Thursday 31 December 2020

a pat in the back...

If you allow me a... small transgression, I would like to dedicate this post to me. I mean, I rarely find myself worthy of a post in this blog... life has given me, over the years, amazing things to write about, things far better than “yours truly”... but tonight, as this strange year ends, I would like to say a couple of things to myself. So, here goes:

“Dear self,

Looks like you made it to the end of 2020!! Ok, another couple of hours to go but, fingers crossed you will be (alive...) on the sofa come midnight... as if there’s a plethora of choices of places to be... let’s see...the sofa, the home office, the kitchen table, the bed, the loo... our 2020 tiny universe... But, so, yeah, you made it!

What if your health (both physical and mental) was tested quite a few times, you are still alive (and relatively sane...)! What if some dreams were shattered, you found new ones on the way! What if you experienced loss and death and deep sadness and loneliness like never before... you also laughed out loud many times!

Yeah, you made it, girl! You are here in one piece (a somewhat larger piece than this time last year, admittedly...), tougher, wiser, not just older... and you found pure love in the eyes of a little fur ball named Lucifer! Against all odds, you survived and not only: you lived! Because life is the good and the bad alike! So, be proud, be joyful and while you give you a pat in the back, make a wish that next year is a tad easier than this one... and brace yourself because, no matter what, here we go!!! No backsies, we are here for the long run, come rain or come shine!! 

And... I promise to take better care of you next year... you deserve all my love!”

There. That’s it. That’s what I had to say to me and I thank you for your patience. Perhaps you would like to give you a pat in the back too?... just saying... Anyway, another year starts tonight, one that hopefully will be full of “better than shoes” things to write about. I give you my word that I will keep looking out for them and sharing them with you.

Happy New Year to everyone! 🍾πŸ₯‚

Friday 25 December 2020

a very merry Christmas...

This year has been... different (let’s leave it to that...) and Christmas felt like it was cancelled due to the strict measures most European countries have enforced in order to contain the spreading of this bug that’s been going around, killing people and all... damned thing... Everybody was rather gloomy/angry/anxious about things having to be so out of the ordinary this year... so restricted... I guess mostly because people have missed their loved ones terribly and Christmas is the definitive time of the year to get together with them but... Covid!

Personally, I felt... well, the only thing that made me sad was not being able to be with my brother, first Christmas without our mom, especially because I thought it would be heavier on him. As for the rest, I have spent Christmas alone many times, the past two years also under rather grim conditions, so to be alone again this time of the year neither scared nor saddened me. Been there, done that. Besides, I now have Lucifer so I’m never alone! And then, a few weeks back, as I had already come to terms with this reality, my adopted big brother S and his partner K invited me to spend Christmas Day with them! Yes we would keep our distances, so our hugs and kisses had to be imaginary, but we would be together! I accepted the invitation right away and with the greatest joy!

And what a Christmas Day it has been! A six course meal for three arrived in a box, from a restaurant we really like (the chef of which is, incidentally, Greek) with all the instructions how to warm up and plate! And in the talented hands of my darling S it was transformed into an amazing culinary experience, perfectly presented, tasting deliciously! A bottle of pink champagne to start in a festive note, and accompany the savoury starter that S had prepared himself, and wonderful wines to continue with our meal, made it all exceptional! Even their gorgeous cat, G, who’s 12 days older than my Luci, behaved impeccably for a kitten! 

Everything was perfect! And this will be a Christmas I will always remember! I was with family, having a great meal and a lovely conversation! Which, all things considered this year, was something to be grateful of! And I am! It was “better than shoes”! Plus, it was a great opportunity to wear my hot pink Balenciaga knife boots! I mean, I made an effort, people!... I can only hope and wish that you all had  the best Christmas Day possible under the circumstances and that you are reading this with a smile on your face and a big, happy tummy! 

Wednesday 23 December 2020


Pyjamas got a bad reputation this year, I fear... they were associated with being stuck at home, in quarantine or while being in a bubble/social distancing. They became the trademark attire of 2020, not by choice but by necessity and, from being the symbol of “finally, I get to relax and not bother getting dressed” to the symbol of “crap... I’ve been in my pyjamas for four days now... help”! But, I’m here to set the record straight. Pyjamas are not the enemy, dear people, the damn virus is and that’s that. Pyjamas are “better than shoes”! And here’s why:

First point: we are f@cking lucky to be able to be at home, even stuck at home, in our pyjamas! They do symbolise our privilege in a world of inequality and suffering. Think about it. Warm and dry and fed and in front of a TV of wonderful series and films, under a blanket and, for the even luckier amongst us, in good company! But even if alone, still, pretty damn lucky! And yes, now it is the moment to think of everyone who’s not as lucky, who has no home and must sleep at a bench outside tonight! Think and help! So, stop whining and smile and be grateful! And helpful!

Second point: nothing stretches as well as a pyjama trousers! And, with Christmas and all, whether alone or in company, we must indulge! It’s tradition! We must overeat! Even if it’s just pizza we ordered in! (keep supporting your local restaurants, we want to go back to them when this is over!) So, going back to my first point, be grateful for your full tummy, help others be fed if you can, and tell your pyjama trousers “thank you” for managing to fit your ever increasing belly! Because your belly will increase and the time for a diet is after New Year’s Day and your faithful friend, the pyjama, will gracefully accommodate your misbehaving. Be thankful!

Third point: they are so amazingly comfy! Nothing like taking a shower (or bath, even better), putting on your clean pyjamas and crashing on the sofa in every weird position you can possibly stretch your imagination (and your limbs)! Yeah, yeah, I know, you have been living on your sofa for 9 months! Well, I have been doing it for more than a year, as fate had it, and yes, I would have loved to have traveled away from it but, screw this, I have a sofa! So, stop bitching about it, put on your comfy pyjamas, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate (a splash of Kahlua is a must if you are over 18... or 21... oh, you get it) and just relax! Watch a good film, let your worries fade away and think of better days that will surely come! Nothing lasts forever, dearies, both the good and the bad. And if now we are in the “bad”, it will soon be replaced by the “good”! Hang in there! Be hopeful! Be kind! Wear your pyjamas and have a lovely holiday!! πŸŽ„

Thursday 3 December 2020

my special Xmas tree

Those of you who have been reading this blog over the years know that setting up the Christmas tree is a big deal for me! I mean, you can’t have Christmas without a Christmas tree! And it has become my tradition to set it up early, so that I can enjoy it for the longest possible, and celebrate the event with a seasonally appropriate film (I have been known to watch “Love Actually” almost every year on “tree day”) and hot chocolate. You see, I’m an alien (I’m a legal alien... in the words of the mighty Sting) and since I left my home country, it has been these little new traditions that I have created that have given me a sense of home no matter where I am and no matter if I’m alone. 

This year the tradition has not been followed... this is Luci’s first Christmas and since he is still a very curious and hyperactive kitten, compromises had to be made. So, I set up the tree this past Monday, thankfully right on time, while he was at the vet’s (yes, the time had come for him to part with his testicles... I mean, since he won’t be dating, ever, it’s only the right thing to do... otherwise it’s just cruel to leave him full of hormones and no girlfriend!) and I could open up boxes without him jumping in and making a complete mess! When he came home, all drowsy poor thing, it was all done... but there was no time for a Christmas movie, I just wanted to be with him and cuddle him and make sure he was alright. 

And this year there are no glass ornaments on the tree. In fact all my usual ornaments stayed in the boxes... the internet wise people all advised against them and understandably so... nothing appealing about a glass bauble shattered on the floor after having been attacked by a kitten! And what if it were my favourite ones from Liberty’s?!... Disaster! No! Instead, this year, my tree is decorated with felt hearts and stars and angels and gnomes and letters for all the members of my extended family (yes, my friends are my family too) with of course a nice red “L” for the light of my life! This year my tree (more correctly, our tree, I have a housemate now...) is special! “Better than shoes” special! And it marks Lucifer’s arrival in my life! Because, no matter how s**tty this year has been, it has brought little Luci into my life! And for this I will always be grateful! 

Ps. So far the tree is still standing... the little fur ball steals an ornament every now and then and I find it on the floor but after he brought me a heart in bed this morning, I’m willing to let it go... Ok, truth be told, I got all misty eyed when he jumped on the bed and left the red heart next to my face... ❤️

Sunday 29 November 2020


Twenty years ago today, I arrived in the Netherlands... I was practically a kid, alone, all my belongings fitted in just two duffel bags but my hopes were larger than life! I wanted to be independent! I wanted to be accomplished and successful too but mostly, I wanted to be independent! To have a steady salary, to have a life in order, a life where the expression “we’ll see” would not have a place anymore, because, I would know whether something was possible or not right away. Growing up, this “we’ll see” and the insecurity that it entailed, had haunted my childhood... every time I wanted something, every time I asked for something, anything, the answer was usually that. Not “yes”, not “no”... just this limbo... which usually ended up in a “no” but the worst was the time it took to get me to the “no”. And I wanted, finally (and for good), to have a life without this painful anticipation.

I achieved that. In the twenty years that followed, I achieved much more. My belongings now cannot fit in two duffel bags... I mean the shoes alone can’t fit in my car...!! And I have a car. A mini car, but a car nonetheless. And I have travelled the world just like I wanted since I was a child, reading “The children of Captain Grant” again and again! I have seen incredible beauty, I have tasted deliciousness. I have made friends who are my family now. I have done work I can be proud of and I have passed my knowledge down to younger colleagues. I have fought for my rights. I have lost battles but I am still standing. I have loved. I have laughed. I have experienced great losses and I have not given up. And I have a cat! My darling Lucifer, the light of my life, who gives me so much love I never thought it would be possible! (he’s curled up next to me as I write this, purring in absolute contentment!)

Not too shabby, right? I mean, surely, other people have achieved much more and there is always Malala who is making each and everyone of us look like underachievers no matter what but, blimey, it surely isn’t bad for the 26-year-old girl, who came here alone with almost nothing and managed to build a life from scratch, all by herself! Has it always been “better than shoes”? The answer to that is a resounding “no”. There were times tough as nails. But what has been “better than shoes”, beyond any doubt, was my decision to come here. A decision I have not regretted not for a moment in these two decades! I have taken a chance and it has paid off. No matter what, I can say I made it on my own. It did not come cheaply. But the reward was worth the price! 

Saturday 10 October 2020

choosing where to look at...

Yesterday I had the good fortune of having drinks (at my place, staying safe... plus, I have an amazing recipe for G&T!) with a lady I have know for many many years but we had not been really in touch for a long time. Yet, some time ago, right after my mother died, I made a weird post on Fb and she immediately texted me to ask if everything was alright. None other did... I mean from the outer circle of Fb friends, my close friends knew. So, this gesture of hers really moved me and I invited her with great pleasure for drinks and a chat.

And as I had thought it would be, it was a very pleasant evening! We talked for hours, drinking G&Ts and nibbling (I’m Greek... drinking without eating something is frowned upon... at least for my generation, I don’t know what the youngsters do these day... god, I sound so old!) and we had so much to tell to one another! The hours passed without noticing, really! Like myself, she has been through a lot these past couple of years but she’s strong and calm and she’s learning to take care of herself and... well, I feel she’s going to be just fine! So, as I was telling her some of my “adventures” of the last year, she said to me “goodness... you went through that and you tell me about it with a smile!”... and then it hit me: of course!! Of course I’m telling the story of the sh*t I’ve been through with a smile! Because I’m still here to tell the story!! 

You see, we can choose where to look at but some times we are so tired from... well... life itself, that we forget we can. We can choose to look at the sh*t that has happened to us and let the memory of it put us down once again or we can choose to look at the fact we are still standing, we are still here and we have friendly ears that are willing to listen to our stories. And if we choose the latter, we do have every reason to smile! “Yes, friend, my life has been pretty much a wreck for quite some time but I’m still here and able to tell the story and you are here listening to my story so, yes, I’m smiling from ear to ear!” It is a choice. Make the choice to look at the (one?..) thing that puts a smile on your face, not the thing(s) that break your heart even remembering them. Now, isn’t that “better than shoes”?...

Saturday 26 September 2020

knowing the size of your shadow

So, I have been watching this series on Netflix, “bloodline”, which is not half bad by the way, and it got me thinking...

It’s about this big, seemingly perfect, rich-ish family, which is deeply dysfunctional in a (literally) criminal way. And there’s this brother, the second oldest one, who’s supposedly the good boy, the reliable husband and father, the considerate and obedient son, the embodiment of trustworthiness and decency and honour and whatnot. And he takes upon him all the troubles his siblings face or create, all the worries and guilt of his mom, all the bad deeds of his dad, the responsibilities of his own family and job (and he works for the sheriff’s office) and basically the guy carries the weight of the world on his shoulders! Until...  nah, I’m not gonna give you any spoilers!

I kinda identify with that behaviour... I used to carry the weight of the world... I used to be the one grabbing every responsibility would come my way, no matter whose it really was, and make it my own... I used to think that all the problems of my dysfunctional family were mine to solve... and I suffered for years from this behaviour! Because, evidently, I could neither control nor solve everything! And as I was watching the hero in the series doing the same thing, I realised why he does it (and I guess why I did it too...): he does it because he thinks he casts a shadow much bigger than he actually does! And that all the mishaps of his family are within this huge shadow that he casts and therefore his to bear! He thinks that everyone else is in his shadow! And therefore he must help/protect/untangle them even though they are all fully grown adults! And they act pretty stupidly, might I add!

Well... I don’t do this anymore. I stopped some years back. I guess therapy has helped. Maybe the hero of the series would benefit from it too... Now I know exactly how big a shadow I cast and I can tell you that it is as small as if I’m standing right underneath the sun at midday! No one else exists within my shadow! Yes! Realising my insignificance has freed me from the burdens I was carrying most of my life! I’m not that important! I’m not a giant! I’m tiny! I’m an ant! I’m not responsible for everyone... in fact I’m only responsible for me (and Lucifer, as of late). So, I guess knowing the size of our shadow is important, “better than shoes” even, since it is perhaps the only way we can stop thinking others are within our shadow and stop carrying everyone else’s problems... me thinks...

Sunday 20 September 2020

a weekend with friends

 I’ve had a marvellous long weekend! A “better than shoes” weekend! A weekend with friends!

No, obviously I did not travel, my traveling days are long gone and I don’t even know when I will get back on a plane and out of here... like most of us, I stay put, I stay safe and I protect my fellow humans any way I can during these unprecedented times. But, I decided mid-week to take Friday off, just because I needed a break and the weather was going to be nice and... well, because thank goodness I could! I slept till late and did nothing except going to the supermarket around noon, then had lunch and took a nap and then I ordered some sushi (ok... lots of sushi!) and my darling friends S and K came over for dinner and G&Ts. It was lovely! I enjoyed as always our conversation, how relaxed I’m with them because, really, they are family! Lucifer loves his “uncles” and he’s very sociable and he did not even jump on the table! That well behaved! So, all in all, a great Friday! 

Then I had a “sweatpants’ day” on Saturday, did some laundry and watched Netflix (“Ratched”, very good by the way) with Lucifer, which is always a good plan for the weekend. And with awesome company, too! Luci was a true angel all day! 

And today my dear friend E came over for a proper Sunday lunch, something I hadn’t done in a very long time! I had not seen her in ages and she had not yet met Lucifer and we had so much to talk about! Which we did while eating chicken stew with rice cooked in the sauce (it turned out delicious, I was really proud of myself... plus, there are leftovers πŸ˜‰). And then we had our coffee and tea and played with Lucifer! Wonderful! A sunny Sunday afternoon with a good friend, a long chat and once again a relaxed atmosphere! And now I’m chilling on the sofa, writing this, while my darling cat is taking a nap by my side. Sweeeeeet! 

So, overall, as I said, a marvellous weekend with friends, at home, safe but also so enjoyable! It is possible! I know that we are all exhausted from the social distancing and the restrictions and the fear and the isolation but we have to keep trying, we must protect the most fragile ones amongst us and, at the same time, we must “feed” our souls with some pleasant moments so that we recharge our batteries and can keep going for as long as we must. Let’s hope not for long, of course...

Monday 14 September 2020

ode to Lucifer

I know what you must be thinking... that I have turned into a crazy cat lady and from now on I will only be writing about my cat because, let’s face is, he’s what definitively is “better than shoes” in my life. Well... if you are thinking that, keep reading this blog and I hope I can prove you wrong. Not because I will not turn into a crazy cat lady, I guess that ship has already sailed, but because I do believe in my heart that “better than shoes” stuff are going to keep coming in my life and I will be able to see them and appreciate them and share them with you 😊

However, since this has been a year of slim pickings when it comes to positive experiences (yeah... there’s no point denying that...) and I have promised since I started this blog to only write about the good things, “bear with me” for the time being as I share with you the one truly amazing thing I have in my life right now: Lucifer’s love! ( I write this, he runs like crazy out my bedroom to the living room, just to remind me that, yeah, he is a kitten and he has his moments of madness...)

How do I know he loves me, you may ask... well, I do! Because he shows me!

He shows me he loves me every chance he has! He shows me he loves me when he purrs just by sitting next to me on the sofa while we watch “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. He shows me when he follows me around the house, very interested at every little, mundane thing I do. He shows me when he falls asleep on my desk while I work in the morning because he just wants to be close to me. He shows me every single night when he sleeps next to my head and licks my nose when I wake up in the morning, patiently waiting for me to open my eyes even if he’s hungry. He shows me when I hold him in my arms like a baby and he caresses my face with his paw. He shows me when he slowly blinks at me (these are “cat kisses”, did you know?). He shows me when he trusts me enough to let me touch his forehead with my forehead. He shows me when he brings his little plastic mouse to me as a gift.  He shows me when he waits by the door for me to come back when I go to the supermarket. He shows me he loves me when he feels I’m not well and he pokes me to see if I’m ok like yesterday when I had a sudden drop of blood pressure and I had to lie down... or when I was crying the night my mom died and he put his paw on my shoulder, like an old friend comforting me, although he knew me for less than a month... 

He shows me he loves me. He does not say it but then again... words are just words and I’ve heard my share of fake “I love you”s in my life... Lucifer, he shows me he loves me in his own way and it is crystal clear. And “better than shoes”.

Ps. He just came back and settled on the nightstand... he will fall asleep there and, in a while, still half asleep, he will move next to my pillow... night-night...

Thursday 27 August 2020

telling people how you feel...

 I read the other day from ”WordPorn” on insta that “telling people how you feel is the most difficult thing ever”... yeah... it is... I belong to a generation of women that was brought up to never show (much less talk about...) emotions. And it took many years of growth, and therapy, in order to learn to actually share my feelings. And still I am not good at it... but I try, even if I do it clumsily at times. Because good feelings should be shared to flourish and grow and multiply and bad feelings should be shared so that they don’t stay inside and rot and poison us.

This, is not really a “better than shoes” post... in all these years I keep this blog, I have tried to only write when I can write about something that has made me happy... so I hope you will allow me this exception... today, as I write this, I’m sad. My mother passed away yesterday after a short battle against cancer. This new reality has not yet sunk in... I woke up this morning and my first thought was “my mom is dead”... and although those close to me knew that we always have had a rocky relationship, she was the only mother I ever had... and now she’s gone and all the things that she said or did that hurt me or made me angry, I already miss... I miss her...

But... there is a silver lining even to this dark cloud... a few months back, in the beginning of this surreal year and unbeknownst to us of course that she would have such a short time to live ahead, we had a long conversation and I poured my heart out to her... I talked to her about all the things that were burdening my heart, the good, the bad, the ugly... I spoke about things I had never found the courage to speak before... or I had never been able to put into words before... and no, it was not one of those movie moments, for starters it was on the phone so no tearful hugs in the end, but it was honest and it was about everything and I remember having slept like a baby that night, after our three-hour phone call, for the first time in years! My heart was light because I had spoken and she had listened... at least I choose to believe she did.

So, now that she’s gone, I have no regrets. Nothing was left unsaid. I am in peace. Sad but in peace. And although I’m not a believer of “she’s in a better place now”, I’m glad her struggle has ended, that it was not a long one and that she was not in pain in the end. And that, before it was too late, I found the courage to tell her how I felt... and that, I think, is “better than shoes”...

Thursday 13 August 2020

lucifer atticus parks my kitten. We are living together now for two weeks. He is a British shorthair in blue colourpoint, all white with only his tail and paws in that amazing deep grey of his breed. His eyes are the lightest turquoise, almost silver. And, before you start asking, no, I will not be posting photos of him here. Here... we write and read. But I sure will be writing about him because, and although I do not let him near my shoes (I mean... com’on...he chews on everything!), having him in my life is the best thing, the best thing really, that has happened to me in a veeeeeery loooooong time! 

When we arrived home two weeks ago, with him all terrified from the trip and me heartbroken because of his crying all the way, he run under my bed and would not come out not even for food! I thought I had traumatised him and he would hate me for the rest of his life! I was so wrong... here’s what happened: at about 11 in the evening, after I had my night routine (you know, brush my teeth, put on my night cream, that kind of stuff...), I went to bed. I put “Friends” on Netflix because... oh well, who needs a reason for a “Friends” rerun!... and as I was watching, thinking that Lucifer would never ever get out from underneath the bed, I suddenly see him seated at the edge of the bed looking at the TV! A tiny white fur-ball with pointy ears looking at Rachel and Ross! 

That same night, he slept next to my head and every time I turned  he would come and give me kisses! And ever since we sleep like this (ok, except for one night, poor thing had gone mad because of the awful heatwave and because of tiny flies in a plant... they bugged him senseless!) after having watched an episode of “Friends”. We wake up together early, take our breakfast and then he keeps me company all day, when I’m working, when I’m cooking and eating, when I’m taking a nap, when I’m watching Netflix... Yesterday, I was having a rough day and as I was laying on the sofa in the evening, he came to lay really really close to me and put his paw over my tummy... yep! He hugged me! 

Now, if this all is not “better than shoes”, I don’t know what is!! Right?! 

Ps. He just woke up... he was asleep on the coffee table in front of me and now he’s seated next to me looking at what I’m doing... I told him I’m writing about him ☺️ 


Saturday 4 July 2020


There’s a quote which I think is attributed to “Rocky” (but last week I watched it and was not there... eh... there’s another, what, 5? 6 films?...) that goes “it doesn’t matter how hard you can hit, what matters is how hard you can get hit and still keep moving forward”... I like this quote. I also like “Rocky”.

In the last three years of my life, I have been cheated upon and lost my partner, family and friends that I had for more than a decade. In the process, I have been disrespected and shamelessly lied upon, I have been pushed over my limit so much so that I almost lost myself, I have been gaslighted to think it was all my fault and, on top of that, I have been asked to just accept my ex’s “polyamory” as the new norm. I respectfully (to myself) declined. And then I had to live with “them” shacked up over my head on top of seeing them everyday at work. 

At work, I have been bullied, pushed to “produce” at an unbearable pace, I have been discriminated against, constantly unappreciated and often undermined and I even had my work “checked” by an A-male, who had absolutely no authority to do so, merely because what I was saying was not accepted by another A-male. By the way, I was correct. Because or work stress, I have endured so much physical pain it almost drove me to suicide and I had a severe burnout, staying locked inside my house for months. And that was before the lockdown. Which came along with me catching “the bug”, so I was (yet again) sick and scared and alone. I have struggled with the news of my mother being diagnosed with cancer and not being able to even go see her due to the damn virus. I have been rejected by some people I thought were friends, even my own brother just because I did not praise him for the first time, I have seen dear friends suffer without being able to help them, I had a car accident, I had my dreams and hopes shattered in a million pieces again and again and I have hit my funny bone more times than I can remember!

But... I’m still here! I’m still moving forward! I have persevered! I have not given up! Exhausted? You bet your Louboutins I am, but I ain’t dead yet, bitches!! I can definitely take a punch, I know that now! And I know that perseverance is better than shoes! Better than any shoe! And that in the end it always gets rewarded because just the fact of having persevered is a great reward on its own! The bell just rang again for the n-th time, I’ve been hit more times than I can count but I’m still in the ring and I’m still standing! That’s something! And not merely standing, I’m once again seeing the bright side of things, I’m hopeful for the future and forever grateful for my amazing friends who stand by me through thick or thin! I even have a bunch of new projects in mind! See, the thing is... life is not easy for most of us and there will always be times we feel we just want to give it all up but... don’t! Just don’t! Persevere! Rise above the swamp, smile in the face of disaster and keep moving forward! In the end, it will all be well and if now things are not well, it’s not the end πŸ˜‰

Tuesday 2 June 2020

human touch...

What I have missed the most these last few months is the human touch... as a single woman, living on my own, I have relied for the better part of these last two years on my darling friends to fulfil my need for a hug, a pat in the back, for an “up top” even... and they have been always generous with me, knowing that it took me many years of growing (literally and figuratively) in order to learn not only to accept to be touched, let alone be hugged, but appreciate the actual healing powers of the human touch!

Too “new age-y” for your taste? Yeah... for mine too but, damn it,  it’s true! I have witnessed it first hand! I know what good can a hug do, I have felt it! And as someone who denied the existence of feelings for about two and a half decades of my life, (fun fact: I was just stuffing them in a box I kept locked... you can guess what happened when the lock broke from the inner pressure... was not fun), when I say “I have felt it”, you may rest assured that it was more real that the sun in the sky! I kid you not!

So yeah... the human touch... it’s been months now that I have been paddling along without it... it’s been lonely and difficult and it has made me realised, yet again, how great and necessary and important it is... definitely better than shoes, in every way!... And today I got some bad news... really bad news... it appears the universe is not yet tired of serving me one pile of s**t after the other but that’s a story for another time... when I got that text, I was with my darling M, the “little sister” I never had and have been blessed to find here... and when she heard the news she said “oh, sis... and I can’t even give you a hug” and she was devastated as she said it! Because you see, we met each other today for the first time after months and we were very carefully practicing the social distancing thingy as we should... and it was heartbreaking... that moment was heartbreaking for both of us...

So we must get out of this bloody situation we are in now! “We” as in “the world”! We have got to find a way to get to a state that we can hug a friend when they need it! We have to start shaking hands again! We have to stay in touch! Literally! Otherwise I see no future! For humanity, that is! So, please, pretty pleeeeease with bells on top, dear scientists, find a way, find a cure, find a vaccine that will allow us to be human again! And if there’s anyway I can help, just tell me! 

Thursday 23 April 2020

it’s the little things....

It’s been two weeks that I’m without any symptoms.... ooooops... I forgot the “previously, on Nina’s life” for those who don’t read this blog as often as they should (shame, shame... but do feel welcome and loved)... well, I’ve been sick with what looked dangerously like this bug that’s going around... the one that everyone is talking about... and I lived to tell the story 😊 I’m out of bed and into the kitchen/living room/office. Yep. At this point it’s difficult to know whether I work from home or live at work. My precious separation of personal vs professional life has gone out the window... even though I try to hide work stuff when I’m done working... But, ok, I have accepted 2020 as the year that’s going to teach a control freak like me to live, and strive might I add, without any control whatsoever over absolutely anything!

And, after more than a month of complete isolation and misery, yesterday I went to work! Meaning, I actually physically went to the building that houses my office! I absolutely needed to in order to be able to continue to work from home. And I did it. Every precaution taken. The skin on my hands is sore from washing and disinfecting them more often it can take and I maintained social distancing completely. That was not difficult, the place is a ghost town. The weather was fabulous, as fate would want it we are having (missing?...) the best spring I can  remember and just to get properly dressed and be out and drive and have a destination and a purpose, even if it was work, on a day like yesterday, was such a treat! I felt human again! I felt I was getting back my optimism (yes, even someone like me, loses it in times like these...). I felt... joy!! Pure joy!!

Now, it was not much, I know it. I’m not delusional. But I figured, if I don’t celebrate the little things and wait for the major blissful event to happen, I might be left with nothing... so, I choose to praise the little things, like going to the office for an afternoon on a sunny day during a pandemic that has isolated us from practically everything and everyone. I choose to see these little things as “better than shoes” and share with you. I hope you can agree on the merit and I hope you too can spot little things that give you joy and  celebrate them πŸ˜‰

Saturday 28 March 2020

social closeness...

I’m sick. I know, I know,  this is hardly the way to start a post in a blog that claims not to ever put out anything negative but, it’s true, I am sick and I thought I just say it and get it out of the way.

Now, I live in a country where testing for Covid-19 is... well... let’s say scarce. Looking at the list of symptoms this damn virus causes, from WHO, I would say that things don’t look exactly fabulous for me. However,  and this is the most important thing, my symptoms are mild! I’m not in danger. I have been, of course, in absolute isolation for almost ten days now (not that I was really out and about the weeks before that), I’m not coming into contact  with anyone, I’m staying in bed watching “The Blacklist” (yes, Red is my new crush... duh...), drinking a lot of fluids and monitoring my fever which thankfully stays low.

And as I live through this, certain that this too will pass, I’m thinking hard to find something positive to write about, in this whole... well... pile of excrement the world has ended into... and it’s hard, you know, it’s hard to find something positive in a time of a pandemic, social distancing, isolation, fear, sickness and death... even I, the pathological optimist, find it hard...

And then, my phone chimes! That’s it! I realise that in the last two weeks my phone has been on fire! WhatsApp has never been used so much, mostly sharing of hilarious videos with my friends because, surely, we can joke about everything (and we should, especially at a time like this) but also for my amazing friends to check up on me every few hours! Isn't this wonderful? Isn’t this “better than shoes”? You bet it is! It seems to me that the social distancing has brought us closer together! I’m on the phone with my loved ones 4-5 times a day, texting does literally not stop, I have contacted and been contacted by people I haven’t spoken with in a long time and, goodness, what a blessing this is! We are all housebound but we are not alone! We are all in this together! And we will stay together, while maintaining our physical distance, and we will come out on the other side! As long as we stay kind and we care about each other and for everyone, this stupid bug cannot win!

So, stay calm, stay kind, think of others (especially the ones living on their own), send a text (or ten...), keep in touch! This is it, people! It’s now that we are showing who we are! Let’s be proud of what we showed now when we look back at this time, later this summer, seated on a nice terrace, sipping a G&T with our buddies πŸ˜‰

Monday 16 March 2020

being kind...

This post is being written at a time when The Netherlands, my host country for almost two decades, is in a sort-of-lockdown due to the Coronavirus. It is written at a time when #staythefuckhome is trending everywhere in social media and has popped in front if my eyes at least 11 times this weekend... and, I did not like it. And it got me thinking. So, here goes.

Just to be clear, I’m all in favour of staying home. It’s absolutely imperative! It’s Monday and I’ve been home since Friday evening, when I came back from work with my laptop and files, ready to start working from home. Officially, I was not sent home. I was advised to work from home. And I’m doing it because it’s a damn good advise, although I have no desk or proper chair and I will be struggling with tiny screen on my kitchen table for the days to come. But it must be done and I’m doing it. And I will not be going to the supermarket, I’ll make do with what I have at home, a couple of weeks without fresh veggies will not kill me. And I will not be seeing my friends. I will be “seeing” my sofa and my companion will be Netflix.

But while I do all that, I’ll keep being kind! I will not be ordering anyone to f@cking do anything because it is exactly at times like this that we must maintain our civility to each other, advise and explain rather than succumb into fear mongering, contain our aggression which stems only from our anxiety and not allow our fear to turn us into rabid animals in our cages that fight each other via Facebook! The only thing we have to fear is fear itself and as intelligent beings we should start using our intelligence!

Yes, many of us will get sick. And some tragically will die but, for goodness sake, try to imagine yourselves in the 97% which will survive instead of the 3% which will die... you are not that special anyway and neither am I! Get some perspective! Some optimism never hurt anyone! And while you are being cautious and prudent and optimistic, strongly recommended given the circumstances, also try to be kind! Try to be compassionate and carrying and nice and helpful. Most of us, by far the most, will survive the virus... and we would like to go out for a drink with some friends to celebrate it! Let’s make sure we have friends left πŸ˜‰

Wednesday 4 March 2020


Yesterday was a day of revelation... As I’m slowly getting back to my work routine, after having spent the last three months recovering from a rather severe burnout and trying to reprogram my brain to set healthy boundaries (who am I kidding... we are talking a full reboot!), and also after having had a long conversation with a friend last week about matters of the heart, yesterday it actually came to me: the most important thing in a personal relationship, whether friendly or amorous, is feeling safe! Safe to be ourselves, safe to express what we feel and what we think without being afraid that that will lead to abandonment! Personal relationships should provide a safe space!

I have very often in my life felt unsafe in a relationship... in fact, since I was a kid, the thing I craved the most was safety... ironically, it is the one thing I have not found in my personal life with the exception (and it’s a big one!) of my wonderful friends! Who do indeed provide a safe space for me to be myself, to not sensor my thoughts, my actions, my words... because they know that it all comes from a good place, from love, from care, from honesty... Although... lately I have reconsidered a friendship precisely because it pushed me to the position of having to filter what I say, to avoid talking about things that worry me, that concern me, things that are part of my life... and it has not been easy because it is the first time that I have actually focused on how I feel in a relationship rather than how the other person would feel...

And this was instrumental in me reaching the conclusion that it is safety that is the most important thing in a relationship... often, especially in romantic relationships, because we feel so many other things (love, lust, longing, pleasure, fear...) we forget to ask ourselves the most important question: does this person make me feel safe? Because, what is the point in being in a relationship that makes us feel unsafe? One that does not come naturally, one that we have to constantly fight for, one we have to chase after and that we have to hide our true self? Isn’t it doomed to fail? I think it is! So, ask yourselves whether you feel safe in your relationships... the answer might surprise you but, me thinks, it is important! Feeling safe in a relationship is truly better than shoes!

Ps. Obvs, I’m talking about emotional safety... if you actually feel physically unsafe, run!!

Friday 21 February 2020


I never believed in the old saying about sticks and stones and words... I always thought that words are so powerful that they can break bones! Remember how Hannibal Lecter convinces his fellow inmate to kill himself just with words in “Silence of the lambs”?... ok, extreme and gross, my example, but you get my drift... Words can bring the ultimate joy or the abysmal sorrow, words can make us feel like we are flying over fields of green and skies of blue (just like in the song...) or like we are slowly crawling down a dark pit... words... have always affected my life perhaps even more than the actual events... I have been offered words that I think I will never forget, not even when I have forgotten my own name... good words... bad words, mostly... words that have left their mark on my soul... unspeakable words... beautiful words... cruel words...

So, when last Saturday I went to the theatre to see the definitive play about words and their power, “Cyrano de Bergerac”, I knew it would be... well, powerful!... what I did not know, was that I was going to be so overwhelmed with emotions, like an avalanche, all of them at once, the good the bad and... the ugly! Because, James McAvoy’s Cyrano, is ugly... he is ugly because he feels ugly... and the famous big nose, that is not there physically to see, is somehow more present than ever! And I shared his pain, I shared his love, I shared his desperation, I shared his shame, I shared his fear, I shared his joy at times, I shared his brief moments of feeling superior, smug even, followed by long periods of feeling the most unworthy man on the face of the Earth... I shared his secret, I shared his laughter and his tears... and I shared all that because... he shared his words with me!

He says “ I love words, that’s all...”... yes... me too! I love words too! I love them, I dread them, I cherish them, I believe them, I ignore them, I forget them ever so often (if I had a Euro for every time I forgot the word I was looking for in the language I wanted it in... I would buy more shoes, probably...). Words tell our stories, express our feelings, allow people to know who we are or hide us from them, comfort us and let us comfort the ones we love, protect us or expose us, make us laugh, make us cry, make us happy, make us miserable... they make us kind or monstrous... they make or break relationships, they start and end wars... words make us human...

Words are better than shoes... but, just like shoes, they need to be chosen and used wisely πŸ˜‰

Ps. Yes, the play was “better than shoes” too, of course, and yes, go see it if you still can! It’s unforgettable! 

Friday 24 January 2020

speaking up... better than shoes. Any day of the week.

I remembered the other day an incident from my childhood... I was 12 years old, year six of primary school, and for whatever reason we had a replacement teacher for a few days. He was young, much younger than our regular teacher who was also the school principal (and a pervert who put his dirty-old-man hairy hands all over us girls from year four to year six that he was our teacher... yeah... #metoo), and actually nice. But... one day, I don’t remember what he said but it was while we were having a conversation he and I, I exclaimed, rather indignant I might add, “what you are saying is unconstitutional and anti-democratic!”. Yep. Did I mention I was 12 at the time?...

I mean... I always had a big mouth... I was always very sensitive when it came to unfairness, abuse, violation of my rights, injustice... and I have not really changed, in spite of my mother’s pedagogical approach every time my reaction would be regarded from her as “talking back at her”... namely to beat the living lights out of me... No, I haven’t really changed... I still say exactly what is on my mind, I still argue my opinions, I still talk the talk (and walk the walk, if you are wondering...) and defend my rights and those of others who perhaps can’t... and yes, unsurprisingly, my big mouth has gotten me into trouble many a time and has put me in many a black list... but I have not regretted it! Not once! In fact, I have regretted not opening my mouth quite a few times!

We all, and especially we women, need to learn to be brave and speak up! We need to learn to defend ourselves, nobody else is going to do it for us. I mean, yes, I will (because I’m a modern day Robin Hood with much better shoes) but I cannot be there everywhere and for everyone! I would but I can’t! So you have to do it for yourselves! Speak up! Yes, it’s often scary, at least in the beginning, but you will get used to it! I promise you, you will get the hang of it, you will get good at it! Just... practice! And if it lands you in a black list (or two...), that’s ok too... only boring people are liked by everyone πŸ˜‰

Wednesday 15 January 2020

my new sweater... better than shoes! Better than Aquazzura’s “Tequila” pumps (google them... don’t expect everything from me, people!), we are not talking any shoes! It is better, because I made it!

After having knitted scarves for everyone I love in the last three months (yes!... for everyone I love and I’m blessed in loving quite a few people who are all kept warm and cosy now) I decided to take the next step. Of course, the idea had been simmering for some time; I had found and bought the perfect yarn, I had seen countless videos on YouTube for techniques I would be needing, I had turned the hanks of yarn to balls (yeah... that takes time too... but, it’s pleasant when you do it while watching TDS) and put them in pretty boxes... I was preparing! And then, I did it!

Yep! I actually knitted a whole sweater by myself! From start to finish! And it is gorgeous! The yarn is the softest merino wool from Peru, softer than cashmere, hand-dyed in the most magnificent shades of purple and aubergine and yellow and green and blue and pink and red, making it absolutely uniquely beautiful! Well... unique... duh! There is not a second one in the whole wide world! Literally, one of a kind! And it is mine and I made it! I don’t remember being so proud of myself  about anything in the last... oh... I don’t know... a very long time anyway! And I’m proud not just because I made it but because I saw it through! I set a goal (not my cup of tea...) to knit a sweater, and achieved it! I did not give up, I did not get scared (ok... truth be told, I did get scared when shaping the neckline but not enough to give up) and I finished it!

And... when I put it on for the first time... oh, the feeling of wearing such a beautiful piece of clothing totally created by me, was indescribable! It was definitely and absolutely better than shoes!!

Ps. So far, I have received only compliments from my besties who got pics of it... later today I’m wearing it in public πŸ˜‰

Saturday 11 January 2020

RuPaul Charles...

Of course, I always knew who he was... I mean, “Love Shack” and “Don’t go breaking my heart”... I’m a kid of the ‘80s... (ok, yes, technically the ‘70s)... that smile and those dance moves were hard to forget once you’ve seen them! And, in my teen years, RuPaul made it so natural and so easy for me to accept that we don’t all fit in little boxes and that is ok for a man to put on a dress and a wig and perform... especially when the performance was so full of joy and made me wanna get up and sing and dance!

But... I never knew “who” he was. Not until bestie S told me to watch his “Drag Race”. I binge-watched all ten seasons non-stop! It was around Christmas 2018, at the end of a year when I had lost my partner and best friend, my family, my dignity, my self-esteem... a year that broke my heart in a thousand pieces... but, episode after episode, it was the queens who got me out of my misery! Who made me wanna pick myself up and move on! Not because listening to their stories, heartbreaking and tough and cruel life stories at times, made me think that I had it easy... no... it was because no matter what, they picked themselves up and moved on! Because they were strong, fierce, full of love for life, full of talent and wit and kindness and truth and always ready to support each other even when they were competing against one another!

And that’s what real women are like! Regardless of what a patriarchic society wants us believing, no, we are not against one another, we are together, we stand up for each other, we shine brightly and we fight tirelessly every day! Like me and my girlfriends! Like the girls in “Drag Race”! And yes, it did take RuPaul and his “Drag Race” and all the queens to teach me that and I will always be grateful! Because it literally changed my life! And, yes, he’s right that we are all in drag and it’s ok as long as we know it...

It took me another year to write this... a year of struggle, exhaustion, sickness, loneliness and hard lessons... a year when ever so often I would find myself feeling so low that only watching “Drag Race” would put a smile on my face... but, another year that I survived! I guess, a “thank you” is long overdue... So, thank you RuPaul Charles! For your truth and smile and generosity and wisdom and joy of life! And your dance moves! From the bottom of my heart, thank you! Needless to say, having you in my life (yes, I have you, you don’t know it but I do) has been better than the best pair of shoes I could ever possibly possess!