My escape to Winter Wonderland

Family holidays can be a lot of fun. It can also mean a lot of chaos. Going skiing with mine was definitely both. But despite the chaos sometimes we need a little escape. Normally I would say to the summer sun, but this time it was to a snowy landscape. And how did it go?

Well it always starts with a long road trip. Ok for some of you it might not seem long, but including the traffic jams it took us about 13 hours to go from the Netherlands to Austria. Remember that for Dutch people this is super long, because we can cross our country about 4 times within that time frame. Maybe even more. But the ride also has its charm. At least on the way going there it does. On the way back I’m just tired and want to be home asap.


During this “very” long ride we had to stop several times. Obviously to get gas, but also to feed the babies and my nephews. Remember my brother and sister are only 7 months old? So now you can imagine where the chaos starts. But they’re also very cute and getting cuter every day. After everyone, except the children, had their shot of coffee we continued the journey.

When finally arriving in Austria, this is where many Dutch people go skiing, we were offered their specialty. Obstler. A fruity shot of alcohol. It’s quite strong and not really my cup of tea, but traditions right? Ok, I won’t fool you, I politely passed this time. And almost every time before that time. Maybe next time I’ll make up for it. Or not.. we’ll see.

And then the next day the snow fun starts. It might seem unbelievable, but my partner in crime skiing was my grandfather. My grandfather who’s turning 80 next week! And he’s still skiing amazingly! He’s also an expert in the beer drinking part during our breaks. My favorite however is the hot chocolate with whipped cream. And of course enjoying the winter sun.

For my nephew, who’s 4 years old, it was the first time taking skiing lessons and that was not his cup of tea. He cried every day in class, the poor thing, even though he said he also liked it. When I tried to teach him my skills he said the class was more fun. I don’t know if that means I’m a horrible teacher or he just wanted an excuse to quite skiing. But he killed it at his competition, well he tried. He actually crashed into a rubber pole, but came in third anyhow and even got a medal.

So how was skiing with the family? Or any holiday? Like I said and you might imagine a lot of people talking at the same time, eating too much, some drinking too much, laughing, arguing and having fun. So yes it was good, but I do need a break now recovering from my snowy break with them.


Ready for take off?

How do you prepare for a trip? Because there’s nothing better than going on a vacation right? Knowing that you can spend an amount of days doing whatever you want with whoever you want? But before taking off a little preparation is usually needed.

I’d love to say I’m one of those people who’s super prepared for any vacation. But unfortunately I’m not. Or perhaps it’s not unfortunate, because I don’t stress about it either. When I left for Spain, and I’m talking about me moving to Spain, I didn’t even think of buying a dictionary. Ok maybe that would’ve been helpful, but in the end I just bought it upon arrival. So no worries there.


Some of my friends and family are really good at planning trips. To be more specific the planning of packing for a trip. I’m lucky if I think of doing my laundry on time so I can bring my favorite clothes. But my beloved friends and family make whole ‘to do’ lists and a ‘what to pack’ lists. I sometimes do that, but usually when all the packing is almost done and I just want to check if I have the most important items.

And what do I do when I forgot something? Oh well yeah, then I’ll sort it out once I realize I forgot it. The strange thing is that packing my purse for work is way more important to me than packing a suitcase. And I never need all the extra things I put in that purse. Now that I mention it, that is something to think about. Maybe I’m just way more relaxed when I have my time off. Perhaps it’s a good idea to go on more holidays.

So anyway, I feel there are two groups of people when it comes to preparing for a vacation. There are people who prepare on time, make the ‘to do’ lists, get a schedule and have everything up and running a week before leaving. And then there are the ones who do it last minute, who seem to not have a care in the world and might even be considered lazy.  So which one is better? Being ready for take off way before actually taking off or packing your suitcase while heading out?

Now would it be helpful to find a compromise in planning and not planning the things you need? I think that when you start stressing over something that is supposed to be relaxing, you took a wrong turn. On the other hand sometimes it might be more efficient and in the end relaxing if you finish your packing a bit earlier. Because what I didn’t admit in the beginning is that I’m usually still packing until the night before I leave. I then don’t sleep enough and start my holidays a bit tired. Or very tired. Oh well, at least I’ll have a week or so to sleep in and relax.


A helping hand

Doesn’t it feel good to help someone? Even though sometimes or often it might seem like a big effort. At times it might even seem that there’s nothing in it for you. But that’s also not the point, right?

When I was about sixteen I would pass through a senior home a lot. The senior home had a shortcut to go from the supermarket to my home. It was like a little alley but then right through the home. One day passing through I saw this elderly lady sitting in her wheelchair. She was just sitting there in the aisle to the left of the alley, in front of the apartments. She wasn’t moving forward and it was an odd place to take a break.

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So I glanced at her and kept walking, but then I felt bad. What if she couldn’t move forward on her own? Or if she simply had trouble doing it? So I made a wish. “Please let someone come and help her.” While I took another step towards the door I realized something. There was someone there to help the woman. I was there.

I could’ve easily gone home and let my sixteen year old brain forget about her, but it wasn’t right. If I was already there and this woman needed help, why shouldn’t I at least offer it? Sometimes I feel I might butt in too much, but if someone doesn’t want my help they can just say no. But that didn’t happen here, the elderly woman gladly accepted my help.

I helped her to get to her apartment and she asked if I could visit more often. That one action was the beginning of a two year friendship. We would go for walks, do groceries and drink hot chocolate in the cafeteria. Of course this was with a side of gossip about the other residents. It was a good thing they all couldn’t hear so well, because she didn’t hold back.

We would meet up almost every week until she passed away. I never thought that particular day when I was sixteen was the start of something so nice. Now I still try to help when a situation presents itself, even though I realize my help is not always wanted. And what’s in it for me? Well like I said, that is not the point. But if I have to choose something, then it’s the satisfaction that you can brighten someone’s day, even if it’s just a little.


Will you teach me a lesson?

Do you agree that in life it is all about moving forward? Taking the next step and climbing a bit higher every day? But what does it mean to be successful in life? Perhaps it is simply about being the best version of you.

How do you keep on moving forward? I believe it is by learning new things. I remember being in primary school and teachers wisely told me that life was like a school. You were never going to stop learning and I thought ‘yeah I will’. I didn’t want to spend my life learning new things all the time. When I was done with school, I was going to be done with learning. And even though I was a good student, I didn’t like school at all.


Now I believe the complete opposite. I actually think that the most important lessons in life are not taught in school. They are the bad boyfriends, mean friends, friendly neighbors and trusting bosses. The lessons are all the experiences you face every day again and again. The good ones and the bad ones. The plain days are just giving you a break to catch your breath. So try to enjoy those too.

I actually think that the best relationships with partners, friends and family are with the ones who can teach you to be better. I’m not talking about the people who literately need to tell you ‘be better’  and ‘grow up’, even though sometimes we need that too. But I am referring to the people who can show you or make you want to be better. And the last but definitely not least person who needs to teach you every day is you.

Some tips on how you can teach yourself? Well by being able to honestly look at yourself in the mirror every day. Be smarter than you were planning to. Travel the world, read books, watch videos, listen to stories and take all the pieces that can help you to improve yourself and become the best version of you.

If a look at myself from for example four years ago, then I’m happy I’m not her anymore. Of course I’m still her, but a newer version. I’ve fallen, made mistakes, felt broken a few times and then I got up, my scars healed and I climbed higher. And guess what? It all helped to made me so much happier. So I’m even happy I had to fall a few times to learn the lessons I needed. Who knows where we’ll be in another four years?


Don’t be so emotional

Sometimes I feel like a sponge and no not the ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ kind, but the emotional absorbing kind. I mean that it feels as if you’re absorbing everything around you. All the good, all the bad. The happiness makes you feel lighter and the sadness brings you down. The energy of people passing by, touching your energy and changing it.

Remember when Simba’s father Mufasa was killed by his uncle Scar? Or perhaps you saw a cute video of a puppy and it touched your heart. It could also be that you passed an elderly couple holding hands. Did it make you tear up too? Or am I the weird one and way too emotional?

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Because that is what happens to me. I don’t think I’ve been any other way. Even though I try not to show my emotions, especially not during movies, I feel it all. When I was four and we went to see the Lion King, seeing Mufasa die broke my heart. At that moment I wasn’t good at hiding my emotions. So apparently I got up in the middle of the theater and cried quite loud that I didn’t like what just happend. Don’t worry, now I’ll just say it in my head. I won’t disturb your movie time.

But the same goes for seeing a friend happy or upset. When my best friends cry, you can bet on it that I’ll cry too. On the other hand their happiness will work contagious too. Now I understand what is happening, but when I was fourteen I didn’t have a clue. I remember visiting a friend who was quite sad and I would come home feeling down not knowing why.

So what can you do? Well in case you recognize yourself in my story, because perhaps you’re just thinking that I should be stronger. But the thing is I learned that knowing when to let your feelings out is being strong. You don’t need to be sobbing all day long, although if you do the contrary and smile all day, nobody will complain.

Getting back to my point of what you can do. First of all accept whatever you’re feeling. Whether it happens all the time or just occasionally. Accept that you’re happy, sad, angry, anxious or ecstatic. Ask yourself why you’re feeling that way and in case it’s a negative emotion, then let it go. Focussing on it will make it worse. Surround yourself in the mean time with positive people and choose to absorb only the happiness.

It’s important that you don’t let other people tell you that you’re too emotional. That it’s not ok to cry once in a while or that it’s weird if you’re smiling all the time. Your emotions can be your strength too. Probably you’re very empathetic and you can feel it when others need your support. There’s no such thing as being too emotional. It’s just about knowing how to use those emotions and when to let them out. So cry if you want to and sing a happy tune when you feel like it. Because there’s only one person who can feel what you feel, and that’s you.


Retail therapy: myth or miracle?

Have you ever tried it? We’ve all heard the tales of retail therapy, but does it really work? And if it does for how long? It is supposed to bring you up when you’re feeling down. The wonder being in that buying a new dress will make you happy. So does it?

The wonderland of shopping was introduced to me at a very young age. Being a toddler in a stroller I would just fall asleep, but that soon changed. Because soon I would ask my mom if we could go to the city center and buy pretty things, that was with a huge smile on my face. We never bought expensive things, but even something small could make me happy.


As I turned older and got to adolescence the shopping sprees became a frequent activity, My “necessity” to shop grew bigger. It was shop till you drop all the way. And it wasn’t because I was in an actual need of clothes or shoes or bags for that matter. I just “needed” it for when I was down. But the funny thing is with shopping when you’re down, it is like any typical “drug” or “medicine” it only treats the symptoms, not the source.

So what happend after shopping? Well for a short moment you have lovely new items hanging in your closet. After a while when you look at that brown purse you bought, you only remember the reason why you bought it. I was down because I failed an exam and those shoes, because I had a fight with a friend. In the end it made me more sad than it would make me happy. That wasn’t the deal of retail therapy, right? Well maybe it is, since its not really therapy.

Whatever you choose to bring you up when you’re down, if you’re not focused on the source of the unhappiness it’ll never work. If you have a drink to cheer you up and you have a few too many, you wake up with a hangover and you’re still unhappy. And if you eat cake, cookies and ice cream to fill a hole, you will gain weight but still have that hole inside you.

It comes down to this. If you do anything for the wrong reasons it won’t work. And why? Well first of all you’re not working on the real issue and second you’re doing it out of a negative emotion. If you let negative emotions lead you, it will only bring you more negativity. If you eat a piece of cake, because you’re happy and you enjoy it, then you can relive that moment and enjoy it again and again.

So do I still like to go shopping? For sure! But now for the right reasons. Now when I’m sad I’ll work on why I’m feeling that way and I no longer try to mask it with spending money. But when I’m happy and I have some free time I love to splurge a bit. Obviously my mom is still my partner in crime. The last time we went we even had some cake too. And I can tell you it was lovely, because it still makes me smile today.


Are you feeling lost?

What to do when you’re feeling out of place? When you don’t know what to do next? Well probably the best thing to do is stand still. Just stop for a moment and think. And what should you do then?

We’ve all been there at some point. Everything is going as planned, but yet something is off. You don’t know what is missing, but something definitely is. My grandfather used to tell me that when you’re for example in a forest and you’re lost, stop running. Don’t run around in circles like a fool. Just wait a minute and look around.

Where are you exactly? Do you recognize something? Then choose a path, one path, and keep going straight forward. At some point you will get out of the dense forest. Well, my grandfather was counting on a Dutch, not so big forest, but still, keep on going long enough and it will work anywhere.


I remember when I was about twelve years old I went with my mom for a weekend to the Dutch coast. One morning I decided I would go for a run through the sandy dunes. I guess that was my first attempt at running. Smart as I was, I started running without checking where I was going and where I came from. So soon after I left, I realized I had know clue where I was. I was completely lost in the middle of the dunes. At that time almost nobody had a cellphone, so calling my mom wasn’t an option.

Then I remembered what my grandfather said and I stopped running. After looking around I suddenly saw the church tower, which was somewhat close to our hotel. I ran in the direction of the church and found the hotel soon after, which I wouldn’t have found if I didn’t stop running first.

Another thing that might work is to take some distance. This could be a literal distance or just mentally take distance from a situation. When you feel lost and you stay focused on the fact that you’re lost, you’re not going to find your way. Why? You’re focused on the problem, on the consequence of something that is missing. So better to focus on what you do have, who you are and then on what you need. Taking a few days off your life and taking a trip can help too, because a different environment can give you a new perspective.

Just imagine you can stand at a high point and look at your feelings of unease from up high. You’ll probably realize that the problem isn’t as big from up there. It seems smaller because it’s not suffocating you when you step away. When you’re able to see the bigger picture you can find out what you need. You can solve the maze in your head. If you can look at a city from a higher point you can see all its beauty and its flaws. And it works exactly the same for any issue you might face. When you understand what it is you need you can make a map on how to find it. Like you can make a map of the city.

So remember how lost you might feel the first thing to do is…nothing. Just stop and breath. Look at where you are and what you have. Write it all down if that works for you. And ask for help if you need it. Focus on everything that makes you happy, so you can find what doesn’t. Then the last thing to do is getting out of your own created maze. And your gps on your phone isn’t going to help you here, but your intuition will.


Celebrate your differences

Ever wanted to change those weird little things about yourself? Well don’t wish to change those anymore. We often forget that what makes us unique are exactly those corky characteristics. So instead celebrate your differences. Be happy that there’s only one you.

I’m not only talking about that you have a beauty mark somewhere on your face. Or a hair color some will envy and others admire. I’m also talking about who you are on the inside. Of course we all want to change for the better, but don’t let someone tell you you’re not good enough just the way you are. The details of who you are, make you you.


Some might find my love for dogs strange. Or think it’s odd that I often laugh the hardest at my own jokes. And I’ve been told they’re not so funny. Of course I totally disagree with that. And perhaps someone might find it peculiar some of my dreams actually come true. Another might laugh too knowing that open water can scare me even though I love to swim. Do I care? Not really no. Because I wouldn’t change those characteristics about me for a thing.

So what can you do? Love everything about yourself. Love the fact that you’re the odd on out. And also don’t worry if someone criticizes you for always being late. That’s just you, well except for work. Always be on time for work. Apart from that thank someone for pointing it out and tell them you’re just a relaxed person and not bound by time. Perhaps a bit cheesy, but who cares.


It also works the other way around. Would you like to be around people who are all exactly the same? That they all want the same thing, drink the same, eat the same, laugh the same way? It’s one type fits all? I don’t think so. So instead of getting annoyed when someones talks a lot. Participate in the conversation or just leave them be and go your way.

And how do I celebrate my differences? By simply enjoying myself and not worrying if someone else doesn’t like it. If we focus on ourselves a bit more instead of others we would be a lot happier. So if you’re hair doesn’t do want you want, like always, don’t mind it. Your hair just always looks a bit wild, that’s you.


Social Media: Friend or Foe?

Apparently many of us feel insecure because of social media. We compare ourselves to the strangers we see on Instagram, Youtube or Facebook. But why do those pictures make us feel insecure? Why not motivated and inspired instead?

We all have our insecurities and that’s probably quite normal. That we compare ourselves with others is probably in our nature too. However it shouldn’t be something that makes us insecure. And we should actually just stop doing it all together. Unless that difference you see, inspires you to make a positive change too.


Now you see many women and men all over social media promoting a healthy lifestyle and being fit. Wether you’re into working out or not, why feel bad if someone else does it? It might be because then you need to be honest with yourself. Secretly you want to get fit too and those pictures remind you that you’re not. Why not simply think that you’re not there “yet”. You can set your goals and work on them too. It does mean you need to face your fears and be truthful to yourself.

What I see when I look at pictures of fit people? I feel inspired and think that if they can do it, then so can I. Working out and eating healthy is something you control and you definitely can achieve. It’s just an example, but my point is that it’s a waste of time and energy to look at it negatively.

I’ve also heard people complain seeing others traveling all over the world and thinking their life is so boring in comparison. Well what are you going to do about it? It’s the same problem as with the fit people but coated differently. Don’t hate something because of envy. Don’t judge because secretly you wish you could be like that too. Make the pictures you see your source of inspiration.

Whatever you want to achieve the first step is to accept where you’re at. Accept that you’re not there yet, but you can get there. After that you set your goal and you make a plan how to achieve it. You want to travel? Start saving and get a piggy bank. Every penny counts. How do those world travelers on Instagram do it? Perhaps they can help. You want to get fit? Get inspiration from people who walked the same path. Ask advice, they’ve been there too.

Anything that you encounter on social media can be used two ways. You either hate on people, envy them and hope they fail or you can admire them, ask advice and get inspired. It’s your choice. Just think which path will bring you more joy, happiness and positivity. I know which one I’m walking on. And remember that the only one stopping you from reaching your goals is you.


You’ve got mail

Remember the time when we sent actual handwritten mail? I miss those times. Don’t you? Seeing the envelope and guessing who’s handwriting it is? Or even better writing a letter to someone you miss and knowing it makes them happy. Wouldn’t it be fun to start doing this again?

During the holidays many people still send “real” cards, but that’s about it. Depending on the country and culture you might receive some birthday cards as well. Yet those are often not handwritten either, but made online and then sent by regular mail. I like those cards and it’s so easy to do. No need for an envelope, stamp and going to the mailbox. Still it doesn’t compare to an original and authentic written card.


When I was living in Canada the internet wasn’t that fast. Also Facebook didn’t really “exist” in the Netherlands yet, although we did have a Dutch version. Of course I had the option of sending emails and I did, but I also had a stack of stationery. I’ve written many long letters to my friends and family. And the best part? When they would send me a letter back. My grandparents used to sent me some Dutch candy once in a while too. That was a real sweet message, although I don’t think you would like this Dutch licorice.

Living in Spain I didn’t sent letters anymore or received them. Cards I religiously sent and received as well. After a while I did switch to use the online card-system. And why? Well my mail got “lost” too many times. It was also a lot faster using a Dutch company to mail post to my Dutch loved ones. On top of that the choice of cards was limited in Spain, so maybe it’s also a cultural thing? Since in the Netherlands you can find them at any street corner and in Canada there were aisles of Hallmark cards.

But whatever excuse I can think of, sending cards through an online company is simply a lot easier. We’re always in a hurry and don’t have time or take the time to sit down and write. That’s probably the real issue here. We want everything quick and ready to go. Even though the quality of slow and steady might be a lot better. I might not be completely objective though, since I like to write and not everyone does. But I do think everyone loves it when someone sends them a personalized card or letter.

So maybe that will be my New Years resolution. I want to start sending more handwritten cards and letters. Not because there is a special reason, but for the sake of bringing (hopefully) a smile to someone’s face. That moment of joy when you realize that someone took the effort to dedicate a message to you. Because sometimes it’s better to send a positive message and not expect an immediate answer, like we’re so used to nowadays.


Can we start over again?

With the end of the year approaching people usually start talking about what they want different for the next year. All the things they didn’t do and all the places they couldn’t see. But what about the things you did do? Perhaps that matters even more.

When I think about everything that happend in 2017 I almost can’t believe that all happend in the same year. I’ll give you a very short summary. If not this will become a book and not just a blog. Maybe I can add writing a book to my list of things to do for 2018.


So, what did happen? Well, there were a lot of changes. As you probably already know, I moved from Spain to the Netherlands. I even moved back to my hometown to be close to my family and friends. That meant getting a new job and a new home. I also started running, which was my biggest fear for a long time. After a few months I called it quits on the gym, but I’m still running.

And in between all the changes I also got to enjoy some holidays. My mom and I went to the Italy and had a little road trip there. I also went back to Spain to visit my friends and in the beginning of this year I went skiing with my grandparents in Austria. I guess I can’t say I didn’t go anywhere this year.

Looking back at the past year would I change anything? Probably not, not even the messy parts. Sometimes it’s scary to start something new, because we don’t know how it will end. On the other hand that’s the beauty of it. We shouldn’t know all the details yet, because life is in the details.

Are there things I wish I could’ve done and didn’t do? Oh so many things! But it’s never too late. We’ ll have a new year soon and therefore a symbolically new beginning. Even though I believe that every day can be your new beginning. You don’t need to wait a whole year to make a change.

So while we are approaching the new year I’m excited and a bit anxious. One of my best friends just had a baby and she will have her first year as a mommy. My other best friend is getting married and will have her first year as a wife. And what will I do? I don’t know. I have no clue. Don’t think I’ll be moving to another country again, but who knows! No mom, don’t get scared, I really won’t. At least I don’t think so.

What I do hope for the next year is that I’ll keep on growing as a person. I can see a huge change from last year until now. I’m a lot stronger, also physically and that’s probably because of the running. But how do you keep on growing? Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Keep trying new things and making new adventures. But remember as I said before, life is in the details. So don’t forget to enjoy every bit of it.


Don’t give up

Sometimes it feels it would be easier to just give up. Save yourself the trouble. Take the easy road for once. Wouldn’t that be nice? But on the other hand where would that take you?

Naturally I’m not someone who gives up. Better said I’m the kid in gym class that wouldn’t give up until my fingers bled. Well almost, my hands were a bit torn. It was a trick in the rings that I managed to do once. Then I wanted to show my teacher and I couldn’t do it anymore, but I wouldn’t stop. So in the end my teacher told me to stop. My willingness to try was enough.


Now you might think like ‘oh but you were a kid’. No, this happened when I was about fifteen. But believe me as a child I was exactly the same and I still am. I do think now that part of not giving up is knowing when to stop. Knowing when to take a new route and leave the old one behind. Because when going left isn’t working, you can try to take a right.

But why do we give up? I think that many times it’s simply easier to do so. Trying is scary. Trying over and over again is scarier. Going after what you want and keep on going is scary as hell. And why? Because what if you fail? What if after all the efforts you made, you still fail? Well, then you tried and for sure you learned from it. And if it’s something you truly desire, perhaps you can still achieve it, but in a slightly different form than you anticipated.

Giving up might feel easy, but in the end it takes you nowhere. You stay in your safe zone and you outgrow yourself, but you can’t grow any further. There’s no space in your safe zone. You need to take a road that you don’t know yet. Take another step and see where it leads you. I’ve said this before but for me the decision to go back to the Netherlands was the scariest one ever. I felt stuck where I was, but it was comfortable too. I knew what I could expect, although I wasn’t happy.

At a certain point you have two choices. You either stay where you are or you try something new. Either way you can’t give up. Not on life, not on yourself, not on your dreams. Whatever you feel you want to achieve you can do it. The results might not be exactly what you planned them to be, but it will happen and it can happen. There is a special ingredient necessary however. Believe. You need to believe in yourself and don’t give up.

As long as you can look at yourself in the mirror. Look yourself in the eye and say you did all you could do. That you truly did your best. You just don’t know what to do now? Well then you sleep on it. Perhaps even three nights and if you still want to keep on going, then you’ll find a way. A new way and most likely a better way.


Why won’t you be a dear?

So this is something that is on my mind a lot. Can we be nicer for one another? Like could you be a dear and hold the door? Or just don’t complain so much and be bothered by everything another person does? Just let it go..

What I’ve noticed from living in Canada, Spain and the Netherlands is that kindness is expressed differently in all places. On the other side kindness is universal and speaks one language. To me kindness also means letting other people live their lives. For example you don’t complain and are not bothered immediately if your neighbor plays loud music once.


How did I experience kindness in these three countries? Well I must admit the rumor about the Canadians is true. They are indeed very kind and easygoing people. No stress about pointless topics. My Spanish friends don’t stress easily either. If it’s not done today, it will be tomorrow. A social talk with a stranger is common and getting up for an elderly person in the bus as well. Complaining isn’t expressed directly there, although the police can be called if you throw a loud party. Trust me, that just happend to my friends and me once.

And even though I’m Dutch I was surprised to see how many people complain immediately about useless things back home. I guess you notice the differences better after being away for a long time. I learned that it’s better to just let it go. If you want to point out everything that is wrong, you’re finger is going to get tired from all the pointing. And I’m sure this happens in all countries and cultures in some way. Don’t be scared now, us Dutchies are very nice people too.

Perhaps it’s naive, but sometimes I feel that we forget we’re in this together. We share this world, our home, with each other. And what is needed when you live together? Comprises. Be nice, don’t worry too much and accept that everyone is unique. The way you think might not be exactly as how somebody else thinks. Both can be right. It’s just another point of view and not worth getting angry about.


What I do find difficult is how to deal with the negativity, since I simply don’t understand it. If you had two ways of looking through a window and there was an unwashed side and a washed side. Which side would you use? I think complaining works contagiously and I think being kind also works contagiously. So the choice is yours.

Something else to consider is we must think of how we want to be and see ourselves. Do you want to be the person who’s cranky all of the time? Or the one who never wants to help someone? And the key point here is to be honest with yourself. When you look into the mirror what do you see? Every day you can choose how you want to be. When you do, well why don´t choose to be a dear and hold the door. And if you can’t do that, then maybe you can be a deer instead.


On to the next phase

Do you know the feeling? When you realize you and your friends are moving on to the next phase. It’s no longer partying in the club every weekend, but it’s talks about weddings and babies. Suddenly you notice that not just your life, but also your friends lives are changing. What will this mean for your friendships and for yourself?

So I guess this usually starts when you’re in your mid/late-twenties. I remember thinking for a long time that I wanted to start a family as soon as possible. That was until my nephew was born. Don’t be mistaken I adore my nephew, but when I saw him for the first time I realized that I wasn’t ready for that kind of responsibility. I was twenty-three so there was no rush for me to start either.


I don’t know what happens when you turn twenty-five, but out of nowhere everyone around you is having babies. Ok, some of my friends who started having families were a bit older than me, but still it makes you think. When also my father was having babies again it really made me feel I was falling behind. Then again I travelled, lived in several countries and speak multiple languages, still no rush. I’m ok.

It’s when your best friends are moving on to the next phase of their lives that you will change too. You’re preparing a babyshower and the talks are about which baby clothes will  look good, no longer which dress to go out in. Of course that can still happen too, but the change is also kind of beautiful. And you suddenly feel like such a grown up. Baby talk, who would’ve guess that five years ago?! Now one of my best friends is almost ready to have her first baby and I can’t wait to become an aunty. I also can’t wait to see how our friendship will evolve having this new miracle added in the middle.

One of my other best friends is getting married next year. Another exciting event I can’t wait for to happen. We already went dress shopping and I’m sure she will look amazing and will be a very beautiful bride. I’ve never been a bridesmaid, but now I will be. We already had a meeting with my friend the bride and the other bridesmaid. No longer talks about nights in the club, but talks about the bride maids dress and the bachelorette party. So that phase will be ended with a sparkling boom.


And what about me? Well I’m not getting married yet and not having a baby either. I do have two dogs who are like children to me. Does that count? Well to me it does, so I guess that’s all that matters. I’m getting tired of the question though when I’ll have babies. So please don’t ask me that again. Just because I’m twenty-seven and a woman doesn’t mean I want to answer to that question all of the time. If you do ask me, I might just answer that I have two sons. Yes they’re adopted and a bit hairy, but who cares?

It is a nice feeling though that everything is falling in to place. My friends are settling down and I’m back in the Netherlands, so I can witness it all up close. And I’m so happy that my friends are happy and that we’ve grown from teenagers into real mature adults. I can’t wait to see what happens when the babies are growing up and another phase will start. First we need to turn thirty though. Another milestone that deserves a celebration.


How I suddenly had two dogs

It’s no secret that I love dogs. Adopting a dog however is a big responsibility. You can’t think lightly of it, because some might agree dogs are almost like “children”. About a year ago I thought I was ready and Igor came into my life. Two months later I bumped into another one. Now what do I do?

When I got Igor he was a bit scared at first, which is normal when your life is turned upside down. He was ten months old and was in a “foster” home with another dog and eight cats. Suddenly it was just him and me. Luckily after bonding for one night, he started loving me. Ok he didn’t tell me out loud, but I could see it in his eyes. And actions speak louder than words. He also wanted to cuddle, which I took as a sign.


Igor and I got our own routine and he also made a friend Gordo (my friends dog). We would go for walks on the beach, in the forest and Igor loved to sit on my lap while watching a movie. I must say Igor wasn’t the bravest dog. He looks adorable, but according to some seems a bit like a softy. He did make dog-friends easily. We had a good thing going on..

One day after work I took Igor out for a walk. At that moment it was about 4 pm and I didn’t have lunch yet, so I was getting a bit “hangry”. You know when you’re hungry and it makes you moody. We were strolling in the park behind my house and Igor started playing with a dog. The dog seemed nice, but I noticed there was no collar. Unfortunately stray dogs aren’t uncommon in Spain, so I started looking around for an owner. I must’ve asked everyone there including a homeless man if the dog was theirs.

The stray dog was running around and almost got hit by bicycles and cars. After that he curled up in a corner and was falling a sleep. Well he tried to stay awake, but you know when you don’t want to sleep but your head gets too heavy? That’s what was happening to him. I decided I couldn’t leave him there. I had to check if he was lost or alone or both.

Trying to catch him by myself wasn’t a success and I started crying out of frustration. Yes I really cried, but remember I was already hangry. I called a friend to please help me. He did and we caught the dog. The vet was closed due to the siesta, so we went home with Igor and the dog. He had to have a name, even it was just for a few hours. Since he was kind of blond my friend and I named him Rubio, which means blond in Spanish.


Rubio seemed to feel at home immediately. He was sweet and cuddly and finally got some sleep. After the siesta we went to the vet and it turned out three times really is a charm. I was the third person to take him to the vet and the third person to be told he wasn’t chipped. The two people before me decided to let hem wander on the streets again, but I couldn’t do that. I did try to find his owner for a while or a new owner, since I was scared two dogs was too much in a small apartment. In the end it was clear. Rubio belonged with me and with Igor. He wasn’t going anywhere.

In the beginning Igor wasn’t so charmed by having our new member added to our little family. He looked at me like “what the hell did you do to me”. They got along fine, but as I mentioned before Igor was a softy and Rubio definitely wasn’t. My little stray was a strong and a bit dominant dog. So Igor had to learn to be stronger too. Quite soon they found their way and Igor even defended Rubio when he was attacked one day.


Since I suddenly had two dogs in my small apartment I started thinking about going back to the Netherlands. I knew my hometown would be more dog-friendly. So that’s what happend.. I flew the dogs to the Netherlands and I can’t imagine my life without either one of them. People actually ask me frequently if they’re brothers. What I tell them? Of course they are brothers, but then adopted ones.


Do you appreciate what you have?

You probably know the famous quotes about appreciating what you have. Well, I agree and that is why I try to do exactly that. I am talking about quotes like ‘Appreciate what you have before it turns into something you had’. And how do I do that?

Well consciously thinking about appreciating what you have is also scary. Why? Now it makes me think about losing what I have all the time too. It might sound familiar or weird, but I am constantly scared to lose the people I care about. And that’s something else you need to learn to deal with.


My grandmother is eighty-five years old and she is awesome, but she was also under the weather lately. She had the weirdest pains and no doctor figured out what she had. Finally two weeks later they found out she had tears in her bones in her back. Quite a shock and apparently due to arthrosis. I know my grandmother doesn’t have the eternal life and that she is quite of age, but still.. she is my grandmother. And whomever it is, you never want to lose someone you love.

Growing up I remember my mom telling me that she wished she would’ve had more time with her grandparents. Her saying that got stuck in my mind and drove me to do things in a different way. Well, maybe a precautionary way. I figured that I should enjoy my loved ones, such as my grandparents, as much as possible. In this way I could never think ‘I should’ve spent more time with them’ or ‘I wish I told them that I loved them more’.

My family and friends might think I’m naturally a hugger or just crazy about telling them I love them, all the time. But honestly it is also because I’m scared and I want to appreciate the time I have with them. So yes, I hug them a lot, maybe up to the point that it gets annoying. I know guys, sorry about that, but I can’t help myself.

You might wonder how did I live so far apart from my family for years? Missing them was the hardest part, but since I have a great connection with them, I could do it. I talked to my parents, grandparents and friends all the time. I also tried to go back home every three to four months. Plus my family and my best friends also came to see me regularly.


Someone once told me in Spain that I couldn’t be close to my family if I was living so far away. What?! No way, because I am close them I knew they would support me no matter what. And with the technology nowadays it is so much easier to stay in touch. I must admit though that it feels a lot better living in the same city again. Now I can just hop on my bicycle and go visit anyone I want.

What I’ve also learned from spending years apart from family, is that I appreciate them even more. Better said I appreciate the time I’m with them more. I enjoy the fact that I can spontaneously decide to go for a coffee with my mom, visit my father, go to the movies with my cousin or have a chat with my aunt.

So in case you’re not sure if you appreciate the people around you enough, you can do what I did. Just to warn you, don’t take it to an extreme. So, I like I did. Now I have to learn not to be stressing out about not having enough time with them. Wether it’s your family or friends that you want to spend time with, enjoy it to the fullest. Because you never know what happens next. Do what you think is right and live with a heart filled with love. And for the sake of it, I’ll just keep on giving extra hugs.


Surprise, Surprise

Who doesn’t love a good surprise? I certainly do, but sometimes a little preparation would be good. Imagine walking in on an amazing party. Organized just for you, but you’re completely underdressed.. that would be a bummer.. right? Well, that didn’t happen to me, but some surprises do need a little processing.

Since I was a little girl I loved unexpected trips, gifts and visits. I also liked doing little things for my friends and family. Just a little ‘surprise’ to make them happy. My mom though was a hard one to surprise. She always figured everything out. So, for mothers day one year I decided to give her a plant. But I had to hide it from her, so I stuck it underneath my bed. You might guess what happend.. My mom obviously knew about the plant and the poor thing didn’t survive.


Those little surprises or acts of kindness don’t need a whole lot of processing. They just give you instant joy. But some unexpected events do need a bit more time to grasp. Imagine for example that you are twenty-six years old and have an older brother. Becoming an aunt or uncle is something you can expect, right? So that part already happend in my case. What I didn’t expect was the next news..

It was New Years Eve and about to become 2017. I was sitting at home in my apartment in Spain. Are you already wondering what’s happening next? I got a call from my father and he said: ‘I have to tell you something.’ First I got scared. Please don’t let it be bad news. Then I realized that nobody would give bad news on New Years Eve. I think I was quiet for a few seconds after hearing what followed. ‘You’re going to be a big sister.’ Say what? ‘ Oh and there’s more.’ There’s more? What do you mean there’s more? Twins?

So, I definitely didn’t see that one coming. On my wish list or ‘expected to be happening-list’ for 2017 wasn’t becoming a big sister. I mean killing a plant accidentally was an easier surprise to process. I must admit that I was a bit shocked at first hearing about the twins. After dealing with that for a second, I was thrilled. Babies are such a joy and I’d never been a big sister. My baby brother and sister are a handful, literally, but still a very happy surprise. And if you’re wondering how it is biologically possible. Yes we share the same father, not the same mother.


I do think I will keep it to the small surprises for now. Any big and to me ‘unexpected’ events can wait until next year. The little things can keep on coming. This week for example I had an amazing surprise in my mailbox. My favorite flowers, little pink roses, were sent to me. That present made me smile for the whole night. It still does actually. At work I got to surprise someone too with a goodbye-cake I made. And the giving part makes me smile just as much.

What I’ve learned from all of this? Most surprises are good surprises. Sometimes you just need a bit more time to understand it all. And when you do, you can feel the happiness. In the meantime I’ll enjoy all those little thoughtful gestures happening around me. I will also dress real nice, every day. You know, just in case, somebody does throw me a surprise party.


Feeling like a butterfly?

Do you sometimes feel like you’re hopping from one thing to another? There is no time to rest, because you’re moving on to the next thing? Being in a botanical garden last week reminded me of that feeling. You know when you feel like a butterfly?

I think that most of us probably at some point have the feeling that life is passing by. Well not just passing, racing by. You want to do so many things and there is so little time. When I was little my mom often told me that it seemed I wanted to live ten lives instead of one.


I think that most of us probably at some point have the feeling that life is passing by. Well not just passing, racing by. You want to do so many things and there is so little time. As a child my mom often told me that it seemed I wanted to live ten lives instead of one.

And it might be true. I liked doing many things and having many hobbies. I mean, I don’t want to waste my time, right? But since I couldn’t do literally everything at the same time, my mom had to slow me down. I was a natural butterfly and needed to learn to be a snail at times.. Well maybe not a snail..anyway I needed to learn to take it slow sometimes. One thing had a time.

Sometimes it’s also about making choices and sometimes about being overly excited. When I was six I was in a dancing class, but I also wanted to be a ballerina, go horseback riding, play the piano and.. oh I wanted to be a writer too. You might guess it, but my parents didn’t allow me to take on everything. So, I sticked with the dancing class and a few years later I switched to a new hobby and when I was fifteen I finally went horseback riding. There is a time for everything, but not all at the same time.


How does this compare to a butterfly? Well, these wonderful creatures don’t rest. I guess since they don’t live that long, they don’t want to stop. It was actually hard to capture them on camera properly. And it reminded me of what a teacher once told me..that I had to choose and focus on how I wanted to approach my writing. I was too much of a butterfly.

That advice stuck and now I try to apply it to all aspects of my life. Wait and wonder and don’t fly on to the next thing right away. Of course my mom has also tried to make that clear to me for years. Sometimes you need to hear it from a stranger to actually listen. And I still need to stop myself at times. To take a moment and rest and not run around filling my day with all the things I want to do.

So that is also why I try not to plan too much in my free time. I want to do so many things like see my family, meet my friends, go running, walk my dogs and watch a movie. And now I try to not be such a butterfly every day. It’s also too exhausting. Some days it’s ok if I run around and do everything on my daily bucket list. Other days I just want to relax and do tops one activity.


I still love butterflies and I admire how they freely fly around filling their days. But I also think it’s ok to not worry about your life racing by. Since we don’t have time to do everything, we should enjoy the things we do even more. You know the famous quotes like ‘Live in the moment’ and ‘Be present’ and I add one more ‘Don’t worry about what you can’t do, be happy with what you are doing.’  Being free like a butterfly also means being free of time. Don’t let time trap you and make you feel anxious about it. At least that’s what I’m trying to do. 


Don´t worry, be happy

Anyone else who overthinks almost everything? Maybe not consciously but unconsciously overthinks things? You might not guess it, but yeah me too! I try not to overanalyze everything, but even in my sleep my mind won’t stop. So how can you deal with this in a sane way?

Since I was a little child I would worry about intense topics. It probably started when I was around five years old and I thought I could save the world from all its miseries. When I realized a few years later that I couldn’t do that on my own, I was devastated. Actually devastated. I remember crying realizing that just me wouldn’t do the trick. So yeah, I guess it’s in my nature to worry more than the average person should.


In some ways worrying can also be a good thing. For example I always brought a second pair of gym clothes to school. I mean, what if my gym clothes would suddenly break or tear and I wouldn’t have anything to wear during gym class? A normal person might think, well then you skip gym class. An insanely overthinking type of person like me, always carried extra gym clothes. They actually came in handy and were used most of the classes. Well, not by me. Usually by a classmate who forgot their own clothes.

Over the years I did learn to relax a bit more and not worry so much. Carrying heavy handbags were actually starting to hurt my shoulder. Cause the bigger the bag the more stuff I would carry. You know, the stuff you might need, just in case.. In my handbag I learned to narrow it down to the highly essential objects. All the other things, like extra clothes or even shoes, should be left at home. No more extra weight. Because apart of the actual weight, the thinking of everything started to be a burden that was weighing on me mentally.

It was time for some yoga and meditation. No more worrying about what if this or that goes wrong. In the end what could really happen? What if it goes wrong? There is always a solution, nothing you can’t handle. Definitely nothing that could have been ‘saved’ by something in my handbag. You might laugh, but the yoga really did help. The breathing in and breathing out has some use to it. Even the dogs seemed to like my meditation pillow. I imagine total relaxation is what all minds need at times.


It also helped to be strict with myself. Whenever I started to worry about something useless I stopped myself. Like actually say ‘stop’ to yourself. It might seem ridiculous, but whatever does the trick, right? And if you do that often enough, suddenly you notice you don’t worry about those silly things anymore. You don’t need an extra pair of shoes, sweater, scarf, gym clothes or whatever in your bag. Also you don’t need to check if the lights are out ten times before leaving the house. Or if you really closed the bedroom window.

The last hurdle to tackle is to not worry in my sleep. In my sleep? Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean. During your sleep you dream to process everything that happens during the day. Well, I learned a lot of people don’t remember their dreams or don’t dream at all. I dream every night and up to five dreams a night. During college I would actually solve issues I was studying for in my dream. I would wake up with the answer that I needed for a paper or a test I had to take. Sounds exhausting.. I know.. it was useful, but exhausting.

So now I try to use my yoga and meditation also before going to sleep. I haven’t found the key answer for the dreaming issue yet, but one step at a time. At least I tackled the continuously worrying throughout the day problem. And I must say, I am a lot happier and I literally feel a lot lighter without the overthinking things. Because a wise man once said: ‘Don’t worry, be happy’. I’ll just try to follow that philosophy.


When you have a bad week…

So what can you do? I think we’ve all been there. At times you have a bad day and at worse times a bad week. When this happens to me I have a plan in place. It’s time for the ‘recovery plan’. And it includes three main ingredients.

Now you might think.. what’s a ‘recovery plan’? Is this girl crazy? Let me explain. It’s my own personalized plan to get out of that bad funk I’m in. What about these three ingredients? Well here they are:

  1. Me-time: I need some time to pamper myself, relax, think, analyze, exercise and chill on the couch.
  2. Family: this one was difficult living far away, but now that I have my family close, this one is the best. Just some time to be surrounded by the people who love you no matter what.
  3. Friends: and last but definitely not least I need my friends. My friends are the best to give me perspective and when we’re done with that, they make me laugh. 

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And what happened last time I had a bad week? On the first day I had a huge discussion with someone I cared about and I saw no way how to solve it. On the second day, after sleeping quite decent and that’s actually exceptional for me, I had a slower start. When getting my bicycle I started putting the lock on.. instead of getting the bike out of the shed.. I know not a huge shocker, but I’m a morning person and it just indicates how my mind was not there.

On the third day the discussion continued and it was clear that there was no happy outcome. It was solved, but not the way I hoped. Luckily ingredient number two came to the rescue, my mom. I came home to some beautiful flowers left on my kitchen table with a note from my mom. That softened the blow just a bit.

Sometimes it might be hard to get out of bed when you’re feeling low and on the fourth day even my dogs were affected. Ok, my doggy Igor was affected and yes he’s always lazy, but on this day I had to convince him to go for a walk. His laziness did help me, cause it definitely made me laugh how he was struggling to get out of bed. Usually during a ‘bad’ week going to work is also the last thing on your mind. However the friendly barista at the office helped me once again with a positive start of my day. The extra cookie I got, added just the bit of sweetness I craved for.


I think the main point to remember when you’re down is that there are good things happening too. Sometimes it’s harder to notice them or you need an extra dose of goodness, but it is there. That’s why I have my ‘recovery plan’ in place. During my bad moments I need some extra tender, love and care. And when I’m feeling on top I can give some extra to someone else in need. That’s how we can all work together and maybe make things just a bit less sour.


My kind of time

How has living in Spain changed me? I often get that question after explaining I spent there four and a half years. Well, the most noticeable change is how I deal with time. This phrase probably sounds familiar ‘Mañana, mañana’, which literally means ‘tomorrow tomorrow’. And what does that actually mean?

Well in other words ‘mañana mañana’ means ‘I’ll see whenever I feel like doing that’. Another typical ‘rule’  in Spain is also that it’s ok to arrive late. Of course this is stereotyping, but I must say I live up to the stereotype.

I used to be great at planning my free time. Better said, I loved planning my free time. There was always something to do and I was always on time. Very Dutch of me.. That all changed when I arrived in Spain. You might wonder why? Well, because one needs to adapt itself to a new situation. And no, not everyone in Spain arrives late, but my friends definitely did.


So what happened in the beginning? I arrived on time and at the agreed location. Twenty minutes later I was still standing there, waiting. And how much I liked planning my free time, I hated waiting. Five minutes was acceptable, but ten minutes got annoying, imagine twenty. I had one simple solution, arrive late myself. I must tell you, that was the perfect solution. From then on I arrived between ten and fifteen minutes late and sometimes I still had to wait for my friends.

After being ‘fully’ adapted to the Spanish lifestyle I decided to go back to the Netherlands. This caused a new problem. I arrived late, for everything, well except for work of course. And trust me, Dutch people don’t like waiting and they’re always on time. Hmm.. that sounds familiar. Wasn’t I like that before?

I realized I had to think of a new solution for the new me. I just got so used to saying ‘Yeah, sure I’m on my way’ which actually meant ‘I’m almost done and I’ll leave in about ten minutes’. I knew that I wasn’t going to make my Dutch friends and family happy arriving late all the time. Even though I think they secretly count on it.. But since I don’t want to be mean I have to fool myself. I’ll tell myself I’m meeting whoever about fifteen minutes earlier than I actually will. Unfortunately that doesn’t always work, because I’ll suddenly need ten minutes more to get ready. No clue what for actually.


But what do I prefer? Being on time and possibly waiting or arriving late? For sure, the last one and why? Because being in a hurry to arrive on time stresses me out. It always has and I’m pretty sure it always will. It is a hard nut to crack actually, because if I’m running really late, I’ll still stress out. I don’t want other people to be waiting for me either, that would be selfish. I guess that as long as I stay within my acceptable fifteen minutes late, it’s ok. It’s my own buffer zone. And that little trick I learned from my friends in Spain.

Of course for the really important appointments I’ll be on time. I’m even wearing a watch again and I try to follow my agenda. But just in case, count on me arriving a bit late. I, on the other hand will do my best to be punctual. Perhaps after spending four and half years in the Netherlands again, I’ll be like the old me.. I wouldn’t hold my breath though, what if I need more time?


Keep on running..!

Ever wanted to be like those active people.. who can run as if it’s no effort at all? Well, I definitely didn’t think I could be like that. I might still not actually. At first I wasn’t sure if I really hated running or if I convinced myself I physically couldn’t. So, I decided I would give it a go and try.

You might wonder now.. why would you do that? I wasn’t sure at first, but let’s start at the beginning. A few months ago I decided it was time to get in shape and hit the gym. Before making this decision I was sure I could do that all by myself at home. I was going to watch some ‘Billy’s Bootcamp’ videos and get in shape, just like that. Actually, those videos really work. When I was motivated and disciplined enough to use them a few years back, it did work. I don’t know if got a bit lazier now or if I needed more social contact, but I definitely wasn’t motivated now.


So, it was time for the gym. My coach at the gym gave me a whole workout schedule that I could easily follow. My active lifestyle had begun. I was hitting the gym about three times a week, but it wasn’t enough. Next to the exercises with weights, I had to start doing cardio. At first it was Zumba class and then I switched over to my greatest fear. The treadmill. I only liked to power walk on the treadmill. Outside I only liked to power walk too. And that´s what I did, power walking all the way.

However.. you might guess this, but I still wasn’t happy with the results. Another factor that contributed to my dissatisfaction is that I felt I was neglecting my dogs. I know, it might be overreacting, but I didn’t like leaving them alone so much. I thought maybe more power walking outside then? When I told my boyfriend about this, he just laughed at me. Apparently running was more effective. Ah no, really? I have to run? That was my reaction to that. But what did I have to lose? Apart from the weight that I wasn’t losing.

It was time to face my fears, for real this time. I started running.. on the treadmill. To my surprise it was so much easier than I remembered. I can run? That’s not possible or is it? After a little while I could run 10 minutes at a time. What an accomplishment right. This had to be tested outside, with my dogs of course.

So, one day I put on my sporting gear and got my dogs ready. Obviously I had to give them a little pep-talk first. After all this would be a first for them too. Not the running part, but the running with me part. They seemed a bit surprised, but then it was me who was surprised. I liked it! Never thought I would see the day that I would like running. And again it was so much easier than I thought it would be. I guess prepping in the gym for a few months did help.


And now I am one of those people who can run. Ok, I will not exaggerate. At the moment I can run 3,5 kilometers. Please don’t laugh, this is huge for me. But, since I won’t stop, I will keep on improving. Hopefully soon it will 5 kilometers, then 7 and who knows where I’ll end up. I just have one more thing to say. Don’t knock it before you try it. Or before you try it again. So keep on running!



Seasons are changing.. and so am I

As the leaves are transforming into beautiful colors and the sun shines on my face, I remember why I love autumn so much. Every time a new season begins and we leave the old one behind, I adapt myself to be the new me. How do I do that?

Well, first I evaluate myself from head to toe and note everything down. After that I compare the current list with the list from last year… I’m just kidding, I’m not that extreem at all. At least not since last year.


What I actually do is daydream a lot. So, when I notice the leaves falling, I try to remember what I was doing around the same time the year before. For me this years leaves bring me back to my last autumn living in Spain. And as autumn in Spain is not the same as it is in the Netherlands, I definitely wasn’t the same either.

Last year I decided to turn my life around. I guess sometimes we need to get rid of some old leaves, let things go their natural course, so we can grow back new branches, much bigger and stronger. After having lived more than 4 years in the south of this mediterranean country, I started to feel as if I was stuck. After having bloomed like the flowers do in spring and summer, it was over. I knew then as nature knows, it was time to go into the next phase. So, I made a decision. It was time to go back home.

Now a year later, I can see that was the right choice to make. Everything has changed, but more importantly I have changed, because I got stronger. My stepsister even said my hair looks stronger now, so it must be true. And what did I change? Better to ask what didn’t change. But, ok I’ll tell you what did change. Obviously moving to another country means moving into a new apartment, then also another job, then a new gym, a new but old culture and a new relationship. So yes, most of the factors of my life are new and I had no idea it would turn out to be this good. Making a decision like that was one of the scariest ones I ever had to make. Was moving to Spain not scary you might think? No, not at all. I was just 22 and I saw it as an adventure, but then I grew old and wise. Ok not that old and maybe not that wise, yet. Still, I learned to listen to what I needed and what I needed was to go back to my roots.

IMG_1245.JPGPerhaps that is why I actually love all the seasons and that whatever we do, nature does what it needs. And at this moment it needs to let go of some old pieces, turn it into pretty colors, lovely scents and make us want to curl op on the couch with a cup of tea and enjoy every minute of it.

What is a risk factor in wanting to do exactly that, is that if I wind up on the couch a little too much.. with too much tea.. meaning too many cookies, I might not just get a little stronger, but also a lot bigger… So I guess I better start enjoying autumn being outside a bit more too.


Just a little piece of me

When I decided to start writing this blog, it was to share my view of life. You might think what is so special about that? Well maybe it is or maybe it isn´t, but it is seeing it through my green, blue whatever colored eyes and there is only one view like that. So are you ready to get to know me?

First of all do you want to know what makes me happy? I am not talking about the big picture of happiness. You know the having a family and great career picture. I am talking about the every day happiness. The little things that keep you going. The getting a coffee at work and always getting extra free cookies, because the barista thinks you’re nice. Or the moment when a car let´s you pass, even though he should go first, but it´s pouring and you need to catch a train. Or when you spot some beautiful flowers on your way to work. I am talking about that kind of happiness.


Well you might have guessed it now, but small things like that is what makes me happy. Apart from receiving genuine friendliness from relative strangers, there is so much more that can bring a smile to my face. Everyone who loves or even likes dogs will recognize this. At least I hope so. Imagine you’re walking down the street and everybody kind of ignores everybody like always, except for the person with a dog. And the person doesn’t get a ´hello´, but the dog does. Whenever I see a dog, I just instantly smile, I can’t even control it. And it gets worse, I greet the dog. I’ll either try to pet him or just say ´hello doggy´ or something like it. I might even hug him if I get the chance. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of a conversation, on the beach or whatever I’m doing, that dog gets a hello, for sure. I’m still waiting for the day a dog will suddenly respond and say something like ´Hi Ilse, great to see you again!´ That would be scary though.

Another thing that I love doing is dancing, but since I don’t always have a chance to go out, I’ll have to find another way. That other way means dancing at home when I’m alone and nobody will judge me. Well, the dogs might, I don’t know if they like my style. They haven’t tried to join me, so that might say it all. So, when I feel like I need to let go of some energy, I’ll first have to find the right songs. And this can go from Beyonce to Shakira to 90’s hits like the Spice Girls, as long as I can dance to it, I’m fine. And then when the music starts playing I turn into a real life dancing queen. I’ll dance while I’ll clean. I’ll dance while I’ll cook. Heck I’ll even dance when I shower. So, when I get my groove on, it’s most likely at home with the curtains closed. Well, whatever makes you happy right?

So from all that dancing and waving to dogs you can get hungry. What leads me to something else that can fill up my soul with all the joy in the world. I am talking about eating. And not just eating anything. I have the weirdest picks in the world, well at least my friends say so. My new favorite meal? A four cheese pizza. No, not just the pizza. That would not make it weird right? I am talking about a four cheese pizza or five cheese even, but topped of with honey. Yes, honey. And taking that first bite, aah.. makes me hungry writing about it. It’s just so yummy. I would say in my tummy, but that would make it corny, so I won’t.

You might think is that all that makes you happy? Of course, there is so much more. The laughter of children, the sunshine on a cloudy day and helping those in need. Ok, that might be a bit exaggerated, but there is more that makes me happy. I’ll leave that for another time though. This blog isn’t called for nothing ´just a little piece of me´, so just a little piece is all I have for now. But, I’ll say.. To be continued! 



Taking the train.. Day trip with my doggies!

If you don´t own a car, but you do want to take a day trip, there´s only one solution. And yes I am talking about public transport. I don’t dislike taking the train, I do so every day for work, but what about my dogs? You would think international dogs who’ve actually been on an airplane wouldn’t mind the train..or would they?

So my dogs are a bit special, of course they’re special to me, but they’re also one of kind and that multiplied, because both are ¨special¨. No, they’re not weird, but just different. First we have Igor, my little baby, who really thinks he’s baby. He’s boy, but most confuse him for a girl. Yes, he pees like a girl, but that’s just more comfortable to him. Don’t judge, I’m sure some men prefer peeing sitting down too. And then we have Rubio, my street dog. He wandered the streets of Spain by himself, until I found him and couldn’t leave him there. So then he was added to my little family. I don’t know what happend to him, but he’s a bit crazy. He gets very nervous and excited and when he likes you, he will bite you. Not hard. He just bites you very fast, with these very tiny bites, like a crazy person would, but it’s also cute.


Anyway, I decided to visit my friend with the dogs, so they could have a playdate with her puppy. We had to go by train for about two hours and switch trains twice. The first time I ever took them on the train, was a ride of only five minutes to the next station to visit my grandmother. During this little trip they both got really nervous. Igor wouldn’t stop shaking and Rubio wouldn’t stop crying, luckily crying softly. Don’t worry, it wasn’t an ugly cry. So, when I decided to go by train now, I wasn’t sure how they would take it. Would it become a ride in ¨hell¨? Or would they get over themselves and calm down? I really wasn’t sure, but since it was my only way of transportation, I figured we’d give it a go.

When we got to the first train, I tried to look for a seat not to close to anyone else. Surprisingly the dogs, although a bit nervous, sat down beside me quite calmly. We still had a few minutes before the train would leave and the doors opening and closing every time, did attempt them to make a run for it. Finally we left the station and Rubio figured out that there were windows. I know, shocker right? He used my legs to lean on and enjoyed the landscapes we were passing by. It was actually very cute. A while later, in the next train, Igor also figured out there were windows. My dogs are so smart, it makes me very proud. And he while sitting on my lap, also stared outside and enjoyed whatever he saw.


You would also be surprised by how many people start talking to you, when you have a dog with you. Normally in the train everybody ignores well everybody. Now, when having the two dogs there, almost everybody ignores you, but some see it as a way to start a conversation. Mostly it goes like this: ‘Oh cute dogs, how old are they? They look different, what type of dogs are they? Oh there from Spain? Do they mind the train?’ And more questions and imaginable answers like these. Trust me, I don’t mind this, because I love my dogs and I as you can see from this blog, I don’t mind talking about them. It’s actually a good thing, because most people, when seeing dogs get a lot friendlier and happier I guess.

After this magical train ride Igor and Rubio had a lovely playdate with my friends puppy Boef. They ran around the forest and Igor even jumped into a small and very dirty pond, but they got quite tired from their day of fun. On the way back, the train ride was the easiest it could have been. Both dogs were passed out. I just needed to wake them up to switch trains and catching one train was going to be tricky. We had 5 minutes to get from one side of the station to the complete other side. This was on the biggest train station of the Netherlands. I thought the dogs would slow me down, but trust me, if you ever want to catch a train, you should take Rubio with you. He almost pulled me up the stairs when I told him to run and on the station, people had to jump to the side, to let us pass. He was just so fast, I couldn’t stop him. We caught the train easily and the rest of the ride, they slept quietly on the floor.

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So if you ever want to take the train with your dog or dogs, I would say go for it. Even if it seems scary or hard in the beginning, in the end the dogs will love it and you will too. Mine even learned to appreciate the view outside and made some new friends along the ride. They even helped me to catch the train on the time. It was a great day and I would do it all over again!


How to survive a road trip with your mom?!

I don´t know how many of you have done this. I mean taking a road trip with your mother and I’m not talking about those famous family holidays, but an actual road trip. Well I did.. and I must say, I did survive, but how?

First of all my mom is the best. She is one of the sweetest persons, who just occasionally will get a bit mad and then it still looks cute. So, what was our road trip about? We went to the Northern part of Italy. My mom had seen on television a program featuring an Italian spiritual center, those details I’ll explain in a different story. The point is we planned our trip around a visit to this magical place.

So, what was the first thing that happend and that you definitely should be careful of would you ever be in this situation! The part of renting the car. Why is this so tricky? Well, first of all an essential part of a road trip is to actually be on the road. Unless you are able to take your own car, you need to go to one of these spooky places of rental cars. It might seem like it was horrible now, don’t worry, it wasn’t, just the first part.


The horrible part was the lady at the customer service desk who had to give us some paperwork and the keys. Sounds easy right? Luckily we did some research online and read the warnings about the “fake” insurance they will try to sell you. We were also warned by the couple in front of us. They also declined the insurance and had read the same warnings online. But still, now it was our turn. We just had to fill in the last paperwork and that was it. This lady though was one tough cookie. She knew what to do and how to make you absolutely scared, so you wouldn’t take this car without her “special” insurance. My hands got clammy, my heart started beating a bit too hard and I started to get this nervous feeling in my stomach. Stop lady, please stop! We don’t want your insurance, really, before I change my mind.

Eventually we walked out there with the keys and no extra insurance. Apparently our previous purchased insurance was also not valid according to this saleslady, not customer service desk lady. But well yeah, living the adventure, right? And guess what, my mom was the one staying calm during all of this. She even took the keys to drive in the “just a bit crazy” Italian traffic. My mom was the “renting the car” savior here.

We then visited some amazing places, such as Bergamo, Lago di Ivrea, the spiritual center (details will follow soon) and then we were off to Nervi. This place was described as a beautiful picturesque little town at the coast of Italy, to be precise at the Gulf of Genoa “Golfo di Genova”.  Yes, the beach, although rocky, was beautiful, the water was precious, but.. the hotel not so much. Well actually, from the outside and at a first quick glance on the inside it was very pretty. When you move closer, it get’s a bit less attractive. We knew upfront the bathroom would be in the hallway. What we didn’t know was that the bathroom was from the seventies and from the looks of it, that  was also the last time it was cleaned. Ok, maybe that’s a bit exaggerated. It probably was cleaned, some time ago. How do you survive the night? Or a shower? Well.. try not to touch too much and when entering the bathroom make sure you wear flip flops at all times. Yes, at all times, also in the actual shower!

Oh,  before I forget. The bed was as hard as the lovely rocky beaches and my mom wouldn’t be able to sleep given that she has back issues. We can also state that my mom is like the princess in that fairytale “The princess and the pea”. Never heard of it? Well this princess, my mom, is so precious, she can’t sleep because her ten thousands of mattresses are on top of one pea! What did we do to save this night? Very sneaky we took extra blankets from the closets in the hallway. We then took these blankets and extra towels and put them on top of the mattress. After that the mattress cover went on top and voila we were done. It almost seemed like recreating the fairytale. The result was still not very great and since my mom is indeed like that princess, it didn’t do much for her, but yeah what can you do. Luckily the breakfast was very tasty and after this little adventure we proceeded our road trip to the beautiful Milano. Here we stayed in a purple, yes purple, hotel, that completely made up for the crappy night we had just endured.IMG_1046

So how do you survive a road trip with your mom? Accept that she is a princess and treat her like one, but also know that when it comes to a fierce debate about insurances she will be all cool and calm and you need her for that. So thanks mom for the great trip!