Being voiceless is pointless! Thoughts from a former silent activist.

Being voiceless is pointless! Thoughts from a former silent activist.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

By Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

*source information below.

This weekend, I watched my Facebook feed blow up with the news of the Muslim Ban being signed in and that protests were in progress at JFK airport to help free unsuspecting Muslim travellers.  They were banned from entry to the US because they were from a land on the new President’s order.  WHAT!  I’m an American living on the other side of the world, looking in horror that this has happened.  My heart was comforted and tears fell when I saw those people at the gates of JFK chanting and representing who we really are!  These citizens took action.  They were so willing to do the right thing and stand up for those people locked inside the airport. That is LOVE!  That is UNITY.  It takes bravery because whenever you put your voice and actions together in a place where there are police, you might be asking for more than you bargained for!  Look at The Standing Rock’s peaceful protest.  Tear gas, raging dogs, and jail time the whole thing to protect a greedy corporation’s investment.

It got me thinking about my voice and my actions.  Where have they been all these years?  I subsequently let them die with my hope of a better place that was about equality and fairness to all.  I, too, had become complacent.  It happened when living in DC for 7 years with an administration that I absolutely did not agree with.  I learned then my voice was not “appreciated” when it came to his policies.  I realized year after year that this was happening and I couldn’t do much but vote for change. I was there when a plane flew over our heads to come crashing down on to the Pentagon.  Colleagues and friends who worked nearby in potential harm’s way. Years following the Executive decision would come to go to war.  I worked for a company that very much profited from the Iraqi war, in other words, the hunt for weapons of mass destruction.  Still, not agreeing, nor speaking or writing any politician to stop the madness, I remained silent.  I realized, we were now a country who fully handed over our good sense of thinking to FEAR.  It was always there but now we had something to point to in justification, 9-11, Osama bin Laden.  And most of us wanted to feel safe.  So… complacency won.

Here we are in a time that seems like right out of all those lovely popular dystopia books; Divergent, Hunger Games, and I see a lot of people talking about the ever popular, 1984 by George Orwell.  But I see the people coming together in beautiful ways to put an end to these awful heinous attempts to block out freedoms that many fought wars for and protested for, years before I was born. I realize now, it is time to say what I think and be brave.  It is time to stop thinking that it is too late, that I am not important or not enough to stand UP for the rights, morals and values I believe in.  If not me, then WHO?  And what happens if NO ONE does anything.  What then?

This is what the quote above speaks to so beautifully. I saw someone quote Martin Niemöller in the comments of a LIVE feed on the JFK Airport protest.  A powerful quote that is a great wake-up call to remind us, that we are them. Incidentally, I am an immigrant in another country.

When power is put in the wrong hands, WE ALL ARE VULNERABLE!  May we no longer be silent and may all our voices be heard.  

January 27 was the International day of remembrance of the Holocaust.  May we never forget.

*United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Accessed on [January 29, 2017], https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392

America the beautiful: Thoughts on Election day.

America the beautiful: Thoughts on Election day.

I don’t know about the rest of the world or my fellow Americans, but for me today I’m pretty emotional about this election. I hope this next chapter in my country’s government turns out to work for us all. What I’ve realized this past election, and actually many before this one is that we no longer can freely talk about politics with any sense of calm, understanding, or intellect for each other’s different points of view. Things seem to have gone black and white on how we live our lives and who we vote for is a big part of that. Last night, a Dutchman asked me point-blank “Who did you vote for?” (I voted a month ago being out of country in all) and I had an immediate inside reaction that surprised me. It was: We don’t ask that question and expect an answer. I don’t know when that custom started, I could think about it but what is the point. I just remember somewhere along the way from the time I turned to legal voting age until the present day, that was just not something you do. That is, divulge who you were going to vote for or in my case, who you did. In recent years I just simply did not want to share it because of the scrutiny that would come if you weren’t “on the same team”. Admittedly, I’ve lost some respect for those who think in a different camp as I, who see things so completely opposite to what I think. What happened? Why can’t we be civil towards each other’s opinions anymore?

photo by Trent Yarnall

photo by Trent Yarnall

I remember having a conversation with an acquaintance two terms ago about Hillary Clinton and I will never ever forget her reaction. It shut me down how much she couldn’t stand her. She wouldn’t even listen to some of Hillary Clinton’s policies and her ideas because she felt a certain way and no one could convince her otherwise.  Because it was clear that she let her anger, disgust of a person not of what she does determine her idea of who should be in office. Hillary didn’t even win the nomination that year. I was struck by how vehemently one woman could be so adamantly against another woman in this way. I heard her go off on the economy, socialism, gun control and the other buzz fearing words of the day. I sat there and just simply stopped talking. It occurred to me while she went on and on about how much she didn’t want Hillary in office that we weren’t having a conversation of intellect, or well thought out points-of-views. We were having a conversation about FEAR. And people, whatever side is your side don’t fool yourselves, this can work both ways.

Now look at what we have before us. Vote for her so we don’t get HIM! Vote for him so we don’t get HER! We are all so very afraid. This is not a conversation of who is the best for the job. This is a conversation of who will make me feel safer. It appears to me, we’ve all opted out of the idea that we can have a powerful effect on what happens in our country. We are not having the right conversations. We are not actively listening anymore nor are we taking action where we could be. “Oh, you are for Trump. Goodbye.” Or, “I hate Hillary, therefore I hate you.” Let’s not stop and listen to each other about why we choose the way we do. Nope!  Just delete that person off your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, whatever social media account and forget that you share something really special, powerful, and righteous, our country. Isn’t that worth sitting down and talking about?  Not shouting or criticizing but talking and listening to what we each believe in and why.  Because what I have witnessed is that we don’t believe in each other anymore we only believe in which side you are on.

This is what makes this election so emotional for me.  I haven’t lived in the US for seven years.  I sit in a country on the other side of the world.  But please don’t think we, Americans living abroad, get out of anything being somewhere else.  We must defend and talk about this election non-stop.  Even answer questions about things that even we don’t understand much less have the answers to.  When you live far away from home you get to see it from a world view.  Ladies and gentlemen if you think that is easy, it is not!  I hope we can restore what we feel we lost.  I hope we can join other countries in making policies that support everyone.  I believe it is possible. But what I know, believe, and feel, hardly means a thing if there are not more citizens willing to take a stand for those things too. I am just one voice in a sea of many others. I am sure I will be drowned out.  I really believe that it doesn’t matter which team wins it’s what we do with it that will define us.  Because tomorrow morning when the sun rises, it will be a whole new world. The world is watching.  We can make it about one person or we can make it about us.  It’s up to us to start speaking up and OUT for our precious country. It doesn’t have to end with this election.

How anger signals your passion!

How anger signals your passion!

©crisspixHave you ever felt conflicted about the identity you had before you arrived here in The Netherlands and your identity now? What about your identity before kids and your identity now? For those of us who are expats and mothers, all of this is mixed up into one very confusing bundle.
In my talk at Spark! this year, I talked about my entrepreneurial journey with my business, DailyOutfit – one that is inextricably tied to my journey here to The Netherlands and my journey as a mother. When Susan attended my talk, she was specifically struck by a portion of my talk regarding my anger and guilt. She asked me to expand on that for you.


Our second year here was arguably the most difficult year of my life. My first child was diagnosed with a chronic illness that required a special school, medication, numerous doctors’ visits and a great deal of adjustments at home. I put my business, DailyOutfit, on hold. Then, my mother died totally unexpectedly of a heart attack only four days after I brought the children home for their summer holiday. Yup. It was rough.
Given the ravages of life we see every day in the newspaper, I know I am blessed that that was the most difficult year of my life. I know it could be far, far worse. But, it was still challenging – and I learned a lot. One of the biggest gifts of that year was my anger – and guilt. It sounds strange to say so, but it is true.

Anger.AngryWoman: http://alanalouisemay.com/blog/2016/1/9/the-world-needs-angry-women

The first thing I want to talk about is my anger. I was so angry at having to put my business on hold when my daughter was ill. I was pissed!!

Why was it my life that had to change? Why was it my business that had to take a hit? Why did I have to cancel my work trip when the school put my daughter on part-time? Why not my husband?
Honestly, it was a clear financial decision. I am not the breadwinner in my household. And that sucked. I have always been my husband’s equal. Even when I left my corporate life to care for our daughter, it was a calculated decision that saved us the cost of our hired help. I did the nanny’s job – and I did it better. Then, I built my business organically within three years and I started making a profit. I was paying my daughter’s school fees. It felt great!

Guilt.

I wanted to handle my daughter’s illness with grace and kindness. And I did, of course — in public.
But, I didn’t like what I saw of myself in private.GuiltyWoman When I was honest with myself, I talked about how much I had given up. I was resentful. My lovely therapist told me that guilt is appropriate when you’ve done something wrong.
In this case, I felt I had done something wrong. I had put myself above my daughter. I had put my needs and my desire to be successful above my daughter’s needs. What kind of mother does that?!

I thought many times about giving up my business. And, when the time was finally right to start my business again, I asked myself seriously – is it time to simply let this go? Is the universe telling me this is too much?
Moving Forward. It was my anger at having to cancel that work trip that made me realize – I love my business!! And it was my guilt over my anger that made me realize — I have to figure out how to handle this better!!
Because the truth is – life is not easy. You are going to go through some shit! And you need to have the bandwidth to handle it with grace. But, if you are like me, and have found your passion AND you can make a business out of it.  Well, that is worth fighting for and figuring out.I had two goals: 1. To resurrect my business and to build it so I had the time and flexibility to be a great mother to BOTH of my kids, a fun wife, a great resource to my clients. AND therefore, 2. I could be a balanced and happy person.
glamshotallisonAnger was my signifier. It signified my passion and my belief in what I was doing in my business. It signified how important it was to me. It signified how deep my purpose and commitment was (and is) to making it a success.
Guilt was my prime mover. It told me that what I was doing was not working. It clarified for me that I needed to find a better way. It encouraged me to think creatively about what I have, what I want and who I want to be – as a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur and a person.


Author Information: colorbeautyallisonAllison Hamilton-Rohe is a Personal Style Coach from New York, currently living in Leiden. She created a unique formula to help you discover your personal style. Through her company, DailyOutfit, she coaches you to define your true beauty and translate it into a personal style you can inhabit with ease. She believes everyone can feel beautiful & confident every day. To learn more about Allison, check out her site www.dailyoutfit.com or follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.


Photo credits:
All photos of Allison: Cristina Stoian Portraits, http://cristinastoian.nl/
AngryWoman:  http://alanalouisemay.com/blog/2016/1/9/the-world-needs-angry-women
Guilty Woman:http://thepoetryofmaterialthings.tumblr.com/post/42163933061

Being “not perfect” allows me to be my True self.

Being “not perfect” allows me to be my True self.

cropped-9f9ea395695993f8ac9dfaf65c8d5ba71a256467-res2048.jpgIn this video, I tell you about what has been going on in the Life Coach for Expats world, or rather, with ME. I am working with a business coach which gave me an excuse, sort of, to stop writing/vlogging.  I also talk about the campaign #notperfect and show how I’m playing into the perfection game once more.   As I say in the video, “having a business is a self-development program.”

We are always working to be better. Check out the video!

Does this ring True for you?  Share in the comments!

 

Congratulations! You almost lost.

Congratulations! You almost lost.

youalmostlostThis summer we went to the US for a visit with my family.  My sister and father created and implemented a Euchre tournament of epic proportions!  I realized that my audience may not know what the heck Euchre is so I’m linking the word for the definition.  In simple terms, it’s a card game that if played well can be very cut-throat (bringing out the competitive beast!). ha!

Putting this card game into a format of a tournament is especially thrilling!  On Father’s day, we assembled, full family and extended ones too, and played an afternoon away.  The smack talk was HIGH and the competition, fierce.  I was actually nervous in round one as my elders who taught me this beloved game were at my table. I didn’t want to disappoint them nor my partner.  I found my stride after a few games.  “Going alone” became my tribal yell.  It also taught me that the more I did “go it alone” the closer I came to winning the whole sha-bang.  The tournament was devised in such a way to encourage you to play solo.  Other wise folk caught on to this strategy, as well.  In the end, as evidenced by the card pictured above, I almost lost. It’s just a game.  But hey, I came in fourth place with a nice cash reward.  But I almost lost.  So what would have happened if I did risk it more?  I might have won.

The beauty in this simple phrase is profound.  Take a look at it.

Congratulations! You almost lost.  

Well, most of that is positive.  I was closer to winning than most.  But in the top 4 I was at the bottom.  At any rate, I’m being congratulated for doing my best.  I think we should have more messages like this one.  It’s kinda funny but also encouraging.  It spoke to me enough to save the card.  I hope you see something in it too.

Where have you “almost lost” recently?

My birthday for clean water campaign

My birthday for clean water campaign

charitywater.org

I saw this great interview on Marie Forleo’s website with Scott Harrison.  I was struck by how this man changed everything about his life to life on a purpose to help those who need clean water.  I encourage you to take some time and watch this interview.  What I got out of it, and have been thinking about ever since, was how each of us can help make a difference by doing something so little. 

So….for my birthday, which is on April 15th, I’m launching my own campaign inside his foundation to raise money instead of collecting birthday gifts.  I’m only asking you donate my age, 42, or number combinations of it: 4 dollars, 2 dollars or if the mood lifts you to do it then $420!  Whoooa!  Everything is in dollars but you can easily donate in euros via paypal.  They will convert it for you. 😉

This year I wanted to do something for other people because I’ve had a good life.  42 good years to be precise. I’ve never had to struggle for things like water, food, or shelter.  It makes me humble.  I want to give some of it to other people who can’t even drink a clean glass of water.  I want to help those children without good clean water live past 5 years old.  I think that is a gift worth giving.  Will you join me?  Here’s the campaign link: https://my.charitywater.org/happy-birthday-susan-de-vriend-raddatz