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.

Never knew I needed

What makes you happier? Being in a relationship versus being single? I think this depends on your personal preferences. What I am sure of is that you first should understand what you need and what you deserve.

I guess for a long time I didn’t understand this. I didn’t get that I also deserved and could have unconditional love. Of course I knew this from my family and my friends, but I still didn’t fully get the picture. Perhaps it’s also due to the fact that I felt lost for a long time. I didn’t know what I wanted and needed.

Now that I do know this I believe I deserve this unconditional love. Having moved to different countries forced me to overcome difficulties, learning to be on my own and growing as a person. And I finally learned to love my self unconditionally.IMG_4768This might sound silly, but I think we often forget how important that is. If you accept yourself, your strengths and your flaws, you learn to value yourself. If you value yourself you don’t accept anything less from another person. You won’t allow someone else to continuously treat you poorly, because you know you deserve better.

It took me a while to understand what I was worth, to get to know me better and understand what I needed. I guess that is why I went from a not so good relationship to another not so good one. When I finally got it, hallelujah, and then I didn’t mind being single. Why? Well I rather be alone than be with someone that doesn’t make me happy. I could make myself perfectly happy. I felt loved by myself, by my family, friends and of course my dogs.

And that is when it happend. When I learned to be truly happy by myself I crossed paths with my boyfriend. We met years ago when I was on a holiday in the Netherlands, but it wasn’t until now that we went on a date. Just like years ago it instantly clicked and we never looked back. Sometimes I’m still surprised of how good he treats me and then I remember that now I believe I deserve that. Before I accepted the minimum, because I gave myself the bare minimum.

So I guess that is my point. It doesn’t matter what you prefer, being single or being in a relationship. The key point to remember is that you shouldn’t accept anything less than what you are worth and you deserve. It is then up to you to know your self-worth. To first know how to love yourself before you ask someone else to do so.

Read me one more time

Ever since I was little I loved to read. I know some people prefer not to read more than the instructions on the back of a lasagna box, but reading can actually be good for you. Of course everyone can like or dislike what they want, but why could it benefit you?

So in school we’re forced to read a ton of things. Most of those books you probably didn’t like. Books about geography, math, biology, history and what more. There were also the books that were sometimes a free choice with simply stories. But what was the purpose?

Well in school the obvious point of reading was to learn. I guess that is where it begins. People either start to love or hate reading. I was one of those kids that loved to read and to learn for that matter. I didn’t like math books, but I loved stories about other worlds and other times. I remember being bored in primary school and finishing all my chores early, so I could read more books. You might think oh nerd-alert, but who cares, as long as you’re happy doing what you like.

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With a friend I would stroll around the library for hours. I picked out the biggest books, because I thought big books were cool. So even though we were not religious at home I picked up a huge bible for children only so people thought I could read big books. I must have been six, but my parents won’t let me forget about that story.

And why do I think reading is good for you? First of all you’re completely alone with your own thoughts. It’s one of the few activities that you’ll do completely by yourself. Sometimes a little ‘me-time’ can be really good. It can help you relax, get your thoughts together or get completely lost in ‘another world’.

Another benefit is the input of new knowledge. Whether it’s a fantasy book, a biography or romance novel. Usually there is a ‘problem’ in the story that needs to be solved and the main character usually evolves through the story. Following that story line can give you insights in your own life. It can help get perspective on your own problems. And before you know it, it can help you evolve too.

Lately I love to read books about how to live a conscious life. You know books about positivity, being grateful, being mindful and living in the here and now. Why do I choose those type of books? Well, because at times I actively want to search for books that can help me grow. When I seek for new ways to let go of stress, forget about negative thoughts and so what more I turn to those books.

So whatever you like to read, enjoy it. Whether it´s just the lasagna box instructions or ‘life’ instructions. Whether it’s just one page a day or a book per week, it really doesn’t matter. And if you really want to relax while reading I can recommend to get a cup of tea, a little blanket, a comfy couch and of course a good book.

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‘.

Birthday Girl

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?

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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.

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.