticed it was getting too much to study this much and stopped the theology classes over the summer. Though I know it was the right decision, I still really miss those classes and hope to pick them up again in the future (after I get my teaching degree). 

As I have a little brother of seven, I spend quite some time babysitting at my mother’s house or just enjoying their company (I have two big sisters too, but they don’t live at home anymore). Of course I love visiting the rest of my family and friends too, especially my god children. They’re both so wonderfully sweet and I still can’t believe my sister and my best friends picked me to play such an important role in their lives. The last six months, my weekends and evenings have been filling up with talking to and spending time with Mr. Fantastic, so I’m spending less time with my family and friends. Though I know this is normal and healthy, it saddens me a bit too. It’s not that I’m neglecting my relationships, but I realize that you really do have lots and LOTS of extra time if you’re single. Especially as Mr. Fantastic lives a few hours away and we spend a lot of time commuting. Oh well, I probably spent waaay too much time with my family and friends when I was still single, so it’s balancing out nicely.

A little over three years ago, I became a Catholic, much to my own surprise. It’s been an interesting journey and my parish has been crucial in supporting me on this journey. I’ve become a team member at our parish, organizing children’s classes and generally helping out. We’re a close-knit community of mainly young people. As I plan on finishing my teaching degree in the coming year, I probably won’t be able to attend our team meetings. I haven’t decided yet if I will step down, but I’m afraid I’ll have to. This coming school year I will have classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening, from 6pm to 9.30pm and I’ll have several teaching internships too. Lots of hard work coming up …

Something else I love a lot is scouting. I’ve been a scout leader for five years and the girls in my group are amazing. Only a few more weeks before our camp! As I’ve been a leader for five years and am nearing thirty now (slowly but surely), this camp will be my last one. I actually thought about quitting last year, but as there was a girl who was going to assist me, I decided to do another year. Unfortunately, she hardly showed up and she isn’t even coming to our camp, so I had to do everything on my own again. Instead of getting too frustrated with it, I’ve decided to really quit after our camp. They’ve already found a new leader for our group, a wonderful girl who’s currently leading another age group and I’m thrilled about it. And of course I love reading and writing blog posts too, though this has been the first thing that fell between the cracks since I started to date Mr. Fantastic, as I don’t have to write.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Morgan’s blog by coincidence. I loved the idea of this new series, so when I was invited to join, I gladly accepted! I’ve written about being single before (there must be about fifteen posts in the category ‘On Being Single’). It’s a topic that’s near to my heart, as I’ve been single for ten years. And though it hasn’t always been easy or wonderful, I love my life as it is now. So I’m really looking forward to this series!

I’ve really enjoyed participating in this series and I hope to join every now and then, but as I said, blogging is the first thing to go when it’s busy! Also, after more than ten years, I’m not single anymore and I feel a bit like an intruder. 

Want to read posts by other people on this topic (the original introduction)? Go to Morgan’s blog! Want to read the other anniversary posts? Go to Jen’ blog!

[After rereading this post, I realize it’s pretty dull. If you want to read a more interesting introduction: here you go! Ironically, part of the post I linked to was my English profile on the website where Mr. Fantastic and I met. At least I warned him.]

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7 Quick Takes Friday


It’s been a while! So, what have I been up to? Lots!

— 1 —

First of all, I’ve spent lots and lots of time with Mr. Fantastic. We spend every weekend together. If we somehow can’t spend two days with each other, we make sure to compensate that with a longer weekend. Still somehow, it never seems too much. To the contrary. We have so much fun together, though we don’t really have spectacular outings. I actually prefer it that way. It’s so nice to go for a long walk together, visit family, talk, go to mass, cook … We just enjoy being together. And I know this might not seem long, but we’ve been together for five months this week! I think that’s pretty spectacular. And I’ve reached the point where I can’t (and don’t want to!) imagine a future without Mr. Fantastic. Uhm, yes, he’s that fantastic.

— 2 —

As I’m nearing the end of another class, it’s getting a bit busier too, with papers, a presentation and a big test all coming up in the next three weeks. It will probably go as well as my other classes, but it still makes me panic a little when I think about it. So much to do! So little time! I’m actually thinking about taking the other half of the classes in one year (instead of two, thus doubling my work), but I really don’t want to think about the hours I’ll have to teach (20! I think I’m going to die). Oh well, maybe I’ll be good at it or even like it. Nope,  still stressing out.

— 3 —

Our scouting year is winding down. Only one more activity and our week-long camp. That I still have to plan. Completely. Sigh. I like spending time with the girls, but it’s just too much to do on my own. For the third year in a row! I’ve been a leader for almost five years now and I’ve decided to quit after this camp. There’s another, wonderful, competent leader who will take charge of the group and I’m really glad about that. I just know the girls will have a wonderful time and I’m looking forward to our last camp together.

— 4 —

The cats are still growing a bit, but I think they’re almost done. They’re super cuddly and love to spend time with their human. This can be a bit tricky, especially in the morning when they curl around my legs. Since their operation, I let them outside every now and then. They only get to run around on my patio, but they love it. As the weather is warming up, we’re getting more flies and mosquitos and they just love chasing them. Every now and then, they catch one, but they usually don’t. It’s a lot of fun to watch though! I haven’t been good in getting my camera out at home, so no pictures of the cats. Sorry! I’ll try to make it up to you.

— 5 —

Another area full of changes is my job. I started out editing books on math and on informatics. Later I did history, religion and social studies. Now, I’ve been given geography (only one book) and economics. I’ve even done a little Dutch (just for a month, filling in for a colleague) and math (a thin book with little work). Of course, I’m still in charge of our history books, but it’s moving pretty slow there.  Also, some people higher up have left and everyone is getting used to the new situation. But, still loving my job!

— 6 —

The Not Alone Series is back on track again. They had a bit of a hard time coming up with topics, but now they’re back! Even though I’m not single anymore, I’m thinking about joining them for a few of the coming posts:

May 20: Making Friends

May 27: Social Media

June 3: Year in Review (NAS anniversary!)

— 7 —

And my little brother is growing up. He’s taking guitar classes now and seems to just keep growing. He’ll be taller than me in no time. He’s also really looking forward to changing schools (after summer break).

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For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Neglected


neglected
nɪˈglɛktɪd/
adjective
adjective: neglected
  1. suffering a lack of proper care.
    “some severely neglected children”
    • not receiving proper attention; disregarded.
      “a neglected area of research”

It’s been a while since I posted here. I’m sorry. Yes, I’m alive. Yes, everything is fine. Yes, both mr. Fantastic and I are fine. Still… I’ve been struggling with this blog lately. What do I write, what not? My life at the moment is pretty much filled with work and mr. Fantastic. Of course there’s scouting, visits to family and friends and whatnot, but I don’t really feel like writing about it. As our relationship progresses, we’re growing. So many things change in our lives. But I struggle with what to write here. I don’t want to use this blog to chronicle our relationship or tell you all about mr. Fantastic. I’d prefer to keep that kind of private. That being said ;-), I don’t really know what else to write about (I know, pathetic). So, are there any questions you have? Or topics you want me to write about? Maybe I can add a few questions to my FAQ list or write a short post on a topic you want to know more about. Looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

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Wordless Wednesday – Thank You Cléo


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Mr. Fantastic: Why it’s Fantastic


This past Saturday, it was exactly six months since I first met Mr. Fantastic. To celebrate this wonderful occasion, I decide to finally write the second post about Mr. Fantastic.  This time, I’ll write about what I love about being with Mr. Fantastic (in no particular order).

– I’m a priority. The way Mr. Fantastic treats me, shows me I’m a priority to him. When we’re together, we’re together. For instance, I can’t remember seeing his phone on our first dates, he gave me all his attention. He still shows me by his actions that I come first.

– We have insiders. After a few weeks, we started (unintentionally) developing insiders and I just love those. Bomzies, 42 and being fat might not mean a lot to others, but that’s what makes it so special.

– Mr. Fantastic himself really is fantastic. He’s sweet, considerate, sensitive, smart, calm, honest, kind, funny, passionate about his faith … Fantastic!

– He’s serious. I love his sense of humor, but what I like even more is that he’s very serious about our relationship. We both didn’t want to start a relationship if we already knew it wouldn’t work out in the long run. Which means we started getting serious about the future before we were even a couple. We started our relationship with two goals: to get to know each other to see if we wanted to marry each other and to build a good foundation for a possible marriage. Mr. Fantastic has been serious about those goals from the very start.

– The future is becoming more concrete. Being single has its definite upsides. Such as being able to do whatever you want. But after ten years of doing exactly what I want and having a future that looks like this: “Whatever I want to do whenever and where I want to do it!”, it’s actually kind of freeing to limit my future. I know that sounds contradictory, but it really isn’t.

– My family really likes him. And his family likes me (or so I’ve been told). And vice versa. The same goes for our friends. I didn’t realise how important this was for me until now.

– We can talk about anything. Anything! Well, almost anyway. And we talk A LOT. Hurray for Skype and long weekends!

– He makes me feel safe. I can’t imagine a safer place in the world than in the arms of Mr. Fantastic. Who’s Fantastic at cuddling too, by the way.

Here’s to many more biannual celebrations!

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Wordless Wednesday – Much better


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Why I’m not a fan of selfies


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