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.
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.
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For the longest time I loved my birthday. It was the one day of the year it could be all about me. All the other days I wouldn’t dare to expect all the attention all of the time. On my birthday however it was all about me. But can you still do that when you’re approaching 30?
My mom told me a story or actually she told me the story many times.. that when I turned 3 my birthday wasn’t going the way I wanted to. Imagine a bunch of adults sitting around a coffee table having adult conversations. I was 3 and apparently couldn’t jump into any of the adult talks. So what did I do? Well what could I do?
I took control of the situation. It was my party. So I got up on a chair, clapped loudly in my hands and told everyone that now it was time to sing. My mom said she just laughed, because in her mind it meant I would stand up for myself and for what I needed. Now that isn’t always the case, but on my birthday it is.
So that’s when it was obvious I liked my birthday. And to be clear it’s not about getting presents and gifts. When I was younger of course I thought about that too, but that was never the point. What I like so much about my birthday is that the house is decorated, there is cake, I dress nicely and without shame I can ask all the attention, but only for one day. Perhaps having a limit to all the niceness makes it more fun, because you really have to enjoy it.
But here’s the twist. It might have seen childish or I don’t know what, that I like my own birthday so much. The other side to it is that I also love spoiling others on their birthdays. So I also like to decorate the house for someone else, bake a cake, give presents and do all those things that make it a real birthday.
And now my boyfriends family isn’t really used to celebrating birthdays, so he isn’t either. He says he doesn’t care about it that much. And even though his special day isn’t until the end of the year, trust me he’s going to love his birthday from now on.
There is a point though that it becomes less fun to see the number on your cake increasing. This year I turned 28, but of course everyone is rubbing it in my face that it means “almost 30”. So on one hand I feel shocked that I can’t believe how fast the past years have gone by. On the other hand I’m only 28 and grateful for every day I get to live and enjoy my life.
So even though it might seem silly, I will continue to celebrate my one day in the year as if I own it. All the other days I don’t need all the attention, I’m glad to make it about someone else, but my birthday is mine. My grandmother though gave birth to my aunt on her birthday. Imagine, she will always have to share it, but she did get the best present she ever could have wished for.
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.
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.