Long time no see!

Hey you! It has been a while. Life has been pretty hectic lately. 6 weeks ago I went to the Netherlands to see my family and my boyfriend came along too. We had a blast. It was so lovely to be reconnecting with family and friends. Leaving was hard.. I felt out of place being back in Denmark and even though the homesickness has subsided, I still feel a bit lonely. Not that I have much time to think about it though, since my exams are coming at me in full force.

I have 8 exams this period, 4 of which are done now. I passed physics, which was a miracle, since physics is one of the harder subjects for me to understand, but I must admit that spending time reading up on it and doing additional research really did help. I’m looking forward to having it on B level after the summer. Other than that I had written English, written Math and Geography as well. English and Geography went great, I have not yet gotten my English grade back, but I finished Geography with the second highest grade. I’m pretty proud of that. However, the rush of getting good grades didn’t last me very long, considering I have a Chemistry exam coming up, which I didn’t manage to do a lot for. Chemistry at this point does not have my highest priority, considering I’ll take it on B-level next year, but I’d still like to pass obviously! I decided to prioritise the subjects I’ll be finishing this semester, which are Geography, English and Religion. I just don’t have the time to put equal amounts of effort in each and every subject.

This past semester has been tough. 40 hrs of school, additional hours for homework, work in the weekends, trying to stay in shape, keeping the place clean and seeing a friend every once in a while has taken a toll on me. School had to take the backseat at times in order for me to also get other things done and it shows. I guess that’s the downside of studying as an adult, but hey, even that is a learning curve.

I realised that grades are important, but not to the extent of them dominating your life and happiness. I prefer to focus on the subject I’m good at, which luckily enough are a few. The other ones I’ll try out and if they won’t work out, then at least I’ve tried. Despite this rough period, I’m still content with what I’ve managed and done so far. Right now I just want everything to be done and over with. I booked myself plane tickets to see my boyfriend and the in-laws in a few weeks and I’ll be staying in Finland over the summer. It’ll be nice to get away for a while and empty my head. I need some nature, fun and sauna therapy, ha! I’m already giddy thinking about it.

Yeah, it has been a while indeed.. What have you been up to? I’d love to hear your stories!

– Naiyee

My challenge with practising self care

A week ago I went to the doctor. I have been feeling quite on edge for a while now and at first I brushed it off. I told myself not to be such a whimp and just keep going. A couple of weeks ago I hit a wall and I felt like I couldn’t even do the simplest of tasks. I either slept too little or too long, I had no appetite or I’d eat everything in sight, I had heart palpitations and my body developed small aches that I couldn’t quite explain. I also felt like I completely lost my grounding. So I mustered up the courage to go see my doctor and talk about my issue with stress.

My mom always called me a lazy person by nature and I’ve always hated it. So whenever I take time off I feel guilty. Guilty for not using my time better. My daily life consists of this ”rise and grind” attitude, yet this time it has finally bit me in the ass. My doctor told me to make spare time activities a priority, because ever since I started this course I’m currently doing at school, I’ve had to cancel them. There are just not enough hours in a day for me to be active, go to school, make homework, cook food, clean up while trying to maintain a somewhat existent social life. She told me to prioritise the things that bring me joy and give me energy.

So I’ve started to reflect a little.. How would I make this work? What can I do to take this stress away? I recently re-joined our local pole dancing studio here and I have been having a blast, but I feel guilty for not focusing on my homework instead. And as I’m writing this, at my favourite little café in town, I’m feeling guilty for not attending my pole dancing class.

The thing is, being so hyper-focused on being productive, I have lost myself in the process. And I have made the decision to cut down on some things that are incredibly time consuming, just so that I can have my hour or something a day that is not school focused. And I can already feel a huge difference.

I think this obsession with productivity nowadays makes a lot of people unhappy. I’m not telling you to be lazy, but I AM telling you to make time to practise self care. Be it taking a nice bath, eating that food you like, going to fitness or seeing a friend. We need to take care of ourselves first before we can thrive. And there will be guilt. It won’t be easy when you’ve been grinding all your life. But it is good to take a step back and just breathe. So yeah, I may not be doing my homework every day, but I feel a whole lot less on edge. I don’t feel the urge to be perfect all the time.

Happiness is so important. We only have this one precious life, shouldn’t we aspire to live it to our fullest and be happy?

Do you practise self care? If you do, how do you like to do it?

I would love to hear about it!

– Naiyee

Future goals and dreams (and why they frighten me)

As much as I try to live in the now, I still often find myself drifting off, dreaming about the goals I’ve set for the future, some far into the future, others pretty near. I’ve always been pretty driven by nature, but at this point I have noticed myself getting tired. Be it study fatigue or something else, ya girl needs some hibernation STAT! Not happening anytime soon though, exams are coming up and I am BUSY.

I have dreamed of becoming a veterinarian since I was 7, after having assisted with my cat giving birth. It had a huge impact on me and I’ve never looked back. Working with animals and figuring out how they work, both inside and out, kept me busy. I read encyclopedias and other animal related books and really tried my best at school. I was a pretty bright kid. I had an easy time learning and didn’t have much of an issue getting decent grades.

The Dutch school system is a tad bit complicated. We have to do a placement test at the elementary school and from there, it’s kind of mapped out which direction you go into. We put people into boxes from an early age and even though there is an opportunity to climb up, most people don’t and neither did I.

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Allow me to explain this with this little chart above. I remember going into this placement test hoping I’d get placed into VWO. VWO is the education that grants access to uni, which is needed to study vet med. I however, got placed into HAVO. Not bad either. So I went in there, hoping I could climb my way up. My first year went terrible. I was insecure and I faced some issues with bullying, so I dropped to VMBO instead. I completed that, demotivated without any real challenges and afterwards applied to veterinary technician school. At this point I had completely given up on my vet dream and decided to be a tech instead. But as I did this education I realised that this industry is what I’m passionate about and despite loving the vet tech work I knew that I wanted more out of it. After graduation I moved to Denmark and now I’m here, currently studying to get my GED and hopefully being able to still pursue this childhood dream. I knew it wasn’t easy, anything but easy actually, but me being my stubborn self at least wanted to try.

But as I’m getting closer to turning this thing into reality, I realised that I’m getting scared. My exams are getting closer and I start doubting myself as I always do when that dreaded time of the year pops up. I don’t know if I can even get my GED. Will I be able to even get into uni if I do? What if I don’t even make it through the first year of getting my GED?

I’m the kind of person to have back up plan B, C, D, E and F ready just in case plan A doesn’t work out. This time is no different. Although I can’t really use my vet tech degree here in Denmark to get into other educations, I can in the Netherlands. So the past months I’ve been looking at universities of applied sciences and see what they got to offer. I then stumbled upon Biology and Lab Research, which sounded exciting to me albeit not animal related. I have always enjoyed lab work and I’d love to solve things and figure things out. But there’s a catch there. You see, in the Netherlands I’d rack up debt, which isn’t exactly something I’m excited about doing. I would hate to freshly get out of school and be neck deep in. So in a way it almost seems as if I am a little stuck.

I know I first get my GED in 2020 and that I shouldn’t worry, but I do. I’m scared I can’t make it through. Not getting into vet school isn’t the end of the world, but if I don’t get my GED, what then? It’d be my gateway to so many opportunities. What if I can’t even do that?

Let’s just say, that my first goal is to CALM DOWN, pass these exams this semester, and the next 3 semesters as well. Then I’d have my GED.
Second goal: Getting into vet med OR animal science
Third goal: ?? I have no clue!

As I’m getting older I’m realising that making plans that far ahead is pointless. In the end you can’t control how life goes and for me it only seems anxiety inducing. So let’s just keep it at those two goals first. I just hope I can keep myself together long enough to even be able to do that. It’ll just be a buttload of really hard work!

I guess only time will tell!

Do you guys have any future goals and dreams? Do they scare you?

I’d love to hear about them!

– Naiyee

How yoga saved my life

Lately I haven’t been feeling very grounded. With school, exams coming up, trying to keep a social life and visiting family I have been nothing but busy. All of those long days and days away from home I have really not been able to practise yoga the way I want to. Not just in the physical sense, but also mentally. For the past three years I’ve been keeping my practise (somewhat) consistent, but this year has been really difficult!

I started my practise back in 2015, only a couple of months after my mother passed away. I felt very lost and as if my life had lost all of its meaning, so I decided to look for something to do.. I had been flirting with the idea of yoga years prior, but had never seriously considered it. I only saw the physical aspect of it, but never the mental aspects. The thought that I wasn’t flexible enough or skinny enough went through my mind a lot. But the more I thought about it, the more the idea of Yoga pulled me in. So I bought a cheap yoga mat and started following along with video’s on YouTube. At first it was only 15 minutes a day, but I could immediately sense how calm it made me feel.

During that period of my life my mind was racing. Thoughts about how much I missed my mother and my family back home, but also thoughts that were much, much darker. I felt the need to be in control of my life, since I couldn’t be in control of my mother’s fate.  I was yearning to find some peace in my life. Starting with yoga was scary to me. I was very insecure, having been overweight and bad with any type of ”exercise”, so this was a challenge. But I decided to face it head on and so I did. Soon I found myself on my mat ever. single. day. My practise started on my mat, but soon expanded itself into everything I do. I focus on how I breathe, how I speak to other people and take time to meditate a little, even if it is just for a minute or two. But it also made my relationships with other people better. I feel as if I have a deeper understanding of why people do what they do or say the things they say.. Before I used to be very quick to judge, not really paying people any time of the day and just living on the fast lane.

Yoga has taught me in times of stress to take a step back, reflect and ask myself: ”What is this teaching me?”. If something doesn’t serve me, I let it go. If I can’t control something, I let it happen. It has also taught me a lot about my own body too. Asana is one of the 8 limbs of yoga and asana means posture. It is what you see people do on their mats. Asana humbled me beyond belief. I used to see a pose and think: ”Wow!! I want to do it too, I’m totally ready for that!” even though I wasn’t. In the beginning that made a dent in my ego. Not being able to do a handstand or a middle split within 3 months bugged the living daylights out of me and even made me want to stop at times, but as my practise progressed, I realised that it really doesn’t matter. Sure, it is a fun goal to have, but that’s the thing. You should enjoy the journey towards those goals instead of only focus on the destination.

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This pose in particular I started practising about 2 years ago and I still struggle with it! Such a humbling experience every time I try it.

That lesson I could also apply to my real life. You see, after my mom died, I was waiting to die myself as well. I didn’t see any point in living anymore if she wasn’t there to see me do the crazy stuff I do today. I then realised that I am going to be around for a long time still, if I’m lucky. So why would I wait for that final destination, the day I die, while beating myself up about so much stuff that is not my hands? That final destination will happen, whether I like it or not, so I might as well enjoy the time I still have left. And that is how yoga saved me. It saved me from a life filled with emptyness and misery.

I might not have time or energy to practise asana every day, but you better believe I try to practise the other 7 limbs from the moment I wake up until the moment I hit the hay. And that’s the beauty of it. You are completely in charge of the way you want to practise as long as you are not forcing it.

Have you ever tried yoga?

-Naiyee

Your home should tell the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love.

Sorry I didn’t write on here sooner, but it has been a busy couple of days I guess! With a math midterm and reading up on some of the things I’ve missed while I was away to see my family and trying to get enough sleep in, it was hard for me to find a moment to just sit down and write. Today was nice and quiet, so here I am!

On Monday I came back from a lovely couple of days in the Netherlands that I’ve spent with my family and love. In a previous post I wrote about how hard it is for me to go back and how the days leading up to it always end up being incredibly anxiety inducing for me. However, whenever I’m there, it feels like coming home, truly. We spent most of the time at my sister’s, as she lives close to Schiphol Airport and the rest of Amsterdam and since my boyfriend has never been in the Netherlands before, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to be a tourist in my own country and show him around a bit. We had a blast. Amsterdam really is a special place.

We also celebrated my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary, which took place in my hometown, so we decided to also spend a night at their place, so I could show him where I’m from and where I grew up. This idea in particular scared me at first, as I’ve only gone back there two or three times ever since my mother passed away. But I felt like it was the right thing to do. I showed him the houses I grew up in, the schools I went to, my poem that ended up winning a competition and actually ended up being put down in tiles on this big square in my neighbourhood and lots of other things. It was quite something.

It was special to me, because to me it felt as if I was walking through a photo book as I was reminiscing all of these memories. But it also made me think.. I realised that for the most part of my adult life, I’ve been running away from my old life back in the Netherlands, just trying to get ahead and create something new. Ever since I’ve moved to Denmark, I’ve been doing something. Be it learning the language, getting to know new people, getting a job or studying, I have always made sure to do something, so I wouldn’t have to doubt anything or be sad about the life I no longer have.. This trip however made me feel weird inside. I felt homesick, truly homesick for the first time in well… ever? It was just eyeopening how the conversations I had with my grandparents, father, sister and other family members made me feel less empty in a way. I wouldn’t say I’m this super unhappy person in general, but my struggle with depression makes me feel very empty inside. But whenever I’m with them, the feeling disappears. I know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it never is actually, but it does make me wonder whether I’d be happier over there or not.

For shits and giggles I actually decided to sign up for a bachelors degree in Biology and Medical Research over there and see if I get in. I want to give myself a year to figure out if I’ll feel better and if my situation will change, but if not, I might just go back home. That would also mean that I’d have to give up my dream of getting into vet school and I’m not quite sure if I’m ready for that yet, so we will see. The idea of researching a cure for cancer, especially since my mom died from it and I know a lot of people who have been sick from it, sounds like a very exciting thing to do. But at this point it’s still all out in the open. I guess that’s the fun thing about life, the uncertainty of it all.

I just find it funny how this trip opened up a whole new can of worms for me. I didn’t expect to end up not feeling like going back to Denmark, but luckily for me I have a lot of kind people over here as well. In the end, home isn’t really a place for me. It’s the people that fill up that space. It could be at the other side of the world, but as long as they’ll be there, I would be okay. It would be home.

Where do you guys feel at home?

I would love to hear about it!

– Naiyee

50 years of love: Things my grandparents taught me about love

This week my grandparents celebrated their golden marriage, something that seems to be a rare occasion nowadays. Growing up I never had parents to show me what a loving relationship looked like, since my parents divorced when I was only 6 years old. But luckily for me, I have grandparents who are the living breathing example of what a loving marriage should be like. They have faced some really difficult challenges, but fought through it all. They really live up to the ”for richer or poorer, for better or worse, in sickness and in health” part.

I never really knew what it was like to live in a household where both parents truly loved each other. My parents got together under weird circumstances and their divorce really didn’t come as a surprise. I often spent days over at my grandparents just looking at their daily routines and observing how they interacted with each other. They bicker a lot and my grandmother always has to correct my grandpa whenever he’s telling stories, but when you look past all that, it’s obvious how much those two love each other. I’ve asked Opa often how he did it. How is it possible to stay with the same person for decades? And he gave me some pretty great advice..

”A marriage is a give and take type of deal, but you ALWAYS give a little bit more than you take. And a good partner does the same thing for you in return.”

He told me that you shouldn’t want to be selfish in a good relationship, since you are in this together. Of course it’s okay to be selfish every once in a while, but you should never do things where it would only benefit you. In the end, the goal should be to make this person happy and only thinking about yourself can ultimately damage your relationship.

”Choose each other, every. single. day.”

My opa and oma have had their fair share of health issues. My oma has had a bad functioning body for as long as I can remember and my opa ended up with a really bad back injury three months into their marriage. He was bedridden for months and Oma took care of him, without complaining. It was a rough time financially though, since Opa was the one bringing home the bacon, but he couldn’t work. They made the best of it though and despite all of this, they still look back on it as the best years of their marriage and a period of growth. Opa took care, and still takes care, of Oma because she can’t do as much. Many people have criticised and berated him for staying with her, but he stuck with her, and still does till this day. When I asked him about it, he simply said that the easy way out isn’t always the most fulfulling and that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

”Have fun. Lots of it.”

My grandparents like to joke around a lot. Whenever I’m there Opa likes to crack lots of jokes about how small Oma is, or how she can’t do anything to him anyway, since she can’t run that fast. He’d have to duck though, since she has no issue throwing her slipper across the room. But they always laugh a lot. They have these funny little inside jokes that only they can laugh about. The kind of jokes that would raise eyebrows if they would be said out loud in public. And I love them for it. Lots of bellyaches have occurred in their living room from laughing too hard.

”Stick together, even when times are rough.”

They’ve experienced the one thing every parent out there fears. The loss of a child. The past four years have been really tough for them, but they fought through it. They still struggle with it, but they raise one another up when falling down. They hold each other when the days are tough and they make it through anyway. They could’ve chosen to lose optimism and succumb to that downwards spiral, but they didn’t. They make the best of it and try to spend their time doing things they like doing. Together.

”Communicate. Don’t ever go to bed angry at each other.”

One thing that Opa and I talked about a lot, is the fact that you should never go to sleep when you are mad at one another. You never know if you’ll wake up the day after. Talk through your grievances, even if it means that you’ll be sitting there until sunrise or if it means that you’ll end up fighting. Sometimes it needs to get bad before it gets better. But it’s never good to let small annoyances or frustrations sit there and fester. These small things combined can lead to something nasty, so why not just solve it by talking it through the moment it bothers you?

”Don’t stop falling in love with each other”

And with that I’m not talking about the happy sappy cheesy ”get a room” honeymoon kind of love. I’m talking about kissing each other on the cheek while they’re doing the dishes, or putting your hand on their knee as they’re sitting next to you on the couch. These small and subtle little gestures you can barely see, but that are there. I feel warm inside when I see those tiny little things as they go about their day. It’s so obvious that they’re still crazy about each other after 55 years of being together. It’s sweet and adorable.

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My bonus mom actually gave them an AWESOME surprise. She got a wedding cake made for the occasion and they were just so happy.

I really admire the way they handle things and I can only hope that if I get married one day, that won’t be the kind of love you read about in fairytales, but the love my grandparents have for each other. It’s real and raw and it hasn’t always been pretty, but it also shouldn’t be. My opa and oma are from the generation where you fixed things when they were broken, instead of throwing it away. And I’m a firm believer of that as well. Obviously, if it no longer works you have to let it go, but problems that are easy to fix, should always be fixed first. I am proud to have such amazing rolemodels in my life, knowing that not everybody is that lucky. I am grateful for them and I am grateful that I got to experience their love for each other. 50 years down, and hopefully a whole lot more to go!

Do you have rolemodels like these?

I’d love to hear about your stories!

– Naiyee

Evolving

Holy cow, it’s been months since I’ve last written anything on here! But I have reasons, trust me!

During my exam period my grandparents and sister came to visit me here in Denmark, which was amazing. I didn’t do too well with my exam in Danish, however my History exam I totally aced. It went so well, and to be honest, it was a huge confidence booster. After my exams were done, I went to Roskilde Festival for some much needed concerts and hanging out with friends. Those past months had been tough on me, so I needed a break. But not just a break from school. I wanted to get away. So I went to Finland again.

There is a reason I go to Finland so frequently though.. My relationship ended quite abruptly, but there are no hard feelings between us at all. We still care about each other deeply and are still the best of friends. We decided to stay roommates and that works pretty darn good, I’d say! But yes, back to why I visit Finland often. After my ex and I broke up I got together with someone who I’ve known for years and who has always had my back through things, despite living so far away. He came to visit Denmark when we were still friends and something happened between us that I still can’t quite put my finger on. However, when he left our friendship grew into something more and I decided to jump into the deep end and visit him. That first trip confirmed it for me that I made the right choice. He is my twin flame in a way. I went back to finish my exams, go to the festival etc. but I knew I couldn’t go without seeing him for months again, so I booked a plane ticket to go see him again in July. This trip was different. He was working a lot, but it gave me a good opportunity to bond with his family and bonding we did alright. His mom and I especially hit it off really well and I kept in touch with his sister quite a lot, who was working abroad at the time. Leaving back to Denmark was tough. Mainly because I now felt as if I gained another family and more people I care really deeply about. I have never really connected to a significant other’s family in that way and because his family was so similar to mine, it felt like I came home. And I didn’t want to leave. But soon after he came to visit me here in Denmark, we rented an Airbnb and it was awesome. But I missed Finland. So last week I took the plane up north again and it was like coming home again. I loved every moment of it, and I look forward to going back. In two weeks he’ll be coming to the Netherlands with me to meet my family, and I am beyond excited to show him where I grew up.

This year has been crazy so far. I’ve gotten out of a long and committed relationship and started something new without knowing what’s ahead of me, I turned 24, started studying, and the year isn’t even over yet. So far it has been fantastic.

The funny thing is though, that ever since my mom died, I’ve been a bit of a controlfreak. I’d obsess over my exercise, my diet, my relationship and it was around New Years Eve last year that I decided to let go and see what happens. And as soon as I let go, good things started happening. It might be coincidental, but for me it really showed that going with the flow is a good thing. I’m kind of proud of myself in a way, because of how far I’ve come.

But that was it for now. I’ll write a bit more about my trip to Finland later this week.

If there’s anybody out there reading this right now..

Thank you for your time. It really means a lot.

– Nen