Sunday, March 16, 2014


You can tell that I'm busy because the frequency of my posts has suddenly increased. I'm currently sitting in the central library in den Haag staring out at the sun shining on the streets and observing the people going about their Sunday afternoons on bikes and on foot. As soon as the sun peeps out from the sometimes seemingly endless blanket of grey, Dutch residents immediately can be found wandering the cobbled streets, cycling as a family, shopping, sipping a drink outside a cafe. Right now I'm super jealous. Unfortunately, my to do list does not complete itself magically when the sun pops out.

Whether or not to do lists complete themselves, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that our current western society has some things wrong and specifically my natural personality needs to be kept in check. I put a lot of pressure on myself and don't have a clue when to do stop getting involved in things. Recently, if I find myself in a moment where I allow my mind to wander, I immediately find myself running through my schedule and the many things I need to complete. I wake up in the morning and my first thoughts are the things I want to complete for that day. I feel gross, guilty and unproductive if I don't exercise. I want to be there for all people even if I'm finally honest with myself and realize that I'm not actually that close to them. I feel bad if I haven't contacted my faraway friends recently (the definition of recently has become more flexible). I worry about my Dad eating bad and continually refusing to learn how to cook. I think about how much money I should be saving and how much I've spent over the last month. I feel helpless when a friend is stressed and I feel like I can't do anything to help. I worry about my Mom selling our house and settling into our new place of residence in California. Occasionally, I think about whether or not I can finish the food I've bought for the week (or more like a few days) and stress about the possibility that I might have to throw bad food away (fortunately my obsession means this almost never happens). I constantly review the recent purchases I've made and analyse whether or not they were necessary and wonder if I am being too caught up in consumerism. Then I often rush back to the store to return items I deemed unnecessary.

BUT, in spite of all these thoughts running through my mind, I wouldn't say I'm a worrier. I know most things are out of my control and usually don't stress about them. However, shutting off my hyperactive body and mind and simply relishing the moment is nearly impossible for me (and I suspect many people in our non-stop western society). For me it's forcing myself to talk with a friend without feeling impatient about the things I need to do. Or going running or biking and letting my mind go blank. I think we spend so much time thinking and planning that we completely forget to just STOP and enjoy the sunshine, or the beautiful people around us, or a delicious carefully prepared meal with people we care about, or the glorious (to me at least) feeling of pushing my body to max and simply coming home exhausted and relishing in that happy endorphin filled exhaustion.

I'm not sure where I was going with this post besides procrastination from working, but wherever you are and whatever the weather just STOP and ENJOY the moment! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Intentionally creating more stress for myself

Well the last month and half has been a bit of crazy, awesome, comforting, tiring, and rejuvenating weeks of hopping continents and spending a lot of time in airports. Going through security, boarding airplanes and lugging suitcases around has become second nature to me that I could probably do it all in my sleep (which is actually quite useful since traveling also often involves large time changes). Life has pulled me in a lot of different directions the last year or so (both literally and figuratively) and lately getting away (or perhaps running away) has helped me deal with things. Last week I was randomly in California swimming every morning in the heated outdoor swimming pool that my Dad's new university/workplace contains, this weekend I was skiing in the Swiss alps and yesterday I was cycling along the the VERY windy north sea. I am very, very sorry about informing almost no one of my whereabouts and the fact that I was in the US for two weeks. I very rashly booked a free flight with frequent flyer miles and just left to spend two weeks working on my thesis in a mostly sunny, wine filled, and family filled hideaway.

I REALLY really should be doing other things right now but I recently diagnosed myself with being chemically dependent on stress (it's real thing apparently) and seem incapable to accomplishing anything without limited time and extreme pressure. Yep, super healthy behaviour I know. Here are some random thoughts and links from the past month or so:

  • Roads in America are unbelievably wide. Was this normal to me at some point? What is most frustrating about this is how much freaking space there would be for BIKE LANES!!!!!! Why does this not happen? I totally get the practicality of driving in the US because distances are so much further. But this is not always the case and the most polluting part of driving is simply when you start up your car. So it makes SO SO much sense to walk or bike for short distances. Rant finished. 
  • Americans are delightfully friendly. It catches me off guard. I don't expect random strangers to chat with me and sometimes I want to be left in my own little world but it's also kind of nice to be noticed. 
  • On the flip side it's REALLY nice to run in peace and not get honked or yelled at. Thank you Holland!
  • I would really like to be paid to create delicious things. 
  • California is really, truly the best state in the US. I don't think I will ever change my opinion on this. Somehow no matter where I go in the state it feels like home. 
  • Swiss villages in the alps are so picturesque that they almost seem unreal. 
  • Being near the ocean or on a mountain is so healing. 
  • Even when I semi-intentionally ignore human beings and feel like I am better off doing things on my own, my good friends come back and remind me how many wonderful, thoughtful, non-judgmental, and supportive people I am blessed to have in my life. 
  • 26 really feels old, primarily because I have now lost my European youth discounts. Thanks to the new Dutch drinking laws (18 and older now), I still get carded here. Sadly three years ago I was insulted when carded and now I secretly love it. 
  • Directly after graduation there was a rush of people who got engaged, which I found surprising. Now a second rush of late 20s early 30s friends getting engaged. It still feels weird to me but congratulations to anyone who is reading this and recently got engaged! (And please invite me to your wedding so I can party with you ;) )
  • I have never been particularly fond of the French language (sorry French speakers) because unlike most of the rest of the world instead of finding it beautiful and romantic, I find it snobby and nasal. However, I have now realized that I seriously need to learn French, seeing as most of the places I've been in the last year required French and not being able to at least slightly communicate with people in their native language is incredibly frustrating. Some jobs may elude me due to my lack of French skills. I will always prefer the directness and down to earth nature of Dutch and German but French I'm going to attempt to master you!
  • Mexican food is excellent. Yet another reason California wins. 
  • Nederland: stop criticizing the perceived backwardness of America. There are places in the US that are more progressive than Holland. For example several American states have adopted the practice of composting. 
  • The more you learn, the more you doubt. As confusing and slightly scary this can be, I think its necessary to embrace doubts and not ignore them. 
Greetings from windy but sunny (ish) Holland! Back to dreaming of (sadly) and working on rural electrification!