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

Quotes

"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 :)

Quote

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

Quote

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.

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