Engaged & Mommy to be! Really?

I shared the news on my Instagram last Monday, but couldn’t wait to tell you in more detail what the past months have been like. The reason why I had to cancel posting a blog a few times and didn’t give so many updates on social media as I normally try to do.

When my boyfriend and I found out I was pregnant we were so happy. I was thrilled and excited and scared. All I could think was ‘please let the baby be healthy’. Finding out this news also explained why I was so extremely tired the whole time and as a side note also a bit irritated (because I was tired of course, totally not my fault). And then came the ‘all day- sickness’ which didn’t make me the happiest person either.

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It was very confusing, because I was and am truly very happy and so grateful for this blessing. I was just at the same time feeling so crappy that I couldn’t really enjoy it. Luckily that seems to have past and now I’m starting to feel better again. So now the time has come that I dare to think about a nursery, stroller, baby clothes and all of that.

Many people were very surprised by our news of our baby. They didn’t expect it and didn’t know it was something that we wanted. I guess that’s normal right? We’d preferred not to tell everyone it was something we were hoping for. We were very lucky it all happend fast, but when this journey started we had no clue if it would be a long one or a shorter one. Plus as I said before I like surprises and I like to surprise people too. Well, I guess we did that.

And what about my other big news? Engaged? Wow I can’t believe it and I am so unbelievably happy. When my boyfriend and I got together I just knew in my core I hit the jackpot. I finally found my one true person, the person I wanted to share the rest of my life with. Luckily he felt the same and therefore popped the question on our vacation in Cape Verde. I will share all details in the next blog, which will be all about our time on this tropical Island with these amazing whales. 

I think the beauty of life is that you should never give up hope, because you never know how close you are to your happiness. Last year around this time I could’ve never imagined how my life would change in just one year time. How I found my best friend and soulmate and everything just started to make sense. It was and is all I’ve ever wanted and I’m so glad I get to live the life I imagined.

So that’s it for now. My big news is out and I’m happy to share this journey with you. It was hard keeping it to myself and not being able to share what was really going on. Well now you know and I’ll probably share a lot more about my pregnancy, the engagement and our future plans. Just want to end the blog with a big thanks to everyone who’s supported us and is supporting us along the ride.

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Why is self-love important?

Everyone has this little voice in their heads. The one who’s convincing you are doing good or that you should do better. When it comes to what others say and what our own mind says we tend to believe the negative comments. Why not go for the positive words? Why do we easily accept it when someone (or ourselves) calls us a failure but we can’t do the same when we’re called a winner?

I think it all has to do with self-love. When I was younger and felt down I couldn’t deal with any compliment. I would it ignore it or immediately try to downgrade it. For example if someone complimented me on my dress I would respond that it was very cheap and I had it for ages. Why did I do that? I could’ve simply said ‘thank you’.

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Another example is that you can’t forgive yourself for making a mistake. Actually either forgive yourself or accept it and move on and even better do both. Making the ‘wrong’ choice is part of your path and will lead you to the right path. So don’t hate yourself for being human. Instead love yourself for realizing you have to make another choice, one that will make you happier.

Perhaps you realize now you don’t really love yourself? Well that’s great. It means you can change it. The first step is to understand that you deserve better, that you can do better for yourself. The second step is to accept yourself for who you are. If you accept the core of who you are, only then you will get to the point of self-love. The third step is to focus on the positive side of things. Every time you have a negative thought try to imagine how it would sound if you change it to a positive one. Much sweeter, right?

Obviously self-love is a process and it won’t change overnight. However every day you practice self-love you will feel happier bit by bit. I talked about it before but I believe loving yourself unconditionally is the first step of everything. Only then you understand how others should treat you, only then you believe in yourself enough to follow your dreams and only then you will understand you true needs.

Keep on having difficulty with self-love? Try to name a few things you’re grateful for first thing in the morning. After that try to name for example three things about yourself that you’re grateful for. In the beginning it can be hard, but it help you shine light on your qualities. Everyone has them and so do you. Every step towards self-love is a step towards leading a positive and happy life. So what are you waiting for?

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5 tips for a happy and balanced life

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you have a busy period at work or a lot of events in your private life. Perhaps some hardly lose their balance, but for me it can be a challenge to not fall one way or the other. I guess I have a sensitive soul that needs to be nourished with care and somewhat of a routine.

Over time I’ve noticed that when I follow a certain set of ‘rules’ I feel much better and I can keep my balance. Although literally keeping my balance is still difficult, since I’m quite clumsy. By the way these rules or guidelines are personal, so you might need to adjust them to your own needs. Want to know how I do it? Here they come:

1. Enough ‘me-time’: some might not need this as much, but I need some time alone to think, recharge, analyze and breath. Every morning I wake up extra early so I can start my day relaxed and even practice some meditation and yoga.

2. A healthy diet: I feel more energized when I nourish my body with the right ingredients. I need a lot of vegetables and fruits, but I happen to like them a lot too. When I’m busier and skip investing time in a good meal my immune system drops and I feel more tired and less like myself.

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3. Focus on what’s important: what I mean by this is that you should focus on the positive things happening. Every day something goes wrong, but every day something goes right too. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but at the same time focus on the positive details every day can bring you. For example the other day my train was delayed which sucked, but now I had time to get a coffee and that is something I enjoyed.

4. Be active: Nobody gets energy from sitting on the couch an entire day. You’ll probably feel more tired and lazy. Don’t get me wrong a lazy day once in a while can be wonderful. However in general our bodies need to move. When we move and are active you actually produce endorphins which make you feel happy. So, move that body!

5. Connect with nature: this might sound cheesy, but breathing in the fresh air when you’re in the mountains, at a lake, in a forest or wherever will help you stay grounded and therefore in balance. Walking in the forest is one of my favorite things to do. It’s easy to forget about nature living in such a digital world. That’s why I strongly advise to forget about your phone and enjoy the view, the fresh air and the sound of the wind. Trust me, you’ll feel recharged and more relaxed afterwards.

I have one more bonus tip for a happy and balanced life. Get enough sleep. Without a proper night of sleep you won’t be able to process your day the same, so make sure you get the hours of rest that you need.

So those are some of my tips for a happy balanced life. Of course there are many more ways, but these things work for me and I hope it can help you too. Just give it a shot and try it for a while. I’d love to hear if it made a positive change to your life. If you have other tips let me know. Remember listen to what your mind, body and soul need and you’ll find the balance you’re looking for.

 

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Overcoming your fears

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.

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Being the Bridesmaid

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.

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.

Don’t stress about it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gym Time: back for more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My relaxing morning routine

Well, first of all why do I have a morning routine? I mean I could simply wake up, get dressed and leave, right? But that doesn’t work for me. Not only because I have dogs, but also before I had them, I needed a bit more ‘me’-time before I faced the world.

In my early working days I was a bit more rushed in the morning. In the end that meant I felt rushed all day long. You might think that if you sleep longer and hurry to get to work, you’ll be more rested. Because you slept longer right? The opposite is true though. Sleeping longer and then rushing takes away all the relaxedness you felt before. So that routine had to change.

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It took a while before I found the best way to start my day. I don’t mean the best way for everyone, but for me. After visiting Bali and seeing a Guru, yes I said Guru, I received advise that I had to follow up. The Guru told me I should mediate every morning. So since then I do. I must admit I lost my way for a while, but got the hang of it again. Does it work? Actually it does. I start my day feeling very at ease.

So you’ve waiting long enough. How is my daily morning routine? Well, I usually get up around 5:30 AM. The first thing I do after waking up is either walking the dogs or starting my yoga. My boyfriend is spoiling me lately and walks the dogs every morning. The second thing though is always yoga. First a few ‘Sun Salutations’, then a mix of other yoga exercises and then it’s time for the meditation part.

After a short meditation, the time various each day, and saying a mantra that ‘today will be a great day’ I get to the next step. Shower time it is and then getting dressed, doing my hair and make up. When I’m about ready to leave, I don’t leave just yet.

My boyfriends wakes up and we drink a coffee together. You wonder how I drink my coffee? Well, thanks for asking. I have some black coffee with a drop of coconut oil, some honey, soy milk and some cinnamon to finish it off. And my boyfriend? He doesn’t like my special coffee mix that much, so it’s black coffee for him.

And is this entire routine worth it to get up so early? It totally is! Like I said before, when I rushed in the morning, I felt rushed all day long. Now I take a bit more time for myself before I face work, strangers in the train and all of that fuss and I feel so much better.

It takes me about an hour and a half to do all of it and sleeping in doesn’t compare to the happiness my routine brings me.

So I can definitely recommend to save some time for yourself in the morning. Even if it’s only fifteen extra minutes to read the paper, wander around, drink a coffee or to just take your time. Trust me, you’ll feel the difference.