Monday, October 28, 2013


Good morning!  Happy Monday!  How are you recovering from the weekend?  There was a lot going on I hear; house-warming parties, wine tours.  My goodness you're a social bunch ;) 

Yesterday I held my (late) Thanksgiving dinner for a party of 6.  I was of two minds about it after last week's post/breakdown; I wasn't sure if I was ready to be surrounded by a few people or if I wanted time by myself, and When we arrived at the butcher Friday to pick up the turkey we were surprised; we ordered a 3 kilo turkey.  We were presented with 6.9 kilos. That's over a 15 lb turkey! For 6 people!  (Woo! Leftovers!)  That was the smallest they could find and they did give us a fair deal, price wise.  So we lugged out turkey home and found room for it in the fridge. 

There was plenty of food on the table and everyone was quite sated.  Turkey, ciabatta pancetta and apple stuffing (I made the night before and it was a hit), carrots, mashed potatoes, buns, green beans.  For dessert there was a simple apple crisp and (homemade) Toblerone Semifreddo (semifreddo = 'half frozen', similar to ice cream).  I have to say they were a perfect combination.  Then tea and winding down. 

His parents were sweet and got me a couple of small Friesian-style gifts (welcoming me to the country, STILL, after almost being here 4 months).  Of the friends that came (a married couple), she gave me a food item (for my recipes) I've had a hard time locating.  I've definitely been blessed to be around such generous people.  It was a very 'gezellig' (cozy) evening. 

Part of me is still very hesitant to get close to these people.  I've just left my home base and I'm conscious enough to not want to fill the gaping void with just anyone.  These people aren't just anyone, but I think it's taking a while for my head to catch up with my heart.  All part of the adjustment.

Speaking of which, I've been making more of a mental conscious effort to acknowledge my move/change and it's going well.  Much better than before, actually.  I'm trying to remain more in the moment than in my head.  Success.

I still miss Babu.

We had a time change this weekend.  And guess what.. they do it on a *Saturday*, not a Sunday.  I always joke w/W. that they do everything backwards.  Not this one.  It would make getting to work at the proper time on a Monday morning go *much more* stress free!  They've got it right!

Very windy today (gail force winds up to 120+km/hr) but sunny, so I might just chance going out for a walk.  If you don't hear from me in a day, send out the search and rescue ;)

Have a great day!


I wanted to write this post last week (a day after the last post, to be exact), but life got a little busy.  I still wanted to communicate a couple thoughts though, before moving on to the next post. 

The friend I spoke to after writing said email last week said to me that I was brave (moving here).  It's weird, but to me it's not a big deal/not something I feel 'brave' over, etc.  I never know how to respond to comments like that. I did what I wanted to do. 

What's brave to me is writing that last post.  Brave is baring all my emotions which could be open to judgement, ridicule or opinions I may or may not be ready to hear.  I was just thinking; it's funny.. in highschool I, okay, stood out a little (intentionally), but scholastically or emotionally I was never good enough, or I was always judged* and ended up hiding a lot of things I was feeling (which, in hindsight, lead to a period of heavy depression in my teens but I digress), where now I've evolved into a human who doesn't shy away from expressing my feelings and find it more freeing, than fearful. 

That day with the breakdown/breakthrough?  My day didn't end there.  I decided it was a good idea to spill soup on my boyfriend's computer.  That he uses for work.  That he's financially responsible for.  That had a large project due today.  I felt awful.  To say I panicked and freaked out, is an understatement. After a tearful text to a friend of his, he came over, pulled it all apart and we cleaned it up.  After reassembly, it's only the keyboard that doesn't work.  Phew.  I'll happily pay for a new keyboard replacement instead of a whole computer any day.  We have a plug-in keyboard for now.  Goodness; that day was just too much stress.

Now onto the next post!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Starting Over

There are a hundred titles I've thought of for this post...
"Breaking Through"

I can't decide.

With a bit of a breakdown this morning, I had a bit of a breakthrough (they go hand-in-hand, I think.  I'm also channelling my inner BrenĂ© Brown). What started as an email to a friend about a lack-lustre prayer life, ended up turning into a confessional.  Except not so much to them, as to myself.  I'd given a voice to what has been silently bothering me for the last 3 months.  With my lack of talking to friends (like, real conversations, I don't mean "how are you liking it there? or What's different? or How's the weather?")** or blogging, I've been keeping inside what (I think) makes me - me; expressing my vulnerability, really talking about life and it's meaning or impact on ourselves or each other or challenging ourselves.  Needless to say I've been stuck in my head a lot... and for whoever's been there... that's *not* a good thing.  After said email, I spoke to a friend who gave me things I needed to hear and helped raise some awareness.  So it's time for me to get honest.  Brutal truth, guys.  Brace yourselves (or maybe I should...) :/

I'm overwhelmed.
I feel stuck.
I shut off way too often (Facebook? Pinterest, anyone?).
I rush through situations that are uncomfortable (usually per language barriers).
I see my admitting overwhelm as a sign of weakness and it is attached with guilt (how can I feel overwhelmed? I'm not working a 50-hr week, have 5 projects on the go or involved with 3 clubs).
I've been using food as comfort (my ever-expanding waistline is a proving indication).
I've had much higher expectations of myself coming here than I was willing to admit (part inflicted by me, part inflicted by society and friends).
The kicker is I hide all of those points.  Even to W. sometimes (s'ok, you can judge). 

I have now been challenged to re-write what I see as 'overwhelm' and conversely, 'successful'. 

Overwhelm is not always having 50 things on the go. Sometimes overwhelm is having one major thing on the go, with maybe 5 baby things trailing behind it.  Overwhelm is being reminded *every minute* that I am in a situation that has no "quick fix" and that it will take a lot of time and effort to get to a point where I will be completely comfortable (like with the language, or not being able to find a job).  Overwhelm is trying to be okay with the fact that I have control issues and I am in a situation that in part, I have no control over.  Overwhelm is wanting to learn a language in 5 minutes so I can move on with life and not feel like an outsider.  Overwhelm is having my bf's mother encourage me to look into getting a Dutch drivers licence when I have (yet) no desire to drive.  Overwhelm is feeling happy in a life I wanted to be in with a man that loves me but feeling conflicted because I miss my friends, my town, the comfortable flow I had in my life, my sociability, my (let's get real)... safety zone.

Success is not always becoming CEO, or having lots of friends, or the biggest house on the block.  Success is moving to a new country, leaving everyone and everything familiar behind.  Success is, when you do have the nerve, to smile and say hello to your neighbour and comment on the weather - in your new language.  Success is admitting overwhelm.  Success is feeling like crap but seeing the positive anyways.  Success is being gentle with yourself.  Repeatedly.  Success is giving yourself permission to feel ovewhelmed, in any situation.  Success is after you think that by moving to a new country you're starting over, that three and a half months into said move, do you indeed need to state again that you are "starting over" (see explanation below).

It's hard to find a point of where to start (moving on, moving forward) since there's so much to do.  What's the indicator that tells you how and where to begin?  That's the hard part.  So, for today and moving forward, I will look at things with a fresh perspective.  This is a big deal.  There is a lot of effort involved.  It will take a lot of time.  I will need to make baby steps to get to the bigger things that I visualize in my head I see happening for me.  Now that I've given it a voice, I'm okay with it (instead of running away from it).  I'm okay with there having to be effort.  There is now a sort of peace (temporary, I'm sure).  Or maybe I should say.. I've reached a point now that I can relax a bit and let life come to me, instead of pushing through to get to it

On that note, I am going to make a late lunch and get out for a bike ride.  I hope you're having a fabulous week!

** Not to say I don't enjoy these conversations; I just find I need a bit more of the dig-deep, feeling-connected ones.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Last weekend we went to Utrecht on a whim.  We had no plans on the Sunday and felt like being adventurous.  Utrecht was one of the cities open so we went on a day trip.  We got a bit of a late start to the day, leaving just before noon (on a 2.5 hr train ride) but arrived just fine and enjoyed the city. 

We went to see the Domkerk (Dom church) first off.  The current building as it stands was built in the 1300's and the nave was destroyed by a hurricane in the 1600's.  So what exists now is the rear of the church (more details on Wiki) and the tower.  There's plenty of seating and they have a beautiful organ.  Any carvings or statues of saints (attached to the walls) are destroyed, usually in the face area, from the Reformation.  There are a couple tombs inside which is pretty cool.  Unfortunately I was unable to take pictures as they weren't allowed. 

After that we walked around, in and out of shops (I found a kitchen store to die for - they had everything - but unfortunately one of the few stores in the Netherlands that does not ship online).  We went for dinner at a restaurant (with horrible service, but good food) seated down on the water beside the canal.  It was a great spot.  A little cool; a scarf was required, but still enjoyable. 

They are much more fashionable in Utrecht.  They also had a laisez-faire attitude about the day, stopping and resting on marble steps, soaking in the sun.  Typical what you'd expect from the French, but not behaviour I'd associate with the Dutch.  It was nice to see and also experience.

Looking across from us when we were having dinner.  They've made use of the canal space below ground and created restaurant seating.

View from the table.  We also saw people in paddleboats or small motor boats go through the canal.  A wonderful way to tour the city and relax. Almost *every* boat had beer in it (Heineken), something, I told W., you would *not* see in Canada.

View of Domkerk in the street

Domkerk tower.

Small alleyway near Domkerk. I think this was attached to or very close to the church tower and there was a small area blocked off by a black iron gate that held the stone remains from the circular stairs that would have gone up. Meant to take a picture of that; sorry :/

Cultural Differences

I really don't know why I bother to say I'm taking a break, when I write 5 days later anyways.  I've gone longer than that without saying anything.  Okay.. so no more "I'm on a break" messages.  What I do have for you today is a list of cultural differences I've been noting.  Random, as listed..

Coffee.  It's much stronger here (note: I notice it in taste, not per caffeine as caffeine doesn't affect me).  When you go out for a coffee you can expect it to be at least twice as strong as coffee from back home, if not more.  So brace yourself.  Oh, and smaller.  Their coffees are in smaller doses (perhaps ammended per the stronger taste. I have no idea). 

Lemonade.  What they call lemonade and what we call lemonade are two totally different things.  First of all, what *we* call lemonade actually has lemon (or some form of) in it.  Here, lemonade can be any base syrup mixed with water (i.e grenadene and the like).  I just can't get on board with this yet.  Lemonade is LEMONade.  Gah.  *throws hands in air*

You can't order a drink with rye; they look at you funny.  It's whiskey.  Even scotch is known as and better translated as whiskey.  When I say I'd like a whiskey and Coke, they'll bring me something like Jameson, or.. strong like Glenlivet.  Not Canadian Club (it does exist in the stores!).  Beer is also served in a glass (usually), and by half pints.

Some of you have seen this already when I mentioned it on Facebook; doctor's waiting rooms.  I notice everyone says hello when entering the waiting room.  To complete strangers.  All the time.  I haven't gotten my head around this yet.  The North American mentality is go in, keep to yourself, don't talk to anyone and wait 30 minutes until you're called.  Here, you walk in, say hello (even if they walk by they say hi), la-dee-da kill time somehow until you're called, about 10-15 min later, if that.  They seem to have a sort of, "Well, we're all in this together," way about it.  While pleasant, it's taking me some time to get used to. 

You can buy anything online.  Anything.  And it ships in a day.  Food?  Sure.  Kitchen appliances?  No problem.  Anything.  I love the speed in which they deliver.  Your item can often arrive the next day.  Beat that, Canada.

Oh.. the supermarket.  It's pretty much the same layout as you'd expect.  When you go to cash out, it's a bit different.  I think I've mentioned the cashiers are always sitting; a good way to save your back (I don't know why we don't do this).  You also have to bag your own groceries, even at the nicer stores.  Quickly, btw, so the guy behind you's stuff doesn't get mixed in with yours.  No pressure.  While you're bagging (or putting back in the cart and boxing later at your bike/car etc) at marathon speeds, also pay and punch in your debit code.  Got 5 hands?  Okay, I exagerate slightly, but it is a bag-your-own and do-it-quickly situation.  Oh, I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but when paying and forgot something, or grabbed the wrong sale item, it's common to return back to the original spot - leaving 5 people behind you waiting, grab the correct item and hurry back.  My North American head screaming, "What the hell are you doing?! Can't you see I'm in a hurry here!!" went off pretty fast, but I kept my mouth shut.  Then I remembered where I was.  If they're not worried about it, then I won't be either.  I've got no place to go.  So I sit back and wait.   Look, I'm becoming a local already :P

Shoes.  People don't take them off when visiting at someone else's house.  This is not me and definitely not how I was raised.  It irks me slightly, but I keep to myself about it.  W is pretty good about it without me having to ask, but sometimes we'll come in with groceries and 20 min later he'll still have his shoes on.  I'll say, "Shoes" and he goes takes them off.  (What??  I just vaccuumed!) /OCD   I remember when we went to visit family friends the first day I was here.  I took my shoes off at the door and they looked at me funny, questioning what I was doing.  It was the strangest thing.

Well, that's it for now.  I'll keep trying to note more for you!

Copyright Text