Relax and Unwind

Do you love going on vacation? I think it’s safe to say most people enjoy some time off. Perhaps even exploring a new destination. But why is going on a vacation also very healthy for you?

For starters it’s good to get some mental rest and clarity. How can you do that? Do you remember those (video) games or any other machine with a reset button? When it’s overloaded, there is too much information and not working properly? So what did you do then, you hit the reset button. Magically it worked perfectly after doing that.

As people we obviously don’t have such a button. After all we’re not robots, but wouldn’t it be good if you can get rid of the excess information in your head? Start over and feeling all fresh and new. I think taking time off (from work) is like hitting the reset button. Especially when you’re going away and visit new places.

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I’ve had a few busy months at work. I work at an office with a computer all day long and at the end, right before my holidays, I ran out of fuel. I had processed too much information, worked long and intense hours and was tired. Very tired. And when I’m tired I’m also very emotional. So I really needed to hit that reset button. I could hardly bring myself to feel positive, when I’m always positive, which made me even more emotional. Luckily my trip to Turkey was already planned.

So there we went to Turkey and visit the grand city of Istanbul and a little town at the coast. It was my first time there so I had a lot of first impressions. Maybe because I received so much new information, the old (and excess) information was pushed away. I couldn’t think about anything else than what we’re doing at that moment. Living in the now and taking it all in. And of course taking a lot of pictures.

I didn’t realize it would work this way before going on vacation, but perhaps I never needed a break as much as I did now. Being away and seeing all the beauty of Turkey erased the stress and negativity I was feeling before. I was so happy to have that experience with my boyfriend. Side note it was our first vacation together. And as I wrote in the previous blog, snorkeling in the turquoise water made me feel so relaxed.

When did I know the reset button of going away had worked? When I was back home actually. During my holidays I also decided to change some things in my daily routine. For example not oblige myself to “have to do” everything in one day. I also decided not to say “yes” to all events, birthdays and activities. Simply because after work I need some more me-time to recharge.

So when we got back I knew what I was going to change. I felt so relaxed from the trip that luckily I felt positive again too. I still have to be careful not to run around in circles, but it’s a step in the right direction. Now when I wake up and start my day I’m looking forward to see what will happen. I’m re energized and it feels so good.

How to recharge yourself? Well even if you can’t go on a trip, you can enjoy some time off at home and do the same too. Relax in your backyard and read a book. Or try something new and open yourself up to a new experience. When it’s been a little too much we can hit that reset button in all different ways. My favorite though is on a tropical beach with sand between my feet. Just don’t forget to hold on to your newfound happiness when you’re back home.

Check out my Instagram for more pictures!

Overcoming your fears

Ever since a little girl I was afraid of swimming in open water. Ironically I was and am a good swimmer. However it was the thought of ‘fish’ swimming there too that scared me. Or even worse an unknown underwater monster. Yet I went snorkeling in Turkey last week. How did that happen?

I must admit that I’ve been trying to overcome my fear of swimming in open water since a while. When I was living in Spain I often went to the beach and strangely enough I loved to swim in the sea. The clear blue water with a sandy white beach is just mesmerizing to me.

So bit by bit I tried to swim further and further. In Spain I even made it to the floating raft, which was quite a swim. The first time swimming that far my heart was beating and if my hands could’ve gotten clammy they would’ve been. After a while however it was fun and I enjoyed the swim. My fear wasn’t based on an actual threat. There was no danger in what I was doing. So slowly my subconscious mind started to catch up with my conscious mind that already knew I was safe.

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I think often we feel afraid even though there is no actual need for the fear. Of course fear can keep us alive and prevent us from making life-threatening decisions. However if we climb up high stairs we should be careful, but it probably isn’t a dangerous situation that justifies the fear of heights.

The same goes for my fear of open water. Apart from snakes I saw in an Italian lake when I was three, I’ve never encountered a situation in which my life was in danger in open water. Yet I’ve had a fear of it all my life. Obviously it would be dangerous entering a part where there are sharks or crocodiles or anything that puts your life at risk.

But the waters I enter were always safe. You can imagine though that I’d never put myself in the situation to see the fish swimming around me. Better to not know if they’re there right? Well that’s not the case actually. When the water is clear and I can see what’s going on I already feel better. But now being in Turkey I wanted to take a real close look at the world underneath me. That part was new to me.

Of course my strong boyfriend was there to protect me, just in case. We got snorkeling gear and I was amazed. Now you might think I saw all these colorful fish. Unfortunately not, but the sandy colored fish and the way they moved was already breathtaking. Strangely enough it was also very relaxing.

We later even took a boat trip and it was so beautiful. We saw more fish, actually a lot of fish. The water changed from a dark blue to a bright turquoise. I jumped of the boat (another thing that scared me) and we snorkeled. What is my lesson learned? That sometimes the one thing that scares you most can be the most beautiful thing you’ll ever do. Honestly I can’t wait to fly to an even more tropical destination and see what the ocean is hiding there for me.

Check out my Instagram for more pictures! 

Spinning Buddies

Lately I wanted to try out some new cardio activities. And it’s not just to stay in shape physically, but also mentally. Since a while I’ve been going to spinning classes. However I’m not attending those alone, because I’m going with my stepfather. How is that working out?

Well I attended spinning classes in the past. It had been a while though and the last classes were not with an actual teacher, but with a video of a teacher giving instructions. I liked it, but it’s not the same as having a real person there telling you what to do. Mainly because with a video you could “cheat” with an actual instructor you can’t. Not that I would want to cheat my exercise routine, obviously.

This time around I convinced my stepfather to join the gym and join me in the spinning class. He’s 62 years old, but quite active and the spinning instructor is quite impressed with him. Of course he’s dripping in sweat after our workout and I’m not. Ok, I’ll be fair. The AC is on way too hard for me to break a sweat, but sometimes they leave it turned off and then I really notice the difference.

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But why do I love spinning? I’ve been going twice a week lately and therefore stopped running (for now). First of all I like doing it together with a buddy. It motivates you to keep going, even when you’re tired and stressed or just feeling lazy. But it’s also a great workout to relax mentally.

Because when I focus on spinning it’s the only thing I can focus on. Yes my mind wanders off, but I always get back to my focus point, spinning. My legs need to keep on moving and I literally can’t sit still. So that’s why I love it so much. It helps me to relax my mind. And this actually goes for any sport, especially cardio activities, at least in my case.

Sometimes I also glance to the side and see my stepfather giving it his all. I see his legs moving so fast he looks like one of those cartoon figures. You know that image of Road Runner going so fast his legs turn into a spinning circle? That’s what it reminds me of and I just start laughing so hard. So yes, even when I’m tired and especially when I’m stressed this is a great work out for me and it wouldn’t be the same without my buddy.

Being the Bridesmaid

About two weeks ago one of my best friends got married. I got to be one of her bridesmaids and be present on this beautiful day.  What does it really mean to be a bridesmaid and witness your friend on her special day?

One year ago my friend got the cutest puppy. Of course I had to meet the little fur-baby, so after getting him she and her boyfriend came over. She then randomly showed me her phone with a video of how they got him. And then I saw it! It wasn’t about her holding  puppy in the video, but about her boyfriend getting on one knee!

I was so thrilled for her and of course I cried some happy tears. Soon after we went wedding dress shopping with her mom and her bridesmaid. At that time we actually didn’t know we were going to be bridesmaids. After the dress shopping we all went for dinner and she handed us a card in which she asked ‘Will you be my bridesmaid?’. It was so cute and of course we said yes.

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But let’s not forget about the dress. It such a special moment when you see one on your best friends in a gorgeous wedding dress. After all the years of dating, heartache, finding the right one, moving in together to then finally saying I do. She was glowing and looked happy and I couldn’t wait until she could wear it again for real.

Obviously we also organized her bachelorette party. Living in the Netherlands the place to go is Amsterdam. So that’s what we did. We made her do ‘not too’ embarrassing assignments, went to a museum (ok, the sex-museum), got dinner, sang a song in the karaokebar and then went dancing for one more time. We laughed, we drank and we danced.

Our bridesmaids chores continued on the day itself. In the meantime we got our own dresses, the right shoes, a purse and our dates. And then it was time. The day had arrived. My friend picked me and the other bridesmaid up. In the car our fun started and at the location we got glammed up. We even wore special robes with ‘Bride’ and ‘Bridesmaid’ on it. What followed was a beautiful ceremony (of course I cried again), a lovely dinner and then it was time to dance again.

Our dates arrived and we did the last things we had to do as bridesmaids. After that we all went dancing and it was amazing to see my friend that happy. The whole day went perfect. After months of preparation it was the most perfect day she deserved. Everyone seemed happy and smiling. To top it off their opening dance was the best thing ever. They even practiced it together beforehand, how cute is that!

It seems a lot of time and effort to invest in one day. However after a day like that it doesn’t seem like just a day. It really is a day you’ll never forget. With words of love, all smiles, kindness in their eyes and their hearts filled with hope for a beautiful future. It was the perfect start of a life together or to continue their journey with a huge milestone in between. I’m glad and grateful I got to witness it all up close.

Take your pick

You know that feeling when you’re in love? How much energy you have at that moment? You are in your love bubble and giving love and receiving love makes you ecstatic, it lifts you up. You’re probably at the highest peak of emotions and energy you can be. So why don’t we hold on to that feeling?

You also know the feeling when you despise someone? When you absolutely can’t stand a person for whatever reason and might even dare to hate him or her? You then also know how it the hatred feels and how it sucks all the life out of you. How your energy gets lower the more you talk about it, the more you think about it and the more time you invest in it.

If you know and can imagine the difference in these two emotions, then why not always choose for the first option of love? Wether you love your partner, your child, your friend or mother. Love is love and the positivity of love literally gives you energy. Even when you had a rough night and a lack of sleep, a phone call from someone you love can get you through the day.

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The opposite is then also true. When you had a rough night and a lack of sleep and you’re talking about or thinking about something or someone you hate that makes your day even rougher. Your energy level drops even more and nothing can make you smile. So we all have moments we don’t like something, someone or a situation. How can we turn that around so you can get energy instead of losing it?

The first step is to realize you’re stuck in a bad emotion. You’ve been whining, complaining or crying for too long and you need to put a stop to it. When you realize what you’re doing it’s time to change. It’s literally about making a conscious choice how you will use your energy. Imagine you “hate” or dislike someone for something that they’ve done to you. Do you think spending hours of hating them will change the situation? Will it make anything better? Will you feel better? Probably not.

So the choice is yours. What you can do is first to accept that the situation is what it is. You’re hurt for example and that’s it. So how to move forward? The second step is to use your time for things that make you happy. Instead of complaining for an hour, you can write a message with words of gratitude to someone who’s always there for you. Which of the two will make you happier?

And it’s a matter of practice. A few years ago when I felt hurt I was so angry and at moments I hated the world. Nothing seemed right. But all the time I spent feeling angry and sorry for myself really never made me feel better. When I decided that nothing would change for the better until I started thinking positive it finally started to get better. So take your pick.

Date Night

When you’re in a relationship it’s easy to forget about date night. However I think especially when you’re not just dating anymore, but you are in a relationship ‘dating’ is important. So my boyfriend and I decided that at least once per month we have a ‘date night’.

So why do we only date when we’re ‘dating’? The point of dating is to get to know the other person, but also to have quality time together. When you’ve been together for a long time, you probably know each other pretty well, but quality time might be hard to schedule.

After a while, when the newly-together phase is over, you can get ‘stuck’ in the routine of your every day life. Usually this is when we can forget about romance and being a couple versus to just living together and having breakfast and dinner.

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And that is why we decided on having a ‘date night’. Our minimum is once per month and we haven’t even been together that long, but it is also just something fun to look forward too. And yes even though our relationship is quite new, we’ve had a lot of family events, visits with friends or birthday parties. That’s why when we have our date night we can ask questions we haven’t asked before and go to places we haven’t visited together yet.

So what did we do on our last date night? We went to the restaurant where we first met. My boyfriend used to work there and we saw a lot of his old colleagues, which was fun. We then had some wine, some nachos, our main course and of course desert. And it was so lovely to have a night away from home, no TV, no phones, just eating and talking.

I hope that ten years from now, when our family perhaps has grown, we’ll still have the tradition of date night. That we won’t forget to keep on dating each other and we’ll keep asking new questions. At this moment it’s no effort at all and probably then it isn’t either, but I always want to keep the romance alive. And one of the ways to do so is by dating.

Double the trouble?

About ten months ago I got a baby brother and sister. Yes twins and yes new siblings at my age. If you’re wondering I’m 28 and no I don’t have kids of my own, well apart from the fur-babies I don’t. So what happens when you babysit two?

First of all I was a bit hesitant to babysit my brother and sister, because I thought how am I going to combine that with walking the dogs? My boyfriend promised we would do it together and he could help out too. Ok, so that was settled. Well it was, until it turned out he had to work that specific weekend, the whole weekend.

But spoiler alert, I did manage to do it mainly on my own. Some parents might be thinking now of course you can do that by yourself. Just remember I don’t have kids, I’m not used to having kids and I’m not ready for kids. Even though I did used to babysit a lot I just find my dogs a lot easier. Also I don’t have an elevator so my mom came to help and carry the babies down the stairs. After that we went for a family-walk.

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Surprisingly it was one of those special days in the Netherlands. A day when the sun is shining and it was hot. It literally was one of the hottest days of the year probably. My mom was babysitting my nephews of five and two, so it was a gathering of small little humans. When walking a stroller for two you do notice how heavy those things are! I immediately didn’t feel bad for skipping the gym that day anymore.

The walk took us to the center of my city. In the center a fountain or sprinkler-thing is installed for children to play with. The twins are still too small, so while my nephews were running around the sprinklers, I was relaxing with the twins under a tree. And I must say these babies are so chill. They were just sitting on a towel playing with their toys and picking grass and that’s it. No whining, no crying, just happy. If babies when they come in a pair are a ‘happy-package’, then I can handle two for sure.

Of course at night they were a bit more reluctant and didn’t want to sleep. By this time my boyfriend was home and we took turns soothing a baby. He took my sister and I went to cuddle my brother. I guess we did a good job and the twins decided we earned our sleep, because they didn’t wake up until 7:30 am the next morning. Thank you babies!

So what’s the conclusion? Are twins indeed double the trouble or twice the fun? Well, when they’re happy they’re still a lot of work, but no trouble at all. When they’re smiling it indeed is fun multiplied by two. Now you’re wondering if I can’t wait to have my own? Oh I can wait, no problem. I stil find my two doggies more than enough for now.