Adoption: when birthdays don’t (always)feel like celebrations

Adoption: when birthdays don't feel like celebrations

I’m one of the lucky adoptees who have been reunited and loved by their biological family.

I do not feel any resentment about the adoption. But I did feel sadness.

For me being adopted reminded me, with each birthday, of what that meant.

I guess it was only a small shadow of sadness growing up as a child. I accepted then that it would always be there. I resolved the ‘missing piece’ feelings by taking a few private moments to wish a “happy birthday” up to the sky to my birth mom every year. I figured that it was her day too.

When I was found many years ago, the pain of my birthday went to the background, because I was so happy to have been found. My family welcomed me and my children into their lives.

I found out that my mother’s birthday is the day before mine. I felt incredible sadness for her, as her birthday must have been tough for her as well of those years.

But since then, I was lucky to celebrate my birthday with my mom and family a few times over the years.

But damn covid and the restrictions have given me reason to have a pity birthday party again this past week.

I’m not proud of it. I have so many things to be grateful for.

But as my therapist says, sometimes I need to care for and comfort the little child that is still in me and that still feels sad and lonely most times.

And that’s just what I did this birthday.

I’m pretty sure that my mom still deals with this sadness too. I just wish that we were not separated by the Covid or by the Antlantic ocean.

*The birthday pity party” ends here.

What to wear while biking in the rain

What to wear while biking in the rain

What to wear while biking in the rain? Although Belgium has a reputation as a rainy country, a bicycle rider will not have to bike in rain as much as you would think. Of all the km cycled in a year, it will rain for about eight and a half percent. Don’t just take my word for it, I found this info on the webpage of Belgium’s best known (flemish) weatherman: Frank Deboosere

So, even though it might not rain as much as you think it, I do feel like it starts to rain just when I have to leave the house. And I bike e-v-e-r-y-where with my Babboe cargo bike. The school runs, groceries, appointments. So I find it incredibly important to be properly dressed. No fashion show here, no! If I am warm and dry, I don’t mind the rain. Even the torrential kind.

So here I will share with you what I wear on rainy days while out and about with my Babboe e-curve cargo bike. Interested in buying a cargobike/bakfiets? Read my review of mine here!

What to wear while biking in the rain
Ain’t I cute ? 😀

Jacket

A raincoat is a tricky thing when cycling. Once you cycle your body will warm up and sweat. Especially in relatively warm rainy periods, wearing a raincoat often causes you to sweat more than the rain could ever make you wet- yes, even in so-called “breathable” textiles.

At such times you should therefore think more about how warm / too warm you are going to be rather than how dry/wet you are going to be. Feel free to wear only a t-shirt (and no sweater) under your raincoat.

A quality raincoat is breathable and rainproof, preferably slightly longer down the back to protect your rear from splashing moisture, and with ‘ventilation holes’ under the armpits.

You can obviously go cycling with any kind of rain jacket, but I recommend paying close attention to the fit as well. Make sure it’s cut to your body (not a garbage bag), even with a sweater on underneath. And that the fabric is comfortable and light, and compact enough to tuck away when it’s not raining.

The even more “professional” (read: more expensive) jackets are also windproof, which can do good on a cold winter day but is often too warm for the rest of the year.

This is especially true of the plastic jackets (the K-Way), just about the best guarantee of you sweating. One hundred percent water and windproof, but also ideal for building a sweat lodge underneath.

A rain poncho is fine, even if it’s just a plastic thingy. You are really dry under your raincoat tent, and your excess body heat can disappear underneath. A disadvantage is that a poncho will also want to prove itself as a parachute on a windy day, which will make cycling extra difficult.

I always have one with me just in case it unexpectedly begins to rain.

The jacket is probably where I spent most of my money, even though it was on sale. But it’s the best one that I have had, ever, and I’ve been cycling for many years now.

Rainpants

Basically the same story as for the jacket: make sure you don’t get too hot underneath. While rain pants can be made of plastic or coated nylon, modern waterproof materials are commonly used, including waterproof-breathable fabric such as Gore-Tex.

You will sweat in plastic pants, but not in Gore-Tex. But I have never really sweated with the plastic ones. I need to just remember to wear it over pants instead of over leggings, stockings, or just bare legs, as it can become really cold on your legs during the winter months.

So there is not much wrong with cheap plastic rain pants. Make sure there are zippers on the legs, long enough to pull the rain pants easily over your shoes and pants, making it easier to pull over your shoes/boots.

Probably my cheapest purchase.

WHAT TO WEAR WHILE BIKING IN THE RAIN

Cap

If you like to have a rain cap on your jacket, it is best to take one that fits snugly. A loose cap tends to ‘catch the wind’ rather quickly when cycling. I personally prefer a rainproof cycling cap, because my ears and a full field of vision remain free. A cap also keeps raindrops out of your eyes. I don’t mind the rain, but really do not like it pounding in my face.

Socks

Wet socks remain wet socks, but socks made of merino wool (the pleasant counterpart of goat’s wool) or synthetic fabric are much more comfortable when wet. Also when they’re dry, by the way. You have waterproof socks – available in the better sports store – or in case of emergency, plastic bags over/under your socks (although in that case, you will quickly have sweaty feet).

Shoes

Wear shoes with grip, so they don’t shoot off wet pedals. You can wear waterproof shoes (even rubber boots, if you make sure that no water can enter from above), or overshoes: a kind of waterproof socks for over your shoes, again available in better sports stores.

I love wearing my doc Martens, but it takes me longer to put on than my cute rain boots with horses on them 😀

Gloves

I don’t mind the rain on my hands while biking during warm(ish) weather, but when it’s cold and wet…or just darn cold, /I find it essential to have a pair of winter gloves on. You have all sorts of gloves, but the best that works for me was pretty cheap (hey, I’m a single mom!), bought in a local discount store. They are padded, rainproof, and have rubber grips on them. I’m not sure if they would stay waterproof all day during heavy rain, but they work for my daily rides to school and such. You can always pay the extra if you do very long treks at a time.

Be seen!

When we leave for school at around 8 am, it is still very dark out (January) and my son has swimming and karate lessons in the evenings, so it’s incredibly important for us to be visible to other road users.

Unfortunately, the front lights of my cargo bike fell off at the beginning. I bought a new pair, but they fell off too. One of the downsides of my cargo bike I’m afraid. So to be seen in the dark I wear a LED hiking headlight and I also wear a reflective vest. My son, even though he is sitting in the cargo bike, also wears a reflective vest.

Still missing

So this is how I protect myself from the crazy rain. It took me years to find the right gear and combination, but I’m all set now. The only thing missing is a good, waterproof bike bag. It has to be one that can fit on my Babboe bakfiets as the battery is at the back, so not all bags fit.

I’m open to suggestions!

Requirements :

  • Waterproof
  • Big
  • Preferably cute 😀

So hit me with your favourite bike bags.

A sweet little Christmas

A sweet little Christmas

We had a very sweet Christmas surrounded by the people I love. I wanted to give them a Christmas that was as enjoyable as possible (considering this was going to be a very different Christmas to other years) and I think I have succeeded! I had gotten a bit ahead of myself by doing a lot of shopping on Tuesday, I had anticipated the flocks of people on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Thursday I did some last-minute shopping, I got the boardgames that I ordered and delivered to our local supermarket. After that it was just me and my two boys (Mister 24 and mister 7) on Christmas Eve. They ate what they love most, fries. Once the youngest went to bed my older son and I watched “A star is born” . Not very Christmassy, I know, but after having watched alomest every Christmas movia avaible on Netflix and Disney + I was craving something else, and “A star is born” did not dissapoint.

The day after, Christmas day, my daughter was back home and so we opened our gifts, we laughed a lot. It was a very nice morning, I missed not being ablew to go to church, but it was luckily livestreamed. I then made cinnamon rolls. My son assembled his Lego that he got for Christmas and we played board games.

We went for a small walk in the woods with the dogs and Indiana, my daughter’s horse. It was cold, the air was humid, but I think we all had this need for nature, far from the city, the people and the covid, my son was able to run, we walked, and just enjoyed the fresh air until it started to rain a bit. Oh well, Belgium…

In the evening when we came back home we, of course, had our Christmas Day meal in the evening, table grilling. We, like every year, had way too much food. There was absolutely no room for dessert.

It was a beautiful, peaceful Christmas and I received the love in abundance from the people I love and that’s the most important thing. Thank you, God for this beautiful Christmas 2020.

#Thankful

Scared out of my mind. Learning to drive after 40.

Scared out of my mind. Learning to drive after 40.

I did it! Since writing my last post about learning to drive, I have passed my theoretical exam and took 20-hour lessons, and now I can drive (alone) to practice before taking my driving exam. Ok, it will not be for this year, but early next year (2021), but he, COVID happened and I’m amazed that I have still managed to get this far.

Each time that I was waiting for my driving instructor, I was waiting there with 18 ish-year-olds…I was by far always the eldest, and this made me realize (and the obstructor pointed out a few points as well) that there are advantages and disadvantages to learning how to drive (a manual btw).

So this is what I have come to realise about learning to drive at over 40 years old.

What I have come to realize

  • Is it learning difficult when over 40? YES
  • I’m a passive driver. In other words, slow.
  • My bladder is elderly, even though I’m not yet. Had to make a few stops during lessons.
  • It certainly does not come naturally to me…but maybe it would not have come naturally to me at 18 either.
  • I did not think that I could swear in a certain way.
  • I now understand why people complain about old people behind wheel.
  • I also understand why some people tend to associate a personality with a special mark of a car (thinking of BMW’s and such)
  • I never really realized how many people on the road are a hazard (or simply being idiots) Just crossing the road without looking, throwing their car doors open without looking for oncoming cars.
  • Objects in mirrors are closer than they appear.

This is me, on my way to therapy

This is me, on my way to therapy

• This is me on my way to therapy. You can almost not see it in this picture, but I have tears streaming down my face.
• Sometimes I feel like I don’t need the therapy anymore, that the time that my therapist puts in me should be spent on someone else. 
• But then this happens. I cannot stop the tears. For no other particular reason than besides the fact that I am still dealing with the aftermath of what has happened to us. Meaning that sometimes I think that I have recovered gracefully from all that had happened, just to end up almost where had I started.
• I know that I will feel better. I know that my therapy will also help. But I also know that I will feel like this again.
• And before you start judging me, maybe thinking that I like the attention that I get from coming from the abuse that I and my daughter have suffered. 
—-> Then shame on you. 
• I have as much right to tell it as it is and hopefully, it will help others know that they are not alone, as I have the right and the delight I get from sharing moments of happiness that happen, the mundane things in my life. 
•••It’s not all good and it’s not all bad. It’s just life. 

Cutting the cord

Cutting the cord

I was proudly telling my mom friends the other day, that I had decided on cutting the cord. Do you know this expression? It means to say goodbye to cable/digital tv. *Shocking*

But apparently I’m not only a late bloomer when it comes to driving, but I am also a late bloomer when it comes to living without cable because by now, most people do. *Another shocker*

I was raised with having no cable tv and to make matters worse, we had BETA instead of VHS. The horror! Meaning that I could not borrow any videos from my friends. (hey, I grew up in the ’80s)

So when I became the independent teenage mom that I am today (not so teenage anymore), I said hello to cable TV. Oh, the hours we have spent, just flipping through channels, never really finding something worth watching. Besides Friends.

Cutting the cord
Reunion! Reunion! Reunion!

Then came digital tv, you could now have the tv on demand, skip the commercials. What a luxury.

But I came to realize that we were watching less and less tv. It would only come on in the evening, preferably with Sushi, and my daughter and I would watch 90-day fiancé on TLC together or Doctor Pol on Animal planet, while mister six would be watching his own program on Netflix.

But that was about it.

I was paying a lot of money for something that we were not actually using , plus being a single mom, wanting to buy her first car, I wanted to make some cuts here and there. And with cutting the cord and only keeping the internet, this made a significant difference.

So yesterday was our first evening without TV, my daughter switched on a video from YouTube on how to train Doxies (her’s is a pain in the bum, *mister bark-a-lot*). We were actually watching something useful for once, instead of catfishing people on a 90-day fiancé.

But it still feels weird to me.

I miss the channel flipping, even though I found it annoying before.

I just have to face the fact that I’m becoming old and that I am now finding it easier to understand how old folk don’t like change.

But I DID CHANGE, so not that old yet. Ha! 😀

Cutting the cord

Still want to watch tv/tv shows online, in Belgium? These are the options.

  • We all know NETFLIX – Available for all screens via Chromecast, on Apple TV and Smart TV (LG, Sony, Philips, Samsung, Haier). You already have a subscription from 7,99 € per month.
  • Sooner – The largest online catalog of arthouse movies. Subscriptions start at 7,99 €. Thousands of films, selected by a team of film lovers. A dozen new films are added every week.
  • Amazon Prime Video – Just like Netflix, Prime Video from Amazon gives you on-demand access to movies, series, and documentaries. Maybe less popular series than on Netflix, but often real gems! Subscribers to Amazon Prime get a free subscription. Otherwise, you pay 5,99 € per month. Available on Smart TV, Apple TV, Android TV, and now also on Chromecast.
  • Disney + – It has finally arrived in Belgium! Just in time for another imminent lockdown maybe. On Disney +, you can discover the best stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic in one place. From hit movies to timeless classics and new originals – there’s something for everyone and all of this for 6,99 € monthly.
  • TV Vlaanderen – Want to watch Belgian channels? Well TV Vlaanderen is a streaming service that allows you to watch live on 18 top channels (including VTM, one, Canvas, FOUR, FOX, National Geographic, BBC Entertainment, Ketnet, …). You pay 9,95 € per month for the “light version” and can play everything through your TV via AirPlay or Chromecast. They also have options for through satellite or antenna.

I’m hoping that Acorn Tv will one day be available in Belgium. Just love British comedies and mysteries. Pleeeeeeeeeaaaase!

Cutting the cord, have you done this already? Any regrets? Any favourite streaming website? I would love to learn more about this trend.

Little eyes watching- How to serve others during COVID

LITTLE EYES WATCHING- HOW TO SERVE OTHERS DURING COVID

Little eyes love watching everything we do and so I try (but I don’t always succeed, far from it) to model positive traits.


During pre-COVID times we would visit a retirement home with a few people from church, but due to the COVID restrictions, we are sending the people some cards with words of encouragement. 


Just a small act, but its something that we both love to do (drawing and crafting) and we can do together.


We CAN teach children compassion and kindness starting from a very early age and help them to develop a heart for serving others And not only themselves.

It doesn’t even have to be difficult. There are SO many easy ways parents can help raise kids who have a heart for others and who want to serve others. They say the children of today are self-centered…let us as parents prove them wrong.

Here are some examples of ways that we can serve others during the current COVID Pandemic:

  • Calling or Video calling people we know are alone
  • Dropping off a meal and a drawing/card at your neighbors, elderly, single parent, or again someone you know living alone.
  • Making masks together to give away freely. Follow this link for the proper way of making a face mask.
  • Think local. Let’s support struggling local businesses.
  • Shop for neighbors and/or friends.
  • Donate games of toys that your child doesn’t play with anymore to a family in need (clean properly first 🙂 )
  • Chalk up someone’s walkway with nice saying, happy pictures, and colorful drawing
  • Order takeout from local restaurants
  • Show an example to your children of saying thank you to the medical care workers.
  • Offer dog walks.
  • Making the effort to stay healthy. Don’t underestimate how much you’re helping by simply following public health guidelines. Even by just staying at home as much as you can and practicing social distancing when you do go out, washing your hands you’re making a vital difference in your community.

While doing all of this, don’t forget, little eyes are watching. Good job!

“Challenge Accepted”

"Challenge Accepted"
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?Say no to violence against women!? Almost every day we're reading news about women and girls being murdered, tortured, or raped. Turkish people have started a campaign, demanding a better law system and a better support system for women. I'm sharing this picture for every girl or women we lost and for the survivors amongst us, and to support their cause. Only the international pressure to the government can help Turkish women (or any other woman in that case) to finally get their rights. Say " NO" to violence against women. My abuser, my ex-husband, received 5 years. But will be free after doing 1/3 of his time. Barely giving his victims the time to heal and leaving me to deal with the ramifications for the rest of my life. But as a woman of faith, I will leave it into God's hands who has already been faithful (despite how many of you feel) and he gave me the fierce perseverance that I and my daughter both share. So…” Challenge” Accepted. Cherishing, supporting, and believing in women is one of my greatest joys. Women loving me, supporting me, and understanding me is one of my greatest strengths. ? Big love to the women who nominated me, all of whom I am enormously in awe of and inspired. I could have never got to where I am now alone & I hope no woman ever feels she needs to. I hope she knows she’s supported. That her fellow woman stands behind her, that she’s worth being celebrated in every victory and has safe hands to hold her when she’s low. We are a sisterhood and together we stand.

A post shared by Miriam (@life.by.mim) on

?Say no to violence against women!?

Almost every day we’re reading news about women and girls being murdered, tortured, or raped. Turkish people have started a campaign, demanding a better law system and a better support system for women. I’m sharing this picture for every girl or women we lost and for the survivors amongst us, and to support their cause. Only the international pressure to the government can help Turkish women (or any other woman in that case) to finally get their rights.

Say ” NO” to violence against women.

My abuser, my ex-husband, received 5 years. But will be free after doing 1/3 of his time. Barely giving his victims the time to heal and leaving me to deal with the ramifications for the rest of my life.

But as a woman of faith, I will leave it into God’s hands who has already been faithful (despite how many of you feel) and he gave me the fierce perseverance that I and my daughter both share.

So…” Challenge” Accepted. Cherishing, supporting, and believing in women is one of my greatest joys. Women loving me, supporting me, and understanding me is one of my greatest strengths. ? Big love to the women who nominated me, all of whom I am enormously in awe of and inspired.

I could have never got to where I am now alone & I hope no woman ever feels she needs to. I hope she knows she’s supported. That her fellow woman stands behind her, that she’s worth being celebrated in every victory and has safe hands to hold her when she’s low. We are a sisterhood and together we stand.

That isn’t God

That isn't God

We love glorifying pain, trauma, and abuse as God’s will. We love making God a violent, manipulative man just so we can make sense of the hurt in our lives. But…

That isn’t God.

That’s the effects of trauma and pain working against us in favor of itself and the ones who harmed us.

Want to heal?

To be clear: to heal, you must be ready/willing to accept that the pain is not the sum total of who you are, who you can become holds the greatest possibilities for your future and that you are not alone as you make the journey to wholeness.

I was not chosen/called/favored to be raped. I didn’t need to accept that to heal from it. Do you see how dumb that sounds? It’s nonsensical and antithetical to God’s heart to suggest that these experiences were sent as positives. 

Just stop.

There are entirely too many sisters (and brothers) whose lives have been transformed by all the pain and trauma they’ve endured. They deserve a freeing, liberating word that is rooted in their humanity and the truth that God loves them and would never cause them harm.

We live in a world where evil is present. For reasons beyond our control, people lean into that evil and cause harm of various magnitudes. It is unconscionable and it is not right. And it is not God’s doing. God is just as upset and heartbroken over what I endured as I am.

Where is God in all of this?

In the darkest moments of our lives, God sits with us and journeys with us through them. God holds our hand as we cry, cuss, question, and scream. And God pushes through with us as we fight for our wholeness and healing.

God is not sending pain in our lives to produce something glorious. We’ve not been “called” to pain and trauma. 

God calls us to community, to hope and to healing. 

God reminds us that God’s intention was always for us to flourish and be well. 

Healing brings us back to that.

The “Why?” question is real.

  •  If God is God, then why did these things happen? 
  • Why didn’t God stop them? 

These are valid questions and those who ask them of God are right to do so. The danger is when folks try to answer for God. 

You can ask why all day, but can I be honest with you? No answer will ever be sufficient. 

There’s nothing that will justify the presence of pain + trauma in our lives. 

Think about what you’ve gone through. What can you hear that’ll make you say “Okay. I get it now”?

Nothing.

I used to ask why. 

Sometimes, when I get mad at my current conditions, I still ask why. 

That’s a real place. But “why did this happen to me” is not my posture. “What do I need in order to heal and move on” is where I land these days. Because that empowers and shifts the focus.

Healing is a beautifully messy journey towards the people we are meant to be. We are called to be healed, whole and well. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and you don’t have to accept anything other than that truth to be free.

My deepest prayer for all of us is that we truly come to know God’s heart for us. It is big, wide, deep and filled with a love that is beyond our comprehension. We need that love to heal and free us. We need that love to truly live.

Types of people who don’t want you to heal

I (and others) have been sexually en mentally abused (gaslighting) by my narcissistic ex-husband for over a decade. Here I share my thoughts and my healing process and hope to inspire and encourage others. I follow many writers, bloggers, survivors, and share occasionally things that I have read that have touched my heart or rang true.

Like this:

One thing that really shocked me as an abuse survivor was learning that there are some people who don’t want you to get better. And I’m not talking about your original abuser(s). There are others, such as subtle narcissistic abusers, who will try to keep you in pain. Here’s why:

  • There’s the ex-enabler narcissistic abuser. They covered up your abuser’s crimes, but now derive attention and their sense of value by pretending to be a co-victim. If you recover, they feel it discredits their continued charade, or shames them somehow, so they lash out at you.
  • There’s the narcissistic fake advocate. This could be a pastor, counselor, mentor, or activist. They love playing savior. “Helping” you feeds their ego. They claim to want to comfort and protect you. Really, they want you to remain stagnant in your pain and continue to need them.
  • There’s the narcissistic fake friend. Basically, for them, being your friend is a kind of virtue signaling. They like the attention and respect building up a victim affords them. But if you progress beyond victim status, you’re of no use to them. They want you to stay injured.
  • Then there’s the enabler false accuser. They want to exacerbate your pain until you spiral into self-destructive or erratic behavior so they can say, “See? She’s irrational. We can’t trust the sanity of people who claim to be abused. We must protect the careers of powerful men.”

Jennifer Michelle Greenberg