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.