Wolf with Goosebumps…

Practice what you preach is one of my main life goals. Although not always easy, I became very aware of it last week when I was present at an online meeting while not feeling well. A frolleague (well, also researcher, and also friend, we are – unfortunately – not working at the same university) called me after I informed her I was not on top of my game because I was not feeling well. She said this was not okay that I was present; I should have canceled. True that. Totally.

This weekend, I went to the movies with my children. I preach we should enjoy our free time with our children and so we went to see Wolfwalkers… A story with so many layers. And, of course, my oldest (autistic) daughter asked what I meant with ‘different layers.’

“Go row the boat
to safer grounds
But don’t you know
we’re stronger now
My heart still beats
and my skin still feels
My lungs still breathe,
my mind still fears”

I told her that to me it means that sometimes we need to go back to our passion and to who we really are and what we stand for, it can make us stronger. She replied: “well then, not getting that job last week might not be an issue; you can still be you and still write and research things you find important.” Yes, but it can still feel scary, I thought to myself. Being myself and pursuing my own goals might feel scary, but I can also feel empowered, especially with my family and friends who are still rooting for me. The past couple of weeks, I really felt how strong my family of wolves actually is. Not only my own family but also close friends and (former) colleagues. I am so happy about that. But I still wish to live up to their expectations…

“My ears can hear
and my mouth can speak
My spirit talks,
I know my soul believes”

The song of the movie speaks so loud. While my daughter comprehends English, she asks me to tell her what I think the lyrics are about. While we carefully listen to the song, in full sun and blistering heat (pun intended; reference to Noodle commercial which my son (my sun 😊 ) often relives), the goosebumps arise. I may start to think my soul might be strong enough…

Three years ago, on this same date of today, we lost our nephew, who just turned 10yo, in a tragic accident. I promised myself I would strive for similar life values and that I would really live them like he did. He lived his life aware of many ordinary and daily struggles but still enjoying life to its fullest, appreciating everyone for one’s own strengths, and disregard flaws. It was the light at every party but also every funeral; he was the one who adjusted himself to my brother-in-law with disabilities from the other part of the family, making a connection without noticing any disabilities. Two days ago, it would have been his 13th birthday; I ‘regret’ not celebrating his wonderful life and who he was. “Regret is not something you should wait with till you die; you should celebrate it now,” my daughter said.

So, back to what I stand for, I will try to enjoy every moment. There will be challenging and sad moments, but I will also celebrate every ‘small’ win. And although academia is hard and writing often does not make rich, it is where my heart is… A researcher to whom I really look up replied to a study proposal that it was “brilliant.” I am proud of that, and I do believe I can do this. In my way. While enjoying it. And fighting for my own values, because I do enjoy that too, you know.

My youngest son really wanted to have a Belgian flag at our house; neighbours do that to cheer for the European competition. My son says that people with this flag ‘vote’ for a certain country. While I find it somewhat cheesy and it also reminds me of losing my nephew, especially with him being also a big football fan, losing him during a similar competition, same flags all around during that horrible period of the accident, it hurts at the same time, but I can see the cheerfulness in this flag. I just hung one (which my son asked with a charming face to the cashier and got it for free). And also, the togetherness of football and Eurovision Song contest, I no longer say that I find it cheesy. I am actually happy that it brings people together and closer to each other. And also, how I perceive this grieve over my nephew after these three years… I miss you, sweet Mees, but it makes me happy saying your name and sharing with others how special you were. I will still try to live up to your example and warm heart, but silence is no longer my thing. To me, your personality stays around. With lots of love ❤

Song text: Aurora – Running with the wolves

How my daughter looked like after our conversation and singing the song (picture taken and shared with her approval):

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