I am grateful for Flanders Fields. Tonight I went for a walk with my best friend Jolien and what started off to be a little stroll in the park behind our backyard, turned out to be walk for about an hour through the beautiful Fields that surround our neighborhoods. We had great conversations about forgiveness, relationships – especially long distance ones – and our future. Just two best friends enjoying time together against a gorgeous setting. I was so glad I had brought my camera, because nature decided to give us one of their best shows, as if we were being treated as a thank you for us spending time just wandering through those glorious Fields. We decided we are both lucky to have grown up where we did and to have been surrounded by all the beauty and joy of our environment. And every time I get to be at home for a while, those Flanders Fields just feel like a gift. One I will treasure forever, deep in my young smiling heart. And even though me experiencing those wonderful Flanders Fields have no obvious connection with World War One, there is just no way to disconnect it from each other. So with this I would like to bring tribute, yet again, to this beautiful contribution of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae:
- In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
- We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
- Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
I am grateful for Grilled Vegetables. They are a joy to watch and an absolute delight to devour. It’s so easy to prepare, that I feel I could have them everyday. I came home on Sunday and our entire house smelled like “Yummy!”. My mom had the biggest smile on her face when she stepped out of the way so I could take a look at the oven. The picture shows what I got to see: Red bell pepper, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, broccoli and fennel sprinkled with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. That simple, that luscious, that brilliant. Once she got the dish out of the oven and onto the table, we all jumped on it and feasted. What a joy to have a plate filled with Grilled Vegetables. And it’s obviously right-in-your-face-(or-should-I-say-mouth)-healthy! It’s as if vitamins were literally throwing a party right in front of my eyes! It made my heart and stomach smile. And what better way than to share it with the people you love. It’s definitely the only way to make Grilled Vegetables taste even better. Thank you, mom.
I am grateful for a Homemade Meal. It means so much to me. My mom has instilled this in me. She always wanted to make sure she could provide us with a fresh, healthy, Homemade Meal. We barely ever go pick up food somewhere. We sometimes go out to dinner – say like once a week – which she used to consider as her day off from cooking. But now I’m back home, I take over cooking, which gives her a great breather and a chance for her to enjoy dinner, without having to spend hours in the kitchen for it. And I absolutely love cooking, so it’s definitely a win-win situation. As I said it means so much to me to have a Homemade Meal, because I love the time you spend on it, knowing that you create something for the people you care about. Cooking is a great way to express your love to someone. The fact that it’s Homemade, makes that you know exactly what’s in it and that you can decide just how (un)healthy you want to make it. Like today, I went to the store and made up this dish. A turkey schnitzel (in my case obviously a soy one) on a bed of tagliatelle tossed with broccoli, onion and red bell pepper and all of this topped with some yummy ceps. Delicious! I love Homemade Meals. Love cooking them, love eating them. They just make me so happy!
I am grateful for the comfort of My Bed. I am actually sitting on it while I am writing this. I can’t believe to be back home after traveling for so long. Even though I’ll only be home for about two weeks, I know I’ll enjoy My Bed as much as possible. I can’t believe how great it feels. Not only because I haven’t slept in it for months, but mostly because I have been traveling back from Mexico since yesterday and my body is exhausted. So I will for sure value this wonderful first night back home. So now, without further ado: My Bed!
I am grateful for my little Mexican sister Alexia. She is such a joy to have around. She is always smiling, full of enthusiasm and could play a board game or watch a movie with me at any point in time. She is ready to ride a bike, play with the dog or play the piano whenever you feel like it. She is kind, caring and has a heart of gold. She is honest and says what she thinks, just like any child does. Even though she is only nine years old, she has the conscious and the knowledge which makes it seems like she is much older. I’m amazed when I hear her talk, how she thinks about life and how she is creating her own valuable opinions. Sometimes she jumps into conversations as any child would do, however sometimes she sits and listens attentively, only to blow us all away at the end when she shares her view on the conversation. I know that she will grow into a wonderful, lovely, intelligent young lady who knows where she wants to go and I know that she will get there. And I know that whenever she needs me, I will be there as her big Belgian brother to support her. I love you, Alexia.
I am grateful for my Mexican brother Aldo. He is an amazing young man. I am honestly proud to be his big brother. He is only eighteen years old and has so much potential. He is very mature for his age and extremely intelligent. I keep on being surprised that we only differ seven years, because when we spent time together, it feels as if he is one of my best friends of my own age. Even though I only met him three years ago – which is when I came to Mexico for the very first time – it feels as if we have known each other all of our lives. And even though we come from a different family, household, culture, continent… there is so much we have in common. We connect on so many different subjects and both have an open mind to learn about each others’ differences. I know that this relationship was not a coincidence and I am convinced that we will stay in contact for the rest of our lives. Wherever I might go on this planet and wherever he might end up, we will always be Aldo & Pedro Funes, brothers for life.
I am grateful for The Sun. Besides being the source of life, it is also often the source of my happiness. My day completely changes with or without sun. Everything seems different. The Sun has always meant a lot to me. Not only to me. Generations of cultures have worshipped it as the source of their existence or the highest force in their hierarchy of mythology. As a kid I absolutely loved learning about it and enjoyed comparing Greek with Roman and Egyptian mythology. There is so much to learn about it, because so many people have done research on it or talked about it. Anyway, bottom line is that I have always been fascinated by it. It even got to the point that I decided to tattoo one on my back. You see, the sun is more than just the source of life in general, for me it means the source of life of my mother. When she was diagnosed with cancer and her thyroid was taken out, she was completely dependent on medication. Even with all the radiation she was getting, the doctors were afraid that she wouldn’t be able to make it, that she would get too weak and that her entire hormone system would get out of balance. Before this happened to her, I never even knew about a thyroid and how important it is to our body. Neither did my mom. I guess I can say we learned about it the hard way. So now, for the rest of her life, my mom is dependent on all kinds of medication to keep her body running the way it is supposed to run. There is one exception though: The Sun. The Sun helps her feel better, helps her get a natural portion of Vitamin D, which gives her a lot of energy. This always caused this personal internal dichotomy for me: My mom is one of the hardest working people I know. She as well as my dad have always worked hard and in doing so inspired me to do the same. I realize now it has become one of my key values: Honesty, Passion and Hard Work. It is something I want to live my life by, but not in a forced way, it just comes very naturally. However, with my mom’s health it was crucial for her healing process to rest a lot and to spend a considerable amount of time in The Sun. Laying in The Sun obviously seems the complete opposite of working hard. Yet I know how important it is, how much value it has. The Sun is an incredible thing. And even though I know it is her body that’s creating that vitamin, it is still being instigated by The Sun, just like it instigates the growth of nature. It’s actually just a magnificent big ball of gas, still it’s nature’s work of art. I am impressed by it’s invisible beauty day after day. And one of my favorite things is to feel how it caresses my skin. I love the Sun. I am so grateful for it’s existence. Without it my existence wouldn’t be possible. Thank you.