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.

Don’t stress about it

I wish I could say I’m a stress-free person. Unfortunately I’m not. I try to be, but I don’t always succeed. Especially when it comes to emotional issues I experience stress. How can you turn that off? Or at least minimize 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

Now you might think why go back to the gym? Yes, I’m still running at my slow turtle pace, but it was time for more. And how will I keep gym-motivated the second time around?

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

Do you have these lively, colorful dreams? Everything you processed during the day gets transmitted to your dreams? Well if you do it can be a blessing and a burden. At least it is in my case. So what do I experience after saying 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

Sometimes I wonder what people do in the morning. How does their day start? When I tell people I wake up about an hour and a half before I leave for work, some seem shocked. Why that early? Well, because I can’t hurry.. I need to relax, but I have a lot to do before I go. So how does my morning routine look like?

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.

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.

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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.