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I’ll see you in Amsterdam

Sometimes we have to wait a long time to see those we love. When I moved back to the Netherlands that is what happend. I left my Spanish friends behind. Luckily we can catch planes and last week I met a dear friend in Amsterdam. So how was it?

First of all, I know that the Netherlands is a small country, but for Dutch people traveling from one side to the other feels long. My boyfriend and I took the train and it took us a whole two hours! Yes two hours to go from the east (I live almost in Germany) to the west. Ok, my friends had to travel three hours by the plane, so I won’t complain, but I did cross my country twice that day. Just saying.

Going to Amsterdam to me also feels like being a tourist on a day-trip, although I used to work there. What did we do as ‘tourists’ when we got there? You probably know all the stereotypical things about Amsterdam? Eating cheese, drinking coffee and shopping? Oh no, I meant the other more controversial things, even though what’s on your mind is not controversial in my capital city.

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So now imagine some Spanish and Dutchies in a boat on the canals of Amsterdam. Passing by cool boat houses and having a little picnic. What did my tourist friends bring? Some beers, some chips and some marijuana. I personally don’t smoke, but it was a funny sight to comply with the stereotypical tourist activity.

But what was the best part? To see my friends and especially my dear friend Amanda. It had been a year since I last saw her and a lot had happend. Of course we already knew the big things, but now it was time to share the details around the big things. She got engaged, so I wanted to know exactly how her boyfriend proposed and the wedding is going to look like. And I got to share the details of how I met my boyfriend. Just the typical girl-friends stuff.

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And what is the good thing about amazing friends? It literally doesn’t matter that a year has gone by and that you live on opposite sides of Europe, because when you’re together it’s like no time has past. It’s exactly the same as when we would meet every week opposed to meeting just once a year. And that we got to meet on little boat cruising the canals of Amsterdam made it all the more fun. Because let’s be honest who doesn’t have fun in Amsterdam?

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Never knew I needed

What makes you happier? Being in a relationship versus being single? I think this depends on your personal preferences. What I am sure of is that you first should understand what you need and what you deserve.

I guess for a long time I didn’t understand this. I didn’t get that I also deserved and could have unconditional love. Of course I knew this from my family and my friends, but I still didn’t fully get the picture. Perhaps it’s also due to the fact that I felt lost for a long time. I didn’t know what I wanted and needed.

Now that I do know this I believe I deserve this unconditional love. Having moved to different countries forced me to overcome difficulties, learning to be on my own and growing as a person. And I finally learned to love my self unconditionally.IMG_4768This might sound silly, but I think we often forget how important that is. If you accept yourself, your strengths and your flaws, you learn to value yourself. If you value yourself you don’t accept anything less from another person. You won’t allow someone else to continuously treat you poorly, because you know you deserve better.

It took me a while to understand what I was worth, to get to know me better and understand what I needed. I guess that is why I went from a not so good relationship to another not so good one. When I finally got it, hallelujah, and then I didn’t mind being single. Why? Well I rather be alone than be with someone that doesn’t make me happy. I could make myself perfectly happy. I felt loved by myself, by my family, friends and of course my dogs.

And that is when it happend. When I learned to be truly happy by myself I crossed paths with my boyfriend. We met years ago when I was on a holiday in the Netherlands, but it wasn’t until now that we went on a date. Just like years ago it instantly clicked and we never looked back. Sometimes I’m still surprised of how good he treats me and then I remember that now I believe I deserve that. Before I accepted the minimum, because I gave myself the bare minimum.

So I guess that is my point. It doesn’t matter what you prefer, being single or being in a relationship. The key point to remember is that you shouldn’t accept anything less than what you are worth and you deserve. It is then up to you to know your self-worth. To first know how to love yourself before you ask someone else to do so.

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Read me one more time

Ever since I was little I loved to read. I know some people prefer not to read more than the instructions on the back of a lasagna box, but reading can actually be good for you. Of course everyone can like or dislike what they want, but why could it benefit you?

So in school we’re forced to read a ton of things. Most of those books you probably didn’t like. Books about geography, math, biology, history and what more. There were also the books that were sometimes a free choice with simply stories. But what was the purpose?

Well in school the obvious point of reading was to learn. I guess that is where it begins. People either start to love or hate reading. I was one of those kids that loved to read and to learn for that matter. I didn’t like math books, but I loved stories about other worlds and other times. I remember being bored in primary school and finishing all my chores early, so I could read more books. You might think oh nerd-alert, but who cares, as long as you’re happy doing what you like.

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With a friend I would stroll around the library for hours. I picked out the biggest books, because I thought big books were cool. So even though we were not religious at home I picked up a huge bible for children only so people thought I could read big books. I must have been six, but my parents won’t let me forget about that story.

And why do I think reading is good for you? First of all you’re completely alone with your own thoughts. It’s one of the few activities that you’ll do completely by yourself. Sometimes a little ‘me-time’ can be really good. It can help you relax, get your thoughts together or get completely lost in ‘another world’.

Another benefit is the input of new knowledge. Whether it’s a fantasy book, a biography or romance novel. Usually there is a ‘problem’ in the story that needs to be solved and the main character usually evolves through the story. Following that story line can give you insights in your own life. It can help get perspective on your own problems. And before you know it, it can help you evolve too.

Lately I love to read books about how to live a conscious life. You know books about positivity, being grateful, being mindful and living in the here and now. Why do I choose those type of books? Well, because at times I actively want to search for books that can help me grow. When I seek for new ways to let go of stress, forget about negative thoughts and so what more I turn to those books.

So whatever you like to read, enjoy it. Whether it´s just the lasagna box instructions or ‘life’ instructions. Whether it’s just one page a day or a book per week, it really doesn’t matter. And if you really want to relax while reading I can recommend to get a cup of tea, a little blanket, a comfy couch and of course a good book.

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Don’t stress about it

I wish I could say I’m a stress-free person. Unfortunately I’m not. I try to be, but I don’t always succeed. Especially when it comes to emotional issues I experience stress. How can you turn that off? Or at least minimize it?

When you look at the situations that causes you stress, you often notice that in the end the freaking out wasn’t worth it. Why do we even experience stress? It is supposed to help us survive and make us take action when necessary. Many times however we stress about things that we can’t change, have no influence on or are situations that are better to be left alone.

For example constantly receiving messages and input on my phone is one of the things that gives me a stress reaction. I often ignore my phone, but secretly I still feel the need to check it every ten minutes when I’m expecting input. The other night I was so exhausted and tired from “discussions” on my phone, my boyfriend had a simple solution. Putting my phone on silent didn’t work, so he just turned it off. I must say it was a relieve.

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It might seem silly and quite a simple solution, but it worked. It gave a sense of rest not being able to see if there were new messages. And guess what? The next morning when I turned it on, I didn’t even have new messages! So one of the ways I’m going to create more rest is to turn my phone off more frequently, especially at night. Because in the end stressing about needing to respond is not worth it. Who really cares? It’s not like I’m going to save lives having my phone on. At least not in my case.

So in general I notice that the daily things that causes me stress are not important enough to stress about. Perhaps in that moment it seems important, but then I think ‘Is this important in a week from now? A month from now? A year?’. If the importance decreases the more time goes by you know it’s not worth freaking out about. In case you can’t even influence the situation then it’s definitely better to just let it go.

And even if it seems important on the short term or the long term, will the stress make it better? Or can you shorten the time that you feel stressed? It could be that for a short moment you encounter stress and it’s good because it makes you take action. After taking action however you should let it go. How can you do this?

I think it takes practice, but what can help is to write anything down that you need to remember. For example you can create a to do list and set reminders in your calendar. In between this time stop yourself every time you start worrying. Replace the habit of stressing with a healthier habit like going for a walk or reading a book.

And if you are stressed from too much input, then put a time limit until when you can receive new input. Whether this is from news, social media, your phone or something else. Set an alarm clock when you will shut yourself off from the world and take a moment for yourself. I know these are actions I’m going to make new habits of. I promise I’ll let you know if it works and I start feeling all ‘happy-go-lucky‘.

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Birthday Girl

For the longest time I loved my birthday. It was the one day of the year it could be all about me. All the other days I wouldn’t dare to expect all the attention all of the time. On my birthday however it was all about me. But can you still do that when you’re approaching 30?

My mom told me a story or actually she told me the story many times.. that when I turned 3 my birthday wasn’t going the way I wanted to. Imagine a bunch of adults sitting around a coffee table having adult conversations. I was 3 and apparently couldn’t jump into any of the adult talks. So what did I do? Well what could I do?

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I took control of the situation. It was my party. So I got up on a chair, clapped loudly in my hands and told everyone that now it was time to sing. My mom said she just laughed, because in her mind it meant I would stand up for myself and for what I needed. Now that isn’t always the case, but on my birthday it is.

So that’s when it was obvious I liked my birthday. And to be clear it’s not about getting presents and gifts. When I was younger of course I thought about that too, but that was never the point. What I like so much about my birthday is that the house is decorated, there is cake, I dress nicely and without shame I can ask all the attention, but only for one day. Perhaps having a limit to all the niceness makes it more fun, because you really have to enjoy it.

But here’s the twist. It might have seen childish or I don’t know what, that I like my own birthday so much. The other side to it is that I also love spoiling others on their birthdays. So I also like to decorate the house for someone else, bake a cake, give presents and do all those things that make it a real birthday.

And now my boyfriends family isn’t really used to celebrating birthdays, so he isn’t either. He says he doesn’t care about it that much. And even though his special day isn’t until the end of the year, trust me he’s going to love his birthday from now on.

There is a point though that it becomes less fun to see the number on your cake increasing. This year I turned 28, but of course everyone is rubbing it in my face that it means “almost 30”. So on one hand I feel shocked that I can’t believe how fast the past years have gone by. On the other hand I’m only 28 and grateful for every day I get to live and enjoy my life.

So even though it might seem silly, I will continue to celebrate my one day in the year as if I own it. All the other days I don’t need all the attention, I’m glad to make it about someone else, but my birthday is mine. My grandmother though gave birth to my aunt on her birthday. Imagine, she will always have to share it, but she did get the best present she ever could have wished for.

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Gym Time: back for more

Now you might think why go back to the gym? Yes, I’m still running at my slow turtle pace, but it was time for more. And how will I keep gym-motivated the second time around?

Well, I’m bringing a special person this time, my boyfriend. So, we will do it partly together and partly apart. Last Sunday was our first go at it. We did some weights and squats and I went off to do cardio. He went on with deadlifting. I honestly still don’t really understand what it means, but as long as he’s happy, I’m cool with it.

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And how did I feel after doing weights for the first time in months? I can tell you that how I move can’t be called walking anymore. It’s looks more like waddling. Colleagues even asked if I was ok, because it looked like I was in pain. And I was in pain! But.. the good kind. At least I know what I did is effecting my body.

So, now we need to keep going. My boyfriend said that I will need to kick his ass for at least the first two weeks. Apparently after that he will drag me to the gym. I guess we’ll have to see how it turns out. But since we’re committing to the gym together we can hold each other accountable.

Perhaps that is what we need sometimes. Someone that can motivate you when you’re feeling lazy or out of it. Someone to confront you with the promises you made to yourself. And someone to remind you of your goals. Of course you can have a heart to heart with the mirror, but you might not want to tell yourself to stop being a slacker. Therefore you should tell others about your goal so they can support you.

Another thing needed to reach your goal is a good plan. So the first step is to have a clear goal. Do you want to get fit or work on your endurance? Maybe even lose some weight? Be very specific in what you want to accomplish and even visualize it.

Once you have a clear goal the second step is to create your plan. How will you reach your goal? For example part of my plan is that I’m going running twice a week and going to the gym twice a week. Even better would be to pick specific days on when you want to do what. Write it in your calendar and you’ll feel more obliged to stick to your plans. But I’m still working on the details of my plan too. And remember to share your plan and goal with someone else.

Something that I personally find very important is to keep it all fun. Even though I make a plan and have a specific goal, it needs to be fun. That’s why exercising together on some days can make it more enjoyable. When I stop having fun at working out, my motivation dries out too. So whatever makes you laugh while doing squats, I would say, go for it. Enjoy!

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Sweet dreams

Do you have these lively, colorful dreams? Everything you processed during the day gets transmitted to your dreams? Well if you do it can be a blessing and a burden. At least it is in my case. So what do I experience after saying sweet dreams?

Sometimes I have these lovely stories displayed in my head. I wake up with a smile on my face and feel super rested. Often however it is the complete opposite. When opening my eyes I remember up to five different dreams which are many times nightmares instead and I’m exhausted.

You might wonder, why exhausted? Well it seems my brain doesn’t stop thinking. At some point in my dream I realize it is indeed a dream and my mind starts trying to change the situation. So after a night of either waking up from nightmares or from analyzing and changing dreams I feel tired. Really tired.

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And I’ve tried so many things to change this. First of all I don’t experience a lot of stress, which can be the cause of nightmares, but I have them anyway. Second, I don’t watch television right before sleeping which could be another cause. Also I don’t have trouble falling asleep, just sleeping quietly without my brain doing overtime.

So what do I do to somewhat improve the situation? And what can I recommend? Well, as I mentioned try not to watch television right before going to bed. In my case it is better to avoid any kind of input of new information. So no texting, calling or heavy conversations. Rather a walk with my dogs, having a tea (be careful it’s one that helps you sleep) or a relaxing shower.

Some kind of smells can help too. For example you can put a lavender plant in your bedroom. I tried that option as well, because I do find lavender to be relaxing. It is unfortunate though I’m not so good with plants. To be honest, I’m horrible with plants. I love them, but I just can’t keep them alive. So the ones in bedroom didn’t make it either.

Another option that could or should work is to do some yoga at night. You can use some meditation music while doing it to help you relax. This isn’t part of my night time routine yet, but maybe I can convince my boyfriend we have to start doing this.

In case you have the same troubles as I have, then perhaps these tips can help you too. I still need to find the ultimate solution to my lively dreams keeping me from having a proper night of rest. When I do find it and I have a perfect nighttime routine I will let you know. Until then you might find me falling asleep at any time of the day. Or I’ll just start having siestas again.