Take your pick

You also know the feeling when you despise someone? When you absolutely can’t stand a person for whatever reason and might even dare to hate him or her? You then also know how it the hatred feels and how it sucks all the life out of you. How your energy gets lower the more you talk about it, the more you think about it and the more time you invest in it.

If you know and can imagine the difference in these two emotions, then why not always choose for the first option of love? Wether you love your partner, your child, your friend or mother. Love is love and the positivity of love literally gives you energy. Even when you had a rough night and a lack of sleep, a phone call from someone you love can get you through the day.

img_5526.jpeg

The opposite is then also true. When you had a rough night and a lack of sleep and you’re talking about or thinking about something or someone you hate that makes your day even rougher. Your energy level drops even more and nothing can make you smile. So we all have moments we don’t like something, someone or a situation. How can we turn that around so you can get energy instead of losing it?

The first step is to realize you’re stuck in a bad emotion. You’ve been whining, complaining or crying for too long and you need to put a stop to it. When you realize what you’re doing it’s time to change. It’s literally about making a conscious choice how you will use your energy. Imagine you “hate” or dislike someone for something that they’ve done to you. Do you think spending hours of hating them will change the situation? Will it make anything better? Will you feel better? Probably not.

So the choice is yours. What you can do is first to accept that the situation is what it is. You’re hurt for example and that’s it. So how to move forward? The second step is to use your time for things that make you happy. Instead of complaining for an hour, you can write a message with words of gratitude to someone who’s always there for you. Which of the two will make you happier?

And it’s a matter of practice. A few years ago when I felt hurt I was so angry and at moments I hated the world. Nothing seemed right. But all the time I spent feeling angry and sorry for myself really never made me feel better. When I decided that nothing would change for the better until I started thinking positive it finally started to get better. So take your pick.

Getting back on track

First of all, it’s ok if this sometimes happen. We all have moments that we fall of the “healthy” wagon once in a while. What important is, is to accept that and see how you can get back on it. Don’t give up when you failed once or even twice. Don’t think that now there’s no point to try. Because every step in the direction of a healthy lifestyle is the right one.

IMG_3737

So it happend to me too. As you might I’ve seen I enjoyed the snow in Austria. Eating healthy was quite a challenge there and it was due to two things. The first thing was that there weren’t that many healthy options. The second challenge was seeing my family binge on french fries, Austrian pancakes, hot chocolate and more yummy things. So, so did I. Well a bit.

You might think ok so once you’re back, you start eating healthy again? Yes, that was the plan and then I went away for work and stayed in an hotel. For two days long we were offered cookies, chocolate and even pizza. Yes, there was a bowl of fruit too. One that hardly anyone touched.

Why not choose the good things when that option was there? I can think of many excuses like the fact that I was really tired and craved more food, the bad things, but really the choice was mine. Nobody forced me to take a slice of pizza or a handful of cookies. But once you fall of the wagon it seems to take so much more effort to get back on the right one.

How to get back on track then? Remind yourself why you were exercising and eating right in the first place. Why were you running when you used to hate this? Set your goal again and break it into steps so it becomes a plan. Perhaps even share your plan so you feel someone can hold you accountable.

My plan is again to go running three times a week. I also promise to myself to eat an healthy oatmeal breakfast, have an apple with cinnamon as a snack and have vegetables and fish for lunch. Dinner then will be similar but smaller and of course I’ll do yoga every morning and walk my doggies. When I break it into these steps it suddenly doesn’t seem like such a big effort anymore. There’s no obstacle, but you, getting in your way. So let’s get to it. Will you join me?

Retail therapy: myth or miracle?

The wonderland of shopping was introduced to me at a very young age. Being a toddler in a stroller I would just fall asleep, but that soon changed. Because soon I would ask my mom if we could go to the city center and buy pretty things, that was with a huge smile on my face. We never bought expensive things, but even something small could make me happy.

FullSizeRender

As I turned older and got to adolescence the shopping sprees became a frequent activity, My “necessity” to shop grew bigger. It was shop till you drop all the way. And it wasn’t because I was in an actual need of clothes or shoes or bags for that matter. I just “needed” it for when I was down. But the funny thing is with shopping when you’re down, it is like any typical “drug” or “medicine” it only treats the symptoms, not the source.

So what happend after shopping? Well for a short moment you have lovely new items hanging in your closet. After a while when you look at that brown purse you bought, you only remember the reason why you bought it. I was down because I failed an exam and those shoes, because I had a fight with a friend. In the end it made me more sad than it would make me happy. That wasn’t the deal of retail therapy, right? Well maybe it is, since its not really therapy.

Whatever you choose to bring you up when you’re down, if you’re not focused on the source of the unhappiness it’ll never work. If you have a drink to cheer you up and you have a few too many, you wake up with a hangover and you’re still unhappy. And if you eat cake, cookies and ice cream to fill a hole, you will gain weight but still have that hole inside you.

It comes down to this. If you do anything for the wrong reasons it won’t work. And why? Well first of all you’re not working on the real issue and second you’re doing it out of a negative emotion. If you let negative emotions lead you, it will only bring you more negativity. If you eat a piece of cake, because you’re happy and you enjoy it, then you can relive that moment and enjoy it again and again.

So do I still like to go shopping? For sure! But now for the right reasons. Now when I’m sad I’ll work on why I’m feeling that way and I no longer try to mask it with spending money. But when I’m happy and I have some free time I love to splurge a bit. Obviously my mom is still my partner in crime. The last time we went we even had some cake too. And I can tell you it was lovely, because it still makes me smile today.

Social Media: Friend or Foe?

We all have our insecurities and that’s probably quite normal. That we compare ourselves with others is probably in our nature too. However it shouldn’t be something that makes us insecure. And we should actually just stop doing it all together. Unless that difference you see, inspires you to make a positive change too.

IMG_2779

Now you see many women and men all over social media promoting a healthy lifestyle and being fit. Wether you’re into working out or not, why feel bad if someone else does it? It might be because then you need to be honest with yourself. Secretly you want to get fit too and those pictures remind you that you’re not. Why not simply think that you’re not there “yet”. You can set your goals and work on them too. It does mean you need to face your fears and be truthful to yourself.

What I see when I look at pictures of fit people? I feel inspired and think that if they can do it, then so can I. Working out and eating healthy is something you control and you definitely can achieve. It’s just an example, but my point is that it’s a waste of time and energy to look at it negatively.

I’ve also heard people complain seeing others traveling all over the world and thinking their life is so boring in comparison. Well what are you going to do about it? It’s the same problem as with the fit people but coated differently. Don’t hate something because of envy. Don’t judge because secretly you wish you could be like that too. Make the pictures you see your source of inspiration.

Whatever you want to achieve the first step is to accept where you’re at. Accept that you’re not there yet, but you can get there. After that you set your goal and you make a plan how to achieve it. You want to travel? Start saving and get a piggy bank. Every penny counts. How do those world travelers on Instagram do it? Perhaps they can help. You want to get fit? Get inspiration from people who walked the same path. Ask advice, they’ve been there too.

Anything that you encounter on social media can be used two ways. You either hate on people, envy them and hope they fail or you can admire them, ask advice and get inspired. It’s your choice. Just think which path will bring you more joy, happiness and positivity. I know which one I’m walking on. And remember that the only one stopping you from reaching your goals is you.

Don’t give up

Naturally I’m not someone who gives up. Better said I’m the kid in gym class that wouldn’t give up until my fingers bled. Well almost, my hands were a bit torn. It was a trick in the rings that I managed to do once. Then I wanted to show my teacher and I couldn’t do it anymore, but I wouldn’t stop. So in the end my teacher told me to stop. My willingness to try was enough.

IMG_0826

Now you might think like ‘oh but you were a kid’. No, this happened when I was about fifteen. But believe me as a child I was exactly the same and I still am. I do think now that part of not giving up is knowing when to stop. Knowing when to take a new route and leave the old one behind. Because when going left isn’t working, you can try to take a right.

But why do we give up? I think that many times it’s simply easier to do so. Trying is scary. Trying over and over again is scarier. Going after what you want and keep on going is scary as hell. And why? Because what if you fail? What if after all the efforts you made, you still fail? Well, then you tried and for sure you learned from it. And if it’s something you truly desire, perhaps you can still achieve it, but in a slightly different form than you anticipated.

Giving up might feel easy, but in the end it takes you nowhere. You stay in your safe zone and you outgrow yourself, but you can’t grow any further. There’s no space in your safe zone. You need to take a road that you don’t know yet. Take another step and see where it leads you. I’ve said this before but for me the decision to go back to the Netherlands was the scariest one ever. I felt stuck where I was, but it was comfortable too. I knew what I could expect, although I wasn’t happy.

At a certain point you have two choices. You either stay where you are or you try something new. Either way you can’t give up. Not on life, not on yourself, not on your dreams. Whatever you feel you want to achieve you can do it. The results might not be exactly what you planned them to be, but it will happen and it can happen. There is a special ingredient necessary however. Believe. You need to believe in yourself and don’t give up.

As long as you can look at yourself in the mirror. Look yourself in the eye and say you did all you could do. That you truly did your best. You just don’t know what to do now? Well then you sleep on it. Perhaps even three nights and if you still want to keep on going, then you’ll find a way. A new way and most likely a better way.

Why won’t you be a dear?

What I’ve noticed from living in Canada, Spain and the Netherlands is that kindness is expressed differently in all places. On the other side kindness is universal and speaks one language. To me kindness also means letting other people live their lives. For example you don’t complain and are not bothered immediately if your neighbor plays loud music once.

IMG_2163

How did I experience kindness in these three countries? Well I must admit the rumor about the Canadians is true. They are indeed very kind and easygoing people. No stress about pointless topics. My Spanish friends don’t stress easily either. If it’s not done today, it will be tomorrow. A social talk with a stranger is common and getting up for an elderly person in the bus as well. Complaining isn’t expressed directly there, although the police can be called if you throw a loud party. Trust me, that just happend to my friends and me once.

And even though I’m Dutch I was surprised to see how many people complain immediately about useless things back home. I guess you notice the differences better after being away for a long time. I learned that it’s better to just let it go. If you want to point out everything that is wrong, you’re finger is going to get tired from all the pointing. And I’m sure this happens in all countries and cultures in some way. Don’t be scared now, us Dutchies are very nice people too.

Perhaps it’s naive, but sometimes I feel that we forget we’re in this together. We share this world, our home, with each other. And what is needed when you live together? Comprises. Be nice, don’t worry too much and accept that everyone is unique. The way you think might not be exactly as how somebody else thinks. Both can be right. It’s just another point of view and not worth getting angry about.

FullSizeRender

What I do find difficult is how to deal with the negativity, since I simply don’t understand it. If you had two ways of looking through a window and there was an unwashed side and a washed side. Which side would you use? I think complaining works contagiously and I think being kind also works contagiously. So the choice is yours.

Something else to consider is we must think of how we want to be and see ourselves. Do you want to be the person who’s cranky all of the time? Or the one who never wants to help someone? And the key point here is to be honest with yourself. When you look into the mirror what do you see? Every day you can choose how you want to be. When you do, well why don´t choose to be a dear and hold the door. And if you can’t do that, then maybe you can be a deer instead.

Surprise, Surprise

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.

MTphotography-FamilieshootReijersDenDaas-14

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.

IMG_1894

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.

Feeling like a butterfly?

I think that most of us probably at some point have the feeling that life is passing by. Well not just passing, racing by. You want to do so many things and there is so little time. When I was little my mom often told me that it seemed I wanted to live ten lives instead of one.

IMG_1741

I think that most of us probably at some point have the feeling that life is passing by. Well not just passing, racing by. You want to do so many things and there is so little time. As a child my mom often told me that it seemed I wanted to live ten lives instead of one.

And it might be true. I liked doing many things and having many hobbies. I mean, I don’t want to waste my time, right? But since I couldn’t do literally everything at the same time, my mom had to slow me down. I was a natural butterfly and needed to learn to be a snail at times.. Well maybe not a snail..anyway I needed to learn to take it slow sometimes. One thing had a time.

Sometimes it’s also about making choices and sometimes about being overly excited. When I was six I was in a dancing class, but I also wanted to be a ballerina, go horseback riding, play the piano and.. oh I wanted to be a writer too. You might guess it, but my parents didn’t allow me to take on everything. So, I sticked with the dancing class and a few years later I switched to a new hobby and when I was fifteen I finally went horseback riding. There is a time for everything, but not all at the same time.

IMG_1855

How does this compare to a butterfly? Well, these wonderful creatures don’t rest. I guess since they don’t live that long, they don’t want to stop. It was actually hard to capture them on camera properly. And it reminded me of what a teacher once told me..that I had to choose and focus on how I wanted to approach my writing. I was too much of a butterfly.

That advice stuck and now I try to apply it to all aspects of my life. Wait and wonder and don’t fly on to the next thing right away. Of course my mom has also tried to make that clear to me for years. Sometimes you need to hear it from a stranger to actually listen. And I still need to stop myself at times. To take a moment and rest and not run around filling my day with all the things I want to do.

So that is also why I try not to plan too much in my free time. I want to do so many things like see my family, meet my friends, go running, walk my dogs and watch a movie. And now I try to not be such a butterfly every day. It’s also too exhausting. Some days it’s ok if I run around and do everything on my daily bucket list. Other days I just want to relax and do tops one activity.

IMG_1857

I still love butterflies and I admire how they freely fly around filling their days. But I also think it’s ok to not worry about your life racing by. Since we don’t have time to do everything, we should enjoy the things we do even more. You know the famous quotes like ‘Live in the moment’ and ‘Be present’ and I add one more ‘Don’t worry about what you can’t do, be happy with what you are doing.’  Being free like a butterfly also means being free of time. Don’t let time trap you and make you feel anxious about it. At least that’s what I’m trying to do. 

When you have a bad week…

Now you might think.. what’s a ‘recovery plan’? Is this girl crazy? Let me explain. It’s my own personalized plan to get out of that bad funk I’m in. What about these three ingredients? Well here they are:

  1. Me-time: I need some time to pamper myself, relax, think, analyze, exercise and chill on the couch.
  2. Family: this one was difficult living far away, but now that I have my family close, this one is the best. Just some time to be surrounded by the people who love you no matter what.
  3. Friends: and last but definitely not least I need my friends. My friends are the best to give me perspective and when we’re done with that, they make me laugh. 

FullSizeRender (2)

And what happened last time I had a bad week? On the first day I had a huge discussion with someone I cared about and I saw no way how to solve it. On the second day, after sleeping quite decent and that’s actually exceptional for me, I had a slower start. When getting my bicycle I started putting the lock on.. instead of getting the bike out of the shed.. I know not a huge shocker, but I’m a morning person and it just indicates how my mind was not there.

On the third day the discussion continued and it was clear that there was no happy outcome. It was solved, but not the way I hoped. Luckily ingredient number two came to the rescue, my mom. I came home to some beautiful flowers left on my kitchen table with a note from my mom. That softened the blow just a bit.

Sometimes it might be hard to get out of bed when you’re feeling low and on the fourth day even my dogs were affected. Ok, my doggy Igor was affected and yes he’s always lazy, but on this day I had to convince him to go for a walk. His laziness did help me, cause it definitely made me laugh how he was struggling to get out of bed. Usually during a ‘bad’ week going to work is also the last thing on your mind. However the friendly barista at the office helped me once again with a positive start of my day. The extra cookie I got, added just the bit of sweetness I craved for.

IMG_1507

I think the main point to remember when you’re down is that there are good things happening too. Sometimes it’s harder to notice them or you need an extra dose of goodness, but it is there. That’s why I have my ‘recovery plan’ in place. During my bad moments I need some extra tender, love and care. And when I’m feeling on top I can give some extra to someone else in need. That’s how we can all work together and maybe make things just a bit less sour.

Keep on running..!

You might wonder now.. why would you do that? I wasn’t sure at first, but let’s start at the beginning. A few months ago I decided it was time to get in shape and hit the gym. Before making this decision I was sure I could do that all by myself at home. I was going to watch some ‘Billy’s Bootcamp’ videos and get in shape, just like that. Actually, those videos really work. When I was motivated and disciplined enough to use them a few years back, it did work. I don’t know if got a bit lazier now or if I needed more social contact, but I definitely wasn’t motivated now.

IMG_1314.JPG

So, it was time for the gym. My coach at the gym gave me a whole workout schedule that I could easily follow. My active lifestyle had begun. I was hitting the gym about three times a week, but it wasn’t enough. Next to the exercises with weights, I had to start doing cardio. At first it was Zumba class and then I switched over to my greatest fear. The treadmill. I only liked to power walk on the treadmill. Outside I only liked to power walk too. And that´s what I did, power walking all the way.

However.. you might guess this, but I still wasn’t happy with the results. Another factor that contributed to my dissatisfaction is that I felt I was neglecting my dogs. I know, it might be overreacting, but I didn’t like leaving them alone so much. I thought maybe more power walking outside then? When I told my boyfriend about this, he just laughed at me. Apparently running was more effective. Ah no, really? I have to run? That was my reaction to that. But what did I have to lose? Apart from the weight that I wasn’t losing.

It was time to face my fears, for real this time. I started running.. on the treadmill. To my surprise it was so much easier than I remembered. I can run? That’s not possible or is it? After a little while I could run 10 minutes at a time. What an accomplishment right. This had to be tested outside, with my dogs of course.

So, one day I put on my sporting gear and got my dogs ready. Obviously I had to give them a little pep-talk first. After all this would be a first for them too. Not the running part, but the running with me part. They seemed a bit surprised, but then it was me who was surprised. I liked it! Never thought I would see the day that I would like running. And again it was so much easier than I thought it would be. I guess prepping in the gym for a few months did help.

IMG_1325

And now I am one of those people who can run. Ok, I will not exaggerate. At the moment I can run 3,5 kilometers. Please don’t laugh, this is huge for me. But, since I won’t stop, I will keep on improving. Hopefully soon it will 5 kilometers, then 7 and who knows where I’ll end up. I just have one more thing to say. Don’t knock it before you try it. Or before you try it again. So keep on running!