You can’t grow if you are not honest. It is like you build a pyramid-shaped bubble around yourself to get to the summit of success, but…

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Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

You can’t grow if you are not honest. It is like you build a pyramid-shaped bubble around yourself to get to the summit of success, but the whole time there are marauders with shovels and picks working to dig out the treasures buried in your live tomb.

The pyramid is your false image, your lie of yourself, and meanwhile your authentic self is wrapped around head to toe in embalmed bandages meant to last to eternity. But what is at stake?

For one thing, where is your voice? You can’t speak if you are covered in bandages. What you can…

Finding a teachable writing moment in the somewhat worst of cases

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Photo by Fa Barboza on Unsplash

About five weeks ago I was diagnosed with a sciatica, that is severe shooting pain from lower back down through the right leg. Now I have just a bit of pain remaining but nothing that interferes with normal movement. Also, I’ve finally returned to my writing as for the first time with a setback, I wasn’t able to write through it. Here is my story.

I had never really experienced pain, or should I say didn’t remember it, as I’ve been in a life-threatening auto accident and kitchen fire accident as well. …

‘How can I know what I think until I see what I say,’ asked E.M. Forster famously.

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Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

When I was down on my luck years ago, I remember someone close telling me “believe in yourself.” This seems like an innocent enough piece of advice, but it only drew a startling attention to the fact that the “self” in question was in a state of disarray or ruin or even nowhere to be found let alone at the so-called core of my being waiting to be rediscovered.

What we know

In the same romantic vein, how can you write about what you know if what you know is determined by what you write. In other words, ideas are generated from writing…

Making stories that give perspective on the past and present

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

I haven’t always handled illness very well or at least that may be the opinion of others. Not a reference to my own illnesses, because I’m a survivor, but illnesses of loved ones. I don’t think anyone means that I’m not compassionate, because I am, but some may consider me a “runner” and I don’t mean pulling on sneaks and getting some exercise. I didn’t have any pets growing up so my first experience with illness and dying was with a parent. Somehow you were supposed to function while going through this trauma when not completely emotionally developed.

I knew…

The place of minestra in Italian American cuisine

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So what is endive? Endive or Cichorium endivia is a head of light to dark green, broad leaves. Everyone knows it as the somewhat less bitter tasting spinach or collard whose taste mellows with cooking. The raw texture is crunchy, and the leaves hold shape when cooked. A far cry from the smaller cone-like Belgian Endives which I’ve been told have been genetically modified in the Netherlands to reduce the bitterness for the sake of pleasing the consumer’s pallette. It is available year-round though in the Netherlands a portion of that year is in a green house. …

The meal was born in conflict centuries ago yet still joins so many today

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Photo by Pieter Brussen

As I wrote in my earlier blog, I normally buy endive twice a month and partly to make the Dutch Stamppot which goes back hundreds of years for its warm and filling ingredients. Furthermore, Stamppot “is considered the epitome of plain Dutch cuisine by many locals.”

It was predominantly enjoyed during the harvest months, when potatoes and other vegetables were in abundance and hungry farm workers could therefore be satisfied quickly, easily and of course, cheaply.”

Before arriving in the Netherlands, I actually knew of few…

Online group consults for a virtual collaborative project

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Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

An incredible professional experience of mine has come to a close. Last week I hosted the last webinar for my Business English Virtual Project at my Dutch university. The week before the students, mostly adult learners, had handed in their final deliverable, a video pitch on their social enterprise business idea. The purpose of the webinar was to reveal who had won the most votes for categories in a survey on the video pitch. The categories ranged from best introductory hook to most likely to be successful as a business idea.

The project lasted about two months and involved video…

Animal Anecdote

A bond that survived from America to Amsterdam

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Photo by Barbara L. Ciccarelli

My divorce years ago brought a number of things — many of them wonderful. Two of these things were Doug and Ben (though later we always said “Ben and Doug” melodically.) Doug was a black short hair, and Ben, a black and brown tabby. Doug came from a litter of a colleague, and Ben came a year later from an animal shelter.

I remember when the colleague walked into my office with a box full of black kittens. Living alone at the time, I couldn’t resist. …

How to make sharing the classroom work

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Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

It would be many years after my first team teaching experience that I would team teach again, and this time it was with the coordinator of two language related minors at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. The coordinator is an innovator, if for only reason that he is a firm believer in collaborative working and teaching. According to Beth McMurtrie in her 10 September 2020 Chronicle of Higher Education article,

“Whether it’s putting two faculty members together in a classroom, or simply asking them to design a curriculum together, having innovators work alongside less-experienced instructors is one direct way to…

Barbara L. Ciccarelli

Writer, Faculty, PhD, Lifelong Learner. For more articles, go to

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