Sunday, November 30, 2014

Past Demons

So the other day when I received my new (old) phone from my dad (I got his old iPhone 4S since mine went kaput), there was a thumb drive in the box.  I was excited to look at the pictures, not even being able to imagine what they could have been of.

Ha!  They were of when I was a kid.  I'd say from around... 3? 4?  (Man, I was so adorable.)  To about... 13?  Maybe 14 is pushing it.  (Also, the haircut I had at a certain age.. I think it was around.. 10?  Will never. be. published.  I think my mother and I need to have a talk.)

First thing I notice:  I'm wearing shorts.  I don't mean just shorts, but short-shorts, that were characteristic of the 80's (and the jelly shoes.. omg.  Anyways..).  Following thought process: People who wear shorts or short-shorts are usually thinner.  Wait.. I was wearing short-shorts.  WAIT A MINUTE... I WAS......THIN! (Let me preface this by stating I wasn't "thin"  like skinny-people/skin-and/bones thin, but was very healthy and "normal" looking and nothing that would tell you I would have a future of being overweight).

Commence complex.

*flips through pictures*
Oh.. jelly bracelets.  I remember those.  Wow, I wore it all, didn't I?  The iconic 80's child.
Oh!  I *loved* that bathing suit!  Haha.. yeah.. we used that slip-n-slide a lot.
Wait.  Bathing suit.  Did I have a complex about my self-image in that bathing suit?  I don't *think* so.  But, maybe I did a little and I was too young to care.  I don't know.
Oh, there's dad's Labatt 50's on the picnic table.  God love him.  I remember one day when I was like.. 4?  He let me have a sip of that '50.  Thus my drinking career started early ;)
Pics of us in Algonquin Park.  We really did love that water.  I *loved* canoeing.
Wait.. I wore pixie boots?  Buahahaha.  Oh wow.
Aww.. my grandma and grandpa W. *sniff*

I knew I was different, but I couldn't place how.  I was significantly taller than most kids we hung out with at my dad's, including my (step, both) brother and sister.  They were short (I think I still have them beat.  My sister, anyways).  So I remember always feeling.. out of proportion (read: growing).  But *never* unhealthy and never... fat.  Fat came later.

I can't tell you the exact day or time things turned.  I can tell you by the pictures I started to put on a couple more pounds at around 13?  Definitely 14.  But I was still.. fairly 'normal' looking.  All I remember is being made to feel by family (more so the house I grew up in, than at my dad's)... not normal and always being "chunky" or having "a few extra pounds" or... /insert criticism here/.  I can inflect that it was a certain family member, but I'll stop while I'm ahead.

Demons.  I had voices in my head about not being enough at an age where I should have been told I *was* enough and that I *was* healthy, etc etc.  Someone decided to inflect their opinions and their own demons on MY life.  And of course, enter highschool where judgement is everywhere and it all went downhill from there.  The mental and emotional abuse that occurred in the home goes without saying (towards contributing).  Without a frequent enough support system and healthy way of viewing the self, I was pre-destined to fail.

Remember that complex I started having?  Well, I failed.  In this category, it has been a constant battle for 25 years.. and I failed.  I'm probably at my worse weight to date and have picked up extra health ailments along the way for fun.  Don't worry, the self-criticism will stop soon (another bonus from my past).  Now I have to re-write those demons.  Or really.. tell them to fuck off.  Because that's all they are.  Demons.  They're as big or as little as I want them to be.  HOW to tell them to take a hike, I haven't worked that out yet.  Is it that simple?  Do I just tell them they're not serving me anymore and to leave?  I don't know.  More of a stark realization, is seeing that they're mostly someone else's demons/voices.  Mine just learned to come along for the ride.  Oh, and of course pick up the slack when those real voices weren't as strong... cause... apparently I'm a glutton for punishment.  Learned behaviour is.. learned.  Always have some sort of negative attention.

Anyhoo... I can step back and realize I'm blessed I've seen the bigger picture.  I've seen it wasn't me.  I've seen I *was* enough just as I was at (eg) 8 years old.  I have a lot of work to sooth and console the inner child.  I'll need to give her some extra attention in the immediate future.  I'll challenge every self-critical thought I have.

What is the 'silver lining' that I so often see, here?  Hmm.  It's obviously made me who I am today, but I am quick to say that "that" part of me I don't love so much (quick with the self-criticism there).  But how else has it served me?  How else has it shaped who I've become?  This answer isn't so quick to the tongue, so I'll have to sit with it a while.

And by God, I'll do everything in my power to not become the 'parent' to W's 3 boys like how some others were parents to me.  I won't continue that pattern of handing-down demons.  I'm not perfect, and I might even fail sometimes, but I'll be quick to forgive and repair it when I can.

Challenge where your inner demons come from.  Ask yourself if they're serving you any purpose.  If they're not, tell yourself it's okay to let them go.  Really.  It's okay.

It's the First Sunday of Advent this weekend.  I do love Christmas in the Church; it's so magical.  Find your faith, whatever it is, and find those that care about you and surround yourself with them.  Life is too short to live by someone else's fears and anger.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


"In life you don't always get to pick your destination, sometimes you have to explore where the wind takes you."

"I think we'd like life to be a train, but it turns out to be a sailboat."
~ Barbara Brown Taylor

This was a lightbulb moment for me today and something I definitely needed to hear.  I keep attached to the idea that it is (or should be) a straight Point A to Point B path to reach my 'destination' or desires.  What I have in mind for myself what I'd like in this world.  When what I really need to do is let go and accept that I will get to my destination, but it might not be how I think it should go (I know, shocker).  I don't know why I think it should be a straight line, a clear path, something obvious.  But it's not.  It's not clear at all.

Getting attached to certain ideas can get in the way of us attaining what we really want.  When we're not remaining open to life unfolding, I almost perceive it like a folding/accordian type door.  It bunches up and blocks and gets in the way.  My next lesson will be to learn to let go.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pregnancies (not mine!), Alcohol Checks and Moving Forward

Hello all.

I recently went with a fellow expat friend to a cafe to meet with a group of other expats to practice the language.  There's a man that leads it who's been in the country for almost 40 years and likes to help.  There were several of us the other night and it went well.  I was a bit (read: a lot) overwhelmed, but I trudged through.  I even participated a little.  I ended the evening both tired and stimulated.  I think I'll go back and give it a try for a bit.  Even if I didn't understand everything, I think it got the 'ol gear box working, y'know?  It already enforced more Dutch thinking through the week and even though it started to taper off the longer the week went, it's still good progress. W. was impressed with my reading/translating tonight.

It's also been decided that I'm (even more so) joining the magazine editors team.  I already contribute recipes, but now I'm going to be helping W. with graphic design.  I'm even learning Adobe's InDesign.  The guy who was doing it had to leave, so I'm stepping in to help out.  Besides, it's something else to add to the resume and it makes my not-working time more constructive.  All of this is good progress; I'm not working, yet somehow I'm being kept busy.  I'm very grateful for this.

I don't know if many of you have heard of Ello (  It's touted as the new anti-Facebook.  It's very simple and clean-looking.  You can sign up to be on the waiting list, or get an invite from a friend who already made it on (also) through an invite from a friend.  It's very quiet now with not a lot of people on it and it's still in beta stage.  Anything that gives me a break from Facebook wins, so... yeah.  I'll say that after looking at some people's profiles (your profile is public) that it's very much for the art or culturally-minded community.  Lots of art.  Lots of photography.  I'm not sure I fit there.  I used to be this person, but it's been a very long time.  I really miss Google+, I'm not gonna lie.  Not as many people are on it as Facebook (or at least they weren't when I walked away over a year or two ago) and you had more control over who could see or not see your posts, but maybe I'll try again and see who's lurking.  Last I checked there were new friends on that hadn't previously joined.  Google+ 's network is fantastic.  Much more user-friendly, I think.

There were a couple other things I wanted to talk about, but I'm going to put them on the back-burner and talk about them another time.  I wanted to share a couple of cultural differences, 'cause you know those are always fun.

So the other night on my way to choir, I was on the bus and when we turned one of the street corners, traffic came to a dead stop.  You know how it goes, everyone pokes their heads up and around to see if they can tell what's going on.  There's talk and guesses what's holding us up.  Yeah, they had an alcohol check.  So get this.. the set up is pretty much the same; cops in the middle of the road, stopping traffic both ways to check for alcohol consumption (on a busy one-lane street, no less), there's two of them per station.  They check you for alcohol alright.  They make you blow on the spot!  Every.  Single.  Vehicle.  Even our busdriver had to blow!  They have their devices with disposable cap thingies to replace with each use.  Our police guy's partner was holding two bags of them.  On.  The.  Spot.  They're not messing around!  I think it's fabulous!  MUCH less room for error, much less guessing (for the cop, and for you and your chances. "Oh, I've just had two tonight, it's a weeknight, a RIDE Program won't be out, I'll be fine.  BAM!  You'll be 'fine' alright because you'll get a fine). How it works after they find alcohol in your system, I don't know how that process works.  In this instance they couldn't have exactly made you pull over, cause there was nowhere to pull over *to*.  So I shall ask around about that.  WHY they're not doing this where I'm from is beyond me.

Gosh, there was another cultural difference I wanted to write about.  Hmm.. this one is kind of a two-parter that I don't have time for, but I will get into it a little bit.  So.. the list of my friends becoming pregnant around the globe is growing.  Had babies.  Having babies.  Going to have babies.  Your social life quickly diminishes if you are of the non-baby community).  Gah.  It's an epidemic everywhere :P  Anyhoo... did you know that when you have a baby here, there is help that comes to the house to help you clean (and do laundry), make meals, they make tea and cut cake for guests, cut your flowers.  Like.. the whole shibang.  I couldn't believe it.  Again... fantastic idea!  You're alloted a certain amount of hours (which is fairly substantial, from what I remember) and I believe everyone has access to this.  Maternity leave is much shorter though (compared to Ontario); 16 weeks (combination of time off includes both before and after birth).  I do side more with the year off that Ontario has; it benefits everyone.

I've decided to make (at least) one recipe a week out of my Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table cookbook.  I've made a few already (and will exclude those) and have really enjoyed them.  It'll broaden my cooking and baking repertoire and bring new dishes into the house at meal times.  Much needed!

Okay, I'm going to take off.  It's Saturday, so it's sit-back-and-binge-watch-Doctor-Who night.  I better get the popcorn ready.

Hope y'all are having a good weekend.  If the weather is as beautiful as it is here, be sure to get out.  There is much colder weather coming around the corner.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cultural Differences

I've been brewing this one for a while.  Since things are a bit stressful here, I thought I would make a fun post. Since I've been talking about doing this post for a while, I thought it was high time.

Births.  I can't comment too much on this because I (obviously) have not had personal experience with this.  However, being able to witness these experiences through my friends, I'm getting an idea what giving birth in the Netherlands is like.  Most births are at home (you can also go to a birthing centre (that is not a hospital) or a hospital).  The Dutch are very relaxed when it comes to birthing and very much believe in listening to the mother's body (not the many machines one would be hooked up to in North America).  I don't know if I would ever choose this option, but a lot of them do it without flinching.  Also little to no meds.  Sometimes they'll even start walking the baby on the birth day.  It sounds silly (really; I'd have to witness this to believe it) but they like to test motor skills - and they keep them walking!  We also have friends who started feeding whole foods to their baby after a few weeks (i.e very soft, very steamed vegetables).  I think this is fabulous.  So they're very much progressed in this area.

Deaths.  One of W's uncle's wives passed away recently (cancer) and I was informed the body stayed at home until cremation.  I'll tell you flat out I did *not* believe this one at first.  What has been considered an old practice in Canada from a hundred years ago, is still done here today.  Not always, but I think it depends what the deceased wants, what the living wants, type of death, etc.  I believe it's very rare for embalming (not typical Dutch practice) so they'll rent a cooler bed and place it under the body to keep it for a few days until the body will be cremated (I think it was 4 in this case?).  I'm not kidding you.  The body was at home.  They were receiving no visitors at this time (I think this is by choice?).  I take things in stride usually and haven't gotten *that* much culture shock here, but this one threw me.  We were unable to attend the funeral as it was quite a distance away, but I heard it was nice.  In typical Dutch fashion, they view death a little differently than we do, I think.  Where you and I might find it obsurd and unfathomable, they find it a personal way to say goodbye instead of in a cold, impersonal funeral home.  There's something to be said for that.  W. promptly told me (when we were having this discussion) that I was going to the funeral home right away and it's not open to discussion :)  I was okay with that.  Not that I'd given it much thought.  Not in this country, anyways.

The dentist.  When I went for my dental checkup I was surprised how little I was in the chair.  Maybe.. 5-10 minutes?  They didn't do all the stuff you'd expect from a dentist in Canada.  No flouride (I think it's discouraged here, but I'm guessing based on cultural observations), no cleaning.  The dentist does most of it himself; he looks you over, flosses, etc etc, but you're not in the chair for half an hour getting things done by a hygenist.  While I was very skeptical he was doing a good job, he did notice a couple things upon observation that you wouldn't know to look for unless you were really looking.  I've seen him a couple times since and I have faith he's a good dentist.  When I become more comfortable, I'll ask why they don't do all that stuff they do in Canada.

It seems to me there were a couple of smaller things I wanted to discuss, but I don't remember.  I think I'll wrap it up for now anyways since it's dinner time (@ 18:30 - late by Dutch standards!) and W. will be home soon.

Hope y'all have a great weekend.  Supposed to be a bit warmer this weekend, if not much sun. Get outside before it gets too cold to!

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Continue to Find Myself

A hundred things to do and all I want to do is (feel overwhelmed not being able to pick one and) procrastinate and blog.  I'm feeling quite hungry so I've grabbed leftovers of a salad in the fridge until I can decide what to make for a real lunch.  I have a craving for mac 'n cheese, but I don't think we have the necessary ingredients for me to make it.

I've been quiet for the past month because I've been working out a lot in my head.  Almost a month back I'd had a bad day.  Like, a really bad day.  I'd become so homesick, I'd felt this bottomless black pit of a swirling hole inside me that was no longer filled.  I wanted nothing but to go back.  I felt trapped.  I felt alone.  I fell into a deep depression (uncrontrollable crying, not eating, oversleeping, no talking, etc) for 24hrs.  I'd left my family (read: my friends are my family).  How could I leave my family?  I felt the pangs of separation like I was that 12-year old girl away at (2 week-long) camp for the first time.  The inconsolable pangs of questioning if you did the right thing, how to fix it and how to make the pain go away (read: get home as soon as possible).  Even in my darkest hour I know I've done the right thing, that was no question, but I also knew there was no taking the pain away.  I'd just have to ride it out.  I knew my friends were my family and I knew I relied on them a lot, but it only occurred to me now how much.  I'd been grateful enough to receive care packages from a couple friends when closer to when I first arrived and I'd wanted nothing more at this time, yet I had problems asking for it.  I'd wanted that tangible...something.. that helped me feel connected to a place I'd left behind.  I didn't want to put anyone out and I guess I knew it was a temporary 'feeling' and as soon as it would pass, that 'tangible something' would arrive beyond my difficulties.  Funny thinking, that. As if I could appreciate something like that any less.

I didn't discuss it with any of my Canadian friends, by choice.  It was part of letting go and the growth process.  I know I could have, and I know I would have been loved and consoled.  But this was also an opportunity for my "new" family to prove themselves (for lack of better terms), or to show me what place they will take in my life, just like everyone had a place in my life in Canada.  I'm not trying to say this in a haughty way.  I'm not trying to replace you at all, but in such circumstances, one needs to find ways on creating a new life in an effort to fill the void.  W. talked with me about it a lot.  I was able to voice what I'd discovered about myself, my parents (original and newly adopted), my past.  I got to see some things in a new light.  It was a dark hole, but it was fueled with a higher light and higher purpose.

"Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
~ Terry Pratchett

As predicted, I've come out of it okay.  Even further ahead.  Anytime you learn something about yourself it's a bonus, I say.

This was all happening while I was anxious to make that certain trip I'd talked about in my last post.  In fact, I wanted to make the trip even more at this point because of the above.  It's no secret anymore because it didn't happen.  I was supposed to get my tax money from the CRA, except they didn't finish it in time (and why they hadn't I'll never understand; it's not high tax season, the bastards).  With that money, I was going to go to London, UK.  One of my friends from Canada was travelling over and I wanted dearly to meet up with her.  A real life hug from a Canadian friend.. how joyous that would have been.  I also have an internet friend there and would have met up with her as well.  It wasn't meant to be, unfortunately, so I was a bit sad over that.  (The money still hasn't come through, btw.) :<

There are other things I've learned about myself, but this post is heavy already so it'll have to wait.  On a lighter note, one of our neighbours who just moved in a month or so ago (a younger couple) had the courtesy to stop by and let us know an FYI that they would be having a party Monday night for her birthday and there would be noise, stuff going on outside, etc. She said we were welcomed to stop by... and I think we will :)  We're looking forward to it.

I haven't had a phone for a little while now and ...argh.  I mean, I'm living fine without it, but it sure comes in handy when you're out.  And for messaging.  And instant translating.  It's my old (well, 3yr old) Samsung Galaxy SII.  Problems with the motherboard we think (after much research and troubleshooting).  I took most of the photos off a while ago, thank goodness, but I'm afraid I've lost some contacts now and recent photos.  I don't remember what all I put on my card, so it'll be a surprise when I put it in my new phone.  My dad's sending me his old 4s when he picks up the 6.  It can't come soon enough! :)

It's the weekend!  I have singing tomorrow morning.  I forget the occasion, but we're singing the Litany of the Saints (Latin version).  We're doing a lot of Latin songs tomorrow.  We have a version of O Taste and See (I apologize in advance; turn your sound down, quality isn't great and.. you can turn it off after 20 seonds. Really.  It doesn't get much better) that I don't care for as much as the one we did at COOL.  We have a Marty Haugen song that it true to Marty Haugen form (Soli del Gloria) simple but pleasant :) What other Marty Haugen song have we done?  Was it this one?  We're also doing Veni Creator Spiritus and while I love singing Gregorian Chants, this one was new for me and a bit awkward to learn in the appointed time, but I'll be trying my best.  You have to get the flow and once I get that, it's just a matter of putting words to chant/music.  I can't find the Kyrie Eleison we're doing (Rombach), but it's beautiful and one of my favourite.

Well, I've been sitting for a while, so I'm going to get up and moving.  Gonna head into town to the grocery store for a couple of last-minute things for dinner.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend planned and if you're as fortunate as us - enjoy the weather!  The cold will be upon us before long.

Be well :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Life Continues

I'm going to discuss various things today. Jumping around health, cultural differences and... who knows what else.  Get comfy.  It's a long'un.

Life has been pretty good lately. It's summer, so that means holidays. The north takes their holidays now, and in a week or two, the south take theirs, all for like, 3 weeks or something. I might not be spot-on about that, but it's close. And weird. I explained in Canada while the majority like to take a couple weeks in the summer off, we basically take them when we want. The plus is you know everyone's on holidays and expect that things are a bit slower. The con is... you know everyone's on holidays and expect things to take s-l-o-w-e-r. I digress.

The weather has been pretty fantastic.  It's been hovering anywhere from 23-28.  We've had a couple hot weeks in there, but nothing has beat an Ontario summer.  Really.  When it's hot it's hot, don't get me wrong, but the humidity cannot be matched.  Yet.  I hope not ever.  We had two random downpours in the middle of the night and the last heatwave just broke. Ahhh.

So remember me telling you about going to my doc, explaining that my monthly issues were rather painful and really getting nothing in response?  Well, she had the heart to send me to a gynaecologist. Thank goodness for that.  Went to the specialist (if you're on Facebook you saw my pictures of the hospital cafeteria - O.M.G) and I got answers *on the day*. I'm not kidding. I was in shock.  Never in Canada would I have gotten results that quick and decisive.  I had an exam and she showed me the ultrasound while it happened and explained to me what she saw; what was normal, what wasn't so much. She had an idea what it was when we first started talking, but post-examination she confirmed: PCOS.  I had a diagnosis.  Cure? There isn't one.  Treatment: painkillers.  Naturally, the pill and IUD etc were advised, but I dismissed them as treatment options.  All I care most is about controlling the pain, not as much regulating my cycle (it would be nice, but it's not a priority).  First was shock.  Then there was validation; I wasn't crazy, the pain is real and someone actually HEARD what I was telling them.  Then anger; my body was fighting against itself.  That's not cool and there's not a damn thing I can do to stop it (unbeknownst to me).  I think I've finally come around to acceptance.

I've gone to a couple get-togethers and have met some more people.  Expats, mostly.  I'm still not social a fraction of what I used to be in Canada, which has been something to get used to, but it is what it is.  Oh!  I have met one of my neighbours on a walk, though.  Very nice man with very good English (and he has a cute dog).  I try to be social when I can and I have been trying to come out of my shell more to talk to the locals.  I've been enjoying developing my new friendships.  In fact, I had a party for my one year here (sorry I didn't post that day to celebrate it, but, life y'know? Also.. it was July 4th) and some of my new closest friends came.  Not everyone was able to make it, but we still had a great turnout (for the size of our apartment vs people not being squished) of 10 (and omg presents!).  I made the food stuffs, a basic spread on the table (and I made a strawberry-mint water that I couldn't keep full, it was going over so well, very refreshing!!) and we sat around and talked.  Everyone got to know someone new and they interacted with each other very easily.  I was asked to give a speech and one of the things I said was that meeting such wonderful people helped ease the void of missing my other friends in Canada so much, making it just a *little* bit easier.  It's a compliment to the new people and an ode to the old; you guys gave high standards to live up to and I wouldn't have had it any other way.  I miss you all dearly and you cannot be replaced.  Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

Did I mention a possible trip in September?  Perhaps I did, but I still will not disclose my location until it becomes final.  I'm waiting on good 'ol goverment of Canada to finish my taxes and deposit them in time.  C'moooooon CRA.

At the end of my party I noticed someone exchanging business cards.  I thought it was wonderful that people were networking.  This gave me an idea.  As a side tangent, W and I got talking last night about how to be successful in selling your product or service and what some of the keys are of making that a success.  Marketing, we decided was one.  You can even have, say, an average product, but HOW that product is marketed - clean, polished, professional - can make or break you. You know the others in the list: word of mouth, certain professional habits you can acquire as a person, self-confidence (or even a 'fake it till you make it' mentality) etc etc.  But it got me thinking; what if I held a networking party?  A couple people I know are out of work (me included) and the others are able or looking for additional work. I'm starting to very much believe in asking for help and support from those around me; without that I don't think success is (as) possible.  Who's skills can I enlist in my baking-from-home to help me be successful?  But I'm rambling.  What do you think?  Is this a good idea?

COOLers, please pray for me.  My spiritual life has been dry again and I have not had the dicipline to get my arse to church.  *sighs, ashamed*  I have said a couple basic prayers, but nothing of substance. It really sucks being so far away from a church.  An excuse?  Perhaps.  Reality?  Definitely.

 Well, I think I'm going to list cultural differences in another email. This one is long already!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 31, 2014


"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Technologus Interrupt-us (there's a pun in there)

So I'm going to share something a little more personal today. Let me bring you inside our home for (what would have been) our normal routine.

W. gets up for work and has a shower. He asked me last night if I would start his breakfast while he was in the shower, in an effort to save him time. No problem.  So we both got up at the same time, basically. He had his shower and I started his oatmeal.

I sat on the couch with the iPad, checking messages from the last several hours (one thing about living in a country/time zone 6 hrs ahead of everyone else leaves much for one to catch up with in the morning). Checked basics like email and chat messages, then I went on Facebook. He was not yet out of the shower and there was not much to attend to with his breakfast except to let it cook. I spun through the feed of the last several hours, checking the usual updates and 'shares' (Weird Al Yankovic's Word Crimes exploded overnight, I see. You should watch it if you're a grammar nazi.. it's fantastic).

He got out of the shower and got his breakfast and sat next to me on the couch. Now, he likes to play a couple of games in the morning before work. I knew this, but I was just trying to finish reading my feed quickly aaand.. admittedly I got a bit caught up in it. "I'm almost there," (to where I last read) I said to myself. Spin. Spin. Meanwhile, he's letting me know gently that he'd like to use it. I keep going. I'm almost there, as you know. He lets me know more. I keep spinning. Now he gets vocal about it and after a few seconds I finally shut it off and hand it to him, but with a look. He takes it, turns on his game and we continue staring at each other. He knows I'm thinking something, but I'm not sure he can quite place what it was.

Finally he gets pissy and says, "You know what, it's not worth it." We're on the verge of a fight. Shuts off his game, hands it back to me and walks away. I sigh and said (too late), "It's fine! Play your game!" I shut it off, throw it on the couch and go talk to him. He's polite, but curt....

"...Nope, I can see it's very important to you."
"Can you please talk to me?"
"Nope. It's okay." (read: not at all okay)
I sigh. I stand at the door, he walks past me.
I huff and get his lunch ready for work, frustrated at this point and starting to get upset and maybe slam a couple cupboard doors.
I slightly shout, "I'm trying to talk to you instead of getting angry."
Too late.
Quiet pause.
I slap his sandwhich together, hating that he's leaving the house for work before talking because now I'm starting to get upset. I didn't want to fester with this all day in my head.

Now before I continue on with the rest of the morning, let me preface with what was in my head. What I wasn't saying -> If I don't get moving first thing in the morning (and I sit around and catch up on Facebook or games or computer, etc), I get nothing done. That lack-luster energy follows me the rest of the day. I hate it. I've already spent the last two days feeling unproductive, I didn't want today to be like that too, so that's why I was getting my Facebook in early. Also, sometimes I feel ignored while he's "in his game" on the iPad and I.. don't exist. So, perhaps I felt a little spiteful and wanted to see how he would feel if I did that. He wasn't seeing my master plan at the time.

He comes in the kitchen, leans against the counter facing me and says he's ready to talk now.
I breathe a silent sigh of relief.
I can't help it though, and tears well up even more while I'm trying to vocalize my emotions. I explained what was going on in my head (the unconveyed thoughts) and he pulled me in for a hug. "I never meant to make you feel less important than a game," he says. The anger melts away.

We talk a bit more and all is well before he leaves the house.  /end scene

Near when I was leaving Canada, I had a small get-together at my house. At one point there was just a handful of us (3, 4 maybe) sitting around a table outside. On the topic, I'd mentioned that when I came here, I was going to keep cell phones off the table at dinner time. I'd *literally* heard guffaws, "Ha!"'s and even one very dramatic/slightly comical eyebrow raising. Apparently it was common consensus I lived in my phone. To me, rightly so; I was trying to stay connected to a partner 6000+ miles away which given time differences and work schedules, wasn't easy. Still, I meant it. I would like those friends to know *cough* I have held true to my word. We've even gone as far as making low-tech or tech-free Sundays. No word of a lie. We barely turn on a device on Sundays. Quickly maybe, if I want to check the weather for the day if we're going out, but that's it. Connecting with my partner one-on-one is more important than any technology device.

So I'm left thinking after this morning; at what point are we allowed to 'shut off' (in whatever manner) and at what point do we engage with our partner?  We all need that time to zone out, to get lost in something that is nothing. Unfortunately, I have opportunity to get mine the 10 hours he's gone for the day, and he only has his in the morning or evening. Who am I to interfere?

Well, that's something we're going to have to discuss further I guess. The convencience of an iPad (or insert small personal tech device of choice here) is super nice, but at a price. We've been hearing the adage for a while now; technology in it's connectedness, contributes to us feeling less connected. How do we find that happy medium? Is it possible to make everyone happy?

So.. I shall continue with my day and try to be more productive than I have been, sitting with this in the back of my head. I'll bring it up tonight and see if we can't talk it out more.

How much do you let technology in your house?
Do you know when to shut off and when to engage? Have you talked about it? When is it important for either of you to have your zone-out time? If one zones out with a device for a set time period, what is the other one doing? Is it something productive? Taking care of kids? Their zone-out time/alone time, too? I think a lot of these things are in our head and we make unspoken rules as we go along, but ask yourself when the last time was you talked about it.

Well, there is ironing to do (who irons anymore? Me doing tablecloths, apparently) and walks to go on and errands to run. The weather is fantastic today; sunny with little or no breeze. The heat and humidity is gone.

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Medical...Non Interference

Today's post is coming with a bit of a vent. Warning: there might be language. I'm pissed.  Also.. this has to do with female issues, so if you're squeamish (not that there will be much detail), move along.

I'm calling it a matter that I'm passionate about because... it's about me and my body.  Go figure I would have strong opinions about this. How could I, when the western (Western? Does Western have a capitol at this point?) medical profession usually scuttles me through the system (I think I should type it as, The System. It almost has a body of it's own, doesn't it...) as if I have no voice?  Maybe I should duct tape an 'x' over my mouth. That's right; I don't have a voice because you're (the doctor) not fucking listening anyways.

I went to the doc this morning to do a checkup on my Vitamin D levels. Three months ago we found they were exceptionally low and have since been taking supplements (and getting lots of sun, of course).  I thought we would do new blood tests to check my current levels, but as soon as I told her I was feeling much better for having done so, it didn't seem to cause her concern. So.. do I keep taking the supplements or don't I? I'm confused about this and received no feedback.

Next, I'd given her a list of symptoms I've been having the past 5 months about my cycle, that in some ways have been getting increasingly worse (including pain). I was given a (very) brief exam (literally, 2 seconds) and I was told the following....

1) "Every woman experiences pain during her cycle"
      a) What I heard -> I'm going to dismiss your pain because it sounds normal, regardless of the fact you told me you're doubled over in pain and it feels like / this... / (description held back from the squeamish)
2) Go on the pill. It's the first thing we prescribe.
      b) What I heard -> We have learned to medicate everything, so I'm going to do that in this case, too, without asking further questions. 
3) ..silence..
      c) What I heard -> When you ask me what's causing this pain, I've learned to shake my head and keep in silence because I wouldn't be considered a strong medical professional or person if I told you: I'm sorry, but I really don't know.. because that's our culture and how I've been trained. 

Let me be clear; the symtpoms I gave her are *not* normal. I'm getting so sick and tired of how the Western medical system pushes you through not caring about what's causing your dis-ease, and medicating to cover it up so it's not an issue anymore. That cyst or tumor you have? Oh, we'll get around to it. *said issue explodes*  I'm sorry, you're dead now because we've become complacent.

Now medical professionals, don't go hatin'.  I've worked in health care long enough to know how the system works and I'm *not* discounting the fact that doctors are very intelligent and that some *do* care. We see them for a reason, right?  I'm allowed (right now) to bitch as a patient.  This is the only body I have, and I have to honour it by keeping it as healthy as I can. I don't feel like the current health care System is fucking listening to me; the very same System that was built to care for me when I feel frail, weak, sick, ill, unwell in any way, or at worse, terminal. So how is it servicing me right now? This is the one System that many people lean on for support and care. When you get 10 minutes with a doctor, how are you supposed to connect? How are they supposed to understand what's going on?*

Now, having said all of that, I do see a Japanese acupuncturist. It's the first time ever (I've been seeing him almost a year now) that I've been seeing someone for alternative care (besides chiropractor). I can't say enough about it. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine - and yes, I'm quoting 2 different Eastern medicines, but they do treat along the same values) treats the whole person, not just the dis-ease or symptoms. My acupuncturist has gotten to know me, my disposition, personality and my habits (eating, etc).  He knows when A is off, it's causing a ripple effect for B to be off or out of balance. So you're thinking, why am I bitching about my doctor to begin with when I can just see my acupuncturist? Because (while not necessary) he can treat me better when there's official diagnosis.

After some pushing with my doctor, she's referring me to a gynaecologist to do an ultrasound. That makes me somewhat happy. I can't say I'll stop pushing for answers after that (if it shows nothing), but it's a start.

I'm just so fucking tired of not being listened to about my symptoms. Don't dismiss what I'm telling you as normal when you know damn well it's not!  I just don't get it.. and it upsets me greatly.  It makes me very sad.

Anyways, that's my rant for today. I'm curious if you've had similar experiences, or if there are medical professionals, what your opinion or take on this is.

*Disclaimer; I do like my current doctor for the most part and she's nice enough to get to know me a bit and ask questions at the beginning of an app't. I will say that for her. She has also been right about things in the past. Still, her approach to healthcare is representative of the culture they were raised. She's a bit older and I'm not sure if newer younger doctors come with a different approach.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Need Some Positive!

Okay guys... I'm usually the one to list the "things I'm grateful for" (I do so mostly out of earshot of the blog), but I haven't done it in a while. As I intend to get back into it, I need some inspiration. I would like you to share with me what *you're* grateful for! I would love to hear them! Let's spread some gratitude, people!

List (minimum) 3 things :)


I normally don't honour dead people in my posts (dead celebrities, for that fact) but I can't not post this quote. Hearing the passing of Maya Angelou the other day was a sad one; I didn't know she was unwell, and her mental attitude towards life is one to be inspired after. I remembered I had a quote of hers that I've hung onto.  I've hesitated posting it all these years because.. because.. I don't really have an answer. It's hit me personally and has been an extremely challenging and every time I go to post it, I can't because I'm just not that strong (as the quote implies).

"Just because I am in pain, doesn't mean I have to be one."
 ~ Maya Angelou

I have not become this person. I try, honestly I do, but this is a level of humanity that I have not (and wonder will not) achieve.  But like I said, she's inspiring, and I do try.. so maybe someday.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Unemployment Woes

There have been a million things going on and a million more on my mind, so I haven't the time to write as much as I'd like to. I'm going to write about more pressing thoughts today, though.  I'm waiting for the rain to pass before I go out (though it seems never-ending lately), so it affords me the time.

I was just looking online for work and I came to a roadblock. Well, what I call a roadblock (so it probably means it's not, really. Read: self-imposed).  I was going to forward my resume to this company for a series of jobs they have in hospitality or kitchen help, etc. They asked usual information.. name, address, phone, CV, motivation (what we'd call a cover letter), etc. Then they also want a photo and your date of birth.  Right, cause we all remember how well giving my age went last time. And photo?  Really?  Well, you can see their prorities. Not that I'm saying I feel I necessarily have anything to worry about, but I'm having a rough go as it is, so I don't need reason #563 of why someone won't hire me.

I've been applying for multiple jobs, anything English that I might be remotely qualified for. So far.. nadda.  My dilemma is this: I don't want to apply for jobs that I'm over-qualified for, just in effort to get a job. I don't see why I should have to devalue myself, just to get money. And honestly, I've been doing that the last 20-some years I've been working, so I'm kind of tired of it. But you know the caveat with that... higher standards means less of a chance for a job. Which means we go longer without money. So.. what's a girl to do?  Do I give them my photo and chance it? Do I take that cleaning job that I *really* don't want? Do I start at the bottom of an organization again?

I'm 38. Starting at the bottom, to me, is not an option... but #firstworldproblems (this is a jab at me) .. many immigrants all over the world take jobs they "don't want" and are very "over-qualified for", just to get an income (I once worked with a man in Toronto who was an engineer in India. A bloody brilliant one, too, but because of country-to-country qualifications, he'd have to take certain tests or something in Canada and they costed a LOT of money, so he wasn't able, so retail it was).  So what am I whining about?  Suck it up, princess.

Thing is, I'm not ready to yet. I'm not ready to accept less than I think I'm worth. That's quite a perception though, isn't it, and a hella risky one. Yet I continue to have faith something will come up when it's meant to but... how long will that last me? I have and feel an obligation to provide in this household, so when I'm not it feels like stress (almost more than everything I've just written).

To top it off, there have been external events the past few days that have caused even more stress and things are a little tense around here. Well, they're improving, but slowly and hesitantly. We're both very, very overwhemed, so I apologize if this feels like a 'heavy' or 'down' sort of post.  Just trying to burrow through and make sense of anything else in the meantime. I'm making an active effort not to sink into a depression.

I'd like your feedback; how do you think I should approach jobs? I do not wish for you to comment on my mental state; it is something I won't apologize for and is a by-product of other situations, but any other thoughts are more than welcomed. Do I place value not in myself, but in the job itself.. it is what you make it after all. Or do I uphold my sense of self and sense of value and apply only for these kinds of jobs?

The stupid thing is, I would have had a job months ago if I had computer or engineering qualifications. They need those people like crazy. Quick.. engineering through osmosis. Aaaaand... go!

Be well. We're half way through the week!

Saturday, May 17, 2014


It's been forever since I've written any quotes. This one spoke to me this week. I hope it does for you, too.

"It's impossible," said pride.
"It's risky," said experience.
"It's pointless," said reason.
"Give it a try," whispered the heart.

~ author unknown

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Change of Course

I originally started writing this post yesterday or the day before and my emotions were at a bit of a low.  They've improved slightly so I am better to write today than before.

The past couple days has seen me change my priorities and course in life.  I was testing a recipe late last week and it didn't turn out (end product appearance wise, not taste-wise) and I kind of lost it.  The only thing I could worry about was how much money I was 'wasting' every time something didn't turn out.  Long story short... we don't have the funds right now for me to start a business and all it involves, so I will be actively looking for a job.  Speaking of which, I applied for a super one over the weekend that would be a perfect fit, so I'll ask for your prayers and positive thoughts, please!! :)  The job closed yesterday, so we'll see after that.

I'm sad with this change, though.  I feel as if I'm leaving yet another dream behind.  It scares me.  I don't want to get lost in another dead-end job, just trying to get by, trying to figure myself and life out, hoping to make enough money to make ends meet (well really, anything would be more than I'm making now) and just clocking enough time until retirement.  I'm scared I'll never come back to it again. Perhaps if that's what's meant to be, I should accept it.  Will I ever stop baking?  No.  I love it too much.  Will I still test recipes to use for sale?  Definitely... but when I'm ready and don't feel the stress of "if it doesn't work out, there's another x-€ down the drain".  Yes, I know every time I bake it's a learning experience.. blah blah blah.. but it doesn't take away what was bothering me at the core.  Since I've changed my thinking I feel a lot lighter and I have more headspace now for other things that have been also a priority (language, finding a job, etc), so it was the right decision.  We're making other cost-cutting ideas and putting them into place, one of which is me holding my membership at the gym.  That also made me sad because I am afraid I might not see my friend as often (we meet twice a week), but we share the same concern so I think we'll schedule time together outside of that. It will also force me to channel my efforts elsewhere to fill the need to be social. There is an organization I've been meaning to get in contact with for volunteering, so hopefully that will turn out.

W. has a birthday coming up on the 20th. I believe he shares a birthday with our friend W.W ;)  I have an idea what I might get him, but I'm not sure what to bake for him. Wait.. I think I have an idea.  *drums fingers together evily*

Everything else is fine.  The weather today is dreary, raining off and on.  Spring and summer - a state of perpetual hair frizziness.  #welcometotheNetherlands

The 4th saw Dodenherdenking (or Remembrance Day) and the 5th saw us with Bevrijdingsdag (or Liberation Day).  We went to a big party in a biiiiiiig park (think the entire square footage of Guelph University campus) where there were multiple music acts and stuff going on. I took a couple pics and can try to post sometime.  The crowds were so much we had to leave, I just coudn't do it anymore.   

Mother's Day on Sunday and we're heading with W's parents to Kruidhof. It's a botanical garden place (all outdoors, I believe) one town over.  I've never been but it seems pretty.  If you click the link and scroll down there's a video (you won't understand it but it's nice to watch) and there's a tab at the top to select English, though you don't get the whole site, just a condensed synopsis.  I believe if you run a foreign language page through Chrome it'll interpret it for you.

I'm already planning my one-year party - July 4th, except we're going to hold it on Sunday the 6th in the afternoon.  I will be sending out an email soon asking people to reserve the date.

Well, I have a lot of language I want to practice today before choir, so I better get moving.  Almost the end of the week.  Hope it's been good to you!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Goede vrijdag

Today is Good Friday (or in Dutch, Goede vrijdag).  We're starting out with sunny weather, but it's supposed to turn to rain.  How fitting.  Today is also my birthday.  I'm forgoing any celebrations to honour our Lord's death instead, and I'm okay with that.  I'm listening to Taize songs, what they would be singing back in Canada.  I always loved Easter weekend at church, it's such beautiful music.  I don't care so much for the songs we're singing now.  Besides not understanding them too much yet, they just don't have the solemn 'feel' to them like Taize has.  We have no soloists.

I was a bit sad the other day about missing normal Easter routine at church, but while I was sitting in church Thrusday night, I got to witness new routines.  Our church is the diocesan church and we had like, 12 priests there AND the bishop, several altar servers, even a female deacon (I think? I'm presuming her position) and incense up the wazoo (it was fantastic).  It's always such a sight to witness such a gathering.

So I'm very curious about tonight's service.  I liked Good Friday service the best at COOL; I think they conducted and arranged it very well.  (A small note to anyone reading from COOL.. I can only imagine how stressed out J. is right now, thus stressing everyone else out.  Try not to kill anyone, eh. Hold fast, it's almost over) ;)

In other news... I have my first client!  A friend of mine has asked me to make brownies for her son's birthday on Monday.  Woot!  I just might throw in something a little extra for the "thanks for having faith in me".  :)

Remember how I said the recipes I'm doing are read by like.. 3000 or so people?  Yeah.. no.  Turns out the magazine doesn't have circulation in the whole town (short of volunteers to deliver).  So it's only read by 1800 people.  Wanna hear something, though?  One of the members of the editors team went to interview the other lady who also submits recipes (has been doing it for years, writes cookbooks and stuff) had my breadpudding recipe page open and the recipe made on the counter!  I couldn't believe it!  And then I worry, right.  Inner diaglogue: "Omg, I hope I gave correct measurements." "What if it turns out differently for her? (and not in a good way)" "What if.. " "What if... "  Bah.  I finally let it go and hoped for the best.

Taxes.  Oh, hateful taxes.  Do not move to another country and do your previous country's taxes.  It's hell.  Hell I tell you!  I can't file electronically, I have to do it by mail.  Which I haven't done yet.  Cause I'm still researching..stuff (best way to go about it, etc).  That will be my focus over the next couple days.

Stuff to do, so I best get to it.  I'm attending my first Stations of the Cross this afternoon (better late than never?).  Won't understand it much, but it'll be nice to see.  Then a choir member invited me over for dinner before we have to go back to sing tonight.  That was sweet :)

Oh.. remind me to tell you about how they celebrate birthdays in the Netherlands, later. :)

May you find time to reflect today and remain in prayer.  Peace be with you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thinky Thoughts

I have a few thoughts that have been building up for a while.  Or that.. my frustration has built up and I'm about to pop my top.  I have all of this... stuff... building up, like un-used energy, and I don't know what to do with it. Let's see what this blog post can do.

An observation I've had of late, is the word 'sorry'.  Europeans don't say it as much as we do.  Not half as much.  That's the one thing I (well, both W. and I, actually) noticed when I first came here, was how often I said 'sorry'.  We interject it into sentences or situations so smoothly and stealth-like.  I won't go so far as to say it's lost it's meaning.  I don't think it has.  I just think that we are short of taking ownership of it or our actions and over-using it.  (Addendum: when I say 'we' I mean Canadians. Americans use it a lot too, but I don't think as much as us, really.)  It came to the point that I would be out and about and maybe accidentally bump into someone at the store.  I would say 'sorry', cause that's what we do.  But when someone bumps into me, they don't say sorry.  I would have a knee-jerk reaction of thinking it was rude of them not to.  Okay, perhaps that's a bad example.  Or they'll cut ahead of you in an isle.  They don't apologize for that, either.  I view it as rude, they view it as simply taking their place.  They all do it and we both approach it with a completely different mentality.  One day a Dutch person said sorry to me and I had to turn around and look at them twice, it was so weird.  Now, don't go thinkin' Dutch people are rude.  They're not.  They're some of the kindest and nicest people I've met.  They just.. approach life a little differently.

Funny story; I was writing a recipe for the magazine and at one point I said (translated), "Feel free to add x, y or z to the recipe as other options." W. chuckles and calls me over and he said, "Um, honey.. this part here where you tell people to "feel free"?  Yeah, we don't say that.  You don't tell people here to 'feel free' to do anything. We were occuppied for 5 years... we just do it." Touche.  Fair statement.  After a bit of a laugh and feeling a little lot bad for potentially offending my fellow Dutchies, we removed it :)

So that's a classic example of their mentality, if it helps you at all.  I can't say I'd act any differently.

I find myself saying more and more that things are different here.  A part of me still expects some things to be the same.  Mass, for one, confession for another (these are just a couple examples off the top of my head).  I think these little 'changes' or frustrations are piling up and I'm not sure how I'm processing them in my head.  Holidays are different.  I've already said they don't have the same "whooplah" that we have for holidays back home.  Things aren't as commercialized here and maybe advertised a week or two ahead of the occassion (not 2 months).  My birthday is this coming Friday and I wanted to celebrate but a) I'm not going to celebrate it on Good Friday and b) this is Easter weekend.  Not a lot of people celebrate Easter (at least, not in our circle) but they may be out if the weather is nice.  I haven't bothered to ask for people over for a gathering, really, because I can't decide what I want to do or when I want to do it.  We also had plans to go away, but since then they have been cancelled.  This weekend is so much up in the air, it's making my OCD twitchy.  The only plans we have is his parents want to take us out for dinner (celebrating a double birthday; his dad's was Sunday) Saturday night.  Mind you, it's at one of my favourite restaurants, so it makes me happy :)  I really want to ask myself what I want and what's important to me.  Sure, there are a few kitchen gadgets I'd love to have (as I say half-jokingly), but I have everything I want; I'm where I want to be with who I want to be with and with a roof over our head.  What more can I ask for?  If I was back in Canada I would be having celebrations (multiple dinners, teas, coffees, visits) with the people I cared most about, but things are a lot different here.  It's rare to go out for dinner or tea or coffee.  If I really want to break it down (and be honest), I think I'm used to the anti-clamatic build up to events, and I'm not getting that here.  It's funny how much you notice it when it doesn't happen.  It's become so cyclical that it feels like something's missing when it doesn't happen.  So then I feel a bit down and dispirited.. and I'm not sure how to process it.

I'm not sure what to do for Easter Sunday.  Usually I would make a nice meal for a friend or two or three after a very full (in attendance) and joyful Easter Mass.  I would bake something special (Dulce des Tres Leche cake, anyone?).  There would be socializing.  And now... W. doesn't care 'cause he doesn't celebrate Easter, and if he's not ramped up about something, it's hard for me to get half as excited.  All of our inner circle doesn't celebrate Easter, so aside from (both of us) going to Mass, I'm on my own.  I have one friend who does celebrate it, but she'll be with her family (and please don't suggest I spend it with them).  I just don't know how to move forward right now.  I miss making a big deal of things.

Well, this post has taken a downturn.  Perhaps I should get up and get something done, move my right hip a bit (have been having problems).  The dishes don't do themselves, unfortunately.

I will talk to W. tonight though, and let him know my thoughts.  It's so easy to stay in your head about things sometimes that it's easy to pass over the fact that your other half can actually help you get over hurdles.  Even if it's just voicing your thoughts, it's nice to have them out in the open and not locked up.  It's easy to become independent (or for me, go back to my old ways), when we're really there for the other person to lean on.  And you know what, it's been a looooooooong time since I've said a prayer.  Perhaps I'll do that in my chores tonight.

Hope your world is treating you well.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Well, the sad fact is that I'm house-bound today.  My chronic health issues have caught up with me and I'm having a bit of a pain day.  On the upside, I have enough energy to be in the kitchen in spurts (though I may need to lay down later), so I'm making grain-free crackers.  They're super easy and very good.  A guilt-free snack.  If you're interested, message me and I'll forward you the page/recipe.

W and I have changed our eating habits and have gone GF and lactose-free.  Basically it's the same diet I tried a year and a half ago.  Except this time.. it isn't going so well.  The more I think though, the more I remember it didn't go so easily in the beginning that time, either.  Still, I don't remember being in this much pain last time.  We've just been in this 2 weeks, so it's still early.  I need to persevere.  All of this is mostly what my blog title is about today.

I have been having a problem deciding what to write about.  A lot and a little has happened since I last wrote and most of the thoughts I have that I think I want to blog about, happen usually while I'm out and not near a pen and paper to write them down.  I always think I'll remember them and I never do.

Life in Dutch-land is good.  Spring has been here for a couple weeks, with the temperatures and greenery to show for it.  With the warm winter, I'm not sure what that'll mean for our summer.  We're getting lots of sun now (I think I heard March was a record) and it's nice to be outside.  I'm slowly putting pots out on the balcony (making sure we won't get anymore frost).

Choir is going well, when I'm able to go.  I'm sick (colds, etc) often since I moved, so I'm not there every week.

As I pass my time here I still can't believe how nice people are (usually, though there have a couple exceptions). I've been excercising my language muscles when I'm out more now. I've been developing more ideas for my business and will slowly start putting them into play. I'm happy I have developed a clearer vision.

Hmm.. I really don't have a lot to write about today.  Perhaps I'll pick another day when I can write something more specific.  I know it's been a while, so I wanted to at least show I was still alive :)  How is your spring going?  Your Lent?  Your diet?  Your friendships and relationships?  I hope you are taking care of yourself and all that is attached to you by faith, love or mind.

Friday, February 28, 2014

This Is Not the Movies (long post)

Warning: some language.

Let's be honest, this blog is my therapy.  Sure it's nice to write and catch you up on stuff, but it also helps me to talk about things that happen.  Like last night.  Sooo.... I'm gonna start out with the not so good.

The not so good: I was at choir last night for practice and already for the first song I was a bit overwhelmed.  Remember I'm learning new music to new words in a new section (alto).  Not only on top of having to pay attention to all of that, I have to *try* to understand what the director is saying (thank goodness for hand gestures).  Oh and hey, did I mention the song we were working on changed time like.. 5 times?  3/2, 4/4, 3/4, 5/8 and hey, let's bring it back to 3/2 time again.  I almost lost my shit.  Okay, so mostly I just listen and word-follow until I get the hang of it.  We're on a small break between songs and this old man behind me taps me on the shoulder and starts saying something in Dutch at like, 100 mph.  My head kind of spins at that point and I say with a smile, "Woa, sorry sweetheart, you're gonna have to say that in English." "You're going to have to learn Dutch!" he says.  I want to burst into tears.  Instead, I pull myself together in a micro-second and say pleasantly with a smile, "I am!" He received that well and continued to tell me he could put a 'map' together for me if I'd like (map in Dutch = folder in English).  I said that would be wonderful and anything will help.

I was 'off' the rest of the practice.  I wanted to walk away, do an ugly cry and sit in that church and ask God why the HELL I'm even here.  So I did that, at coffee break (where we practice is a separate room from the nave of the church).  I didn't really feel like conversing with anyone else, so The Big Guy and I had a few words.  I stood facing the altar.  Well, perhaps I was more upset and angry and maybe doing a, "I've gotten myself into this, please help me get out of it" stare.  I took a breath and returned to practice, fighting back tears and asking myself the entire time, "Why am I even here?" & angry at the man's remarks.  I knew it was going to take one asshole to make a comment like that, I'm just surprised it took so long.

Now don't get me wrong, I sing with very pleasant people.  This is just a man who didn't bother to think before he spoke; I've been to like, 4 practices, I've been in the country 8 months, I'm not fluent yet.. and you can't start rambling to me out of nowhere at 100 mph thinking I'm going to understand you.  This is me being defensive.  If I'm going to be proper about it, maybe I need to take ownership of what I said, and maybe he was the one being defensive.  Maybe I could have worded what I said differently.  This isn't the first time.  Maybe I need to acknowledge this instance shook me to my core because he hit a nerve.  If I'm *really* honest, I need to acknowledge I haven't been pushing myself as hard as I a) should be and b) normally would to learn the language.  Why?  Multiple reasons I guess, but it doesn't matter right now.

When you see Julia Roberts (Eat, Pray, Love) move to Italy, practicing the language, speaking fluently without any negative responses or heartache, it lends romanticism to being in a new country.

Nothing prepares you for this transition.  Absolutely nothing.  I walked into this knowing there would be hard days, I knew it wouldn't always be easy and romantic.  But some days just drop kick you out of nowhere and you're lying on the ground with cartoon stars and exclamation points shaking your head wondering wtf.

Don't get me wrong, I still want to be here.  I still want to continue living and creating a life here.  When you ask me how I'm doing, I'll say fantastic.  That's 'cause the good out-weighs the bad ten-fold.  I don't know what these days do.  I guess they sort of keep me in check, remind me (like I needed it) that I'm the foreigner, keep me grounded, that with 1 person who doesn't understand, there are 20 who do. I've been out of my comfort zone for 8 months.  Do I even have a comfort zone here?  I don't know what defines that, yet. Also, I think your perception of inhabiting a country is different for when you just visit, or move there permanently.

Bah.  Enough of that stuff.  I need to catch you up on the good.

The great: I went to the retirement home a few weeks ago and had a meeting.  It went fantastic!  In a strange twist of fate, I went in inquiring about socializing with the residents, but once she heard about my food/kitchen experience, she was on me like white on rice to volunteer in the kitchen.  I don't think I could have said no if I wanted to :P  She told me they barely use their kitchen anymore (they bring food in).  Maybe basic things like soup or stamppot.  There's an oven there that's barely being used.  "Oh, that's so sad!" I said. "It is!" she returned.  So she was going to talk to her collegue and get back to me.  We now have a meeting next Thursday.  Dude... a kitchen all to myself.  I can't even wrap my head around it.  She took me for a tour and indeed, it was pretty empty.  That lonely oven was just sitting there, calling to me :P  So we'll see what they need me for and how else I can contribute.  The cogs are already turning.

I've created a Facebook page for my "business" (I still use the term loosely as I'm not fully developed yet), FKNL (Food Knows No Language).  Please go 'like' it if you haven't yet!  And W and I were looking at web hosting sites to see who we should go with, to make a webpage.  I still have to price my recipes, order packaging, make sure I have an extensive list of what I want to sell.  These are all tedious things and I keep putting them off.  When we create the webpage, I'll publish it here so you can take a look!

We've had great weather lately.  Temperatures have been hovering around 10 degrees C lately (aside from today and the next few).  Still, being so close to the sea it's cool and often windy.  Doesn't feel as nice as 10 degrees should.  I hear you're still getting hammered with snow back in Canada.  You must be sick of it.  Hang in there, March is just around the corner.

Busy day today so I'm going to get moving.  Not many plans for the weekend; W works tomorrow so I'm not sure how I'm going to fill my time.  I have a chat date in the afternoon though, that I'm highly looking forward to.  Sunday we've asked W's parents over for breakfast (pancakes - Canada style).  Maybe I'll go to market tomorrow morning, if the weather is pleasant (read: not raining).

Hope you have a great weekend!  Have fun!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jobs? What Jobs?

So.. I'm really not 100% happy with yesterday's post.  I had a mix-mash of thoughts/emotions and I couldn't quite get them out and be as articulate as I would have preferred.  Yet it was a start and I think it's helped force me make more decisions (mentally) about letting go of this 'protection dome' I've created around myself.  I really need to let down all my defences (eek!) and get more involved in life.  This is my silent battle.

Anyhoo, the point of this post was to show you what I'm up against for jobs.  I believe when I first got here I told you I wasn't accepted for a job due to my age. This poster in a floral shop at the station is a prime example. Click to enlarge.

It says, "We are looking for an enthusiastic sales person/flower arranger (for lack of better translation), for 20 hours a week, must live in Leeuwarden. Age +/- 16 up to 19 years. Interested? Contact... yada yada yada.. "
Bah.  It's all crap.  Everyone around here is used to it but I sure as hell ain't yet.  It's all about money. Just wanted to show you that so you see for yourself that I'm not crazy :) 
I'm heading to the gym after lunch, coming home, having a quick shower and heading to the retirement home after.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

More Confessions (a long, rambling post)

I remember a quote that has stuck with me from many years ago, "Face fear with fear." I might have challenged the phrase a bit in my head now and then, but for some reason it always stuck with me.  Or perhaps you've heard,"There's nothing to fear but fear itself." That one is easy - fear can cripple you and incapacitate you.  Sometimes we give our fears too much of a voice and they take centre stage.  Sometimes we actually get to play the main character and tell fear to f*ck off.  I'm trying to make today one of those days.

In usual fashion, I'm voicing things outloud here that I haven't fully given voice to otherwise.  I think it's something I need to write down to make more tangible instead of continuously kicking it around in my head.  I think today I am ready. 

When I was at my 6-month mark here (Jan 4th) I felt a sort of shift; I became a bit more comfortable, a bit more settled.  Not completely, of course, but a new sort of settled than I was before.  The past month (wow, it actually has been a month as of today; I am now here 7 months) I've done a bit more shifting, a bit more... remembering how I would like things to be (instead of always feeling overwhelm or just trying to figure shit out or plan my future for the next 6 months).  This is good because it helps shift my perspective.  I think I've become a little self-absorbed (not in a way that affects others, in fact I have kept this persona very quiet and personal) when instead I need to be self-absorbed but in a, "I need to do .. whatever action... for my own benefit and productivity" sort of way.  I don't know if that makes sense?  Anyways, I'm getting off on a tangent.

I've neglected to inquire at the local seniors centre for volunteering because I know immediately there will be a language barrier.  Sometimes I get so (mentally) exhausted having to translate things in my head (rather what they're saying to me or what I need to say to them) that I just want to throw in the towel at the end of the day and not even try and just take a break.  I don't want to deal with puzzled looks, hesitations, fumbling.  It really is exhausting.  Even thinking about it exhausts me and causes anxiety.  But, I signed up for it, so I suppose I should suck it up.  Anyways, fear of a few things has prohibited me from speaking to anyone at the retirement home and I've just kept putting it off.  In fact, I originally had the plan of a girlfriend to come with me for support; she would do intro discussion and I didn't mind carrying on the rest, with some translation help of course.  She's incredibly busy, though, and getting together is difficult.  I haven't been ready to go it alone.  Until this week.  I don't want to wait anymore.  My desire to volunteer there because it's something I know I enjoy doing is starting to outweigh my fears of putting it off.  So I'm going to try to take my fear - the part of me that paralyzes me and incapacitates me - and go speak to someone at the home.  The worst that can happen?  We don't understand each other and I go back with my friend, or W. The best thing that could happen?  It gets the ball rolling right away.  I think that's  part of what scares me, too; that it's going to force me more interaction into people/society than I've had yet (which involves of course, more puzzled looks, more translations, more hesitations.. more exhaustion) but I have to treat this the way I did with choir; maybe my fears are bigger than reality.  Maybe I will be well received, even speaking mostly English, and I'll actually get along okay.

Since I'm getting over (yet another) cold, I went for a walk tonight instead of going to the gym.  It was dusk and there was just enough light to go around the neighbourhood for half an hour.  I was very cognizant of my walking; it was brisk, I was clenched and had irratic breathing.  No.  This was meant to be a relaxing walk.  I had to actually force myself to slow down my pace and breathing.  When more calm, I would still notice feelings of anxiety pop up now and then; I just had to breathe them out.

The theme that's been presented to me the past few days is to "let it go," whatever 'it' happened to be (I can think of a few examples where this applies).  Without going into a long story and making this an even longer post, I have been exhibiting possible personal attributes that are causing me to 'protect myself' (I use the term loosely). Protect myself from what I don't know, but I think being in a new land has affected me on a deeper level than I'm able to realize.  Getting on the plane and coming here was the easy part.  Integrating permanently in a country where you don't speak the language?  Much harder.  Whatever 'it' is that I'm protecting myself from, I need to let go of those fears.  I have to remind myself I'm surrounded by caring friends and family that are hella supportive and will catch me if I fall.  Oh... but what if I succeed.  I think for me that's even scarier.  But that's a whole other post.

So.. onward I go.  That's where my thinking stops, so if I come up with more you can be sure to hear from me. 

Hope the week is treating you well.

Email Subscriptions

If you're new coming by, I've added an email subscribe link if you wish to receive blog updates. Just look to the left! Thanks!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Catch Up, Travels & History

Well, another month has flown by.  You shouldn't be surprised it's taken me this long to write (I am surprised, but that's every time I sit down to write; it's like Groundhog Day).

So much to tell, but where do I start?

Choir - I've gone to 2 practices.  Very nice people, very proper and most of them are older. If someone doesn't recognize me they immediately walk up, shake hands and introduce themselves.  Do I remember names?  Not at all.  I do well to remember names at best when in English, but in new circumstances in Dutch - forget it.  Still, I reply in kind and make it obvious I'm the new Canadian girl.  The lady I sat next to last week though was from New York, so her English was fantastic.  Phew.  I will email her and ask her any questions I have; she seemed to know her stuff and communicating with her will be easy.  It turns out we don't sing every Sunday in church, though.  Not what I'm used to, but given current schedules I welcome it.  We don't sing until Feb 23rd, and that's in another church.  It seems we're the parish choir (which would explain our size; I still haven't counted all the people yet but I'm guessing around 40 or so) and we hop around between 3 churches.

I had my interview for the magazine W. volunteers for and submitted not one, but two recipes.  Read by almost 4000 people, they will learn who I am, why I came here and what brings me into the kitchen so often.  So yeah.  I don't know what I'm expecting from it, or that I'm expecting anything at all, but even when you say you "don't care" there is still a part of you that wishes for feedback or some sort of acknowledgement.  So we'll see.

I had to turn down meeting a friend in Paris the other day.  Seriously?  Who gets to say, "Oh, so sorry, but I can't get to France or Switzerland this weekend." Who says that?!  Apparently I do and it blows my mind.  I consider myself fortunate.

Last weekend (or maybe it was the weekend before) W. and I went to Zwolle; We hadn't travelled in some time and I was gettin' antsy.  For the religious folk, Thomas a Kempis settled here in 1399.  The city centre (centrum) is surrounded by a moat and canals for protection (established in the 17th century) and was also surrounded by town walls (which only survive on the north side of the city now). In the town centre in the Grote Markt is the Grote Kerk where public executions took place (we were both surprised to hear this). Unfortunately the church was closed when we got there so we couldn't go in.    I posted a couple pictures on Facebook, but for those that don't have it, I've included them plus a couple more. Click to enlarge.

The Sassenpoort, from 1409 and it's the town's oldest mediëval gate. The following pictures are beneath the gate.





Closer, on the outside


Outside (and W.).

Grote Kerk (1614) where the executions took place. The sign reads, "Watch and Pray".

Part of the town wall. I believe the steps were added after?  But we're not sure.

Town wall.

Town wall.
An old church converted to a bookstore. It was pretty :)

Town wall (and W.)

Town wall, bridge that raises when boats go by in canal.

Town wall. Sign out front a restaurant says you're welcome to board on the pannenkoekenship (pancake ship).  Pannenkoeken boats are a Dutch novelty; since the ships aren't used anymore, they're put to use for your eating pleasure.  Not in this visit but a recent one in Leeuwarden, I finally ate at one and it was quite good.  Dutch pannenkoeken (pancakes) are different than North American pancakes (larger and a bit flatter, but not quite a crepe).

Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (Our Lady's Church). They were supposed to be open but opened late, even despite waiting around 20 min for them. Originally a Catholic church (the last sermon was in 1580), the Protestants took it over in the Reformation and finally gave it back in 1809.

Entrance to unknown church.  Guessing from the way it's set up, it's not used very often.
This city was amazing.  I got to geek out in a couple kitchen stores (I will be back!) and I got to touch walls that are 700 years old.  I was out of my head.  Incredibly humbling.  I could imagine those walls have seen a lot and I, in a way, felt my place in the world.  Small, but significant.  Each one of us makes up a whole and contributes to some sort of history. 

Phew! That was a lot.  So.. I need to not sit at the computer anymore :)  Hope you enjoyed the pics!  I am going to have lunch, do some cleaning up and organizing and prepping tonight's dinner.  W. has planned a surprise for me for my 6th-month anniversary here (which was actually Jan. 4th).  Can't wait!

Copyright Text