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A fairytale, a nightmare in continuation of 1001 nights

Once upon a time there were 6 brothers in an old middle eastern region. The parents of the brothers had died a long time ago.
The biggest and oldest brother was the boss in the family, he felt responsible and thought it his duty to keep the brothers under his reign, according to his values of good and bad.
4 Of the other brothers had some value and significance on their own.

The youngest and smallest brother though was rebellious, he was blessed with an intelligence and an open-minded brain. He wanted to develop his own values and wanted to play football with his neighbours just as with his cousins. Like every up growing up teenager he wants to find out himself how the world is working and this little brother is strong-willed, equipped and determent to do it.
But the family doesn’t allow the young brother to develop and doesn’t forgive his adventures, with all the mistakes people make, growing up; People who seemed friends turn out differently, values and circumstances change.

The big brother was given some tools from a far away uncle, who wanted to keep some influence in the extended family, not looking at this family itself.

One day the little brother said that he liked his neighbour; not that he was going to marry the daughter, not that he was going to invite them for diner, not that he wanted to be like them.
But it outraged the big brother and the other 4 brothers, who had different reasons for being angry at the younger brother and joined the older brother.
They denied the younger brother his food and move freedom within the house. They grounded him, but the little brother has got a window and a mobile phone, so he can call delivery services ad he has his own flying carpet to fly out.

He can but will he do that? It might outrages the brothers even more, and they might put bars up. Or close up his mobile account? 
But he knows he’s got some friends who will help him someway.

What’s happening next is depending on how a mature and wise -adult the older brother is. Will he use the tools he got to keep his youngest sibling under his control or will he use his wisdom and guide this younger brother to adolescency and give them all the chance to find out what input this growing up brother can have in his family?
And what will the young brother do? Will he bow -for now-, or feeling pushed away and moving to the neighbours?
He won’t be the first black sheep in a family.

Knowing the region and family life a little bit, one would tend to think that the big brother would pull his fist, if only not to lose face, but on the other hand….. I know how wise and gentle the older men in the family can be and able to solve problems and situations with grace leaving everybody in his value to maintain the good family.




Yesterday we were on the souq. (The souq is a traditional version of a shopping mall or a market hall.)
In ‘our’ souq we’ve got a ‘pet’ section.
“And oh my heart broke”. The way these poor birds and animals are being treated; In the heat, in to small cages, animals which aren’t pets or are becoming extinct.
I would love to buy them all and give them a better live.
Now my children are already so wise that they know that we can’t take them to Europe as they’re forbidden, that the birds would die here anyway in the heat and that the merchants would acquire replacement immediately, no matter from where.
They’re soooooo wise and responsible and won’t have the good feeling of having saved that one big turtle and let it roam in our garden.

It’s interesting to see how people react differently on that animal souq;
A good friend of mine avoids the animal souq. Another goes on the barricades. Tourists come and amaze themselves and taking pictures. Locals buy there their chickens and other show birds, boys get a pet to teach them responsibilities.
The guys who sell the animals (which are not the merchants!!) have no clue how cruel it is for those pets in the perspective of us westerners, who won’t see animal tragedies in daily live anymore. In case they have some idea, it’s from western television from the petambulance series or pictures of animal abuse in the media, which are not great either.
Then you have the merchants who buy and sell the animals….. I would tend to judge them, but then again they’re only trying to keep up their responsibilities to their wive(s) and the rest of the family, which in most cases is not easy either as there is no social security at all.

I like that animal souq, not because of the animals -I’m to much of a softy- for that. But because all the mixed feelings that it triggers in me, it makes me aware of my own values/thoughts/ convictions/believes, which learns me to see things through in a different perspective. I don’t have to agree but at least I can understand and accept that the world is not always the way I would have liked it and that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. 
It’s a way of learning to enjoy our differences.

Privileged a new scold?

I’m a white person (no worries I’m not offended, as I am white and I like my cheese too, so no offence if you call me cheesehead) who are a minority in Qatar.
The new scold word seems to be ‘being privileged’, I’m not offended as I think I’m lucky indeed. But the negative tone in which it has been said hurts, as if I’m a bad person being priviliged?!

My children are few of the privileged people who pay a lot of money to join a service trip in Africa, helping to build a school. Take my word, you can have a luxury family holiday instead. 
Service wise I don’t think the children are much of a help, but they learn something out of the experience. Most of all that it’s all about money and not so much about interaction or coming together.
My daughter came home very confused. 
During the trip, there was one moment the children were allowed to play with the kindergarten children and speak english with them.
All the little girls wanted to sit on my daughter’s lap and touch her hair, she’s got long blond hair, you must know.
She asked the girls why they wanted to sit with her all the time.
A: “Because you look like an angel”
“I’m not and I think YOU look like an angel”
A:“No I’m black”
My daughter was only 15 years at that time and the girl 5 or so, she was flabbergasted and very frustrated
“Mam, what on the …….. can you do when people have such a low self-image?”

In the psychology there’s a theory that says that what you say/believe/think/convinced of, tells a lot about yourself.

When people point at me that I’m priviliged, they put themselves, in a roll of accuser or victim at the same time.
Like the theory of mr. Karpman says, it will become a drama when I want to save them. Because, I can not change a situation, at most I can help out in certain situations, using my talents and skills (i.e. sending in money via my daughter) but I can’t save anybody from their own believes/thoughts or convictions and I can’t help somebody who keeps accusing others or pitying themselves.

“What can you do…..?”
“Believe you’re an angel and if you want I would love to try flying together” That might have been an answer.”


The busdriver, male pride

In Qatar, my children use the schoolbus to go and come from school. 
One day they had a new busdriver and he got lost, also the busmonitor, the lady who keeps an eye on the children, didn’t know the way.
My daughter searched on google maps and said “turn around, go to the main road and from there I’ll know the way home.”
But No, the driver, a male, had to call the office to ask for the direction. As he was not allowed to drive and call he gave the phone to the monitor. Of course the office didn’t know where they were either. How could they? They didn’t know the way themselves.
But the drivers pride didn’t allow him to take directions from a student and a girl. It would make him feel stupid.

So the monitor asked my daughter to tell the directions and then she translated it for the bus driver who seemed to have the impression he was listing to directions from the office and not from a woman and a girl.

I thought the bus monitor had found a charming solution; they made their way home and she didn’t hurt the feeble male pride of the driver. 
“But mum” my girl replied “we’re all making fun of him now at how stupid he must be not to see how he was fooled.”
…. Well what can I say?

Cultural differences are so often in the small things. That driver probably didn’t feel stupid which might for him be more important than being stupid??

My daughter felt being discriminated and not been taken seriously for, and could not understand that a direct solution was less important than his feelings.
But what does those feelings of anger and powerlessness help?
I think the busmonitor understood best to solve these cultural difference between men and women. She solved the situation, that’s what counts.

The situation made me look differently to men-women relations in cultural sense what seemed as repression to me is also a different way of solving problems without hurting some ones feelings. 
In domestic situations I see now how much more power woman all over the world have then western women can imagine. Because they use their power different and more indirect way, considering others feelings.


Moving, routines and habits

I’m very sorry I didn’t write my blog last week. 
We were moving house.
I’ve done it many times before, locally and internationally. 
The move it self does not nerve me very much. It’s physsically hard work as I want it to be over as fast as possible. I want to live and not being occupied by the boxes and the move for weeks. So it took me 4 days to pack the old home and making a new home. After that my body was tired, alright. But nothing a good nights sleep and some rest can’t fix.
No it’s the weeks and months after the actual move which are the hardest.
A move nationally or internationally is one of the biggest stress factors in life.

People build -concious and unconcious- a lifestyle and a have a picture in their brain of life, which is normal, good and safe; People build a routines, habits, behaviour which fit in that lifestyle. (That might not be the lifestyle they like or want, but what’s as comfortable possible in that certain special situation which is different from person to person).

When you move all those big and little routines, habits and behaviour needs to change.
The closer your move is the less you have to adjust, the further away you move the more you’ve to adjust and get used to and build a new sort of ‘lifestyle’.
This time I moved only locally, 20 km the most. But I moved from a rural green area to a busy business and building area. No more birds sounds, but traffic and generators. The kids are much closer to school and can walk to the mall, when weather allows. Morning traffic is huge so no quick early morning shopping. Where is a gym and how do the these machines work? Where is the doctor? and will it be a nice one as the one before? Can I find the toilet at night in the dark? When I cook on gas won’t the house explode? Oh dear the neighbours have small children where I have teenagers who seem to live on times when they might like to sleep?
They are just simple little things but I’m out of my comfort zone. I know I will grow into it fast enough this time and have a new routine and habits, who are not better or worse than my former routine and habits but just different which will fit better in this place.

So because of the morning traffic I started working early, when everybody is on their way, then go en route do my groceries etc., come back and start working again.
That is a routine which might work but now I find how hard it is for me to get back in the flow of the writing and focus again on the same topic.
I find it very uncomfortable and frustrating. The other hand is that I discovered and learned now that I need some time to get into the flow and that what I write in the early morning is different then the same topic later during the day.
It’s very interesting how the human brain works when emotions gets involved and how a big or a small culture shock can make you aware.
That’s probably why it’s my job and I developed workshops ‘culture shock, how to survive home sickness’ and ‘multicultural intelligence’




The freedom to choose is a big accomplishment in the western world; People can choose the political party they think is best for them, they can choose their partner, they can choose what to wear, to which restaurant they go, what to eat, without being persecuted or punished and even killed. some choices might be financially restricted but we don’t have to be afraid, to be who we are and what we prefer.

So how come I dread to make choices? Which shirt shall I wear blue or red?Which lane am I going to. which one will be faster? Which restaurant shall we have diner which is better, tastier, better service?- which phone shall I buy? etc.
There are so many choices to make and I fear to make the wrong decision, I fear I’m failing.

Being afraid doesn’t Feel Good and I know by now that knowledge helps to overcome the fear. So I try to be well prepared to make a decision. I read about the topic, find articles, reviews and opinions of others.
unfortunately that does not always help me; Articles seem to be written from one perspective, reviews are very subjective – comparing sites as ‘tripadvisor’ e.a. are being corrupted by the concurrence – and opinions are being stated as facts.
And because of all those comparisons I’m not sure what to choose anymore.arrrrgggh I fear that the outcome of my decision isn’t good enough or at least not what I expected  or what I hoped for. What is my expectation of wearing the red or blue shirt? What do I hope for to take the fastest lane? What do I want from the restaurant?  meal or a nice evening-? Do I want to call people or have a good camera?
It definitely feels much better when I’m aware of all those unconscious expectations. At least it makes it easier to choose, which doesn’t mean the outcome of my choice is what I expected but in that case we’re talking about acceptance and disappointments and that “my friends” is a whole other topic for a blog.

If you liked my blog please like, share and/or comment, so the International FeelGood Academy really becomes International.



When we talk we share knowledge
when we listen we learn

For me, going out for diner is a cultural event. I love to see the connection between people on other tables; the different conversations in groups, the focussed conversations between business men, the non conversations between couples, or -like last night the twittering conversation between a group of women. (Twitter is a real good name for that medium) the ladies just talked, almost all at the same time and didn’t seem to expect an answer. To me it looked like nobody was listening to what the other said.
It triggered me and I realised that there’s a difference between hearing and listening; Hearing is the physical part of listening, listening is the psychological part or the part where the brain comes in.

I looked up some facts for you;

– Only a quarter from what you hear will be heard.
– By listening you show interest in a person; you show interest/respect in the words someone says and the thoughts (s)he has.
– Listening is part of communication; only when there is a speaker AND a listener you can have a conversation and a connection between two people.
– You can listen to -4X  more- words then speak, which means that there is space in your head for other thoughts, like how to react.  As soon as you’re thinking about how to react you get busy; remembering how to react and waiting for the time you can put in your reacting. You’ll be so busy, you forget to listen to the rest of what’s being said.
– In some languages listening is another word of obeying, like when parents say to the children “you’re not listening to me” they actual mean you’re not obeying me.
– Most people seem to like talking specially about themselves much more than listening.

It’s hard for me to believe that those ladies last night had a conversation, yet there must be a form of communication and sharing some information. Sometimes it has to do with the language, in some languages the most import information of a sentence is given in the beginning of the sentence, so you can start thinking without really missing any information. I think I would like that too. On the other hand, people will never get heard or have the feeling of being listened to and – valued.

Now, knowing how hard it is to listen, even in your own language and in your own culture. I realise how much miscommunication must occur when having a conversation with someone in another language and culture.

I like to challenge you to really listen to somebody else; repeat after your partner has finished speaking what (s)he said. and then focus on the answer you like to give.
I would love to hear your experiences.