Posts in the blog of Ramon Stoppelenburg

Valentine’s Day 2017

I am an individual.
And I take everything seriously. Except myself.
I cannot control how I am perceived, only how I am presented.
So I dance like everyone is watching and I don’t give a shit.
Without me, I’ve got nothing.
So when times get tough,
I choose downward dog over downward spiral.
I eat eggs and bacon in the morning, do push-ups before bed time, and ‘Look hot’ is always on my to-do list (right before ‘Go out into the world and kick some ass’).
I can get what I want.
But I can’t get it alone.
So I pull over to ask for directions. I never turn down a free lesson in anything, and when life gives me lemons, I find someone who wants lemons and sell them at a premium.
I am bullshit-intolerant, because lying only complicates everything.
I assume that assuming is a bad idea, and that trying to change people is not my job.
I am replaceable, but I bust up my ass to make sure it’s not so obvious. I never give up, I never give in, and when somebody makes me really angry, I do fifty pushups. (That will show ‘em).
While I know that most people don’t bite, I know the ones that do are usually worse off than me.
So I help strangers carry heavy things.
I never let anyone ruin my day and if I have time to judge someone, I’ll judge myself.
I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me.
So, I just do me,
one day at a time
and see what happens.

You Don’t Have to be Successful

Success is an obsession.

Many people want it more than anything else. And they’ll sacrifice everything to have it – which is often the cost of admission.

I know sport coaches who consider themselves the ultimate beast and they want to beat anybody in the region. They ask me if I will participate in the CrossFit Open (The CrossFit Games Open is the world’s premier test of fitness. Since 2011, the five-week five-workout online competition has accurately ranked the fitness of millions of competitors), and I’ll answer that I will participate at my local gym, but I don’t really care about my ranking with the world. I do CrossFit to keep my General Physical Preparedness “for anything in life”, not to become stronger, fitter, badasser – all the time. It’s Training, not a Sport. It keeps me fit, strong and happy in life.

I know business owners here in Phnom Penh who are having a daily struggle to come out as the best with their business, trying to beat the competition wherever they can. Seriously, every day!

I know local athletic runners, who love doing marathons (seriously, the full 42 km) every few months. They need to run three times a week and they need to “make better times” every time. Anything less than last week’s time on the track field is seen as a failure.

And then you are the beast. And then you are the most profitable business man. And you win all marathons.

You don’t have to.

I made that big, bold and italic and larger for a reason.

There is the problem. Sustaining success, and going beyond success is nearly impossible for most people. Hence Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, questions, “Why don’t successful people and organizations automatically become very successful?”

McKeown’s answer is succinct: Success is a catalyst for failure.

Being invisible is easy. When you make mistakes, you’re the only one who notices. Even being the underdog is easy. If you fail, you’re justified in doing so.

But when the spotlight is on you, everyone is waiting for you to fail. The external pressure often becomes too overpowering, smothering the values and vision it took to become successful in the first place.

Which is why success is often a short-lived experience. People come and go. Very few remain on top for long.

It is true in all domains of life. If you succeed in business, life doesn’t get easier. It gets harder.

This is where I throw in achievement.

The difference between success and achievement is subtle but crucial. Success is a subjective feeling about how you’re doing relative to why you’re doing it. Achievement is an objective measure about what you’ve actually done.

Yet, success is far more important than achievement. Indeed, you could have all the achievements in the world and not be successful.

You see this all the time, people who have many external indicators of success, yet inwardly, they are a wreck. They’ve lost their why, and thus, no longer remember the reason they are pursuing their goals in the first place.

What once was a genuine passion has now become a need for more external validation. An endless need to acquire and achieve more. Thus, rather than focusing on why, the focus becomes on what will work, and doing as much of that as possible, most likely at the expense of your values.

Interestingly, many successful entrepreneurs admit to being happier before they were “successful,” back when their motivations were congruent with their values. Achievement poisoned them, and their motivation changed.

If “success” is your primary objective, you probably won’t get it. Chasing success is like chasing happiness. You can’t pursue it directly. Both success and happiness ensue from something far more fundamental — who you are.

Don’t let your ego inflate and forget who you really are. This happened to me in the past year when I pursued dreams that didn’t come out in the end. I had to be better, faster and more successful – no matter what. If I had abandoned all my own values I would also loose the most important people in my life. And I almost lost them all.

With whatever you do in life. Don’t forget your “why.” That may be the hardest thing you do as you seek to improve your life.

I realized I am most happy when I do what I do because I enjoy it. I am compelled to create, experiment and improve, because that’s who I am.

My name is Ramon Stoppelenburg.
I break mold.
After a workout.
And before dinner.

A Telegram from 1974

Before Snapchat, Whatsapp, Messenger, before MSN and ICQ and way before Browsing, Email and Internet, people send Letters by postal mail.

If you were far away and had to leave an urgent message, you used a Telegram.

This is one from my father, sending love from Indonesia to my mum and my brother, in 1974.

Sunday Drawing

Every few weeks I head out to my local Drink & Draw session, at the top floor of Show Box bar in Phnom Penh. You get yourself a drink at the bar and head upstairs with your drawing materials.

There, a model (often a nude male or female from the Drink & Draw community itself) is available for an evening of drawing. Great therapy to clear the head and open the mind. More info here.

Bingo! Another tropical disease!

Living in the tropics is like… well, I don’t want to bore you with the clichés, but it’s wonderful. It’s charming, it’s relaxing (even though the traffic might not give you that sensation), it’s HOT, and you’ll always hear that the people are nice and the FOOD is great.

There are only a few things with life in the tropics that you have absolutely no control about. Read More

And then I suddenly had Typhoid Fever

My landlord came to visit to collect the money for my last month’s electricity bill. He asked me how my illness was going.
“Oh, very good,” I said while sweating abundantly.
“What was it again?” he asked.
“Typhoid. Typhoid fever.”
And with these words he took a few steps back. “Oh. That’s not fun. Not so good. You get better soon. You can also pay next month, no problem for me.” He already opened my door. “Hey, no problem. Good night.” And he was gone. Read More

A writer is simply a humble journalist reporting on things that happen in a world of fiction

I can only write well after a stormy night. Or when I have slept rather bad. Or if I’m just really under a certain pressure. I must then really defragment my entire head and all the spun webs in it and that is best done while writing.

Yeah, but what if you had a great sleep? And you wake up, slept in and all, and the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky? The newspapers report nothing special, the mailbox is shockingly empty (I had to check the day, it’s not a Sunday?) And the radio just plays normal pop songs. Read More

Everybody Needs a Life Line. And I Need One Too.

You probably once stumbled on my previous blog post, in which I wrote about waking up early to write.

Waking up early to write – so that meant 4.30am – ended up to be quite an effort. And to be honest with you, I managed to do it for about one month. The first week of this year, in which I allowed myself to finally start writing, were all about that early alarm. Interrupted by a necessary trip through neighboring Viet Nam, I continued with the scheme as soon as I got back home again.

And then I had to stop it.

I discovered two significant reasons to immediately stop with the early rising stuff. Firstly, my writing got out of control. I was writing that much that I lost the direction where I was supposed to go, characters got to do and say their own thing and it was hard to stay on track with the story.

And that track was missing. I have the initial idea for the novel in my head, but that did not seem to be enough as a base. What I was missing was The Outline. The life line for writing.

“Hey character, where are you going? That’s not where you are supposed to go. Here is a buoy. Let me pull you back.”

Yes, I was naive enough to think I could just start off with the story I had to tell.

Secondly, not only was I knackered at 11pm at night. I also became Mr Oh-I-really-need-a-nap, preferably at 5pm. If I could not have that nap of about one hour, I would become cranky. I was tired all evening. I wasn’t fun. I wasn’t exactly nice company for others either.

Of course it’s great to be able to talk with friends about my writing at the dining table and how cool it is to wake up early. But they saw it too: the tiredness in my eyes.

So BANG. There was the second reason. I want to stay socially human. I don’t have to wake that early to write.

What I needed the most was The Outline. Again, that safety net. That thin red line that should connect everything that will happen with which characters and at what time in a novel is totally unmissable. And with that awesome story in my head, even plotting down that necessary outline isn’t that easy.

But it will serve as a blue print. It has to be fixed from the beginning, otherwise I loose control – and I just learned that.

And what happens with the stuff that I did write that early?

Yes, that was quite a lot. About 15,000 words. But it ain’t all quality stuff and I think most of that material might not even enter the novel. Ever.

Perhaps in other words, though.

Date a Man Who Travels

Date a man who treasures experience over toys, a hand-woven bracelet over a Rolex. Date the man who scoffs when he hears the words, “vacation”, “all-inclusive”, or “resort”. Date a man who travels because he’s not blinded by a single goal but enlivened by many.

You might find him in an airport or at a book store browsing the travel guides – although he “only uses them for reference.” Read More

The Move & the Black Hole I discovered

What would I wish I had known when I first moved to Cambodia?

Well, the answer became my submission to the popular blog of Move To Cambodia (which is a great book too, by the way!).

When I decided to move to Cambodia for the obvious reasons of the tropical temperature, great food, fascinating, friendly people and less hard work for less necessary bucks, I didn’t know about the giant black hole I would fall into within the first few months. Read More

The Fascination of the First Post

So you click to see what that first post is about, hey? Well, true, it’s The Fascination for The First Post that got you here.

I guess you are interested in the beginning of the story. Where it all started on this website. And you expect the reason for its existence. And the explanation of the name HereIGoAgainOnMyOwn. Read More