A helping hand

Doesn’t it feel good to help someone? Even though sometimes or often it might seem like a big effort. At times it might even seem that there’s nothing in it for you. But that’s also not the point, right?

When I was about sixteen I would pass through a senior home a lot. The senior home had a shortcut to go from the supermarket to my home. It was like a little alley but then right through the home. One day passing through I saw this elderly lady sitting in her wheelchair. She was just sitting there in the aisle to the left of the alley, in front of the apartments. She wasn’t moving forward and it was an odd place to take a break.

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So I glanced at her and kept walking, but then I felt bad. What if she couldn’t move forward on her own? Or if she simply had trouble doing it? So I made a wish. “Please let someone come and help her.” While I took another step towards the door I realized something. There was someone there to help the woman. I was there.

I could’ve easily gone home and let my sixteen year old brain forget about her, but it wasn’t right. If I was already there and this woman needed help, why shouldn’t I at least offer it? Sometimes I feel I might butt in too much, but if someone doesn’t want my help they can just say no. But that didn’t happen here, the elderly woman gladly accepted my help.

I helped her to get to her apartment and she asked if I could visit more often. That one action was the beginning of a two year friendship. We would go for walks, do groceries and drink hot chocolate in the cafeteria. Of course this was with a side of gossip about the other residents. It was a good thing they all couldn’t hear so well, because she didn’t hold back.

We would meet up almost every week until she passed away. I never thought that particular day when I was sixteen was the start of something so nice. Now I still try to help when a situation presents itself, even though I realize my help is not always wanted. And what’s in it for me? Well like I said, that is not the point. But if I have to choose something, then it’s the satisfaction that you can brighten someone’s day, even if it’s just a little.

Celebrate your differences

Ever wanted to change those weird little things about yourself? Well don’t wish to change those anymore. We often forget that what makes us unique are exactly those corky characteristics. So instead celebrate your differences. Be happy that there’s only one you.

I’m not only talking about that you have a beauty mark somewhere on your face. Or a hair color some will envy and others admire. I’m also talking about who you are on the inside. Of course we all want to change for the better, but don’t let someone tell you you’re not good enough just the way you are. The details of who you are, make you you.


Some might find my love for dogs strange. Or think it’s odd that I often laugh the hardest at my own jokes. And I’ve been told they’re not so funny. Of course I totally disagree with that. And perhaps someone might find it peculiar some of my dreams actually come true. Another might laugh too knowing that open water can scare me even though I love to swim. Do I care? Not really no. Because I wouldn’t change those characteristics about me for a thing.

So what can you do? Love everything about yourself. Love the fact that you’re the odd on out. And also don’t worry if someone criticizes you for always being late. That’s just you, well except for work. Always be on time for work. Apart from that thank someone for pointing it out and tell them you’re just a relaxed person and not bound by time. Perhaps a bit cheesy, but who cares.


It also works the other way around. Would you like to be around people who are all exactly the same? That they all want the same thing, drink the same, eat the same, laugh the same way? It’s one type fits all? I don’t think so. So instead of getting annoyed when someones talks a lot. Participate in the conversation or just leave them be and go your way.

And how do I celebrate my differences? By simply enjoying myself and not worrying if someone else doesn’t like it. If we focus on ourselves a bit more instead of others we would be a lot happier. So if you’re hair doesn’t do want you want, like always, don’t mind it. Your hair just always looks a bit wild, that’s you.

On to the next phase

Do you know the feeling? When you realize you and your friends are moving on to the next phase. It’s no longer partying in the club every weekend, but it’s talks about weddings and babies. Suddenly you notice that not just your life, but also your friends lives are changing. What will this mean for your friendships and for yourself?

So I guess this usually starts when you’re in your mid/late-twenties. I remember thinking for a long time that I wanted to start a family as soon as possible. That was until my nephew was born. Don’t be mistaken I adore my nephew, but when I saw him for the first time I realized that I wasn’t ready for that kind of responsibility. I was twenty-three so there was no rush for me to start either.


I don’t know what happens when you turn twenty-five, but out of nowhere everyone around you is having babies. Ok, some of my friends who started having families were a bit older than me, but still it makes you think. When also my father was having babies again it really made me feel I was falling behind. Then again I travelled, lived in several countries and speak multiple languages, still no rush. I’m ok.

It’s when your best friends are moving on to the next phase of their lives that you will change too. You’re preparing a babyshower and the talks are about which baby clothes will  look good, no longer which dress to go out in. Of course that can still happen too, but the change is also kind of beautiful. And you suddenly feel like such a grown up. Baby talk, who would’ve guess that five years ago?! Now one of my best friends is almost ready to have her first baby and I can’t wait to become an aunty. I also can’t wait to see how our friendship will evolve having this new miracle added in the middle.

One of my other best friends is getting married next year. Another exciting event I can’t wait for to happen. We already went dress shopping and I’m sure she will look amazing and will be a very beautiful bride. I’ve never been a bridesmaid, but now I will be. We already had a meeting with my friend the bride and the other bridesmaid. No longer talks about nights in the club, but talks about the bride maids dress and the bachelorette party. So that phase will be ended with a sparkling boom.


And what about me? Well I’m not getting married yet and not having a baby either. I do have two dogs who are like children to me. Does that count? Well to me it does, so I guess that’s all that matters. I’m getting tired of the question though when I’ll have babies. So please don’t ask me that again. Just because I’m twenty-seven and a woman doesn’t mean I want to answer to that question all of the time. If you do ask me, I might just answer that I have two sons. Yes they’re adopted and a bit hairy, but who cares?

It is a nice feeling though that everything is falling in to place. My friends are settling down and I’m back in the Netherlands, so I can witness it all up close. And I’m so happy that my friends are happy and that we’ve grown from teenagers into real mature adults. I can’t wait to see what happens when the babies are growing up and another phase will start. First we need to turn thirty though. Another milestone that deserves a celebration.

How I suddenly had two dogs

It’s no secret that I love dogs. Adopting a dog however is a big responsibility. You can’t think lightly of it, because some might agree dogs are almost like “children”. About a year ago I thought I was ready and Igor came into my life. Two months later I bumped into another one. Now what do I do?

When I got Igor he was a bit scared at first, which is normal when your life is turned upside down. He was ten months old and was in a “foster” home with another dog and eight cats. Suddenly it was just him and me. Luckily after bonding for one night, he started loving me. Ok he didn’t tell me out loud, but I could see it in his eyes. And actions speak louder than words. He also wanted to cuddle, which I took as a sign.


Igor and I got our own routine and he also made a friend Gordo (my friends dog). We would go for walks on the beach, in the forest and Igor loved to sit on my lap while watching a movie. I must say Igor wasn’t the bravest dog. He looks adorable, but according to some seems a bit like a softy. He did make dog-friends easily. We had a good thing going on..

One day after work I took Igor out for a walk. At that moment it was about 4 pm and I didn’t have lunch yet, so I was getting a bit “hangry”. You know when you’re hungry and it makes you moody. We were strolling in the park behind my house and Igor started playing with a dog. The dog seemed nice, but I noticed there was no collar. Unfortunately stray dogs aren’t uncommon in Spain, so I started looking around for an owner. I must’ve asked everyone there including a homeless man if the dog was theirs.

The stray dog was running around and almost got hit by bicycles and cars. After that he curled up in a corner and was falling a sleep. Well he tried to stay awake, but you know when you don’t want to sleep but your head gets too heavy? That’s what was happening to him. I decided I couldn’t leave him there. I had to check if he was lost or alone or both.

Trying to catch him by myself wasn’t a success and I started crying out of frustration. Yes I really cried, but remember I was already hangry. I called a friend to please help me. He did and we caught the dog. The vet was closed due to the siesta, so we went home with Igor and the dog. He had to have a name, even it was just for a few hours. Since he was kind of blond my friend and I named him Rubio, which means blond in Spanish.


Rubio seemed to feel at home immediately. He was sweet and cuddly and finally got some sleep. After the siesta we went to the vet and it turned out three times really is a charm. I was the third person to take him to the vet and the third person to be told he wasn’t chipped. The two people before me decided to let hem wander on the streets again, but I couldn’t do that. I did try to find his owner for a while or a new owner, since I was scared two dogs was too much in a small apartment. In the end it was clear. Rubio belonged with me and with Igor. He wasn’t going anywhere.

In the beginning Igor wasn’t so charmed by having our new member added to our little family. He looked at me like “what the hell did you do to me”. They got along fine, but as I mentioned before Igor was a softy and Rubio definitely wasn’t. My little stray was a strong and a bit dominant dog. So Igor had to learn to be stronger too. Quite soon they found their way and Igor even defended Rubio when he was attacked one day.


Since I suddenly had two dogs in my small apartment I started thinking about going back to the Netherlands. I knew my hometown would be more dog-friendly. So that’s what happend.. I flew the dogs to the Netherlands and I can’t imagine my life without either one of them. People actually ask me frequently if they’re brothers. What I tell them? Of course they are brothers, but then adopted ones.

Do you appreciate what you have?

You probably know the famous quotes about appreciating what you have. Well, I agree and that is why I try to do exactly that. I am talking about quotes like ‘Appreciate what you have before it turns into something you had’. And how do I do that?

Well consciously thinking about appreciating what you have is also scary. Why? Now it makes me think about losing what I have all the time too. It might sound familiar or weird, but I am constantly scared to lose the people I care about. And that’s something else you need to learn to deal with.


My grandmother is eighty-five years old and she is awesome, but she was also under the weather lately. She had the weirdest pains and no doctor figured out what she had. Finally two weeks later they found out she had tears in her bones in her back. Quite a shock and apparently due to arthrosis. I know my grandmother doesn’t have the eternal life and that she is quite of age, but still.. she is my grandmother. And whomever it is, you never want to lose someone you love.

Growing up I remember my mom telling me that she wished she would’ve had more time with her grandparents. Her saying that got stuck in my mind and drove me to do things in a different way. Well, maybe a precautionary way. I figured that I should enjoy my loved ones, such as my grandparents, as much as possible. In this way I could never think ‘I should’ve spent more time with them’ or ‘I wish I told them that I loved them more’.

My family and friends might think I’m naturally a hugger or just crazy about telling them I love them, all the time. But honestly it is also because I’m scared and I want to appreciate the time I have with them. So yes, I hug them a lot, maybe up to the point that it gets annoying. I know guys, sorry about that, but I can’t help myself.

You might wonder how did I live so far apart from my family for years? Missing them was the hardest part, but since I have a great connection with them, I could do it. I talked to my parents, grandparents and friends all the time. I also tried to go back home every three to four months. Plus my family and my best friends also came to see me regularly.


Someone once told me in Spain that I couldn’t be close to my family if I was living so far away. What?! No way, because I am close them I knew they would support me no matter what. And with the technology nowadays it is so much easier to stay in touch. I must admit though that it feels a lot better living in the same city again. Now I can just hop on my bicycle and go visit anyone I want.

What I’ve also learned from spending years apart from family, is that I appreciate them even more. Better said I appreciate the time I’m with them more. I enjoy the fact that I can spontaneously decide to go for a coffee with my mom, visit my father, go to the movies with my cousin or have a chat with my aunt.

So in case you’re not sure if you appreciate the people around you enough, you can do what I did. Just to warn you, don’t take it to an extreme. So, I like I did. Now I have to learn not to be stressing out about not having enough time with them. Wether it’s your family or friends that you want to spend time with, enjoy it to the fullest. Because you never know what happens next. Do what you think is right and live with a heart filled with love. And for the sake of it, I’ll just keep on giving extra hugs.