Monthly Archives: November 2010


“…Just be what it is that you are, and that is just fine. You don’t have to be what you’re not in any way. Live that and live that fully, and that is where you discover ecstasy. You can’t really have ecstasy as something other than yourself…” (Alice Walker)


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On the Radio: “Black and (A)Broad”

My interview with Carolyn

Carolyn Vines is – among other things – an editor and avid blogger. When she first approached publishers with her idea of writing a book about being black in Europe, she was encouraged to write a kind of travel guide for black women. As she got deeper into her project, however, Carolyn realized that what she needed to write was something much more personal.

Instead of a black women’s version of “If This Is Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium“, her resulting book, Black and (A)Broad (Subtitled “Traveling beyond the limitations of identity”), became a memoir with an intensely personal message without losing an iota of its universal appeal. Carolyn tells us about what triggered her decision to move to Europe, as well as the – both internal and external – hurdles she had to take to make that decision. She also talks candidly about her experiences as a Black American abroad, and how that change in perspective gave her unexpected insight into her own identity, enabling her to better face the many new challenges she faced.

Most compelling about Carolyn’s story is its ordinariness. She’s an “every woman” who also happens to be black.

Despite ist universal character, Carolyn hopes her book will inspire especially black women to venture out  beyond the immediate circumstances of their biology, nationality and socio-economic circumstances. Because – as Carolyn’s own life shows – there is a wealth of beauty and possibilities available to us all, if we only have the courage and faith to pursue them!

Any of you who have had the opportunity to listen in on the very first TableTalk –  The Expat Talks –  back in August will certainly be familiar with Carolyn. Originally from the Midwest, Carolyn shared some of the  experiences and insights she has gained since moving to the Netherlands.

  • Topic: Black and (A)Broad – “Traveling beyond the limitations of identity”
  • Special Guest: Carolyne Vines
  • Date: 16 November 2010
  • Time: 7.30 pm CET // 1.30 pm EST
  • Duration: Approx. 60 minutes
  • Dial-in: +1-323-784-9710
  • URL (To listen via internet and share your thoughts and questions via live chat option!)

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The Trade-Off: Why Saying “Yes” (also) Means Saying “No”

Every time we make a decision for something in our lives, we also make a decision against something else. But somehow that simple and basic fact seems to fly in the face of today’s popular wisdom.

Living in a world where “The Secret” and its many step-siblings accost us at every turn, and where there is a “Live You Best Life” moment  for every opportunity and occasion, the temptation is great to succumb to all the hype and view the Universe as nothing more than our own personal giant self-service supermarket. No matter what sector of our lives we feel a need to improve or transform, there is a magazine article, book or self-appointed “guru” telling us we can have it all.

  • You want a new love interest in your life? All you have to do is ‘claim it’!
  • You’re looking for a new job? You just have to visualize it!
  • You want a healthier lifestyle? Just think about the changes you want to make!

According to some, yes, we can have all that – and more – without giving up anything but our own frustration and unhappiness.

I personally believe that we can choose to change things in our lives. That our lives can be richer and more joyous and more exhilarating than they are at this moment. What some of us prefer to forget, however: Manifesting concrete and positive change in our lives is not as easy as wishing – or even willing – something to happen. Real change is the result of conscientious decisions about our  thoughts, behavior and lifestyle. It’s the willingness to walk-the-walk each and every day, and not just to talk-the-talk when the spirit moves us.

Every time we truly choose to transform a heartfelt dream into a goal, and then turn that goal into a series of tangible actions, we have acknowledged the over-riding importance that goal has in the larger scheme of things in my life. Because of its importance, we are also more than willing to let go of something else – something of (much) lesser importance – to  make room for whatever manifesting that goal will mean to our lives.

  • So while “claiming” a new love interest in your life can’t hurt, working on your social skills and socializing in the places that people like that special someone you want to meet congregate are also an unavoidable necessity. That means letting go of some old personal habits and socializing routines in favor of new ones that can take you closer to your goal!
  • Visualizing yourself getting that promotion or new job can help shift the way you see yourself, and help you project the kind of aura you will need to make the move. But without the proper skill building, networking and willingness to self-promote, your visualizing will be in vain. To be more successful, it’s time for you to familiarize yourself with the newest developments in your field, liaise with opinion- and decision-makers, and stop expecting other people to do the promotional footwork for you!
  • Thinking about making healthy changes in your lifestyle is important, because any change you make has to harmonize with your personality and your circumstances. However, once you’ve identified solutions that fit your lifestyle, nothing is more important than actually living the change you want to make. So, it’s time to reconsider the staples you have in your refrigerator  (and on your shopping list), walk instead of taking the car, and ditch any other habit that goes against the lifestyle you imagine for yourself!

With 2010 drawing to an end and 2011 almost here, what do you plan to say “yes” to in the new year – and, because of that “yes“, to what are you prepared to say “no“?

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Is Your Life “Super-Sized”?

“What would you do if you couldn’t fail?”

I’m sure many of you know that saying . It challenges us to temporarily leave behind logic and rational thinking and let our fantasy run freely.

In that open space anything you can imagine can actually become reality!

This sounds deceptively easy, doesn’t it? Sitting around and daydreaming a little bit can’t be hard! You’re right. It’s not hard at all to quickly generate a list of the generic dreams of a generation or a society. You know: bigger house, bigger car, bigger boat. But it gets very difficult when it comes down to leaving behind generic symbolism and developing our own concrete, “super-sized” visions for our lives. A vision that’s totally subjective; in other words, totally in harmony with our own values and talents and motivators.

How do you achieve the right balance between “super-sized” and “concrete” anyway. When we’re trying to be concrete, our rational mind can quickly sneak itself back into the equation, and we find ourselves asking: “Can that really be done?”. When it comes to super-sizing, things often get vague – or slip back into generic quick fixes.

Why does that happen?

In addition to the confidence we carry with us like a shield, we also lug around random internalized beliefs that – subconsciously – influence the way we think and act. These internalized beliefs are most often connected to unconscious fears. And it’s those unconscious fears that make us dream smaller…think smaller… “be” smaller than we really are.

So, now is the time to temporarily leave your comfort zone behind and look your wildest dreams directly in the eye! What would your wildest dream look like

  • for your personal life?
  • your relationship?
  • for your job or business?

What affect would actively pursuing that dream have on the life you have today?

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