Saturday, November 7, 2009

Starting Up Again

Funny, after I wrote this title, I realized how many things it applies to in my life now. I'm "starting up" the blog again after several weeks of silence. We're starting up old friendships, finding new life in them. We're starting up new friendships as we grow the fabulous community we moved back to. After coming down from the stress of great transition, we spent some time relaxing and settling in. Now we're starting up a new life.

There is so much to be said about the last 2 months... not to mention the last 2 years! I always love to include pictures on the blog, but I haven't gotten around to downloading any recently. I haven't actually taken many since we've been back. The experience of the last 2 years has touched us profoundly, and I may be able to describe many of our experiences and share many of our thoughts, but I will never be able to put into words the matrix of change within.

We're all doing well and feeling healthy. John loves his job. Joran loves his new playmates. Jasmijn never leaves my side. I'm loving this life. We're doing a master bed and bath remodel and getting new carpets before our container arrives.

Looking forward to more blogging and photos,
Jolene =)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Photos of Our House

We're in the middle of a very hectic move, and blogging hasn't been on my mind, but here are some photos of the house we're buying in Woodinville.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thoughts on War

You just cannot kill everybody who doesn't agree with you. You can't do it. You'll kill enough of them, and pretty soon, you'll be down to the nitty gritty that is just you guys, and then you'll start disagreeing with each other... In other words, you cannot get to where you want to be by pushing against what you do not want - it never, ever works.

--- Abraham

I'm taking this metaphorically to include killing people in my mind, arguing with them, telling them they're wrong, making laws against their beliefs, punishing them, trying to control them.... For anytime I condemn war, I have to look into my own head and heart and stop warring on others with my thoughts. War is simply a reflection of what we're experiencing on the inside.

From a T-shirt seen on the streets of Geneva: More candy. Less war.

May everything I do be for the greatest good of all!

Jolene =)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Infinite Possibilities and Transitions

Mind boggling thinking of the infinite possibilities of all the different human experiences. As humans, we're not comfortable with boggled minds, so we research, analyse, write, sort through it all to come up with right and wrong. Even those with the strongest opinions still change their opinions but then jump on the horse of their new opinion. I am learning to be comfortable with the idea that it's all true... or none of it is. Overall, I feel much better with this thought than with trying to decide what I think is right or wrong. I have better relationships with my children when I can accept that something they do or say is true or "right" for them or for that moment. I notice that change happens whether I allow it to or not, whether I force it or not. When I cannot accept something and either try to block it or force it, I just make myself miserable and disconnect from those I love.

I've been practicing this in our recent transition as well. We are transitioning. It is what we want and it is happening no matter what we do now. I can have anxiety over every detail, or I can accept the uncertainty of each moment and trust that all is moving forward. This transition is a force of its own and I cannot control it now. I must reserve my energy for myself, not use it up trying to control everybody and every experience, trying to make everyone happy, trying to help others when I'm needing so much help and support myself. I must trust that all things will happen just in time or I will know what to do when action is needed.

This entire time in Geneva has been a transition for us. We were like caterpillars. We decided to enter this new state of transformation. What a risk, what uncertainty, we didn't even know what we were doing, just knew that it's what we wanted and needed. The last two years have been full of uncertainty, and I have spent half of the time riding it, making the most of it, loving it, and the other half of the time worrying about it and wondering anxiously about what my next move would or should be. Now I can see that all that we were dissolved in this stage of chrysalis. Bit by bit we are taking the parts we want to keep, reforming into different, larger, more than we were before.

There is no end. Human life on earth is a transition itself. It never gets done. Just like I could not have known what our personal transition would do for us, I cannot know what this life will do for All That Is. All I can do is enjoy it, or not. All I can do is keep moving forward, trusting that motion and my place in it.

With great love!
Jolene =)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Today I Feel Silly

Joran always loves teasing and tricking people. Of course, John and I love teasing and tricking Joran and eachother. So, Joran will often say or do something crazy, but with a twinkle in his eye, like he can't wait to see if someone believes him.

One thing Joran does a lot is pretend he doesn't love his sister. Like today, he said, "She's not my sister! She's a phoney! She's a lier! Send her to the dump!" Just awful, right? Well, the whole time, he's holding back a grin and I cannot help but laugh!

Sometimes Joran's tricks bother me. I start feeling offended by his words or irritated with his chaotic actions, and then we both end up mad at eachother. But if I somehow join in the silliness, and even when I'm telling him he can't continue with such-and-such, maintain a silly nature, it all dissipates in fairly good time, and we all feel better in the end.

The title of this post comes from a children's book by Jamie Lee Curtis, Today I Feel Silly (and other moods that make my day). The colorful, swirly pictures and the story of a red-headed girl and her emotional life remind me that ALL of our moods are what make life so rich!

Happy Day to you!

Jolene =)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Life Gets Even More Interesting

I know I have run this photo before, but it absolutely matches my emotions of late! A picture is worth....


We have been in a whirl over here! There is so much to update! I've been pretty secretive about it on my blog, because John was waiting to give his resignation at work, and however slim, I did not want to take any chances on his company finding out anything through my blog. Anyways, as you've probably guessed, or have been told through secret calls and e-mails, John has a new job and we are moving back to Seattle.

Who will John be working with? Microsoft? Nope. PopCap Games. It's a small casual games company of only about 300 employees based in Seattle with a few other worldwide locations. You might have seen one of their games, Bejeweled, on Facebook. We also play Feeding Frenzy and Plants vs Zombies. The games are cool and the company is a real winner! I can't wait to get to know the company personally -- John came back with awesome reports after his interviews.

Not sure on the details of the move, but in the meantime, we are selling as much as possible and giving away a lot, too. We love simplifying our lives and clearing clutter, but we're also trying to fit into one of the small shipping containers. It's fun, but certainly adding another level of busy-ness to our lives. I really feel like my head is spinning these days!

Joran and Jasmijn are handling it all in their own ways. Today I complimented Joran and said how impressed I was with how he was handling all this. "You're taking it like a man," I said. "No, Mommy," said Joran, "I'm taking it like a ninja!" My sweet boy! Jasmijn buries her head in my chest and cries out every time someone new comes to the door. She spends a lot of time in the sling.

Before we know it, all of our things will be moved and the apartment will be ready for new tenants. Before we know it, we'll be hanging out with Mickey Mouse and saying our good-byes to John's family. Before we know it, we'll be walking into our new home! Before we know it!

Live well!

Jolene =)

Monday, August 17, 2009


Today I realized that what I thought was irritation towards Joran in the face of his demands is actually panic : panic that I will not be able to get it done/hold it all together/give him everything he needs and wants/control him. How unrealistic those expectations are! But in the moment that I recognized this feeling, I also knew that it had begun early in my life and had nothing to do with Joran. I took a deep breath into the panic and imagined it bursting away like a confetti explosion. For a while, I just noticed anytime it started to come up, took a deep breath to expand that constricted feeling, and pretty soon, it didn't seem to come up at all. I suppose that as long as I continue being aware of it, it will eventually go away. Because it doesn't serve me in the normal functioning of my life today.

Awareness is something I've been bringing to my life this summer. Rather than being reactive or trying to figure everything out or fix anything, I am just trying to be more and more aware. It's amazing how the simple act of noticing can make such a huge difference.

Live well!
Jolene =)

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Lesson of the Day

I have to share this with all of my friends: today I had a bright moment of realization where an important thought occured to me and it registered in my body where I could just feel the truth of it. Get ready for a warm bath of positive energy!

This morning, I experienced two negative incidents in which I started to think and feel "why do these things happen to me?!" Very victimy. I vascilated between blame (including self-blame) and anger.

With the first incident, I was not looking forward to the process of resolving it. Then it occured to me that these things don't usually happen to me and I have faith in the general reasonability and good naturedness of other humans. I knew in that moment that I would just have to take a few extra steps, maybe make a couple of extra phone calls and with my open, friendly attitude, I will get what I need. Instead of dreading the extra time I'd have to spend, I looked forward to connecting with these people and the feeling of accomplishment afterward. No need to let a little misunderstanding stand in the way of my overall well-being!

With the second incident, it involved a person who lashed out at me for perceived wrong-doing. The incident was over in less than a minute, but I was left shakey and feeling horrible as if I had done something wrong. Like I said, I both blamed myself and her and I was angry at her, but those thoughts just fed the negative feeling. Well, the anger felt a little empowering at first. I did end up venting to John soon after, but then as I was talking to him, I realized that the way I was feeling about the incident was no longer about her, but about me, my thoughts and what I was holding onto. With that, I decided to find better thoughts. For example, "She was just trying to find joy. She was trying to make herself feel better. She was only acting habitually, and what she did had nothing to do with my inherent rightness or wrongness. We all act habitually. She was probably not feeling good for other reasons and took it out on me. I'm glad I'm strong enough to take it, let it go, and move on." No need to let a little hic-up affect my total happiness!

I accept that I somehow allowed the negative situations to occur in my environment. I may only be able to guess at how I created them or I may not understand how at all, but I know that they are just "oops" moments and I can get right back on track.

Anyways, this afternoon, I got on the phone and with one more step, I will have the first issue resolved. All is well!

I appreciate my life and all of the people in it!

Love, Jolene =)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kids' Activities

Joran has been making up stories for at least 2 years. They are elaborate stories with a plot and several characters. They take around 30 minutes to tell, and subjects vary with each story. Below, Joran is a magician with sidekicks, Spiderman and Batman. I am sitting in the bleachers, so it was like watching a live theatrical performance.

Jasmijn can pull herself up to almost anything and it's one of her new most favorite activities. She even climbed 2 steps the other day.

Here, she rearranges the kitchen cabinets.

Joran's tangram creation before we cleared the table for dinner: "Robot shooting target."

Joran's marble run. Created by Joran with some assistance with assembly by Jolene. Sorry for the semi-nudity. Should I have rated this one for parental guidance?
Love, Jolene =)

The Days Go By

Putting together this blog is a great reminder for me as to how lovely our lives really are. Honestly, while this move to Geneva has been a brilliant experiene, I have not enjoyed living in the city. Even though we have great experiences, I do sometimes get down about daily life. Sometimes I feel that I am just waiting for the weekend, when we'll all be able to hang out as a family. We work so well together.

During the week, I go to parks a lot, but even that can be a disaster. The parks are not so clean. For example, today I went to one that is fairly small and there are always kids there, often large groups of kids. I would think adults would keep the children's area a bit sacred. However, the adults there are usually smoking, and then they throw their cigarette butts on the ground. Today, I found a nook that was filled with various refuse, most likely from a homeless person. I found myself feeling a mix of sadness and compassion that someone was using the park in that way, because he or she had no home available, but then also feeling sick to my stomach that any children at the park would be running into that. It's not the first time I've seen such things here. Before moving here, I had the idea that Geneva, being in Switzerland, known for its wealth and cleanliness, would be a sparkling city.

In any case, even though I like to share all areas of my life here, I don't like to dwell on things I find hard to appreciate, just like in my real life. So, now that I've gotten the above off my chest, I'll turn focus to the fun we are having...

Joran plays his guitar -- collecting money on the street?

Working on staying young at heart.

UN fountains

Picnic at La Perle du Lac, a beautiful, expansive, lakeside park, also connected to the Botanical Gardens. Makes for a wonderful day. These parks and the UN are close together, so we visited all, had schwarma for lunch and ice cream, too.

When I met John, I had a car colored "Champagne Beige." I was always insistant about adding the "Champagne," not just beige. John started talking about me adding champagne sparkle to everything. He spoke of it like it was our measure of quality -- if there was no champagne sparkle, it wasn't good enough for us. I love this sparkly photo! Our life together is brilliant!
Live well!

Sibling Love

Joran is so funny with Jasmijn. He just loves to get involved with her. Sometimes he entertains her, sometimes cares for her, sometimes terrorizes her. She usually laughs about it all, but sometimes she lets out the biggest yells of frustration, "Injustice!"

Of course, Jasmijn adores Joran and all things related to him. Joran's bedroom is at the end of the hall and you can see it from the livingroom, where Jasmijn usually plays. When she notices his door open, she lets out a squeal of delight and a "ha, ha, ha!" Thump, thump, thump she combat crawls down the hall to her brother's room.

In the first photo, Joran was attempting to get Jasmijn to take a nap with him. In the second photo, Jasmijn is eating for the first time. She's 8 months and has refused every other offering of food. Here, she's chewing on baby cookies. She has since enjoyed lentils, but I had also offered her 2 kinds of baby cereal, bananas, peaches, rice, yams, and baby cookies with no success.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Enjoying My Birthday

It's a relaxed birthday at home. Yesterday was warm and sunny and we were out enjoying Geneva, but my birthday is blustery, so we've ended us staying in, and I am enjoying blogging, looking around online, cleaning up a little, playing with Joran, snuggling with John and dancing with Jasmijn. Here we are swinging to Louis Armstrong. In the background, you can see Joran's creations below and my dream boards above.
Live well!
Jolene =)

The Lovely List

I just found this new blog, which is in it's very first week!

Lucky me and talk about Law of Attraction! I think the woman who created this blog, Brandy, is a real winner! She's a self-described lover-of-life "in search of more goodness." Here's part of her description for why she created the blog:

"I wanted to find more women who shared their love for life. I needed to find more creators, designers, wishers and dreamers. I wanted to learn more about different lifestyles and peak at their journeys to gain knowledge from their experiences."

It's a great place to find other lovely blogs, and I'm loving some of the creative and romantic photos so far.

Live well, my friends!

Jolene =)

Happy Birthday!

It's my birthday today! I'm 34. It's raining. That's okay, we had lots of fun in the hot sun yesterday, which was a Swiss holiday. I had a great night's sleep and now I am a bit sore, so I think we'll take it easy.
Joran doesn't want me to grow old. No problem, I say to him. I remember a time when John and I went on a cruise from Seattle to Alaska. We were out hiking at one of the stops, and suddenly this couple who looked like they were at least in their 60's overtook us. Well, then! We plan to be so active well into our 100's! We'll just keep having fun!

Off we go, into the wild blue yonder!
Jolene =)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Living Joyfully

Pictures from top to bottom: one of a field of sunflowers in Yvoire, France; John and Jasmijn on the boat from Yvoire to Geneva; the last two are of Joran, Jolene and Jasmijn in the capital city of Bern, in the fountains which are so cool because they explode randomly from the pavement. Watch out!

Something I'm focused on these days is Living Joyfully. It's a practice. Like yoga. Never perfect.

You know how hard it is to believe something when all you've got to tell you it's true is a little voice in your head or an emotion? Two books have put experience and research together to "prove" what I already knew. Of course, there are no singular events in my life. My new belief in Living Joyfully did not arise out of only two books. In a way, it's been a lifetime coming, but more recently influenced by studies of Law of Attraction and quantum physics (approximately the last 10 years)and a series of personal challenges and triumphs of the last few years in which I have looked deeply into myself and had long conversations with my soul.

But anyways, I love these books: The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, and My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor. The Big Leap is a business/personal growth book. My Stroke of Insight is written by a neuroanatomist who experienced a massive stroke and fully recovered! Check out Jill's TED Talks presentation on my sidebar under Generally Interesting Links.

We are so much more than meets the eye! Not your average Cybertronian alien, either.

In a shout-out to my friend Dayna Martin, LIFE ROCKS!!!

Jolene =)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Alpine Heaven

Enjoy this series of photos from our latest visit to Wengen, Switzerland and the Jungfrau region!

Two real, live Swiss guys! And a chalet.

Okay, this is a good one! We are stuck on a gondola (Katie, Jasmijn and I are sitting opposite John and Joran) in a cloudy, misty rain. We can hear thunder in the distance and get a couple of flashes of lightning while the wild wind rages around us. This is the longest gondola ride in Europe and after being on it for 45 minutes, IT STOPS MIDAIR! Holy Poop!
Soon after it starts back up, we arrive at the Middle Station and are told to go back down the mountain. It then only takes us 15 minutes to get down, where we find out that we were apparently the last people they let on just before closing. It was a mistake to let us on and that is why we were sent back rather than allowed to continue across the mountain. So, we ended up taking the trains all the way around and arriving back at the hotel a couple hours later than expected.

They look quite happy!

First time on a swing. Very serious business.

On these hikes, Joran loves taking "short cuts" and "secret paths."

The mountains are glorious, but also personal and delightful down to the smallest detail.

Wildflower fields next to our hiking trail, backdrop of mountains.

John noticed this tree and rock next to the road, but he couldn't find Jolene, Jasmijn or Joran, who had ran ahead and hidden from him.

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can."
The Little Engine That Could

Don't pick the flowers in the Alpine Botanical Gardens, kids!
Believe it or not, I have actually seen this antiquated form of punishment in Geneva.

Getting warm in the visitor info room. Too bad this was a cold, drizzly at the Alpine Gardens. There will always be reasons to go back to Wengen.

The steam engine that we chased up the mountain. I am laughing because Joran is posing in a funny fashion.

Secret messages

How I love his smile and the twinkle in his eye!

Joran asked me to include this picture of the train named "Bob."

Jasmijn gives Joran a massage after a long day hiking the Alps.

Aaaahhh! Don't we look happy! Of course, Joran is being his normal goofball self. He's a Goofy Goober!

We're all Goofy Goobers! Yeeeaaaah!

John and I did it! This zip line (as I guess it's called in English) made me think of a Fritz Perls quote:
"Fear is excitement without the breath."
The kick-off took my breath away and led to squeals and giggles. Then, as we sped through the Alpine air, the wind got so fast that each deliberate breath felt like breathing in All That Is. These glorious mountains do wonders for us!

My mom's favorite view of the day

Must have fondue when in Switzerland. John, you're a trooper -- we thoroughly enjoyed it!