Koningsdag 2015

koningsdag

Today is a national holiday for my Dutch friends.  It marks the birthday of the reigning King Willem-Alexander.

From everything that I have heard from my my Dutch friends over the years, it is a big national festival with many celebrations–concerts, parties, parades, and more. For some, it is a show of patriotism. For others, support of the Royal Family. But for most others, it marks where people get together.

It seems to me that Koningsdag (King’s Day) in the Netherlands may be very similar to our Independence Day on the 4th of July each year. It is a day when we make new friends and celebrate long-time friendships and make new friends.

Most of all, it is one day each year when there there is a strong sense of belonging, evidenced by the wearing of orange, the national color, and the waving of their own red, white, and blue flags.

So, to my Dutch friends…

Een Fijne Koningsdag Allemaal!!

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T is for the Thunderstorm of April 2012

Coral:

It’s been two years since I submitted this post for a blogging challenge. It shares a heartfelt story about where I was the previous year, fearful of what was in store for me, my family and my friends.

Much has transpired in these last several years, the least of all has been learning more about life and the people we include in our lives. None of the lessons we receive are for naught, if we are willing to stay open to the possibilities that each day, each moment, gives us.

Never forget to listen to your heart.

Originally posted on Beyond Life's Challenges:

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“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents…” 

No, I am not entering the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.  Nor am I making a feeble attempt at melodramaticism or trying to be funny.

One year ago this evening, there was a major thunderstorm in the Seattle-Tacoma area.  And my emotions were equally as tumultuous as the storm brewing around me.

It had been only nine days since I had landed in the emergency room at the Army hospital.  After 10 hours of poking and prodding, repeating my symptoms to every level of the medical staff over two shift changes, and a CT scan later, a woman wearing the gold oak leaf rank of major and calling herself, “Doctor,” came into my room asking me for the umpteenth time about what brought me to the ER, and then coldly and abruptly announced: “You have a mesenteric tumor and…

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Enslaved to Fear

fear-617132_640This weekend I rented the movie 12 Years a Slave, based on an autobiographical account of Solomon Northrup, a free man who was sold into slavery and kept as a slave on the plantations of Louisiana.

Other than being a profoundly well-acted and directed film, which took Oscar’s 2013 Best Picture, Supporting Actress, and Screen Play awards, it was one of the most thought-provoking films I have ever seen.

I appreciate films that make me think and ask more questions.  This film did just that.  It made me wonder about the fear that is in all of us and how we can become the epitome of that which we fear the most.

Of course, it goes back to the age-old notion of the thin line between courage and cowardice, strength and weakness, or sanity and madness, and when I asked this question at my other blog earlier this morning:  Is Fear Your Master?

Fear is often used to manipulate us in order to control us.  We do it to ourselves, and it is often done to us.  Is there a reason for such fear, if it holds us back from experiencing life, as it is intended to be?

These are the many things that are on my mind today.

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© 2015 Coral Levang

 

Posted in Life in General, Overcoming Fear, Self-Awareness | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Cycle of Life and Family

On such a beautiful spring morning, when the skies are blue and the birds are singing, and I am preparing to go out and celebrate a birthday moment with my daughter for her Dad, I am ever-reminded of the cycle of life.

When I was 20, I thought I knew it all and did not need, what I saw as, the craziness of family. Yet, I wanted connection. I made some terrible mistakes, as we all do, in how I dealt with them.

When I was 40, I realized how I did not know it all.  In fact, I did not know who I could trust in this world, starting with myself. I began another two-decade journey to begin to figure these things out. I recognized how much I wanted connection with a family that did not always make sense, but I did not know how.

Now, as I am facing 60 in a few months, I realize that time is what it takes to understand that there is nothing really new that happens in the cycle of life, or in self-awareness, or in families. We are all so similar. The challenges we face may be a bit unique to us, but humans are not perfect, nor are the families in which we are raised.

Even in the most difficult of families, there comes a time when people rally around to help through the most troublesome times. We must take care not to use or abuse them, nor do we need to fall to the victim role or feeling beholden to them. It may not always be ideal or pleasant but, in their own unique ways, family members love us in only the way they know how.

Learning to love and forgive ourselves and our families will make much more sense, as we continue on this journey of life. Some things we just have to give time.

(Author’s note:  This post was prompted by another article —When Family Rallies Around Us.  In it I shared a bit more of my own journey in relationship to my mother and daughter. )

© 2015 Coral Levang

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April 16: Many things to celebrate

word-cloud-680706_640Three years ago today I was in an emergency room.  It began a whirlwind of events over the next 30 days that led to a diagnosis that has drastically changed my life.

April 16th is also the birthday of RGD, someone I have known since 1981. We, too, have had our own whirlwind of events in the 34 years we have known each other. Thankfully, we have remained friends over the years.  He was in the ER with me three years ago, and has been of great support since.

Today, I had an overdue diagnostic mammogram. It had been two-and-a-half years. And, as I waited for the results, I began to allow some fear to creep into my brain. Would this be another diagnosis (my third)?

I found myself planning in those few short minutes.  Planning for the “what if.”   I jump into the until it happens mode.  It is difficult for me to let that go and not concern myself about it unless it happens. It is a subtle difference that makes all the difference in the world.

The good news is that things are fine and I am cleared for another year for breast health. Another small victory to celebrate.

There will be a birthday celebration for RGD, but it will wait for a few days. And there are a few other things that need to be celebrated, like LIFE itself.

As I grow older, it becomes more and more apparent that we need to learn to appreciate each moment, as it comes, instead of our once-a-year habits.

© 2015 Coral Levang

 

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Bent on Destruction

sculpture-421548_640I have often wondered how it is that some people become so damaged that they cannot get out of their own way and become better people.  They insist on trying to destroy every bit of love, peace and beauty that may exist in this world.

Often times, these people are exceptionally bright.  I have to wonder what the world could be like if this intelligence were channeled for good instead of for evil.

The stories run the test of time.  They are not new, nor will they cease to exist in new generations. It happens in government, business, and in personal relationships.

It is simply a shame that it has to be so.

Those who enjoy their own emotionally bad health and who habitually fill their own minds with the rank poisons of suspicion, jealousy and hatred, as a rule take umbrage at those who refuse to do likewise, and they find a perverted relief in trying to denigrate them. ~Johannes Brahms

 

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Reality…and the Yellow Smiley Face

In light of my last post on Happiness, I’d like to revisit this piece I wrote more than five years ago. It had been awhile since I’ve read it, and it reminded me that I can sometimes be quite cynical…

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We’ve all known them…the people who fill their worlds with yellow smiley faces, as they spout quotes such as, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! while playing their old cassette recordings of  Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Ack!  It makes those of us who take on a more realistic, cynical approach to life’s challenges want to gag, because we all know that this Pollyanna, sugar-coated crap is simply to mask their unhappiness so that others won’t notice just how miserable their lives really are.

Reality takes its toll on all of us.  None of us is exempt from the pain that life dishes out.  Truth be told, most of us don’t finally learn the toughest lessons until we reach middle-age, though the journey has taken us down the same path many times.   Still, we keep blaming the journey, or the fool characters we meet along the way, for dragging us back down that road, rather than focusing on what we already know to be true because we’ve seen it before.

I’m not sure when or where I first heard the statement that “knowledge is power.” Over the years I ignored much of the knowledge gained by my experiences, only to step foot on the same old path over again, surprised when my “think happy thoughts” attitude didn’t change what I continued to encounter time and time again.  I’m also not sure just when I realized once I had the knowledge and the power that it gave to me, everything else then became my choice.

From then on…I chose to stay stuck in my ruts or to make tough changes.  I chose to continue to blame my circumstances or I acknowledged how my thoughts and beliefs colored the decisions I made, which would thrust me right back into more of the same insanity.  I chose to try to fix everyone else in order to divert the attention from my own issues or I let go of the unhealthy patterns in friendships and other relationships so that I could work on taking a look at the things I needed to change in me. It all came down to the choices I made with the knowledge I had been given by experience.

Once I began to look at the role I played in how I created my day-to-day realities, I noticed that I started to change– not only did I look at the world differently,  but what became important to me also changed.  I stopped the constant flip-flop between sour-pickle cynicism and sugar-laden optimism and started to enjoy the taste of a sweet ‘n’ sour realism.

The reality of life is not always kind.  However, to deny the lessons we can learn from it by living out a fantasy in “La-la Land” is harmful.  So is wishing we can go back and change what has already transpired. What we can do is grow in the knowledge and power that life’s experiences offer to us.  If we change the way we look at our experiences, then what we look at will begin to change.

And we won’t need to keep hiding behind those annoying yellow smiley faces.

(Author’s note:  Originally posted here Jan. 3, 2010.  Pulled from archives to update posting.)

Photo credit:  Pixabay.com http://pixabay.com/en/samuel-smilies-smiley-emoticon-247710/  Public domain.

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