Friday, June 26, 2015

Detoxing - What I've Learned So Far

It's been a while since you've heard from me, I know.  It seems the more time goes on, the less time I have to blog.  I have difficulty as of late prioritizing.  That's not like me; I usually know what I want and in what order to do it in.  The thing is, I have several issues that have (or are close to) similar priority, that that's when I have trouble deciding/choosing.  So each day, if I don't pick what I want to focus on in the morning, I get overwhelmed about mid-day and don't become productive at all.  Is my brain getting less functional as I get older??

I wanted to talk about the recent sugar detox we've been on, that you may or may not know about (via Facebook).  Three weeks ago we cut out all sugars from our diet (otherwise known as a 'candida cleanse').  No refined sugar, no natural sugars (honey, agave, maple syrup, etc), no fruit, no breads, no alcohol of any form, no coffee, no processed (even sliced meat) or canned food with any form of sugar in it, no pastries or sweets (of course), no foods that have or are potential to molds (peanuts, black tea and mushrooms).  I had an idea how much sugar was in everything because of my background, but it was an eye opener for W.  He had no idea and I think went into a bit of shock.  Gluten-free grains were permissible (buckwheat) and baking got a lot more creative (I now have a love for dates that provide sweetness).

The first week I detoxed pretty bad (him not as much).  The second week came along better, especially near the end of the second week when we introduced agave, green apples (low pectin) and yogurt (allowed; probiotics). (Third week included spelt.)  You'd be surprised how much that opens up your menu options.  The first couple weeks were hell.  I hate meal planning on the best of days, but this was torture.  Into week three we've brought in all fruit but limit consumption to max one serving a day.  For now.

Coming onto the end of week three we're doing *really* well.  No sweet cravings, still holding fast to no sugar or sugar in processed products.  I've gone from severe detox symptoms (horrible digestion, headaches, skin itchiness, etc) to none of those anymore (except digestion is still not perfect), PLUS I feel lighter, can sit/stand up straight with my shoulders back easier and have slightly more energy.  My anxiety?  I'd say 60-70% reduced.  I can't tell you how much a relief that is and how much "weight" that takes off my being.  Oh weight; I've lost 2 kilos (approx 4.5 lbs) to date and holding steady.  W. didn't have many health issues aside from eczema on his head and even that is starting to clear up.  I think our bodies are still detoxing.  We've had *such* a build-up of by-products of sugar in our bodies, they're still trying to harmonize themselves with the new way.  And even if you don't believe that, I believe 100% that our bodies are learning to function differently without the dependence of sugar and what it does to our individual organs (thus creating a domino effect with others).  W. said he's actually 'tasting' food for the first time as it is.  His entire life has consisted of processed foods and frequent desserts after dinner that he didn't know what real food tasted like.  And now he's starting to see.  How fantastic is that?!  He's *really* learning a new relationship with food and I think that's so wonderful.

A detox, by definition, is impermanent.  We're in the midst of deciding our long-term goals.  The more we stay away from societal (incl. BigAg, BigSug, BigPharm, etc) dietary pressures, the more I feel back to nature, more harmonized, Reading 'Nourishing Traditions' is also helping a lot (thanks to a borrowed copy from a friend).  It's causing me to look more at the source of my food (buy local!), develop deeper relationships with my green grocer and butcher and spend a LOT more time in the kitchen since we're on a whole-food diet.  A win-win all around, I think.  Long term I would like us to stay away from refined sugar and try to stay closer to natural sugars.  Baking will become a challenge for me if not downright impossible.  I know there will be social situations when eating processed products, breads or sweets is inevitable, but I'm okay with that.  Then we can go back to the way we want to eat.  I don't think those days are bad, but I'd like to keep them more in check than before.  I don't know; this is something we'll have to discuss further.

Oh, something else detoxing has taught me: my relationship to food based on mood.  I'll go straight for the chocolate if I'm sad, depressed or otherwise down.  Like a moth to a flame.  I noticed that a lot since of course, I couldn't go for the chocolate at certain times.  I miss coffee.  A lot.  Still.  I'm not ready to try it again yet since I fear I would develop another dependence to it (which would also do no favour to my digestive system).  We have cheat days, but the 'cheating' is minor; a square of good quality dark chocolate for me, black tea for him.

So, on that note I shall get on with my day.  I have a sink of dishes waiting for me and have to choose my "priorities" for the day.  I hope you have a FABULOUS weekend.  We're hoping to do something a little more cultural this weekend; it feels like it's been a while.  And God-willing if the sun is out and the rain has stopped, stay outside a bit more.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On Turning 39

39.  One year from f..  f.... fffffffffforty.  Gosh that was hard to say.  Am I there already?  When did that happen?

I'm one of the self-reflective types when it comes to birthdays.  Or at least milestone birthdays, or in this case - close - to milestone birthdays.  I damn near had a nervous breakdown when I turned 30.  When you're young you set the ideals I want this, this and that by the time I'm 30.  I didn't have this, this and that and when I didn't, I felt as if I failed. In reflection, how could I feel as if I failed myself?  Life was going as it was meant to.  It was society that failed me.  Society that builds up the "must-have's" for milestone birthdays.  I was given wise words by a then co-worker; the 30's is about relaxing.  It's about being comfortable in who you are.  It's about speaking up for yourself and not minding doing so.  You know what?  He was right.  My 30's were (for the most part) fantastic.  I felt more comfortable in myself than I had - ever.  I did things for me, not because of how others felt I should do things.

As I approach f.. ff... fffffff.... well, that'age, I continue to take stock of what *I* want in my life, not what someone else dictates for me.  My generation is all about shedding society ideals and letting go and having fun (at least, some of the people I'm surrounded by) and that indeed, brace yourself, 40 is NOT old.  Perhaps it's European culture.  The Dutch (for the majority) are very easy going and not about being held-down by emotions, the past, etc.  Don't think they don't have ordeals, crisis or difficulties.  They do!  But they try not to let it hold them back or ever miss out on opportunities.  They don't have the heavy weight on their shoulders that I impose upon myself (sometimes).  If they do I don't see it.

Anyways, when I reflect for next year, I want to try to let go of a lot of self-imposed barriers.  I don't want to stipulate, "I want to have this, this and live here and.. " because that's unrealistic and we all know as soon as you set a plan for life, it changes.  I have less desire for materials things and more for connections of those around me.  I have less desire for self-punishment and more for accepting and forgiving the self (a continual work in progress).  I've been asking myself why we think it's okay and conducive to beat ourselves up all the time when the opposite is true, but that's another blog post for another time.

I have to end this now.  I'm having a few ladies over for what was going to be a high-tea (W is working today) which has turned into sort of a potluck, mesh of.. stuff.  Long story.  I need to do some last-minute cleaning before guests arrive.

Have a wonderful day!  It's sunny here and it looks like it's going to be lovely.  Happy weekend!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

New Addition

We have a new addition to the family.  Meet Eise (a Dutch name, pronounced "eyeszuh" in English), our new four-legged feline friend.



Eise is a rescue.  We have been looking for a while and while a couple of cats in the local shelters appealled to us, none stuck out like this one did.  We were scouting online on Marktplaats (akin to Kijiji) and a lady had posted that this cat was kicked out by the previous owners, under 2 years, that he was very sweet and looking for a new home.  We exchanged a few emails and went to visit.

She had been caring for the cat the best she could but has a few of her own so wasn't able to take him on permanently.  The previous owners were abusive and discarded cats/animals as soon as they got bored with them (I guess they've been called-on by the authorities before for this) and Sir Orange here was kicked outside.  She fed him when possible and brought him in when her other cats were outside.  She was right; he had a really sweet temperament, despite being scared as hell around new people.  He had a face you just wanted to squish (well I did, anyways).  We decided to take him home.

Poor thing was petrified, rightly so.  There was a bit of a kerfuffle when he first got in the house (glass almost smashed, water everywhere, I'll leave the rest of it up to your imagination) but once we quarantined him to the bathroom he became a lot more calm.  While limp and mostly unreactive, he did let you put him in your lap and pet him.  Noises terrified him (the people who had him yelled at their animals - a lot).  He had an aversion to men (I could go near him or pick him up but W. couldn't and the previous lady also noticed he ran away when her husband in the room).  He stayed in there a couple days to get a bit more comfortable then he was actually the one to let us know when he was ready to explore more.  So, we introducted him to a room or section of a house, 24 hours at a time.  He's definitely required patience (but we're not complaining).

We've had him less than 2 weeks now and he's really starting to come into his own.  He's relaxed a lot more but some noises still spook him.  Even random ones, like the when the downstairs neighbour is outside.  He eats like a fiend and hasn't gotten used to the thought of having food guaranteed and delivered to him twice a day.  Often asks for more during the day, but I'm hoping that'll stop in time.  He's also been pissing on the area rug and I can't determine if it's behavioural, medical or spraying.  If you catch him right before he does it and tell him no and he needs to go downstairs (where his litter box is), he does.  His vet visit is this coming Tuesday so he'll get fixed, vaccinated and chipped (for a fraction of the cost in Canada!).

 Starting to get more comfortable being with us.


He's such a soft fuzzball. Loves napping on your lap.


He's such a lap cat.  Loves attention and scratches.  Especially his nose :)  W. and his dad built him a post to jump up on/scratching post yesterday.  He used the scratching part at the bottom right away, but is not yet too keen on heights.  We think we need to cover the platforms to give traction and that'll help.
We found the wooden tree post outside and brought it in. Total project: €25. 

Well, expect more stories and pictures of Eise :)
Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Social Media Devil - A Vent

Preface: It's 'wordy' and long, I apologize in advance.  Had a hard time articulating myself. 

For the past few weeks I've been able to detach myself from the distraction that is Facebook.  It's been nice.  I feel less obligated to often check a constant source of feed, comments & messages.  I feel lighter, less... I don't know.  It's hard to put into words.  I was also getting frustrated with a lot of memes and nonsense that was taking up a lot of space when all I wanted was to see what my friends had to say about their lives or pictures they wanted to post.  Thing is, I'm also missing feeds from pages I follow, but fortunately I get most of those via email as well.  I'm doing my best to cut down the million notifications that I feel like I get on a daily basis (slightly overly dramatic, but you get the idea).  

Still, I took it upon myself to comment on a thread the other day in one of my groups.  Someone asked me to expand on why I thought what I did (it was about food and nutritional content of said food, what's best to consume, etc) and when I gave it today I was accused by a supposed friend for 'telling people what to do' and 'turning my nose down in judgement about their choices'.  I was flabergasted.  And upset.  It was the straw that broke the camels back. 

One thing about me that not many people know is that I don't like it when people assume anything of me.  It's a trigger.  This was a classic example and it felt like an attack for no reason.  It was assumed the way I came across that I was telling someone how they should eat, when if they a) knew me and b) were the friend they were supposed to be and have my back, understood that I was suggesting eating based on a nutritional point of view.  What anyone does with that info is up to them.  After that I excused myself from the conversation as I was not being understood (and instead was being accused).  I shut off notifications for the post.  I went back to check the thread anyways (because I'm a glutton for punishment) and they commented that it was "no big deal".. but no... because you called me out on shit in front of 50 people.. apparently it was.  Thing is, I went to the original poster/question and I didn't offend her at all, so it was just that one person's opinion.  

I got upset.  A lot.  Yesterday I came to the realization that I have nothing in common with any friend I have here because they're rather too busy to get together (due to work or families) or have babies (this accounts for most), or age differences, so when I take a hit from a friend and it feels like they're dropping like flies (because believe me, if they're going to act like this, I don't want to have anything to do with them), I feel it.  I find myself thinking about Canada a lot.  Today.. just made it all come together.  I thought who I thought would have my back doesn't and.. my whole world came crashing down. I miss my friends.  I miss the balance I had.  Now?  No balance.  My one reason for being here has been validated a long time ago and I'm left with teetering scales; I have W. on one side and it's empty on the other.   I don't know how to handle the imbalance anymore, or how to differently look at the situation.  

It's not without trying.  I've tried approaching a couple of businesses in town about volunteer positions and they won't take me (I need to try to stay in town to keep travel expenses to a minimum).  Short of waiting for a job, I don't know what else to do... but something has to change.   

I'm living in a world where I realize nothing is permanent.  People who I could have sworn on my grandmother's grave that I would be friends with for life, aren't.  Boyfriends and fiancés who I thought I'd be with for life, aren't.  Knowledge I thought I would always have in my head, I forget.  Health I thought I would have, has declined.  Maybe this is a realization you have when you get older.  Maybe it's just me.  The only thing I can think of to do with this - is not take anything for granted.  I'm not with W. because I think we're meant to be together.  No; I'm consciously choosing to be with him and love him every day.  And every day after that.  And every day after that.  Everything else?  I try not to.  I really consciously try not to. 

The thing I struggled with most today was finding something to be grateful for.  Every day I can tell you something I'm grateful for, but when I'm this upset and this.. desolate.. it's difficult.  I don't want to look for anything!  I'm angry!  The thing is, to find something you're grateful for in a situation that feels shitty and has crumpled around you.. that is the time for the most opportunity for growth.  But do you wanna know a secret?  I'm tired.  I've worked so hard to get where I am and maintain some sort of sanity that.. I'm tired.  I'm tired of personal growth.  I'm tired of having to adjust to circumstances around me.  I said to W. tonight that I wish I was the type that could give up.  

"So where are you?" (in my head) he asks and I said, "I don't know." I'm stewing.  I'm fixed in a cycle and the machine needs to be kicked to get back into gear. I'm trying to step back from the situation and look at it from the outside but it's hard. 

That's what's on my mind today.  I'm going to head to bed and call it a day.  Thanks for listening to my babble, as always :)  Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A (Late) New Years Greeting

Hello!  Are you still standing after the holidays?  A couple pounds more, perhaps?  Less?  Happy to get back to routine, I bet.  I know I am.  I won't go into my holidays; they were absolutely dreadful (missing friends and my town).  I haven't adjusted yet when it comes to the holidays; they just aren't the same here as they leave me feeling a lot is lacking.  However you found them, I hope you got to spend it with the people you love doing things you enjoy :)  A Happy late New Years to you :)

The temperatures have been nice lately, between 5-9 C this past week.  Windy though, with some rain.  I'm contemplating what I should have for lunch today.  We went to IKEA last week (oh, the dreaded crowds) and got large jars that will hold some of my flours and I feel much more secure they won't be bothered.  I found a mouse had eaten through one of my good flours (I get from a local mill) and I'd had enough.  We even went so far this week as to buy a (humane) mouse trap when W. saw it scurrying across the kitchen floor the other day.  Speaking of which, I also need to reorganize my pantry.  I remember I wanted to do that today also.  Re-pot a couple of over-grown plants, read new (borrowed) books, prep dessert for dinner tonight (Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Mousse!), with whipped cream, naturally ;)

The past year has been ups and downs; adjusting (still) and trying to gain employment.  A possible decisive shift in careers.  I call it 'the year without faith' when in essence it was with faith albeit at times broken, deteriorating, challenging thought processes, and little to no church time.  While it's easy to see any possible 'negatives' or fears of distance or departure, in reflection I've found church has been a catalyst (not a crutch or filler) for my faith; it helped keep what I've learned active and it relayed the importance and warmth I felt in the sense of community and being surrounded by others of your faith.  The reciting of prayers together, the shaking of hands during the sign of peace.  Those meant a lot to me in the beginning and I find still mean a lot to me now.  The questions and challenges I had about Catholicism in the beginning continue to be questions and challenges now, amplified.  So there's a common theme - the things I held dear have now isolated themselves as those things I continue to hold dear, and the things I questioned ever since Day One continue to isolate themselves to be questioned.  Does this make sense?  Do I believe in God any less?  Absolutely not.  Trust me, I tried.  I felt it would be a disservice to everything I've experienced the last several years and it almost made me feel.. gosh.. I can't even put it in words...sucked in a black hole, empty and (contrary to stereotypical views of Catholicism) - guilt.    I do however continue to attempt to challenge His place in my life and how He fits in it.  That's sort of an inaccurate statement and sort of not.  It's very hard to verbalize what I'm thinking.  Does He fit with a Catholicism view of faith, or not?  Can He fit without it?  Once I've made a few more decisions about how I feel about it, I might take them to my priest and discuss it with him; he's very easy to talk to.  Then I'll sit with it some more.  I can imagine some of the COOLers are a bit worried and are haste to suggest to me to "be careful" or some other sage advice.  Please respect I need to do this.  I am not certain anymore anything is constant and permanent, including our views of faith, and I need to always challenge the world around me.  The world - and our views - are constantly evolving.  It's not a bad thing.

You're quote for the week : Lean into the discomfort. ~author unknown (or that I forget)

Hope you're having a good Sunday and it finds you relaxed.. and with a good meal!



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

Quotes

"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 (https://ello.co/).  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 :)

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