CONNECTION, daring, JOY, Lifestyle, parenting, THE SELF, Uncategorized, WOMEN

Brutal vs Beautiful

I have barely had any sleep in four days. I usually fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow at night, but recently things have kept me awake – thoughts, and emotions, and plans and worries – future ones and present ones– real ones and imaginary ones – for sure. 

So there I am in the bathroom at 6 am. I’m knackered and exhausted, sleep-deprived, hair is a mess, wearing a milk-stained t-shirt from breastfeeding the baby, eyes still more closed than open. My three-year-old bouncing up and down in front of me: “Mummy, mummy, can I take this teddy-bear downstairs with me? Can I? Can I?” At that moment, some very sleep-deprived cells in my brain can’t take any of it anymore: “If you carry that teddy-bear downstairs with you, we need to throw away three others. I’m so tired – I don’t want to tidy and tidy and tidy anymore.” She stops bouncing and just stares at me. What? Wait. What did I just say? Where the heck did that come from? Keep that one – throw three others away?! Sweet lord! “I’m sorry baby,” I muster. “Of course you can take your teddy-bear downstairs. It’s yours. Mummy is just really tired,” I manage to say. Big hug. Faith restored. 

My babies crack me open – they break me physically, mentally and emotionally every single day, and I love them with a love deeper and truer than I have ever loved ever before: with a wide-open, unguarded heart. So scary! I didn’t see this pain and mess, and beauty and love coming, but it’s here, it’s real. Sometimes the love I feel inside my body is so overwhelming that it spills out all over my edges – it expands beyond my body and seems to solidify in front of my very eyes into a big fat heart-shaped balloon that is about to pop and sprinkle stardust all over the whole wide Universe. A balloon so gigantic I can’t wrap my arms around it. A feeling so vast that I can’t put it into words.

I pray to God every day that my grumpy teddy-bear murdering moments won’t break my tiny babies’ souls before they get a chance to fully explore the world with all its beauty and pain. That they won’t think that I’m the mum from hell or worse, that there is something wrong with them that might have made me snap. Then at the same time, I’m thinking, “well wait – your children, their hearts, their souls, are much more potent and capable than you could ever know – how dare you fathom that you could ever break infinite spirits and their infinite souls with a ridiculous comment like that.” I know. I’m instantaneously humbled. I know people are so so capable and resilient –  children all over the world have endured and are enduring famine, disease, wars, abuse, sometimes all at once, and they’ve survived. True, but people everywhere are also suffering from PTSD and need psychiatrists. So?! I’m still really torn.

There is always this tug at my heart – this desire to keep my babies warm and safe and whole – shielded from life’s horrors, tiny or real serious ones – and from “teddy-bear murdering me” mornings.

 I want to protect them and be real at the same time. I want to be sweet mum all the time and yet allow myself to have shitty mornings and show it. I want my children’s world to be just perfect, but I don’t want it to be too perfect at the same time either to prepare them for all of what is “out there” and yet to come. The world is a “brutiful” place says Glennon Doyle: beautiful and brutal. I want my children to see that at times this brutiful world breaks me with fatigue, with worry, with decisions – the ones I can take and the ones that are taken for me – with loss, with death, but that it rebuilds me too – us – with friendship, with love, with support, with a random smile. I don’t want to be accountable for my children’s welfare, and at the same time, I just love being accountable for their welfare. All those thoughts and emotions – all rolled into one. I’m trying to be the very best version of me, and I am failing at it every single day. And yet I keep trying – insanity. I would have quit any other project by now under those circumstances, but this one I keep sustaining with all my might. I guess that’s what real love does. It keeps whispering into your ear to try and try again because it’s worth it. After all, you care. It makes you want to keep trying and trying and trying even if you know that you’ll always fall short – mostly falling short of the expectations you had of yourself. And actually, you know that in the end, it doesn’t really matter if you are your very best version or just any decent version of you, because this you that you are is the you that your children call mummy.

Glennon Doyle wrote something along the lines of “as long as you are in there battling, you are doing this living right.” The ones with no heart-break are already numb and dead. Well, seen from that perspective, I’m mightily alive with all those badass emotions and thoughts keeping me awake at night. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this tug at my heart and this inner back and forth leave me with no clue when it comes to being a mum – when it comes to being a wife, a friend, a daughter, a teacher, a woman, … – any and all of what makes me me, really. I’m taking one moment, one emotion, at a time and see where it will lead me – all of us, as individuals and as a family. That’s all there is to it really.

And those are the thoughts swirling around in my head at 6 am after 20 minutes of sleep all night – no coffee yet. “Damn, I can’t have a cup of real coffee, see: breastfeeding.” Fuck that. Break those parenting rules. I’ll have my cup of coffee—just one. So here’s to all the milk-stained mummies out there, to all the ones trying to be their very best – mummy or not – for the ones they love – failing and trying and failing all over again, to great books that keep you sane in the middle of the night and to friends who laugh at your text messages, also in the middle of the night, when irrational worries keep you awake, and you can’t fall asleep.

love, Linda.



– to all the bautiful women out there, mothers or not: happy mother’s day – I love you –

When I was looking for my dad, I tried to find out who my mum’s friends used to be before she died and I managed to contact a few of them: I love you because you helped me get to know my mum when I didn’t have the chance to anymore. You helped me piece together the picture of a woman with a heart and a soul, and you showed me her shiny parts – her fun, and loving, and loyal parts. Sure, she must have carried some amount of darkness too. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have ended up in a relationship with a guy beating the shit out of her or turning to alcohol towards the end of her life. That’s part of being human.

Mum, I don’t think any less of you for being this human. I don’t know which experiences you must have had to endure to view those choices as your only way out. I do know, however, that life itself isn’t that harsh, life is always striving for growth, expansion, beauty, and love. It’s our own man-made, and mind-made demons and fears and irrational anxieties and fake standards that slap us around and that make us crumble from the inside. I learned that you hated your job. You hated working in an office, but it was a well-paid, sought-after job, so you stayed. As we so often do. One day, we say, one day,… and that day never comes, and along the way, we lose ourselves. I recently read an excellent blog post by a stage four ovarian cancer patient, which I am fortunate enough to have met at the writers’ workshop in Birmingham last fall: Fi Munro. If anyone can put “I’ll do this later” into perspective, then it’s her:

‘I realised I hadn’t been living at all’ How ovarian cancer taught one woman to totally transform her life

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Debra Kilby. She helps mothers deal with baby loss and how to welcome in new babies into this world. We were talking about what the term “mother-wound” actually means. Suffering from a mother wound at first level seems to suggest that we lost our mothers when we were very young, or that our mothers physically or emotionally abused us or that they neglected or left us. So, on a first level, suffering from the mother-wound indicates trauma that was caused and inflicted on us by our mothers or because of them.

However, on another level, suffering from a mother-wound means that we are living our mothers’ lives. In this case, we are self-inflicting the mother-wound to our selves. In this scenario, we are striving to accomplish what our mothers couldn’t, trying to make them proud or happy by fulfilling their wishes and dreams and “being good girls”. When this happens, we forget about or reject our own plans or visions for our future, and we “die, so that our mothers can live.” This development and adaptation often happen unconsciously, and that is the real tragedy of the mother-wound. We cannot make other people happy and take on the choices that they didn’t make. We can just make ourselves comfortable and lead by example, allowing others to leave miserable situations instead of staying stuck until it is too late. My mother’s wounds were so deep that looking at them allowed me to choose differently for myself. I chose to be in relationships with respectful people, I chose to pursue a job that makes me happy and that allows me to be all of me, I chose to share my strife, instead of suffering in silence.

Mum, I don’t know which battles you were fighting in and outside of yourself, but mum, what I know is that you had and have beautiful, kind, and loyal friends with fierce hearts who respect you and me enough to share your most significant memories with me and to keep your light shining and who don’t allow your darkness to prevail. I’m so grateful you made those secure connections when you were still so very young because this tribe of women is still carrying me through more than over thirty years later, just because I am your daughter.

I feel fortunate because those women are role models for me, and I get to identify and pick their best character traits to strive towards. So in a way, I feel that I was and am being raised by a whole bunch of mothers, instead of just you mum. This community of women means a whole lot to me, and it says and reveals a lot about the person and friend you used to be.

Mum, some of your friends have lost children of their own by now, some have been afflicted by and dealt with cancer, and some have gone through an ugly divorce, but mum, all of them have found it within them to reach out to me and to support me in my darkest and saddest hours when they had to go through so much grief of their own. You picked your friends well, mum, and I’m super grateful for that and proud of you.

– mum –

I hope that all of us find those beautiful people- this tribe of ours- in our lives. People who carry the torch of our light and hand it over to future generations; those friends who speak of our kindness, of our generous deeds, of our love for our children and of our passion for life;- friends who have seen our darkest hours, our unfair breakups, our hangovers, our cheating, our bitching, and who choose to see all of this for what it is: dark moments, human moments, which don’t define us, but which make us human and very common. Our suffering on some level is the same suffering for all of us. What sets us apart from each other are our skills and talents and our abilities that we use to lovingly contribute to the planet, to support the people surrounding us and to relentlessly, courageously and mercilessly confront our own demons and turn our flaws into virtues, allowing us to build strong and lasting relationships and friendships; – our ability to keep loving and forgiving even in the face of all the wrongs that there might have been and be; – our ability to generate a loving and lasting tribe of like-minded people, even beyond our death that is what reveals our true essence.

My mum and grandad have this in common – they left me a legacy of loving, caring, and loyal people that are still here and support me beyond their deaths, not because they are family and feel obliged to, but because they choose to honour the contribution, minuscule or mighty, that you made to their lives in the past.

Recently I watched an interview between Russell Brand and Amanda Palmer and the topic was death and loss. Amanda said that there are two deaths we as humans undergo: our first death is when we leave our physical bodies behind and our second death occurs when the last person stops talking about us. That’s it. Your actions and the memory of you here on earth are finite. Let us ask ourselves: what is the sum of all my actions, of all the memories I created for myself and for others? What will I be remembered for? I so want the people I love to remember my love for them, this overflowing feeling that gathers in the pit of my tummy. I wish people to feel and soak in and radiate this intense, honest love. I hope that I’ll manage to gather a circle of genuinely loyal and loving people around me who cherish my light despite my humanness and I hope this for you too, whoever you are, because all of us need to have someone shine our light and keep the memory of it alive here on earth when we are already long gone. Receive the light and be the light for someone else.

Worth reading:
Bruce Feiler: The Secrets of Happy Families – improve your mornings, tell your family history, fight smarter, go out and play and much more.

  • Christiane Northrup, M.D.: Mother-Daughter Wisdom – creating a legacy of physical and emotional health.
  • Shefali Tsabary, PhD: The Awakened Family – how to raise empowered, resilient, and conscious children.
    Websites to have a look at:
  • Fi Munro:
  • Debra Kilby:
  • Movies to watch:
  • Rise of the Guardians. (one of my all-time-favourites)

love, Linda.

CONNECTION, JOY, Uncategorized


Tu mano en mi mano

I can distinctly remember a time when I was walking on the beach with my cousin. I must have been about seven or eight at the time, and he was at university back then. While all the other adults were busy talking, he was simply holding my hand, while strolling down the beach. I can vividly recall this memory as if it happened just yesterday. This simple act of my hand being held made me feel seen. It was an act of caring, and to me, it mattered. I mattered. I mattered to another person so much so that he held my hand and silently walked a part of the way with me while everybody else was busy with their own thoughts and chatter. I have never shared this memory with him, and he must have long forgotten, but at that moment I felt protected, and it meant the world to me, and obviously, after all those years, it still does. Now he has a family of his own, and when we visit, I often recall how I felt in his presence as a young child. In those moments, I smile to myself in the knowing that he is a great dad to his girls, because real deep caring, the kind of caring that can be felt by simply holding someone’s hand, is genuine. At least that’s what I believe: I believe that when you feel someone’s greatness by their mere presence, then they are the real thing, and I feel fortunate and privileged to have made that experience at a young age.

I might not be able to remember phone numbers or impress by recalling historical facts, but I accurately remember what people’s hands look like and what their handshake felt or feels like for both speak volumes. It’s the first thing I notice about a person when I meet them – that and their eyes. The state of your hands shows the state of your life. Are you hardworking? Are you taking care of yourself? Smoking? Being artistic? It might sound very superficial to assess a person’s self or self-worth based on what their hands look like, but to me, it makes all the difference. Hands matter. Holding hands matters. To me, holding hands is one of the most intimate things you can do – it states: we belong together; you belong to me, and I am proud to tell the world; you matter and I care about you. How lucky are you if there are people in your life who are willing to make that statement. How blessed will I feel if at the end of my life I can sit with my loved ones, hold their hands and share mutual understanding without any of us having to say a single word? How great would or will that be?

Makes me think of a book I once got from a dear friend of mine: The hand that first held mine by Maggie O’Farrell. I haven’t read the book yet, but I have always liked the title: The hand that first held mine… I can think of many moments in my life when I found myself in unfamiliar situations and when I needed someone to hold my hand to calm my nerves and to get me through to the next day or to the next stage. Makes me smile to recall those people who have supported me; who have steadied my nerves by placing their palms on my hands “and heart”. Linked to that truth, I also remember holding my friend’s hand in primary school when we were away on a field trip. We were away for the night, and we were sleeping in bunk beds. From the top of the bunk bed, I was reaching down to her, and we were holding hands until we fell asleep. I adore thinking back to that day. It sounds so innocent and naive, but I find that the most mundane and most naive experiences in life are those that really stick around. In our most unguarded moments, we don’t have any hidden agendas, we don’t try to impress, or comfort, or become, we just simply “are” and back then, in my memory, we simply “were” – we were two small girls holding hands, steadying each other’s nerves, when being away from home for the first time in our lives was a quite scary thing. As adults, our handshakes leave a first impression, but often enough we try to influence the impression we give or “inform” that handshake with a particular “message”: we want to convey to the other person “I am your boss,” “I am the one in charge,” “I got this,” or “I am stronger than you,” or even “please be kind.” What if we all came from a place of innocent, childlike, or heartfelt intention when shaking hands. What if?! What would it reveal?!

So listening to the line “Mi mano en tu mano” – my hand in your hand, in Perdo Capo’s song, makes me think of all the hands I have been lucky enough to have held throughout my time here on earth – the hands of small babies, – some of them my babies-, the hands of dying people, -some of them people I loved and still love fondly and would have preferred to never let go of-, hands of loved ones and sadly enough also hands of people that have later betrayed me. At the time, I was furious, when I found myself in a situation of betrayal or when someone I loved was dying or leaving, because I had shared with them part of my time and showed them affection and all of a sudden they were gone, often without any real explanation or without any means to stop them or prevent them from leaving or moving on. I wish I could say that I have outgrown those distressing emotions and that separation of any kind now doesn’t affect me anymore at all or to that extent, but the truth is it still does. “Having to let go of someone’s hand” still makes me feel very emotional, and it probably will continue to do so for the rest of my life. However, I have come to the realisation that some hands you are holding today might be gone tomorrow without an explanation, either through death or betrayal or for another reason. That realisation in itself is no profound revelation, but as a consequence to that truth, I have chosen to consciously reach out to my loved ones and other people even more, instead of allowing potential heartbreak to make me more fearful, weary, or cautious. The fact that people I appreciate might be gone in the blink of an eye, or that strangers I don’t know yet might turn out to become really dear friends, just makes me want to “hold hands” with those I love and enjoy having around more than ever. And by “holding hands” I don’t necessarily mean physically holding their hands, but I mean a text message, a quick hello, a postcard, a bunch of flowers, or even a careful thought throughout the day, for I believe that even the most humble acts of kindness matter. Even in busy times, small, mundane acts of “holding hands” can mean the world to someone and they might remember your simple act of caring even twenty years later, like in my case, without you being aware of it.

“Tu mano en mi mano” – I know I am not the only one whose memories and emotions are triggered by a line in a song, but it still always amazes me that people can profoundly affect each other without them even being aware of it: Pedro Capo will probably never know (or even care 🙂 ) that his “your hand in my hand – tu mano en mi mano” made me reflect about my first love, my babies, my dead relatives, my loves, my friends, and teachers in life and wonder about the people in his life who inspired that song or whom he must have met when recording or making the video, but it did.