In Cuba, family is family.

Photo by JF Martin on Unsplash

We got a call tonight from my husband’s middle daughter. Her mother, who lives on the other side of Havana from us, has been taken to hospital with stomach cramps and fainting. The next call was from his daughter’s stepdad, the man who moved in after my husband moved out. The hospital is not far from our neighborhood. The Covid curfew is in 2 hours. Hubby decided to borrow my bike and go see his ex.

She’s more than his ex, she’s part of his extended family, and part of mine now, too. Another ex-wife is mother to his first…


Sex and parenting..can they both be good?

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I didn’t get married until my late 40s and if I could live my life again, I’d marry in my 20s and have as much relationship sex as I could while I still had the energy and before our kid came along.

Single life sex was fun, unpredictable, on occasions a little outrageous, but often quite depressing and not always very good. Mostly, it wasn’t there. I yearned for a regular partner, a partner-in-crime, someone to share my bed on a nightly basis. But I also yearned for backpacking adventures, commitment-free flings, total independence, having to answer to no one…

I really think this is a question all women face at a certain age.

I had children late and had a lot of fun in my 20s and 30s. What you missed out on also is the constant worry if you would meet someone and eventually have children. The older I got, the stronger that worry become and it kind of dominated my thoughts, not leaving much space for other things.

Once your kids are old enough that you can go out in the world, you can explore everything it has to offer, safe in the knowledge that you have…

At least for us, as Cuba is moved to European ‘red’ travel lists.

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We are leaving Cuba tomorrow, and despite all the discussions and plans we have been making, my husband and I, I am just not ready. This has been my home for nearly 10 years, and I have loved it.

Two days ago we had to scramble to buy last-minute flights as Cuba just got moved to the UK’s red travel list, effective Monday. This is because cases are the highest they have ever been, despite the rollout of Cuba’s own vaccine.

Arriving in the UK after Monday would require my daughter and I to hotel quarantine at substantial cost, and…

And the joy of slowing down.

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Before becoming a Mum REALLY late in life (I am 50, my daughter is 3), I was running around being busy for as long as I can remember. Even when single and not a mother, I crammed as much as I could into every moment. I felt obliged to.

This life is short, I said, I have to squeeze it all in. I rarely relaxed or gave in to a desire for an afternoon nap, that kind of thing. If I felt tired, I used to think it was a sign I needed to work out and get some energy…

Diary excerpts from a narcissistic relationship.

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In your relationship, do you feel:

  • a lack of empathy?
  • a lack of emotional safety?
  • a lack of emotional reciprocity?

In the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), Narcissistic Personality Disorder is diagnosed when at least 5 of these 9 most common traits are present:

  • Having an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement.
  • Needing constant admiration.
  • Expecting special treatment.
  • Exaggerating achievements and talents.
  • Reacting negatively to criticism.
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about power, success, and beauty.
  • Taking advantage of others.
  • Inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
  • Behaving in an arrogant manner.

What I learned from my narcissistic ex

I dated a…

I love reading about these cultural differences! My husband is Cuban and I am British and there is a whole other set of differences to discuss, which you have inspired me to write. Thanks! Denmark sounds nice.

Gosh, I absolutely relate to this! I have the luxuy of a husband who cooks so at least I don't have to worry about that, AND I only have one small child, but still, finding time to THINK is the problem, as well as reading for ideas and focusing on my thoughts.

As I write, I am sat in the bathroom with my laptop, watching my 3-year-old as she plays in the bath, and occasionally murmuring, yes, the dinosaurs do need a shampoo, and please don't splash the floor, and don't drink the bath water!

This is further complicated by the fact that her mutterings are mainly in her dominant language Spanish, so then I respond in English but have to return my brain to return to writing in English.

Phew! And it's only 8pm :)

Best of luck, fellow momma!

Writing tips that don’t always work for Mums

Photo by Elena Mishlanova on Unsplash

Today I sat down early determined to write, but yet again I am faced with the same daily dilemma. I have a 3-year-old at home all day, my husband is out, kids are not allowed out still in Cuba due to Covid, and I can’t very well ignore her. Plus I love her too much. But I need to make this work.

As part of the procrastination, I decided to google writing tips, how to sit down and write, how to fit it into your day. To help me, I used the book Being a Writer, in which Travis Elborough…


Things aren’t great, but there’s always a rainbow ahead

Photo by Yerson Olivares on Unsplash

For years, I’ve been so passionate when talking about my adoptive country, Cuba. So much so, I led groups all over the island singing its praises and enjoying seeing many first-time travellers fall in love with the island.

Now that passion is running low, and frustration and tiredness has come in its place. While Covid numbers were lower here than many places in the world during 2020, the airports reopened in November and now we are seeing the highest ever infection rates — 1,500 a day in an island of nearly 12 million.

So much has happened in the last…

Julie van Maanen

Lifelong multi-lingual traveller, writer, learner, teacher. Raising my little girl in Cuba and Europe and cannot wait to show her the world.

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