Day 321: Swirled – Sad and Happy and Thankful

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Goodbye, Miss Minivan! You’ve been all over the world and we’re leaving you behind in Amsterdam.

Continuing on with the process of moving back to the States, today Jeff and I went to the Honda Dealer to dispose of our 2003 Honda Odyssey Minivan.  Now I never really wanted a minivan, and don’t think they’re very sexy, but I just pretended it wasn’t one and enjoyed all of it’s efficiency, practicality and ability to move many people and children all over the world.  It has 125,00 miles on it and on our last trip to Normandy, the transmission light came on and that was the end of the light for her. To repair the transmission would have cost 6300 Euros, which is $8365 USD. The van isn’t worth that much, but we were hoping it would last for our duration in the Netherlands. Sadly, it didn’t and we couldn’t get a rebuilt transmission because this model of vehicle is not made in Holland. We can’t sell the vehicle as is, because of tax reasons and it not having been here for a year yet. So we were stuck with a sour lemon.

For some reason this made me very sad. I didn’t want to let go of it, but I had to. I didn’t want to give it away for nothing, but I had to. I didn’t want to leave it behind in Holland this way, but I had to. I have to let go. I have to not be so attached. I have to not care. But I do. And I did. And I cried. But I think it was just symbolic of having to let go and leave and say goodbye, and I’m not ready yet. I don’t want to. But I have to. And it’s ok. And I have so much to look forward to.  But I’m sad to let go. And so I cried.  Not an ugly cry, but a sad cry, as part of the process of accepting the change. And Jeff probably thought I was crazy. But you and I know, I wasn’t really crying about the car – it was just a good excuse to cry about leaving and hurting a bit, and letting go.

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We took off my roof racks, and emptied the CDs and jackets and wrappers and contents from the glove box. I took down the rearview mirror attachment I used to have eyes in back of my head, looking at my kids while we drove to Thousand Oaks, the Grand Canyon, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Canada, Luxembourg, Belgium, Lichtenstein, Germany, and France just to name a few places.

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And then I said goodbye to my car and the memories it helped me to make, and another tear fell. And I kept saying how stupid I was for crying over a stupid car and that it was really not that big of a deal, and that everything was ok.  And then I took a deep breathe and let go.  Aaahhhhh…..

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I was an hour late to my physio apointment that I thought was at 11, but really was at 10. I’m a bit absent minded these days. I said goodbye to my therapist, since I don’t have time left to visit any more. I didn’t feel too sad about this, but more of a relief.  One less thing to do, one less item to check off my list.  Let’s just hope my headaches stay away.

I stopped by the Kringloop (Salvation Army) store to figure out how to donate any furniture and household goods we  won’t need any more once we’re ready to move next month. Between my limited Dutch and the worker’s limited English, it probably took 20 minutes to set up two appointments. They first want to come to the house to see what we have to donate, and then they schedule another visit to do the pickup. All is set now, I just have to finish deciding what to take and what to leave.

While I was working on this task, I got a text from Jen inviting me to go for a walk or run with her. I was so glad to hear from her, and since I’d accomplished two BIG tasks, I was happy to take a break. I just wanted to enjoy her company and hear about and see her pictures from her BIG trip to Uganda (and selfishly not think about me leaving.) I invited her over for lunch, if she’d bring her computer with her!!  She luckily agreed.  😉 She recently went to Uganda to support one of her best friends, who is helping to build a school and to raise money through sponsorships of the children. She went primarily to take pictures of the children so that people who sponsor them can see the light in their eyes. I am so proud of and inspired by her for making and taking the time to go to support her friend and those in need. You can learn more about Parental Care Ministries Work in Uganda here:  http://www.parentalcareministries.org/wordpress/  Our lunch date was exactly what I needed – quality time with a good friend!  I was content again.  Thanks Jen for our “run”.  It was a perfect afternoon.

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Spontaneous lunch outside with Jen – this is my favorite salad made with beets, balsamic vinegar, toasted pine nuts, arugula, and goat cheese. It was a gorgeous day out!

So remember yesterday I mentioned how I am practicing and learning to let go and to let go of anxiety and to just flow with what comes my way and how uncomfortable this is for me? Phew, that was a long sentence!  Well today I was on one of those anxiety highes and as I breathed and let go, that’s when Jen texted me and then lunch and sharing photos and a bike ride and shopping unfolded from not having a “real” plan.  How could I have planned something that great when I was so sad earlier this morning?  I don’t know how it works, but it does for me and I hope it will for you too.  It’s letting go of fear and control and then accepting what comes your way and adapting every step.  Good things happen that way.

And to add to the list of good things happening today, Patti Beth called me to say she had a gift for me. She’s leaving town in 3 more days, so it’ll be another sad day of goodbyes, that I’m trying not to dwell on, but I’m definitely feeling. The gift she gave me was so touching and meaningful and I’m so thankful for it. She painted a wooden clog for me and the letter she wrote on the bottom of it was even greater and really touched my heart. Now can you see why it’s so hard to leave here? I’ve made really good friends and have new girlfriends for life.  Thank you Patti Beth for your thoughtful gift. I am going to miss you.

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One of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever been given.

I felt so drained today from moving between the extremes of being really sad to really happy. After picking up 2 out of 3 of kids from school and socializing with the other mamas, I decided to relax and surprise my little Dutchies and stopped near our house for some of their favorite, unhealthy, Dutch treats – bitterballen and Kaassoufflé – deep fried cheese.   We all loved sitting outside and enjoying our deep-fried snacks that we can only get here (I think!) Enjoying the moments…

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Charlie with his bitterballen

So there you have it… a busy day in the life of a mom, trying to wrap up the end of the school year while saying goodbye to good friends and planning the details of our move back to the States. Life is good… even when it’s sad and bumpy.

Namaste

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Our simple, family dinner… delicious and comforting and much needed.

Day 314: Biking Around Amsterdam Without a Map

I had a list of plans for today, but the sun was shining so I had to go outside all day.  Patti Beth and I went for a long bike ride without a direction or plan, but to be outside just biking.  We left around 9:30 am and came back in time for my physio appointment at 1 pm.  

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A view of the Amstel River in Amsterdam on a gorgeous day.

Holland is so beautiful and the bike paths make it very easy to cycle around and through all the towns.  We started from my house and rode into Ouderkerk and followed the Amstel River into Amsterdam. 

Seeing the water always makes me happy and add the sunshine, warm weather and a great friend… life doesn’t get much better than this.

Once we got to Amsterdam, neither of us really knew which direction to go. We had a hunch, and luckily this time we both were right and headed in the right direction, not that we really knew where we were headed, but just towards the center.  It’s kind of fun not knowing where you’re going and just enjoying the journey. I mean, we had a general idea of what to expect, but we weren’t quite sure which road or which turn to take, but we were happy just enjoying the new sites around Amsterdam and kept moving forward. Kinda like this whole expat journey, now that I think about it.

We ended up on the back side of Albert Cuypstraat and were pleasantly surprised. We walked our bikes up and down the uncrowded market streets, stopping to buy a sweater for me, and fresh artichokes for dinner.   Patti Beth knew of a Surinamese restaurant and we stopped in there for a quick, tasty shared lunch before figuring out our way back home.

We both surprised ourselves how we navigated the city, because we weren’t so good the first time we tried to find a fun shop in the Jordaan… kind of like the blind leading the blind. But I guess we’re getting used to navigating Amsterdam… not that it’s that big, but maybe we’ve just become local enough to feel like we belong here.  Hmm…

A perfect day.  

What did you discover today?  Did you do something that challenged you?  

Day 277: Hanging in the Trees

It was such a gorgeous day in Amstelveen today. Luckily the sun was shining, even though it was still very cold and we needed three layers! We decided to go on an adventure to Fun Forest in the Amsterdamse Bos. The have ropes courses high in the trees for us to climb and explore on small wooden platforms and cables and clips. I have always wanted to do a ropes course and never have. We were out hanging around and climbing for 4 hours and had the best day! We are all exhausted, so I’d say it was good!

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Life is good. The kids can’t stop talking about their fun day. We all had a great time being together out doors.

Namaste.

Day 276: Two Lives

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Everyone assumes I’m excited to move back home and I am. But I’m also nervous and have anxiety over it. I want to move back and I want to live here a bit longer. And I get to do both, but I have stress about moving and leaving my home here. My life is good here in Holland. And my life was good in California. It’s that yin and yang thing that is constant. And I’ll flow with whatever comes my way, but it does cause stress and I just wanted to mention that as I feel it and move through it.

I have great friends, who I enjoy every single day here. And I have great friends with shared history back home who are waiting for us and want us back (thank goodness) who we want to see and hug and hang out with again too.

But today I hung out with my friends here – I picked up Charlie from Joseine’s house and shared a cup of coffee with her, while the kids played outside and ran around together and talked us into another sleepover. How could I say no? We walked over to see her new home being built and she shared with me the details that she’s been planning for a year and a half, if not longer. She is passionate and I loved hearing and seeing her vision, and that she was sharing it with me. She is quietly proud and chose to let m be a part of her journey and dream, which I think is really cool. It made me not want to move just yet, because I won’t be here when it’s completed and I want to see it and be a part of her joy. I know I can come back someday, but I want to be here for the housewarming when it’s all done. You get it, right?

At the same time as I was enjoying my friends here, Jeff is back in California and enjoying our friends there. He went to Jessie’s soccer game and saw her score a goal.

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He went to Costco and bought ribs to grill/smoke on the Traeger with Steve and is enjoying his last day there before heading back to us in Holland, probably drinking a tasty margarita in a green glass from Megan, with salt!! He went to deliver gifts to Becca from Juliana and helped to keep us connected with our loved ones back home. I love that he is there enjoying the yin and I’m here enjoying the yang. 😉

As he was getting ready to grill, we were just leaving a BBQ with Patti Beth & Amy & Mindy and their families. The weather was sunny and cool, and the kids – both young and old, played together, laughing and chasing and enjoying one another. The parents all brought food and wine to share and we had a potluck – just like we do in California.

It’s weird, in a good way.

Knowing that we’re leaving makes me savor the moment more than ever. I’m hyper aware that there won’t be many more and so I want to be 100% present and I am, and it’s weird to feel that. It’s kinda like a gift to really enjoy and appreciate your friends. I know, I’m sappy. It’s just who I am. I’ve always been like this and will probably drive my kids nuts. Hopefully I’ll know when to be quiet. 😉 I’m sure they’ll let me know.

During the car ride to J’s house, the sun was shining, flowers were blooming everywhere and Jack Johnson sang to me:

“And there will always be stop and go and fast and slow
Action, reaction, sticks and stones and broken bones
Those for peace and those for war
And god bless these ones, not those ones
But these ones made times like these
And times like those
What will be will be
And so it goes
And it always goes on and on…
On and on it goes

But somehow I know it won’t be the same
Somehow I know it will never be the same.”

And so it goes…

Namaste, friends. Thanks for reading and sharing this crazy journey. xo

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Day 263: More Vitamin D Please!

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I am going to remember this saying when it gets cloudy and gray again this week.

But today, the sun came out to play almost all day and night. Life is so much better with sunshine. People are just happier all around.

When we woke up this morning, we waited for the rain to pass and then headed out for a bike ride with Patti Beth and her family.

20130414-220853.jpg This is an old fashioned tram that runs through Amstelveen on the weekends.

20130414-221036.jpg This is the Jonge Dikkert – a fancy restaurant in Amstelveen.

We wanted to see the cherry blossom trees in bloom, but because of all the rain and cold weather lately, the blooms are delayed. We did get to enjoy a few blossoms, but not the field of color we expected.

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The cherry blossom orchard is a memorial to all those who lost their lives in the tsunami in Japan in 2011.

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We rode our bikes through the forest and to the pancake house. So many people were outside, enjoying the nice weather today. If you live in Amsterdam or nearby, this is a great place to visit with your family. Boerderij Meerzicht they have a playground, outdoor seating, coffee, dessert, and really delicious Dutch pancakes served a hundred different ways!

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And if the day couldn’t get any better, we met up with friends for a rooftop BBQ. Sitting in the sunshine, listening to music, and having having a couple drinks felt so good! Thanks Cami and Rich for inviting us over!

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“Happy is the new fancy.”

20130414-221950.jpgGirlfriends – you make life so sweet! xoxo

Day 250: Living It Up at The Atlantis, Dubai

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Who would have thought when we decided to move to Holland that we would get to discover so many other parts of the world? I Am amazed!!

Today we spent the entire day at the Atlantis Hotel with Patti Beth and her family. We started off at the Aqua Adventure water park and stayed there until it closed at sundown. We all had huge smiles floating down the lazy river, falling down huge slides, and dropping in on the sharks. Everyone was warm and happy in the water.

Afterwards, we explored the Lost Chambers, an aquarium inside the hotel that was amazing. Every display was interesting to see and watching the sharks swim with schools of fish was mesmerizing. There were a few touch tanks where we touched sea stars, horse shoe crabs, and small rays.

The hotel itself is like Disneyland. I especially loved the Chihuly glass display in the lobby. The kids and the adults were all having fun together and still wanted to hang out, so we ventured out to the Royal Pool and let the kids go night swimming until they closed it down. It was a gorgeous warm night, so we chose to sit outside and enjoy a Mexican dinner together.

We enjoyed our day in the sun – not too hot and definitely not cold.

Life is good.

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Day 125: Day in the City – Amsterdam and Amstelveen

Patti Beth and I spent the day walking around the city… No real plan, just wandering and seeing where the roads and canals would take us. I like to call it wanderlust, I just wish I had a bit more sense of direction and ability to follow a digital map more than one step at a time. I definitely do not have visuospatial intelligence! Luckily getting lost was not a problem because that was the point! Funny how that works. Luckily we found the one shop we both wanted to find, along with several other treasures along the way. And who knew the one shop we both wanted to find was the same exact one!! Too funny.

We stopped for coffee and a bagel at Bagel and Beans. I was so excited to have a bagel again, and it was so tasty, toasted with sesame seeds, melted goat cheese, bacon and roasted pine nuts. Are you drooling yet?? A little slice of heaven, and no calories?!?
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Here are a couple things that caught my eye today.

We saw a canal house front decorated for Sinter Klaas with Zwarte Pieten and gifts all over the place, just like we would decorate out front yards for Christmas, but in Amsterdam there usually aren’t front yards.

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Most store windows have Zwarte Piet an Sinterklaas in the windows.

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And definitely not festive but seen on my walk home from the tram, an interesting view of garbage pickup in Amstelveen!! Look how they do it here. People bring their trash to these bins from their apartments and then the garbage truck comes to one location and pulls the whole bin out of the ground. What do you think about that??

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