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Getting back to my (green) roots

IMG_0465So here I am, almost 7 months since my last post. It’s been a bit of a rough spell these last few months. But spring is here once again and that alone is enough to make me feel better. This year however, spring did not only bring flowers, sunshine and vitamin D. It also gave me perspective.

A couple of weeks before my birthday(always a good time to start over or contemplate your future) I felt so incredibly stuck. Frustrated and stuck. Stuck at work, stuck with myself, stuck with finding a new job. And frustrated at the world. Frustrated because I want to change this world. Help it become a better more humane place. One in balance with nature. The problem was that I had no idea how. No matter how I tossed or turned I could not come up with a plan to ‘fix’ the world into becoming a sustainable one. There was so much I wanted to do. Help reduce plastic, built forests, stop animal cruelty, help humanity see that we need all the different species of animals and creatures on this planet. That we should care for them instead of exploiting them. But you know as well as I do that there’s no single cure. So I tossed and turned, frustrated at my helplessness and unable to find how I want to contribute to a better planet. So, before you get your hopes up, no I didn’t magically find the way to a better future. But I gave up, in a way, of trying to fix it right now. If I didn’t know how I wanted to do it, I couldn’t do anything. I had thought about it over and over again but I just couldn’t find a way that I’d be able to follow right away(or in the near future). So instead of forcing myself to keep thinking and hitting that brick wall I let go.

I let go and the moment I did I realised that even though I couldn’t do anything big this instant, but I could start small(I already knew a small change can have a big impact since I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 10 years but somehow forgot). So I vowed to cut down plastic use, and become more aware of where I put my money(we vote with our money, so might aswell do some research and ‘vote’ for the type of companies I’d want to support). I had already vowed to use up the tea bags we had left and only buy loose tea in the future, started experimenting with different oils(in glass bottles) to try and stop using moisturizer from plastic containers, bought a Mooncup after reading a positive review on Ikbenirisniet(which I haven’t had the chance to try yet) and become more aware of what I bought that came in/with plastic overall. Flashforward to my birthday, where I got a two small greenhouses which then caused me to create a square meter vegetable garden on our balcony and, suddenly, trying to produce at least a part of our own vegetables was on the list too.

After my birthday in March I went on a yoga & meditation silence retreat (Human Awakening, who were absolutely amazing and I definitely want to come back next year but I’ll save that for another time!) which allowed me to create more space and quiet in my head too. In the meanwhile I also started as some sort of intern/starter at the IVN (Institute for Nature Education and Sustainability). Which seriously, is my cup of tea. An organisation solely focused on bringing people in contact with nature and educating them, with loads of different projects focused both at children, adults and the elderly. This is the type of company I had been looking for all along. This change in work really helped improve my overall feeling too. Even though I’m not directly responsible for the projects they do, I help with them, and in turn do atleast something remotely helpful to our natural world.

So here I am now. 3 weeks into my new job and so happy with the progress I’m making. Even though the steps are small, and some take time (such as stopping to use teabags(I had a LOT of teabags) atleast I’m doing something. I also absolutely adore how my new job allows me to dive into projects related to nature and engagement. It’s a lot of reading, but I get to learn a lot and read a lot. I’m so happy to be able to use my brain again haha!

I’m hoping to pick up on writing again, but I won’t be too hard on myself. Either way, I’m already excited at the thought of keeping you guys up to date about all of this!

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The Wild Atlantic Way

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As I had mentioned a loooong time ago; Imke and I went on an amazing roadtrip all across the west coast of Ireland. Following the Wild Atlantic Way. An amazing route along the coastal roads of the west coast, offering amazing and scenic views, from ragged cliffs to high mountains and rolling hills. Ireland really has everything! I had never imagined it to be as beautiful as it is! I always imagined Ireland as green rolling hills, some cliffs here and there but that was about it. The landscape was so much more varied and with so much more raw mountains than I expected(I don’t know about you, but I didn’t really expect high mountains atall!) Our trip was quite extensive as you can see on the map of our route;

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This was roughly our route; we ended up taking a slightly different route from Cork to Blackvalley, but I’ll be sharing a post on that soon!:), stayed at hostel 12 (Dún Chaoin) as well and saw a bit more of the coastal roads than we planned. At one point I will get around to making a detailed map of how we ended up driving!

I fell even more in love with this country during that roadtrip!

I’ll be posting more about the things we saw and experienced during our time on the road. But for now I just want to share Imke’s blog posts of tips for those wishing to drive the Wild Atlantic Way!

 

 

The fluid nature of habits

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Two months ago me and Imke we’re on our way back to the Netherlands. Goodbye Ireland and welcome back life as we know it. The last two months have been very hectic, after an amazing last road trip through Ireland we were suddenly thrown back into our life back home, temporarily living at Imke’s parents’ place while working on our side job and trying to get our apartment in a state suitable for moving in. It was like having two full-time jobs. Whenever we weren’t at work, we were at the apartment, doing shopping for the apartment or taking care of preparations. Alas, a little bit less than a month ago we finally moved in; and spent most of the week afterwards unpacking, sorting, selecting and doing the necessary throwing away. Now we’ve pretty much finished up, only a few things to be sorted out and 2 lamps to be hung up, neither can be done before we get the cabinet from Imke’s aunt.

So here I am, back in the Netherlands, finally getting settled down again, but I miss my old habits. I noticed over the past 5 years that moving, and specifically living abroad temporarily, really messes with your habits(As well as relationships tbh). I used to regularly do yoga and meditate before Imke and I got together. Way before I left for Finland I was eating super healthy, I used to hang out with friends a lot more than I do now, or did after I came back from my year abroad. Each new environment gives you new habits. Every Thursday sauna(often with Hanna-marie) in Finland, reading a book a week in London, going into the park in evenings to play Frisbee in Ireland etc. Every new surrounding gave me new habits, but it also reset my old ones. In Ireland my social circle didn’t extend much further than 2 or 3 people, and a couple of friends that came to visit. And I noticed coming back here that I lost my habit of keeping in touch with friends. All in all I miss some of those things that I used to have a habit of doing. Be it writing, yoga, playing the piano or hanging out with friends.

There are certain habits that I want to get back, and a couple of new ones that I’d like to add to my schedule. The last few weeks there were so many evenings I spent aimlessly watching tv shows that I didn’t even care about. I’d rather spent my time doing things I actually.

According to popular science it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit. In “Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick”Jeremy Dean researches how long we actually need to form a habit: an average of 66 days though it depends on how difficult the habit is to form.

So here’s the challenge: One habit a month.

Each month I will start with a new habit. Which will then continue after the month has passed of course. I don’t know yet for how long I will keep adding a new habit(it’s a limited process of course, I can’t keep adding without taking time off!) But for now I will focus on these last 3 months of 2016. My aim is to create a new rhythm in my life without forcing it too much. After all, I’m just getting settled in our apartment and trying to get my life in the Netherlands back on track, so what better time than now to start new habits?! There are too many things in life that I want to do and learn!

This first month will be focused on getting my yoga habit back! I absolutely enjoyed having a short yoga session each morning but I’m not good at doing it when someone is in the room with me. Now we finally have the space that I can actually go to a different room! So here’s to the new habit of a 15-min morning yoga practise!

I’ll keep you guys posted!

 

 

WAW: Hiking in the Burren Nationalpark

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The Burren in County Clare is a beautiful spot, where you get to see the stone surface uncovered from the earth. It is a pretty magical place and we had some adventure there too, involving a mysterious little dog and a baby goat!

See the full blog post about this at the An Óige blog over here! 🙂

WAW: Cork to Black Valley

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Here is my first post written for An Óige about our roadtrip on the Wild Atlantic Way. This part is about a route we took from Cork to Blackvalley which was absolutely amazing!

A detour from Cork to Blackvalley hostel: Stunning mountain roads, seaside villages and calm rivers.

 

With my head tilted back to the sky

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Those who know me well, know that I have this ever lasting obsession with the sky. No matter where I will be, I will often have my head tilted back to the sky.

There’s something about the sky that makes me want to sit down and just take it all in. Especially when it’s around dawn or dusk, I adore those parts of the day. The early brisk mornings, where the light has just barely started to touch the trees and the world around you is still asleep or those early sunsets in winter; where everyone in the train commuting home is sitting with their heads bent down reading the newspaper or focused on their phone and I feel like I’m the only one in the whole train who is seeing the beautiful sunset that is happing just outside of the carriage window. I like to look around in those moments sometimes, wondering how noone can see the beauty of nature right there. How there is noone else in the train going “oh wow that’s beautiful” and put their phone down for a while to just watch the outside world bask in the last rays of sunlight. Then I’ll shrug and go back to dreamingly watching how the sun paints the sky in many different hues. I also love that time when the sun is already down and you can see the sky becoming different hues of blue.

DSCN1047Imke got us a small but very good camera for my birthday. The pictures are amazing but what made me especially giddy is how well the pictures of the sky taken with it turn out!

So today, I’ll share with you some of the skies I’ve seen and photographed here in Ireland. Some are not high-quality because they were taken with my phone, but I wanted to show you the different faces of the Irish sky 🙂 Personally I enjoy sunny weather but the sky lacks depth without any clouds in it whatsoever, the same way a completely grey sky lacks depth too. It’s the contrast and different hues that catch my attention most.